Eyes over the border


Dear Artist,

Now that it’s finally over we can talk about it. Believe me, Canadians were paying attention, and now that it’s a done deal there’s a bit of street dancing up here. But, goodness knows, Barack Obama’s got a lot on his plate.


In the lead-up to voting, guerilla poster artist Shepard Fairey made thousands of these and got them out and about in various sizes.

Of interest is Obama’s cultural program. He’s apparently been working on it for a couple of years, since long before his nomination. For a guy who writes poetry and consults with Bruce Springsteen and Jay-Z, it probably came naturally to form that panel of active professional artists to advise him.

Obama wants to increase funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and change the Federal Tax Code for artists. He has ideas like sending out “Artists Corps” to underprivileged schools and communities, expansion of public-private partnerships to increase cultural education programs, cultural diplomacy and the inclusion of foreign talent, less inward-looking xenophobia all ’round, as well as health care for artists.

Obama also backs Senator Patrick Leahy’s “Artist-Museum Partnership Act,” allowing artists to deduct the fair market value of work given to charitable institutions. We might hope that this enlightenment may shine on fundraisers too.

Here in Canada, if you want to donate your painting to raise cash for a favourite charity, you can get a “tax receipt” all right, but the government wants you to pretend you sold the work, take the amount into income, and then deduct it. The result is a wash — extra paper-shuffling for accountants, misery and dismay for both artists and charities. We don’t get no respect, eh?

Positive change in this last area would do wonders for charities. Fundraisers would attract better and more valuable art, raise standards, and would give relief to perpetually beleaguered artists. Think of the value to educational institutions alone.

Canada — that great nation somewhere north of Detroit known for its regular, south-sweeping cold fronts, is watching carefully. So are our American cousins. “It is unprecedented,” says Robert L. Lynch, CEO of “Americans for the Arts,” a Washington-based arts advocacy group. “No presidential candidate in recent times has addressed cultural issues in such detail.”

Best regards,


PS: “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” (Barack Obama)

Esoterica: Government involvement in the arts is like the porridge in the Goldilocks-Three Bears story. It has to be “just right.” Obama is brainy enough to get the support going toward education so that young people begin to know and appreciate the arts once more. Then, perhaps sometime later, free enterprise can truly kick in — yep, it works in the arts too. Lest we forget. Oh, and by the way — Congratulations, Barack Obama.


Planning to secede
by Deborah Buchanan, Adel, GA, USA

Being an artist does not preclude being a liberal. Up until today, I have looked forward to reading your letters, well written, timely, and food for thought. I live in the south, and we may secede after this election. A LOT of us would appreciate it if you would leave politics out of your commentary. Thank you for considering this.

There are 9 comments for Planning to secede by Deborah Buchanan

From: Diane Overmyer — Nov 11, 2008

While I understand your feelings, I read through Mr. Genn’s letter and was surprised at how neutral he was able to keep it. I had read Obama has voted in favor of arts legislation, but I had not known some of the particulars that Mr. Obama plans to work towards. I say “Thank you!” to Mr. Genn for taking an interest in our country!

From: David Gellatly — Nov 11, 2008

As a fellow southern to the lady from Georgia, I’d like to say that a LOT of us enjoy political commentary from abroad. Perhaps the secessionists would consider relocating to the great state of Alaska? I hear there’s quite a view … you can paint Russia!

From: Mária White — Nov 11, 2008

OMG, Art is NOT just about painting pretty pictures. And, (I’ve been waiting for a long time to say) “When did ‘liberal’ become a dirty word?” It certainly wasn’t in the 60s. Robert, keep up the good work — and thank you for all your efforts!

From: Madeline Pierre — Nov 11, 2008

Ms. Buchanan, How sad that you have such an attitude. Mr. Genn’s comments are greatly appreciated, created wonderful feedback from people the world over, and are intelligent, informative and neutral.

It’s time for people to operate outside of Fear. Try to evolve your thinking beyond labels, realize that we are all the same, that there is no room, ever again, for hatred, racism, ignorance, discrimination, apathy or aggression toward a fellow human being unless it is in self defense.

I just bet Jesus would have voted for Obama! P.S. If you secede, please check out Alaska. You would probably find it a perfect climate in so many ways! Perhaps we can have a fund raiser and sell some art work to help you fund your move?

From: Janet Mohler — Nov 11, 2008

To Maria White: when “liberal” became a dirty word was when “political correctness” and the resultant thought police replaced critical thinking about issues.

From: Deborah Buchanan — Nov 12, 2008

I feel compelled to respond to the negative comments I have received with a quote from Thomas Jefferson. “A government big enough to supply everything you need, is big enough to take everything you have.” We all should be wary of the continued growth of power the government wields.

From: Maxx Maxted — Nov 12, 2008

Yo! A view from the underside. We are all affected by the goings-on up your way. Congrats to the Man. There may be some hope for y’all down South too. Keep taking the bitter pill, it will eventually bring you much needed humility.

From: Anonymous — Nov 12, 2008

Thank you Deborah! This newsletter was previously the one place I could escape the constant barrage of Obama rhetoric of the past many long months.

B. Dennis

From: Deb DICKER — Nov 13, 2008

Boy Deborah I think you really have to ask yourself are you better off now under the Bush administration than what you were 8 yrs ago. If you say yes then you must be an AIG executive that gives yourself big bonuses at the expense of the American People. Unfortunately most Americans have no idea how desperate things are and will become. Not because of Barak but because of bungling by the Bush era.

Your country is messed. Succession may not be an option because as the reality comes to the forefront as to how bad things really are it may become every man for itself and the horror stories of years ago are just years away from becoming reality.

I’m sorry that narrow minded bigotry is still prevalent in our world today.

Instead of your talk ask not what you can do for yourself but ask what you can do for your country.


Inspiring the children
by Jeanne Pfister, Kaukauna, WI, USA

I’m so proud to be an American! I’ve worked diligently and financially for the success of Barack Obama. I have watched several Presidential elections and NEVER have I seen such an outpouring of absolute glee from around the world. With intelligence, eloquence, humility and grace, Barack Obama has won the respect of our citizens. As a retired educator, who worked in the inner city schools of Milwaukee, WI, this election has done more to inspire multicultural children than any other motivating factor I can think of. I’m so glad I lived to see this day!


No longer ashamed
by Alan Feltus, Assisi, Italy


“The Queen of Hearts”
oil painting
by Alan Feltus

I thank you for this letter about Obama and his arts interests. We have waited and hoped for changes in the tax laws that would allow the artist who is donating works to silent auctions or nonprofit organizations to get a deduction while the wealthy collectors would get yet another tax break. I have donated works to art schools and other such organizations for a long time and resented the tax laws that treat us like — well I won’t write what I had in mind. Decades ago there was a lawyer named Bob Projansky, of Stony Point, New York who tried to get a bill passed that favored artists. It might have been a bother to collectors and dealers, as it included things like the artist would be informed of the changing of hands of his work. Maybe even a percentage of the sale in future sales. Wouldn’t that be nice? I like that you sent out this letter to your vast readership. Anyway, all of us, all our friends are excited about Obama’s extraordinary victory. I am now no longer ashamed and embarrassed to be an American over here in Italy.

(RG note) Thanks, Alan. I’ve been on boards looking at the idealistic concept of rewarding artists on re-sales. Nice idea, as you say, but I don’t think it will work and might be counter-productive and discouraging to collectorship. I think collectors who invest in an artist deserve to own full rights to the increase — or decrease — in the value of works. Further, managing such a system would be mighty cumbersome and would bring out the cheating instincts of collectors, gallerists and auctioneers.


Charitable sharing shows
by Tania Hanscom, Cambridge, ON, Canada

I enjoyed your article and couldn’t agree with you more regarding bringing the arts into the school system – I’m talking about ours in Canada. There is so little now for the kids to aspire to and get excited about. It’s basically “crafts.” I wanted to ask your opinion on something – I met the Senior Development officer of the Cambridge Memorial Hospital Foundation. I spoke with her about a fundraising project that would involve the works of local artists. The idea is to display and then put them up for auction. The artists would make a bit, and get some good exposure. The hospital stands to gain as well. Do you think this is a good idea?

(RG note) Thanks, Tania. Sharing income from charitable art shows is certainly viable. Artists can opt for 50% of the net or as little as 10%. When artists are seen as benefactors rather than dependents, they rise to a new level. Even single donations that are totally buckshee to the charity never fail to create goodwill and further joy. It’s good for the community and it’s good Karma.

