Kehinde Wiley, artist who painted Obama, unveils ‘power portraits’ of St. Louisans

Ashley Cooper thought the artist might be pulling a prank.

At a Little Caesars pizzeria in north St. Louis, an entourage with lights and a camera asked to take her photo. She would be paid.

“I was like, ‘Is this a joke?’”

Cooper, 31, and her sister, Shontay Haynes, 28, went to the St. Louis Art Museum last year for an official photo shoot. They were two of several people Kehinde Wiley found here for his latest art exhibit. “Street casting,” he calls it.

Cooper was a little nervous early this week about how the artwork — a huge oil painting based on those photos — turned out. But the Wellston resident was eager for the exhibit’s opening: “I just want to see how beautiful I look.”

Last year, Cooper had never heard of Wiley. But several months after his summer trip here, Wiley received international attention when his official portrait of former President Barack Obama was unveiled. The painting hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.

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Obama Portrait

Former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama stand on stage as their official portraits are unveiled at a ceremony at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, Monday, Feb. 12, 2018, in Washington. Barack Obama’s portrait was painted by artist Kehinde Wiley, and Michelle Obama’s portrait was painted by artist Amy Sherald. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

The St. Louis exhibit with its 11 large artworks is Wiley’s first since the Obama portrait was revealed and may appeal to an even broader audience than he’s had before.

“There’s been a whole new level of interest after the Obama portrait,” says Simon Kelly, the museum’s curator of modern and contemporary art. “Wiley is an important figure within portraiture and in contemporary African-American art.”

Although made particularly for the St. Louis Art Museum, the paintings follow Wiley’s famous, signature style: realistic images of African-Americans, many posed like historic images of kings and gentry.

In them, gold and silver jewelry seems to reference the adornments of the wealthy sitters from hundreds of years earlier. The backgrounds, like the one in the Obama portrait, show repeating patterns of colorful ivy, vines and flowers. In St. Louis, the backgrounds look like vibrant William Morris wallpapers fighting for control: Vines and flowers push in front of the humans, wrapping legs possessively. But the people in the black frames hold their confident and regal poses.

Wiley saw the work framed and mounted on the museum walls Wednesday. He had arrived that afternoon from New York to celebrate the exhibit, which runs through Feb. 10.

As he looked at the largest oil painting, a commanding 9-by-11-foot canvas of three women, Wiley was pleased:

“This is pretty badass.”

He surveys all 11 works’ placement, assessing whether the choices he made “feel good.”

The paintings ask “who are these people, what are their narratives?” he says. But they also question whether art can really reveal a person.

“My work lives somewhere in the gap between what is possible and what is actual.”

Three years ago

St. Louis “is a perfect example of America’s cities,” cities that give rise to our stories, our inheritance, Wiley says.

The art museum’s planning for the exhibit goes back to 2015, Kelly says. Wiley then came here last summer and spent hours walking through the museum to look at the historical paintings for inspiration.

“It was like a treasure hunt for him,” says Hannah Klemm, assistant curator of modern and contemporary art.

The range of objects he chose were broader than Klemm and Kelly expected. One is a relatively modern piece, “Three Girls in a Wood” by German painter Otto Müller (1920). That primitivist painting has been described as portraying “three non-Western nude figures in a studio-contrived scene of nature.” The artist was influenced by Gauguin and did the painting on burlap.

“Wiley hasn’t chosen anything before that was that abstract,” Klemm says.

“Three Girls in a Wood” was the inspiration for the “badass” 9-by-11 painting. Its seated women are Lynora Foote, Nakia Taylor and Lynette Foote, all of St. Louis, the museum says.

The grouping is similar to the figures in the wood, but the St. Louisans are fully clothed and painted in sharp detail, tattoos included. One wears overalls with stars. Another has a Band-Aid that’s so realistic, it looks like it’s been on the finger a day or two.

In addition to the unusual choice of the 1920 painting, Wiley also picked a statue called “Tired Mercury” and a drawing, “Saint Jerome Hearing the Trumpet of the Last Judgment.”

The other historic progenitors are more traditional picks for Wiley, who, as Kelly says, often references paintings that evoke a history of power, colonization and slavery. “Power portraits,” as Kelly puts it.

A Dutch portrait of “Charles I” shows the monarch in rich red and white, hat monstrous with plumage. The king posed for Daniel Martensz Mytens the Elder with his hand on his hip, a jeweled crown beside him. The painting apparently was made in 1633 (before Charles was executed in 1649).

Wiley himself has been quoted as saying his work is partially about “drawing attention to a very real, lived present, to people who are oftentimes ignored, people who are diminished into two-dimensional caricatures. I wanted to treat them with the same loving hand, with the same attention to detail that was devoted to some of the most powerful people in European history.”

Two area residents are posed as Charles I, the title of each painting.

Remastered

Cooper didn’t know it before the exhibit, but she is in one of the “Charles I” paintings.

In Wiley’s work, Cooper is in a 6- or 7-foot frame, her bare legs glowing like burnished copper. She has long braids and leather sandals and wears camo print. The pattern of her clothing seems to morph from greens and browns to blues and purple, as if not just vines from the background are finding their way onto her body, but the colors are, too.

The other “Charles” is Thomas Bradley, whom Wiley found in a Ferguson barbershop.

“For me to be in an art museum, that’s uncanny,” Bradley says. “That’s mind-blowing.”

Wiley showed Bradley, 28, samples of his work: “I am a big art fan myself. Everything he showed me, it was really tasteful.”

Bradley remembers standing for 30 or so photos in various poses. He was paid a few hundred dollars. But, he says, “it was an honor just to be chosen. I would have done it for free.”

Wiley says that some of his sitters get to pick how they want to be seen. But with the St. Louis project, he had chosen the historic references, so he described to some extent how he wanted the subjects to pose.

He says, “I told all of the sitters, ‘Remember, this will be in a museum. Think about what you’d like to wear.’” Little in the paintings actually alludes to the area — except for one hat labeled “Ferguson.”

A few years ago, an article in New York magazine called Wiley “the most successful black artist since Basquiat, possibly the wealthiest painter of his generation” and “the gallery world’s most popular hip-hop ambassador.” Born in 1977, the artist who grew up in South Central LA earned a master’s in fine arts from Yale University. He’s now painted people around the world and has multiple studios, including one in China.

Not all art critics are fans, of course, pointing out that his studio includes assistants to fill in the backgrounds or saying his motifs are too similar. Wiley says in the magazine article, “I don’t want you to know every aspect of where my hand starts and ends, or how many layers go underneath the skin, or how I got that glow to happen.”

But when tickets for his art lecture in St. Louis went on sale, they sold out in minutes. (It was to be live-streamed Friday and should appear on the museum’s YouTube channel.)

Klemm calls Wiley’s work “eminently relatable,” saying it’s “art that people who don’t think they like contemporary art get.”

Arnold Tutson Jr., of O’Fallon, Ill., met Wiley when the artist asked him for a haircut last summer. He Googled Wiley to learn about him. “I was most impressed with his insight with the culture and artistry. How he can combine so many elements of society and articulate what it means.”

Tutson, 38, who works at Breeze Unisex Salon in north St. Louis, was too busy to cut Wiley’s hair, so another barber did it. Both posed for portraits, but Tutson didn’t learn for a while that he had been chosen for one of the paintings.

“A year goes by, and I get a phone call and email. I was blown away.”

Tutson says he was so excited to be part of the show. He planned to bring not only his wife and kids to the exhibit, but also his mother (who has ALS and uses a wheelchair) and brother, who recently got out of prison.

Like the other sitters, he didn’t immediately connect Wiley’s name with the recognizable paintings, some of which have appeared on TV’s “Empire.”

But Tutson had been familiar with the work: “In the African-American community, it’s a big deal when someone does something like paint President Obama.”

For “street” models, too. As any power portrait would be.

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In Close Local Races, Your Vote Will be Decisive!

Clockwise from top: Benton Howel, Brenda Boatman, Jesse James Casaus, Damon Ely, Linda Gallegos, Jane Powdrell-Culbert, Keith Elder,  Christie Humphrey. 

 

Voting on Election Day, November 6, may test the adage that “All politics is local.” Will citizens vehemently, viscerally, opposed to President Donald Trump bring the anticipated “blue wave” washing through Corrales, or will Republican voters rally to his defense in the bruising aftermath of the Kavanagh Supreme Court confirmation hearings?

 

New Mexico went big for Hillary Clinton in the last presidential election, and pollsters are forecasting a strong turnout from Democrats in the elections early next month.

Money is pouring in from out of state to campaign coffers for both Republicans and Democrats, but there’s a wild card in the candidacy of former Governor Gary Johnson, running as a Libertarian, that could spill over into other races farther down-ballot.

As will other New Mexicans, Corraleños will choose either Michelle Lujan Grisham, Democrat, or Steve Pearce, Republican, as their next governor to replace Republican Governor Susana Martinez.

A lot of attention and campaign dollars are being paid to the race to represent New Mexico in the U.S. Senate. Incumbent Democrat Martin Heinrich, a former Albuquerque city councillor and former delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives, faces two challengers: Libertarian Johnson and Republican Mick Rich, a construction contractor.

Libertarian candidates also are running for the U.S. House seat held by Ben Ray Lujan, for N.M. Secretary of State, for N.M. Attorney General, and for N.M. Commissioner for Public Lands.

As always, Corrales Comment assumes that voters here have ready access to all the information they need to make decisions about those running for governor, Congress and other statewide races. So full candidate profiles are published in this issue only for the following races: N.M. House Districts 23 and 44, Sandoval County Sheriff and Sandoval County Assessor.

In the future, however, if Corrales Comment readers would like to have candidate profiles for those running for Congress and statewide positions, tell the newspaper editor who will see if that can be arranged.

There is no election this year for Sandoval County Clerk, County Commission or County Treasurer.

But there are several bond proposals and Constitutional amendments on the November 6 ballot. Those will be explained below as well.

Early and absentee voting is already under way. On Election Day, ballots will be cast in Corrales only at the Corrales Recreation Center, west of the Corrales Post Office. Hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Candidate profiles are based on recorded interviews and other materials; candidates for each race are presented in the order they were available to be interviewed.

 

N.M. House District 23

Democrat Daymon Ely, of Corrales, faces Republican Brenda Boatman, of Albuquerque. She lives near Cibola High. The district includes the southern part of Corrales, parts of Rio Rancho, such as Corrales Heights and west to Unser, and neighborhoods along Coors down to Montano.

