Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Nancy Spero 1926 - 2009

Nancy Spero, artist, feminist, activist, wife, mother, and a great presence in the art world, passed away yesterday. She was 83 years old. The above video snippet from last year's Art:21 gives some idea of her modesty, her fierce intelligence, her unpretentious brilliance. She will be sorely missed.

I knew Nancy and her husband, the artist Leon Golub (1922-2004), particularly in the mid-1980s, when I was curating art exhibitions, and was able to place their work in shows such as Situation, Totem, Body Politic and Stigmata. I showed work from her ongoing series of long paper scrolls with pressed, printed and collaged images of iconic female forms, multicultural pictographs of women through the ages.

From her Wikipedia entry:

An activist and early feminist, Spero was a member of the Art Workers Coalition (1968-69), Women Artists in Revolution (1969), and in 1972 she was a founding member of the first women’s cooperative gallery, A.I.R. (Artists in Residence) in SoHo. It was during this period that Spero completed her "Artaud Paintings" (1969-70), finding her artistic “voice” and developing her signature scroll paintings: Codex Artaud (1971-1972). Uniting text and image, printed on long scrolls of paper, glued end-to-end and tacked on the walls of A.I.R., Spero violated the formal presentation, choice of valued medium and scale of framed paintings. Although her collaged and painted scrolls were Homeric in both scope and depth, the artist shunned the grandiose in content as well as style, relying instead on intimacy and immediacy, while also revealing the continuum of shocking political realities underlying enduring myths.

In 1974, Spero chose to focus on themes involving women and their representation in various cultures; her Torture in Chile (1974) and the long scroll, Torture of Women (1976, 20 inches x 125 feet), interweave oral testimonies with images of women throughout history, linking the contemporary governmental brutality of Latin American dictatorships (from Amnesty International reports) with the historical repression of women. Spero re-presented previously obscured women’s histories, cultural mythology, and literary references with her expressive figuration.

Developing a pictographic language of body gestures and motion, a bodily hieroglyphics, Spero reconstructed the diversity of representations of women from pre-history to the present. From 1976 through 1979, she researched and worked on Notes in Time on Women, a 20 inch by 210 foot paper scroll. She elaborated and amplified this theme in The First Language (1979-81, 20 inches by 190 feet), eschewing text altogether in favor of an irregular rhythm of painted, hand-printed, and collaged figures, thus creating her “cast of characters.” The acknowledgement of Spero’s international status as a preeminent figurative and feminist artist was signaled in 1987 by her traveling retrospective exhibitions in the United States and United Kingdom. By 1988, she developed her first wall installations. For these installations, Spero extended the picture plane of the scrolls by moving her printed images directly onto the walls of museums and public spaces.

Harnessing a capacious imaginative energy and a ferocious will, Spero continued to mine the full range of power relations. In 1987, following retrospective exhibitions in the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada, the artist created images that leapt from the scroll surface to the wall surface, refiguring representational forms of women over time and engaging in a dialogue with architectural space. Spero’s wall paintings in Chicago, Vienna, Dresden, Toronto, and Derry form poetic reconstructions of the diversity of representations of women from the ancient to the contemporary world, validating a subjectivity of female experience.

I often visited Nancy and Leon in their loft on La Guardia Place, just north of Bleecker Street. It was a wonderful place, a true salon where they surrounded themselves with great people, intelligent discussion, political commitment, and a free and generous spirit.

Nancy and Leon met at the Art Institute of Chicago in the late 1940s, got married in 1950, traveled and lived together in Europe, had three sons, and moved to their downtown New York studio in 1964. They were married for 53 years, until his death in 2004. She has now gone to join him. They were a great art couple, cherishing each other, challenging each other, proceeding always with fondness and joy.

Nancy Spero. There will not be another like her. R.I.P.


Holland Cotter published an obituary of Nancy Spero in yesterday's NY Times. It includes the following text:

Ms. Spero, who always viewed art as inseparable from life, developed a distinctive kind of political work. Polemical but symbolic, it combined drawing and painting as well as craft-based techniques like collage and printmaking seldom associated with traditional Western notions of high art and mastery.

