The Bishop and the Butterfly: Murder, Politics, and the End of the Jazz Age
    Ramona's picture

    Hey, Detroit. It's Only Art

    Safe to say that ever since the news broke that the entire city of Detroit was filing for bankruptcy hundreds of thousands of us Detroiters and ex-Detroiters and Michiganders everywhere have been biting our nails, gnashing our teeth, pounding the walls, spending partially-sleepless nights worrying about the fate of the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA).

    Detroit Institute of Arts


    The DIA, our beautiful jewel of an art museum, is wholly-owned by the city.  The city of Detroit.  Yes, they own it.  They used to say the people owned it, but apparently, as with "By, For, and Of the People", it's all in the interpretation. 

    So what's the first thing we hear after that awful news about going bankrupt?  The VERY first thing?  (Even before we heard that the state was going to put up $285 million to build a new stadium for the Red Wings) We hear that if things don't go right all or part of the DIA's extensive, expensive, exquisite art collection could be up for grabs.

    This is how Bill Nowling, spokesman for Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr so delicately put it:

    "We went to the DIA two months ago and told them that we thought, should the city be forced by its creditors into Chapter 9 bankruptcy, that the assets of the city could be vulnerable."

    The folks who manage the DIA as a non-profit sucessfully parsed that particular end-phrase and have already contacted lawyers. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette says the works can't be sold because they're held in a public trust.  Others aren't so sure.  The creditors could put up a real stink if they find out Detroit is swimming in assets over at the Purty Pitcher place.  It's a mess.

    Then we find out that appraisers from Christie's Auction House invited themselves in and have already been there measuring the nudes and stirring up the dust.  I mean, could you be any more insensitive?

    Well, yes, it turns out you can.  Ever heard of Peter Schjeldahl? He's the art critic for the New Yorker.  He lives in New York City.  He's never been to the DIA.  Still, he felt compelled to blog all over the place that it's no skin off his nose if the DIA has to sell off some of our art.

    See if you can read the following and give a rodent's patooty about this guy's opinion of what's best for the DIA.  (Lots of hoity-toity words like "ineluctable" and "deaccessions" and "demur" and "abjure".  Just warning you.  And "solicitude".  Right at the end. "Solicitude".)

    Art works have migrated throughout history. Unless destroyed, they are always somewhere. It’s best when they are on public display, but if they have special value their sojourns in private hands are likely temporary. At any rate, they are hardly altered by inhabiting one building rather than another. The relationship of art to the institutions that house and display it is a marriage of convenience, with self-interest on both sides, and not an ineluctable romance. I demur from the hysterical piety, among many of my fellow art folk, that regularly greets news of museum deaccessions—though I do wish museums would have the guts to abjure that weasel word for selling things off. (Paging George Orwell.) A museum may thereby maim itself; but the art takes no notice. Protest as we should a local institution’s short-sighted or venal behavior, we must admit at least a sliver of light between such issues and art’s immemorial claims on our solicitude.

    In Schjeldahl's stuffy, sniffy piece he pokes a little fun at New Republic writer Nora Caplan-Bricker, who wrote a counterpoint called, "In Defense of Crumbling Museums: Why Detroit Should Keep Its Art".  (Happily, Caplan-Bricker manages to do it without using a single one of those words in quotes above.  And with paragraphs.)

    So I'm over there at the New Republic hoping to wallow a while in some commiserating comfort when Nora whaps me silly in the second paragraph with a quote from a writer over at Bloomberg who, if it's possible, is an even bigger smarty-pants than that guy Schjeldahl.

    Virginia Postrel's piece is called, "Detroit's Van Gogh Would Be Better Off in L.A".  Yes.  I am serious.  I read it three times.  The title, if you can believe it, is the least cutting of all.  (You might want to sit down for this one. Unless you're already thinking by the title you'll be agreeing with Ginny.  In that case, just stand there, you idiot.)

    So Virginia, (yes, a Los Angeles resident) says:

    If I lived in Detroit, I’d want to keep these artworks, too. And if I were a museum employee, I’d be particularly demoralized. The DIA has in recent years shown itself a responsible financial steward, and last August won voter approval in three surrounding counties for its first dedicated property-tax funding.

    Well, isn't that special?  But wait. . .

