Late Night Horrorshow Open Thread: The Proper Commemoration of “Confederate Memorial Day”

One of those “just in the family” things they don’t talk about in front of the Yankees, apparently, because I don’t remember hearing about it before. This year’s commemoration gets a more fitting memorial. Angela Helm, at The Root:

On Monday, Alabama is set to observe Confederate Memorial Day, commemorating the sons of the South killed in the U.S. Civil War. No surprise there. Alabama loves fighting with Mississippi for the title of “most racist state” (though they actually may be running neck and neck with “everything south of the Canadian border” if we’re keeping it real).

I find this amusing, not just because of the abiding ridiculousness of the holiday itself—which for me and most black people is a dressed-up way of reveling in institutional racism and anti-blackness (contrary to claims of “love of heritage”)—but because I just so happen to be in Alabama today, Monday, for a press preview of a memorial and museum dedicated to those both forgotten and annihilated through acts of racial terror across the country, and I will touch this holiest site on … Confederate Memorial Day…

… [H]ere in America, the God some trust is not on the dollar bill, it is the dollar bill. Here, as we all were whispered songs of “sweet lands of liberty,” black Americans perished in a nightmare of running blood and burning flesh and mass rape for pleasure and profit; that story all but erased from history and replaced with men playing war games, re-enacting so-called acts of valor for an indefensible premise…

The national lynching memorial, the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, will stand atop a hill, in remembrance of the more than 4,000 victims of racial terror on U.S. soil, which the Montgomery, Ala.-based Equal Justice Institute has meticulously tracked for six years.

The accompanying Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration, located in a former slave warehouse, will also tell the tale of our sojourn here: from enslavement to widespread public executions, to Jim Crow, to the continued violence against black bodies through mass incarceration and police violence.

The museum and memorial are but two drops in a bucket recognizing the true “legacy” of this nation; it’s a befitting tribute to those who weren’t able to throw up statues and establish holidays, their bodies sometimes snatched and ripped apart for keepsakes. It finally acknowledges, in a lasting way, what this country wrought upon its literal children, drafted into another war they never signed up for, but one in which they certainly perished, strange fruit hanging from poplar trees…

 
Fred Hiatt, in the Washington Post:

In the Riverfront Park of this state capital, you will find a series of panels depicting the city’s history. They will tell you when the first white settler arrived, how riverboats transformed Montgomery into a trading hub for cotton “and many other important commodities,” and how the city became the cradle of the Confederacy.

They will not tell you that the most important of those other commodities was human beings.

It is the sort of lacuna, says Bryan Stevenson, that allows people to “achieve political victories by celebrating the greatness of America.”

“The question is, which decade are black Americans supposed to want to relive?”
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Monday Morning Open Thread: LIKE A QUEEN!

Sometimes the internet doesn’t suck. Per the Washington Post

Parker Curry, age 2, was not being cooperative.

Standing in front of the new painting of former first lady Michelle Obama at the National Portrait Gallery, Parker ignored her mother’s pleas to turn around for a photo.

“All I wanted was just one pic,” Parker’s mother, Jessica Curry, said Sunday. “She was just so fixated on the portrait and wouldn’t turn away from it.”

Curry, a lifelong District resident, was so fixated on her daughter being fixated on the portrait that she didn’t see a man to the side taking a cellphone photo of the moment — Parker in utter awe, her mouth agape.

The next morning, Curry said, her phone “blew up.”

The man to the side — ­37-year-old Ben Hines of Alexandria — posted the photo on Facebook. It went really, really viral. And suddenly, little Parker went from being a little difficult to being more than a little famous.

The photo, taken Thursday, has been shared, liked, tweeted, retweeted and Instagrammed thousands of times around the world. Obama reacted with not one but three heart-eye emoji…

Parker, in her less than 36 months alive, has become a big admirer of the former first lady. She especially enjoyed seeing Obama dance on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.” After seeing the portrait, Parker thinks Obama is a “queen.”

