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Guiding Culture: Olga Viso on the National Council on the Arts

Established in 1965 as part of President Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society” reforms, the National Endowment for the Arts is charged with supporting cultural excellence in arts “both new and established.” This effort secured the belief that along with increased assistance to education, elderly care, and ending poverty, support for the arts was paramount to the […]

Olga Viso. Photo by Cameron Wittig, courtesy the Walker Art Center

Olga Viso. Photo: Cameron Wittig

Established in 1965 as part of President Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society” reforms, the National Endowment for the Arts is charged with supporting cultural excellence in arts “both new and established.” This effort secured the belief that along with increased assistance to education, elderly care, and ending poverty, support for the arts was paramount to the quality of life for American citizens.

Since then, the NEA has given more than $4 billion in grants across all artistic disciplines, aid which continues to keep the US at the forefront of world culture. However, the art created with these grants has not been without controversy. Famously targeted during the culture wars by conservative groups during the late ’80s and early ’90s, the NEA’s very existence remains a public discussion. Although most citizens still believe the arts benefit our shared quality of life and aid in job creation, the budget specifically allotted to supporting art continues to be a contentious subject (a disproportionately large contention considering that the NEA budget is half of what the federal government knowingly spent on outdated computer systems in 2013). Perhaps obscured by these controversies is the organization’s current goals, missions, and operations, and how the NEA continues to shape the cultural efforts of our country.

These unique challenges were brought into focus during a recent discussion with Walker Executive Director Olga Viso, who was nominated by President Obama to serve on the advisory board of the National Council on the Arts, the NEA’s advisory body. During her just-begun six-year term, Viso will serve alongside 15 other members charged with making recommendations to the NEA chair on grant awards and agency policies and procedures, as well as recommending awardees of the prestigious National Medal of Arts to the president. Here Viso discusses her appointment to body whose distinctive (and difficult) mission is “bringing the arts to all Americans; and providing leadership in arts education.”

Nathaniel Smith: Can you speak about the highlights of your first member’s meeting? And what are your expectations for your six-year term?

Olga Viso: A highlight of my first meeting in March was participating in the closed-door process of nominating potential awardees to the president for the National Medal of the Arts. It was an invigorating and inspiring discussion about what qualifies as excellence in American culture across the artistic disciplines. In terms of the future, I’m excited to work with a new NEA chairperson and be involved in shaping policy with a new leader.

Smith: What does your appointment mean to the Walker, in particular, and to the Midwest as a whole?

Viso: I think it has been very meaningful and important to those of us involved in culture, both inside and outside Minnesota, to have the leader of a progressive, forward-thinking contemporary arts institution have a voice on the National Council.

Midwesterners have had a long history of serving on the National Council since its founding in the 1960s. A number of Walker staff and trustees, including Walker Emeritus Director Martin Friedman, philanthropist Kenneth Dayton, and Vocal Essence artistic founder/director Philip Brunelle are all past members. Minnesota US Rep. Betty McCollum and Wisconsin’s Sen. Tammy Baldwin are currently ex-officio congressional members. I was appointed concurrently with Ranee Ramaswamy, founder of Ragamala Dance, whose company will be performing at the Walker the weekend of May 15 with a new commission.

Drawing Club at the Walker, part of Open Field 2011

Drawing Club at the Walker, part of Open Field 2011

Smith: Perhaps this is more coincidence than an intended consequence, but do you see your appointment (along with Ramaswamy and Houston-based artist Rick Lowe) as indicating a value placed on what is happening in the center of the country and perhaps a shift from the coast-dominated view of art?

Viso: The Midwest has always had a valued place on the Council. Indeed, it has typically been comprised of individuals representing all regions of the country. This is an important value for the NEA and also guides how its grant review panel members are selected. Many of us, like Ranee, also have a history of serving on NEA grant review panels through the years, so there is a tradition of participation and involvement. Many of our institutions have also been NEA grant recipients. Last year alone, 56 Minnesota organizations received $4,183,190 in funds administered by the NEA to support projects such as exhibitions, theater, dance and music productions, the creation of design arts curricula for youth, creative placemaking workshops for artists in rural Minnesota’s Lake Region communities, digitization of the American Craft Council’s library collections, and publication of the literary journal Rain Taxi Review of Books, as well as partnership agreements with the Minnesota State Arts Board and Arts Midwest.

