“PopSmart NOLA” on WHIV, Ep. 19: Nick Stillman (ACNO), James William Boyd (LPO) and Gene Meneray (The Ella Project) on federal funding for the arts

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For the March 4, 2017, episode of “PopSmart NOLA,” we decided to focus entirely on one subject: funding for the arts. It will hopefully be the first of several conversations about the subject, as it appears that, among many other things, funding cuts loom on the horizon thanks to early signals from the new Trump administration and the Republican-led Congress.

No sooner did Donald Trump get sworn in as the 45th president of the United States that a story published by The Hill suggested the administration with the help of Congress begin the downsizing or elimination of funding for the National Endowment of the Arts, the National Endowment of the Humanities, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Soon after supporters of the Arts Council of New Orleans received an email noting this possible action, and calling for a push-back, and it included a series of steps in alliance with Americans for the Arts Action Fund. Here to discuss the situation, our guests:

Nick Stillman is president and CEO of the Arts Council New Orleans. He has served as the Visiting Critic of Modern and Contemporary Art at the University of New Orleans. Prior to that, he was Managing Editor of BOMB magazine in New York. Between 2006-2007, Stillman curated eight exhibitions at PS1 Institute of Contemporary Art in New York, including the debut museum solo shows by Kalup Linzy, Amy Granat, and Joe Bradley as a member of the museum’s initial cohort of Curatorial Advisors. Stillman is also active as an art critic, regularly contributing to Artforum, Pelican Bomb, and several other publications. Arts Council New Orleans is a private, multidisciplinary, nonprofit organization designated as the City’s official arts agency. The Arts Council’s mission is to support arts and culture and demonstrate how they transform communities.

James William Boyd. Chief Executive Officer with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO) since July 2012, Boyd has enjoyed a varied career as an administrator, performer, and educator. Prior to his engagement with the LPO, Boyd was Director of Artistic Planning and Production with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra. Hallmarks from Boyd’s time in Tucson include a special program in celebration of the State of Arizona’s centennial, featuring a photo-choreographed version of the Grand Canyon Suite by James Westwater (a co-commission with the Phoenix Symphony) as well as the stabilization and expansion of the orchestra’s primary symphonic and chamber orchestra series.

And finally, Gene Meneray, co-founder of The Ella Project, a statewide arts business and legal pro bono program that serves artists, musicians, and grassroots nonprofits. He is also Director of the Louisiana Crafts Guild, and serves as Chair of Louisiana Citizens for the Arts, the state’s arts advocacy organization, and is Louisiana’s state captain with Americans for the Arts State Arts Action Network.

RELEVANT LINK
And also, each week I take an interesting read I found that’s worth sharing with listeners, and found one at the 1tth hour, so speak. While there’s a lot to unpack from this Carnival season, one of the most fascinating aspects flared up when word came Friday that the chief business officer for Tales of the Cocktail was resigning over a comment he apparently made during a Facebook Live video taken during the Zulu parade on Fat Tuesday.

Paul Tuennerman is the wife of Ann Tuennerman, executive director of Tales of the Cocktail, an annual trade convention about all things spirits. While “interviewing” his wife, who is white and who, adhering to Zulu tradition, was wearing blackface, made a comment about how wearing blackface apparently hindered her speaking skills. The combination of Ann Tuennerman wearing blackface and the comment by her husband set off a social media firestorm this past week, leading first to an apology by Ann and the resignation announcement by Paul.

You can read more about it in an article by New Orleans Advocate food writer Ian McNulty. Apparently no one has asked Zulu itself for a comment, though I did make that request via email last night and will check in by phone with their rep over this weekend.

Ann Tuennerman will apparently return to Facebook Live on Monday in a discussion with an African-American bartender who criticized her actions. I’ll have more on that on Sunday. Until then, I’d encourage discussion about all of this, but with the focus of the discussion being generated by the communities, cultures and organizations that created Zulu in the first place. It’s great that people are talking about this, but without the people of color at its center driving the conversation or being at the heart of it, it rings a little hollow.