    Parochial interests aside, however, great artworks shouldn’t be held hostage by a relatively unpopular museum in a declining region. The cause of art would be better served if they were sold to institutions in growing cities where museum attendance is more substantial and the visual arts are more appreciated than they’ve ever been in Detroit. Art lovers should stop equating the public good with the status quo.
    And then she says:
    In fiscal 2012, which ended June 30, the Detroit museum attracted just fewer than 489,000 visits -- barely 1,000 more than it drew in 1928. With admission now free to residents of the tri-county area, the numbers are up this year, to about 526,000 through April. (These numbers count visits, not individuals; if you come five times, it counts as five visits.) By contrast, last year the Getty Center attracted 1.2 million visitors to a collection whose most impressive asset is the building in which it is housed. (The attendance figure doesn’t include visitors to the separate Getty Villa, which houses Greek and Roman art.)
    The museum’s director, Timothy Potts, is charged with adding major works. Last month, the Getty announced the purchase of “Rembrandt Laughing,” a self-portrait of the young painter discovered in 2007, and a Canaletto view of the Grand Canal in Venice. But a young museum can only buy what’s for sale. 
    And in conclusion Virginia earnestly suggests that:
    Letting the Getty add the Canaletto view of the Piazza San Marco now in Detroit wouldn’t constitute a rape or a bonfire of the vanities. Hanging Van Gogh’s self-portrait [also in Detroit] alongside his “Irises” at the Getty or Bellini’s Madonna [also in Detroit] near his “Christ Blessing” at the Kimbell would not betray the public trust. It would enhance it.
    Because they're L.A (or New York)?  Because they have the Getty (or the MOMA)?  Because at our art museum every person, rich or poor, big or little, can wander up and down and through our grand halls, our wondrous rooms, studying, sighing, swooning, breathing it all in, feeling like a million bucks, like there isn't anybody luckier at this very moment,  for free?

    Deliver us, please, from unctuous snobs and make them stay where they are.  We're Detroit and they're not.  And we like it that way.

    Rivera Court, DIA (Not the murals destroyed at Rockefeller Center, NYC, after Diego Rivera dared to include a figure of Lenin.  We kept ours, it should be noted.)


    (Cross-posted at Ramona's Voices)


    Bastards. That's all I've got to say. Bastards.

    I believe this July 24 piece at The Art Newspaper is a balanced report on what's going on. Angina is premature. The measly two Christie's employees were probably sent by a creditor fishing for data to use for threats in negotiations. (If the chance of sale was serious, Christie's would have sent a team of 50 and Sotheby's would follow thereafter with the same.)

    The reason the Schjeldahl and Postrel types are taking up the topic is that it is a very old and favorite topic in the art world to try to define what one means by the public good as far as art is concerned. Art folks have real strong opinions about that. It's a sure debate starter and worth a lot of website hits. Everyone in the art press chimes in and renews the debate whenever a museum threatens to sell a single major piece. It's a favorite topic of argument with the American Association of Museums, many feel that their strict rule that there should be no deaccessions at all sometimes harms the institutions themselves that serve the public good.

    The main worry should be about the judges that will be handling any decisions about the DIA.

    This from the link is really the only worthwhile argument if you think on it without emotion:

    “the collection is going to be essential to the rebuilding of Detroit,” says Ford Bell, the president of the American Alliance of Museums. “It will be a foundation on which a new Detroit can be built.”

    All the rest is the same old same old about government supporting the arts or not. Which is a great debate, one that gets into things like the freedom of artists not to have to cowtow to the taxpaying majority in a democracy (not to mention, had Diego Rivera painted in the Soviet Union, he wouldn't have been able to paint any murals without Lenin depicted in them,) and whether supporting the arts serves the elites while draining essential needs of the people (need I mention the 99% vs. the 1%?). But that's a debate that's just a distraction in this instance.

    The question really is: do we want the future to include a major city called Detroit or not? If you do, you want that museum to keep its masterpieces for which it has become known worldwide.

    And truth be told, deaccessioning is not the either/or proposition that popular media debaters make it out to be. Plenty of major museums deaccession all the time, all the time, I know for a fact following and attending the major auctions for decades. The best ones cull, get rid of duplicates and things that don't fit their mission. Not their major masterpieces, but still, often times things that fetch major money. The nuance is that the real "rule" that the American Association of Museums applies is that funds from deaccession should be applied to acquistion and not to any operating costs. (But even that is debated, as if you are a museum known for Old Masters but can't restore your major Rembrandt that is falling apart fast without selling that donated Damien Hirst dead shark, then maybe you should sell it....)