There is 1 comment for Charitable sharing shows by Tania Hanscom

From: swan — Apr 03, 2010

Sunnybrook hospital in Toronto displays art from different art groups on a rotating basis all year round-it is up for 1or 2month period(I think)it works great for both sides.


The illusion of freedom
by Jon Conkey, Mora, NM, USA


“Have canoe will travel”
oil painting, 6 x 9 inches
by Jon Conkey

Yep, Obama will certainly fuel the arts, but he may well destroy the industries and folks who buy their art; leaving artists as ‘street-artists’ pushing their crafts. He does not talk about “invention as art,” and those who discover great devices will most likely “keep them quiet,” for fear of the “New World” stealing their “art” from underneath them through “legal means” and “reverse engineering” to directly avoid patent royalty payment. His vision is not unique, it is called Europe, and not everyone here believes Europe has the answers to America’s problems, and most here do not care for the EU, UN, G8, WHO, IMF, SALT, etc. controlling USA’s interests without our people’s support. But, then again, freedom is an illusion to most.


The rebirth of understanding
by Coulter Watt, Quakertown, PA, USA


oil painting
by Coulter Watt

Above all the election of Barak Obama has restored my faith in America and that we can overcome the difficult issues before this nation. Creative minds are at the root of all good changes, be it the economy, the energy issue, the environment or the celebration of the arts in the White House. But, mostly I look forward to a President who sees strength in talking with all political leaders of the world in an effort to understand one another and solve our differences peacefully.



Dancing in the streets
by Stefanie Graves, Paducah, KY, USA


“Sitting pretty”
watercolour painting
by Stefanie Graves

Thanks so much for bringing all this information forward. I for one missed something along the way as I had no idea that this was part of his platform. Ask me about his healthcare program, ideas on the economy, and what he was going to do with taxes and I could have told you. But art? Just goes to show how jaded I’ve become, assuming that we could expect nothing more than the same. This news is added icing on the cake. By the way, we’re pretty much dancing in the streets down here too. What a time!

(RG note) Thanks, Stefanie. So far, more than three hundred subscribers have written and used the words “Dancing in the streets.”


Perils of big government
by John McCaskill, Kailua Kona, HI, USA

Most American citizens wish Barrack Obama success as our next president. However, a return to class warfare and a re-distribution of wealth may not necessarily be a good thing for artists. Under an Obama nation those that have traditionally supported the arts as collectors and through their foundations and charitable donations may find that they have a lot less to give. Do we really think the government is better at spending or sharing our money than we are?


Bonus for artists
by Vivian Capone, Coarsegold, CA, USA


“African Gourd 1”
mixed media
by Vivian Capone

Thank you for your informative letter. I must tell you that all your information regarding the Arts and Obama is news to artists in the U.S. I have not heard any of that and I do keep up with the news. Hopefully, you are not holding your breath as he has lots to prove first. Now, on the donating side of art, when I donate my paintings to a nonprofit or for charity, I can only deduct the tangible value: the frame, paper, and paint. I cannot deduct my work on the paper, which is intangible. So it would be a bonus for an artist to be of some value.

(RG note) Thanks, Vivian. I got most of my material for my letter from articles written by Jeremy Gerard, an editor of Bloomberg news. And while they have been widely published in the US and abroad, you can get some of it here. Also, some of the sites where the material appears, such as Toronto’s Globe and Mail, require you to pay to read the article. Free enterprise is alive and well in Canada.

There are 2 comments for Bonus for artists by Vivian Capone

From: Doris — Nov 11, 2008

C-Span 2 is the best resource I’ve found for political info. That was my main source and thus I knew of his intentions for the arts.

From: Mishcka — Nov 11, 2008

I knew about this although I don’t remember which source I got it from. Many of my artist friends also knew of it early on in the campaign.


Special benefits for special artists
by Katy Allgeyer, High Point, NC,USA


“Bass Harbor”
original painting
by Katy Allgeyer

I had a show in Berlin, Germany five years ago at a gallery owned by an American ex-pat. I learned that in that country artists are entitled to special benefits such as health insurance and pay little or no taxes whatsoever. Of course, the artists have to pass a rigorous registration process to become designated officially as artists, but once in, you’re supported to practice your art.

(RG note) Thanks, Katy. Trouble is, with this system, the way I see it, there are far too many deserving artists and far too few that can get “in.” Further, the selection process leans toward elitism, special interest groups and control by ideologues, academia, critics and over-educated mugwumps. Anointed “official” artists make it, and the great unwashed do not, nor are the unwashed any more collected by the general public. Government intervention in the arts is a tricky business and thoughts in that direction should be weighed with great care.

There is 1 comment for Special benefits for special artists by Katy Allgeyer

From: Oliver — Nov 14, 2008

And yet you champion Obama, the great government interventionist!


Voting drones
by Elissa Gordon

No, it’s not OVER for half of America because we DO NOT want this man for our leader. I’m talking about a very important half of America — the majority of WORKING, TAX-PAYING Americans. Only because they were backed by millions of voting drones who sit around waiting for a handout, were the Democrats able to steal this election. By the way, as I picture “Canada watching,” I can’t help but notice your omission of BO’s socialistic plans for America. Let’s discuss how socialism works in Canada, then let’s talk about America. While I enjoy your musings on art, I am not interested in your musings on politics. Please remove me from your mailing list.

There are 8 comments for Voting drones by Elissa Gordon

From: Bobbie Halpenny — Nov 11, 2008

Why not simply stop reading the political, Ms Gordon, and enjoy Mr Genn’s art writing? I am far from being a drone waiting for a handout but voted for Obama. My relatives who share your viewpoint are always first in line for handouts even though they have plenty, and harass & sneer at those who dare to have a view not parallel to theirs. Those of us who do not share your myopic view have had eight years of dread and amazement watching the uber crowd get away with everything. I am sorry you are so distressed as to deny yourself Genn’s letters.

From: Kathy Weber — Nov 11, 2008

I’m sure you don’t realize that the federal TAXES paid by the HARD WORKING folks in the blue states often end up being funneled into programs in the South. Without that money many red states would be like third world countries.

From: Anonymous — Nov 11, 2008

Oh Please people, talk about a myopic view, wow Bobbie you need to visit Texas. And Kathy when was the last time you visited a southern state. I enjoy Robert’s letters and he is entitled to his political opinion but I find it interesting that the entire world worries about what happens in our country. Wonder why?

From: Anonymous — Nov 11, 2008

Because dear Americans, you have the biggest guns. Because you have more citizens armed and shooting than any nation on earth. I live in the USA and fear a simple walk down an ordinary street for fear of some hungry, disenfranchised lunatic deciding that I will be his next target. The countries you disdain have a much better record on crime, human rights, and equality. Wake up. This guy Obama just might be the hope you have waiting for. Go paint something, cool off.

From: David Gellatly — Nov 11, 2008

Socialism came to Wall St. not from Obama, but from Treasury Secty Henry Paulsen, former ceo of Goldman Sachs. Unbridled capitalism without conscience ran amok, killing Lehman Bros., Bear Stearns, etc. destroying trillions of $. This was NOT the work of drones, or socialists. Wake up! Corporate socialism is nothing new in the USA.

From: Susi Franco — Nov 11, 2008

Ms. Elissa Gordon- You and your fellow citizens who did not vote for President-Elect Obama need to look past your bitterness, as the rest of us were required to do the last 8 yrs of our lives, and invest your energies instead into helping rescue our country, which can’t happen while this divisive polarity is being nurtured by sour-grapes voters more interested in their personal agenda than what is best for the nation. As for folks outside America making observations on our government, I welcome it wholeheartedly. We are not on this planet alone, lady; it is a global community and high time more respect and attention is given to those outside our borders, that is, if you really want America to be safe and well. I was abroad just before the Bush-Kerry election and was astounded, gratified, dismayed and enlightened by the opines of Europeans as to our politics, our world status. The way the world sees us DOES matter, and heavily. We need to recover our former shining face in the world, and all indications are Pres. Obama will forward that directive. On a more personal note, I bitterly resent your inference that only the GOP are working taxpayers. Take a look around you; do you really believe the only folks contributing are Republicans ? This kind of national myopia has to stop, along with the infighting. Get over yourself, like we all had to do the last 8 yrs while Dubbya ran us into heavy debt (as he did with every business he ever had prior to politics) over 500 trillion, made China our largest creditor and set the stage for the catastrophic failure of our economy.

You may want to spend some time with an American Civics high school text book; Barack Obama is not a socialist. It is a fairly sophomoric and hysterical assertion which has no roots in reality.