The three recent appointments—Ranee, Rick, and myself—do underscore a priority in the Obama administration and at the NEA to bring increased racial, cultural, and ethnic diversity to the Council’s membership. The nomination of the new NEA Chairperson Jane Chu supports this new direction as well.

Smith: The work of your fellow appointee Rick Lowe is steeped in social practice. You have seen firsthand at the Walker with the experimental Open Field project how social practice can engage audiences in new ways. In your opinion, why is this a direction the NEA considered?

Viso: Given his long history of involvement with the NEA, Rick is a natural new addition. He brings not only the perspective of an artist and maker, but also that of the founder of a small, grassroots institution committed to creative placemaking and social activism in his community. He founded the organization Project Row Houses in Houston in the 1990s, inspiring many similar organizations and projects around the country. Social practice is a growing area of experimentation and activity in cultural organizations across the country, so it seems obvious to bring someone on board to the Council who can share this expertise and history in productive and critical ways.

Ragamala Dance Company. Photo by Bonnie Jean MacKay.

Ragamala Dance Company. Photo: Bonnie Jean MacKay

Smith: Along the same lines, what is important about having a major institution’s perspective included in the advisory board?

Viso: The composition of the Council is carefully considered to bring a variety of perspectives surrounding US culture together into one forum, including leaders of large and small institutions, visual and performing artists, authors, musicians, designers, arts administrators, grantmakers, and legislators. I bring the larger, multidisciplinary institutional perspective, while Ranee and Rick bring the perspectives of artists leading smaller organizations and from their respective disciplines of dance and visual arts. The Council is a fascinating and inspiring group of people, with singer Lee Greenwood from Nashville, former New Hampshire legislator Paul Hodes, and pioneering organic farmer and author David “Mas” Masumoto from California, among others.

Smith: In an interview with Rebecca Gross for the NEA’s Art Works blog, you mention that art is important because “it can provoke new thinking and perspective and can often invite us to experience the world with a new lens that taps into our own creative agency.” How do you see the NEA’s role in actualizing this idea? Do you see the recently announced grants aimed at researching “how art works and its impact on communities” supporting it by offering more concrete evidence in the face of increasing pressure to shut down the NEA?

Viso: One of the impactful legacies of former NEA chairperson Rocco Landesman was his ability to communicate to government the importance of the arts and the need for good public policy around the arts. It was Rocco who coined the term “art works.” Through his strong advocacy, he formed a number of lasting partnerships with other government agencies, including HUD [the Department of Housing and Urban Development], that continue to leverage millions of additional dollars towards culture each year in the addition to the NEA annual appropriation.

The new Art Place and “Our Town” grant initiatives that supported the Hennepin Avenue Cultural District project here in the Twin Cities several years ago were born out of Rocco’s active partnership with government. Rather than fight solely for increased funds to the NEA, Rocco formed partnerships that redirected new funds from other agencies toward culture. It is a great model and has, in my view, inspired a great deal of creative thinking about how to communicate the value of culture persuasively to government and to the American public.

Smith: This leads to a topic I’m sure is top-of-mind for many: the NEA has been a lightning rod for politicians for decades and has often been on the chopping block during budget-cut discussions. This remains an unfavorable sign, especially considering that the 2015 budget was already cut by $8 million from the previous fiscal year ($146 from $154 million). What are some of the difficulties in making the arts a credible, and tangible, part of an American’s life, not just to politicians, but to citizens as well?