I want to remind everyone that if you like what you hear on “PopSmart NOLA,” we’re here every Saturday from 3-4 p.m. on WHIV (102.3 FM). You can listen to the archived, podcast version of the show on my SoundCloud account, “dlsnola.” Also, you can visit the website at popsmartnola.com, and like our Facebook page. You can also follow us on Instagram at “@popsmartnola” and I’m yammering away on Twitter at @dlsnola504.

Also, if you like our show, we’d love your support in the form of underwriting; email me at dlsnola@gmail.com for more info.

Thanks again for joining us, y’all. For “PopSmart NOLA,” I’m David Lee Simmons, reminding everyone to keep the intelligent discussion going.

ADDITIONAL LINKS
David Boas on “Separation of Art and State” (Cato Institute)

Ian McNulty on Ann and Paul Teunnerman and Tales of the Cocktail (New Orleans Advocate)

Trump reportedly wants to cut cultural programs that make up 0.02 percent of federal spending (Washington Post)

Trump team prepares dramatic cuts (The Hill)

Arts Council of New Orleans helps national arts organization sound call to fight potential funding cuts under Trump Administration (PopSmart NOLA)

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Krewe of Zulu parade: Before, during and after, all along the avenues (photos)

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Watching the Krewe of Zulu along Orleans Avenue is a study in New Orleans street culture, complete with huge crowds gathering on the streets, along the sidewalks, and up on porches while barbecue pits billow with smoke and speakers blast with music to help along the marching bands that are dotted along the parade.

I had the honor and privilege of helping to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Bunch Club, many of whom are in Zulu, and I also got to interview the Zulu king and queen — both for the New Orleans Advocate. Here are visual highlights the corner of Orleans Avenue and Miro Street, and trots along Esplanade and Claiborne avenues.

Krewe of Endymion parade sets off from Mid-City (photos)

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What started out as a typically crazy and out-sized Krewe of Endymion parade became a sad night of pain for many parade-goers when a driver plowed into the route at the corner of Carrollton and Orleans avenues in Mid-City on Saturday (Feb. 25).

The parade started out innocently enough, having partially loaded in on Friday to get a head start, and, while many respected the new rule about keeping the neutral ground clear at the outset, plenty others jumped the barricades and enjoyed the fun — not learning until later what had happened further down.

We will share information as we get it, and also add more photos later.

Krewe of Nyx owns Wednesday night, and Ancient Druids (photos)

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Krewe of Nyx is now considered a super-krewe, and the members pretty much proved the point with their “Dancing the Night Away” parade that rolled through Uptown and into the CBD on Wednesday night (Feb. 22), owning the night as well as its preceding, so-called rival, the Ancient Druids.

There’s really no need to rehash Druids, which, while not nearly as offensive as in previous years, still continued its clunky deliver of its version of satire — which included a rather transphobic appraisal of Caitlyn Jenner. (This appeared to pull a page from satire better suited for a 2016 parade, but Druids has rarely been known to keep up with the times.)

Regardless, Nyx rolled behind, saving the best for last. I wasn’t wowed by the parade theme or some of the float execution, but others on social media theorized that Nyx’s emergence has also surprised in quality its most commonly referred-to all-female peer, Muses. You be the judge on this one.

 

 

 

Guest Essay: David Johnson offers a Presidents Day history lesson

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EDITOR’S NOTE: For anyone who follows historian and journalist David Johnson on Facebook, his “Weird Presidential History” posts have been an ongoing treat since the November election. David knows whereof he speaks; the new editor of museum publications at the New Orleans Museum of Art also served as editor of award-winning Louisiana Cultural Vistas and KnowLA.org, the Digital Encyclopedia of Louisiana. He also serves as a board member of the (upcoming!) Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival, and is an avid presidential history buff. “I have visited every presidential library in the National Archives system, from Franklin Roosevelt to George W. Bush, as proof!” he noted in presenting this guest essay. Fun stuff to ponder for Monday (Feb. 20), President’s Day. Enjoy.

