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Cutting For Business and Pleasure

 

a keg is better than a six-pack– Wayne Dolcefino investigating a pothole

 

The health of an arts community has always depended on its municipality, the deus ex machina of capital that makes giants comfortable and boosts small fries. The symbiotic relationship between creatives and authorities can even make history if you’re lucky and ambitious. Here in Houston that agenda falls to the HAA, the Houston Arts Alliance, that has been working since the late 70s to bring public art and stimulate emerging art talents with money and time. ‘Course you need to be able to write a grant. Here the parsing begins- does the HAA support artists or do they only support arts professionals and artists with liberal arts degrees? Let’s try again; does the HAA support artists or artists with long and/or well written exhibition histories? The money in both cases sides with the socio-economic caveat, and in doing so divides artists’ paths as they proceed through their careers. Once artists have a taste of govrnment money it is hard to not go back for more, and to enter the non-profit system. Dreamed up in the late 70s and 80s and solidified after the realignment of the NEA in 1995 this system is a bureaucratic organ for funneling corporate tax shelters into pseudo-government sanctioned beautification for those disinclined to toss their money at a religion. In many American cities this has become an unlikely cash cow for municipalities as art’s spectacular side reemerges. Here in Houston it is the target of convoluted attacks.

 

  If I were Shylock, I’d take my pound of flesh out of Wayne Dolcefino’s chin. He should go back to exposing unsanitary Chinese restaurants in Spring Branch. Looking for all the world like he belongs in a tracksuit in the vitamin aisle of Krogers instead of spitting nonsense on TV, he stands front and center stuffed into a suit like a blood sausage. Wayne decided to investigate the HAA and sunk all his eggs into thinking that the populous would be offended at the content of Houston’s artworld who have chosen to engage the HAA. With shades of Giuliani’s Brooklyn Museum protest, this second-rate muckraker stuck his finger up his ass and cooed all the way to the money shot, a moral authority with an axe to grind and an agenda to advance. A culture war. The best part is that Wayne has his time and place wrong, and his investigative reporting is a joke. 

 

 

Cali grinnin’ sputter spittin’– Jonathan Glus mentally spamming Houston

 

Dammit if that fat bastard didn’t get local news gold with HAA president Jonathan Glus sweating 20 questions under harsh lighting. I hope they don’t broadcast in HD, ’cause his mug would be an oily, wide-eyed mess. To his credit Glus tried reeeally hard to keep it together, to push Dolcefino to appreciate art on his own terms and allow others’ viewpoints to be validated as well. ‘Ol Finesweets wasn’t having it though, and he caught Glus off-guard. The hastily arranged counter-punch (including a letter from a lawyer) defends the HAA as a whole, and adaquately fills the holes for anyone who hasn’t seen the news clip. If you did see the hastily thrown together lead-in on the news, you may not have needed the reassurance. Apparantly a poem has not been written, a scandelous line was inserted into a play, and someone thinks a drawing looks like a flaming chicken. With paltry four-figure sums awarded as grants, Dolcefino attacks gross costs for the HAA that amount to net gains for the artist that are less than he makes in a year. His argument boils down to attacking a freelance city employee for what they were asked to do. He’s not even witty about it.

 

 

Baroque decoration or flaming chicken?– Downtown Houston Fire Department

 

You can’t blame Glus for fumbling on camera. He came from Pasadena, California, and probably had a lot of interviews with benevolent reporters heaping praise on his efforts. How could he have expected anything else? Well this is Texas, and dammit if it isn’t closer to the "Show Me" state than Cali. Glus is lucky though, as Dolchefino has a hollow bully pulpit no more likely to change policy than an artist rejected by the HAA bitching "They don’t know what they’re missing." Mayor Bill White is cosmopolitan and cultured, the city is unlikely to change the structure of the Hotel + Occupancy Tax (of which 19% funds HAA and arts projects), moral crusaders should see Dolcefino as the hack that he is (not worth their time) and the sizes of HAA grants are well within reason. Artists gotta live, you know?

 

 

Now that’s a flaming chicken– Aqua Teen Hunger Force 

 

But where is this coming from? Annise Parker, city controller, potential mayoral candidate and arts organizer? Channel 13 management? Arts supporter and ABC 13 reporter Melanie Lawson? I highly doubt that this was Wayne’s idea, and if it was he should have dropped it when he realized if was a weak story. This is a hit job, and a stupid one too. If Dolcefino got anything right it was that HAA ‘audience’ numbers are inflated, and that affects the bluster of their impact studies. Otherwise his report is for shit.

 

It’s nice to see the blogs light up on this! HAA think that they’re better than glasstire. I voted Disagree on their survey just to give them fits. Target of the investigation and Frenticore member Crystal Jackson swipes back at ABC 13 for taking her waaaay out of context.  Bill Davenport is up with running commentary. Jenni says she has the last word.

 

 
Oh yeah! I almost forgot. HERE‘s the neus story.


also by Sean Carroll
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5 Responses

  1. LolaJRS

    Vote ‘disagree’ on the HAA poll just for the hell of it? If I didn’t like you so much, I might have to trip you the next time I see you.

  2. festoonedbaboon

    I recognize the “flaming chicken” commentor’s voice as a Fire Chief who was on the selection panel for the project. He was apprehensive about the project even prior to the artist selection. However, he voted for the selection in the end.

  3. LolaJRS

    Last word? I say no such thing. I’m not so eager to hang myself up to dry- knowing there are others far more experienced and well-versed on this subject than myself. But what can I say? Hell hath no fury like a pissed off redhead.

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