Sam Durant’s installation We Are the People at Project Row Houses in 2003. Photo: Rick Lowe, courtesy Project Row Houses

Sam Durant’s installation We Are the People at Project Row Houses in 2003. Photo courtesy Project Row Houses

Viso: In times of financial need culture is always at risk. It is unfortunately seen as a luxury as opposed to a core value and necessity within a good and just society. This attitude is what needs to shift for the arts and artists to thrive in this country, and this is why Rocco’s mantra of “art works” is so compelling. He wasn’t afraid to make the case for art’s instrumental value in society, which is a case that can be made. It is art’s intrinsic value that is much, much harder to communicate and is difficult to do. Unlike many countries around the globe, the US does not have a formal Ministry of Culture. That work is dispersed between the NEA and the NEH [National Endowment for the Humanities]. There is no cabinet-level appointee responsibility for culture in this country.

Smith: On a personal level, would you like to see the NEA return to funding individual artists, or is that delivery method an anachronism today?

Viso: The NEA does continue to award grants annually to individual artists who work in the fields of jazz, literature, and folk and traditional arts. These grants were not eliminated, and last year alone 68 grants were awarded to 68 artists in 28 states. What was eliminated, unfortunately, back in the 1990s, during the time of the culture wars, were individual grants to artists within the category of visual arts. The NEA does, however, continue to fund artists indirectly through grants to institutions that commission and present the work of living contemporary artists.

Smith: I’m thinking of alternatives to federal government funding and trying to imagine where support might come from in the upcoming decades. Perhaps corporations will begin funding local arts education and programming, realizing a tangible benefit for the employees’ families’ quality of life in their respective cities. Or maybe it is not a federal issue, but a state one. Locally, the voter-approved Legacy Amendment will give $1.2 billion in funding to the arts over the amendment’s 25 years, which will almost certainly enhance Minnesota’s quality of life. Or, perhaps the NEA is just as much of a hot button for the public as it is for politicians, and artists and organizations should avoid public funding and operate in a more free-market business style rather than looking for grant support. Has your time at the NEA given you an idea of the future of arts funding or any new options for finding funding?

Viso: While I would certainly advocate for the return of individual artist grants someday, what I would like to see more of today is more institutions proactively applying for projects that support living artists and the commission of new work. What I am seeing among institutional awardees in the visual arts arena, in particular, are applications for projects deemed “safe” by applicants, such as collections-based research, publication of scholarship, conservation, and exhibitions of old masters and historic material. These are all certainly very worthy and important projects for institutions that require considerable resources and allocation of funds, but what troubles me is the possibility that there is probably quite a bit of self-censorship happening in the field as a result of the challenges the NEA and the country faced back in the ’90s. I worry that institutions are not applying for riskier projects that get important resources out to artists.

This is why organizations like the Andy Warhol Foundation of the Visual Arts, on whose board I also serve, are so important. The Foundation, which was established in the late 1980s following Warhol’s death and in the midst of the culture wars, stepped in to focus on funding adventurous contemporary art organizations and projects that became at risk following the elimination of individual artist grants. The Warhol Foundation has de facto become the go to place for the funding of riskier kinds of projects that the NEA is assumed to not be interested (correctly or not) in supporting.

Centerpoints: Cage, Cats, Collage

• Taking a keen interest in caring for feral cats, photographer Sandy Carson set out to document the people and processes related to TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return). “You don’t have to be a crazy ‘cat person’ to be a certified trapper,” he assures, “but cat attire is optional.” • Here’s 4 minutes 33 seconds worth of clips […]

• Taking a keen interest in caring for feral cats, photographer Sandy Carson set out to document the people and processes related to TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return). “You don’t have to be a crazy ‘cat person’ to be a certified trapper,” he assures, “but cat attire is optional.”

Here’s 4 minutes 33 seconds worth of clips of a non-speaking Nicholas Cage in which only ambient noises are audible. Created by Adam Lucas, Cage Does Cage is an homage to John Cage’s 1952 conceptual art piece 4‘33”, performed by the Ghostrider star.

• April 21 is Record Store Day, a great chance to support some of America’s 700 independently owned bricks-and-mortar records stores — and a fine excuse for us to point out one of Christian Marclay’s “Body Mix” collages.

• A new edition of Lewis Carroll’s surreal fable Alice in Wonderland is, aptly, designed by an artist known for creating mind-bending visual worlds. Penguin Global has just published a Yayoi Kusama-designed version of the 1865 tale.

