Life, Liberty and ... - Doug Johnson

Last weekend, Sebastian Smee, the Pulitzer Prize-winning arts critic for The Boston Globe, reviewed a new show at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA. Actually, his "review" focused far more on the mutual hostility between conservatives and progressives than the show itself. It's a brilliant, thought-provoking and timely review that I highly recommend.

Review


In any case, the review ends with:


"What we do need (and I don’t know how to make this sound other than toxically bland) is a willingness to admit complication. We need, in politics, to be able to see virtue in conservative values (there is so much worth conserving) even as we recognize the need to change, to improve, to move on.


In art, in the same way, we should be able, if we please, to admire both Rockwell and Pollock; both Andy Wyeth and Andy Warhol. I am not calling for indiscriminate love and acceptance. Just a willingness to value honesty over ideology, and subtle distinctions over group-think."


Life, Liberty and ...

From the "Street" gallery


Which brings us to this week's photo. Visually, the "actor" and "stage" are eye-catching and the complementary details add interest (note how the red, white and blue bookbag and green handlebar tape mirror the flags and grass).


What most interests me, however, is the symbolism of the "progressive" cyclist ("feeling the Bern", I'll venture) resolutely cycling through a "conservative" sea of Trumpian nostalgia and patriotism. One looking to the future, one memorializing the past -- two radically different views of how to make America great. I don't know if today's political climate is more contentious or polarizing than previous generations but I think Mr. Smee may be on to something.




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