One result was a group of pictures in gouache, ink and collage on paper titled “The War Series” (1966-70). With its depictions of fighter planes and helicopters as giant, phallic insects, the series linked military power and sexual predatoriness, but also included women among the attackers. Ms. Spero later described the work as “a personal attempt at exorcism”; it remains one of the great, sustained protest art statements of its era, all the more forceful for its unmonumental scale. Exhibited in 2006 at LeLong Gallery in Manhattan, its pertinence to contemporary politics was unmistakable.

In 1971, Ms. Spero also returned to the interests of her Paris years in the introspective and tormented “Codex Artaud,” a series that interspersed images of broken bodies and hieroglyphic monsters with the transcribed writings of Antonin Artaud (1896-1948), the mentally ill French poet who viewed himself as an outcast from society and who spoke of human folly with a mocking rage. To some degree, the work reflected Ms. Spero’s own sense of exclusion from an art world that had the character of a men’s club.

By the time of the “Codex Artaud” her long involvement with the women’s movement had begun. Ms. Spero was active in the Art Workers Coalition, and in 1969 she joined the splinter group Women Artists in Revolution (WAR), which organized protests against sexist and racist policies in New York City museums. In 1972, she was a founding member of A.I.R. Gallery, the all-women cooperative, originally in SoHo, now in the Dumbo section of Brooklyn. And in the mid-1970s she resolved to focus her art exclusively on images of women, as participants in history and as symbols in art, literature and myth.

On horizontal scrolls made from glued sheets of paper, she assembled a multicultural lexicon of figures from ancient Egypt, Greece and India to pre-Christian Ireland to the contemporary world and set them out in non-linear narratives. Her 14-panel, 133-foot-long “Torture of Women” (1974-1976) joins figures from ancient art and words from Amnesty International reports on torture to illustrate institutional violence against women as a universal condition.

Ms. Spero considered this her first explicitly feminist work. Many others followed, though over time she came to depict women less as victims and more often as heroic free agents dancing sensuously.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Artists Exhibiting in Vacant Commercial Spaces, New York 2009

Matthew Lusk's Untitled Hobo at the NADA County Affair

I read an article in the NY Times on Monday, October 12, 2009, entitled "Luring Artists to Lend Life to Empty Storefronts". At the time, I thought it might inspire an interesting posting, especially considering an opening I had recently attended way downtown (south of Trinity Church) which the article failed to mention. Organized by Ellen Scott's Smart Spaces, which "presents contemporary art in the windows of vacant storefronts", the exhibition Regeneration opened October 7th at 88 Greenwich Street and featured window installations by Kim Krans, Hilary Harnischfeger, and Cordy Ryman.

But somehow I lost the impetus for this posting until a series of Facebook "friends" redirected my attention to the NY Times article, the thesis of which is that
as the recession drags on and storefronts across New York remain empty, commercial landlords are turning to an unlikely new class of tenants: artists... On terms that are cut-rate and usually temporary — a few weeks or months — the artist gets a gallery or studio, and the landlord gets a vibrant attraction that may deter crime and draw the next wave of paying tenants.
To those of us on the scene for a while, the idea is hardly new: artists as the battering rams of real estate, pioneering the settlement of marginal neighborhoods, going where rents are cheap, where a lot of studio space can be had for less, creating living lofts and non-profit galleries or collective exhibitions in empty commercial lofts and storefronts. This happened in SoHo in the late 60s-70s, in the East Village in the 80s, in Dumbo and Williamsburg and Greenpoint and Bushwick and Downtown Brooklyn.

The conventional narrative sees artists as the adventurous harbingers of better things, taking advantage of economic downturns to establish ad hoc stores, cafes, project spaces and communities where yuppies dare not tread, reclaiming urban space until the recession ends, the real money moves in, the crime abates, and behold: instant hipster paradise. Occasionally the artists even manage to remain in the neighborhoods they helped create. More often they are pushed out.

The NY Times article touches on several interesting situations. Jed Walentas of Two Trees Management, who has a long history of cooperation with artists in Dumbo, notes that
any sort of activity is better than no activity. As long as it’s short enough and it’s flexible, then there’s no real cost. So the question is who can you find that’s going to make an investment in a space with that level of uncertainty, and often it’s the artist.
Also cited is Anita Durst of Chashama, an organization with many buildings and commercial storefronts in the midtown/Times Square area, who is a long time champion of visual and performing artists, providing space to theaters and temporary exhibitions. She indicates the paradigm of seeking artists to rejuvenate fallow commercial space, which she has facilitated for fifteen years, is now spreading to other landlords.

