Art

Ad for stem cell marketing

At the outset, let me add a brief preface. Part 1 of this look at the Vatican series of conferences on cell research and the biotech industry began on this weblog last month. I had promised a Part 2. Much of that promise appeared in The Federalist, July 15th, under the title “Inside The Vatican’s Surprising Alliance With Biotech Venture Capital.” For clarity’s sake—and to avoid repetition here—it makes sense to read The Federalist piece first. Part 2 introduced the mystic marriage of Cardinal Ravasi and the entrepreneurial Robin L. Continue Reading
Satirical lithograph by Daumier

False piety wears different hats. The sentimental kind gets my back up whenever I meet it. It is a species of attitudinizing, closer to showboating than to holiness. To illustrate, let me tell you about recent exposure to a case of it. The setting was Sunday Mass in a local parish church a few weeks back. Everyone was still masking up and doing the six steps of our new dance craze: social distancing. Alternate pews were cordoned off. To compensate for reduced seating, the church folded back the doors of a large community room that opens onto the transept, stage right. Continue Reading
Painting, An Impromptu Respite

Painting is meant to be seen, not talked about. Painters are drawn to things, not concepts or doctrines. What counts is what is front of them, the very thing itself—whether an object or a vista—not an idea about the thing. For a painter, the only ideas that count are pictorial ones. Matters of fact are primary. These include the material facts of paint, the cookery of getting it right, manipulation of brushes and color chords—all physical, earth-bound matters. Fairfield Porter was blunt: “An art that finds ideas more real than things is attractive to the unemployed intellectual.” Continue Reading
Advertising poster

“An iPhone is not a robot. It’s a personal assistant. You should be better acquainted with it.” So scolded a tattooed techie at the Apple Store’s Genius Bar. I gave a guilty shrug but did not say anything. There seemed no point in explaining that my only concept of a personal assistant was a living person. Someone to light and guide me—more like Jeeves than Alexa. I wanted the sound of a voice that came from the diaphragm, not from an algorithm. Continue Reading
Assemblage

Expect artists to be among the first to apply for a guaranteed annual income. The arts are a useful pretext for the universal basic income initiatives slouching toward us. California, predictably, is in the lead. The Yerba Buena Center for the Arts explains that artists are “essential drivers of economic well-being.” This is debatable. It is also not the same as saying that the arts are essential in themselves. But let’s not quibble just yet. On the YBCA website, Mayor London Breed explains the rationale for San Francisco’s monthly stipend  to artists:
The arts are truly critical to our local economy and are an essential part of our long-term recovery [from COVID restrictions].
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