Mr. Genn is well within his rights to say whatever he likes in HIS FREE newsletter, and yes, please do unsubscribe. Artists are fueled by ideas; it is the fire in our bellies and the fuel behind the brush. I have applied to work in the Artists Corps and look forward to serving my country through Art if I am selected. I am sad for you that you cannot see past the blinders of your politics, to the wonderful horizons awaiting our country under the leadership of a Harvard-educated statesman and patriot. Keep up the great work, Robert, and ignore the nay-sayers. Your newsletter is manna from Artist heaven. :)

Respectfully: Susi Franco

From: Linda Mallery — Nov 11, 2008

Bye, isolation from reality seems to be working for you.

From: Mishcka — Nov 11, 2008

You say Democrats stole this election? That’s funny coming from a Republican. Bush stole the 2000 election and all but ruined my country during his administration. Let’s get factual:

“But Bush only won Florida because of poorly designed butterfly ballots that stole votes from Gore, and because his Florida campaign manager Republican Secretary of State Kathleen Harris and Governor Jeb Bush illegally removed 57,700 voters from the rolls. It is estimated that 90% of them were Democratic. So this represents thousands of votes stolen from Al Gore. If this crime had not been committed then Gore would be President.”

And guess what, “the majority of WORKING, TAX-PAYING Americans”, to quote you, are going to get a tax break. You bet’cha!


Look around the world
by Tiit Raid, Fall Creek, Wisconsin, USA


“Weeder #1”
acrylic painting
by Tiit Raid

I’m encouraged by Barack Obama’s words, “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”

Many in America are thrilled with the change that is to come due to the election of Barack Obama as the next president. After eight years of idiotic and embarrassing leadership it will be a relief to have a leader who is intelligent and articulate and believable.

After the tragedy of 911 the American government squandered a great opportunity to ask some important questions about the conditions that brought such a disaster about. Instead, rather than seeking answers, they went about responding in the same crude manner as in the past, with might and aggression.

Brings to mind what Gandhi said, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” Or, to put it another way, “Fight evil with evil, only evil wins.” I’m not sure who said the latter, but both statements say a lot.

Then, to have someone in a position of leadership who is willing to listen to artists is tremendously encouraging. If an international panel is ever formed to look into the problems of the world, artists and writers and poets and composers and philosophers should be included. For if this panel is limited to the usual combination of political and social and religious leaders it will never work in a complete and holistic way.

It seems to me that artists, and other creative people, are more connected with what makes everyday life ‘click.’ And are thus people who are more in touch with their thoughts and emotions and beliefs; and further, they understand more about what is happening in their mind and that ideas and concepts change over time as new information is gained from paying attention to what occurs in the process of living in the everyday. In other words, we need the help of people who are more consciously aware of what is taking place outwardly and inwardly.

If we go about doing things as we have in the past, with force and aggression, then real and meaningful change will never occur, and peace in the world will be impossible. And, if we treat art and artist as second class citizens, then we will continue on a blind path filled with insensitivity and crudeness, and we will not see the beauty of the everyday.

Observation of the world connects us to it. It is time to take a long look at what is around us, for if we don’t, we will continue to mistreat and abuse our own ‘living room’ which is the world.

There is 1 comment for Look around the world by Tiit Raid

From: Ruth — Nov 15, 2008

Sure, lets just philosophize with terrorists.



Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for Eyes over the border



From: Sandy Sandy — Nov 06, 2008

Y E A H Barack! C H A N G E is coming along with a big shift in consciousness. I am so proud to be part of this and witness to the huge changes that are about to take place. The first email I opened yesterday morning was from the president elect. It read:

“Dear Friend –

I’m about to head out to Grant Park to talk to everyone gathered there, but I wanted to write to you first. We just made history. And I don’t want to forget how we did it.” He goes on to say; “I want to thank all of you who gave your time, talent and passion to this campaign. We have a lot of work to do to get our country back on track, and I’ll be in touch soon about what comes next. But I want to be very clear about one thing… All this happened because of you. Thank you, Barack” It’s the perfect ending to one chapter and a stirring of my emotions for the next! I am so psyched Robert!!

From: Rick Rotante — Nov 06, 2008

Thoughts on the election from the trenches. Changes will come but with a cost. Policies passed by the outgoing regime will have to be reversed. Obama is human and not a saint – humans can do just so much. Debts made have to be repaid. Politicians say many things to get elected. I was raised not to trust any of them. History shows us we are too gullible in this area. The right in this country will try their best to subvert new policy whenever they can and the left has to realize that change will be slow to come.

I believe the honeymoon will be longer with Mr. Obama than with previous Presidents save Mr. Kennedy. Americans, as a whole I believe want him to succeed. Being the first black president will cause many different challenges not faced by previous administrations. His successes and failures will reflect upon his race more so than on a white president. He will be on trial and maybe judged more harshly.

The true change has already taken place with Mr. Obama’s election. Time will tell if Americans can put aside their prejudices and work together to effect future change. I think this is our window of opportunity and I pray we don’t blow it.

From: Robert Bissett — Nov 06, 2008

People say I’m cynical. I say I’m a realist. Obama is no doubt a great guy and a great speaker. The more things change the more they remain the same. Check out the insider partisan he just appointed as his chief of staff. Fair market value for donated art? Isn’t that a double edged sword? When it comes time settle up your estate will all that accumulated work now be worthless or will it be worth fair market value?

From: anonomous — Nov 06, 2008

Oh please, how gullible can we be! Exactly who will pay for all this funding for the NEA? The corrupt bankers? No, only those who work their fingers to the bone.

From: Cheryl Webster — Nov 07, 2008

EEEK what a cynical bunch we have become. “Change will not come if we wait for some other person, some other time. We are the ones that we’ve been waiting for, we are the change that we seek”. Come on people, let us not abandon hope. We know times are difficult but lets keep the faith!

From: please no politics — Nov 07, 2008

I have worked hard to keep politics OUT of my working artists studio to help artists have a “safe place” and a “refuge” from all the chaos. In reading these remarks–which promoted me to write–WHY do people have to think if one is not in favor of the policies of this president they are automatically racist?

I am so exhasted from this! Here in NC, the day after the election our state nearly doubled the cost of health care for teachers…and more misery is in store as the Obama Recession is in full swing.

Do I want him to succeed? OF COURSE!

Reality Check Here: even in this “good” area of NC, galleries are CLOSING at an alarming rate. ART is just about the last thing to come back (after folks start going out to dinner again).

I am so proud to live in this great country where anyone can be elected to lead— but at least 55 million of us believe we are in deep trouble with the leadership.

Help the arts? Hope so… other than what you mentioned (that we have been lobbying for anyway)– more than likely much of the ARTS that the new administration will promote will have little to do to help artists as are represented here. Any help will be a drop in the bucket to what we are facing now… and you can best believe that any “artist corps” will be volunteer.

I was sorry (and more tired) to see politics come into play here–

Taxes will go up, businesses are shuttering, and we are holding on for dear life in our studio/gallery.

From: Jeanne Lachance — Nov 07, 2008

Your letter today is totally wonderful. I for one am thrilled Obama is our president elect. Imagine a president who loves art and will support it. Thrilling and makes me want to work even harder at my art. We have been waiting a long time for an intelligent president.

From: Consuelo — Nov 07, 2008

Cynicysm tends to be contagious and it will not be erased overnight but at least there is now ‘hope’ the world can move forward. Well done young man!

From: Carole Ann Borges — Nov 07, 2008

Ah, what a sweet night!

I wept salty tears as I thought back over the years to the many sacrifices made by so many to bring this to fruition, to the work done by both blacks and whites to help eliminate our nation’s ignorance. I thought of my own marches during the Civil Rights Era in Washington and in Chicago, even when to march risked terrible consequences. I thought back to Dr. King and his eloquence and the agony of hearing the words, “They shot Dr. King.”

Tonight I saw Jesse Jackson biting his lip with tears streaming down his face, and I saw the light in the young people’s eyes as they realized it was a new day. I pictured Michelle and the kids living in the White House, the promised puppy scampering from room to room.

Then I thought how never again can anything any ignorant racist says have the same impact because today my country, my beautiful America chose to elect a president based on his beliefs rather than the color of his skin. This was an amazing act of trust and an act accompanied by great joy. It will take a while to sink in. Over the last few weeks a black Republican friend of mine kept saying cynically,” Do you really think this country is ready to elect a black man?” Well today I can tell him. Today I can affirm what he was afraid to dream.

Yes, we can. Yes, we can. Yes, we did.

