Skip to main content

"Footprints" portrait hagiography or not? You decide

I was giving the Brooklyn Public Library the benefit of the doubt, but in today's New York Times, in a City section article headlined An Exhibition Notable for What’s Not There, the library explains why the large portrait of Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn spokesman Daniel Goldstein was cut from the "Brooklyn Footprints" exhibition re-mounted at the library.

No, the issue wasn't space (an explanation that might be plausible). Rather, reports freelancer Paul Berger:
Jay Kaplan, director of the library’s programs and exhibitions, said the institution’s role is to document what is taking place in Brooklyn, not to provide a platform for advocacy. He called the rejected painting of Mr. Goldstein “hagiographic” and the arena-as-toilet-bowl a “political cartoon.”

“The library doesn’t take positions on issues currently being decided,” Mr. Kaplan said. “That’s not censorship. That’s just a mission statement.”


I know and respect Kaplan--he hired me twice for projects five years ago--but that explanation doesn't make sense. As I wrote , documentation inevitably intertwines with advocacy.

Hagiography?

As for hagiography (worshipful or idealizing), that's a stretch. I'm no art critic, but I think painter Sarah Sagarin did a good job in suggesting that Goldstein is resolute, but somewhat isolated; the red background suggests an absense of calm, appropriate for someone who's fighting the potential loss of his home via eminent domain.

Effective hagiography would've added some other elements. I searched the web for a portrait others deemed hagiographic and found the above depiction of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin looming over tanks (or just vehicles?), on the Gendercide site.

I'm not sure Belle Benfield’s portrait of Victoria (Mary) Harmon, which appears opposite the introductory panel for the show, is any more (or less) hagiographic than Sagarin's Goldstein piece.

What to collect

Because the prime mission of libraries is not to show art but to collect books and other materials to be lent, there's little codification of standards regarding selection of art. And visuals available to the public at large are different from the content of books that individuals choose to peruse.

(Update: I should have been much more specific. While the Brooklyn Public Library does not have an explicit policy regarding exhibits, the American Library Association offers an interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights, which most libraries endorse, that says:
Libraries should not shrink from developing exhibits because of controversial content or because of the beliefs or affiliations of those whose work is represented. Just as libraries do not endorse the viewpoints of those whose work is represented in their collections, libraries also do not endorse the beliefs or viewpoints of topics that may be the subject of library exhibits.)

Still, it's worth noting that one objective of the Brooklyn Public Library's materials selection policy is to "provide access to a variety of opinions on matters of current interest and encourage freedom of expression."

It would seem that the library would inevitably purchase a book that collected all the art in the Brooklyn Footprints exhibition.

What's missing

The Times article summarizes the controversy, but doesn't (because of space?) connect the dots to explain that Atlantic Yards opponents have charged that the library's caution derives from a fear of offending Forest City Ratner, a potential donor. (Update: A reader suggests that, if the library really were concerned about the developer, it wouldn't have mounted the exhibition in the first place.)

Nor does it delve into the inherent difficulty of separating documentation from advocacy, given the unexplained back story behind many of the works, as I pointed out. Still, it does point out that one piece, by Aisha Cousins, suggests that homes are about to be gobbled up--a bit of a political cartoon in itself.

What to cover

While the coverage today is legitimate, it prompts the conclusion that, if a resident of New York City only read the Times, the person wouldn't know that the city had more than doubled its planned contribution to the Atlantic Yards project nor that a highly contested hearing had been held in the potentially groundbreaking eminent domain case regarding the project.

Sure, the City section is assigned to freelancers, and has a different allotment of space and topics, so we can't expect that section to cover what should've been in the Metro section.

Still, the Times is supposed to be the Paper of Record. On Atlantic Yards, readers will have to go to the web, including my blog, NoLandGrab, and other organizational and governmental sites.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Barclays Center/Levy Restaurants hit with suit charging discrimination on disability, race; supervisors said to use vicious slurs, pursue retaliation

The Daily News has an article today, Barclays Center hit with $5M suit claiming discrimination against disabled, while the New York Post headlined its article Barclays Center sued over taunting disabled employees.

While that's part of the lawsuit, more prominent are claims of racial discrimination and retaliation, with black employees claiming repeated abuse by white supervisors, preferential treatment toward Hispanic colleagues, and retaliation in response to complaints.

Two individual supervisors, for example, are charged with  referring to black employees as “black motherfucker,” “dumb black bitch,” “black monkey,” “piece of shit” and “nigger.”

Two have referred to an employee blind in one eye as “cyclops,” and “the one-eyed guy,” and an employee with a nose disorder as “the nose guy.”

There's been no official response yet though arena spokesman Barry Baum told the Daily News they, but take “allegations of this kind very seriously” and have "a zero tolerance policy for…

Behind the "empty railyards": 40 years of ATURA, Baruch's plan, and the city's diffidence

To supporters of Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards project, it's a long-awaited plan for long-overlooked land. "The Atlantic Yards area has been available for any developer in America for over 100 years,” declared Borough President Marty Markowitz at a 5/26/05 City Council hearing.