Craig Finn, who headlines Rock the Garden 2012 with the Hold Steady, got dudded up in the desert for a photoshoot as part of the Esquire Songwriting Challenge, in which he and four others each wrote a song, on the spot, inspired by the phrase “Pacific Standard Time.”

• “Our 1,000 artworks are headed for destruction anyway because of the government’s indifference,” says Antonio Manfredi, director of Italy’s Casoria Contemporary Art Museum, who says he’s begun burning paintings in protest of cuts in arts funding.

Pedro Reyes follows his 2011 Walker exhibition Baby Marx with Rompecabezas, a show in Mexico City that includes his adjustable hand-shaped chairs. “Functional and comfortable, you can use it to communicate to the people you live with,” he says.

• All art installation shots all the time. This dedicated Tumblr site chronicles art handlers–including Walker staffers installing Jim Hodges’ gigantic boulder/sculptures and Robert Therrien’s mammoth folding chairs–doing their thing.

• The Walker took home two prizes at the 2012 Museums & the Web conference, held in San Diego over the weekend, including Most Innovative and Best Overall. Congratulations to the Walker web and design teams, and to all 2012 winners! (We’re getting drubbed, but you can still vote for the Walker in the People’s Voice section of the Webby Awards.)

• Want more links like this? Follow Art News From Elsewhere on the Walker homepage.

Centerpoints: Borges at the Falls, Occupied Hirst, Victorian LOLcats

• We’re up for a Webby! The nominees list for the 2012 Webby People’s Voice Awards—honoring the best of the web—has just been released, and the Walker’s “gamechanging” new website makes the cut, in the category of best art site. Voting is open to the public through April 26. • “A casual treatment of death […]


• We’re up for a Webby! The nominees list for the 2012 Webby People’s Voice Awards—honoring the best of the web—has just been released, and the Walker’s “gamechanging” new website makes the cut, in the category of best art site. Voting is open to the public through April 26.

• “A casual treatment of death is central to Mexican cultural identity,” writes Julia Cooke, who cites designer products made out of grenades or gunmetal. Only a few, though—like Pedro Reyesshovels made from melted-down gang handguns—move beyond glib one-liners.

• After being slapped with a 15 million yuan ($2.4 million) penalty for alleged tax-law violations, Ai Weiwei is suing Chinese authorities. He argues that the fine for tax evasion was unlawful, as he wasn’t given access to witnesses or evidence used against him.

• For their first solo show in London, art provocateurs Eva and Franco Mattes—aka 0100101110101101.org—present a show with a title that changes daily and offers a display of works the duo claims includes fragments stolen from masterworks by Duchamp, Warhol, and others. “A lot of the works were so crazy, strong and powerful when they were made, like Duchamp’s Fountain, but became so accepted and it was like energy had been sucked out of them by being put in a museum,” the pair said. “The work maybe dies a little bit. We consider what we did a tribute to these artists – it is like a medieval relic, you keep it because you want to protect it and preserve it. We were acting out of faith, not anger.”

• There’s nothing like Minneapolis’ Minnehaha Falls in springtime, writes Andy Sturdevant, who shares a photo from an 1983 visit there by Jorge Luis Borges. Wrote the late Argentine poet:

The wry mythology of the Wisconsin and Minnesota lumber camps includes remarkable creatures – creatures that no one, surely, has ever believed in. The Pinnacle Grouse had just one wing, so it could only fly in one direction, and it flew around one particular mountain day and night. The color of its plumage would change depending on the season and the condition of the observer.

• While last Friday’s Cat Break showed us LOLcat/architecture mashups, today’s demonstrates that wacky cat photography predate the internet by a century and a half: “Probably the progenitor of shameless cat pictures was English photog Harry Pointer (1822-1889), who snapped approximately 200 photos of his perplexed albeit jovial ‘Brighton Cats.’

• Damien Hirst’s sculpture Hymn, installed outside Tate Modern, was tagged with the word “Occupy” after a writer at The Occupied Times of London identified him as “the man who has defined the capitalist approach to art more than any other.” Kester Brewin writes:

Sharks. Death. Love. God. Money. If Hirst is anything, he is the brash Goldman Sachs of the art world. He has a vast personal fortune of over £200m, accumulated through an alchemy that would leave even the most brash bankers in awe: stock medicine cabinets, spots of paint, flies, butterflies and severed cows heads transformed into pieces that sell for millions.