From: John F. Johnson — Nov 07, 2008

Trick question: where in the continental US can you drive south and be in Canada?

Answer: Detroit

From: Jeanne Rhea — Nov 07, 2008

For “Please no politics”

Take politics out of art and make this a safe place free of politics? This sounds like a fantasy world. Politics, religion and sex are all a part of who we are and to deny either in the realm of art is to deny a part of ourselves. I completely understand that we were all inundated with so much politics for the past six months that anyone could grow weary. But that era is over. Now we are able to look at the world and ourselves with fresh eyes. I am so eager for new leadership, new policies, new attitudes and new voices.

As I worked in my studio after the election, I found myself near tears in what this means to our children, my fellow black Americans and to the rest of the world. (I know it is not going to be easy and things will not happen overnight, but I truly believe change will happen.)

I am in North Carolina too, and feel for all who are struggling to make a living in the art world. Still, I have had more art sales in the past three months than in the previous three years. Barack Obama winning the presidency gave me a greater desire to work harder and to be a better citizen. I’ve been painting like a mad woman!

From: anne — Nov 07, 2008

Please no personal opinions on politics!

What purpose is it to have me disagree with your opinion on Obama, or political views.

I understood this to be an artist blog. Maybe I misunderstood the purpose of this blog.

From: ellie — Nov 07, 2008

I believe most (if not all) outer changes reflect inner ones. The transformation we’re witnessing on the national and global scene does perhaps point to shift in consciousness. What does it mean? That’s up to each of us to realize. As artists isn’t it our privilege and responsibility to express as accurately as we can the Truth of the moment as we perceive it? Euphoric or glum about the results of the election, isn’t there always opportunity to make Art of what we see, to learn more about ourselves? The rotting pears I painted the day after the 2004 election weren’t simply about the state of the Nation, but about something passive and depressed in me. This go-around I decided to involve myself more actively in the presidential campaign. Because I sought inspiration, I found Obama. He didn’t simply sprinkle fairy dust over the countryside; he aroused passion and hope for a possibility for which I was already longing. My first post-election painting this time is filled with light and I’m grateful, not because I think the President-elect is going to save our nation, but because, perhaps now we will realize that we do indeed have the power within us to bring about the changes we all need.

From: K. White — Nov 07, 2008

I am one that has not been sold by Obama. When he stops talking about taking care of people by redistributing wealth and he starts talking about inspiring people to become great on their own, then I will start to listen. Right now I hear all these great promises and wonder who will pay for them. Then those of us who have built small businesses in art with working and dreaming will end up what-with higher taxes?

When I raised my children, I taught them to feel good about themselves and follow their dreams. They all have successful small businesses and some have started families of their own. All my children have college debt that has either been paid off or paid down. My husband and I couldn’t afford to put 3 children through college, and they made it. They embraced taking care of themselves and finding a way to achieve what they wanted to do.

We need to inspire people, not teach them the government will take care of them. What will more taxes do to that black hole where all tax money goes and then is never enough. People are individuals, inspire them to follow their dreams and wants. There is something in every individual that thrives when they can take care of themselves. You can’t make poor people rich by making rich people poor. As artists we know about inspiration, maybe we should devise a plan to enrich our country. We need a real change in politicians not someone who knows how to give a great speech and just deliver more of the blah blah blah….

From: Melissa Evangeline Keyes — Nov 07, 2008

I’ll be absolutely amazed.

From: Melissa Evangeline Keyes — Nov 07, 2008

Oh, well said, K. White!

From: L.Bjur — Nov 07, 2008

As for donating pieces to charities, it works for me. I do not make alot of money and donating cash is at times a challenge. When I donate a piece to the public gallery auction or the Victims Assistance charity auction I get to pick it’s value and am issued a tax receipt. Last year I was on maternity leave from work and actually have tax receipts that will carry over to this years tax season as I did not pay enough tax to claim the various receipts. Or maybe I am just blessed.

p.s. this new President rekindles hope for so many of us, it is such a relief.

From: Joyce Goden — Nov 07, 2008
From: Ginny Blakeslee Breen — Nov 07, 2008

Robert, thank you. This is the first time in a long time I have felt hope, and wow, does that feel good! Hope that we can be a nation and people who are proud of our choices, with a leader who has a higher vision. And, I might add, thank you to John McCain for his touching speach calling for unity and respect. May we all work harder to get our country back on track. Proud to be an American again.

From: Barry S. — Nov 07, 2008

Nice piece as always. Have to tell you, though, when I saw the title I thought sure I’d hear something about “Putin poppin’ his head up”!

From: Jerry — Nov 07, 2008

I firmly believe a real positive transition in our society has been made and will be made in the future by the Election of Obama. Here in Hawaii we have a term “hapa” meaning “a part of one and a part of another”. Remember our new President Elect, a native son of Hawaii, is one half white and one half black, a true “Hapa-American”.

From: Bug — Nov 07, 2008

What commentators have glossed over is that the US is still a society largely divided along political lines. Also, there is more than a healthy amount of bitterness about the outcome of almost every election. Citizens are standing in line to believe canned political rhetoric dispensed by party apparatchiks. Rather than think deeply about the precise issues, these people hear the pat sloganeering and sign on because it seems to be consistent with their values. Sometimes the pithy sayings do indeed reflect a basic and very real value, but more often they do not, in fact functioning as identifiers more reflective of the processes of tribalism: “I’m one of these, and we are the true thing!” However, I think that the more strongly one believes something, the more one should question that belief. Any belief that cannot hold up under close and detailed examination, is probably not worthy of being powerfully held. Was John McCain the better candidate? Was Barack Obama? I’d say that there are substantive reasons to assert in favor of either, but a decision was necessary, and it was made, legally and decisively. Move on. Get past the appearances. Epithetic comments (“Obama Recession,” for example, or “Bush Recession,” or any such) do no one any good, because they are essentially without precise meaning, signifying little more than the emotional state of the user. In a democracy such as the United States strength arises from the ability to transcend useless bickering in order to advocate for clearly delineated specific programs. All parties share responsibility for current levels of poor communication. It’s an advertising game. It’s a citizen’s job to sort through the glosses, the insinuations, the misleading statements, half truthes and outright lies, the empty labels and fatuous significations. If we fail to do this, opting instead to attach ourselves to a party or a candidate based on trappings that owe more to tribalism than reasoned advocacy, we, not the elected officials, fail our democracy.

From: Deborah — Nov 07, 2008

I’m not sure why on earth anyone here believes that it ought to be the function of government to “support the arts”. Certainly, as an American, I can find no constitutional basis for it.

As to Bug’s post…I’m inclined to disagree a bit. It is a citizen’s job to get to the truth of the matter, yes. It’s rather hard to do when the media doesn’t cooperate in giving us all the facts (let alone the “truth”). I’ve been appalled at the lack of research done by my fellow artists into the background of either candidate, but most pointedly into the background of Barack Obama. I think it’s damned near criminal to cast such an important vote based entirely on a “feeling”…and that’s precisely what many (dare I say “most”) people did in this election.

One thing more…I’d love to explore why it is that art seems to go hand-in-hand with a particular political persuasion. It’s silly and really quite factually wrong to behave as if liberalism is somehow more “free”, “expressive” or “artistic”. Such is not necessarily the case and it makes me despair of the artistic community that they seem to believe liberalism is somehow more “arty”. That’s a conceit.

From: Melissa — Nov 07, 2008

Well, it looks like he’ll do at least something right. This isn’t the place for politics, but I don’t see how you can vote for someone who doesn’t have a platform and whose wife is racist. Here, at least, people are artists – something we all share. No party or race or sex. So, yes, I’m glad he will probably help the artists, but Wednesday was a bad day in my house. I hope and pray he does what is best for all parties involved. I, however, feel compelled to mention that we have a NOBAMA bumper sticker on the back of the car.

By the way, Deborah is right. Democrats are not any more artistic and creative than Republicans.

Thanks, though, Robert, for the glimmer of hope in regard to this past election.

From: Melissa Evangeline Keyes — Nov 07, 2008

Hello, younger Melissa: you said, “Here, at least, people are artists – something we all share. No party or race or sex”

Thanks, Robert, quite entertaining!

From: Brenda — Nov 07, 2008

I’m enjoying the comments here. However, I must say I am terribly troubled and deeply saddened that artists have apparently become one of the “gimme gimme gimme” victim groups. I agree with Deborah. I do not believe it is the function of “Government” to support the arts. I believe we are to raise our children to be as philanthropic as they can afford to be. As corny as it may sound to some, I believe in the Boy Scout Motto “…To help other people at all times…” and I believe that’s what we should teach our young people. It scares me that people don’t realize that when the “Government” “gives” you money, they will eventually call your shots. When ANYONE “gives” you money, there are always strings attached.

