Some things in this world are considered luxuries, among them, art. My mom hated that my brother and I were both artists. She didn’t want us to be artists; she wanted us to be “happy.”

In school, art was an “enrichment elective.” We did it once in a while in elementary school, then, in junior high, got real classes. Same with music, though music was regarded more seriously as something on the cusp of usefulness, after all the school band played at games.

Thomas Jefferson said his dad had been a farmer so that Jefferson could be a lawyer, and Jefferson himself was a lawyer so his son could be a poet. There is in this the idea that art has a place, a very high place, in human life. I’m the first to say food is more important than paint, but when food is not an issue, paint matters.

DJT ran on the promise to restore jobs. Great. I’m for that. He also ran on the promise to reduce spending and lower taxes. OK. He has already stepped up with a budget plan — a very lean budget plan — that eliminates the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Rather than receiving government support, these programs are to be “privatized.” It’s a plan that originated in the Heritage Foundation last year; it is a typical conservative budget. But cutting the NEA, NEH and PBS is still not going to give DJT enough money to build a wall.

OK, well, any organization that receives money from the NEH, NEA and PBS already must seek other donations. The NEH, NEA and PBS provide guidance and oversight, among other things, and as they are not obliged to work on behalf of themselves for a profit, they are able to extend beyond self-interest. And, well…hardly any money go into these programs already and what does, actually provides people with…



O Me! O Life!
Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring,
Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish,
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew’d,
Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,
Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?
That you are here—that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.


The whole point of the NEA, NEH, and PBS is artistic freedom as well as cultural outreach and historic preservation. This article is an editorial, but makes many important (and accurate) points.

The truth of the matter is this, the conservative base in this country doesn’t like government money funding creative art that they deem as offensive. “

10 thoughts on “Oversight

  1. We focus a great deal of attention on the enrichment of the bank account without thought to enrichment of our Essence.

    The kind of mentality that rescinds funding for Arts is an exploitative lack mentality: wishing to convince the populace that we lack the wealth to enrich the arts while exploiting artists to line the pockets of private organizations.


    😉 xoM

  2. One of the things I learned by collecting really old Chinese porcelain was that art was considered a necessity — for everyone. A peasant might not be able to afford the stuff high end stuff labeled “imperial,” but there was art and decorative items specifically made for poor and poorer folks. Because everyone needs art. Everyone needs something beautiful in their world.

    Don’t you wonder about people who live in homes with blank walls and no art or any kind? Don’t you wonder if maybe their hobby is kidnapping people and torturing them in a dungeon? I do. But I’m probably a bit odd.

    I suspect that the budget will change considerably before it became the real deal. It always does. Anyway, hope is mostly what we’ve got right now.

    • I bought some beautiful dishes in my village when I lived in China. They are simple stoneware with a carp hand-painted on the bottom. My Chinese friend said, “Don’t buy those! Those are the poorest dishes in China!” They were not very durable and I only have one left, but it’s my favorite because the artist dripped the blue glaze in one place so there is a spot on the plate that makes it unlike any other.

      I bought a very old wine bowl on the black market, too. Not “nice” pottery; definitely the low-brow stuff, but it evokes all kinds of images for me. I also have a little collection of Ching dynasty wine pots — some are clearly middle class, some definitely lower class — one made of a water buffalo horn. I have a small collection of Famile Rose pieces, too. I’m not an expert by any means, and what I really love about them is the echoes of life’s moments they represent.

      The art question has been a burning one in my life since I moved here. During the time I was involved with the co-op it was “war” between those who saw their work as art and those who refused to see their work as art. In an agricultural community like this one, art is for “city folk” — except among the Hispanic population who have a different view. But…most of the non-art types saw my work as art and that was information for me. And, one reason I left was the need to expand membership meant that the co-op wasn’t juried and I didn’t want my work to hang beside bad art. It infuriated me. I had no idea I would care about that, but I did and do.

  3. I grew up without art at home.My art came from the London galleries and museums, but at home it did not come into the question, so I learned what I learnt from reading books and seeing paintings and then I married Mr. Swiss. He is a painter, he can draw, he has the gift and so little by little I learned to appreciate the whole thing. It does not mean that I have not developed my own taste, but that is the meaning of life, we all have our own ways to go. I have discovered art, discovered culture and I would not be without it today.

  4. Tragedy of tragedies, money doesn’t make the heart sing! It’s the same with Australian politicians, when they want to make cuts, the arts are first in line. It’s so short sighted.

    • All these government programs bring not only art to people throughout the country but support artists and educational programs and libraries and OH WELL! It’s — you’re right — so short-sighted!!!!

  5. Try not to become too disheartened. Every time the Republicans are in charge, they de-fund the arts, but somehow, the arts survive through private donations. It’s not easy, but they (we) have learned from long experience that when the budget gets “trimmed,” arts are the first pieces lopped off. And all the supporting organizations are geared up for the war ahead.

    • I’m not disheartened. It is the usual ebb and flow. What has come to bother me is the attitude. The guy who trolled this post yesterday was emblematic of not getting it. He even thought that government funding for the arts depended on artists doing what the government told them to do. The same stuff that paranoid conservatives always haul out because they haven’t seen Rollerball 😉 .

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