The Outsider Who Came In (And Wants To Get Out Again)

What is outsider art? “It is eccentric, engaging, and often apocalyptic. It stands outside the standard schools and movements, and is produced by artists who are usually self-taught and often judged insane. It includes some of the most compelling, disturbing, and/or simply strange painting, sculpture, and even literature and music being produced today. Whatever outsider art might be, Joe Coleman is one of its biggest stars, with vivid paintings of riots, demons, serial killers, and sideshow geeks, all rendered in an instantly recognizable style. Yet New York’s annual Outsider Art Fair, has decided not to include him when it reopens its doors next month.” The problem? Coleman has been to art school, “thus removing him from the ranks of the self-taught.”

The Right Version of “Correct”

So what does “authentic” mean in music? When there are 14 manuscript versions of a Mahler score, what were the composer’s final final thoughts? “Two years of note-picking research in Vienna have exposed almost 400 errors and oversights in the published score” of Mahler’s Second Symphony. On the other hand, maybe all 14 versions are “correct” in their own way. “It’s not wrong. In all 14 of Mahler’s scores he wants it to sound that way.”

Record-Buying Chic

Buying a CD isn’t just a simple matter of walking into a store. In Los Angeles, “where you buy your music also to some extent reflects one’s beliefs about the nature of pop culture, who owns it, and how to live it. It’s more than a battle for identity. It’s a struggle for the control of L.A.’s entertainment culture.”

Christo Central Park Project Clears Another Hurdle

A group that helps run New York’s Central Park has approved plans by Christo and Jeanne-Claude, to “erect 7,500 rectangular steel gates, each 15 feet tall with golden nylon streaming from it.” The artists have been trying to get permission for the project for 20 years “The plan still needs approval from the city’s parks department. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said he supports it.”

Tower Dreams

The WTC proposals unveiled this week by prominent architects follow some common themes. “In purely architectural terms, the big news was the triumph of the mega-skyscraper. Four of the seven design teams want to put the tallest building in the world at the site. In the end, it’s hard to imagine any scenario in which a truly successful master plan—one that’s at once architecturally inventive and a good use of urban space—is produced within the allotted time.”

March Of The First-Timers

America’s publishing houses are putting out record numbers of books by first-time writers. “Selling any novel is not easy, but rookie novels are an easier sell than most people would suppose. Publishers and editors are always searching for that new writerly voice. The hunt may be as important as the back list, for in the end the new voice, they hope, becomes a steady voice and eventually that’s what makes up the all-valuable back list — those books that bring steady sales to a publisher year after year.”

Mistry Gets Some U.S. Support

More than a month has gone by since Canadian author Rohinton Mistry cancelled the remainder of his U.S. book tour after being repeatedly singled out for “security searches” at American airports. In the U.S., it didn’t cause much of a stir, but in Canada, there was national outrage at the lengths to which the U.S. appears to be going to enhance “national security.” Now, a San Francisco bookstore which had scheduled a Mistry reading has gone ahead with the event, with local authors reading from Mistry’s work, in an effort to bring more attention to the author’s protest.