As an American, I do appreciate Robert’s well wishes!!

From: Connie — Nov 07, 2008

Right on Brenda & little Melissa. I totally agree.
I have been proud of my country ALWAYS.

I have had hope ALWAYS.

I sure hope this is the end of politics here. Not a nice surprise for many to see this creative blog clogged up with divisional non-art stuff.

It is so offensive to me, to have our sitting United States President be insulted here, so that is why I am responding.

Our election shouldn’t have been a “popularity” contest such as it was with an adoring media who never vetted their choice and demeaned the choice of 55 million others.

It’s not so much about one president as it is about

this new change having HUGE consequences as the congress will be free to spend how much they want on what they want and to make laws not subject to real debate or veto.

They are no safeguards other than another election four years from now.

I do not care about color, sex, religion or looks or smooth talking or any of that stuff…. to pick someone BECAUSE they are black, white, whatever– is wrong. So the ones who “feel so good” now– lets’ see how good they feel one year from now (if they are taxpayers)!

Because of this choice, those of us artists with art business storefronts are in for a very tough ride if we survive at all. Here in a very popular, pretty, and touristy part of of the south we have had no less than 3 galleries CLOSE in the last 45 days or so!

(Not to mention 4 wonderful eateries, a great car place and so on.)

There is a much bigger “picture” involved— (pun intended).

I do not expect or want the government to get involved in The Arts. There are countless groups and folks doing a great job.

I seem to remember some government help and intervention years back of some really awful so called “art” …

ALL PAID BY US the taxpayers…

I may have to get another job to be able to keep my art business running until things “change”….

Not all “change” is good.

From: R. W Scott — Nov 08, 2008

Hey, the reason your galleries are closing is not because of Obama. It’s partly because of the eight years of unregulated greed aided and abetted by the Bush League. I think the tough times are going to get a lot worse. But you must agree that what we’ve been doing is not working for everybody — so we’ve got to take a look at doing something different.

From: J Lan jlan19@att.net — Nov 08, 2008

I’m not one to respond to a forum but I can’t help but feel we are all being duped. Wasn’t it the Canadians that showed us how extremely biased the media is in the US? There are so many suspicious things about Obama that weren’t covered on CNN or the newspapers. I am afraid of this guy. I am afraid that a good speaker can influence all of us better than a mediocre speaker; doesn’t make him better qualified to be the leader of the free world. When you can’t even put your hand on your heart to salute our flag, you have no right being in the White House.

He’s sealed his records somehow. What happens if it turns out he isn’t an American citizen after all? And how is it he had 4 times the money for campaigning? Doesn’t that make you suspicious? And why isn’t his relationship with Bill Ayers an outrage to every one of us – nobody camped out in front of his house. The poor plumber got blasted, what did he do – speak his truth?!

Oh, I want change. I wasn’t happy with our choices but I am afraid something bad is going to happen in 4 short years; like more government, less choice. Do we really want our President to promise us more jobs, more government run programs/entities? The government never does anything well!! You want me to rely on them for my health care? Yikes! Oh – we’ll just print more money… oh, okay. Maybe this is what we need. Maybe we’ll get closer to understanding how “free enterprise” really is what made this country great and how government needs to get out of the way for it to work, with all it’s ups and downs. We are in this mess because we all want something for nothing. We need this economic adjustment so get out of the way and let it “adjust”.

From: Joyce Goden — Nov 08, 2008

Thanks, J Lan- I needed a good laugh this morning…Joyce

From: Sarah Wood — Nov 08, 2008

Your column is much appreciated for shedding light on the manner in which the Canadian government handles gifts of art. I worked for the Art Gallery of Ontario, and other organizations as a fund raiser, and have chaired an art auction for Ronald McDonald house. Another deterrent to giving fine art is that the donor often has to pay for an appraisal to get the “fair market value” of their painting from an established art dealer. I’ve paid $165 just to obtain a value for a limited edition print! Many busy donors just can’t be bothered with the paper work necessary to give art–unless they are very wealthy collectors who have staff to do the scut work.

From: T. Fay Williams — Nov 08, 2008

I didn’t vote for him….unfortunately he is our president soon.

Your announcement that he intends to increase funding to the NEA leaves me feeling sicker. In my opinion…the NEA is so extremely radical…they don’t know what real art is or what real artistic skill looks like.

I am also appalled to learn how many of my new artist friends here in Pennsylvania are flaming liberals. Thank God there is one reprieve from them… my watercolor instructor is a former Colombian…and she lived under Communist rule before she was finally able to come to the USA. She says, “Mark my words you Americans don’t realize what you have done…but you will be living under terrorism soon and socialism is not what you are used to nor will you enjoy losing your freedoms.”

This creeping socialism that the USA has now engaged in….is an absolute horror! I am worried about the course my fellow American’s have set us upon.

From: Janet Zavatto — Nov 08, 2008

I had a wonderful education. I see over the years what has happened and it makes me sick. We, in the Good Ol’ U.S. of A., are considered nearly illiterate by most countries. The sad fact is, they ‘arte’ right. I pray, even tho’ this will be tough, that Mr. Obama can re-direct many things…he’s got a lot on his plate.

From: Lillian Wu — Nov 08, 2008

You’ve made us aware of this issue, Obama making changes for the art world is paving the way to his political success. I have a story to tell about political icons, I hope you’ll read on. Recently, I traveled to the northwest provinces of China, mainly Sinkiang, Gansu, Xinghai, Ningxia. I was fortunate to have visited a small home by the Yellow River mountain area, in this home hung a poster of chairman Mao Tse Tung in full uniform, what caught my attention to this poster was that he was holding a cigarette! Smoking cigarettes was a trend during the days when smoking made a man, like the Marlboro man. What if Obama is painted holding an artist’s brush, making him a “cultural icon” promoting changes in his cultural program, anyone interested in this subject?

From: Evelyn Peters — Nov 08, 2008

It has always amazed me that artists (of all kinds) are constantly asked to donate their time and talent to worthwhile endeavors because it will be a tax write off. As you so succinctly phrased it, it is a wash – in both of our countries. A case in point, this summer I donated a painting valued at $2500 to raise money for a “Frontier” non-profit Medical Clinic in our area (northeast of Santa Fe, NM). This Clinic serves a wide community on the edge of a wilderness area historically part of the Santa Fe Trail with ruins both Spanish and Native Americans going back hundreds of years and where there still live many descendants of these early cultures. The Clinic wrote me a letter for “tax” purposes thanking me for my donation. Unfortunately the letter has no value because for “tax” purposes I can only deduct the cost of my materials.

On top of that if I declare it as a donation I have to pay a State tax on it as a “gift” because it is my original work.

For a number of years I have worked with Arts Councils in New Mexico, Colorado and Texas trying to get relief for artists in regard to taxes and with the advent of Barack Obama as our President-Elect perhaps we can see this is our lifetime.

From: Maureen Kerstein — Nov 08, 2008

I will believe it when I see it. Talk is usually just talk but I challenge you to respond to this a couple of years from now and comment on what, if anything, has been done that you mention in this letter. I will try to have a little hope that you might say that much has been done. Then we would have a day that I would feel deserves a celebration. Right now, we just have a new guy with a lot of promises.

From: Debbie — Nov 08, 2008

Thank you so much for this information. I am and have been from the beginning a supporter of President Elect Obama. However, I was not aware of this and am very grateful for your weekly emails particularly this one. Yes, I wish there were more dancing in the streets here in Alaska. But, in my heart I am very much looking forward to the new change in government.

From: Sam Herlock — Nov 08, 2008

I tear up every time I think on that President Elect Obama was elected “not on the color of his skin, but the content of his character”… And hope shines brighter for it.

It’s a blaze that I hope will one day blind us when we recognize the rights of ALL peoples in all lands.

From: Linda Saccoccio — Nov 08, 2008

It is great to read these positive details towards the improvement of cultural awareness and health! My senior year of college I spent in Rome, Italy. I fell in love with Italy, and finally felt good about being Italian and as well felt I had some value as an artist.

It was heartbreaking to return to Rhode Island after such connection with people who revere culture. I felt once again like I was doing something dispensable. It has taken me a long time to develop an inner depth of confidence in the truth that culture is essential and serves the human spirit, it nurtures and uplifts it. It also helps the brain develop, so it is detrimental to education.

