There’s good news and there’s bad news this week. On the good side – Our do-nothing-Congress has passed a 1+ Trillion dollar budget deal that should keep our government humming along for the next nine months. On the bad side – Congress has defunded ALL portrait painting, which is pretty stupid since I understand that every single Treasury Secretary or Secretary of Defense doesn’t need an official oil-based portrait painted costing taxpayers thousands of dollars each.
But no more Presidential portraits? Are you kidding me? Even I have had my portrait painted, by my sister mind you! This may have started my fondness for hats.
You know that gallery at the Smithsonian with all of our Presidents hanging regally along its walls in a continuing line of American history? Well, it’s about to stop short. Someone on the blogosphere somewhere said it’s because we can’t have a “president of color” up there with Lincoln and Roosevelt and Kennedy and really? I suppose this means no more First Ladies either.
The horse-trading was done by only about four dozen of Congress’ 533 members, working in private. What’s supposed to be 12 separate spending bills was combined into one mammoth stack that finances the government through Sept. 30.http://www2.macleans.ca/2014/01/16/5-things-to-know-about-deal-to-avert-shutdown-of-u-s-government/
It’s the “working in private” part that bothers me, behind closed doors in a secret session, along with the sheer lunacy of stopping a tradition that deserves to be maintained. I tend to think very forest for the trees about art. Artists are really doing our society a favor. They reflect back to us what’s going on in everyday life, with a different spin, giving us a new perspective. Enlightening, illuminating and just plain enriching our thirsty souls. Sometimes art can even change history. Think of the photograph of a child about to be shot in Vietnam. Think about the mini-series Roots. Think about a little Goldfinch.
Today the Oscar nominees were announced. Nothing new or unusual except Ms Oprah was denied again for her role in The Butler. A movie about a man who served how many presidents through sweeping social changes in our country. A true story, but one obviously overlooked in Hollywood. Instead a movie about a real political shakedown in NJ in the late 70s, the Abscam scandal, was the basis for the big winner, American Hustle.
“…today offering bribes in exchange for legislation seems almost quaint. The lobbyists do the same things we did, only to a much greater degree,” said John Good, a former FBI supervisor who oughtta know.http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/to-the-players-in-abscam-the-real-life-american-hustle-the-bribes-now-seem-quaint/2013/12/26/d67648c2-6c15-11e3-a523-fe73f0ff6b8d_story.html
I wonder who’s writing the Chris Christie biopic now? Maybe we need to get some art lobbyists up on the Hill. You know, bring in the big guns – the owners of auctions houses and film industry moguls, maybe a few museum directors? At least we need to appoint a Secretary of Culture, every other country in the free world has one! We don’t need to paint their portrait either. But we DO need President Obama’s portrait painted.
“I see little of more importance to the future of our country and our civilization,” President Kennedy once remarked, “than full recognition of the place of the artist.” http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2013/07/should-the-us-have-a-secretary-of-culture/277409/