Arts Desk

Arts Roundup: Big Bubble in the Sky Edition

bubbleboyHello! Hirshhorn Director Richard Koshalek wants to put a giant bubble on top of the museum. Wuh?

Writing in the New York Times, architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff details a plan for a blue, 145-foot inflatable structure (he describes it as a multipurpose meeting hall) that would bloom from the museums's central courtyard twice a year and spend the rest of the time in storage. Ouroussoff writes that the bubble "would transform one of the most somber buildings on the mall into a luminous pop landmark. It could be the most uplifting work of civic architecture built in the capital since I. M. Pei completed his East Building of the National Gallery of Art more than 30 years ago." To my eyes, it looks like a poached Easter egg—but also, well, wonderfully ostentatious for the fairly sober-looking National Mall (and anything that turns my eyes heavenward, and away from the mall's ocean of patchy grass, is a blessing). At least by Ouroussoff's account, the bubble seems like it's a real possibility: As far as museum expansions go, the price tag isn't especially steep ($5 million), and the project wouldn't require approval of the Smithsonian's notoriously stodgy Fine Arts Commission and the National Capital Planning Commission—which only oversee permanent expansions. Instead, the bubble merely requires an OK from the Hirshhorn's board, since it would only be inflated for two months of the year.

- The Boston Globe's essential photojournalism blog, the Big Picture, is running its take on the year's best photos this week. See the first 40 here.

- You can download a free audiobook of A Confederacy of Dunces for... about one more hour. Go!

- Local music corner! These United States assembles a mix for You Aint No Picasso. Bluebrain talks to Altsounds. Says member Ryan Holladay: "I look like Avatar on the inside." "During her set I watched [Lady Sovereign] pour a beer on top of someone's head. So I'd imagine our interaction would've gone much the same way." "Paul McCartney post-Beatles gets written off too much and it simply isn't fair."

- Note to aging leading men: Want to have steamy sex scenes with actresses less than half your age? Adapt a latter-day Philip Roth novel! Ben Kingsley recently did this and got hang out with a naked Penélope Cruz. Now, Al Pacino will bring Roth's 2009 novel The Humbling to screen with director Barry Levinson and writer Buck Henry. Related: The book was nominated for this year's Bad Sex in Fiction award, but lost to Jonathan Littell's The Kindly Ones. Find out why. (Perhaps NSFW.)

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