    P.S. A major art collection is part of this picture, whether you like where it might take Detroit or not and whether you think it's crass or not: Detroit's bust, but its hotel industry is booming. Steve Wynn is an example of someone who knows all about that  (and I for one would definitely say he's crass. wink)

    AA, thanks for checking in.  I was hoping you would.  I agree there's more to a museum than simply a place to house a collection.  It's one of Detroit's few shining jewels left for the people to enjoy.  I grew up in Detroit and lived near it most of my adult life.  The DIA is such a special place for so many people.  Entering those doors brings us into a world of magic--and lord knows Detroit could use more of that.

    I'm sure that's why everybody is getting so emotional over this.  We need that place more than ever now.  The DIA is in an area known as Detroit's cultural center.  The Main Library is across the street and the Detroit Historical Museum is kitty-corner from it.  The Science Center with hands-exhibits for the kids is behind the DIA.  The Museum of African American History is in the next block. The Wayne State University campus is a couple of blocks away.  The Detroit Symphony is not far away.  Neither is Comerica Park. 

    The thought of losing even a part of that beautiful Detroit is too much to bear for a lot of people in that city.  There are no boundaries, no requirements for entering the DIA.   It's open to everybody.  The beleaguered Detroit Public Schools take their students on field trips there and if even a few of those kids understand and appreciate the great works they're viewing, that's reason enough to make sure they stay put.

    Detroit has lost enough.  Losing the best of their art collection may seem like nothing to outsiders but then they haven't been around to see what it means to those who have stayed, who've watched the city erode, and who take protective pride in what's left.


    Thank for sharing another dimension of this American tragedy.  I would love to spend more time on this topic, but my firm has appeared in the bankruptcy on behalf of one of the unions in the case.  But please do write more about this going forward.

    Best to you.


    Thanks, Bruce.  Would love to know the whole story behind what you've written but I won't ask. . .  smiley


    Well the docket is public record Ramona.  Just can't go beyond that, except to say that I just love the city of Detroit and am so proud of my Detroit-made Jeep Grand Cherokee!

    Nice to know, Bruce.  I love Detroit, too.

    Saw this and remembered your post:

    Art Follows Money. Detroit Has None. | Via Meadia

    Preserving art is important; preserving art collections usually isn’t. If anybody proposes burning the canvases in the Detroit museum to stay warm in the winter, we’re against it. But if it’s about selling works of art to make the tradeoff between pension cuts and city services less horrible, we wouldn’t rule it out. Some will object that sales of works from the museum risk important art works falling into private hands where scholars and the public can’t see them. That would be sad, but most private art collections move back to museums over time. The museum world views sales like this on par with the Visigoths’ sack of Rome, but unless the world’s art museums are prepared to raise the money to help Detroit’s retirees and citizens, we don’t see why their views should be given much weight.
    Losing precious art works will be a blow to Detroit’s pride, but that’s what bankruptcy does: it humbles your pride.
    There might be some less extreme ways to manage this: the city could, for example, issue art-backed bonds as a way to raise some cash. But the history of art is a history of migration. If people didn’t sell art, there wouldn’t be a lot of Old Master paintings in the US. Art follows money. It followed the money into Detroit and if it ends up following the money out of Detroit, well, that’s life.
    What is happening to Detroit is unsettling in so many ways. It is facing so many hard choices now. 
    Optimistically (or not depending on POV), now that the extent and value of the museum's collection is coming out, Dan Gilbert must surely be exploring whether or not to add the museum to his Detroit holdings. 

    What is happening to Detroit is unsettling in so many ways.

    I agree, and I think we all agree on certain fundamental principals that we use to mesh our values with the realities of the bankruptcy process.  

    But one thing I find really interesting is how adamant some folks are that equity favors the bondholders in this case--even as workers risk losing their pensions and, of course, as Ramona so eloquently decries, they place our masterpieces, our essence, on the auction block (or is it "bloc?").   Please understand that I am not dissing bondholders and their managers per se, and I actually do understand and appreciate that at this point and certainly with respect to Detroit, that continued "interest" in municipal debt will be influenced one way or the other by the outcome of the bankruptcy proceeding.  Still I find it really interesting that some folks so passionately believe in the priority rights of the bondholders over all other constituencies, that would presumably include the citizens of Detroit and their cultural legacy.  

    Anyway, Ramona's blog reminds in a real way that touches us all of the limits limits of what can be done to preserve the things that the people of Detroit all share and have preserved for us all through the limited jurisdiction of a bankruptcy proceeding.  

    Keep faith.

