Monthly Archives: November 2008

Pet Obsessions

Anyone else simply struck by a certain niche of art, art history, or simply history that fascinates you above all others? As I mentioned in my last post, I look forward to Obama’s art policy and hope that it will reflect his campaign especially in the area of volunteerism. I mentioned FDR and Kennedy, but held myself back from waxing poetic about the WPA, my personal little historic, artistic and political obsession. The WPA and its influence on politics, society and art is the one reason I wish I had studied art history in grad school instead of museology, but it is still an ongoing side interest.

Regina Hackett’s Art To Go post on November 11 (found via MAN, I don’t know why I don’t read Hackett on a regular basis, Green often links to her) quite literally made me tingle. She suggests that Obama bring back the WPA, though with a 21st century twist. I heartily agree with her suggestion.

What’s your pet art obsession?

Any suggestions on how to restructure the WPA to function today?


Sounds of Fall

Amy and I must be in sync today- we’re both updating. 🙂

I’m veering off theme a little here, but music = art, right? Thought I’d share some of the music I’ve been listening to lately.

I keep my ipod speakers at work in the collections area where a bunch of us work, thus subjecting my co-workers (and yesterday, a tour group) to my music every day. I thought some of their responses to my tastes have been interesting. For example:

Him, in reference to my entire ipod library: “What is this, your shoegaze mix?”
Me: “Huh? This is Radiohead.”
Him: “I know. Haven’t you ever heard that term before? It’s, like, music that’s good for looking at your shoes. But it’s the kind of stuff I listen to, too.”

Yeah. Luckily, I don’t think ALL my music fits in that category. Plus, one probably doesn’t want to play hardcore gangsta rap in a work environment.

I think I do have a pretty eclectic taste in music, probably partially due to my upbringing. I grew up tripping over guitars and amps and mandolins and lots and lots of vinyl. Our cats even participated- they played with old guitar strings instead of catnip toys. I took piano, viola and choir (um, in addition to 3 kinds of dance, and several art classes. Yeah. I was one of those kids. I guess in a home that valued the arts, but shunned math and the hard sciences, you can see why I ended up in a museum studies program in Seattle?)

I got the Music 101 education at home- classical and classic rock/folk-rock- but listened to Top 40 pop and R&B with my friends. (Why yes, I DO know all the words to Coolio’s Fantastic Voyage.) By middle school and high school I was all about the alternative rock. (R.I.P, WMAD, Madison’s New Rock Alternative. Thanks for getting me through my high school years…) In college, thanks to Napster, I revisited classic rock, with my friends viewing me as some sort of novelty who appeared to have missed most of the 80s music but had somehow fully participated in the 60s and 70s. (Side note: I still think the 80s was worst and cheesiest decade for music. I don’t heart synthesizers. Well, OK, late ‘90s music was pretty bad, too.) I expanded my classical listening in college- my roommate was a music performance major, and I attended most of her concerts and we listened to her Shostakovich and Brahms CDs a lot in the apartment. After college and in grad school I got more into the indie rock stuff, especially living in Seattle- KEXP!

Anyway, that’s my brief musical history. So here’s what I’ve been listening to as of late. (I’m not sure how to post mp3s on this thing, so I’ll do YouTube/Hype Machine links.)

1. Nick Drake, River Man

How can you not have Nick Drake in an Autumnal mix? As my co-worker joked the other day, “Everyone has to have a Nick Drake song on their ipod.” This one is the most haunting to me- a masterpiece of melancholy. For some reason, this song also reminds me of the Peanuts movies, most notably, Snoopy Come Home. Is that weird? Most likely.

2. Bon Iver, For Emma

Justin Vernon of Bon Iver is a fellow Wisconsinite. He recorded his album, For Emma, Forever Ago, in a remote northwoods cabin, and I think the end product really reflects that sense of isolation.

3. Jeff Buckley, Grace

Dude sang like an angel. This might be the quintessential fall song. I feel chilled and like I’m standing under a streetlight in the rain watching leaves blow by when I hear this song. (I swear this isn’t supposed to be an emo mix.)

4. The National, Mr. November

Appropriate for election season. I love love this song. The National is one of my new favorite bands, even though the songs took a few listens for me to get into.

5. Joni Mitchell, River

Joni Mitchell is one of those singers I didn’t get until recently. My dad always liked her but I found her voice annoying as a kid. But yeah, she can sing and tell a story. And who doesn’t want a river to skate away on once in awhile…?

6. Band of Horses, No One’s Gonna Love You

Really pretty, mellow love song. I guess fits the “shoegaze” criteria.

7. Diefenbach, On The Move

This song has a lot of weird chords/dissonance. Makes your ears take notice and say WTF. It’s nice to be surprised instead of predicting every key change.

8. Devendra Banhart, Carmensita

I’ll close with a fun song. This video is awesome, but I’m sad he and Natalie broke up. Anyway, I like songs in sassy Spanish.

That’s it for now- but maybe more music posts in the future.

Obama and the Arts

This blog is not political, but with the recent US presidential election along with the economic downturn, I am interested in thinking about the ways the arts community may be affected. It will be particularly interesting to see Obama’s arts and culture policy take shape and be put into practice. Many of the ideas outlined in the campaign policy would directly benefit artists, from better health care to an “Artists Corps” that sounds like a mix of AmeriCorps and the New Deal WPA artists programs. Better conditions and support for artists will hopefully carry over into other areas of the art world, so it will be exciting to see how policy develops.

Obama Campaign Arts Culture Fact Sheet

Obama’s campaign truly championed volunteerism, something that is fundamental to museums and arts education. They also took advantage of the internet and social networking, and with the launch of it looks as if the focus on volunteerism and online connectivity will be carried into the new administration. Check out the site, I expect it to expand quickly. There are places for people’s suggestions for several issues including the economy and health care, and mention of volunteer programs for people of all ages. To me this mix of volunteerism, focus on arts and culture, and structured programs for work suggests a new hybrid of FDR’s (and Eleanor, can’t forget her influence) and Kennedy’s social projects. And as a total social networking geek anything that involves the internet and user involvement makes me giddy.

Okay, time for me to try to calm down. There are, shall we say, bigger fish to fry right now in the US, but it is good knowing that our next president has at least thought about artists and the arts community.