(Bloomberg) — After Donald Trump’s planned trip to a French cemetery for fallen Marines was canceled in November 2018, the U.S. leader had some extra time on his hands in a mansion filled with artwork. The next day, he went art shopping — or the presidential equivalent.
Trump fancied several of the pieces in the U.S. ambassador’s historic residence in Paris, where he was staying, and on a whim had them removed and loaded onto Air Force One, according to people familiar with the matter. The works — a portrait, a bust, and a set of silver figurines — were brought back to the White House.
The decision to cancel Trump’s visit to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery outside Paris is under new scrutiny after the Atlantic magazine on Thursday published a bombshell report that Trump belittled the American servicemen buried there, part of a broader history of disparaging certain people who’ve served in the military. Trump has vehemently denied making the comments about “suckers” and “losers” in the armed forces.
Never previously reported is Trump’s spur-of-the-moment art caper before leaving the ambassador’s residence.
The incident was met with a mixture of amusement and astonishment at the time, but caused headaches for White House and State Department staffers, according to several people familiar with the episode who asked not to be identified due to its sensitivity.
The story unfolded like this: While in Paris with other world leaders to commemorate the centennial of the end of World War I, Trump stayed at the official residence of U.S. Ambassador Jamie McCourt, the palatial Hôtel de Pontalba. The mansion, in Paris’s chic 8th arrondissement, dates to 1842. It has served as a flagship of the State Department’s “Art in Embassies” cultural diplomacy program, and is open to tours.
The president’s planned visit to the Belleau Wood cemetery was canceled when rainy weather grounded the presidential helicopter, according to a redacted email the White House released to rebut the Atlantic story. The U.S. Secret Service ruled out a motorcade for the 56-mile drive, according to two people familiar with the matter.
That left Trump with about six hours of free time in the ambassador’s residence.
The next day, Trump pointed out a Benjamin Franklin bust, a Franklin portrait and a set of figurines of Greek mythical characters, and insisted the pieces come back with him to Washington.
The People’s House
McCourt, the ambassador, was startled, but didn’t object, according to people briefed on the incident. Trump later quipped that the envoy would get the art back “in six years,” when his potential second term in office would be winding down.
The art, worth about $750,000 according to one of the people familiar with the episode, was loaded aboard Air Force One while Trump visited another cemetery before the flight back to Washington.
“The President brought these beautiful, historical pieces, which belong to the American people, back to the United States to be prominently displayed in the People’s House,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said in response to questions from Bloomberg News.
Trump’s move prompted some hair-pulling and a furious exchange of emails back home between the State Department’s Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations and White House officials who organized the art transfer. Ultimately, because the art is U.S. government property, the move was deemed legal.
Trump, who once used his charity to purchase a large portrait of himself, is known to display in his private West Wing dining room mementos from various official trips and encounters. Over time that’s included a pair of shoes gifted by musician Kanye West and an Ultimate Fighting Championship belt.
A senior White House official said presidents are permitted to display personal gifts from Americans or heads of state while they’re in office, but must purchase them if they want to keep the presents after they depart.
The figurines that caught Trump’s eye found a new home on the fireplace mantel in the Oval Office. Depicting Greek gods, they date to the early 20th century and were made by Neapolitan artist Luigi Avolio, who was trying to pass them off as sculptures from the 16th or 17th centuries, according to London-based art dealer Patricia Wengraf.
In an “Antiques Roadshow” moment, Wengraf described the figurines as “20th century fakes of wannabe 17th century sculptures,” and of little value.
The French art-collection episode comes with a curious footnote. After White House art curators examined the pieces Trump brought home, the president was told that the Franklin bust was a replica. He joked that he liked the fake better than the original, two people familiar with the episode said.
The Franklin portrait snagged from Paris was also a copy — of the one Joseph Siffred Duplessis painted in France in 1785, which was then held by the National Portrait Gallery a mile from the White House.
The curators removed a different portrait of the founding father from the Oval Office and borrowed the original Duplessis from the gallery. That one now hangs in the Oval, not the replica Trump ferried out of France.