• Want more links like this? Follow Art News From Elsewhere on the Walker homepage.

Centerpoints: Foreclosure Quilts, E-Lanes, Cat Architecture

• After being disqualified from his own presidential run, singer Youssou Ndour finds himself in politics nonetheless: He’s been named Senegal’s new minister for culture and tourism. The Grammy winner is part of new president Macky Sall’s cabinet. • Andrew Bird, Laurie Anderson, and Amadou & Mariam are among artists invited to perform in A […]

• After being disqualified from his own presidential run, singer Youssou Ndour finds himself in politics nonetheless: He’s been named Senegal’s new minister for culture and tourism. The Grammy winner is part of new president Macky Sall’s cabinet.

Andrew Bird, Laurie Anderson, and Amadou & Mariam are among artists invited to perform in A Room For London, a small “boat” overlooking the Thames. Winning a design contest, Fiona Banner’s proposal is based on the boat Joseph Conrad captained in the Congo in 1890.

• The “Contact & News” page of Richard Prince’s website has turned into a blog, of sorts. The artist has been musing since March on topics from his reading recommendations (Mary’s Mosaic by Peter Janney) to hairy women to his wonderment about Victor Hugo’s real name.

• For former urban planner Kathryn Clark, charts and statistics on foreclosures fail to convey the hardship so many families are facing. Her Foreclosure Quilts are delicate fabric collages that tell the story of our fraying neighborhoods.

• When proofing the reproductions of art in the catalog for its forthcoming Roy Lichtenstein retrospective, the Art Institute of Chicago had some help: the artist’s foundation lent “color swatches made from the very paints Lichtenstein used throughout his career.

• A new single-theme Tumblr by Jason Foumberg aims to catalog the last works made by famous artists. A few poetic inclusions: Keith Haring‘s Unfinished Painting of 1989, Paul Thek‘s Dust (1988), and Basquiat‘s 1988 work Riding with Death.

Ai Weiwei, who once carved a security camera in marble for an art project, one-upped himself this week: in a nod to China’s ever-present surveillance system, he set up cameras to live-stream all the activity in his studio. It didn’t last long: the next day, authorities told him to pull the plugs.

• On Sunday, Philadelphia announced it’d be the first American city to create “E-Lanes,” delineated Electronic Device Lanes reserved for those who chronically walk and text. John Metcalfe dubs it one of 2012′s best April Fool’s joke by a US city.

Cat Break: Cats + architecture = Internet gold. Here’s a Tumblr blog that pairs reader-submitted mashups of famous architecture—including Snøhetta’s Opera House in Oslo and Jørn Utzon’s Sydney Opera House—and cats.

• Want more links like this? Follow Art News From Elsewhere on the Walker homepage.

Centerpoints: Close on Tebow, Fairey on Orwell

• In a “heartwarming display of New York crankiness,” Chuck Close grumbled about the trade of vocally Christian quarterback Tim Tebow to the Jets. “He’s going to be in the end zone praying? This is New York. He should go do that in, uh, the Midwest somewhere.” • Shepard Fairey, who was asked by Penguin […]

• In a “heartwarming display of New York crankiness,” Chuck Close grumbled about the trade of vocally Christian quarterback Tim Tebow to the Jets. “He’s going to be in the end zone praying? This is New York. He should go do that in, uh, the Midwest somewhere.”

Shepard Fairey, who was asked by Penguin Books to do cover art for George Orwell‘s 1984 a few years ago, is now reportedly teaming up with Brian Grazer and Ron Howard to produce an adaptation of the 1949 work for the big screen.

• Money is often a theme in Damien Hirst‘s art (think: his infamous diamond-encrusted skull), but sometimes it transcends the art: LA MOCA postponed plans to host Tate’s Hirst survey because its $3 million cost was deemed too expensive.