Art liberates us from our small views to more openings and a breath of wonder. I sure hope Obama is successful in educating this country to revere the value of culture! We will all benefit.

By the way, I am pretty sure the quote you gave Obama credit for was said first by someone else. Especially, “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” Let me know if you find out who he is quoting. I can’t yet remember.

From: Nancy Grigsby — Nov 08, 2008

Appreciate and enjoy your twice-weekly letters. Just a little FYI…Canada is actually south of Detroit.

From: Tamara Charland — Nov 08, 2008

The outgoing administration’s effect on education and the arts these past 8 years has not been kind. The long dark cloudy tunnel of fear and intimidation sadly has left wounds and even some scars but soon those will heal thanks to the incoming administration.

Barack Obama and his administration will no longer neglect education and Art as they will once again have their rightful place on our domestic polices platform

From: Terry Mason — Nov 08, 2008

Thank you for having the courage to TALK about it. Those of us who have talked of nothing else are looking at our blank canvases with affection and hope. We are back to work after taking time away from everything art all day long to everything political all day long. Those of us who supported Barack Obama from the beginning or the end, are delighted to join with the people who did not. We are, after all, all artists here.

But just for one moment, just for one single moment, let me say that I paint with a new hopefulness, I paint with room for creativity unleashed like it has not been before. Someone asked Michael Moore what he was going to do now ….now that the focus of his political films was probably gone. He looked at them in wonder. Now I get to create whatever I want! What freedom, what power, what a relief.

Yea, I am still wearing my Obama tee shirt. I am not gloating because simply put, he did not gloat. Let’s get to work he said. And my work is painting. So here I am again, hard at it.

And let me say we were all so touched and thankful for all the amazing support we saw from around the world. After the terrible way we have behaved in this world, we are truly humbled to be given another chance to be the America we always knew we were.

From: Joyce — Nov 08, 2008

I really appreciate your acute awareness of our political situation — too bad most of us in the US have so little appreciation of the politics of our neighbors. We have a unique opportunity here to make significant changes for our future, let’s hope we can mend our systems enough for that to happen.

From: Patricia Barone — Nov 08, 2008

Thanks for the affirmation on Barack Obama !!!!!! We are rejoicing here in New England and throughout the United States —-and for the first time in a long, long, time—it feels like the “United States” again.

As a former teacher and current artist, I have been devastated by the state of Art Education in America, If the new president has an agenda [even the awareness is gratifying!!l]to bring the arts to the people of America–especially the young—-it is a cause for great REJOICING!!!

From: Nikki Coulombe — Nov 08, 2008

We moved to Texas from Ontario in 2002, leaving our grown children behind starting college and university. I completely restarted my Art career down here, and those first few years (also pre-website) lacked the confidence I’d taken for granted as an established Artist in Canada.
Because of the uproar of political events and terrorism at the time, we had well-founded uneasiness flying and driving across the borders; there were also snipers in some northeastern states during 2002. All laws that were once fairly lax between our two countries tightened substantially. There was so much support for the war here during those first few years, and with differing views I was very aware and slightly nervous mentioning that I’m a Canadian Artist. It seemed silly, but subtle things affect us when we’re in the transitions of moving, especially to another country, and especially to one that’s in a precarious political position globally.

I am not usually interested in the minutiae of politics, but to regain a sense of empowerment I set out to understand a little more about the place where I now reside. American politics, opinions, and lifestyles are far more extreme than they are in Canada. When Canadian politicians exchange seats of power, practices don’t seem to change much across the country. The adage ‘all politicians are the same’ might apply more there than here now. This man Obama is not like any other living politician. His humble demeanor did not change when he gave his first speech as President Elect. He is wise and sincere with the very basic interests of all people in mind and at heart. Even Canada is going to benefit with this man in power.

BTW, if I were to place labels at all anymore: I think of myself as a North American Artist. It’s a beautiful continent we live in; we are so fortunate here, and I for one feel much safer already with Obama at the wheel.

From: Richard Mason — Nov 08, 2008

I knew the world was watching and figured the land of the sweeping cold fronts being so close would be especially interested. I am a happy person today… I donated to the best of my ability and prayed a lot. They were answered. Your right he has a tough row to hoe but I believe he can do it. At last someone who realizes the value of art and is in a position to do something about it.

From: Judy Phlegar — Nov 08, 2008

If the Canadians love Barack Obama so much, I wish you all would bring him up there to govern you. I, for one, would be a happier American – native born, by the way.

From: Lynda Kelly — Nov 08, 2008

For eight years I haven’t been able to look at the Stars and Stripes without feeling the stomach churn. But now I can honestly say “America the Beautiful” again, with hope in my heart and spring in my step. (I even did a great little painting very spontaneously post election) BRING IT ON!!!!!

From: Geoff Bladon — Nov 08, 2008

Is Stephen Harper on your mailing list? If not, add him and forward this letter to him.

From: M. Fuerst — Nov 08, 2008

The arts is the least of the new president’s challenges.

From: Lesley Potts — Nov 08, 2008

So glad you’ve been street-dancing up there. But the hard cold fact is that President-elect Bountiful is going to be soaking the working middle class to bankroll his grand schemes. We’ll all be drowning in high taxes this time next year. Much as I love the arts, little things like paying the bills, buying medicine, having a job, etc., are more important, in my view, and with the shape the economy is in precious few are going to have the leisure for touring the museums and galleries. So, when people are being laid off due to budget cuts, inflation is in the double digits, and businesses are folding down here, just do a little more street-dancing. I’m sure that will solve our problems nicely. I am now clicking the “unsubscribe” button. Good-bye.

From: Barney Bean, Chicago — Nov 08, 2008

I always thought artists were a fairly evolved group, but it appears there are still a few knuckle-dragging Bushites among us. Come on. Lighten up. This is America where we tolerate, and even relish, other opinions.

From: Joyce Goden — Nov 08, 2008
From: Consuelo — Nov 08, 2008

The anger and vitriol that I have read so far in this blog underlines just how low Americans have sunk in the minds of other civilized countries. As a foreign observer all I can say is – Y’all (yes both sides) better get a grip and do it soon.

From: Don Bryant — Nov 09, 2008

Politics only reveals one’s ignorance/prejudices, such as thinking Obama ( or any politician) will or can make meaningful changes..and what changes?
As a parting shot, perhaps revealing my ignorance, what chance would an articulate white man have in becoming president if he were burdened with Obama’s lack of experience and his questionable associations?

From: Rose Censky — Nov 09, 2008

The response to Obama’s election is very interesting. It brings to mind this anonymous quote: “Never underestimate the desire of the American people to be deceived.”

From: Jane Toliver — Nov 09, 2008

I’ll believe it when I see it.

From: Sandy Sandy — Nov 10, 2008

“And those who were seen dancing (in the street) were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche
I STILL SAY AN IMPORTANT SHIFT IS HAPPENING and I am surprised to see so much pessimism here. It’s time to realize that fear and negativity only perpetuate more of the same. Obama has received overwhelming support and admiration from people who have personally worked with him and by many experts of both parties. Even with all of the desperate mud slinging by his opponent, Barack stayed focused on the issues and never strayed from the high road. As far as I’m concerned, what he lacks in experience, he makes up for in humility, diplomacy, common sense and intelligence. With vision, focus and follow through, Barack Obama has accomplished that which seems impossible. Half black and half white, through him we can see our similarities rather than our differences. He will unify us as a country and hopefully beyond. I strongly believe he is guided by Spirit and that if you BELIEVE with a heart centered awareness, all things ARE possible.

And oh, by the way, J Lan, Joe the Plumber was a plant. They’ve been doing that for centuries!

“Perception is not fixed but very fluid. That which you abhor today, you just may love tomorrow.” ~ Helena Tiainen

From: Mary Bakker, MI — Nov 10, 2008

I read many comments here pleading to leave the politics out of the art. Are arts and politics somehow separate from one another? Do politics not encroach on the landscapes you paint? Does art not create political questions in its subject matter? Do politics play no part in your juries contests? To wish oneself away from the stresses of political happenings is to deny its influence on your existence. Pretending it does not exist will not make it go away. Talking about it, open dialogue, is where two humans meet. There is no other way to understand.
In respect to the tax laws on donation of a piece to charity, I beg to ask only one honest question. If you desire to be retroactively paid, by the government no less, for a piece you claim to have donated…, well, is it really donated?