Democrat

Daymon Ely

A lawyer who specializes in suing layers, Daymon Ely seeks voter approval for another two-year term representing N.M. House District 23. He previously served as Sandoval County Commissioner.

Then he pretty much stayed out of politics while his wife, Cynthia Fry, served as a N.M. Court of Appeals Judge. When she retired from that position in December 2015, Ely ran for the State Legislature.

He supports “open primaries” that would allow independents and others not affiliated with parties to vote in Democratic, Republican or Libertarian primaries. “We have more and more independents, so I’m for it.”

If he wins a new term, he thinks the  big issues in the 60-day session of the N.M. Legislature starting in January will be addressing mental health problems, crime, education, ethics in government, renewable energy and marijuana legalization.

“We spend lots of money locking people up for marijuana. Those same people, if they crossed the state line into Colorado, wouldn’t even be arrested.”

In tackling crime, he said one of the biggest problems is that governmental entities don’t talk to one another. “When somebody enters the justice system, you want them to have some kind of common identifier, and all the entities involved work off that same number. Right now, the courts have one number, the district attorneys have another. They’re not working well together.

“The second problem is that although there is a lot of data collected —such as arrest records, domestic disturbances, witnesses at a crime scene, victims— we’ve not good at data analysis. But it turns out, we have the world experts on data analytics at New Mexico Tech. They do it for NATO, for the U.S. Department of Defense and several other federal agencies, but we have under-utilized that.

“So instead of mandating that counties and municipalities have that capability, we should provide that data analytic service at a center based at N.M.Tech. They would not only run it, but they would train others around the state to do it themselves.”

That service would be provided to counties and municipalities, as well as pre-trial services at no cost, as long as they provide data in a format agreed to.

“If we do that, we can get people off the streets and back to productive lives, except for those people who belong in jail forever,” the candidate said.

“It will work, and it’s really inexpensive.”

And that type of analysis could be used for other purposes, such as schools. “We can identify early on who are likely to be the kids who drop out. We could target services for those kids. So it’s not just about crime.”

Education is another top issue for Ely. “We are finally going to have to address funding for special needs children. “Early childhood education is going to happen… because it works. Whether it happens out of the Permanent Fund or out of tax increases, it’s going to happen.” 

His third priority is changing the state’s dependence on a revenue stream from oil and gas production. 

Fourth is encouraging renewable energy. “The trick is: we are committed to increasing our renewable portfolio to a substantial percent, making New Mexico the renewable capital of the nation. Which we should be, no question.

“But we have to do that without soaking the ratepayers. We should be able to save money for everybody. I’m working on that.”

Ely said he knew he had to run for the legislature as a change agent when he realized his son could not find work in New Mexico, a situation all too common for young professionals who must leave to pursue careers. “That’s at the core of why I’m running,” he explained when he announced his candidacy in 2016. “We should be rocking and rolling, taking advantage of the state’s unique strengths.

“The problem has to be the lack of good governance.”

While he served on the Sandoval County Commission 12 years ago, Ely led negotiations with Intel when it sought a $16 billion industrial revenue bond package to expand operations at the site between Corrales and Rio Rancho. It was said to be the largest IRB deal in U.S. history, and, as an attorney on the County Commission, Ely was at the center of those negotiations which were estimated to have saved Intel $2 billion in taxes. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXIII No. 15 September 25, 2004 “$16 Billion IRB Approved.”)

The Democrat was born in Philadelphia, but his family moved to Arizona shortly thereafter. He was a history major when he graduated from Arizona State University in 1979. He earned a law degree there in 1982, the same year he moved to the Albuquerque area.

Ely did labor law and contract work for a law firm and then set out on his own in 1989. “I’m the leading lawyer in the state who sues lawyers… which I love.”

He’s convinced it is past time for a change in the way economic development is done in New Mexico. “We’re the only state in the Southwest that’s losing population. This is not a healthy economy, so we have to look at the reasons for that. The path we’ve been on for years is not working. The idea has been that we need to compete with other states; ‘let’s do tax cuts and get to the lowest common denominator, and that will attract business.’ It hasn’t worked.

“So we have to start trying something new. We have to focus on our strengths and our weaknesses. Rather than compete for the lowest common denominator, where —if we got close to landing a business with good paying jobs — Texas would suddenly throw in a bunch of money and wipe us out.”

 

Republican

Brenda Boatman

Since she didn’t have an opponent in the June primary, this is Brenda Boatman’s first electoral campaign. But she thinks she has a good chance to topple the incumbent: “This is a 50-50 district,” she said noting that half of eligible voters identify as Republican and half as Democrats.

If elected, she said, “I won’t support any legislation that I don’t think is going to be mostly agreed upon in a 50-50 district. This is not a stepping stone for me; it’s not a career path. I’m not doing this so that I can run for more later. I know that voters can fire me in two years.” 

She analyzed her situation this way: “I do want to make a difference while I’m up there, but I know that I will probably be in the minority as a Republican and that I’m going to have to give more than I take. So my goal, essentially, would be not to give more than my district would allow or want me to give.” 

Boatman said on the campaign trail she asks Democrats to hold her accountable if she replaces Daymon Ely in the District 23 seat.

Boatman is a former air traffic controller who is married to a man in the same profession.They both gained certification in 2013 to fly helicopters on disaster relief missions. 

She also coaches volleyball, and previously coached softball at a charter school. She described herself as an independent thinker who likes to be well-prepared when she undertakes a project. “I want to figure out ‘what if this happens? what if this?; what if this? I want to know what could go wrong before I find myself in that situation.

“I am  terrified of passing legislation that is going to have unintended consequences for people I don’t want to hurt.”

She finds the biggest issues are education, crime and jobs. “New Mexicans need to figure out why we spend as much if not more per student than neighboring states yet get worse results,” she said. “When people say we need to spend more money on education, I say maybe we need to find out where that money is going. Let’s figure out why it’s not going to the classroom or the teachers. I  tell people I’m willing to look at it and see, and I’m willing to see if we do need to spend more money per student. But I’m telling you right now, if we do spend more per student, it’s not going to be very much.

“We need to figure out what’s broken and fix it before we just pour more money onto it.”

And one of the most pressing issues she sees is the need for mental health services. “All of the issues about crime, education and jobs are rooted in other issues than what we’re talking about. I believe 100 percent that we’re not going to get the good businesses we need here until we address our crime and education problems, because they don’t want to send their families here.

“Many issues are rooted in mental health —drug abuse, domestic violence, alcohol abuse and gambling. If our police officers didn’t have to deal with mental health issues, didn’t have to deal with alcohol and drug abuse, they could address crime better.

“When those people are picked up for those kinds of offenses, they should be interviewed for a mental health evaluation. All the people in prison should be going through a mental health evaluation.

“And we need to get that stuff into our schools, too. Our teachers shouldn’t have to be dealing with behavioral issues in the classroom. There should be professionals in the schools to evaluate kids and maybe to offer parenting classes. 

“It’s just like what police officers face. The officers and the teachers aren’t psychiatrists, or drug counsellors or rehab therapists.

“For all of those problems, we have no services until it’s too  late,” she lamented.

Boatman was born in Texas, but raised on a ranch in the Estancia Valley. She went to Hope Christian Academy in Albuquerque, graduating in 2002. Her father was an air traffic controller in Albuquerque which got her interested in that career. 

She attended the University of New Mexico and joined the Army to work as an air traffic controller. She was stationed in Korea from 2003 to 2006. She had two years remaining on her enlistment, so she was assigned to F. Rucker in Alabama.

After military service, she returned to New Mexico and was hired by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in 2008. Boatman resigned in 2010 to work for an Albuquerque non-profit. Better Together New Mexico.

Since 2013, she has been self-employed as a self-defense instructor.

Asked why she is running for the House District 23 seat, Boatman replied “Someone had to do it.”

The Democrat, she said, “Is so different from me, and we’re in a 50-50 district. There’s his age and my age. Typically legislators are older and I’m 35, so people want a change… they want to see younger people up there. And there are more males than females; people want to see more females up there. I’m a veteran, he’s  not. He’s an attorney and basically a career politician, and I’m not. I’m brand-new in politics.”

Boatman said she has no particular pet projects or interests. “What I want is what the people I represent want. I think they want someone who will actually listen to them.

“We do need more money for our police officers, but we’re spending too much time and money trying to get officers in a place that’s garbage. We need to figure out why it’s garbage. If you really think there’s a problem with crime, then why are you ignoring the root issues? Why aren’t you dealing with the homeless problem? Why do we have veterans that are homeless? Why?

“There are not that many of them, so we can figure that out; put them to work for the City or the State. Even if they’re just working for certain benefits, it’s worth it to get them back as productive members of society.

“I’ve seen some nasty, nasty stuff when I’ve knocked on doors. I’ve opened the doors and smelled the drugs and seen the naked babies in there with the people and wanted to call the cops. But what are the cops going to do if they come?”

Boatman asks for voters’ support for her fresh candidacy. “My opponent has been shown to favor special interest groups in some of his decisions, and not the community’s interests. We need to represent the real community and not just the elitists who sometimes are not really affected by the policies.”

House District 44

Long-time Republican incumbent Jane Powdrell-Culbert seeks a new term to represent communities within House District 44. Her Democratic opponent is political newcomer Benton Howell.

 

Republican

Jane Powdrell-Culbert

The Corrales candidate has represented House District 44 for 16 years and now seeks a ninth term. She is proud of her ability  to secure appropriations for public infrastructure, such as roads, drainage and communications.

“I’m an infrastructure person,” she declared. 

She has also worked on crime and mental health problems within her district and statewide.

Powdrell-Culbert pointed out she was raised in poverty without many educational opportunities. But crime, she said, is “kind of like education in that it’s never going to go away as an issue. How do you treat it? How do you make a dent in it?” 

People cheating on public assistance is a big issue for her, such as selling medications and food stamps.

“I don’t have a problem with people needing help,” she said, “I really don’t. Where I came from, my mom and dad needed a lot of help. They had to do the best they could with the five of us. But I do have a problem when you’re selling that assistance or you’re wasting it.”

The candidate isn’t sure what can be done legislatively. “We can’t control people’s lives. We can only pass laws and create an environment in which they can do the best they can.  We can’t make a decision for you as a mom… whether you buy groceries or sell those food stamps.

“Looking at the Medicaid and food stamp abuses, we should put a mechanism in place that identifies you as the holder of that food stamp card. Now, everybody hit the ceiling, but I proposed a fingerprint system that would show that you, indeed, are the person that that card was issued to.”

Opposition arose quickly. Store owners would have to install equipment to take and verify fingerprints, it was argued. “But the other side of me says, that’s too much government. So I  honestly don’t know how to address the problem.”

