apologies for the delay
Story of my life lately. Solo parenting this week and the younger kid was sick Monday through Wednesday, hence the one-day delay on this here newsletter update.
Yeah, it’s been a week. The good news is we’re over the hump and I have a complete list of 10 things to share with you all so without further delay…
I try to stick to the categories of “art & stuff” in this newsletter, but I’m also a big fan of doing my best to avoid destroying the planet and the other animals that live on it during my stay here. In that spirit, big news from the Los Angeles Times last week, which is launching a Climate California section. From the HEATED newsletter, “for the first time, California’s most prominent paper has a whole section devoted to climate change, with climate reporter Sammy Roth becoming the Los Angeles Times’ first-ever climate columnist.” I do hope they’ll touch on animal agriculture from time to time, which accounts for a significant chunk of all global greenhouse emissions (not to mention things like animal welfare, worker conditions and child labor, pandemic risk, antibiotic resistance, and deforestation).
Did you know that “the autoworkers picketing factories across America aren’t just seeking higher pay. They are also, audaciously, demanding the end of the standard 40-hour workweek. They want a full week’s pay for working 32 hours across four days. And we'll all benefit if they succeed.” Audaciously! NYTimes OpEd here. A 4-day work week would be such a game-changer for a working parent artist type like myself.
Turns out art can help treat dementia and trauma, via Science Friday. The segment is an interview that originally appeared on Universe Of Art, a new podcast from SciFri that focuses on artists who use science to take their creations to the next level. In this episode, host D. Peterschmidt chats with Susan Magsamen and Ivy Ross, authors of a new book called Your Brain on Art: How the Arts Transform Us.
My 5th grader will tentatively be asked to dissect a frog in science this year. My now 10th grader never did animal dissection when he attended the same school and I was frankly kind of surprised animal dissection in K-12 schools is still a thing. As with my aspiring/mostly vegan lifestyle, while I will always be honest with my children about where their food comes from (and the consequences of their actions more generally), the choice about what they eat is ultimately theirs to make (and they currently choose to be pescatarian and vegetarian, respectively, and we support that). Likewise, if my daughter feels she would like to participate in this science lesson, I won’t forbid it or anything, but I will advocate for an opt-out or, better yet, humane alternative, should she wish. I brought it up in our parent-teacher conference last week and her teacher was open and understanding and asked me to send him some ideas for alternatives, which led me down a rabbit hole of delightful options like SynFrog (which, at $150-200 a pop, is not cheap, but consider the costs over time of actual animal dissection) and a $4 interactive app called Froggipedia. I feel pretty confident we can achieve the same 5th grade science learning objectives without taking the life of a frog.
Wild news last week in the world of art & design higher ed, with the Art Institute, a collective of for-profit art schools, announcing abruptly that it would be closing all eight of its remaining campuses. From Artnet: “The move caps the last and darkest chapter for the business, a period marked by ownership changes, lawsuits, declining enrollment numbers, and the loss of accreditation at several of its branches.” I feel for those students, especially, knowing from past work experience how high the international student population can be, for those students now stranded potentially very far from home.
The older and farther removed from the “art world” I get, the more I think these kinds of things, while well-meaning, are problematic. Art is simply too subjective. Who gets to be an artist? Is an artist with a full-time day job still an Artist? Things like #3 and #6 are pretty straightforward, but #4 and #10? I dunno, man. Not saving any lives with my art nor am I providing anyone with anything they really need, like food or shelter. What do you think?
Last week I finished the third and final felt pet portrait for the Friends of Oakland Animal Services Bad Art Fundraiser. Here’s a recap:
I really enjoyed working on these and hope their humans enjoy them, too. Any emerging California artists looking for another way to use your art to support animal welfare? Check this out.
Speaking of felt art (good or bad, I’ll let you decide), British artist Lucy Sparrow has an art installation in NYC right now called Feltz Bagels, using “approximately 30,000 pieces of felt to recreate the look and feel of the authentic Jewish bagel shops prominent in New York’s Lower East Side neighborhood.” Not only is Sparrow using one of my favorite materials these days, I love that she repurposed a vacant storefront for her installation and works as the cashier, selling custom bagels for $250 (other items start at $10). It took her 9 months and 400 yards of felt. Imagine the research involved in planning for this show? Yum. NYC peeps, the show is up thru the end of October. Please someone buy me a felt black & white cookie. It is my birthday month, after all (seriously, though, I will happily reimburse you for the cost and shipping).
We’ve been watching The Bear with the 15yo (have started yelling behind! and corner! in our temporary and very small kitchen), but my husband is traveling for work, so we had to pick something he wouldn’t miss and landed on the Roald Dahl short stories translated to film by Wes Anderson, beginning with The Rat Catcher. 15yo wasn’t too impressed but I enjoyed it. Read more about all four short films here.