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Author David Johnson

Presidents Day offers Americans a chance to reflect upon the 43 men who have represented the nation since 1789. Louisiana has long been host to a series of events that have shaped the presidency from its earliest days. Thomas Jefferson acquired the territory that ultimately became a state in 1812. Zachary Taylor, the only Louisianian to achieve the presidency, owned a plantation north of Baton Rouge in the 1840s. A young Abraham Lincoln sailed to New Orleans from his hardscrabble Indiana family farm to make money in the 1830s. Teddy Roosevelt found the “Sportsman’s Paradise” an irresistible destination for hunting and fishing expeditions. Alarmed by the threat to Gulf birdlife, he would establish one of the earliest national wildlife refuges at Breton Island in 1904.

Franklin and Eleanor frequented the state to witness New Deal projects following the death of nemesis Huey Long. Many of John F. Kennedy’s friends — and ultimately his assassin — emerged from Louisiana. George H.W. Bush would be nominated for the office at the Superdome in 1988. Seventeen years later, his son would be harangued for failing to provide timely assisted to thousands stranded there in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. What follows here are a few little-known aspects of how the state has played a role in influencing the worldview of the varied men who have called the White House home.

thomas-jefferson-origTHOMAS JEFFERSON
Not long after Thomas Jefferson purchased the Louisiana Territory from Napoleon Bonaparte in 1803, he received word that the surprised citizens of La Nouvelle Orléans were anxious about the prospect of American rule. Among those who raised concern was Mother Superior Therese de St. Xavier of the Ursuline Convent, a nunnery that dated back to the city’s earliest French colonial founding in 1718.

In a letter dated July 13, 1804, a mere seven months after the real-estate transfer, President Jefferson assured the sister that though the U.S. would expect an unfamiliar separation of church and state in the former French and Spanish colonial city, the convent and its school would be guaranteed freedom to practice its charitable works and educational goals with no interference from federal authorities:

“To the Soeur Therese de St. Xavier farjon Superior, and the Nuns of the order of St. Ursula at New Orleans

“I have received, holy sisters, the letter you have written me wherein you express anxiety for the property vested in your institution by the former governments of Louisiana. the principles of the constitution and government of the United states are a sure guarantee to you that it will be preserved to you sacred and inviolate, and that your institution will be permitted to govern itself according to it’s own voluntary rules, without interference from the civil authority. whatever diversity of shade may appear in the religious opinions of our fellow citizens, the charitable objects of your institution cannot be indifferent to any; and it’s furtherance of the wholesome purposes of society, by training up it’s younger members in the way they should go, cannot fail to ensure it the patronage of the government it is under. be assured it will meet all the protection which my office can give it.

“I salute you, holy sisters, with friendship & respect. Th: Jeffers”

lincolnriverboatABRAHAM LINCOLN
In April 1828, at age 19, a lanky Abraham Lincoln journeyed down the Ohio River and into the Lower Mississippi Valley aboard a flatboat loaded with the bounty of farm products from his Indiana homeland. For young men in the early 19th-century Midwest, a riverborne escapade floating down current to New Orleans was an adventurous rite of passage and a means of putting cash in bare pockets. Continue reading

Mystic Krewe of Barkus parade: No bone of contention on a fun day in the French Quarter (photos)

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Hundreds of dogs and their escorts promenaded through the French Quarter as tens of thousands cheered on in the annual Mystic Krewe of Barkus parade on a warm and sunny Sunday afternoon (Feb. 19).

This year’s theme: “Pirates of the Crescent City: Barkus Tells Tales of Jean Lafleabag.” Several venders supporting everything from shelter to animal rights were on hand as well.

I was given the opportunity to follow along with the Disco Amigos, the popular dance group, that literally brought up the rear of the parade, which started and ended in Armstrong Park. I’ll have some videos up later.

Krewe of ’tit Rex Trumps hate but hates Trump in Mardi Gras parade (photos)

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Well, he had it coming. And with at least one float, you could make the argument he came close.

The tiny Krewe of ’tit Rex was big on satirizing our golden new president, Donald J. Trump — the “J” apparently stands for “Jesus Effing Christ a Lot of People Don’t Like Me Down There” — in a parade held Saturday (Feb. 18) and starting on St. Roch Avenue. The parade itself in some ways feels like it’s out-grown itself. The overflow of humanity makes it difficult to appreciate the intricately lit and designed shoebox-size floats, with amateur and professional photographers and videographers jockeying for position alone the sidewalk of the neutral ground.