• In a conversation with the UK’s CRACK magazine, Minneapolis-based designer and MCAD professor Erik Brandt discusses, among other topics, how living in Egypt, Cameroon, Germany, and Malawi affected his love of language and typography.

• For this year’s Northern Spark, a Minneapolis dusk-to-dawn art festival June 9-10, David Rueter is creating a bike “synch mob.” The Kuramoto Model (1,000 Fireflies) will synch up LED lights on 1,000 bikes to mimic firefly behaviors.

Inside/Out gives a tour of Lester Beall‘s posters for the Rural Electrification Administration in the ’30s and ’40s: While nationalistic, the work highlights Beall’s “modernist design, which far outweighs the propagandist implications.”

• Noted performance artist Alison Knowles will stage her landmark Fluxus score Make a Salad (1962) on New York’s High Line for an April 22 commemoration of Earth Day.

Screenshots of Despair: “Let’s get the crowd involved in documenting these weird, almost accidental moments, when the default algorithms that undergird the realm of the connected remind us, quietly but somewhat naggingly, that we’re all alone.”

• Want more links like this? Follow Art News From Elsewhere on the Walker homepage.

Centerpoints: Serra’s Labor, Favela Typography, Dalí Pops

• In addition to being surrealism’s mustachioed poster child, Salvador Dalí had his side gigs doing commercial work—like the iconic daisy logo for Chupa Chups, the popular Spanish lollipops, he made in 1969. • For the Brooklyn Museum’s Keith Haring show, opening Mar. 16, the late artist’s foundation has been scanning pages from his journal. […]


• In addition to being surrealism’s mustachioed poster child, Salvador Dalí had his side gigs doing commercial work—like the iconic daisy logo for Chupa Chups, the popular Spanish lollipops, he made in 1969.

• For the Brooklyn Museum’s Keith Haring show, opening Mar. 16, the late artist’s foundation has been scanning pages from his journal. Today we see the page from Haring’s birthday in ‘77, when he met a former Minnesota Viking.

• Spanish collective Boa Mistura recently led a “typographic intervention” with residents in the São Paulo favela of Vila Brâsilandia. Playing tricks with perspective, they made words like “sweetness” and “tenacity” appear to float above the winding pathways.

GIFs have come a long way since 1987, when the web-based image format brought us animated flames and “Under Construction” signs. Today, as PBS tracks, they’re the basis of a new kind of art, with Tumblr and Reddit helping to spread GIF-based memes.

• Sculptor Richard Serra developed a “union solidarity” working in a steel mill as a teenager. “That’s never left me, the notion of the effort the working class puts in every day,” he tells Tyler Green. “The split in the country right now is not good for either class.”

Chattanooga, Tennessee, sees itself on the rebound, with a boom in arts and industry. Designers Robbie de Villiers and Jeremy Dooley think they can telegraph these gains with a custom-designed typeface for the city: Chatype.

• An “ebullient, graphic, homoerotic, black-and-white” mural made by Keith Haring in the former mensroom of New York’s Lesbian and Gay Community Services Center in 1989 is open to the public all month long following a $25,000 conservation effort.

• Want more links like this? Follow Art News From Elsewhere on the Walker homepage.

Centerpoints: Underground Parks, Facebook IDs, Superflex’s Tools

• Tobias Leingruber has shut down FBbureau.com, a satirical art project in which he proposed official Facebook ID cards, after the online giant had its lawyers send him a cease-and-desist letter claiming trademark infringement. • “You can use an object as a sculpture, but also you can also smash a window with it, or break […]

Tobias Leingruber has shut down FBbureau.com, a satirical art project in which he proposed official Facebook ID cards, after the online giant had its lawyers send him a cease-and-desist letter claiming trademark infringement.

• “You can use an object as a sculpture, but also you can also smash a window with it, or break into a bank,” says Bjørnstjerne Christiansen on why Superflex calls its art (like the work Bankrupt Banks) tools. “It invites participation, and also criticality.”

Ai Weiwei, Burmese poet Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi, Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat, and Russia’s Voina collective are nominees for the 2012 Index Awards, which highlight creators “whose work asserts artistic freedom and battles against repression and injustice.”

