First Sackler, now Bet365. The art world can’t keep taking money from companies that do us harm – The Guardian
In Laura Poitras’s Oscar-nominated documentary, All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, we watch as members of the Sackler family – then-owners of the pharmaceutical behemoth behind America’s opioid crisis – are confronted with the testimony of those affected. They sit impassively as a recording is played of a desperate mother’s 911 call after finding her son dead from overdose. Another piece of testimony is from Nan Goldin, the photographer and former OxyContin addict whose successful campaign for the art world to renounce Sackler patronage the film follows.
Thanks to Goldin and the activist group she leads, the Sackler name has fallen away from many of the arts institutions that named spaces after the family in exchange for its largesse. First the National Portrait Gallery in the UK rejected a £1m donation. Then the Louvre in Paris removed the name. Then the National Gallery, the British Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim, the Serpentine, V&A, the Tate, and the Roundhouse all followed suit.
Would they have turned away from the Sacklers without this campaign led by a leading light of the art world? Without the $8bn settlement that Purdue Pharma paid the Department of Justice (inclusive of a $3.5bn criminal fine, plus a $6bn civil settlement two years later)? What about if the company hadn’t become the subject of films with titles such as The Crime of the Century? Forgive me if I’m sceptical.
One of the cultural institutions that also took the Sackler dime is the Courtauld. Consisting of galleries located in London’s glorious Somerset House, as well as being part of the University of London and a research centre, the Courtauld owns some of the world’s greatest artworks and most significant manuscripts. Last year, it put on a spectacular Van Gogh exhibition in a brand new space: the Denise Coates Exhibition Galleries.
You’d be forgiven for not recognising the name, because this billionaire is particularly publicity-avoidant. Along with her family, Denise Coates (CBE) owns one of the most profitable gambling firms in the world, Bet365. Last year, when NHS England found that 2.2 million people in the UK are either current problem gamblers or at risk of addiction, Coates took home more than £250m. And in 2021, the year a Public Health England report cited 409 gambling-related suicides, Coates earned £421m. Fitting, I suppose, that the first major exhibition in the gallery bearing Coates’s name featured Vincent van Gogh, an artist who spent time in psychiatric hospitals for chronic addiction and who took his own life.
Coates, on the opening of the gallery, said that she had “found great fulfilment from my own exposure to visual arts and I am pleased to be able to support that journey for others”. I too have found great fulfilment from being exposed to the visual arts. Unfortunately, when I visit the Courtauld I will now also be exposed to the name of a woman whose company contributed to a gambling addiction which led me to mental-health crisis and the loss of tens of thousands of pounds. Unfortunately, I can no longer find as much fulfilment in the visual arts, as I have had to give up memberships to much-loved galleries as a direct result of those losses. Unfortunately, for two years, the arts didn’t even cross my mind because I was entirely consumed by gambling, and lost the ability to find pleasure in anything else. I am essentially now starting from scratch.
Of course, there’s a moral dilemma here; the thorny question of when quid pro quo is actually worth it. Plenty of cultural, academic and sporting institutions rely on the patronage of wealthy individuals and corporations. If I am an art lover then shouldn’t I be grateful to the Coateses and the Sacklers for facilitating access to it? Does it matter that what is happening here is artwashing, sibling to the much more closely scrutinised greenwashing and sportswashing, most recently spotlighted by the World Cup in Qatar and the snapping up of Premier League clubs by human rights abusing regimes?
And where should the line be drawn? Even casual gallery-goers will recognise the signage of Credit Suisse – the Swiss bank that has clients involved in human-trafficking, murder and political corruption – in the National Gallery, of which it is a long-term sponsor. Leading galleries are under pressure to divest from the energy industry. And how do we feel about the fact that oligarch (Sir) Len Blavatnik, who is accused of links with associates of Vladimir Putin (which he strenuously denies), has donated to almost every leading cultural and academic institution you can think of?
Of course, the crux of the matter is that our cultural institutions should not have to rely upon the generosity, whether altruistic or self-serving, of the 1%. The galleries and museums and theatres and music venues which remind us of everything that life has to offer, that boost mood and educate and elevate the soul, should be deemed important enough, imperative even, to be funded properly by the state. The National Gallery is a public body under the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, as are 14 other gallery and museum groups. If funding was allocated as it should be, then the Tate, which is one of them, wouldn’t also feel compelled to accept £1m from Denise Coates.
