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Friday Roundup

by Jerome Weeks 5 Aug 2011 7:52 AM

‘Cosmos’ will return but not on PBS and not from anyone you’d expect, the city budget for 2012 isn’t actually going to crush the cultural centers and the Kimbell gets a finger vigorously wagged in its direction — all in this morning’s roundup!


A SHOCK TO THE SYSTEM. The last time we saw Cosmos, the landmark 1980 PBS mini-series about all things starry-eyed and galactic, it made Carl Sagan famous to “billions and billions” of people. Now it’s coming back.

On Fox.

With Seth MacFarlane as executive producer.

No, that’s not the punchline to a joke about the imminent collapse of our culture. MacFarlane,  the creator of Family Guy and other jaundiced animated comedy series, did appear on Star Trek: Enterprise, so he has some serious, you know, solar system street cred. Actually (mercifully?), the new, 13-episode series has Sagan’s widow, Ann Druyan, on its creative team. It’ll air in 2013.

A SOMEWHAT SURPRISING CITY ARTS BUDGET. Yes, there are cuts and hiccups in revenue-raising in the overall “executive summary’ of the budget that city manager Mary Suhm presented yesterday (water bills will go up, 100 city employees laid off, five pools closed   — what, now?? ). But because sales tax revenue has improved and property-tax revenue hasn’t declined so badly, the city budget isn’t, well, a blood-soaked horror movie. To sum up the effects on the arts scene: the city’s cultural centers’ hours are maintained, no cuts in staff or programming. Support for the AT&T Performing Arts Center stands at $1.5 million. The Cultural Organizations Program is indeed cut by 10 percent, while the Cultural Projects Program is maintained.

A TEMPEST IN A CHIAROSCURO TEAPOT? Tyler Green, the well-known arts blogger behind Modern Art Notes, takes exception to the Kimbell’s press release this week about its highly anticipated October exhibition, Caravaggio and His Circle in Rome. (It’s currently at the National Gallery of Canada.) What prompts his irritation (“‘Great Moments in Press Releases”) are the opening lines quoting Kimbell director Eric Lee on how the late Renaissance master’s paintings may be influencing today’s films and pasta sauce labels, but once they were “emulated and studied” by his great contemporaries. Green takes the Kimbell to school:

I understand what the Kimbell is trying to do here, really, I do. On the list of art museum violations, this is somewhere between rolling through a stop sign and going 35 in a 25…. [But] It should go without saying that Caravaggio and exhibitions of and about his work are not important because Caravaggio has influenced Ragu jars. Art museums should appeal to and trust the intelligence and the curiosity of their audience. Great artists deserve to be examined and celebrated on the highest possible terms, not at the lowest, commonest, contemporary-commercialist denominator.

And he goes on to argue that such representations of the arts to the public do have consequences.