Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Scandal in Oils

A scandal is rocking the art world. More than 30 forgeries were sold as originals for millions of dollars, and two art dealers are involved — Glafira Rosales, who for 15 years passed fakes on to Ann Freedman, the longtime director of Knoedler & Company. A law suit involving the sale of one of the paintings has begun in New York. The fraudulent works bear the names of noted Abstract Expressionists — Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko to name two. The paintings had actually been done by a Chinese immigrant in Queens.

But more scandalous to me is the value placed on these paintings, which I can’t imagine will retain the esteem in future generations they currently enjoy. One of the fakes, for example, ostensibly painted by Rothko — the one involved in the law suit — is nothing but two rectangles, a black one over a red one. It sold for $8.3 million.

I don’t question a work of art being a commodity — if only Van Gogh could have sold a few of his paintings for anything resembling what they sell for today, instead of trading them for meals at the local cafĂ© in Arles.

But art works today are like chips in a poker game, or shares of a stock. Their value is determined by “connoisseurs” and dealers, who play the game for all it’s worth. And the game is more the artist’s name than what’s on the canvas. (One of the fakes, incidentally, was a drip painting allegedly by Jackson Pollock on which his name was misspelled “Pollok.”)

Beauty, they say, is in the eye of the beholder. My eye finds it impossible to behold beauty in two rectangles. But what do I know? I’m still enthralled by Albert Bierstadt’s painting of the Rockies at sunset.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Just a Thought

I believe what Ted Cruz says about Donald Trump. I also believe what Donald Trump says about Ted Cruz. I believe what Marco Rubio says about Jeb Bush. I also believe what Jeb Bush says about Marco Rubio. Consequently, I wouldn't vote for any of them.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Wisdom and Whatnot

Courage and cowardice reside in the same person. A crisis reveals which is stronger.

If you tell someone you haven’t met in a long while “You look great,” don’t say it with a surprised expression. 

Life is like a jigsaw puzzle: lots of odd pieces you have to connect. Unfortunately, when it’s finished, so are you.

A mistake is a learning experience — but not for everybody.

Being disliked for doing the right thing is better than being liked for doing the wrong thing.

If you keep your head up when you walk in the street you’ll miss the change lying on the ground.

Truth is sometimes most virtuous when left untold. 

Desiring something you can’t have is normal. Desiring something you shouldn’t have can lead to trouble — and a larger wardrobe.

“No” is a legitimate response to a question — unless you’re mother asks you, “Would you like another slice of pot roast?”

It’s better to stand on your principles than sit on the fence or lie down on the job.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

The one percent do fine.
They own the bottom line.
     With grit and guile
     They steal with style
And bilk the ninety-nine.

Monday, January 11, 2016

What About Sanders?

“…but he’s a socialist.”

I haven’t actually heard that line, but I’m sure it’s in the minds of many Americans in re Bernie Sanders. They’re fed up with things as they are, and they like what Sanders says, but…

I respectfully suggest that the doubters forget whatever “buts” they may have and consider the following:

• Sanders served four terms as the mayor of Burlington, Vermont, from 1981 to 1989. The last I checked, Vermont was not one of the Soviet states — and he didn’t turn it into one.

• He was then elected to the House of Representatives, serving from 1991 to 2007.

• He was elected to the Senate in 2007, and reelected in 2012. 

• He openly acknowledges that he is a democratic (small d) socialist — which means, if I interpret it correctly, that his idea of socialism is not devoid of democratic content, but that it strengthens democracy, giving people the full rights and security they now only partially enjoy.

And so if anyone is skittish about Sanders’ loyalty to our Constitution and to the democratic principles it embodies, have no fear.

Of course, as this campaign drags on — and there has never been a draggier one in my recollection — should Sanders’ strength continue, the socialist tag may be brought to the fore by his opposition.

In the New York primary, as I am sure Bernie Sanders will still be a candidate, I will vote for him. Whether he will win that primary, or any of the other primaries, is questionable. But he has brought to this race something our country desperately needs: a powerful voice from the left. And from the way it looks today, it’s a voice the American people are ready to listen to.