    Still I find it really interesting that some folks so passionately believe in the priority rights of the bondholders over all other constituencies, that would presumably include the citizens of Detroit and their cultural legacy.  

    What about bondholders that are themselves pension funds or 401(k) mutual funds? 


    Excellent point, actually, that's absolutely part of the picture.  Thanks and point taken (edited of course to add that there are bond holders and BOND holders!).

    Yes, there are bond holders and BOND holders and Detroit is not the only issuer of municipal bonds but what happens there will impact the entire market:

    At the end of 2011, there were more than 1 million municipal bonds outstanding in the principal amount of more than $3.7 trillion, the SEC says. Individuals, or “retail” investors, directly or indirectly hold more than 75 percent of these municipal securities.
    The people who own munis tend to be older, safety-conscious investors looking for current income, said Ric Edelman, chairman and chief executive of Edelman Financial Services.[Singletary,Wapo]
    Next time your municipality wants to issue a bond it will cost more because of a higher-perceived risk and will likely have to insure them as well.


    I just deleted a response.  I really don't feel comfortable involving myself further here, and I mean no disrespect.  FWIW, I do understand your position, and here's a link to a WSJ Q&A on the Chapter 9 in Detroit.  Consider the following:

    Q: How will the filing affect Detroit residents?

    A: The lights will stay on. But some services could be reduced, and the city could choose to raise taxes.

    Q: What will happen to union contracts or pensions?

    A: There could be big changes with union contracts, but it depends on how the bankruptcy judge responds to lawyer requests. Pensions for some retirees may not be altered, but those for current workers could be reduced.

    . . . .

    Q: What are bondholders getting paid?

    A: This is still in the works. A deal is wrapping up to pay UBS AG and Bank of America BAC -0.67% Merrill Lynch 75 cents on the dollar on nearly $340 million in secured debt, according to people familiar with the matter. Unsecured creditors, such as some retirees and general obligation bonds, will likely get just pennies on the dollar.



      I once heard a guy on the radio attribute this famous line to Charlie Brown. Schmuck.


    Emma, thanks.  I think the last thing the people of Detroit need is for another private interest to come in and take over what belongs--in perception, anyway--to them.  I doubt Dan Gilbert could ever wrest control of the museum away from the people.  It's been there forever and it's theirs. That's what nobody from the outside seems to be able to understand.

    My initial reaction is that this about the possible demise of an particular institution and its particular works of art in a particular place and time.  It is not about the demise of art.   

    Say what one may about Peter Schjeldahl's take on the issue, he is right when he writes:

    The relationship of art to the institutions that house and display it is a marriage of convenience, with self-interest on both sides, and not an ineluctable romance.

    The artistic process is what is truly important to society or community, not any particular concrete item of that process.  If the Mona Lisa had been thrown into the fire right after it was completed, the artist being the only one to see it completed, human culture would not be doomed to a artistic wasteland. 

    Sell all the works of art, let people in stuffy rooms with lots of money stare at some particular pieces of work they have been told are 'great' or 'important.'  Let the walls of the institutions that house works of art crumble.

    Let the people create their own work of arts.  Let the citizens of the community authentically engage in the artistic  process.  Let the people produce new works, toss them into a fire, and start all over again. 

    Camus wrote:   The true work of art is always on the human scale. It is essentially the one that says, 'less.'

    Institutions, whether for profit or not for profit, by their nature seek more - more  visitors, more reputation, more prestige, more donors.  The bills need to be paid after all.

    Let the palaces fall.  Nothing about the demise of those institutions will make a difference in the life of artist in the process of creating art.

    Apparently, he's had a change of heart:

    A friend writes to me—“perhaps sentimentally,” but with justice—“I can’t help but feel the anger of the grandmother, the artist, the Detroit teenager just discovering art—the regular or semi-regular museum-goer who has four or five favorite paintings and is on the cusp of discovering more, who lives in Detroit (by choice or not) and now must watch them sell those three or four works off, and everything else.”

    (On a side note, I enjoy visiting Detroit, I like and admire people who live there, and I love the D.I.A. A righteous impulse blocked my own proper loyalties.)

    Finally, some acute attacks have shown me the indefensibility of my position. For example, from a blogger, would I “suggest that Greece sell the Parthenon to pay its crippling national debt”? The principle of cultural patrimony is indeed germane, and it should be sacred.