A solution might be adopted from the  highly secure military and weapons research facilities in this state, she suggested. “Why can’t they work with the State of NewMexico to develop a secure system around our public schools? We have some of the best minds in the world, so we should be able to find solutions to food stamp fraud.

“They probably wouldn’t charge us anything to do that.”

Born in Albuquerque, Powdrell-Culbert was one of this nation’s first African-Americans to be recruited as an airline stewardess. But that career ended in the late 1960s when she encountered  racial tensions in Chicago where she had gone for training.

By the mid-1970, she was married to  a Washington Redskins defensive end, living in Reston, Virginia. By 1978, she was divorced and back in Albuquerque working in advertising and public relations for Lee Galles’ Competitive Edge firm.

But she became best known for her community relations work for the Albuquerque Police Department which eventually led to her appointment by Governor Gary Johnson to the N.M. Parole Board in 1999.

Her cousins run the Powdrell’s barbecue restaurants in Albuquerque. Her father worked in construction for Bradbury and Stamm in the 1950s and 60s.

From 1993 to 1996, she worked for the National Rifle Association traveling around the nation teaching gun safety.

She is still a staunch defender of gun ownership rights.

“I’ve done a great job bringing back appropriations for Corrales projects,” she said. Over the past 15 years, few public projects here have been accomplished without state funding provided by Powdrell-Culbert.

She frequently steps in to intercede with state government agencies that could affect Corrales property values and quality of life. In one of those incidents, she talked to highway department officials about planned work on Highway 528 that affected the Village’s plans for the proposed “neighborhood commercial and office district” along Don Julio Road with intersects which Highway 528. “You’ve got some high-dollar homes up  there,” she pointed out. “I’m sure those folks are concerned about their neighbor being an industrial park. I’ve been talking to the Department of Transportation to address that issue. I want to make sure that intersecton re-design is handled properly.” 

Powdrell-Culbert also expects to help fund a Sandoval County data center and  to improve and repair the County detension center.

“I’m thinking that in all of the years I’ve been in the legislature, this will probably be my best year to help all of the communities in District 44.” The reason, she said, is that during other sessions she has already addressed most of the huge, regional, inter-community needs. Now she expects to be able to fund more local projects.

The candidate does not intend to support legalization of recreational marijuana use. She’s concerned that unintended consequences will result.

She also is concerned about legislative attempts to control gun ownership, but feels changes may be needed to protect police officers and the public. “I’m a big supporter of law enforcement, but we’re putting officers  between a rock and a hard place when it comes to people with mental health problems. We have to find a better way to handle that.”

She is considering re-introducing a bill that would require police departments to release an officer’s full personnel record when another department is considering hiring that officer. “We’ve got to find quality individuals to put on that uniform.”

Powdrell-Culbert  said she is “a great legislator. I’ve been consistent and I think I deserve to be elected again.”

Democrat

Benton Howell

A physicist who has worked for Los Alamos and a host of other research facilities such as Honeywell Defense Avionics and Advance Technology, Benton Howell now works on climate change and sustainabillity issues.

He has  lobbied the N.M. Legislature on causes such as incentives for roof top solar energy installations, and the Sandoval County government for more strict regulations on oil and gas operations.

He’s also promoting an innovative privately funded after-school tutoring program that pays a stipend to a student’s own teacher to provide extra instruction.

Among his top issues are implementing measures to reduce fossil fuel emissions causing climate change, education, health care and gun safety. He is cautiously supportive of some relaxation of laws about marijuana use.

“I’m in favor of some marijuana usage, even recreational use, but I do so with qualifications. I’m not sure the necessary regulations are in place. But I’ve personally never used marijuana.”

Howell was born in Austin in 1944 and was raised mainly in Midland. His father was a lawyer who served as attorney for a county government.

As a youngster, Howell was always interested in science, building a rocket in his back yard and assembling a telescope for astronomy. He graduated from the University of Texas, Austin with a major in physics, then earned a masters and doctorate in that field in 1972.

He was offered employment at Los Alamos National Laboratories soon after getting his PhD. He did plasma physics research. (“The sun is one big ball of plasma,” he explained.)

In 1986, he was invited to be a visiting scientist at Princeton University where he researched how to measure temperatures in plasma. In 1990 he went to work for AT&T and Bell Laboratories as a contract employee. Two years later, he returned to Los Alamos and Albuquerque where he supervised up to six people for  Honeywell Defense Avionics.

Starting in 1993, he worked six and a half years for Advance Technology, a spin-off of US West. In the course of that work, he acquired two patents, one of which he descrbed as a “capacity sizing tool.”

In 2002, he was recruited by Boeing to develop terrain-following technology. He retired from that work in Oklahoma in 2011 at age 67 and returned to New Mexico. He now lives in the Alegria Community in the town of Bernalillo west of the Rio Grande.

“Now I am volunteering as a climate activist, and working with the Sierra Club and 350.org,” the candidate said.

With his science career and deep interest in climate change, Howell decided he had to “do something for my grandchildren. All of us know that the climate is going to get worse, but we have a president in this country who thinks it’s all a hoax. But the consequences of climate change are not good at all

“I’m pretty dedicated to working on climate change, and I’ve spent most of my time over the last five years to that. Now I’m running for office because I think we’ve got to do something. I have definite ideas for what we can do.”

Howell said he decided to run for the District 44 seat in the N.M. Legislature “because Representative Powdrell has no interest in these things. I know that because I  talked to her in her office  about climate change for about 30 minutes. She acted like she understood and  appreciated it. But still she voted against proposals to slow climate change every time.

“And I would point out, she’s getting a lot of contributions from the oil and gas industry.”

Howell said most of his political contributions are from friends, family and the Democratic Party.

Besides implementing ways to counter climate change, the Democratic candidate said he will look for ways to  improve opportunties for employment. “When I heard people saying their children had to leave the state to find jobs, I asked myself ‘What would I do to make things better?’

“I know that the oil and gas industry has been an ‘up and down’ for this community and others. It’s a boom or bust type of industry. I think we need to be going in a different direction instead of relying on oil and gas. We need to transition to solar and wind. I say that to almost everybody on whose door I knock when I’m campaigning.

“I know that you’ve got to incentivize people to take  solar, because a lot of people say ‘It’s too expensive to put solar on my roof.’ Well, what they can afford is a solar farm on a vacant lot.  A group of citizens form a co-op and place solar panels on it and allow people in the neighborhood to subscribe to those panels. Everybody I talk to agrees with me. 

“I think we could have a snowball effect when people learn they will pay less than they would to PNM. That will create a  huge demand for solar panels. So that raises the question: so we want to buy all those panels from China? I don’t think we should. We should be manufacturing solar panels right here in Rio Rancho.”

Howell said the second big issue for him is that we are 50 out of 50 states as far as our education goes. And the Supreme Court has already told us that’s not acceptable, and we need to do something about it.”

The candidate said if he’s elected  he would like to take some money out of  the Land Grant Permanent Fund “which has $26 billion in it, and apply that to early childhood development, pay teachers more and reduce class sizes.”

Howell favors a single-payer health care system that has already been introduced in the legislature.

He’d like to see legislative action to achieve better gun safety. He was active on that issue when he lived in Boulder as people pressed for changes after the Columbine school massacre.

Howell asked for voters’ support “because we live in a time when there are things that we really  have to be concerned about as a population. And those are things that will alter the face of our planet to the extent that future generations will possibly not even be able to survive.

“We need to take action in the next few years for our children and grandchildren.”

Sandoval County Sheriff

Democrat Jesse Casaus of Placitas faces Republican Darrell Elder of  Rio Rancho.

Democrat

Jesse James Casaus

Now a policeman for the Town of Cuba, Jesse Casaus was formerly a Sandoval County Sheriff’s deputy until he was terminated in a dispute with the current sheriff, Doug Wood, and his chief deputy,  who Casaus faces in the November 6 election.

The current sheriff, Republican Doug Wood, defeated Casaus in the November 2014 general election which, Casaus says, is the reason he was fired  in retaliation.

Casais came close to defeating his boss in the November 2014 election, pulling 47 percent of the vote.

After he was  terminated, Casaus filed a legal challenge which brought “a high-dollar settlement.” Since then, Casaus, a Placitas resident, has  been a patrol officer for the Town of Cuba.

Casaus faults his Republican opponent, Keith Elder, for not standing up to Sheriff Wood and allowing the department to be run in a disfunctional manner. 

The candidate said the issues are basically the same as when he ran for sheriff in 2014. Morale is still low in the department; a greater effort is needed to stop drug trafficking; deputies need better training; staff vacancies need to be filled. “I encourage the public to hold Doug Wood accountable for not going to work. He’s never there and he doesn’t care.” 

If Elder defeats Casaus November 6, the Democrat fears the lack of leadership will continue.

Casaus said he has “big plans for a drug interdiction unit” if elected sheriff.   “I believe that’s the root of most of the crime occurring in Sandoval County. We will work with the services offered to individuals addicted to these illegal drugs and work closely with the communities.

“Right now there are zero narcotics agents, zero drug interdiction teams and zero correspondence with any drug or court programs for these violators.”

Casaus faulted the candidate running for sheriff who is now serving in Wood’s administration. “These guys are there now and they’re not speaking out, not holding the sheriff accountable.”

He is convinced the department can perform better even without hiring more deputies for patrol. “Most  of the deputies are hanging out in the  highly populated areas, even if those areas have municipal police agencies, like the Town of Bernalillo and Rio Rancho. They’re not patrolling the outlying areas. Basically the sheriff is not there to hold supervisors and deputies accountable.” 

Among other changes he would insititute, Casaus plans to implement a citizens’ police academy to show members of the public “how we do our job, and what to expect when we’re on the scene.” 

He expects to compel deputies to use  cameras  to record interactions with the public. “The recorders will protect officers and citizens as well.” He said he will emphasize methods to apprehend armed subjects without the use of deadly force if at all possible.

Casaus takes a middle ground on the issues around cooperation with federal immigration officers. “Currently in the country, the illegal immigration issue is a hot topic. There are laws related to this issue and those laws can only be changed at the highest level of the government. The immigration laws are federal, and the Sheriff’s Office is tasked with enforcing state and civil laws.

“Requests to assist ICE in the lawful discharge of their duties will be handled on a base-by-case basis to avoid leaving the county without adequate law enforcement coverage.”

Perhaps the biggest challenge he would face as sheriff, he said, is changing the department’s culture. “The Sheriff’s Office at this time is missing the most important and critical aspect, which is leadership.  Without strong leadership, the quality of service provided to the community is adversely affected. This not only needs to be changed, it is critical to change the culture within the Sheriff’s Office.” 

