May 17, 2017

The Palette is available to all interested with an e-Subscription

In this issue:

Scientists May Have Finally Figured Out Why This Man Is Screaming
Bipartisan Bill Would Boost NEA and NEH Budgets by $1.9 Million Each
Students Connect With Haiti Through Art
Iraqi painter quietly documented life under Islamic State
Teen is crafting his future with Todd's Block Art
The Top 20 Most Vibrant Arts Communities in America (2017)





Scientists May Have Finally Figured Out Why This Man Is Screaming
The nacreous clouds in Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” are no laughing matter.

Between the late 1800s and early 1900s, artist Edvard Munch created four versions of his magnum opus “The Scream,” which depicts a man enduring extreme psychological anguish while alone on a bridge beneath a raging blood-red sky. One “Scream” artwork broke auction records in 2012 when it sold for nearly $120 million.

For centuries art historians and enthusiasts have understood the tempestuous weather conditions depicted in the work as a symbolic representation of existential dread, as experienced by one very pale, very bald man.

But during a talk held Tuesday at the European Geosciences Union (EGU) General Assembly in Vienna, the University of Olso’s Dr. Helene Muri posited that perhaps Munch wasn’t painting stomach-churning angst at all, but simply crazy clouds.

Specifically, Dr. Muri suggested that Munch had witnessed the rare weather phenomenon known as nacreous clouds, mother-of-pearl clouds or “screaming clouds” ― quite appropriately. The unusual condition forms in extremely cold temperatures (minus 80 to 85 degrees Celsius) at very high altitudes (between nine and 12 miles), combined with a bit of humidity.

The resulting clouds, which only manifest at sunset or after dark, appear like thin, wriggling waves in pronounced colors. “You get these very distinct colorings,” Muri explained, “from the combination of scattering, diffraction and internal refraction of the sunlight on these tiny ice crystals.”

The clouds likely adopted their reddish hue thanks to the eruption of the Krakatoa volcano, which occurred nine years before Munch painted his first “Scream” in 1893. Yet volcanic fallout remains in the air for years after a massive eruption, and can yield sunsets with palettes resembling fiery explosions.

This explanation fits with how Munch described the shocking sky in his 1890 journal:

“The sky suddenly became bloodish red. I stopped, leant against the fence, tired to death ― watched over the flaming clouds as blood and sword the city ― the blue-black fjord and the city ― My friends went away ― I stood there shivering from dread ― and I felt this big, infinite scream through nature.”

“We do know that there were mother-of-pearl clouds in the Oslo area in the late 19th century,” Dr. Muri told The Telegraph. Although Muri has lived in the Oslo region for 25 years, she’s only seen the Mother of Pearl clouds once herself. The researcher imagines that if Munch saw the crimson display on a random evening, he would have understandably flipped out.

“Today the general public has a lot more scientific information but you can imagine back in his day, he’d probably never seen these clouds before,” Dr. Muri told The BBC. “As an artist, they no doubt could have made quite an impression on him.”

Whether or not Munch was actually inspired by a rare meteorological event or some sort of internal panic attack ― or a little bit of both ― we’ll probably never know for sure. But it’s always fun to add another “Scream” hypothesis to the vault, especially one that involves something as weird and terrifying as “screaming clouds.” The Huffington Post


Since 2013, Yulia Ivanisova’s daughter Elizabeth has been a regular patient at the Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto.

At the tender age of 8, she was diagnosed with arthritis, and much of her hospital care involves many painful injections. After one of their routine visits, Elizabeth asked her mother to buy her some art supplies so she could paint.

To Ivanisova’s surprise, her daughter was so immersed in her artistic creation, that she did not seem to be bothered by the pain caused by her condition. This personal experience, combined with a lifelong passion for arts, led to the birth of Art at Heart.

“She picked up a brush and started painting. She went on for a few hours, and completely forgot about the pain,” said Ivanisova, CEO of Art at Heart.

“My daughter’s choice to break free from her condition through visual arts was a sign from above to me.”

Art at Heart is a non-profit organization that provides free art classes to long-term patients suffering from a variety of medical conditions. They host weekly programs at SickKids Hospital, Mackenzie Health Richmond Hill Hospital and at the Richview Manor retirement home. It has helped a lot of people take their minds off of their illnesses, and take some time for themselves to focus on cultivating their creativity.