©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Black Lives Matter street art installations coming to Dartmouth, Halifax – CBC.ca
The Halifax Regional Municipality will be painting the words “Black Lives Matter” in Halifax and Dartmouth this weekend.
The municipality said it was doing it to show support for the movement.
“This public solidarity augments several measures being taken by the municipality corporately to help address anti-Black racism and continue to build [a] better relationship with the municipality’s communities of African descent,” the municipality said in a news release on Friday.
Work on the first installation at Alderney Drive in Dartmouth will begin at 7 p.m. on Saturday.
Work on the second installation at Brunswick Street in Halifax will begin at 7 p.m. on Sunday.
The municipality said sidewalks will be open and access to businesses will be maintained and that at least one lane of vehicle traffic in each direction will be maintained while work is underway.
The bicycle lane on Brunswick Street will be closed while work is happening and cyclists and vehicles will share one single file lane around the work area.
Oxygen Art Centre launches new adult classes – Nelson Star
After much planning Oxygen is excited to launch their fall lineup of adult education opportunities, combining a fine array of online and small in-person classes.
Oxygen conducted a student survey earlier in June to find out how people were feeling (with COVID in mind) in regards to participating in arts education this fall. The response was very positive and clear — students want to be creative! Oxygen then got to work with their talented team of instructors and volunteers to re-vision how the educational offerings could be delivered in an innovative and safe way.
“Oxygen will be offering seven online courses and three small in-person courses this fall,” says education co-ordinator Natasha Smith.
“Many of our instructors have specifically created classes that can be taught online, utilizing the many tools that we now have available to make this learning experience rewarding, interactive and convenient for our students. Another benefit of online programming is that we are removing the barrier of travel for students that live outside of Nelson.”
The three in-person classes include Resurrecting the Lost Art of Letter Writing with Rayya Liebich, Eco-Printing on Textiles with Seathra Bell, and Painting on Another Level with Natasha Smith. The class sizes will be limited to a maximum of five students and all COVID-19 safety protocols at the centre will be in place.
Oxygen is also offering two online professional development courses for creatives this fall. Starting with Art Shack with artist Ian Johnston.
“It’s a visual arts professional development free-for-all!” says Johnston. “Over four evenings of group conversation we will harness the hive mind and the experience of the participants to explore a self-identified group of professional development issues such as proposals, statements, audience, networks and researching opportunities.”
This is an opportunity to share, develop your skills, and meet other artists in a supportive, collaborative space. The second professional development course is How to Submit to Commercial Galleries with artist Kristy Gordon, who will unveil the practical steps you can take to develop a connection with a commercial gallery. The one-session course includes a lecture, discussions and individual feedback.
Deborah Thompson has designed an online drawing course: Drawing with the World in Mind. This course will run twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays for the month of October.
“The COVID-19 Global Pandemic has highlighted a long list of global problems; climate change, homelessness, opioid crisis, racism, classism and more. Leaning into a creative practice during these times is helpful in developing meaningful insights and in cultivating imaginative ways to give constructive shape to the future,” says Thompson.
Many students will be excited that Bessie Wapp is offering Singing the Blues Goes Virtual this Fall. In this seven-week course you will explore the rich swamp of the human voice in a relaxed and supportive environment through online group and one-on-one sessions. In November, Rayya Liebich will be offering an online Poetry Immersion course. From the comfort of your home immerse yourself in the language of poetry. Weekly online classes will focus on studying the craft of poetry (image, form, feeling) and allow time for a series of guided writing prompts to help hone your writing skills.
Also running in November and over five classes Natasha Smith will be offering Moving into Abstraction as an online course. Through a series of hands-on projects, students will explore various techniques and alternative ways to develop ideas and images that will encourage a more abstract way of working.
Interdisciplinary artist, prOphecy sun will be offering an innovative course this Fall: Sonic Imaginaries: An Introduction to Creating Electronic Compositions. This online beginner level studio course explores a wide range of methods and conceptual approaches to creating electronic sound. prOphecy explains: “Each week will explore how sound emerges and will survey conceptual and methodological techniques used in music, video, sound art, and other artistic production.”