Casaus said he know Corrales well, since he has relatives here. He graduated from Bernalillo High in 1993, and went on to earn an associates degree in liberal arts from the Albuquerque Technical Vocational Institute (now CNM) in 1997. His course work emphasized psychology and criminology. 

He got into policing by doing surveillance work at San Felipe and Sandia Casinos from 1995 to 2001 when he  went through the N.M. State Police Academy. Casaus was a State Police patrolman from 2001 to 2008, primarily in the Cuba and East Mountains areas. He joined the Sandoval County Sheriff’s Department in 2008 where he served as a deputy until he was terminated in 2017.

Keith Elder

Keith Elder is a lieutenant under Republican Sheriff Doug Wood, a promotion he earned nine years ago. Wood is term limited, leaving a vacancy Elder wants to fill.

After serving as patrol deputy, he was named a detective heading up investigations, and now he manages the department’s recruiting and training programs as well as community relations, school resource officers, animal control, professional standards and public information efforts.

Elder is also an instructor for the “constitutional use of force,” and is an adjunct instructor for the N.M. Law Enforcement Academy.

He was born in Tennesee into an Air Force family that relocated often. His father retired in Huntsville, Alabama where the candidate graduated from high school in 1975. Elder went on to earn an associate’s degree in math and chemistry at John Calhoun Community College in 1978. 

Offered an oil field job in Texas in 1981,  he took it,  but jobs dried up, so he joined the N.M. State Police in 1984. He was a patrol officer working mainly in northern New Mexico. In 1991, he was assigned to security for then Governor Bruce King.  In 1998, Elder was ergeant and assigned to the Socorro District. 

In 2004, he was assigned to the internal affairs office in Albuquerque where he served until retirement in December 2005, with 22 years in State Police.

He has lived in Rio Rancho since 2004.

Elder joined the Sandoval County Sheriff’s Department in January 2007 where he works today. He’s still looking for his next big challenge. “I’m a crime solver and I like bringing people to justice.  I find that real rewarding.”

Elder also likes mentoring young officers.

Among his accomplishments, Elder includes installation in four department vehicles a new technology that automatically reads license plates. That identification can be entered in a criminal record data base. 

Elder is also concentrating on training deputies how to respond to active shooter situations. Elder is also concentrating on training deputies how to respond to active shooter situations. “Law enforcement today is not the same as it was in 1984,” he said. “In the last five years or so, members of the public have become more confrontational when officers are on the scene.”

The candidate feels the Sheriff’s Department is operating pretty well now, and wants the opportunity to continue programs in place. “The department is in really good shape.” The biggest change needed, he said, is that “We need to grow the department in step with the county’s population increase.” 
“Our detectives are some of the best,” he boasted, and deputies are well-equipped, including up-to-date data management systems and tools that were unavailable just a few years ago.
Elder is directing a re-write of the department’s “constitutional use of force” policies and procedures, in the context of ongoing public debate nationwide and in the metro area specifically. He said the Sheriff’s Department’s guidelines on use of force are hampered by “a lot of inconsistencies.” 
 In comparing his qualifications to those of his Democratic opponent, Elder pointed out, “I have well over 30 years of experience, including command level experience. That has given me unique insights into the Sheriff’s office here.”
Elder feels his commitments outside law enforcement add to his ability to serve the county’s residents. He has served on the Sandoval County Fair board of directors as well as with the National Alliance for Mental Illness and Special Olympics. He’s also in charge of the department’s animal control services, which includes offering low-cost domestic animal rabies vaccinations.
Elder said the county will be well served if he replaces Sheriff Wood, because it would mean “a seamless transition from the current administration. I already know where everything is.”

Sandoval County Assessor
Linda Gallegos, Democrat, is now Sandoval County deputy treasurer. She faces Christie Humphrey, Republican, in the race for assessor.

Democrat
Linda Gallegos

A 40-year resident of Sandoval County, Linda Gallegos wants to be Assessor replacing Republican Tom Garcia who is term limited. She was hired into the Treasurer’s Office number two slot by Treasurer Laura Montoya last fall.
She is convinced the Assessor’s Office is poorly managed, largely because the current head of that department has been mostly absent in recent years due to illness and other concerns. His deputy is Gallegos’ opponent in the upcoming  election.
Gallegos was born in Brooklyn and comes to county government from a career in banking and property title work. She was raised in New Mexico after her family moved to Rio Rancho in 1975.
After attending Rio Rancho Elementary and Lincoln Middle School, she graduated  from Cibola High in 1988. Her first job was working in Julian Garza’s McDonald’s where she quickly won promotion as store manager. 
Gallegos went to work for a bank while she was studying at the University of New Mexico and Albuquerque Technical Vocational Institute (now CNM) in 1992. She has been employed in banking or property title  work for 20 years.
She, and others, have seen a lack of leadership in the Assessor’s Office over the past eight years as the current Assessor’s health caused absences. “People are very upset that we don’t have the people we  elected working in the office. I don’t understand how we have let this go on for so long.
“When elected, I promise to actively lead the Assessor’s Office through personal attendance in the office each day, offering sound, positive leadership. I will listen to the staff and to taxpayers.”
Gallegos said she would assure that all properties in the county are assessed fairly and transparently. A critical aspect of that is to stay informed about changing economic conditions that can affect property values.
“I was raised in Sandoval County and I plan to retire here. I’m not afraid to stand up and do what’s right.” 
Gallegos asks for voters’ support “because I’m qualified, fair,  honest and I can lead with a vision to be an advocate for Sandoval County. And if there is something not working, let’s fix it.”

Republican
Christie Humphrey

Christie Humphrey has been Chief Deputy Assessor for Sandoval County since 2011 and wants to fill in behind Assessor Tom Garcia who cannot run again after two terms.
She said charges are untrue that the office’s reappraisal project is behind schedule and over budget. But that project was  and continues to be a tremendous challenge because the necessary appraisal and assessment work had been neglected for many years. 
“Over 90 percent of our records were missing data needed to accurately appraise the property,” Humphrey said. That led more than 17,000 Sandoval County property owners to protest their assessments.”
In the past, appraisals were done by “just pushing the ‘three percent button,’ raising valuations by that amount across the board,” Humphrey said.
“There is still a lot of work that needs to be done. We must keep moving the office into the future and not allow it to slide back into the inadequate practices of the past.”
Humphrey said one of her biggest challenges is to overcome staff resistance to necessary changes. “I’d like to change the office’s culture of resistance. I’d like to take politics out of the office.”
A New Mexico native, Humphrey said she has lived in the Rio Grande Valley her entire life. She graduated from El Dorado High in 1985, attended N.M. State University for three years and then picked up her bachelor’s degree from the University of New Mexico in 1992 aiming for a career in accounting.
She has lived in Rio Rancho since July 2017.
Humphrey worked at Albuquerque Title Company before entering a small real estate brokerage. In 2011, she was appointed Chief Deputy Assessor.
Since she was hired, the office has seen more than 47,000 homes which were measured and appraised. “We found over 60 homes that were not taxed and discovered areas that had land values from 1980 or earlier, which has shifted the tax burden to other taxpayers in Sandoval County.”
In defending the reappraisal cost, she said it was under $1.5 million, “lower than any other large county’s reassessment project in our state.”
As Assessor Tom Garcia’s deputy, she implemented new computer systems and used data gained from having aircraft fly over and photograph certain areas. 
“We have instituted changes to ensure accountability, installed new technolgy that helps us appraise in the most efficient and effective way possible and developed a website that allows members of the public to view GIS mapping, access records and forms online.”
In cleaning up the records, her office has removed at least 50 tax exemptions “that should not have been applied.” 
Humphrey said her office is now moving into the second phase of the reappraisal.
“If you want transparency and integrity, vote for me.”

Sandoval County Magistrate Judges
There are three divisions. In District 1, Ann Marie Maxwell-Baca, Democrat, faces Dan Stoddard, Republican.
In District 2, Democrat Bill Mast has no opponent.
In District 3, Delilah Montaño-Baca, Democrat, faces Republican Justin Garcia.

Sandoval County Probate Judge
Long-time elected official Charles Aguilar, Democrat, is running against Sandra Jean Atwood, Republican.

Voters will be asked whether N.M. Court of Appeals Judge Miles Hanisee should be retained. Choices may also be made for N.M. Supreme Court Justice: Gary Clingman or Michael; as well as for Appeals Court Justice Position 1: Christina Bogardus or Stephen French; Position 2: Hank Bohnhoff or Jacqueline Medina; Position 3: Briana Zamora or Emil Kiehne; Position 4: Daniel Jose Gallegos or Megan Duffy;  and Position 5: Jennifer Attrep has no opponent. 

 
Voters will be asked to approve or reject two amendments to the Constitution of the State of New Mexico. Those relate to authority to provide for appellate jurisdiction by State statute; and to  establish an independent State Ethics Commission with investigatory powers.
Bond Questions on the Ballot
Voters will be asked to decide whether general obligation (GO) bonds should be issued for four statewide purposes. Those would pay for aging and long-term care services; acquisitions for libraries statewide; acquisition of school buses; and capital improvements and acquisitions for higher education, special schools and tribal schools.
In addition to those four statewide bond proposals, Sandoval County residents will be asked for approval on four other bonds. 
Those are for purchase of library books, equipment and other improvements ($3,285,000); engineering and installing telecommunications equipment for County government ($5,200,000); improving public safety, including mental health services at the County Detention Center ($4,850,000); and operating revenue for the UNM-Sandoval County Regional Medical Center (a mill levy of 1.9 mills each year for eight years on net taxable value on property).
To view a sample ballot with detailed bond and constitutional amendment information, visit sandovalcountynm.gov, and choose precinct 12.

A History of Salvage

History Refused to Die” proved to be a striking title for a memorable exhibition. On view at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art through late September, it marked a gift to the museum of 57 works from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation in Atlanta, an organization whose name derives from a poem by Langston Hughes. The foundation was started by William S. Arnett, a collector of African art who became fascinated in the 1980s by the work of self-taught black artists in the American South. Convinced that their art was part of a coherent tradition reflecting “the rich, symbolic world of the black rural South through highly charged works that address a wide range of revelatory social and political subjects,” Arnett has sponsored research, publications, and exhibitions on the subject. He has found himself dogged by controversy at times: In 1993, the arch-philistine Morley Safer aired a segment on 60 Minutes suggesting that Arnett was exploiting the artists whose work he promoted. (A full quarter-century later, Safer’s charges remain unsubstantiated.) And the gift to the Met testifies not only to the generosity of Arnett’s intentions but also to the abundant riches of the world he dedicated so much of his life to helping preserve.