Manon Slome is part of No Longer Empty, a consortium of curators and artists using vacant commercial space, and has mounted temporary exhibitions in locales as diverse as a new hotel off the High Line and a former belt factory in Brooklyn. A project in the vacant Tower Record store on Lafayette and East Fourth Street is apparently also being contemplated. According to their mission statement, No Longer Empty plans to "utilize multiple vacated storefronts and offices" and is
conceived specifically to encourage an artistic response to our present economic condition and the effect on both the urban landscape and the national psyche. The numerous vacated buildings in New York City provide an opportunity for artists to revitalize these spaces with thoughtful, sustainable art installations.
In interview, Slome indicates:
I obviously hope the economic crisis will be over, but I see it as a great way for the public to interact with art in a different way. And it does provide a great platform for artists because they can do things that are maybe more experimental or larger than they could in a gallery space.
One of more promising upcoming ventures is the New Art Dealers Association (NADA) project in Downtown Brooklyn. The NADA County Affair will be held this Sunday, October 18, 2009 from noon to 7 pm to inaugurate the project. NADA's mandate is to
transform six consecutive storefronts at 395 Flatbush Avenue Extension in the heart of Downtown Brooklyn into dynamic exhibition spaces, featuring large-scale works and installations by emerging artists. "395/NADA ART IN/VISIBLE SPACES", a 5-month-long exhibition, will simultaneously provide an exhibition for these ambitious pieces and an accessible art space for the community...

The exhibition spaces will be open beginning of October to the general public on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. During this time project hosts will be on hand to provide guidance to visitors. Throughout the week, the exhibition will be lit and visible from the outside.

Kenny Scharf spray painting

Kenny Scharf is a participating artist, and a photo of him executing a wall painting in one of the storefronts was part of the NY Times article and can be seen above. Other participants include Alicia Gibson, Allison Schulnik, Brian Faucette, Caitlin McBride, Christian Maycheck, Daniel Heidkamp, Eric Wendell, Erik Parker, Fabian Marti, Ian Pedigo, Justiin Craun, Justin Samson, Kadar Brock, Liz Markus, Luke Stettner, Mamiko Otsubo, Marco Boggio Sella, Mark Schubert, Matthew Lusk, Matthew Spiegelman, Michael Queenland, Michael Rashkow, Michele O'marah, Mike Diana, Mike Smith, Mike Womack, Nancy de Holl, Olaf Breuning, Pedro Barbeito, Quentin Curry, Rachel Foullon, Rachel Owens, Ruby Stiler and Tom Sanford.


In addition to Smart Spaces, several other recent or ongoing projects that take advantage of fallow commercial space are not cited in the NY Times piece. One, the Bruce High Quality Foundation University, or BHQFU on its collegiate hoodies and T-shirts, commenced this September at 225 West Broadway (corner White) in a former Sufi Center in Tribeca. BHQFU is a free, unaccredited institution of arts education with curriculum and participation still very much in flux, committed to the model of experimental, grassroots pedagogy advanced by Black Mountain College in the 1940s. More on the Bruces in another posting.


Finally, starting this past Spring and continuing through August 2009, a vacant storefront in a recently constructed luxury condo at 211 Elizabeth Street in NoLita hosted a group of artists who converted it into a platform for a succession of low budget, short term projects, installations and performances. Here's the complete schedule of 211 Art:

