Artists (In Record Numbers) Against Bush

“Not since the height of the Vietnam War have so many actors, writers, artists, and musicians mobilized politically during an election year — the vast majority of them against Bush. It’s not just the usual liberal Hollywoodites, either, like Goldberg, Susan Sarandon, and Rob Reiner. Artists of every type are speaking out, from the hip-hoppers involved in impresario Russell Simmons’ nonpartisan voter-registration drive to literary lions such as novelists Joyce Carol Oates and Jonathan Franzen to respected visual artists such as Matthew Barney and Cecily Brown.”

Does The RSC Really Need London?

The Royal Shakespeare Company has been looking for a London Home. “But why does the RSC need a London base? Partly because it is the will of the Arts Council that the company has “a regular and sustained presence in the capital”, and partly because the management finds it difficult to persuade agents to sign their actors up for a Stratford season unless a London transfer is part of the deal. These are not altogether cogent reasons.”

Beneath The Medici Tombs (More Bodies)

Begun last month, the Medici project “aims to exhume 49 bodies of the Medici family and reconstruct the dynasty’s genetic make-up and their real family tree.” Explorers of one Medici burial site have discovered a secret crypt that contains the bodies of seven children and one adult. “Though the tombs had been seriously damaged by the flood of 1966, the remains of a nine-year-old boy are still in good condition. Expertly embalmed, he wears red clothes and a small crown. We could have found the illegitimate children of Grand Duke Cosimo I.”

Group Art… Really?

“Just how inventive can an anonymous group of people be? Could an online mob produce a poem, a novel, or a painting? We like to believe that the blue bolt of artistic inspiration strikes only the individual. ‘[The] group never invents anything. The preciousness lies in the lonely mind of a man,’ John Steinbeck wrote in East of Eden. Hollywood scriptwriters constantly moan over how their brilliant ideas were mutilated by studio ‘editing by committee’. But collaboration has a long history in art.

Sondheim On Track

“Those who keep their culture in tidy boxes have a problem with Stephen Sondheim. For 47 years, ever since he jetted to attention at 27 as lyricist of West Side Story, Sondheim has walked both sides of the track and straight down the middle. He plays in commercial theatres and state opera houses, in am-dram and at the Kennedy Center. All his life he has defied categorisation as high art or low, common entertainer or lofty public edifier.”

Trying Out An Ashton Diet

“We in America have been on a thin diet of Ashton for many years (even his own company, the Royal Ballet, has been on strict rations). Granted that dancing Ashton requires a certain specific training, there’s still no good reason why companies around the world, so desperate for distinguished repertory, should shy away from the work of the man who is almost universally regarded as the second (with Balanchine) of the 20th century’s two greatest choreographers.”

Panhandler Becomes Gallery Patron

A San Francisco man’s “long-estranged mother died recently, leaving him $187,000 — and the first thing Don did when he got the money was cut a $10,000 check to the art gallery he has sat in front of for two years, panhandling and begging for free food. He got drunk to celebrate, then stumbled into the door of the Blue Room Gallery, walked straight up to owner Paul Mahder and handed him the check.”

Advising Singers To Sing (Not Talk Politics)

Jim Fusilli thinks Linda Ronstadt should stick to singing rather than politics. “It’s too early to tell whether this controversy will re-energize Ms. Ronstadt’s career. But after seeing about a thousand rock concerts, my feeling is that rock stars who discuss politics from the stage deserve whatever criticism they get–not for speaking their minds, but for assuming they might have something to say that we need to hear from them. I figure if you’re a pop musician and you feel the need to express your politics, go try to write the next Blowin’ in the Wind.”