A great way to approach “History Refused to Die”—though not the most obvious one—was from the back, taking the stairway up from the Levine Court on the mezzanine of the Met’s Wallace Wing, where you could pause and give some time to a set of fine contemporary paintings by the likes of Jennifer Bartlett, Anselm Kiefer, Kerry James Marshall, and Terry Winters (to name just a few). Heading upstairs from there, you soon found yourself on the second floor, in a room containing a couple of almost-too-typically-midcentury modern abstract sculptures by Barbara Hepworth and Isamu Noguchi, along with two very grand pieces by Clyfford Still, both dominated by insistent fields of blood-red, as well as an unusually tough Robert Motherwell, The Homely Protestant (1948)—which he retrospectively decided was a self-portrait—and one of the absolute masterworks of Willem de Kooning’s early abstract period, Attic (1949). Emerging from this array of classic modernists, you then came face to face with one of the best works in the show: Thornton Dial’s Victory in Iraq (2004), which hung outside the two rooms housing the rest of “History Refused to Die.” It’s a powerful assemblage painting whose incredibly heterogeneous materials—steel, clothing, tin, wheels, barbed wire, electrical wire, stuffed animals, and a mannequin’s head, among many others—have been tightly woven into a gorgeously tangled, optically pulsing battlefield that’s as beautiful as it is ominous. What was immediately clear is that this work can more than hold its own in the company of the best contemporary painters, even the great protagonists of Abstract Expressionism—for, if you looked to your left as you walked toward it, you might almost have been tempted to head toward another of the Met’s proudest modern possessions, Jackson Pollock’s massive Autumn Rhythm (1950).

Walking through the exhibition itself, you could see the sculptures of Lonnie Holley, Ronald Lockett, and Joe Minter, or the quilts by Loretta Pettway, Lola Pettway, and Annie Mae Young, all working in Alabama—all of which leave one wondering why some people are called, simply and without further qualification, “artists,” while others (the aesthetic qualifications of whose work are equivalent and in no need of allowances) earn that title only with the proviso “self-taught,” “folk,” or “outsider”?

In the book that accompanied the Met exhibition—confusingly, with a different title: My Soul Has Grown Deep: Black Art From the American South—Darryl Pinckney observes that “history still tells us that the sheer existence of this art was not predicted, and maybe that is the most important thing history can tell us about it.” And, in a way, Pinckney is right. Whether or not it’s really the best way of appreciating painting and sculpture, we are schooled to see the history of art as part of an ongoing story in which the baton of innovation and quality is picked up very consciously by a few highly self-aware individuals from their chosen precursors, and in which the meaning of a particular work lies not only in its form, style, and subject matter, but also in the way it implicitly reflects back on art history and seems to envisage some fresh potential for the art to come. As Harold Rosenberg once observed, “The density of meaning in a modern painting is always to some degree an effect of the artist’s engagement with the history of art, including ideas about it.” A painting like Victory in Iraq is nothing if not dense with meaning, and reflects the fresh potential of art—yet the history it is responding to is not the art of museums.

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

In Nevada, a midterm clash between newfound Republican…

LAS VEGAS – In all of her 63 years, Linda Powers has never felt more politically engaged. She’s never felt more on edge. She’s never felt so much was at stake.

So on Friday afternoon, over the din of beans being ground and lattes made, she joined a half dozen other Republicans sitting at the back of a strip mall coffee shop here, calling voters to urge them to cast their ballots.

“This midterm is different than any before,” she said. “With the divisions in the country – and the Democrats are making it that way – everybody will get out and vote their party line. We’ll see who feels stronger about it.”

Across town, Aby Rojas knocks on door after door, sustained by bottled water filled with chia seeds and finding it hard to believe anyone could feel more strongly about the election. She’s a been a hostess for nearly 20 years at Paris Las Vegas. Her husband is here on a special visa that Trump is threatening to end, and she fears he could be deported.

“It’s more personal for people now because of President Trump,” she said. “They’re really going after us. We have to do something.”

The campaign in Nevada may be the ultimate test of Democratic enthusiasm versus Republican organization, which is becoming a defining characteristic of the 2018 midterms – and a mirror image of 2016, when a sophisticated Democratic organization was upended nationally by the raw energy of the Trump movement.

Many of the trends bubbling up around the country in this midterm cycle are at a full boil here. The race in Nevada is a test of whether Republicans can still compete in a purple state and weather the demographic shifts that are about to hit them in other states. And it’s a test of whether the controversial confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh will buttress Republicans – or Democrats.

Both sides are aggressively targeting potential voters, and Democrats are particularly going after Hispanic voters, who has been a growing part of the population and, Republicans worry, could be motivated to blunt the ability of a build-the-wall president to enact his agenda.

Both sides see it as one of the premier battlegrounds this year, with President Donald Trump rallying voters in Elko on Saturday and former President Barack Obama coming to Las Vegas on Monday. Almost every election here is competitive – congressional contests, the governor’s race and the U.S. Senate contest between Republican incumbent Dean Heller and Democratic Rep. Jacky Rosen. The results could dictate how each party approaches the future, including a 2020 presidential contest, in which Nevada will play an early role.

In 2016, Nevada was a rare bright spot for Democrats – Hillary Clinton won the state, and Democrats won a Senate seat, two congressional races and control of the state legislature. If a blue wave has been building, these House and Senate contests would seem to be the easiest to win. But that’s not been the case; the campaigns here are among the tightest races in the country, offering hope to Republicans that they can stem a Democratic onslaught and giving Democrats even more trepidation over their chances.

“I think the enthusiasm is real, but I’m nervous. I don’t think it’s going to be a wave,” said Megan Jones, a longtime Democratic consultant working on independent expenditures this year. “It’s more of a tide. And I’m not sure yet if it’s low tide or high tide.”

“It’s a coin toss. I wouldn’t be surprised if Democrats won every race and it was super close, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Republicans won every race and it was super close,” said Peter Ernaut, a veteran Republican consultant. “Which is just a weird place to be.”

The 2016 election raised alarms for Republicans here. In a year in which Trump effectively tapped into a populist movement of voters angry about losing homes, jobs and wages – something Nevada has in droves – they lost.

Democrats relied on a powerful political organization, built up over decades of work by former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and dominated by a union of casino workers, and created what Democrats felt was their own little blue bubble.

Republicans vowed to make a more concerted investment, one they hoped would help them protect vulnerable Heller, the only Republican incumbent running in a state that Clinton won.

The Republican National Committee moved in to model their organization on what the Obama campaign did in 2008 and 2012, recruiting and training volunteers to organize in their own communities. They have trained more than 2,000 people in the state – compared with 5,000 nationally in 2016 – and by August had made 1 million contacts, the same amount as they did during the entire 2016 campaign.

“They are here in a way that they have not been here before. They are organized better than they have been before – even in Clark County, the Democratic stronghold,” said Jon Ralston, a top political analyst here who is the editor of the Nevada Independent.

“The Republican Party here has been a compete joke,” he added. “But the RNC has been organized. They didn’t do it two months ago, as they’ve tried in the past. They’ve been here for a while.”

For the first time, Republicans have a full-time staffer aimed at building relationships with communities traditionally skeptical of Republicans, including Hispanics, Asians and African-Americans. The program is not overtly political, instead trying to build positive relationships by working on issues such as choosing schools or helping new residents get settled.

They also have hired a voter registration director for first time, which has helped narrow a Democratic advantage.

“We’re in a very, very good position given we’ve built this grass-roots army to turn out the voters we need to turn out,” said Dan Coats, the Nevada state director for the RNC. “They’re recruiting their neighbors and people in their community.”

But the RNC has a lot of catching up to do, for as it has improved, the existing Democratic organization has been buttressed by newfound enthusiasm in toppling Trump.

The Culinary Union Local 226 is the dominant political force in the state, with 57,000 members, and on a recent weekday it was buzzing with activity.

Every day but Sunday, about 200 union members canvass from 9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. They go in bilingual teams, clad in red shirts and knocking on doors of inconsistent voters, pleading with them to get to the polls this time.

“The RNC can staff up all they want. We’ve been in this for 83 years,” said Bethany Khan, spokeswoman for the culinary union. “The long-term investment of protecting our community is there – and it’s not funded by billionaires.”

They have pamphlets on each of the Democratic candidates. They talk about school classroom sizes, health care and minimum wage. But the most animating factor is the man not on the ballot.

“Trump makes me a Democrat,” said Bryan Eble, an unemployed 57-year-old as he held his dog at the door and told the team of culinary workers that he would vote early.

A few blocks away, Darrell Ballard, a 52-year-old who is semiretired, stood at his door and recounted how he hadn’t had a drink for nearly 10 years before election night in 2016.

“I got drunk that night,” he said. “Motivated? Yeah. I’m into this more than any other election in my life.”

Early voting started in Nevada on Saturday, and both campaigns see the next few days as critical for understanding who may have an edge in the state. It’s a test for the Republican’s vaunted new campaign infrastructure, just as it will test whether Democratic enthusiasm translates to votes. The vote tally on Saturday indicated Democrats were turning out in big numbers – approaching presidential-year turnout – and running slightly ahead of Republicans in Washoe County, a swing area in the northwestern part of the state.

A recent NBC News/Marist poll, which had Heller up by two points over Rosen in the Senate contest, found that 89 percent of likely Democratic voters considered the midterms “very important,” compared with 82 percent of likely Republican voters.

But Democrats are also seeing some evidence that Republicans are closing the gap. The turning point seemed to happen around the time of the Kavanaugh hearings – something Heller and his supporters frequently bring up.

Democrats, led by Rosen, are pushing health care as the issue they think most resonates with voters. It’s the topic door-knockers bring up during canvassing, and it’s the first thing Rosen usually talks about.

Democrats also have focused on Trump’s immigration policies in an effort to turn out Hispanic voters, whose turnout plummets during midterm years.

The Republican strategy in the closing weeks seems far more focused on turning out rural areas that are less diverse. It was a concession that Trump appeared to make during his rally with Heller on Saturday, when the opening of early voting brought the start of a parade of high-profile figures to buttress the legions of volunteers who have been canvassing Nevada for months.

“Do we have many Hispanic Americans here?” Trump asked, shrugging. “Eh. Not the most, not the most. I’d give it 5 percent. That’s OK.”