Mathieu Copeland, 30 - 31 August
Jen Liu, with Scott Kiernan, 29 August
Jen Liu, with Tyler Coburn, 28 August
Jen Liu, with Maria Chavez, 27 August
Rodney LaTourelle, 27 - 30 August
Susanne Schuricht, 25 - 28 August
Erik Smith, 24 - 27 August
Caecilia Tripp, with Emah Fox, Karyn Geyer, Eiju Kawasaki, Brian Lingrind and Sham el Nessim, 22 August
Yvette Mattern with Christine de Lignières, 20 - 24 August
Ronnie Bass, 14 - 20 August
Bettina Hutschek, 12 August
Brian Block, 11 - 15 August
Lucy Gallun, 6 - 11 August
Stefan Saffer, 3 - 6 August
Adina Popescu, with Michael Portnoy, 29 July - 3 August
Sean Raspet, 29 - 31 July
Emily Mast and Evan Mast, 24 -29 July
Alexis Knowlton, 21 - 24 July
Jason Loebs and Patrick Price, 18 - 21 July
Angel Nevarez and Valerie Tevere, 14 - 18 July
Loretta Fahrenholz, 10 - 14 July
An Te Liu, 9 - 10 July
Maria Chavez, Marcella Faustini and Donna Huanca, 6 - 9 July
Ben Bunch, with Sarrita Hunn, 2 - 6 July
David Levine, 29 June - 2 July
David Baumflek, 25 - 29 June
Rey Akdogan, 21 - 25 June
Karl Lydén and Rebecka Thor, 19 - 21 June
Ethan Hayes-Chute, 17 - 19 June
Gabriel Martinez, 14 -17 June
Shinsuke Aso, 12 - 14 June
Paul Pagk, with Adrian Dannatt and Eric Mitchell, 8 - 12 June
Debo Eilers, 4 - 8 June
Liz Magic Laser, with Robert Graner, 31 May - 4 June
Daniel Feinberg / SEMITES Magazine, 26 - 31 May
Indira Sylvia Belissop, 22 - 26 May
Jeff Perkins and João Simões, with Stefan Tcherepnin, 18 - 22 May
Sophie MacPherson, 15 - 18 May
city inspection interlude, 14 May
Mark Tribe, with André Lasalle and Greg Tate, 10 May - 13 May
Christina Linden, 8 - 10 May
Liz Linden, 3 - 8 May
XLXS, 29 April - 3 May
Scale Free Network, 25 - 29 April
B. Wurtz, 23 - 26 April
Alex Singh, 20 - 23 April
Amy Patton, 19 - 20 April
Patricia Reed, 18 - 19 April
Debra Warner, 16 - 18 April
Eve K. Tremblay, 14 April - 31 August
bathroom extension interlude, 8 - 14 April
Scott Kiernan, 4 - 8 April
Trong Gia Nguyen, 31 March - 4 April
Olivier Babin, 28 - 31 March
Filip Gilissen, 24 - 28 March
Boshko Bošković and Ana Prvački, 21 - 24 March
Klara Hobza, 18 - 21 March
Diana Artus, 15 - 18 March
Georgia Sagri, 15 March
Hilario Isola and Matteo Norzi, 13 - 15 March
Georgia Sagri, 13 March
Ania Diakoff, 12 March - 27 August
The Second Hand, 10 - 12 March
Jon Cuyson, 8 - 10 March
conception phase, through 8 March

Finding and using vacant commercial space has been a strategy for many generations of New York artists. That it is now featured in the pages of the NY Times is one more instance of the expected neo-recession zeitgeist fomenting coverage in the mainstream media.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Art Review Power 100 for 2009: Year of the Curator

Art Review magazine unveiled their Power 100 list at the Frieze Art Fair in London. Damien Hirst, voted number one last year and the cover boy of Art Review's October 2009 issue, plummeted this year to number 48, indicating a possible reaction to the star artist syndrome occasioned by current economic worries. Although Bruce Nauman (number 10), Jeff Koons (13), Fischli & Weiss (19) and Mike Kelley (20) are highly placed.

Bruce Nauman

In addition to the expected mega dealers and mega collectors, a number of curators have garnered top power spots, led by omnipresent curator, panelist and art world organizer Hans Ulrich Obrist, the Swiss-born critic and co-director of Exhibitions at the Serpentine Gallery. He is this year's numero uno.

Hans Ulrich Obrist

Glenn Lowry, director of MoMA, took second place; he did not even appear in last year's list. Sir Nicholas Serota, director of the Tate, came in third.

Analysis from The Independent indicates:
It is curators rather than artists who are now regarded as the real movers and shakers of the art world.

"The people who are the top are the people who are kind of flexible and are able to cope with a world that is rapidly changing," said Mark Rappolt, editor of Art Review. "This is partly because of the recession, but partly because it was happening anyway, because you need to be flexible to work on a global level."
Other critic/curator/museum types given significant placement include Daniel Birnbaum (4), Anton Vidokle (8), Iwona Blazwick (9), Alfred Pacquement (18), Matthew Higgs (29) and Massimiliano Gioni (50). Glaringly absent is MoMA's Klaus Biesenbach. Glenn Beck comes in at number 100. It's good to know someone has a sense of humor.