(Curry is not certain her daughter knows that Michelle’s husband is former president Barack Obama or that he even ­exists.)…

Buzzfeed has a quote from the artist, Amy Sherald:

When I look at this picture I think back to my first field trip in elementary school to a museum. I had only seen paintings in encyclopedias up to that point in my life. There was a show up of work by painter @thebobartlett whose work still inspires me to this day. There was a painting of a black man standing in front of a house. I don’t remember a lot about my childhood, but I do have a few emotional memories etched into my mind forever and seeing that painting of a man that looked like he could be my father stopped me dead in my tracks… I knew I wanted to be an artist already, but seeing that painting made me realize that I could. What dreams may come?… #representationmatters

I don’t know if Parker will actually remember the moment in this photo, but I can attest that some of my very earliest memories are of specific museum exhibits (an Egyptian lion-headed sculpture at the Metropolitan, a tiny perfect Peruvian silver llama at the Heyes) — and, of course, she’s got this picture to remind her now.



KULCHA! Open Thread: Those Are A Couple of Very Fine Portraits

Yeah, I know Betty beat me to it, but it’s the dead hour so I’m gonna indulge myself. As someone who spent many, many weekends during my childhood investigating all the best public-access museums in New York City, I really like the new Obama portraits. They are, IMO, good art. And they are also good political statements — if you think that art is ever “distinct” from politics, you have not read much art history.

Most presidential portraits, even the “famous” ones, have a strong whiff of Sears Portrait Studio with a sidebar of Thomas Kinkade. They are not meant to inform, or to be a ‘true’ likeness of the president portrayed; they are meant to imitate/immortalize whatever the current power structure’s idea of Respectable Leadership looks like. For our modern era, that’s meant White Guy in Suit At His Office, looking self-consciously charming or vaguely constipated, depending on the whims of the sitter and the artist.

Kehinde Wiley’s and Amy Sherald’s portraits are so much not that. But of course, President and Michelle Obama were so much not what a lot of people expected from “our” president, either. Like their subjects, both pictures are striking and intelligent and impossible to ignore. And color-ful (you should forgive me saying). I think Wiley’s painting will end up in the (admittedly specialized) pantheon with Gilbert Stuart’s Washington and Matthew Brady’s Lincoln.

Also, the reactions from both Obamas, very cool:


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Thursday Evening Open Thread: Artistic Appreciation

The Guggenheim — it’s getting more and more noticed, you might have heard — is a tremendously classy museum, founded on a rich celebrity’s personal relationships with all the best people. Being courted by the Guggenheim, getting on their board, is a well-established marker of HAVING MADE IT in New York society. Donald J. Trump is *never* going to get that golden ticket… and if I know New Yorkers, he will never be allowed to forget this 18-carat insult…

The emailed response from the Guggenheim’s chief curator to the White House was polite but firm: The museum could not accommodate a request to borrow a painting by Vincent Van Gogh for President and Melania Trump’s private living quarters.

Instead, wrote the curator, Nancy Spector, another piece was available, one that was nothing like “Landscape With Snow,” the 1888 Van Gogh rendering of a man in a black hat walking along a path in Arles, France, with his dog.

The curator’s alternative: an 18-karat, fully functioning, solid gold toilet — an interactive work titled “America” that critics have described as pointed satire aimed at the excess of wealth in this country.

For a year, the Guggenheim had exhibited “America” — the creation of contemporary artist Maurizio Cattelan — in a public restroom on the museum’s fifth floor for visitors to use.

But the exhibit was over and the toilet was available “should the President and First Lady have any interest in installing it in the White House,” Spector wrote in an email obtained by The Washington Post.

The artist “would like to offer it to the White House for a long-term loan,” wrote Spector, who has been critical of Trump. “It is, of course, extremely valuable and somewhat fragile, but we would provide all the instructions for its installation and care.”…

Cattelan, reached by phone in New York, referred questions about the toilet to the Guggenheim, saying with a chuckle, “It’s a very delicate subject.” Asked to explain the meaning of his creation and why he offered it to the Trumps, he said: “What’s the point of our life? Everything seems absurd until we die and then it makes sense.”

He declined to reveal the cost of the gold it took to create “America,” though it has been estimated to have been more than $1 million…

Trump is certainly more capable of appreciating a solid-gold toilet than a genuine Van Gogh. And, yes, I suspect that once the original was in his sweaty little hands, it would never have been seen again… except by those individuals lucky enough to visit some Russian oligarch’s dacha.



Readership Capture: The Obamas Continue to Push the Envelope

This is very cool, at least for us snooty high-culture types. From TPM:

The Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery on Friday announced the two artists commissioned to paint the gallery’s official portraits of former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama.