From: Faith — Nov 11, 2008
From: Celia Buttigieg — Nov 11, 2008

I’ve been receiving the twice weekly for several weeks now. I haven’t got anything wise or wonderful to say- yet – but I do want to say how much I have enjoyed and appreciated these lively and informative additions to my inbox.

From: Theresa Bayer — Nov 11, 2008

Caricature artists the world over are rejoicing. GW Bush was next to impossible to catch a likeness of. But you can’t miss with Barak Obama. That grin! Those ears! What’s not to draw?

From: Russ Taylor — Nov 11, 2008

LOVE the art by Shepard Fairey…it captures that retro-feel good- communist spirit Obama stands for, perfectly!! Yours is mine, mine is yours, one world global economy (depression) here we come! WoooHoo!!

From: Jen Lacoste — Nov 11, 2008

While I know little of Americal politics, beyond that which appears on local television, in this discussion it has to be said that Rick Rotante spoke some truths in his posting – that change (if any) will come slowly, and that little trust can be placed in the promises of politicians. Well said too, K White! Those words “redistribution of wealth” brought a huge shiver. Unless I am much mistaken, that was the tack Mugabe lit on years back, and carried it out by instigating a massive land grab which has eventually crippled Zimbabwe. (The current inflation rate there stands at 230 million percent!!! and mostly due to “redistribution of wealth”) Whilst I am sure Obama’s success is a huge morale raiser in multiracial society, and I sincerely hope positive change comes to Americans regarding the tax issues, I have to say that I go with the group who say “Learn to stand on your own feet, and rely less on the government of the day to support you”. To do anything else is frankly naive.

– Cape Town

From: Doris — Nov 11, 2008

Thanks Robert for opening the door to this topic, Obama. I’ve wanted an opportunity to say this and finally found a place to do it! Why is Obama labeled black? He’s equally white. I’m white, so it’s not coming from a disgruntled black. He used the term “mut like me.” That was letting people know he’s 50% white, but no one in the media picked up on it. We don’t call a mixed breed dog poodle when it’s a cockapoo, cocker spaniel/poodle mix. So why do we call a mixed race person by the race we’ve prejudiced against for years? I think it’s time his white blood is acknowledged. Thanks for my chance to express this. A white American.

From: Dilburt — Nov 11, 2008

Gee, I didn’t know that Barack Obama had his records sealed, probably isn’t a citizen, might be an arab, and if not a communist, is most certainly a socialist. Neither did I know that the reason that good words for McCain are heard from the current Vietnamese regime is that he cooperated with them while in captivity, that he is probably cancer ridden, has a temper that makes Atilla the Hun look like Mr Rogers, is a war monger, supported most of GW Bush’s economic policies, and is mentally not as sharp as he’d been when he graduated at the bottom of his class at the Naval Academy. I’m not sure I still know these things. Boy, Oh, Boy, what people won’t get up to when they decide to be partisan! Fear gushes forth. Nonsense flows like water! Folks are creating entire worlds of conflict out of the rent cloth of their minds. I think the world is interesting enough without having to make things up. But then again, surrealism has been with us for a long time.

From: Phil — Nov 11, 2008

From all the comments, I see Obama is really bringing the folks together. How nice that the well known artist Allan Feltus is no longer ashamed and embarrassed to be an American in Italy – and all because of Obama…..
I think the subject of glazing is very worthwhile – too bad it has to be muddied with politics.

From: Tim — Nov 11, 2008

I am amazed that the mere mention of Obama’s name is considered so political that some want off your mailing list forever. Incredible!

From: Cynthia Nelms-Byrne — Nov 11, 2008

I always think it is hilarious that people want off your mailing list, which is free, informative and all-around wonderful. Apparently, your mentioning politics in one letter has some people in an uproar, and if they are thinking, perhaps they should ask themselves why they are so upset when most of the world is happy about our election. Just the fact that Obama was elected has raised our status all over the world. I’m also happy to know so much about glazing, which some artists and I were talking about just last week. I’m glad I’m not missing any of your information because I don’t agree with every single thing you say.

From: ME — Nov 11, 2008

Cynthia Nelms-Byrne – Amen to your comments.

From: Janet Mohler — Nov 11, 2008

Here’s a quote I recently came across:
“I can picture in my mind a world without war, a world without hate. And I can picture us attacking that world, because they’d never expect it.” Jack Handey

From: Anne — Nov 11, 2008

As a CONSERVATIVE from the land of “fruits and nuts” all I can say is that talk is cheap and if it’s too good to be true……….Let’s keep politics out of the arts even though pieces like this get our “juices” going.

From: pat — Nov 11, 2008

Pleeze… can we just get back to ART?

From: Anita — Nov 11, 2008

This is ART!!!

From: D A Bickford — Nov 12, 2008
From: California Republican — Nov 12, 2008

Artists are not automatically liberal democrats. I.E. we are not automatically for abortion, same sex marriage, etc. etc.

Another thing to mention, I come to this site for art purposes, not to hear hoorahs from the non-U.S. host for a new president who does not reflect my beliefs. Did you think you were writing to only democrats all this time, Robert? Keep it to art or I will be happy to unsubscribe.

From: Karl Eric Leitzel — Nov 13, 2008

It seems to me that, as fellow artists and therefore a part of the world’s population that shares something unique in our over-developed creative spirit, the ability to discuss important cultural and political questions once in a while without blowing an emotional gasket is important. While mostly talking art here is a good idea, our creativity cannot and should not exist in a naive little compartment in our heart and mind. Let’s try to be able to agree to disagree when necessary without lashing out in anger. I think Barack Obama has the potential to be a great president, if he takes his own rhetoric seriously about listening to all sides and finding solutions that are at least palatable to most people. If, on the other hand, his leadership reflects the liberal end of politics as most of his voting record does, then he will severely alienate a considerable portion of the American citizenry. This is, I believe, the mistake George Bush made over the past eight years (in the other direction), both nationally and internationally.

From: bob white — Nov 13, 2008

Did I missed something – is Robert charging money for those letters? Why should he give a damn if anyone unsubscribes? Republicans show their arrogancy yet again!

From: bob white — Nov 13, 2008

Robert, I am really pissed that you keep mention dogs in your letters. Dogs are dumb and aggressive creatures. I demand that you immediately start referring to cats who are smart and cuddly! If you fail to comply, I shal bring a disaster on to you by reading something else on the internet!

From: Joan Meadowlark Stanton — Nov 13, 2008

Norman Rockwell, witty, compassionate, the epitome of truth in art and in the lives of the people and politics of his/my era. It is shortsighted to think of art as separate from life. Isn’t that what it is all about? I keep getting a pop-up of “unresponsive script” every time I submit.

From: J. Bruce Wilcox — Nov 14, 2008

To all you re-pubs and bigots out there- I’m gay. That’s right- I’m a homosexual. A faggot. A queer. Not once in my life has my sexuality ever had anything to do with a female. Ever. I started being abused by my peer group at the age of 8. 5 years before I even knew what sex was. But even before I understood who I was sexually- I was ALREADY an artist. My mother commented to her entire family about me before I turned 6. And this was in a small Mormon community in northern Utah. So- sorry- but at 55 I’m just plain damn tired of my second-class citizen status. I’m standing up and demanding my civil rights. I’m headed to the first ever nationwide demonstration against Prop 8- in Denver- tomorrow at 11:30 a.m. where I will be joined by many folks across the USA who are done taking it from all you heterosexists. I’m in your face now. And I’ll be in your face until one of 2 things happen. I get my civil rights- or you die. And yes- I’m a liberal. I voted for Obama. I voted against the Bushies- but my mother didn’t- and my dead father was a right-wing prick- who basically despised me. What’s most wonderful about this time is that 48% of the voters in California- including many young heterosexual people voted with my brothers and sisters. We’ve been sliding towards the political bottom now for some time now- and Obama’s election suggests that we can now look up towards a new day. The re-pubs time is over. As I heard suggested- the tipping point has been reached. Racism is outdated. Sexism is following close behind. Homophobia will die along with both of these- though we still seem to be the last great hated group. Too bad. We’ll win- and all you pathetic bigoted heterosexists will lose. Your time is over.

From: The Nippert family VNippert@aol.com — Nov 14, 2008

Our daughter lives near and is friends with President elect Obama. His children go to school with our grandchildren in Chicago . Before the hecticness of politics he and his wife were writing a children’s book. He still drops off his children at the school and they are a wonderful family. When I get to visit and walk in Hyde Park, Chicago, his photo from when he first ran for Senator is the windows of most homes. Many of our Canadian friends also were anxiously waiting for the results of the election. Keep hoping, if possible, he will make a difference with all the right people on his staff.