• Inspired by the High Line, the elevated park in Lower Manhattan, organizers are fundraising on Kickstarter to build a LowLine on the Lower East side: a 1.5-acre, solar-lit public green space in an abandoned underground trolley terminal.

• After printing a $100,000 bill on a billboard—a John Baldessari work commenting on the financial crisis—the second project selected by High Line art curator Cecelia Alemani is a giant eye by Anne Collier. “There’s so much voyeurism here,” she says.

Ikea is teaming up with Oregon-based architectural firm Ideabox to get into the prefab housing business. The Swedish-themed one-bedroom abode, which has a design focused on efficient space use, will retail for just shy of $87,000.

• After Occupy Wall Street sent a letter calling for an end to the New York institution’s signature biennial, the Whitney got pranked Monday: a faked Whitney website and release claimed the museum was rejecting sponsor money from Sotheby’s and Deutsche Bank.

• Occupy is alive and well in the realm of comics. The July issue of Archie will address the global protest movement, according to leaked artwork that shows banners that read “Occupy Riverdale” and “We are the 99%.” It follows up an equally political issue of the comic: #16, an issue protested by conservative groups, featured the same-sex marriage of gay character Kevin Keller. Copies of the issue sold out.

• Want more links like this? Follow Art News From Elsewhere on the Walker homepage.

Centerpoints: Buddhism and Art, Translating Peace

• “The main thing that attracts me to Buddhism is probably what attracts every artist to being an artist—that it’s a godlike thing,” says Laurie Anderson in an interview with The Believer. “You are the ultimate authority. There is no other ultimate authority.” • When Chris Burden’s Metropolis, a kinetic sculpture/mini-cityscape, opens at LACMA on Saturday, […]

“The main thing that attracts me to Buddhism is probably what attracts every artist to being an artist—that it’s a godlike thing,” says Laurie Anderson in an interview with The Believer. “You are the ultimate authority. There is no other ultimate authority.”

When Chris Burden’s Metropolis, a kinetic sculpture/mini-cityscape, opens at LACMA on Saturday, it’ll whiz some 1,100 tiny cars through its 18 lanes of traffic at speeds of around 240 miles per hour.

For a show opening in New Delhi Friday, Yoko Ono has produced new versions of the WAR IS OVER! poster she created with John Lennon in 1968. Now translated into 108 languages (including Klingon), the series’ newest additions include Telugu, Urdu, Tamil (pictured), and Kannada.

Rest in Peace: Dara Greenwald. The artist, community organizer and Just Seeds member succumbed to cancer at age 40. Co-author, with partner Josh MacPhee of the book, Signs of Change: Social Movement Cultures 1960s to Now, Greenwald spoke about activism and participatory art at the 2009 Creative Time Summit.

• Among the tens of thousands of Nigerians protesting subsidy cuts that have brought a doubling of gas prices is Seun Kuti, son of afropop legend Fela Kuti. “Our grandfathers had their chance. Our fathers had their chance” he said at a rally in Lagos. ” If we don’t take a stand for corruption in Nigeria now, then we too have lost.” Seun, who performs in Minneapolis in April at a Walker-sponsored event, was joined in protest by his brother, Femi, author Chinua Achebe, and others.

Jenny Holzer’s “Truisms” get a motherly tweak in a spoof Twitter account, @JennyHolzerMom. A sampling: “BEAUTY IS A MOVING TARGET BUT SWEETIE THAT IS A LOT OF EYE MAKEUP.”

“The revolution brought everybody’s talents into light. People started to talk from their hearts,’ says Egyptian musician Shaimaa Shaalan in a forthcoming documentary about the post-revolution arts boom. Here’s the trailer.

•  The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences plans to change eligibility requirements for nonfiction films: Starting in 2013 only documentaries reviewed by the New York Times or Los Angeles Times will be considered for Oscars. Thom Powers, who programs documentaries at the Toronto International Film Festival, says it’s “a strange thing indeed” for the Academy to cede powers to outsiders–namely newspapers–in considering eligible films.