The actor Maxine Peake has led calls to save the Oldham Coliseum, a 135-year-old theatre which lost its entire Arts Council England (ACE) funding. Donmar Warehouse – one of the theatres that has terminated its funding agreement with the Sacklers – has also had its entire ACE grant removed. If wealthy individuals and corporations were taxed at higher rates, there would be more money in the public purse to support the arts – instead of those wealthy individuals and corporations offering to fund them directly as a form of reputation laundering. The arts aren’t just about personal and social benefits; the cultural sectors contributed £10.8bn annually to the UK economy before the pandemic hit. There is also evidence that access to culture saves the NHS money in its positive effects on physical and mental health.
It could be said (and I’d have sympathy with the view) that refusing money just because a donor’s politics don’t align with the liberal worldview of most cultural bodies shows a level of moral superiority that is at best self-defeating. But taking cash from those profiting via active harm to vulnerable people is, surely, very different. The Sacklers fall into this category. So, despite its charity donations and positive support for local enterprises, does the Coates family. The gambling industry makes 60% of its money from 5% of its customers, and those 5% are not the ones taking a flutter on the horses every now and then.
As I write, the Denise Coates Exhibition Gallery is hosting a Peter Doig exhibition. I was introduced to Doig’s work as a child, after an art prize in my home city of Liverpool kickstarted his career. I want to see this exhibition. I don’t want to see Denise Coates’s name next to it, even if it’s partly thanks to her that the show is happening. Because it’s also partly down to her that millions of people, including me, are rebuilding their lives from a business model centred around our misery. It’s an art-form for sure, but not the good kind.
Hannah Jane Parkinson is a Guardian columnist and the author of The Joy of Small Things
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Inspired by a Lifetime exhibition showcases art by nonagenarians – CollingwoodToday.ca
A local artist is capturing the beauty in sunset years by teaching seniors how to paint. Their work has made the walls of a local gallery.
“I thought I’d be dead before I got famous. Thank God that’s not the case,” jokes 92-year-old Keith Sumner, one of the many seniors whose original art is displayed at the exhibit titled Inspired by a Lifetime at Stonebridge Art Gallery.
A resident of Leacock Retirement Lodge in Orillia, he is one of the students taking lessons with Lisa Harpell, an Elmvale-based artist who has been teaching art classes to seniors in retirement homes in the region.
The work of about 40 senior artists ranging in age from 81 to 101 years old from seven retirement communities is on display at the Wasaga Beach gallery until March 27. The show includes work done by residents from Waterside Retirement Lodge (Wasaga Beach), Chartwell Whispering Pines (Barrie), Aspira Waterford Retirement Residents (Barrie), Allandale Station (Barrie), Lavita Barrington Retirement Lodge (Barrie), Bayfield House (Penetanguishene), and Leacock Retirement Lodge (Orillia).
The exhibition also includes Harpell’s paintings and sculptures.
True to its title, each painting displayed for Inspired by a Lifetime has an impactful story to tell.
Verna Stovold, who lives with macular degeneration, is one of the many seniors attending the classes.
“Verna paints beautifully because her body remembers how to paint background, middle ground and foreground,” said her teacher, Harpell. “She tells us the paint that she wants and she dabs her brush and goes right ahead and paints. She asks me all the time if it’s okay if she comes to class … I say, ‘Verna, you’re the one that’s inspiring everyone else.’ Because I am holding up [her] paintings and everybody goes ‘wow.’”
Stovold has two large paintings and ten studies included in the exhibition.
The process of training seniors to paint has been extremely gratifying for Harpell.
“It is deeply satisfying to the soul. It brings me to tears all the time,” she said. “Because I know that what they created is worth showing. And it needs to be brought to the community not only for their sake, but for the community to realize that anyone can do this. Creativity is something that gives us hope. And that is something that is necessary in this world right now.”
In her early days, Georgian College, Barrie, grad worked with the late Canadian artist, William Ronald.
“He really did bring out the kid in me. He was such a kid himself. And that [thought] is what I really try to pass on, not only his legacy. I also find that the child in every one of my students wants to just play with paint and get their hands dirty. And have some fun and laughs,” says the mother of four.
Alysanne Dever, lifestyle and programs manager at Chartwell Whispering Pines Retirement Residence, said the exhibition and art classes have brought a wave of positivity for the artists, their family, and their caretakers.
“This is the first time that I have ever seen or heard of an art gallery showing for seniors with no prior experience,” says Dever, noting the opening day reception crowd packed the gallery. “Really, that’s what it’s all about! The residents were so proud that people were complimenting and wanting to learn about what inspired them to paint specific photos. One of our residents actually sold an art piece as well and she was so thrilled!”