Earlier, outside of the culinary union headquarters in downtown Las Vegas where much of the Democratic push is organized, a mariachi band played, and soon former Vice President Joe Biden took the stage. He removed his aviator sunglasses and his navy blazer, decried the current state of politics and accused Trump of making a mockery of global diplomacy.

“I’m so tired of Democrats walking around saying, ‘Woe is me. Things are so bad.’ I’ve had it up to here,” Biden said.

“Folks, it’s time to get up! Lift our heads up!” he shouted. “Remember who the hell we are. Take back the Senate and change the world as we know it. Now, now, now, now.”

Will the ‘Blue Wave” sweep Democrats into Congress and kill Trumpism forever?

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NBC/WSJ Poll: Democrats hold 9-point advantage for midterm elections

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WASHINGTON — Fueled by increased enthusiasm from women, Latinos and young voters for the upcoming midterm election, Democrats hold a 9-point lead among likely voters over Republicans in congressional preference, according to the latest national NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

But nearly two weeks before Election Day, the same poll also shows President Donald Trump at his highest job rating yet as president, as well as Republicans with their largest lead on the economy in the poll’s history.

Oct. 21, 201801:59

And in the most competitive House battlegrounds — many of which take place on traditionally Republican turf — congressional preference is tied.

“It’s a barnburner,” says Republican pollster Bill McInturff, who conducted the survey with Democratic pollster Fred Yang and Hart Research Associates.

Yang adds, “The current data shows that the Democratic advantage has ebbed but still with a large advantage. And the GOP shows some life.”

In the poll, 50 percent of likely voters prefer Democrat to control Congress after the November elections, versus 41 percent who want Republicans to stay in charge — up 1 point from Democrats’ lead in the September NBC/WSJ survey.

Among the wider pool of registered voters, however, the Democratic advantage is 7 points, 48 percent to 41 percent, which is down from their 12-point edge in September.

Democrats lead among African-Americans (81 percent to 11 percent), Latinos (66 percent to 26 percent), white women with college degrees (61 percent to 28 percent), those ages 18-34 (58 percent to 32 percent), all women (57 percent to 32 percent) and independents (41 percent to 27 percent).

Indeed, this is the second-straight NBC/WSJ poll where Democrats have enjoyed a 25-point lead among all women.

Republicans, meanwhile, are ahead among men (52 percent to 38 percent), whites (49 percent to 41 percent) and white women without college degrees (48 percent to 40 percent).

“Despite these improvements [for Republicans], you’ve got to look where the tilt is going. And the tilt didn’t change,” McInturff observes.

‘Unprecedented enthusiasm’ for both parties

McInturff also says that likely voter models — narrowing a poll to only the voters most likely to participate — historically have favored the Republicans in off-year and midterm elections. But in this poll, Democrats enjoy a larger lead among likely voters due to increased enthusiasm from key parts of their base.

The percentage of women, Latinos and young voters expressing high interest in the midterms — those registering either a “nine” or “10” on a 10-point scale — has increased by double digits from their average in the past NBC/WSJ polls this year.

Seventy-two percent of Democrats say they have high interest in the upcoming election, versus 68 percent of Republican respondents.

And among all registered voters, 65 percent have high interest — the largest for a midterm electorate dating back to 2006 in the NBC/WSJ poll.

“Midterms are about mobilization, and we are headed into the stretch run with unprecedented enthusiasm among both parties,” says Yang, the Democratic pollster.

Trump’s job rating reaches new high

Trump’s job rating among registered voters stands at 47 percent approve, 49 percent disapprove — up from 44 percent approve, 52 percent disapprove a month ago.

That’s his highest rating as president in the NBC/WSJ poll.

Among likely voters, however, Trump’s rating dips to 45 percent approve, 52 percent disapprove.

Thirty-three percent of registered voters in the poll say their vote for Congress in 2018 will be a signal of opposition to the president; 29 percent say their vote will be a signal of support; and 36 percent say it won’t be a signal either way.

Republicans lead on the economy, Democrats ahead on health care

The poll also finds Republicans with a 15-point advantage on the question of which party better deals with the economy — their biggest lead on this question in the poll’s history.

Forty-three percent of registered voters say the GOP better handles the economy, while 28 percent pick the Democrats; the GOP held a 14-point edge on this question in August.

Republicans also hold the advantage on trade (R+17), handling the Supreme Court nomination process (R+3) and changing how Washington works (R+1).

Democrats, meanwhile, have the advantage on looking out for women’s interests (D+29), health care (D+18), looking out for the middle class (D+8) and immigration (D+4).

Asked which one or two issues would be the most important factor in deciding their vote, 38 percent said the economy and jobs; 31 percent said health care, 23 percent said changing how things work; and 22 percent each said looking out for the middle class and immigration. (Respondents were allowed up to two answers.)

80 percent say the U.S. is ‘divided’

Finally, the NBC/WSJ poll finds 80 percent of registered voters — including 85 percent of Democrats and 73 percent of Republicans — believing that the United States is divided, versus 18 percent who say it’s united.

When those who answered “divided” were asked to describe in a few words what is most responsible for the division, some of the top Republican responses were “Barack Obama,” “Liberals,” “Democrats” and “The Media.”

Some of the top responses among Democrats were “Donald Trump,” “The Republican Party” and “The Media.”

These divided answers and strong feelings, Yang says, indicate “an electorate in turmoil and flux.”

The live-caller NBC/WSJ poll was conducted Oct. 14-17 of 900 registered voters – almost half via cell phone – and it has a margin of error of plus-minus 3.3 percentage points. Among the 645 likely voters in the poll, the margin of error is plus-minus 3.9 percentage points.

NBC/WSJ Poll: Democrats hold nine-point advantage for midterm elections

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WASHINGTON — Fueled by increased enthusiasm from women, Latinos and young voters for the upcoming midterm election, Democrats hold a 9-point lead among likely voters over Republicans in congressional preference, according to the latest national NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

But nearly two weeks before Election Day, the same poll also shows President Donald Trump at his highest job rating yet as president, as well as Republicans with their largest lead on the economy in the poll’s history.

Oct. 21, 201801:59

And in the most competitive House battlegrounds — many of which take place on traditionally Republican turf — congressional preference is tied.

“It’s a barnburner,” says Republican pollster Bill McInturff, who conducted the survey with Democratic pollster Fred Yang and Hart Research Associates.

Yang adds, “The current data shows that the Democratic advantage has ebbed but still with a large advantage. And the GOP shows some life.”

In the poll, 50 percent of likely voters prefer Democrat to control Congress after the November elections, versus 41 percent who want Republicans to stay in charge — up 1 point from Democrats’ lead in the September NBC/WSJ survey.

Among the wider pool of registered voters, however, the Democratic advantage is 7 points, 48 percent to 41 percent, which is down from their 12-point edge in September.

Democrats lead among African-Americans (81 percent to 11 percent), Latinos (66 percent to 26 percent), white women with college degrees (61 percent to 28 percent), those ages 18-34 (58 percent to 32 percent), all women (57 percent to 32 percent) and independents (41 percent to 27 percent).

Indeed, this is the second-straight NBC/WSJ poll where Democrats have enjoyed a 25-point lead among all women.

Republicans, meanwhile, are ahead among men (52 percent to 38 percent), whites (49 percent to 41 percent) and white women without college degrees (48 percent to 40 percent).

“Despite these improvements [for Republicans], you’ve got to look where the tilt is going. And the tilt didn’t change,” McInturff observes.

‘Unprecedented enthusiasm’ for both parties

McInturff also says that likely voter models — narrowing a poll to only the voters most likely to participate — historically have favored the Republicans in off-year and midterm elections. But in this poll, Democrats enjoy a larger lead among likely voters due to increased enthusiasm from key parts of their base.

The percentage of women, Latinos and young voters expressing high interest in the midterms — those registering either a “nine” or “10” on a 10-point scale — has increased by double digits from their average in the past NBC/WSJ polls this year.

Seventy-two percent of Democrats say they have high interest in the upcoming election, versus 68 percent of Republican respondents.

And among all registered voters, 65 percent have high interest — the largest for a midterm electorate dating back to 2006 in the NBC/WSJ poll.

“Midterms are about mobilization, and we are headed into the stretch run with unprecedented enthusiasm among both parties,” says Yang, the Democratic pollster.

Trump’s job rating reaches new high

Trump’s job rating among registered voters stands at 47 percent approve, 49 percent disapprove — up from 44 percent approve, 52 percent disapprove a month ago.

That’s his highest rating as president in the NBC/WSJ poll.

Among likely voters, however, Trump’s rating dips to 45 percent approve, 52 percent disapprove.

Thirty-three percent of registered voters in the poll say their vote for Congress in 2018 will be a signal of opposition to the president; 29 percent say their vote will be a signal of support; and 36 percent say it won’t be a signal either way.

Republicans lead on the economy, Democrats ahead on health care

The poll also finds Republicans with a 15-point advantage on the question of which party better deals with the economy — their biggest lead on this question in the poll’s history.

Forty-three percent of registered voters say the GOP better handles the economy, while 28 percent pick the Democrats; the GOP held a 14-point edge on this question in August.

Republicans also hold the advantage on trade (R+17), handling the Supreme Court nomination process (R+3) and changing how Washington works (R+1).

Democrats, meanwhile, have the advantage on looking out for women’s interests (D+29), health care (D+18), looking out for the middle class (D+8) and immigration (D+4).

Asked which one or two issues would be the most important factor in deciding their vote, 38 percent said the economy and jobs; 31 percent said health care, 23 percent said changing how things work; and 22 percent each said looking out for the middle class and immigration. (Respondents were allowed up to two answers.)

80 percent say the U.S. is ‘divided’

Finally, the NBC/WSJ poll finds 80 percent of registered voters — including 85 percent of Democrats and 73 percent of Republicans — believing that the United States is divided, versus 18 percent who say it’s united.

When those who answered “divided” were asked to describe in a few words what is most responsible for the division, some of the top Republican responses were “Barack Obama,” “Liberals,” “Democrats” and “The Media.”

Some of the top responses among Democrats were “Donald Trump,” “The Republican Party” and “The Media.”

These divided answers and strong feelings, Yang says, indicate “an electorate in turmoil and flux.”

The live-caller NBC/WSJ poll was conducted Oct. 14-17 of 900 registered voters – almost half via cell phone – and it has a margin of error of plus-minus 3.3 percentage points. Among the 645 likely voters in the poll, the margin of error is plus-minus 3.9 percentage points.