    The Parthenon scenario brings up some of the nuance of this issue.  The Parthenon is building created to be used in a particular place.  It's placement in the spot it holds has a historical significance, which would be lost should it be moved.  This is compared to, say, the connection between Detroit and Picasso when he painted Fruit, Carafe, and Glass.  What cultural significance would there be to move the painting to Nashville.  Why should the people of Detroit get to keep this painting to themselves, denying the art lovers of Nashville a chance to see this particular piece. 

    Oh, please, Trope.  Now you're being silly for silly's sake.

    Actually I am not being silly for silly sake.  I think people's relationship to art is a very serious thing, one that makes the difference in the quality of the communities we live in.

    I can say I have been tremendously more moved by the little unknown artist showing in some out of the way co-op gallery than I was at some of the 'great works of art' hanging in a musuem in Paris or New York. 

    As I said in the comment I posted as you posted yours, if the DIA gets to keep the works, super.  But it is not the end of the world if the people of Detroit lose this or that particular painting.  They can still have a wonderful and rich artistic experience, both as a creator and a spectator.

    Why is this Picasso in Detroit, and that one in Seattle, and that other one in Paris, and that other one in private hands all has to do with money and connections, who had it and who didn't.  And when it gets down to who gets to decide which wall the art hangs on, and thus who gets to engage it and not engage it, then it seems it something no only not-art, but counter to the artistic process.

    I would add that the people of Detroit should fight to keep the DIA works.  But I don't think what is really at stake needs to be made more than it is really is (in my opinion) just to get people to rally around the DIA. 

    It depends on your definition of "the end of the world".  Detroit has been living with severe inferiority complex for a long time now.  Our pride in our art collection might seem pathetic to some, but it's essential to those who live in Detroit. 

    We get to tell the world that Detroit owns some wildly fabulous works by the likes of Picasso, van Gogh, Renoir, Gauguin, etc., etc., etc.  The DIA owns Rembrandt's "The Visitation", for God's sake.  (It's out on loan often, but once, when it was there, I went to see it.  It was in a darkened room all by itself, soft lighting shining on it so that as you walked down the hall toward it you were led by the light.  The effect of that painting in that setting in that art museum in the city of Detroit is still with me.)

    Detroiters and anyone who can get there can come to the DIA and marvel at these treasures.  There are people in and around Detroit who will never get to other museums to marvel at their treasures.  I don't quite get your argument that maintaining a world-class art collection is counter to the artistic process.  I see it as pure inspiration for anyone with artistic tendencies--and a necessary classroom for those in Detroit who lean that way.

    Contrary to what you might think, there is a very vibrant art community in and around Detroit.  Local art is big there.  (Ever heard of Tyree Guyton?)  All of it is inspiration for each of them. 

    There's something to be said for community pride.  It's contagious.


    I never meant to imply that Detroit doesn't have a vibrant art community.  I have never been there, and so have no basis to agree or disagree with such an assertion.  In the point I am making, it is actually irrelevant whether it does or doesn't.

    My point is not that a museum such as the DIA is counter to the artistic process, but rather it is not a necessity for a healthy, vibrant artistic community.  If any museum in any place closed down, while it would be a loss, art and the artistic process would not be dead.  It can and, given human nature, will continue on.  

    The problem, some might posit, with museums is that they tend to reinforce the idea that 1) real art, great art can only be found in a museum, and 2) only the "experts" are qualified to say what real art, great art is. 

    There is a similar argument in any of the artistic sectors, as in the only way you can see real theater in New York is to go off-off-Broadway.  Board of Directors, Uber wealthy donors, and the mainstream media critics and reporters tend to reinforce an artistic vision that is stale and dumb-downed for the average joe. 

    Art becomes a commodity, seen merely through the lens of whether it will bring the crowds, and not whether it truly deserves a prominent place on the wall of museum with its corresponding seal of approval.

    From the perspective of one view of art and its role in the individual and community's life, the museum as an institution is counter to the artistic process by the fact it is an institution.   All institutions, in the end, seek to first and foremost, to survive, and this, some would argue, will inevitably lead it to make choices that are, in the case of art, in its survival's best interest but counter to the spirit of the art it is seeking to display.

    Having not been to the DIA I am not making any case about the value and integrity of the DIA.  I was merely making a more global point about museums and art. Detroit should take pride in the DIA, and all the more power to those who are trying to save it.   

    I have had my intense moments in a number of museums.  One that has stuck with me was when I visited University of Texas' art museum in Austin.  It was the only time I have been to Austin, and there was one display that was there on loan as part of a show on racism. 