From: Diana — Nov 14, 2008
From: Friendly Fire — Nov 16, 2008

Regardless of who won the election, it is the responsibility of every US citizen to stand behind the President. To do anything else is destructive. In order for our Nation to move forward we need to give our president the support he needs to make our country succeed. I see here a lot of people who are clinging to their own fears, and still after the election, trying to pass those fears into the hearts of others by rehashing claims set forth in the campaign. No matter what, we will never all be in agreement, but if we use our energy in a negative way, by undermining our new president, we will not be the people who are making our world better. Negative, fear mongering attitudes will only stall the change necessary to heal our nation.

Robert, this is your website. You have the right to publish any thoughts you have. Those who would shut you up are free to create their own (closed minded and destructive) websites.

For people who think politics have nothing to do with art, they should go back to school.

A “Yes we can” attitude will always go further to benefit society than a “No we can’t” attitude.

From: Charles Morris — Nov 17, 2008

Dear Robert,

Sometimes I am slow getting around to reading your twice weekly letters. (No offense, Robert, but I have a life) I understand your need to tackle controversial subjects and you certainly seem to enjoy “stirring it up”. I rarely feel the need to respond (did I mention that I had a life) but your recent attack on something I hold near and dear, forces me to take pen to paper(metaphorically speaking).

I am of course, referring to your letter on “glazing”. My parents were non-glazer and I am proud to be a non-glazer too. This is not a black or white issue and just because you are a glazer, I think you are extremely biased in you assumption that this was an appropriate subject for your letters. I think there are a lot of us glazers out here, and frankly, I’m surprised others haven’t written. Since I make it a policy to disassociate myself from anyone that doesn’t think like I do, I request that you take me off you mailing list. You may return me to the list when you start writing about things that are relevant to art — like religion.


(Robert, this note is only for you – my feeble attempt to stay amused to retain my sanity in this crazy world. Keep up the good work and don’t you dare take me off you list.

Charles Morris

From: bob black — Nov 17, 2008

Pro life advocates are the biggest bigots of all. The planet is too crowded, and it can’t stand any more food production, that’s what is causing the climate change.

From: Nisla — Nov 18, 2008

Whew! What a GREAT dialogue . . . can’t say I followed some of the transitions, but it was entertaining nonetheless. Such vim!

From: Frog Cuddler — Nov 18, 2008

I am sad. I have just wasted half an hour reading a load of repetitive dribble, based on the morbid curiosity factor dwelling deep inside me. I could have cleaned the toilet or dental flossed my teeth instead. I am so mad with myself, for allowing that understimulated, somewhat isolated artist part of me to trawl through a mound of narrow minded, self serving opinions to get my emotional highs and lows for the day. There is no right and wrong here, only personal opinion. You nay sayers need to stop your moaning and accept the situation because your quaint little cries aren’t going to change anything, get over yourself, look for the positive (haha I am kidding myself – victim moany pants people are what they are because they can’t find the positive in anything – viscious little circle really- I am preaching to the deaf). Anyways doodle bugs, stop ya complaining and use that energy on something constructive instead of destructive – Paint a picture maybe?.

From: Janet Toney — Nov 19, 2008

Wasn’t going to get into this here. Didn’t want to be the one to give a negative comment. But, just read some remarks in other letters that refer back to this one. So, decided to throw in my two cents worth.

I don’t appreciate Barak Obama. I tried to like him. I watched the debates. Tried to find something he’d written or said that I could like.

Well, all I saw and heard was a guy who is a genius at taking phrases from other people’s remarks and turning them around to sound as it they are his own ideas. He is good at telling everyone one what they want to hear when he’s talking to them, and at wiggling himself into the best light in every situation. He dodges the TRUE associations by the worst excuses and people just seem to go, Oh, OK, my mistake!!!

I think he has managed to pull the wool over the eyes of MANY people, and I am afraid I will be right and this will be one of the worst times for the US ever.

I pray I am wrong. I am encouraged every time I hear on the news that he has picked more experienced people to be around him. I think he would be wise to listen to them!

For the first few days after he was elected I couldn’t stand to watch the news at all.

Finally I can listen to, some, but the media seems to deify him still.

I don’t appreciate all the lies that have been posted about him over the Internet either. The lies about him cause people not to listen to the true things that really are questionable about him.

His color is not an issue to me. I’m glad we as a country have grown enough to even entertain the thought of a black candidate, much less to elect one. I just wish he seemed more AMERICAN! (I am of Irish/English descent. My family on both sides have been in this country over since the 1600s. As a sort of proof of my racial/immigrant non prejudice, my grand daughter has a black father. My son-in-law’s family is from Mexico. Both non-issues in our family, except Vanessa’s hair is beautiful and her blue eyes and dark skin are as well, and Alex can speak Spanish!)

So there. Frog Cuddler, I’m not complaining, I’m simply giving my view. My emotion, fear!!!!! This guy is scary. Just can’t seem to trust him.

Robert, your view is your view, and we read your letters to find your view. This one over lapped into politics, so what. You think he will help art. I think he will say anything to help Barak.

I’ll read your letters until you begin advocating the burning of virgins for art or something!

From: Suzanne — Nov 21, 2008

I am from Arizona. In this state if the majority of the people vote for a tax increase to build a football stadium then we all pay. People in this area love football. Personally, I have never watched a game from beginning to end but I help pay for the stadium. I think it would be pleasant if some of those people who have received benefit from my tax dollars for sports would stop complaining if a tiny fraction of the pot be returned to the arts.

Thank You Robert for the opportunity to read and comment.

From: Deborah — Dec 14, 2008

I’m late coming to this thread. Like some others here, I’m not particularly delighted with reading about what Canadians think of the results of our election. I wonder how they’d feel if the shoe were on the other foot, and a number of people on this site crowed at the election of, say, a conservative?

As another poster has pointed out, not all artists are liberals or even Democrats, although the tacit assumption seems to be that we all are. It’s a thing liberals do in the same knee-jerk way they tend to approach politics and that is that they simply can’t imagine that anyone might not “feel” the way they do. It’s arrogant. Do yourselves, and the rest of us, a favor, and understand that there are a lot of people out here, some of us artists, who don’t “feel” as you do. Some of us even like to use our heads for more than a hat rack.

From: Not a Canadian but.., — Dec 27, 2008

Deborah, may I ask what exactly is wrong with Canadians having an opinion on “your” election? I am sure someone who is well informed has the right to be heard no matter what their nationality, Americans certainly had an opinion on Iraq’s political situation (to say the least). Now you may say I am generalizing, but it appears to me that you have done so yourself.





Warm evening

pastel painting
by Phil Bates, OR, USA


You may be interested to know that artists from every state in the USA, every province in Canada, and at least 115 countries worldwide have visited these pages since January 1, 2013.

That includes Liza Nicholson who wrote, “This almost made me laugh. What Barack’s ‘Cultural Program’ might look like scares me. Wow, he could take even more money from us to give us more art that looks like the disgusting things we had in the past. Remember the crucifix in the urine?”

And also Louis Noe who wrote, “Looking back is to see if we learned anything, looking forward is to see if we will learn more.”

And also Tamara Charland of South Lake Tahoe, CA, USA who wrote, “The outgoing administration’s effect on education and the arts these past 8 years has not been kind. The long dark cloudy tunnel of fear and intimidation sadly has left wounds and even some scars but soon those will heal thanks to the incoming administration.”

And also Larry Kirk of Chilliwack, BC, Canada who wrote, “There are far too many people in North America in positions of influence, that are of the opinion that the Arts are of not much importance.”

And also Connie Vlahoulis of SC, USA who wrote, “Please take off your rose colored glasses and dancing in the streets as the policies that are coming will further harm our art businesses.”

And also Amber Southard who wrote, “Your letter to me, though I am an aspiring artist, is not appropriate at this time. The next President has to deal with a world full of ugly customers, and he does not have the time to deal with these side issues.”

And also Osinojo Shoyemmy of Nigeria who wrote, “Nice to hear from you but I am not in the Canada region. I am in Africa living as an artist. Could you please tell me if I may be part of a charity from my distance? If so do let me know as soon as possible.”

And also Ron Andrea who wrote, “I am totally opposed to government involvement in the arts. When bureaucrats decide which artists get subsidized, art is politicized.”

And also Josh Blum of Stroudsburg, PA, USA who wrote, “An excellent link to see Obama’s ideas for the arts.”

And also Debbie Box who wrote, “Totally inappropriate email. Please remove me from your list.”




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