Dever is a strong proponent of the benefits of art therapy, and says it provides residents with a creative outlet to express what might otherwise stay bottled up.
“This allows them to escape from reality, even for a little bit as they immerse themselves in their art piece in that moment,” says Dever. “Art therapy encourages seniors to use their creativity and gives them a sense of control and independence, which are essential qualities as you age.”
Not every brush stroke is smooth, and not every day was wrinkle-free for Harpell while she taught lessons in retirement homes. From outbreaks and whiteouts to loss of confidence, the behind-the-scenes training and coordination to make the exhibit happen meant clearing several hurdles.
And yet, Harpell says, it is during the most trying circumstances that intuitive art therapy has a larger role to play, especially among the community’s vulnerable ones. Art has played such a role in Sumner’s life, after he picked up the brush in his 90s.
“Painting puts you in a different mindset. Takes you away from everyday things,” says Sumner. “My perception of things has changed. The sky is different every day… and it intrigues me. I am observing things more critically, in more detail…and painting has encouraged that.”
The exhibit is supported by the Wasaga Society for the Arts, in part because it helps accomplish the society’s mandate of making art accessible.
The society’s interim president, Steve Wallace, said the group aims to introduce the community to all kinds of art, and to promote diversity and inclusion for artists and patrons.
The Inspired by a Lifetime exhibition runs at the Stonebridge Art Gallery until March 27 on Thursdays and Saturdays and on Monday, March 27 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
President Biden to Award National Medals of Arts – National Endowment for the Arts
Washington, DC—President Joseph R. Biden will present the 2021 National Medals of Arts in conjunction with the National Humanities Medals on Tuesday, March 21, 2023 at 4:30 p.m. ET in an East Room ceremony at the White House. First Lady Dr. Jill Biden will attend. The event will be live streamed at www.whitehouse.gov/live.
National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Chair Maria Rosario Jackson, PhD, said, “The National Medal of Arts recipients have helped to define and enrich our nation’s cultural legacy through their life long passionate commitment. We are a better nation because of their contributions. Their work helps us see the world in different ways. It inspires us to reach our full potential and recognize our common humanity. I join the President in congratulating and thanking them.”
Below is the list of 2021 recipients:
Judith Francisca Baca: Judith Francisca Baca’s collaborative work has turned forgotten histories into public memory—pioneering an art form that empowers communities to reclaim public space with dignity and pride.
Fred Eychaner: From dance and architecture to arts education and a lifetime of LGBTQI+ advocacy, Fred Eychaner has helped give millions of people strength to be themselves and moved our country forward.
Jose Feliciano*: Over 60 years, 60 albums, and 600 songs, Jose Feliciano has opened hearts and built bridges—overcoming obstacles, never losing faith, and enriching the goodness and greatness of the Nation.
Mindy Kaling: Imbued with humor and heart, Mindy Kaling’s work across television, film, and books inspires and delights—capturing and uplifting the experiences of women and girls across our Nation.
Gladys Knight: Gladys Knight’s exceptional talent influenced musical genres—from rhythm and blues to gospel to pop—and inspired generations of artists, captivated by her soundtrack of a golden age in American music.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus: As one of the most decorated comedic actors of our time, Julia Louis-Dreyfus has blazed a trail for women in comedy and across American life through her commitment to excellence and the power of her example.
Antonio Martorell-Cardona: Transcending generation and genre, Antonio Martorell-Cardona’s art exposes hard truths with whimsy and color, to help us remember and grow, as people and as a Nation.
Joan Shigekawa: Throughout her career, Joan Shigekawa has championed artists, created global exchanges, and promoted the power of the arts to heal, build strong economies, and help people and Nations reach their full potential.
Bruce Springsteen: One of our greatest performers and storytellers, Bruce Springsteen’s music celebrates our triumphs, heals our wounds, and gives us hope, capturing the unyielding spirit of what it means to be American.
Vera Wang: From the runway to red carpets to retail stores, Vera Wang’s modern designs and bridal collections express individualism and elegance, making beauty and style accessible to all.
The Billie Holiday Theatre: Channeling its namesake’s exploration of freedom and identity, The Billie Holiday Theatre cultivates some of our Nation’s most renowned Black actors, writers, designers, and musicians and has expanded the reach of American artistic expression and achievement.
The International Association of Blacks in Dance: Through teaching, training, and performance, The International Association of Blacks in Dance promotes dance by people of African ancestry and origin, explores and exchanges art, spans cultures and generations, and enriches the dance culture of America.
