Featured, Nexus »

This Program Puts Major Works of Art on the Street. Literally.

By | June 28, 2017

The phone rang in the office of Salvador Salort-Pons, then Curator of European Paintings at the Detroit Institute of Arts. “I found a Van Gogh painting outside the public library, and I don’t want someone to steal it!” said the woman on the other end of the line. “Don’t worry, though, I’ve deployed my husband to protect it.”
Six years later, Salort-Pons is now the Director …

Featured, Nexus »

How a Black Panthers Exhibition in Oakland Connected Activism of the Past to an Evolving Present

By | June 27, 2017

When can you really feel arts engagement in your bones? How do you know that you have achieved genuine engagement?
For those of us who work at the Oakland Museum of California, one moment came during our exhibition “All Power to the People: Black Panthers at 50,” which was on view at OMCA from October 2016 through February 2017. The realization arrived with a simple …

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Britain’s National Theatre Simulcasts Bring Shakespeare and Shaw Live from the Stage to the Screen

By | June 27, 2017

Since its founding in 1963—with Laurence Olivier as artistic director and Kenneth Tynan as dramaturg (plus a rep company that included new faces Michael Gambon, Maggie Smith, Derek Jacobi, and Lynn Redgrave)—the National Theatre has been one of the jewels in Britain’s cultural crown.
As an American arts journalist living in London, I have always appreciated what a luxury it is to have access to a …

Featured, Nexus »

Social Bridging Helps Museums Build Community Across Difference

By | June 26, 2017

Like many organizations, my museum, the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History, struggles with two conflicting goals.
The museum should be for everyone in our community.
But it’s impossible to do a great job being for everyone. We’re more successful when we target particular communities or audiences and design experiences for them.
How do you reconcile the desire to be inclusive with the practical imperative to …

Featured, Nexus »

A National Poetry Contest Makes Speaking Verse More Social Than Solitary

By | June 23, 2017

Last year, approximately 365,000 high school students participated in Poetry Out Loud—memorizing and reciting poems in organized competitions held across all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. By almost any standard, Poetry Out Loud constitutes a huge success in a period when cultural success stories seem rare.
In retrospect, successful ventures often seem inevitable. But it …

Connecting California, Featured, Joe Mathews »

The Arts Can Do for California What Politics and Big Business Can’t

By | June 23, 2017

Can the arts save California?
On every public policy challenge other than climate change regulations, the state seems stuck. We can’t transform our underfunded and underperforming education system to meet the needs of our diverse people, expand our universities to prepare for future economic requirements, or build nearly enough affordable housing. Silicon Valley, which still bills itself as savior of California and the world, has revealed …

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A “Grand Tour” Through the Pyrenees Connects Artists and Audiences on a Cultural Pilgrimage

By | June 22, 2017

It must not be imagined that a walking tour, as some would have us fancy, is merely a better or worse way of seeing the country. There are many ways of seeing landscape quite as good; and none more vivid, in spite of canting dilettantes, than from a railway train. But landscape on a walking tour is quite accessory. He who is indeed of the …

Featured, What It Means to Be American »

How Lafayette Became America’s “Favorite Fighting Frenchman”

By | June 22, 2017

If you live in the United States, you’ve probably come across a county, city, street, park, school, shop, or restaurant named for Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette (1757-1834), the most beloved French hero of the American Revolution. In New York City, my home town, I’ve spotted three different Lafayette Avenues, one Lafayette Street, a Lafayette playground, and four public sculptures of the Marquis. Although …

Featured, Nexus »

Historian Kevin Starr Was an Affectionate Connoisseur of California’s Contradictions

By | June 16, 2017

California has had many chroniclers — some critics, some boosters, some cheerleaders, some dour polemicists. It’s only natural that a vast state defined by its extremes—political, geological, economic, and otherwise—would rarely be portrayed from the center.
But one of the paradoxes of the Golden State is that the greatest historian of California, someone who absorbed the writing of previous scholars and scribes, found a way to …

Featured, Poetry »

for us the moment was perfect #poem

By | June 16, 2017

Although not for whatever lay dead in the adjacent meadow,
for us the moment was perfect—the sky, sky blue, the sun
burnishing the fresh-washed foliage, the dog, sticks retrieved,
content to lie within reach of a scratch, and the narrative permitting
us a bench and a view of what lay before us: the light green nap
of grass like a billiard table’s baize cloth, turkey vultures cruising
on the thermals in …

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