News and notes: Art funding in the states, historical demolition, artists talking

From Brad Carlile's "Tempus Incognitus" at The Independent

Nationally, the news that collided with Oregon Arts Watch was often about the decline of arts funding and the demolition of important buildings (Beverly Hills doesn’t have historical preservation ordinances, really?!?), but there were also glimmers of hope, glimmers.

Although a lot of hand-wringing goes on in arts circles about the National Endowment for the Arts budget, cuts to state funding nationwide are in some ways more damaging, especially to smaller and more rural arts groups, as the New York Times makes clear.

“In Kansas, for example, where a proposed budget of $689,000 was vetoed by Gov. Sam Brownback, groups like the Music Theater of Wichita stand to lose their matching funds from the National Endowment for the Arts. The endowment notified the state last month that it will not receive a planned $700,000 grant unless it puts forward a new viable state arts agency. (In May Governor Brownback fired the entire staff of the Kansas Arts Commission, which distributed the funds.)”

Not all states have gone the way of Kansas. In South Carolina, the New York Times also discovered, the governor’s veto of the $1.9 million budget for the arts was overturned by the state legislature.

“Although it comprises only .032 percent of South Carolina’s $6 billion state budget, funding for the arts commission helps the state to develop its creative industries, which return more than $9.2 billion to South Carolina and support more than 78,000 jobs, according to Americans for the Arts, a lobbying group.

More than 92 percent of South Carolinians favor public funding for the arts, according to a statewide poll by the University of South Carolina.”

The proposed demolition of one of Richard Neutra’s great modernist constructions, the Kronish House, in Beverly Hills (which no historic preservation ordinances) has gotten the attention of LA Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne.

“But ultimately this sort of calculus, the relative weighing of architectural merit, misses the larger point in Beverly Hills and cities like it, which have held fast to a laissez-faire attitude toward preservation ever as other places have moved aggressively — occasionally too aggressively — to protect their architectural treasures.

The larger point is in fact quite simple: Beverly Hills needs to put a process in place for determining when it makes sense to step in and keep a homeowner from demolishing a valuable piece of architectural history. And it needs to do so quickly, before another of its stock of important houses finds itself in the demolition cross hairs.”

Brian Libby interviewed photographer  Brad Carlile about time and space and hotel rooms and Carlile’s photographs of said hotel rooms. The photographs are  on display at The Independent gallery through August 14. The interview, on Libby’s Portland Architecture blog, is a long one, and in this case that’s justified: Their conversation is really interesting.

“I’ve always been fascinated by what changes and what doesn’t.  And it seem we need something that doesn’t change to show what changes.  I’ll admit at first glance hotel rooms are easy to overlook, but they provide a wonderful backdrop to think about the people and their dramas passing thought.  In some sense even the dramas don’t really change as the “characters” change.”

And finally an advertisement for myself: I dropped in on three jazz shows this weekend (defining weekend broadly) and posted about them (Devin Phillips, Dave Friesen, Ken Ollis et al.) on OPB’s Arts & Life page.

“Time has changed him [Devin Phillips] for the better, and he now seems to be making that difficult transition from “sax player” to jazz artist. After the show at the Mission Theater, I exchanged emails with [Lynn] Darroch, who had served as emcee, and he said that to his ear, Phillips had developed a “magnificent sound” while he’s been here, and then explained how this is the holy grail for jazz players. (I once asked Pharoah Sanders when he knew he’d discovered his sound; Pharoah said, “I haven’t found it yet.”)

In Phillips’ case that sound is warm and buttery, and “finding” it, I think, has changed his approach. Instead of the rapid sound assault he unleashed before, now he’s more apt to let those round tones take center stage. And that has simplified his playing, made it more thoughtful, not that he isn’t still capable of a mad cascade of scales.”

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