Category Archives: Arts & Culture

One Day You’re In, the Next Day You’re Art: The Year in Fashion Exhibitions

By Grant Johnson

Fashion exhibitions often overstate their own right to exist. “Genius,” “revolutionary,” “iconic,” they shout at us. They clamber to call their creators “artists” as often as “designers.” In a banner year for fashion exhibitions, there remains a self-consciousness that fashion, especially when it enters the museum, is an inferior cultural artifact. Continue reading

Jacques Tati’s Playtime: A Guide to Getting Along With Technology

By Aaron Timms

It’s been 50 years to the day since Jacques Tati released Playtime, his digressive, dialogue-light comedy about manners of being in the modern city. The anniversary has passed without remark, even in Tati’s homeland, where Playtime has always been respected, but not loved in the manner of his more accessible earlier films such as Jour de fête and Mon oncle. Continue reading

Healthy Brain Intake: Modify Your News Habits to Ease Your Mind

By John Franklin, MD

Too much information (TMI) is internet speak for the notion that this information is more than I need, or care to know. I admit, I am a news junkie these days, but I’m claiming TMI.

Wandering through the Amherst College art museum recently, I came across a series of three photographs entitled, “Burning News,” by T.S. Parchikov. These admittedly photo-shopped pieces depict people earnestly reading Russian newspapers that are nearly consumed by fire. Continue reading

Don’t Be Afraid, We Are Only Approaching the Outside World! — Curating Ode to the Sea: Art from Guantanamo

By Charles Shields

Khalid Qassim and Ahmed Rabbani will starve as I remember waking up under an archway of tall pine. The smell of coffee. The up and down of steep roads. NPR playing softly, it seemed, from somewhere outside the car. We were in the Appalachian Mountains. The dark was vaguely green and here and there a star shone through the trees. I had just gotten out of juvie, and my new guardians were taking me on a road trip from Michigan to Long Island to meet the guardian’s extended family, which was now also mine.  Continue reading

Viewer Beware: We Need More LGBTQ TV Role Models for Kids

By Erik McIntosh

Disney introduced for the first time a storyline for a gay character on the fan favorite tween TV show, Andi Mack. Not everyone is happy. One Million Moms recently released a warning to parents, saying Disney has abandoned its “family-friendly entertainment” and sacrificed “children’s innocence.” Rev. Franklin Graham stated Andi Mack was dangerously trying “to influence the youth of today to accept and to be a part of the destructive LGBT lifestyle.” Kenya’s Film Classification Board cited the need to “protect children from exposure to harmful film and broadcast content” and Andi Mack from their television screens. Continue reading

If They Were Émigrés: Drawing Inspiration from Old Political Cartoons

By Sasha Razor, Gala Minasova, Vladimir Zimakov

A hundred years ago, give or take a few days, the October Revolution (which actually took place in November — don’t ask) forever changed the political landscape of the world. The ensuing Civil War (1918-1921) shifted the boundaries of Russia, displacing two million refugees: blue-blood aristocrats, White Army generals, a future laureate of the Nobel Prize in Literature, and many a cabaret dancer and peddler of bagels. By 1921, the population of Russian exile became so massive that the League of Nations created the first international special commission for coordinating efforts to assist refugees. In the years that followed, the colonies of Russian émigrés kept growing in China, France, and Turkey — the latter serving as a transit point to the United States. The exodus even reached our fair city; Los Angeles was home to over 2,000 Russian expats in the 1920s. Continue reading

Yoo Jae-ha’s K-Pop Masterpiece Because I Love You, 30 Years After His Untimely Death

By Colin Marshall

Thirty years ago this month, a Korean singer-songwriter by the name of Yoo Jae-ha died at the age of 25. Had the car accident that killed him happened a few months earlier, before he released his first and only album Because I Love You, Korean pop music, now better known as “K-pop,” might have taken a different sonic direction entirely. Though he died believing it had failed, his record has not just risen to the status of a beloved pop masterpiece but emanates an influence still clearly heard in hit songs in South Korea today. The posthumously granted title “Father of Korean Ballads,” as well as a music scholarship and yearly song contest, honor his memory, but on some level they also acknowledge that Korean pop music may never see — or more importantly, hear — an innovator like him again. Continue reading

The New Appeal of Blake Shelton

By Erin Coulehan

This week, Blake Shelton was named People’s “Sexiest Man Alive” for 2017. The annual honor reflects the cultural standards and general mood of the country. Past winners include stereotypical Hollywood heartthrobs like Brad Pitt and George Clooney (who’s received the honor not once, but twice) that showcase the values of virility at the particular moment. In light of Shelton’s newly acquired “sexiest man” status, well…welcome to Trump’s America. Continue reading