* Will not be in attendance at the ceremony.
The 2021 National Humanities Medals will be presented at the same ceremony
Join the conversation on Twitter at #ArtsHumanitiesMedal.
About the National Medal of Arts
The National Medal of Arts is the highest award given to artists and arts patrons by the federal government. It is awarded by the president of the United States to individuals or groups who are deserving of special recognition by reason of their outstanding contributions to the excellence, growth, support, and availability of the arts in the United States. Please see additional information and the list of past recipients on the NEA website.
The National Endowment for the Arts manages the nomination process on behalf of the White House. Each year, the Arts Endowment seeks nominations from individuals and organizations across the country. The National Council on the Arts, the NEA’s presidentially appointed and Senate-confirmed advisory body, reviews the nominations and provides recommendations to the President, who selects the recipients.
An Artist Reckons With the 'Fat' Body – Vulture
“As a fat woman,” Shona McAndrew explains in the catalogue for her new show, “I came to believe that I didn’t deserve intimacy, shouldn’t express happiness in the presence of others, and certainly shouldn’t be proudly showing my large naked body to anyone.” With her exhibition at Chart Gallery — featuring ten paintings, mostly nudes of herself and her lover — all that has changed. There is also one magnificent, oversize papier-mâché sculpture of McAndrew lolling in a bubble bath. Here is a ferocious artist slaying both her internal demons and cultural taboos.
McAndrew, who has described herself as “the only chubby child in France” (she grew up in Paris), was a breakout star at the 2019 Spring/Break art show. Her installation was a room-filling papier-mâché sculpture of her and her boyfriend sprawled on a bed in their messy Brooklyn bedroom. Afterward McAndrew, now 32, went a different direction, showing a series of well-done but removed images of women and friends. She’s a precisionist with a Post-Impressionistic touch for part-by-part painting, but the work was more devotional than “grab you by the lapels.” Something was missing.
Turns out, it was her. McAndrew is now the subject. She paints her naked body, either alone or being touched by others, taking pleasure in it as something that might be desired and seen without humiliation. Her work has become more open, honest, and vulnerable, without falling back on the rawness that characterized her work at Spring/Break. The paintings are rendered in a pink scale so that everything appears to come through a filter of mossy mist, lending them a formal stillness and a new sense of confidence. I can imagine this work sending profound messages to large audiences.
In Too Deep depicts McAndrew guiding the finger of her lover into her belly button as she fondles one of her breasts. Flesh abounds, falls, forms a landscape. She peers down the visage of her own body while withdrawing into her psyche. The penetration echoes Jesus guiding the finger of Thomas into his open wound.
Hold You Tight features a seated McAndrew as she embraces Stuart, her partner, who is standing. Her eyes are closed; she seems to be partaking of a world of sensual and spiritual sustenance — like she’s savoring the first taste of something she’s denied herself until now. The pose recalls Bernini’s Rape of Proserpina, with McAndrew as Hades, but rather than abducting the unwilling Proserpina into the underworld, she’s summoning something from within her. Stuart’s surrender is sweet.
Art: Copyright Shona McAndrew. Courtesy the Artist and CHART. Photo by Neighboring States.
Movie Night shows McAndrew cradling Stuart’s head in her lap. As he looks away, maybe at a screen, she’s looking down at him, at peace and ease, lost in the moment. The cards are stacked against women artists exploring this kind of secret life. The search for domestic bliss, the overcoming of body issues and self-doubt, are common topics in other fields and in the popular press but feature rarely in the realms of high art. Such themes are dismissed as the stuff of romance novels and soft-core illustration. As bell hooks wrote, “Male fantasy is seen as something that can create reality, whereas female fantasy is regarded as pure escape… A woman who talks of love is still suspect.”
McAndrew says she didn’t look at herself in a mirror for ten years. “Growing up in a fat body, I always felt that the rules of femininity didn’t apply to me,” she told me. Now, she’s rendering “body parts that made me uncomfortable” and has learned “to lovingly paint my double chin” and “to appreciate the formalism in the folds of my fat.” Now she wants “to put my secrets into the painting” — secrets that she shares with so many others. “I don’t want it to just be for me and about me,” she told the Art Career podcast in late 2022. “I want it to be for anyone with a body.”
Federal budget to focus on clean economy, support for low-income Canadians, Freeland says – The Globe and Mail
4 Ways Social Media Normalizes Unhealthy Spending And How To Break Out Of The Cycle – BuzzFeed
Canadian momentum build continues at women's curling worlds with wins over Italy, Scotland – CBC.ca
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