The list in full:

1. Hans Ulrich Obrist

2. Glenn D. Lowry

3. Sir Nicholas Serota

4. Daniel Birnbaum

5. Larry Gagosian

6. François Pinault

7. Eli Broad

8. Anton Vidokle, Julieta Aranda & Brian Kuan Wood

9. Iwona Blazwick

10. Bruce Nauman

11. Iwan Wirth

12. David Zwirner

13. Jeff Koons

14. Jay Jopling

15. Marian Goodman

16. Agnes Gund

17. Takashi Murakami

18. Alfred Pacquement

19. Fischli & Weiss

20. Mike Kelley

21. Barbara Gladstone

22. Steven A. Cohen

23. Dominique Lévy & Robert Mnuchin

24. Adam D. Weinberg

25. Marc Glimcher

26. Brett Gorvy & Amy Cappellazzo

27. Tobias Meyer & Cheyenne Westphal

28. Ann Philbin

29. Matthew Higgs

30. Matthew Marks

31. Tim Blum & Jeff Poe

32. Gavin Brown

33. Ralph Rugoff

34. Liam Gillick

35. Anne Pasternak

36. Dakis Joannou

37. John Baldessari

38. Isa Genzken

39. Paul McCarthy

40. Michael Govan

41. Eugenio López

42. Cindy Sherman

43. Ai Weiwei

44. Patricia Phelps de Cisneros

45. Annette Schönholzer & Marc Spiegler

46. Diedrich Diederichsen

47. Richard Prince

48. Damien Hirst

49. Bernard Arnault

50. Massimiliano Gioni

51. Amanda Sharp & Matthew Slotover

52. Joel Wachs

53. Victor Pinchuk

54. Udo Kittelmann

55. Marina Abramovic

56. Michael Ringier

57. Gerhard Richter

58. Richard Serra

59. RoseLee Goldberg

60. Kasper König

61. Roberta Smith

62. Monika Sprüth & Philomene Magers

63. Germano Celant

64. Emmanuel Perrotin

65. Peter Schjeldahl

66. Beatrix Ruf

67. Okwui Enwezor

68. Nicolas Bourriaud

69. Karen & Christian Boros

70. Isabelle Graw

71. Maurizio Cattelan

72. Charles Saatchi

73. Jerry Saltz

74. Jasper Johns

75. Louise Bourgeois

76. Thaddaeus Ropac

77. Mera & Don Rubell

78. Thelma Golden

79. Sarah Morris

80. Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev

81. Anita & Poju Zabludowicz

82. Paul Schimmel

83. Jose, Alberto & David Mugrabi

84. Sadie Coles

85. Daniel Buchholz

86. Victoria Miro

87. Maureen Paley

88. Johann König

89. Nicolai Wallner

90. Maria Lind

91. Massimo De Carlo

92. Mario Cristiani, Lorenzo Fiaschi & Maurizio Rigillo

93. Rirkrit Tiravanija

94. Toby Webster

95. Long March Space

96. Nicholas Logsdail

97. Harry Blain & Graham Southern

98. Claire Hsu

99. Peter Nagy

100. Glenn Beck

The cover of the November 2009 issue of Art Review (which features the Power 100):

The magazine website has a page on the Power 100, with demographic breakdowns and an open comments thread.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Watusi vs. L'Escargot: Another Desperate Republican Attempt to Smear Obama

Henri Matisse, L'Escargot, 1953

Alma Thomas, Watusi (Hard Edge), 1963

The Republican hate machine and the mobs they incite have hardly been reticent on any "issue" which they manufacture or exaggerate in an attempt to bring Obama down. Witness the "Birthers", the "Deathers", the "Tea Party-ers", the "Great White Hopers", and the acolytes of Glenn Beck who embrace his charges of racism against the president.

As reported in Media Matters:

Given the gleeful mocking of President Obama over Chicago's failed effort to host the 2016 Olympics, and shameless smears of his unexpected Nobel Peace Prize, let's pause and ask: Is there anything conservatives won't turn into a cudgel to bludgeon the president? Take, for example, the art hanging on the White House walls.

The particular issue that Conservative websites have latched onto is the similarity between Watusi (Hard Edge), a 1963 Alma Thomas canvas selected for display in the White House, and L'Escargot (The Snail), a late (1953) cutout by Henri Matisse, which Thomas viewed at MoMA.