The Man Who Taught a Generation of Black Artists Gets His Own Retrospective

AT THE TIME of his death in 1979, Charles White was the most famous black artist in the country. As the painter Benny Andrews said in Whiteʼs obituary in The New York Times, “People who didnʼt know his name knew and recognized his work.” He was a public figure who ranked in the imagination of black Americans alongside such figures as Harry Belafonte — a friend, collector and portrait subject — and Sidney Poitier, who eulogized the artist at his memorial service.

To begin a discussion about White like this, with the ending so to speak, is strange but appropriate. He was not a morbid or melancholy artist — quite the opposite, in fact: His images are passionately alive. But there is a sense, in his work, that time itself is not linear and history is not inevitable. His drawings and paintings include figures ranging from Harriet Tubman and Nat Turner to Langston Hughes and Sammy Davis Jr. (in character from the 1958 film “Anna Lucasta”) to anonymous street figures all the more captivating for their stoic mystery. In his 1943 mural, “The Contribution of the Negro to Democracy in America,” which remains to this day at the Clarke Hall auditorium at Hampton University in Virginia, White depicts a transhistorical scene that spans centuries, showing black Union soldiers marching alongside the folk singer Leadbelly, captured in the midst of performance, while George Washington Carver works away in his lab. “Black Pope” (1973), perhaps his most famous painting, casts a bearded black man with sunglasses, wearing a sandwich board and flashing a peace sign, as an ecclesiastical figure. His divinity is neither forced nor satirical, it just is, and though the painting, with its tremendous grandeur and respect for its subject, isn’t a self-portrait, it’s tempting to see it as one. But Whiteʼs project, in general, was bigger than himself, nothing less than the presentation of a history too long ignored: “Because the white man does not know the history of the Negro, he misunderstands him,” he said in 1940.

Image
Left: Charles White at his home in Altadena, Calif., 1971. Right: “Black Pope (Sandwich Board Man),” 1973.CreditLeft: © The Charles White Archives. Right: The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Richard S. Zeisler Bequest (by exchange), the Friends of Education of the Museum of Modern Art, Committee on Drawings Fund, Dian Woodner, and Agnes Gund. © 1973 The Charles White Archives. Photo: Jonathan Muzikar, Museum of Modern Art Imaging Services
“The Contribution of the Negro to Democracy in America,” 1943.CreditCollection of the Hampton University
Museum, Hampton, Va.

Following his death, White’s fame faded somewhat. Part of this had to do with the fact that throughout the ’80s and ’90s, artists of color were rare in an industry that endorses the work of white men at the exclusion of everyone else, an imbalance that was certainly the case during Whiteʼs lifetime and remains to this day, despite more recent efforts to correct it. It also didn’t help that, during his lifetime and in the decades following, the figurative art that White championed was overshadowed by a more abstract or conceptual style, or as Belafonte put it in the foreword to a 1967 monograph on White, “Many artists have deserted reality for the various schools of nonobjectivity.” Following a 1982 retrospective show at the Studio Museum in Harlem, Whiteʼs work, aside from his murals, most notably “The Contribution of the Negro to Democracy in America,” could be difficult to see firsthand.

Next month, the Museum of Modern Art is staging Whiteʼs first, and long overdue, major museum retrospective of the century, an exhibition that has traveled from the Art Institute of Chicago, in White’s hometown, where the artist used to sketch with a drawing pad as a child. In the time between his show in Harlem and this one, White has taken on the status of a folk hero not unlike some of the subjects of his paintings: an American master, who made mysterious, almost metaphysical images of African-American dignity and, as a teacher at the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles from 1965 until his death, became a role model to an entire generation of younger black disciples. For many of these artists — Kerry James Marshall, David Hammons, Alonzo Davis among them — the rarefied space they carved out for themselves in the art world was previously unimaginable outside of Whiteʼs own paintings.

“Bessie Smith,” 1950.CreditPrivate collection. © The Charles White Archives. Photo: © Museum Associates/LACMA

WHITE’S UPBRINGING WAS, in many respects, typical of a black working-class childhood in the years between the wars. He was defined more by what he was denied, and his early life demonstrates just how limited a path was available for any African-American with artistic ambitions. Born in Chicago in 1918, White was raised by his mother, who had migrated north some years earlier. She never married his absent father and, with no day care options, would often drop White at the Chicago Public Library while she worked. As a child, White became interested in Harlem Renaissance artists and writers like W. E. B. Du Bois, and when he reached high school, he was awarded a scholarship to take Saturday classes at the Art Institute of Chicago. Already a remarkable talent, he would soon receive scholarships to the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts and the Frederic Mizen Academy of Art; both schools would rescind these scholarships upon learning of his race. (In 1937, he earned a scholarship to support one year of study at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he took courses in art history, composition and figure drawing.)

Chicago was where he came of age, but his frequent trips to the South to visit his mother’s family greatly affected him. He became active in politics early on. While still a teenager, White was the staff artist of the Chicago-based National Negro Congress, which fought for black liberation. His early social realist style reflected this activism, which he refined as an artist for the Works Progress Administration and while living in New York in the ’40s and ’50s, inspired in part by the frescoes of Diego Rivera. In later years, he was an important figure within the civil rights movement. Along with Belafonte — with whom White was a member of the Struggle for Freedom in the South, a group founded in support of Martin Luther King Jr. — he would also count among his admirers Emory Douglas, the Black Panthers’ Minister of Culture, who liked White’s work, even though it didn’t inspire viewers to “go out and kill pigs,” according to the historian Ilene Susan Fort in the retrospective’s catalog.

A life drawing class taught by White at the South Side Community Center in Chicago, circa 1940.CreditHolger Cahill papers, 1910-1993, bulk 1910-1960. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Long plagued by health problems — he lost one lung to tuberculosis and the other became infected in 1956 — White moved to Southern California that year at the urging of his doctor. He lived near Poitier, a friend he first met in New York, and the two spent a great deal of time together, including on the set of Poitier’s 1958 film “The Defiant Ones.” White remained an active public figure — he introduced James Baldwin at an event for the Pasadena chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality — and began showing at the Heritage Gallery in the Pacific Palisades, which opened in 1961 to show artists of color and gave White multiple solo shows throughout the rest of his life. His work appeared on album and book covers — Belafonte even used White’s drawings as backdrops for his television show “Tonight With Belafonte” in 1959. But White did not obtain steady teaching work in California until 1965, when he was offered a job at the Otis Art Institute.

IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA, in the ʼ60s and ʼ70s, there were two main places a person could receive a classical training in the fine arts: One was the Walt Disney-owned Chouinard Art Institute, which began as a kind of feeder school for Disney’s production company and in 1969 would be renamed CalArts; the other was Otis. According to the MoMA show’s co-curator Esther Adler, at Otis, which was known in particular for its life drawing classes, White gave assignments like, “From a representational study of the figure, create an abstract study.” White also had the opportunity to teach students about his own work, a great validation for an artist who constantly fought for institutional recognition. He developed a more cosmic later style at the school, still rooted in realism, but mining an almost unnamable vastness that underscored the scope of White’s career: His figures, carrying the same grace, were now pictured amid a background of swirling abstraction, or a floating seashell, or a bloody hand print.

“Sojourner Truth and Booker T. Washington (Study for Contribution of the Negro to Democracy in America),” 1943.CreditCollection of the Newark Museum, purchase 1944 Sophronia Anderson Bequest Fund. © The Charles White Archives. Photo courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York, N.Y.

White became a sought-after figure at the school, a generous and kind mentor to artists of color, like David Hammons, who took night and weekend classes with him. In 1971, Hammons had his first major exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art alongside his former instructor, as well as the artist Timothy Washington, another student of Whiteʼs, in a show called “Three Graphic Artists.” This was an extraordinary moment in many ways, a conversation between “the doyen of American black artists,” as the museum described White, and his younger pupils, who were at the time largely unknown but already making vital work. “Three Graphic Artists” included Hammonsʼs now-canonical body prints, his works most clearly indebted to White, in which the artist used his own body to apply paint to the canvas, leaving shadowlike impressions. These were shown alongside a number of White’s greatest works, including the drawing “Seed of Love,” a stately portrait of a pregnant black woman, the curve of her belly covered in a long frock rendered in staggering detail, and which the museum would later acquire for its permanent collection.

Most importantly, though, the show was a serious investigation of contemporary black artists at a time when most institutions ignored their existence. The exhibition catalog reinforces just how remarkable the appearance of these three artists in a museum was at the time, positioning White as an important but nonetheless exceptional figure in American culture. In an interview, Hammons describes seeking out White at Otis particularly because “I never knew there were ‘black’ painters, or artists, or anything until I found out about him.”

Left: “Folksinger,” 1957. Right: “Mahalia,” 1955.CreditCollection of Pamela and Harry Belafonte. © 1957 The Charles White Archives. Photo: Christopher Burke Studios.
“J’Accuse #7,” 1966.CreditPrivate collection. © The Charles White Archives. Photo courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York, N.Y.

As the ’70s continued, White’s fondness for realism became more of an outlier, as contemporary art began reassessing itself, throwing out classical modes of thinking and delving deeper into a theoretical framework of how and why artists create meaning. This affected curriculum as well. In January 1977, the painter Kerry James Marshall enrolled full-time at Otis in order to study with White. (Like so many black artists of the ’60s and ’70s, White was Marshall’s first exposure to any artist of stature, let alone an artist of color.) By the time of Marshall’s arrival, the school had introduced an “intermedia” department, where students experimented with the still-nascent fields of conceptual art, video and installation, dismantling the more traditional art practices at the school, both figuratively and, in at least one instance, literally. In an essay called “A Black Artist Named White,” Marshall describes the chair of the intermedia department at Otis personally tearing down a medieval bronze statue on the campus quad that depicted “the she-wolf sucking Romulus and Remus.” He tied a rope to it and attached it to the bumper of his truck.

IN A 1971 INTERVIEW, Hammons described what he found so appealing about White’s work: “There aren’t too many people smiling, and I like that in his things. There’s always an agonized kind of look, I think, because there aren’t many pleasant things in his past. He’s gone through a lot of hell. I know he has.”

Going through hell, and surviving, was indeed a kind of through-line of much of his work. In recent years, it may not have been as easy to see White’s own work as it has been to see that of his students, which is a testament both to White’s skills as a teacher and to cultural vicissitudes. (Marshall, for instance, is the top-selling living black artist in history.) But one can see his imprint in surprising places. After Aretha Franklin died in August, The New Yorker featured a cover by the artist Kadir Nelson called “The Queen of Soul (After Charles White’s ‘Folksinger’),” a riff on White’s extraordinary 1957 portrait of Belafonte, which Belafonte and his wife lent to the recent retrospective. The ink drawing falls into the artist’s more spiritual later style: Belafonte, his back arched, his eyes shut, is not so much a popular singer in this image as he is some time-displaced traveler, his face seeming to communicate all the anguish of an American past, but also shrouded in light, pointing upward, toward something better.