Register today for online and in-person art classes taking place throughout October and November with Oxygen’s incredible artist instructors. Don’t wait — spaces are limited. Learn more about the upcoming classes below and on our website at https://oxygenartcentre.org/classes/adult/.
Hot air balloons, drive-in concerts and highway art: What's on this weekend in Calgary – CBC.ca
Organizations are continuing to come out with fresh and creative ways to entertain Calgarians, and this weekend is no different.
There’s good eats, concerts and multiple art shows that highlight local talent.
Ellis Choe from The Homestretch on CBC Radio has compiled some of those offerings, so check out the events below!
There’s a pop-up marketplace celebrating prairie food this weekend that also ensures gathering people safely.
The Prairie Grid Market will have over 50 local food and drink vendors at the Carter Cadillac car dealership on Heritage Drive in southeast Calgary.
Dan Clapsen, the organizer of the event, says a majority of the stalls are operated by local restaurant and bar owners.
“There’s a really interesting build-your-own-cocktail kit booth setup by Cannibale, which is a popular cocktail bar in Bridgeland. Bridgette Bar has made a line of dried pastas,” he said.
On Saturday and Sunday, there will be music and art for patrons to enjoy.
It’s recommend you pre-book your visit online, given the limited capacity and physical distancing required.
The 8th Heritage Inn International Balloon Festival is underway in High River, but due to COVID-19, only Canadian balloons are participating.
The festival was scheduled to take place from Wednesday through Sunday, although high winds have forced cancellations. As of 2 p.m. on Friday, it was unclear whether they’d be able to take off at 5 p.m. Friday. If not, there are three more chances depending on the weather: Saturday and Sunday at 7:30 a.m. and Saturday at 5 p.m. Check the festival’s Facebook feed to see if it’s a go.
The committee says that while no passengers or spectators will be allowed at the launch site, you can volunteer to be part of the field crew and get a front row seat.
Karen Williamson, the committee vice-chair, says that while there’s no guarantee, the pilot may let you be a passenger on board as well.
And for those who don’t volunteer, head to the northwest corner of High River to see them launch.
If you like road trips and art, you can catch the Most Beautiful Art Tour in Alberta, which is a part of Alberta Culture Days.
Along Highway 22 and Highway 2A, otherwise known as “Cowboy Trail,” there is a community of artists opening their studios and galleries to the public.
Catch artwork in Millarville, Turner Valley, Black Diamond and Okotoks to learn more about the diverse group of artists working outside of Calgary.
The open studio events will be on from Friday to Sunday, but each gallery has different operating hours.
And if you like your art paired with a movie, the Indefinite Arts Centre is holding an open house/movie night.
You can check out the artwork of artists with disabilities, as well as the screening of Infinity — a documentary about the world-renowned Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, famous for her polka dot installations.
The free event is on Saturday from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., but make sure to reserve a spot.
And finally, some concerts in the Calgary area! Grab your social circle and attend the drive-in concert at Telus Spark.
“Rise Up Weekend” is brought to you by local organizations, including Calgary ReggaeFest, Folk Fest and Stampede.
Patti Pon, one of the organizers as well as president of Calgary Arts Development, says the event is all about the coming together of six organizations presenting six concerts.
“We wanted to find a way to create some amazing art experiences, albeit smaller settings with fewer people,” she said.
Tickets are $25 per car for up to four guests.
The first show is Friday at 6:15 p.m., when Calgary Folk Fest presents Sargeant X Comrade and the Blake Read Band.
For something more contemporary, the National Music Centre is continuing its hybrid live music and virtual concert series, RBC Live, from the King Eddy.
You can attend the free event in-person or stream from the comfort of your home.
The first show is Friday at 8:30 p.m. and features Lucette, an alt-pop artist from Edmonton.
And then for another virtual concert experience, you can stream Early Music Voices, a local group that presents music from the medieval, Renaissance and baroque periods.
The group is kicking off its season with a virtual concert featuring Calgary musician Benjamin Narvey, who plays the lute.
Enjoy the music this Sunday at 7:30 p.m., and listen to a pre-concert talk at 7 p.m.
With files from The Homestretch
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