ArtsJournal: Arts, Culture, Ideas


Trump Pardons Disgraced Art Dealer

"Helly Nahmad, a member of the Nahmad family dynasty and the son of art collector David Nahmad, was caught running an illegal gambling ring worth $100 million out of his apartment in Trump Tower in New York. He owns the entirety of the building’s 51st floor, which reportedly cost a collective $21 million." - Artnet

Trump’s NEA Chair Departs As Biden Administration Arrives

"National Endowment for the Arts chairwoman Mary Anne Carter has resigned as head of the federal agency, telling her staff in a letter sent Friday that 'a new team should have a new leader.'" - MSN (Washington Post)

Exit Interview: Architecture Critic Blair Kamin

It’s really, really important to have critics who, at their best, can deliver lighting bolts that say, “This is a horrible idea. Don’t do it.” “Don’t put a Holiday Inn glass box on top of Chicago’s Union Station.” (It didn’t happen.) Or, ‘The lakefront in Chicago is divided by the chasm of race, address it.” Over the last 22 years since I wrote that series on the lakefront, it has really changed. - Fast Company

Longtime NPR Arts Editor Tom Cole Retires

"That is a typical Tom Cole piece, which is to say it's not typical at all. For three decades, Tom has positioned himself as an enabler for reporters interested in exploring fascinating corners of the arts - a lost era of Shanghai jazz, say, that NPR's Hansi Lo Wang discovered meant different things to different audiences." - NPR

Philip J. Smith, Chairman Of Shubert Organization, Dead Of COVID At 89

"A low-key businessman who started as a movie usher, presided for more than a decade over the nation's oldest and largest theatrical company, an archipelago of 17 Broadway theaters, many of them historic landmarks; six Off Broadway stages; and other properties, including a theater in Philadelphia." - The New York Times

Opera Director Elijah Moshinsky Dead Of COVID At 75

"He made his operatic debut in 1975 when he directed a stripped-back Peter Grimes at the Royal Opera House. The production was so successful that it was subsequently mounted by Paris Opera and La Scala, as well as being seen in Tokyo and Los Angeles. So began a distinguished career spanning five decades. Though Moshinsky was especially renowned for his interpretations of Verdi, his work encompassed a large, diverse range of repertoire." - Limelight (Australia)

The Quiet Tragedy Of The Man Who Oversaw New York’s New Train Station

It is impossible to know what drives a person to suicide. But in his final months, his mental state took a turn for the worse as pressure grew to finish the project and stress mounted over costs, according to dozens of interviews with friends, family and colleagues. - The New York Times

Dealing With The Legacy Of Abuser, Murderer, And Music Producer Phil Spector

Long before he murdered Lana Clarkson, it was clear Phil Spector (who died over the weekend) was not a good guy. "Ronnie Spector’s 1990 autobiography Be My Baby laid bare the full horror of their marriage: the house surrounded by barbed wire and guard dogs; the threats to kill her, either himself or via a hitman; the gold-plated, glass-topped coffin he installed in the basement and threatened to display her body in after she was murdered." And oh yes, the Wall of Sound - Phil Spector transformed the sound of popular music. - The Guardian (UK)

Helga Weyhe, Germany’s Oldest Bookseller, 98

The store, which has endured through the creation of Germany, two world wars, Communism, and reunification, not to mention Amazon, was a family affair. "Weyhe was a lifeline of sorts to her customers. She traveled far and wide after East Germans were generally allowed to leave for tourism, bringing back her infectious enthusiasm for the outside world. 'She brought a little bit of the world to Salzwedel,' Ms. Lemm said." - The New York Times

Artist Kim Tschang-Yuel, 91, Painter Of Water – And The Trauma Of War

"Kim’s drops can seem to sit miraculously atop his raw canvases or be in the midst of gliding down them, leaving a trail of moisture. They glimmer with light and cast shadows, and while vividly present, they are always on the verge of evanescing." - The New York Times

Mary Catherine Bateson, Author Of ‘Composing A Life’ And Daughter Of Margaret Mead, 81

Bateson, an anthropologist like her famous parents Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson, had a busy and famously documented life. "Still, it wasn’t her babyhood, her lineage or her scholarship — an expert on classical Arabic poetry, she was as polymathic as her mother — that brought Dr. Bateson renown; it was her 1989 book Composing a Life, an examination of the stop-and-start nature of women’s lives and their adaptive responses — 'life as an improvisatory art,' as she wrote." - The New York Times

Howard Johnson, Pioneering Virtuoso Of Jazz Tuba, Dead At 73

"Before Johnson, in instances wherein the tuba was part of a jazz arrangement, it was typically confined to bass parts. Johnson demonstrated a prowess that allowed him to play melodic lines, even lead parts. … He was a featured player in the Mingus, Carla Bley, and Gil Evans big bands; he also put in time with Charlie Haden's Liberation Music Orchestra (of which Bley was the music director). In 1975 he became a founding member of the Saturday Night Live Band." - JazzTimes

Robert Cohan, Who Brought Contemporary Dance To Great Britain, Dead At 95

"A New Yorker who performed with Martha Graham's dance company, often partnering Graham herself, Cohan moved to London where, in 1967, he became the first artistic director of the venue The Place, as well as the London Contemporary Dance School and the company London Contemporary Dance Theatre. His partnership with the founder of those organisations, Robin Howard, changed the face of dance in the UK and brought growing audiences to bold new explorations of movement that stretched beyond ballet." He was still teaching and choreographing at age 93. - The Guardian

New Memoir’s Accusations of Incest Rattle French Intelligentsia And Its Culture Of Silence

In the book, La familia grande, prominent attorney Camille Kouchner, the daughter of Bernard Kouchner, former foreign minister and co-founder of Doctors Without Borders, says that her stepfather — political scientist and well-known pundit Olivier Duhamel, chairman (until last week) of the body that oversees the renowned Paris university Sciences Po — sexually abused her twin brother for two years beginning when they were 13. What's more, she says she and her brother, twenty years later, told their mother and a number of the family's famous friends, and no one said a word or took their side. - Forbes

Jazz Pianist Frank Kimbrough Dead At 64

"Casual of gesture but deeply focused in demeanor, had an understated style that could nonetheless hold the spotlight in trio settings, or fit slyly into Schneider's 18-piece big band. In many ways, his playing reflected the Romantic, floating manner of his first jazz influence, Bill Evans. But his off-kilter style as both a player and a composer also called back to two of his more rugged bebop-era influences: Herbie Nichols and Thelonious Monk." - The New York Times

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