Art in the Closet

Mark Rothko painting

Mark Rothko’s “Untitled” (1960). Credit Kate Rothko Prizel and Christopher Rothko/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; via Sotheby’s.

… The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art has announced plans to sell Mark Rothko’s “Untitled” (1960), mainly to “address art historical gaps” like works by women and people of color… The deep burgundy oil on canvas… is expected to bring $35 million to $50 million [at auction]… The Rothko has not been exhibited at the museum since 2002 nor lent since 2008….

(Robin Pogrebin, “SFMoMA to Sell 1960 Rothko to Help Diversify its Holdings,” NYTimes, 2- 5-19)

(c) 2019 JMN.

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Tolkien, Amateur

Tolkien fantasy image

A fantasy landscape watercolor by Tolkien, possibly from around 1915. Credit The Tolkien Trust.

“He’s doing the drawings and the maps and the spreadsheets and all of that detail — the language, the calligraphy — for himself,” [Richard Ovenden, head of the Bodleian Libraries at the University of Oxford] said, after pointing out that Tolkien didn’t write his books to earn a living or because he considered himself to be a professional creative writer… “It helps him populate the world with a reality that would be weaker otherwise.”

(Peter Libbey, “Tolkien’s World: An Exhibition Transports Us to Middle-earth,” 2-14-19)

(c) 2019 JMN.

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Photographer on the Straightaway

Annie Leibovitz

Ms. Leibovitz in 1976. Credit Annie Leibovitz and Hauser & Wirth.

When Annie Leibovitz was starting out as a photographer in San Francisco, she would toss her camera equipment into the back of her ’63 Porsche Cabriolet convertible and tear off to Los Angeles on Highway 5.

“You used to be able to go 80, 90, 100 miles per hour — it was a straightaway,” Ms. Leibovitz recalled in a recent interview at her Manhattan studio, wearing black and her signature glasses. “You would just get on it and drive like a bat out of hell.”

(Robin Pogrebin, “Annie Leibovitz Revisits Her Early Years,” NYTimes, 2-14-19)

(c) 2019 JMN.

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Joelle Taylor

‘Spoken word allowed me to bypass literary gatekeepers’ … Joelle Taylor.

… I was, in part, asking a question of myself: whether poetry that arose out of social media could hold up under intensive close reading. The answer, in short, was yes… As time passes, and the new poets grow older, a critical discourse will develop, and we’ll begin to see a canon emerge… “Spoken word,” Joelle Taylor says, “is proper poetry. But poetry for the mouth has a different instinct than that for the pen; of equal value, but different. We must be judged on the terms of the chosen expression. Those who undermine the form often reveal an elitist, classist bias – as seen in their need to define and own poetry. You cannot own an art”.

(Sarah Crown, “Generation next: the rise — and rise — of the new poets,” The Guardian, 2-16-19)

(c) 2019 JMN.

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The Fall and Fall of Title Editing


Two headlines appearing for different articles in The Guardian on Saturday, February 16, 2019:

“Generation next: the rise – and rise – of the new poets” (Sarah Crown)

“What does it meme? The rise and rise of the fashion viral” (Morwenna Ferrier)


(c) 2019 JMN.

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“One Hospital, One Neighborhood, One City”

trauma bay temple hospital philadelphia

The trauma bay in the emergency department at Temple University Hospital after resuscitation efforts failed. Credit Eric Curran.

Temple University Hospital [in Philadelphia] treated 481 patients with gunshot wounds last year, and 97 died. In this one hospital in one neighborhood in one city. As a country, we lost nearly 40,000 lives to guns in 2017.

(Eric Curran [third-year medical student], “I Remember the First Time I Saw a Teenager Die,” NYTimes, 2-14-19)

(c) 2019 JMN.

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What to Do in Canada

We are an insanely exciting country. Come on over and head to St. John’s to drink screech and kiss a cod. Or let’s meet in the Sourdough Saloon in Dawson City, Yukon, and we can enjoy the Sourtoe cocktail together (I dare you to look up what that is). Eh?

Steve Prime

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

(From a letter to the NYTimes, 2-14-19)

(c) 2019 JMN.

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