The complaint issued by Michelle Malkin and other Conservative bloggers is that the Obama White House did not just indulge in "sentimental stretching" to favor African-American artists, but was actually clueless in abetting an act of artistic plagiarism by choosing a "knock off" of Matisse.

In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Alma Thomas was quite cognizant of the nature of her "borrowings", also of reversing Matisse's color selections and turning the picture plane 90 degrees to the right. Both devices were explicitly chosen to make a particular aesthetic/political statement, undoubtedly influenced by the turbulent civil rights climate of the 1960s, when racial equality and black identity were at the forefront of the national dialogue.

From a January 2002 article in Art in America by Joe Fyfe:

A good place to begin thinking about Alma Thomas's ravishing late work might be the moment in 1964 when, close to paralysis and bedridden, the 73-year-old artist found herself staring at the hollyhock shadows she had known her entire life and calculating how to use them in her paintings. A year earlier, she had seen the late Matisse cutouts at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Matisse's work had prompted her to paint an acrylic-on-canvas version of his collage The Snail (1953), in which nearly all the original colors were reversed. Thomas named her painting Watusi (Hard Edge), after Chubby Checker's dance hit "The Watusi." As well as marrying high modernism with the popular culture of black America - then entering the American mainstream - the title she chose noted Matisse's debt to African art.
Art historian Ann Gibson discusses the political message inherent in Thomas' "mimicry and revision of Matisse" in her contribution to Alma W. Thomas: A Retrospective of the Paintings:
The close resemblance between Watusi and L'Escargot (especially evident when Thomas's painting is turned ninety degrees to the right) suggests an overlap between Thomas's determination to comprehend the lessons of modernism and her identification -- and perhaps her sense of rivalry -- with one of its principle figures. However, the title Watusi, which refers both to an African people and to a hit tune of the early 1960s (Chubby Checker's record "The Watusi" was released in 1961), suggests that she used elements of Matisse's art not only as models of abstraction but also to refer to African people and their representation in popular culture, just as elements of art made by Africans could reflect, in Western modernism, European desires and European high culture.

Thomas's radical revisions of Matisse's colors (but not the values of his collaged shapes) to their near opposite on the color wheel, as well as her opening of the "frame" -- blues in her painting, oranges in his - are also noteworthy. By permitting the white shapes to penetrate the frame, Thomas animates and frees both the white areas and the colored forms: The frame no longer contains the central organization, and the framing shapes join in the "dance" of the shapes inside.

When Thomas's mimicry and revision of Matisse is read in the context of her entitling her painting Watusi, one sees more than an implicit defiance of modernism's creed of originality. What does it mean for an ambitious but comparatively unknown artist to appropriate in paint an important recent work by an internationally recognized master? Especially when she changes the title from a word that suggests not only a sluggish mollusk whose movements are drastically curtailed by its shell but also an epicurean dish whose very name connotes elite privilege? And when the title she selects is the name of a people legendary for their height and strength and after whom, during the civil rights struggle, a popular song has been named? With the title
Watusi, Thomas sets her critique (and homage) in the context of early-twentieth century borrowing from Africa by such revered modernists as Matisse, visually loosening his frame and conceptually replacing his upper-class European reference with one that connotes both African and popular American culture. The similarity of forms in Thomas's painting and Matisse's collage suggests the interchangeability, and thus the equality, of social, national, and economic values.

We wouldn't expect online Conservative trash throwers to be versed in postmodern art theory and its embrace of issues as diverse as appropriation, identity, received culture, revisionism, and authorship. Certainly we would not assume them to be aware of the Pictures Generation, of Sherrie Levine's rephotographing Walker Evans, of Richard Prince reproducing images taken from advertising or publishing and re-contextualizing it as high art. Any of the self reflexive issues which engage contemporary arts discussions - irony about authorship, examination of sources, institutional critique - are understandably beyond their ken.

But their ignorance of high art discourse is hardly the point. What's clearly revealed is their kneejerk demonizing of any Obama decision or initiative, their shameless ability to sneer at Afro American culture, and their stereotyping of anything that emanates from Black America as somehow suspect in honesty or rigor. In their rush to judgment, the Conservative bloggers resemble nothing so much as an aesthetic lynch mob.