But in skewering the new president (and many others), the krewe proved once again that big things come in small packages.

 

PODCAST: NOMA’s Vanessa Schmid explains “A City That Lives on Water,” one of the four components of “A Life of Seduction: Venice in the 1700s”

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“A LIFE IN SEDUCTION: VENICE IN THE 1700S”
WHAT: Exhibition of costume, glass, handbags, masks, a puppet theater, and exquisite paintings by Canaletto, Guardi, Longhi and others from one of the centers of Western art
WHEN: Feb. 16-May 21, 2017
WHERE: New Orleans Museum of Art
MORE INFO: Check out the event page

Before the press preview of the new exhibition by the New Orleans Museum of Art, “A Life of Seduction: Venice in the 1700s,” I got a chance to sit down with the woman who put it all together. Vanessa Schmid, the Senior Research Curator for European Art, focused on one of the four components of the exhibition, “A City That Lives on Water,” which I thought was a nice connection to New Orleans (though you will find there are others in this amazing collection).

Schmid discusses some of the examples that fit into the water theme, although one image that particularly resonates with her — “The Redentore Procession,” oil on canvas, by Joseph Heintz, The Younger — is elsewhere in the exhibition. (It is an amazing piece; check it out in the gallery above.)

I will have more both on the exhibition (which opens Friday and runs through May 21), and will welcome Schmid as a guest on the next episode of “PopSmart NOLA” on Saturday (3 p.m.-4 p.m.) on WHIV (102.3 FM). You also can read an essay by Schmid about the exhibition in the the NOMA Arts Quarterly publication.

The exhibition is guest-curated by the former director of the Civic Museums of Venice, Giandomenico Romanelli. Check out the array of programming planned, including lectures, films and festivities, around the exhibition.

“On the Map”: Basketball documentary remembers a time when miracles happened in Israel — with a little help from its friends

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Tal Brody utters his immortal words after a major upset for Israel’s Maccabi Tel Aviv.

“ON THE MAP” SCREENING
WHAT:
Reception/screening of sports documentary about Israel’s winning the 1977 European Championship
WHEN: Thurs. (Feb. 16), 6 p.m. (reception) and 7 p.m. (screening)
WHERE: Jewish Community Center New Orleans Uptown (5342 St Charles Ave.)
ADMISSION: Free
MORE INFO: Visit the Facebook event page

This NBA All-Star Weekend will bring out many of the familiar basketball stars of yesterday — it’s as much a family reunion as anything else. Many will be looking out for Magic, Michael and Koby.

I’ll be looking out for Brody.

Tal Brody, who led one of the greatest upsets in basketball history, will be joined by former NBA great Dave Cowens and women’s hoops legend Nancy Lieberman for a special screening of the documentary “On the Map” on Thursday (Feb. 16) at the Jewish Community Center New Orleans’ Uptown location. The legends will mingle at a reception at 6 p.m., followed by the screening at 7 p.m. and then a question-and-answer session.

Brody, a New Jersey native, was a former first-round NBA draft pick who instead chose to play for Israel’s Maccabi Tel Aviv team and, toward the end of his career, led the team on an improbable run to the 1977 European Championship. It was in an era of incredible contrasts; Israel, not yet three decades old as a national state, was still trying to heal from the successive wounds created by the massacre of its 11 athletes at the 1972 Summer Olympic Games in Munich, Germany, and the 1973 Yom Kippur War as well as the tense 1976 hijacking by terrorists of an Air France flight from Tel Aviv. And while the nation shared with Europe a new-found passion for basketball, teams such as Russia, Spain and Italy were the real powerhouses.

Athletically and nationally, Israel needed a win. They got it, thanks to an unlikely assemblage of players that started with Brody, an American Jew, and a handful of other, non-Israeli imports that included an African-American starting center, Aulcie Perry. (He later converted to Judaism.)

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