Arts Desk

Arts Roundup: ‘It’s a Protest!’ Edition

Morning, folks!

Today, D.C. anti-censorship picketers seek Wayne Clough’s head. Clough, the Smithsonian secretary, is on the hot seat after ceding the National Gallery’s standards of artistic decency to the Catholic League. The advocacy group ART+ is organizing protest today at 1 p.m. at the Smithsonian aimed specifically at convincing the museum’s board of regents to fire Clough.

There’s a new book out about Alan Lomax, the legendary audiophile/historian who discovered Huddie “Lead Belly” Ledbetter and dozens of other folkies, foreign and domestic, on his travels.

In light of the current debacle at the Smithsonian, it may be worth noting that in the early ‘40s, the FBI used some thin evidence to peg Lomax as a communist and tried to get him canned from another state-funded cultural preserve, the Library of Congress. But the LoC refused to bow to right-wing paranoia and kept Lomax. Several weeks later, the library dispatched Lomax to Mississippi, where he made field recordings of Muddy Waters and Son House that changed music history. In 1967, the Smithsonian asked Lomax to help organize the inaugural iteration of the now-famous Folklife Festival. In 1986, Ronald Reagan gave Lomax the National Medal of the Arts.

OK, other stuff:

-Protesting, for all its theatricality, can be a bit stylistically prosaic. Perhaps the ART+ advocates would find have more fun critiquing Clough via, a “Docu-opera,” as is the style of the time?

-WaPo examines some lower-stakes examples of artist-venue antipathy.

-Filmmaker Andrew Rossi and kindreds at the New York Times protest the market-driven funding model for public-service journalism in a good documentary with a bad title.

In an upset, this weekend’s episode of Saturday Night Live had significantly more hits than misses! Worth a gander; Jessie Eisenberg killed it. Have a good Monday!

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