361 online
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 14 Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 9/8/10

Image Theft

By       (Page 1 of 1 pages)   3 comments
Message Tom Aiken
As reported by Jennifer Brooks in the 9/1/10 edition of The Root -- by way of Buzzflash on my end -- Fisk University, an historically black college in Nashville, Tennessee, is going broke. With a mere 800 students nobodies getting steak and lobster in the dorm cafeteria any time soon while whole sections of the university's physical plant openly deteriorate -- slowly, steadily -- as each month of neglect rolls by. And like anybody else flat and busted in this era of flat and busted the pawn shop soon looks like a mighty attractive option. But while you might be pawning (selling) guns or stereos or Grandma's jewels, Fisk is dealing with a much tougher hand.

At stake? The Alfred Stieglitz Collection of Modern American and European Art. Donated by famed photographer Alfred Stieglitz 's wife, Georgia O'Keefe, some sixty years ago, the collection is a seventy-four million dollar powerhouse peopled by such masters as Toulouse-Latrec, Picasso, Diego Rivera as well as O'Keefe herself. The problem? Sell it, or Fisk goes down the tubes. And who's buying? You ready? Walmart heiress Alice Walton, that's who.

While this less-than-welcomed transaction wanders through the courts (the current legal wrangling hinges upon collection mobility for dual display purposes under terms of a yet unannounced contract) you can almost read the cards; Walton drags out the legal end -- like she doesn't have the money to do so -- until even the most well-meaning of local art aficionados will just throw up his or her hands in disgust. On the public end -- well, Alice knows everybody's watching television. Translation? Nobody gives a s --- . Which might be the whole idea.

As for the collection itself? Eventually, from the way these things seem to go, it'll end up in an as yet to be built museum somewhere in Bentonville, Arkansas. Neat, huh? Imagine it if you can -- Half Price Cezanne Daze, those awful hanging signs with "Alice Fuentes", or whoever the hell she is, handing us a line of crap about her great job at "WalArt" (new museum name), sales coupons in little plastic display thingeys next to the works themselves offering discounts on that particular artist's Chinese-produced prints in the mind boggling "Gift Shoppe" where great art is reduced to a commodity and you can get a National Enquirer, a five pack of "Bic" lighters and a silver package of "Mentos" while you wait in the interminable check-out line.

God help us.

It used to be "art" was a public thing. Oh, there were some millionaires (Remember them? They're called "the middle class" now) who hogged a couple of masterpieces, staining them with cigar smoke as they'd stare at them, alone, in dark, wood-paneled man-caves clothed in neighborhoods that remain locales you and I can safely plan on never residing. But most of it was out in the open, sponsored by a couple of corporate titans who wanted their names engraved on a rock... and nothing else. Great art was, with the aid of some tax dollars as well, ours.

But those were the days when "giving" meant something. It was an important trait -- a way of showing gratitude to the community where you'd made your fortune (and getting your name engraved on a rock to boot), a little something, as hypocritical as it might seem, "given" back. It mattered.

It doesn't anymore. Oliver Stone's movie "Wall Street" has one of the most prescient lines in all of film history -- "Greed is good." It's kind of like the progression from ownership to Craigslist. The aristocrats withhold funds, individuals, in this case whole universities, go under, put up items in question for sale and said aristocrats swoop in to get all the goodies OBO. Now why would anybody want to do this sort of thing?

They used to call us "The 'Me' Generation"-- as in me, myself and I -- the power source that ignited when the Iranian imams took over the American Embassy in Tehran. That little slight-of-hand produced Reagan, and it was all downhill from there. By the end of the nineties we were fat, sassy and pliable as clay. "Everyone can be rich! You just need the right attitude!"

Then came Bush/Cheney.

I'll spare you the details other than here we are ten years later, with a couple of creeps owning everything and the rest of us working so hard we haven't got time for art, or much of anything else for that matter. And when we do get a little time off for some music or sports or get-togethers, it's bound to be sponsored by something. Miller Lite! Budweiser! McDonalds! Taco Bell! They want to own us as consumers and I'm getting the impression that if they had the opportunity to sponsor every event in our daily lives ("Home Depot presents Tom Taking A Dump") they'd happily do it. Outlandish? Unthinkable? Well, so was Sharon Angle. And look at her now.

And they're trying to get their hands on our public art this time, the very things that used to inspire us as kids passing by one at a time on public school field trips (remember them?), our teachers spinning tales of times long past. However, if I want to see a fair chunk of Toulouse-Latrec's work today I'll soon have to venture off to Bentonville, Arkansas for the privilege. And you know what? I don't want to go to Bentonville, Arkansas. Not now. Not ever. Never.

In many ways the corporations (rather the folks who run them) are slowly but surely sucking our souls from us like Taibbi's bloodsucking squid our hard-earned cash. They're trying to homogenize us, drain the very essence of whatever it is that inspires us to great art, great accomplishment, the great enthusiasm we used to exude as a race before our minds were captured by their sitcoms and video games and sugar-laced this, that or the other. They're confiscating our personal images, trying to steal us from ourselves, rend us commodities, "soybeans" as one plant manager put it, things to be manipulated, used, bought, sold.

Maybe I just don't want to go to Bentonville, Arkansas for a dose of Picasso, but I think it's more than that. I don't like the idea of a store I won't even patronize owning that which I consider sacred. I mean, if Alice decides to drunkenly kick in a Diego Rivera one night, well, she can... because it's hers.

God help us.

Must Read 1   Well Said 1   Valuable 1  
Rate It | View Ratings

Tom Aiken Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Tom Aiken is a writer based in Austin, Texas. He has written for numerous publications including The Village Voice, Heavy Metal amd M'Zine (RIP). Mr. Aiken also has a spanking new blog -- AikenLand -- for publication of his more unpublishable work. (more...)
Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEd News Newsletter
   (Opens new browser window)

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Glenn's Not So Funny Anymore

Joe Miller: Alaska's Great White Hope

Sarah Palin is Us

Corporations Are People

The Slow Coup De Gras

American Detox

To View Comments or Join the Conversation:

Tell A Friend