    In a single room, there was a little shelf that ran long the wall about eye level.  Propped on the shelf all along down the line was Polaroid photographs set in chronological order showing one guy's life growing up as a kid and becoming an adult.  They were the typical upper middle class photos of vacations at the beach, kid birthday parties, picnics, college parties, the girlfriends, and so on.  It wasn't until the end, twenty-seven years of his life,  of a what appeared to be a privileged life (with its obvious ups and downs), that one learned he was from South Africa, and the first photograph of him as a young child was taken the year Nelson Mandela was sent to prison.  The rest of the photos were taken while Mandela sat in a prison cell.  The last photo was taken when Mandela was released. 

    Had that museum not been there, I would not have had that experience, which I think was quite profound.  Maybe in part because I had been just wandering around Austin killing time, waiting for my friend who I was visiting to get off from her work. I wasn't thinking about confronting the nature of oppression, power, and perserverance of the human spirit.

    I have seen Rembrandt's work, although not the Visitation, and they didn't move me like this work by a South African man whose name I cannot remember.  The point being, that sometimes the museum mentality can make us get to wrapped up in the names of the artists - van Gogh, Picasso, Warhol - and not the actual experience of viewing art.

    [Last note: the worst experience I had in a museum was in front of the Mona Lisa at the Louvre, the painting behind glass, a throng of tourists packed and jostling in front of it, while the rest of the art around it was basically ignored. ]

    Most of us aren't world travelers so being able to view great works of art where we live is pretty inspiring.  I see a need for all art, whether it's fine art, trash art, butterflies in a cloudy sky, or the kind of dissident art that raises hackles and stays with us forever.

    Some of my most wondrous moments came in the big museums and libraries in Detroit.  They were and are magical worlds for many people.  There is room for all art in our lives, but you can't take away the thrill of great art in great museums.  At least I can't.


    In my original post, I began with "my initial reaction" and had contemplated whether to qualify that with the kind of emotional state I was in as I wrote it. As in my initial reaction was definitely filtering through a rather negative emotional place.

    People come to a blog or a painting or performance piece with a whole mix of emotions, agendas, and reasons.  To paraphrase Rumsfeld: one doesn't get to blog with the readers one wants, one blogs with the readers one has. 

    I agree with you that we need all kinds of art, and big museums have a positive role to play in communities.  But as I read your blog, I had the reaction that I did, and I commented in the comment section about that reaction.  I still feel the basic point that what is truly important to a community / society is not any particular piece of art, whether it is by someone like Picasso or van Gogh or joe blow, but that the people of that community are engaged in the artistic process.

    I have not been to Detroit (although these days I am less than five hour drive from there).  While I support the efforts of those in Detroit, I am about emotionally invested in what happens  there as the people of Detroit are emotionally invested in what is happening in my little section of the rust belt.  We don't have anything like the DIA and I don't think anyone in Detroit is losing any sleep over that.  Not that I would expect them to.   Nor do I begrudge them their focus on their community rather than mine.

    What is happening to the DIA is removed from my life by a few notches.  To me, and probably a lot of people out in there in the blogosphere who have never and probably never will visit Detroit, the crisis with the DIA is another news items, abstract and nothing more than some words on the web, along with some photos. 

    This is a problem with dealing with local issues on a blogosphere that is geographically global, as all things on the web potentially are.  It is easy for those removed from the specific place to turn a news item into an intellectual exercise, even for just nothing more than doing that is a form of time-killing entertainment.

    It is pretty easy for me to jump to the notion: there are artists around the world who are sitting in prison because their works have angered the people in power, so why should get all upset that someone is going to move this Picasso painting from this place to that place. 

    I will end by saying that I've had the luck to be able to travel to places like NYC, Paris and Florence a couple of times in my life, as well as living in a metropolitan place like Seattle, and so have been able to see some of the great works of art. I feel as if everyone would be the better if they could spend an nice afternoon at the Rodin museum or exploring the Duomo cathedral. But I also believe that if someone never makes it to those places (like I have never been to Berlin), the kind of better off that can be achieved with encounters with art at those places can still be achievable some other way.  

    I would add that if the DIA didn't have to sell any of the works in their collection, that would be the best outcome.  And it is frustrating to see in any budget discussion, art as the first thing to get the axe, when it is usually the smallest thing on the budget. But maybe the whole ordeal can help focus the people of Detroit on making art, art that is alive for both the artist and the spectator, regardless of what particular pieces on display. 

    Latest Comments