ArtsJournal: Arts, Culture, Ideas


Author Ved Mehta, 86

Known for a 12-volume autobiography and more than a dozen more books, many of which got their start as New Yorker articles (he was a staff writer for decades), he had a carefully honed prose style full of vivid description — despite the fact that he had been blind from age 3. (His sense of hearing was said to be extraordinary.) - The New York Times

Patricia Loud, Matriarch Of America’s First Reality TV Family, Dead At 94

"Ms. Loud was a California mother of five. She drank, she plotted her divorce, she adored, and accepted, her openly gay son. She did it all in Santa Barbara and all on camera — in 1973. Loving, boisterous, witty, resilient and sometimes angry and hurt, she did not act like most women on television at the time. But she was ostensibly not acting at all. She was the first reality television star on the first reality show" — An American Family, aired on PBS — "and she paid a price for breaking new ground." - The New York Times

After 43 Years, Chicago Tribune Arts Critic Howard Reich Retires

He reflects on his career and (in typical fashion) leaves readers with a basketful of music, book and video recommendations. - Chicago Tribune

Author Jacqueline Woodson Gets A Lot Done, But How?

The MacArthur Fellow, who has also won the National Book Award and lives with her partner and two children in Brooklyn, is building Baldwin Arts, an artists colony for writers, composers, and visual artists of color. Lots of free time there, right? "We all find our space. In my bubble, I’m working on a book or a screenplay, going back and forth between the two. I really do try to find that sweet spot, those four or five hours a day of uninterrupted writing time." - The Cut

Carol Johnson, Whose Landscape Architecture Transformed The Country, 91

Johnson, who was also known for her public housing project designs, became famous for her "large-scale public projects, which often involved environmental remediation. For the Mystic River State Reservation, a nature preserve in Eastern Mass., a commission she received in the 1970s, she transformed a toxic landfill into a public park. The John F. Kennedy Park along the Charles River in Cambridge, Mass., had once been an oil-soaked storage site for train cars before Ms. Johnson’s firm took it on in the early 80s." - The New York Times

Michael Apted, Director Of Coal Miner’s Daughter And The 7-Up Series, 79

Apted's series - the latest, 63-Up, came out in 2019 - was only one project from the director of many movies, including Gorillas in the Mist and The World Is Not Enough. But the British director referred to the Up documentaries as "the most important thing I have ever done." Last year, he said that "The series was an attempt to do a long view of English society, ... The class system needed a kick up the backside." - The Guardian (UK)

Neil Sheehan, 84, NYT Vietnam Reporter Who Got The Pentagon Papers

"Mr. Sheehan, the son of impoverished Irish-immigrant dairy farmers, graduated from Harvard University and served in the Army before joining the United Press International wire service. Reporting from Saigon in the early 1960s, he became known as one of the “fearless threesome” of Vietnam War correspondents." - The New York Times

Why Are A Bunch Of Teens Convinced That Helen Keller Wasn’t Deaf-Blind?

Blame TikTok and the pathologies of social media in the age of fake news. A couple of (so-called) satirical videos were posted last year on the app; teens picked up on them and made their own vids joining in; as #helenkellerisfake and #helenkellerhateclub got millions of views, the facts that Keller was world-famous for what she achieved and died only 53 years ago got lost. ("Whaddya mean, this blind and deaf chick went to college and wrote books and flew a plane? Puh-leeze lol lol.") Now that the grownups have found out about this nonsense, though, the pushback has been righteous. - Newsweek

Ellen Burstyn On Her Fame (She’s Been *Very* Fortunate)

"It was never really my intention to be a movie star," says the actress, who's probably about to get her seventh Oscar nomination at age 88. "I've never been one of those celebrities who got chased down the street by shouting throngs. People are always very nice to me. It hasn't been at all unpleasant." - The Guardian

Novelist Eric Jerome Dickey Dead At 59

" was an aspiring actor and stand-up comic who began writing fiction in his mid-30s and shaped a witty, conversational and sometimes graphic prose style. It brought him a wide readership through such novels as Sister, Sister and Naughty or Nice and through his Gideon crime fiction series, which included Sleeping With Strangers and Resurrecting Midnight." - Yahoo! (AP)

Lee Breuer, Experimental Stage Director, Dead At 83

"A tenacious outsider who refused his sole Tony Award nomination — for his biggest hit and only Broadway show, the Sophocles adaptation The Gospel at Colonus — Mr. Breuer flourished in the scrappier realm of Off Off Broadway, even as the scale of his works and ambitions took him to larger stages, including the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Delacorte Theater in Central Park and the Comédie-Française in Paris." - The New York Times

IRS: Executors Undervalued Prince’s Estate By $80 Million

The IRS determined that Prince’s estate is worth $163.2m, overshadowing the $82.3m valuation submitted by Comerica Bank & Trust, the estate’s administrator. The discrepancy primarily involves Prince’s music publishing and recording interests, according to court documents. - The Guardian

Frida Kahlo Has Become An Icon – At The Expense Of Her Art?

Her claims to eminence were those of someone who as a woman of her time, and disabled too, needed to find ways to make herself heard. It is Kahlo’s supporters, trumpeting her — rather than name-checking her — as a martyr or mater dolorosa to everything from feminism, racial and sexual fluidity to anti-colonialism and anti-capitalism, that do her a great disservice. - The Critic

John Outterbridge, Sculptor Of Cast-Offs And Inspirational Arts Mentor, 87

Outterbridge, also an influential (and "magical") arts administrator and educator, was a master of the assemblage, using the sculptures to tell stories about history and culture. "In castoffs there are profound treasures. ... That’s what soul food is about. Chitterlings and pig feet are all about the notion that, as a people, we’ve taken the scraps, the castoffs, and made them into something so tasty that one can’t help but suck right down to the bones." - The New York Times

How A 65-Year-Old Actor Became An Instagram Maven

Leslie Jordan wasn't planning any of this, not the 5.5 million followers or the media attention. But, hey, lockdown. "Out of boredom, he began sharing 'silly' pieces of content like his 'Pillow Talk' series, where he snuggles up with a pillow and tells comfort food tales of Hollywood; videos of him dancing to Lisa Rinna’s aerobics class or with his cats; and Sunday sessions of him singing hymns with songwriter and producer Travis Howard. And well, s—!, as Jordan likes to say. It didn’t take long for his sweet Southern charm to sweep the nation." - Los Angeles Times

Our Free Newsletter

Join our 30,000 subscribers


Don't Miss