Ryan Gosling gets museums.

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Centerpoints: Face Replace, Hockney v. Hirst, Polish Banksy

• Andy Warhol, Salvador Dali, Steve Jobs: These are some of the figures Kyle McDonald and Arturo Castro use in their face-substitution experiment, which uses face-tracking technology and color interpolation to create creepy mashup visages. • David Hockney confirms: Language on posters for his Royal Academy of Arts show are a dig at Damien Hirst. […]

Andy Warhol, Salvador Dali, Steve Jobs: These are some of the figures Kyle McDonald and Arturo Castro use in their face-substitution experiment, which uses face-tracking technology and color interpolation to create creepy mashup visages.

David Hockney confirms: Language on posters for his Royal Academy of Arts show are a dig at Damien Hirst. “All the works here were made by the artist himself, personally,” it reads. He says Hirst’s use of assistants is “insulting to craftsmen.”

• Once controversial, Zbigniew Libera‘s 1996 artwork rendering of a concentration camp in Legos has been acquired by the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, which dubbed it “one of the most important works of contemporary Polish art.”

• It’s important “to situate an institution as a civically engaged place that has a stake in the political–or even just empathetic, compassionate–constellation of a city,” says Dan Byers, associate curator of the Carnegie International and former Walker curator.

The Village Voice has laid off celebrated film critic J Hoberman. New York Times critic A.O. Scott notes that the paper “has been mostly irrelevant for years, EXCEPT for J Hoberman and a few others.” Hoberman has been a writer for the paper since 1983.

• Urban swings, trashcan basketball, and subway-stair slides are part of a trend Joop de Boer predicts for 2012: urban interventions that realize playful ideas within urban environments.

• Rest in Peace: Modernist ceramics artist Eva Zeisel, jazz saxophonist Sam Rivers, Color Field painter Helen Frankenthaler.

• PBS’s Art:21 released its trailer for Season 6, which will feature artists Ai Weiwei, Marina Abramovic, Lynda Benglis, Glenn Ligon, Sarah Sze, Catherine Opie, and others.

• An art student has Banksied the Polish National Museum, sneaking one of his portraits onto the wall in imitation of the UK street artist. “I decided that I will not wait 30 or 40 years for my works to appear at a place like this,” he said.

• Want more news like this? Check out Art News From Elsewhere, updated throughout the day on our homepage.

Centerpoints: Brazil, Eames, Musical Migration

• When in 1985, the film Brazil was held from distribution in North America by execs at Universal for being inappropriate, its director, Terry Gilliam, wrote a letter to studio head Sidney Sheinberg asking about its release — which he published as a full-page ad in Variety. It read: “Sidney Sheinberg, When are you going […]

• When in 1985, the film Brazil was held from distribution in North America by execs at Universal for being inappropriate, its director, Terry Gilliam, wrote a letter to studio head Sidney Sheinberg asking about its release — which he published as a full-page ad in Variety. It read: “Sidney Sheinberg, When are you going to release my film, ‘Brazil’? Terry Gilliam.” Letters of Note has the story.

SFMOMA’s addition is budgeted at $325 million, quintuple the $60 million spent on its 1995 building, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Add to that another $230 to operate the facility. The reason: The museum is acquiring the collection of late Gap founder Donald Fisher and his wife wife Doris. Estimated value: Over a billion dollars.

• The color of the year for 2012, according to Pantone: “Tangerine Tango.”

• Trailer: EAMES: The Architect and The Painter, now touring the U.S. (but, alas, not coming to Minneapolis).

• In the spirit of one of Daniel Eatock’s contributions to our show Graphic Design: Now in Production wrapping paper made from pricetags — here’s a look at wrapping paper made up of QR codes. When you scan ‘em, they offer gift suggestions (which is odd, considering you’re already in wrapping mode.)

• Er, rapping paper.

• Via Happy Famous Artists, a motion-graphics look at the evolution of western dance music, from 1800 to today.

• Your moment of “feel-o-meter” smokestack.

• Want to read more like this? Check out the running archives of “Art News From Elsewhere,” updated constantly on the new Walker homepage.

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