Healthcare is one of the largest expenses in all of the Canadian provinces, and the majority of the money goes towards hospital care, doctors, drug and lab tests. Many times, the development of recreational activities at hospitals and care facilities are under-financed and de-prioritized.

“Some studies have shown that art activities have a positive effect on long-term patients, help to reduce stress, fear and anxiety as well as to heal other psychological traumas caused by the separation from family and friends,” says Ivanisova.

The organization employs two art teachers and is managed and supported by volunteers from the community. The purpose of this initiative really is to raise awareness about the various healing benefits that come from creative expression.

In May 2016, she organized the Art at Heart Gala, which showcases the works of local artists, and raised money for the SickKids Creative Arts Therapy Program, which includes not only visual arts therapy, but also music and clown therapy.

“Many of the artists we exhibited at the gala are artists at soul. Once they come back from their day jobs, they take up a brush or a camera, and start creating. They are not in it for the money. Art is all about your personal passion,” said Ivanisova.

On May 26, Art at Heart is holding its second fundraising gala. Photographs of the works made by children and seniors will be on display, alongside the works of over 15 artists.
Ivanisova believes in the healing powers of art and the importance of self-expression.

She, personally, expresses herself through her passion for event planning. She was the creative force behind the successful gala dinner at the Limmud FSU Horizons conference, that had over 700 people in attendance.

As the organization grows, Ivanisova hopes to continue to provide children and seniors with opportunities to grow as artists.

“We provide the fundamentals, the techniques and tools. Hopefully, they will continue to develop their own art.” The Canadian Jewish News

Bipartisan Bill Would Boost NEA and NEH Budgets by $1.9 Million Each
President Trump is expected to sign the legislation, which gives financial boosts to the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities through the end of the current fiscal year.

An omnibus spending bill released early this morning by both houses of the US Congress includes increased funding for the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities (NEA and NEH), as well as for the Smithsonian Institution. According to Bloomberg, President Trump is expected to sign the legislation, which would fund the federal government through September 30, 2017, the end of the current fiscal year (FY).

The $1 trillion bill comes as lawmakers have been staring down the threat of a possible government shutdown. Congressional Democrats and Republicans have been attempting since October to strike a deal to fund the rest of FY 2017; their negotiations were further complicated by the election of President Trump, who initially demanded that the budget include money to begin construction of a US–Mexico border wall. Trump dropped that request last week and agreed to continue funding cost-sharing subsidies in the Affordable Care Act, NBC News reported. Congress and the president also enacted a continuing resolution to keep the government operating through midnight this Friday, which is now the deadline for passage and signing of the FY 2017 omnibus appropriations bill.

A bipartisan effort released by both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, the legislations eschews many of Trump’s more extreme budget proposals, including the elimination of the NEA and NEH. Instead, the bill increases funding for both agencies by $1.9 million, bringing their respective budgets up to $149.8 million. It also earmarks $863.3 million for the Smithsonian Institution, a $23 million jump from the FY 2016 enacted level that’s meant to “improve the long-term storage of collections and increase security.” The bill maintains $36.4 million in funding for the Kennedy Center and devotes $45 million to the construction of Frank Gehry’s long-planned Eisenhower Memorial. And it provides additional funds for the National Park Service to the tune of $2.9 billion, with $13.5 million set aside for “competitive grants to preserve the sites and stories of the Civil Rights Movement.”

The House Rules Committee is set to take up the bill at 3pm tomorrow, the first step in its advancement toward a vote in the House and then the Senate. Although the legislation rejects many of Trump’s stated priorities and “resembles more of an Obama administration-era spending bill than a Trump one,” in the words of Bloomberg News, the president claims to be “very happy with it” and is expected to sign it into law.

Even so, it’s likely that the government budget battles are not over, but on hold. White House spokesman Sean Spicer told Reuters that he expects Trump’s “priorities will be reflected much more” in the spending bill for fiscal year 2018, negotiations for which begin October 1. Hyperallergic


Students Connect With Haiti Through Art

WEST HARTFORD, CT: Students at Morley Elementary School in West Hartford have spent the school year connecting with students in Haiti through art.