“Charles White: A Retrospective” is on view from Oct. 7, 2018, to Jan. 13, 2019, at MoMA, 11 West 53rd St., New York, moma.org.

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Cowboys to visit African American history museum after Redskins game

After the Dallas Cowboys play the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field this Sunday, they’ll stay in the Washington, D.C. area an extra day to visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Fort Worth Star-Telegramreported.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said it was a great opportunity “because of proximity.” Additionally, Dallas has a bye after the Redskins game and doesn’t need to get back and prepare for another opponent.

“It means so much to the players but also the National Football League and our game,” Jones said. “Here we are in the nation’s capital and (we) wanted to take the time to do that. We are making a big effort to go over there.”

Executive Vice President Stephen Jones said players had talked about their desire to see the museum, the largest in the country dedicated to the African American experience.

“It’s huge, I’m excited for it,” quarterback Dak Prescott said. “I think it’s going to be a great trip. We are going to learn a lot and see some things. I think it’s going to be great for our team, great camaraderie.”

Prescott is black, and he drew criticism in the offseason for supporting Jones’ stance against players kneeling for the anthem to protest police brutality against black Americans.

The museum has been open since September 2016 and sits on the National Mall, close to the Washington Monument. The lower floor is dedicated to the history of African migration to North America, slavery and segregation, while the upper floors honor African American art, music, sports and culture.

And the Cowboys won’t be the first team to visit. When the Golden State Warriors were in town to play the Washington Wizards last winter, they took local kids to the museum.

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Is Sarah Lucas Right for the #MeToo Moment?

In subway advertisements throughout the city, the artist Sarah Lucas appears in a self-portrait, tomboyish and wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the words “Selfish in Bed.” Rhetorically or symbolically, she is turning the tables on millenniums of female inequality, from the boardroom to the bedroom.

You’ll see that image at “Sarah Lucas: Au Naturel,” her career survey at the New Museum, along with a giant portrait-as-wallpaper, as you get off the elevator on the fourth floor: It captures her seated, her feet firmly on the ground, woman-spreading (if there is such a thing). She is fully clothed, wearing jeans and flat-soled boots and staring you down.

Everywhere you go in the New York art world, on social media, at gallery openings and other public gatherings, people are remarking that “Au Naturel” is the perfect exhibition for this moment. In some ways this is true: Ms. Lucas is all swagger and bravado and confidence.

The self-portraits are one of her weapons. Instead of sexualized, made-up or fantastic portraits, hers are plain, androgynous and deadpan. And the exhibition, with its 150 objects — many of them sculptures created in plaster, or from women’s stockings and tights stuffed with fluff — is populated with penises and with cigarettes penetrating buttocks, rather than the breasts and vulvas modern artists used to demonstrate their edginess. At just the right moment — the #MeToo moment — Ms. Lucas shows us what it’s like to be a strong, self-determining woman; to shape and construct your own world; to live beyond other people’s constricting terms; to challenge oppression, sexual dominance and abuse.

For a certain generation, at a certain place and time — Britain, post-70s feminism, under the rule of Margaret Thatcher (nicknamed the “Iron Lady”) — this turnabout seemed possible.

A detail of “Mumum” (2012), a cluster of breastlike forms made of fluff-filled stockings.CreditCharlie Rubin for The New York Times
“Bunny Gets Snookered #1” (1997), a slouching form mimicking a limp half-body.CreditCharlie Rubin for The New York Times
Image
Self-portraits as weapons: An installation view of some of Ms. Lucas’s self-portraits.CreditCharlie Rubin for The New York Times

Ms. Lucas emerged in the 1990s with the YBAs (Young British Artists), a group that included Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin and didn’t focus on a particular medium or style. They were postpunk — which is to say, more focused on attitude than aptitude — with a Generation X nihilism and malaise, and the clear message that anything, artistically, could be borrowed, stolen or sampled. In fact, one of the criticisms that swirls around Ms. Lucas’s work is that it looks an awful lot like that of other artists, including the stuffed doll sculptures made by the German Surrealist Hans Bellmer in the 1930s.

Fair enough. Ms. Lucas’s “Bunny Gets Snookered” series, from 1997, offers a gallery of stuffed pantyhose forms slouching on their own chairs, mimicking skinny, limp half-bodies that borrow from the soft-sculpture aesthetic of Louise Bourgeois and Yayoi Kusama and, less often mentioned, the African-American artist Senga Nengudi. (In fact, Ms. Lucas’s “Mumum” from 2012, a cluster of breastlike forms made from fluff-filled stockings closely resembles a work by Ms. Nengudi currently in the exhibition “The Un-Heroic Act: Representations of Rape in Contemporary Women’s Art in the U.S.” at the Shiva Gallery at John Jay College.)

But Ms. Lucas is great in this mode, borrowing from this soft-sculpture vocabulary but upping the ante by adding “tough” materials like concrete-block pedestals, cigarette butts or broken eggs. (An entire museum wall is covered with the remains of a cathartic, collective egg-throwing performance by women, an act perhaps envisioned as female ejaculations.)

The galleries are filled, perhaps overfilled, with bulging tubes and protuberances that suggest body parts and desires — as well as fears and phobias — possibly for sex or death. In 2000, Ms. Lucas mounted an installation at the Freud Museum in London, titled “Beyond the Pleasure Principle” — after Freud’s 1920 essay — that is on view here; it includes dangling light bulbs that vaguely resemble body parts, but also pokes at Freud with feminist aplomb.

“Beyond the Pleasure Principle,” from 2000, includes dangling light bulbs that vaguely resemble body parts.CreditCharlie Rubin for The New York Times

A wall text suggests that the rooms littered with broken or orphaned fixtures and furniture might relate to bombed-out ruins in distant lands, the results of the gulf wars engaged in by the United States and Britain in the ’90s. There are a lot of toilets lying around the galleries that hark back to Marcel Duchamp’s scandalous “Fountain” (1917), a repurposed urinal, but also proving that women can make puerile, potty-humored art, too.

In the same vicinity, a photograph of a filthy toilet with the words “Is Suicide Genetic?” painted in excremental brown, furthers the vulgar existentialism of Ms. Lucas’s work. The photograph, with its perspective tilted down the toilet bowl, recalls the scene in the film “Trainspotting” (1996) in which a character retrieves drugs that have gone down a public toilet. Other works throughout the show reflect the retching, hard-partying antics of London’s art scene at that moment.

Sculpture here is what you choose as much as what you make. Things in your immediate vicinity — toilets, clothes, food, furniture — can be memorialized as art objects, as fetishes, talismans, or what psychoanalysts called “transitional objects,” like security blankets.

Ms. Lucas’s most famous object is also here, providing a title for the exhibition: “Au Naturel” (1994) is a simple but powerful sculpture. A dirty folded mattress slouches against the wall, like a seated human body. Inserted into rough openings on the surface of the mattress are two oranges and a cucumber, suggesting male genitalia, and two honeydew melons and a scuffed bucket, representing a woman. The work is effective, drawing from the Ed and Nancy Kienholz school of deadpan sculpture, made with junk or household objects, but also Picasso’s way of sketching bodies or still lifes with a few deft objects or lines. Its title suggests sexy, pastoral nudism. The reality is starker, grittier and a bit depressing.

“Au Naturel,” from 1994, is simple yet powerful.CreditCharlie Rubin for The New York Times
The museum’s galleries are filled, Martha Schwendener writes, “with bulging tubes and protuberances that suggest body parts and desires — as well as fears and phobias — possibly for sex or death.”CreditCharlie Rubin for The New York Times
A detail of “One Thousand Eggs: For Women” (2017), which covers a museum wall.CreditCharlie Rubin for The New York Times

And yet, this monument of ’90s grunge art stopped me for a moment. I have always thought it was a brilliant work, simultaneously celebrating the possibilities of sculpture and deflating its pretensions.

But “perfect for this moment?” I’m not sure. In an age of fluid gender identities — it feels, well, binary. Sex here is still an act between a woman and a man, underscoring old ideas and not just of heterosexuality and “heteronormative” politics. It feels emblematic of the YBAs: They were radical in the sense that they were white working-class kids in Britain who cannily snookered the art system and became rich, famous and iconic. But this stance has serious limitations.

I never thought I’d be asking this, but at what point does punk white culture start to feel privileged? In a wall text Ms. Lucas describes those hard-living days in London, walking the streets in the early morning with a hangover coming on, wondering, “if this is all there is, this world here,” and “if this is it, given infinite possibility, why is it so shabby?” And “if we’re so keen to be alive, to survive, why the self-destructive behavior? Why the smoking, drinking, drugging?”

One of Ms. Lucas’s new works, “Vox Pop Doris” (2018), a pair of 11-foot-tall thigh-high platform boots cast in concrete, is on view in the museum’s main lobby. CreditCharlie Rubin for The New York Times

In this era, post-Brexit, when thousands of people have died in recent years attempting to reach the safety of “shabby” London — or any toehold in Western Europe — the message here, of being white and bored and disaffected, feels dissonant. A video made in 2015, when Ms. Lucas represented Britain in the Venice Biennale, captures her lying on the floor of a palazzo in Venice, the water lapping at the steps, reading the poetry of another erstwhile British bad boy, D.H. Lawrence. It feels elegiac, cozy, luxurious.

On the one hand, it’s thrilling that the New Museum and the show’s curators, Massimiliano Gioni and Margot Norton, have devoted three floors to a woman’s work. Ms. Lucas remains a wonderfully bold and subversive model for women in this #MeToo moment. Her career should be the ultimate rallying cry for female rage, striking out in an age that demands that women grab back.

But the question posed by Ms. Lucas in the ’90s nags: Is this all there is? She was part of one cultural correction around class and gender in Britain and now we’re in another, with disintegrating borders, genders and species categories — even glaciers — in which white European ennui feels almost like a luxury product. A spate of recent stuffed-stocking sculptures carries on Ms. Lucas’s bodily abstractions and obsessions, generally continuing in the same vein as before. In this sense, Ms. Lucas’s art feels like an important historical springboard from which to expand beyond the intrepid and irreverent platform of the Young British Artists, into the next millennium.


Sarah Lucas: Au Naturel

Through Jan. 20 at the New Museum, 235 Bowery, Manhattan; 212-219-1222, newmuseum.org.

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