Charles Gargano, chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation, mused on 11/15/05 to WNYC's Brian Lehrer, “Isn’t it interesting that these railyards have sat for decades and decades and decades, and no one has done a thing about them.” Forest City Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco, in a 12/19/04 New York Times article ("In a War of Words, One Has the Power to Wound") described the railyards as "an empty scar dividing the community."

But why exactly has the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Vanderbilt Yard never been developed? Do public officials have some responsibility?

At a hearing yesterday of the Brooklyn Borough Board Atlantic Yards Committee, Kate Suisma…

No, security guards can't ban photos. Questions remain about visibility of ID/sticker system.

The bi-monthly Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Community Update meeting June 14, held at 55 Hanson Place, addressed multiple issues, including delays in the project, a new detente with project neighbors,concerns about traffic congestion, upcoming sewer work and demolitions, and an explanation of how high winds caused debris to fly off the under-construction 38 Sixth Avenue building. I'll have more coverage.
Security issues came up several times at the meeting.
Wayne Bailey, a resident who regularly takes photos and videos (that I often use) of construction/operations issues that impact residents, asked representatives of Tishman Construction if the security guard at the sites they're building works for them.
After Tishman Senior VP Eric Reid said yes, Bailey asked why a guard told him not to shoot video of the site, even though he was on a public street.

"I will address it with principals for that security firm," Reid said.
Forest City Ratner executive Ashley Cotton, the …

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park graphic: what's built/what might be coming + FAQ (post-dated pinned post)

This graphic, posted in January 2018, is post-dated to stay at the top of the blog. It will be updated as announced configurations change and buildings launch. Note the unbuilt B1 and the proposed shift in bulk to the unbuilt Site 5.

The August 2014 tentative configurations proposed by developer Greenland Forest City Partners will change. The project is already well behind that tentative timetable.

How many people are expected?

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park has a projected 6,430 apartments housing 2.1 persons per unit (as per Chapter 4 of the 2006 Final Environmental Impact Statement), which would mean 13,503 new residents, with 1,890 among them in low-income affordable rentals, and 2,835 in moderate- and middle-income affordable rentals.

That leaves 8,778 people in market-rate rentals and condos, though let's call it 8,358 after subtracting 420 who may live in 200 promised below-market condos. So that's 5,145 in below-market units, though many of them won't be so cheap.

As …

The passing of David Sheets, Dean Street renter, former Freddy's bartender, eminent domain plaintiff, and singular personality

David Sheets, longtime Dean Street renter, Freddy's bartender, eminent domain plaintiff, and singular personality, died 1/17/18 in HCA Greenview Hospital in Bowling Green, KY. He was 56.

There are obituary notices in the Bowling Green Daily News and the Wichita Eagle, which state:
He was born in Wichita, KS where he attended public Schools and Wichita State University. He lived for many years in Brooklyn, NY, and was employed as a legal assistant. David's hobby was cartography and had an avid interest in Mass Transit Systems of the world. David was predeceased by his father, Kenneth E. Sheets. He is survived by his mother, Wilma Smith, step-brother, Billy Ray Smith and his wife, Jane all of Bowling Green; step-sister, Ellen Smith Alexander and her husband, Jerry of Bella Vista, AR; several cousins and step-nieces and step-nephews also survive. Memorial Services will be on Monday, January 22, 2018 at 1:00 pm with visitation from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm Monday at Johnson-Vaughn-Phe…

Some skepticism on Belmont hockey deal: lease value seems far below Aqueduct racino; unclear (but large?) cost for LIRR service

As I wrote for The Bridge 12/20/1, The Islanders Say Bye to Brooklyn, But Where Next?, the press conference announcing a new arena at Belmont Park for the New York Islanders was "long on pomp... but short on specifics."

Notably, a lease valued at $40 million "upfront to lease up to 43 acres over 49 years... seems like a good deal on rent for the state-controlled property." Also, the Long Island Rail Road will expand service to Belmont.

That indicates public support for an arena widely described as "privately financed," but how much? We don't know yet, but some more details--or at least questions--have emerged.

An Aqueduct comparable?

Well, we don't know what the other bid was, and there aren't exactly parcels that large offering direct comparables.

But consider: Genting New York LLC in September 2010 was granted a franchise to operate a video lottery terminal under a 30 year lease on 67 acres at Aqueduct Park (as noted by Gov. Andrew Cuomo).

As…

Barclays Center event June 11 to protest plans to expand Israeli draft; questions about logistics

At right is a photo of a poster spotted in Hasidic Williamsburg right. Clearly there's an event scheduled at the Barclays Center aimed at the Haredi Jewish community (strict Orthodox Jews who reject secular culture), but the lack of English text makes it cryptic.

The website Matzav.com explains, Protest Against Israeli Draft of Bnei Yeshiva Rescheduled for Barclays Center:
A large asifa to protest the drafting of bnei yeshiva in Eretz Yisroel into the Israeli army that had been set to take place this month will instead be held on Sunday, 17 Sivan/June 11, at the Barclays Center in Downtown Brooklyn, NY. So attendees at a big gathering will protest an apparent change of policy that will make it much more difficult for traditional Orthodox Jewish students--both Hasidic (who follow a rebbe) and non-Hasidic (who don't)--to get deferments from the draft. Comments on the Yeshiva World website explain some of the debate.

The logistical questions

What's unclear is how large the ev…