The former President, the Smithsonian said, selected Kehinde Wiley to paint his portrait. And Michelle Obama chose the painter Amy Sherald.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the pair are the first black artists hired by the gallery to paint portraits of the President and first lady. The publication noted that, far from being lesser-known names in the art world, as is often the case with presidential portrait painters, both Wiley and Sherald have “major followings.”…

Sherald and Wiley have those followings because they deserve them. I haven’t had the good fortune to see either of these artists’ work in person, but I have read enough about them to be excited by this choice. Barack and Michelle Obama are, of course, very smart people whose tastes extend well beyond the usual ‘safe’ sanitized portraitists. If you click over on the YouTube clips, there’s tons of other meaty visual material from both artists to help enlighten your weekend…



Open Thread: Shakespeare in the KULCHA! Wars

As reported in the Washington Post:

Two right-wing activists interrupted the Friday evening performance of a controversial production of Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” in New York’s Central Park, causing a stir on social media — where numerous videos of the protest proliferated — and resulting in one woman’s arrest.

In the videos, a woman identified as Laura Loomer, an employee of the far-right website Rebel Media, can be seen storming the stage during the scene of the title character’s assassination, shouting “Stop the normalization of political violence against the right! This is unacceptable!”…

Within the commotion, a second pro-Trump protester, Jack Posobiec, can be seen standing and yelling in the audience, “You are all Goebbels!” and “The blood of Steve Scalise is on your hands!”…

In a string of tweets, the Public Theater confirmed the interruption at its Friday show and said it had been “part of a paid strategy driven by social media.”…

Posobiec, a Washington-based Trump supporter who formerly also worked for Rebel Media, told The Washington Post on Saturday that, contrary to some media reports, he and Loomer did not coordinate their protests. Rather, he had attended the performance at the encouragement of alt-right personality Mike Cernovich, who posted a “challenge” on Periscope last week offering a $1,000 prize for anyone who could get tickets to the play and interrupt the show….

Cash Rules Everything Around Them — dolla-dolla, get tha monee…


(John Wilkes Booth)
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Monday Evening Open Thread: What Would Some Tudor Playwright Know About the Autocratic Abuse of Power?…

New York’s Public Theater lost financial support from two high-profile corporate donors, Delta Air Lines and Bank of America, on Sunday amid intense criticism of its production of Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar,” which depicts the assassination of a Trump-like Roman ruler.

The companies’ decisions came after days of criticism online and in right-leaning media outlets that was amplified by Donald Trump Jr., a son of the president, who appeared to call into question the theater’s funding sources on Twitter on Sunday morning…

Bank of America followed hours later, saying it would withdraw financial support from the production of “Julius Caesar” but would not end its financial relationship with the theater, which a bank spokeswoman, Susan Atran, said had lasted for 11 years…

The play, which has been in previews since May 23, is scheduled to open Monday at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park as part of the Public Theater’s free Shakespeare in the Park festival.

“Its depiction of a petulant, blondish Caesar in a blue suit, complete with gold bathtub and a pouty Slavic wife, takes onstage Trump-trolling to a startling new level,” Jesse Green of The New York Times wrote in his review.

The “vividly staged” production hews to the traditional interpretation of Shakespeare’s work, he wrote. “Even a cursory reading of the play, the kind that many American teenagers give it in high school, is enough to show that it does not advocate assassination. Shakespeare portrays the killing of Caesar by seven of his fellow senators as an unmitigated disaster for Rome, no matter how patriotic the intentions.”…

Other corporate sponsors of the Public Theater, including The Times, have also faced calls on social media to denounce the play or end their relationship with the Public.

A spokeswoman for The Times said the company, which has sponsored Shakespeare in the Park for 20 years, would not change course. In a statement, the company said: ”As an institution that believes in free speech for the arts as well as the media, we support the right of the Public Theater to stage the production as they chose.”…

So, give the Grey Lady credit where due… at least the credit of understanding that Ankh-Morpork New York City dwellers and paid NYT subscribers don’t care how badly the tender fee-fees of Lord Smallgloves and his yahoo online armies are wounded.

Apart from that, Mrs. Lincoln, what’s on the agenda for the evening?