Principal Ryan Cleary said the idea came from the school's desire to work on cultural learning in an authentic way

"Learning about different cultures is part of the West Hartford curriculum and we do a lot of things with the resources we have," Cleary said. "We wanted to go a step further and learn about another culture through an authentic, real relationship and actually get to know somebody else. We wanted them to find a deeper meaning. We felt this would have a lasting impression."

The school used a grant from the Foundation for West Hartford Public Schools to purchase the technology needed to make this possible. The project that came out of the grant was an art exchange.

"We wrote the grant thinking about how we're going to learn about another culture that's in a different part of the world and speaks a different language," Cleary said. "We went to art. Art being a visual medium is a great way for kids to communicate."

In their art classes, students would create the usual art they might during any given school year. But adding on to that, the students would create video lessons with demonstrations and as little language as possible to teach the students at the Education Center in Deschapelles, Haiti, who speak Haitian Creole, to do the same work they did.

"The Haitian kids would make the same art projects that we did," Cleary said. "They would reciprocate and send things back. That's what we've been doing and it's been incredible."

All of the art work that was created by the Morley students and the students in Haiti will be auctioned off at a silent auction on May 16 at Morley School. The money raised by the Haitian art will be returned to Haiti and the money raised by the Morley School will help the school continue its connection with Haiti.

Cleary said through their simple exchange they learned a lot about Haiti.

"We learned a lot about their resources," Cleary said. "We found out that for the kids in the school it was the first time they had ever used scissors. That was a bit of learning for our kids."

Nybol Bona, a seven-year-old second-grader, accompanied Cleary to a recent board of education meeting to talk about the experience.

In her art classroom, while making a pendant that has a Creole word on one side and the English translation of the word on another, she said she learned a lot.

"We learned they speak Creole and we learned they don't have much art supplies," Bona said, who added they realized they are more fortunate in West Hartford.

Joey Fritz, an eight-year-old second-grader, said he was surprised to hear that the school in Haiti was different than theirs in terms of how it was set up.

"I learned their school had no walls," Fritz said. "They don't have enough money to afford their own school supplies."

It was also a thrill for the students to send their art to Haiti only to see it appear in the videos and photos that the Haitian students returned to them.

"I saw mine on the table," said Carrie Nelson, an eight-year-old second-grader. "It was weird to see something I made in West Hartford all the way in Haiti."

Erica Stinziani, Morley's art teacher, said art is a great way for students with language barriers to communicate.

"Art is a universal language," Stinziani said. "We tried to use limited words when we made the videos so they can see what they're doing. The kids loved seeing what their sister school made. But they also learned about their daily life, what their school looked like and what was different. But we also studied the things that were the same. It brought something very far away closer."

Cleary said this won't be the end of the connection with Haiti. They've received another grant from Fund For Teachers that will allow them to send five Morley educators to Haiti for a week in June to meet with the Education Center.

"We have teachers who became really interested," Cleary said. "They are going to down there and will try to spread their knowledge, talk with the teachers and learn about how the school operates. It's going to increase their cultural awareness and back at Morley they can be a primary resource for our kids." Hartford Courant


Iraqi painter quietly documented life under Islamic State

HAMAM AL-ALIL, IRAQ: After the Islamic State group swept into his town nearly three years ago, Mustafa al-Taee resolved to bear witness to the militants' brutal rule by secretly painting what he had seen with his own eyes.

The result was a gallery of horrors: car bombs, dead children, an IS defector beheaded in a public square, a former police officer strung up by his legs for hours before being shot dead.

"They committed countless crimes and those crimes needed to be documented," said the 58-year-old grandfather, speaking in his home in the northern town of Hamam al-Alil, near the city of Mosul. "There were no journalists, no cameras."

Shuffling through his paintings, he comes to one showing a child with an amputated hand.

"Because he was starving, this child was going through the garbage, collecting empty Pepsi cans to sell and food leftovers to eat later," al-Taee said. A roadside bomb planted by the militants exploded, tearing off the child's hand and legs.

Islamic State militants swept across northwestern Iraq in the summer of 2014, capturing much of the country's north and west, including its second largest city, Mosul. The militants imposed a harsh and violent version of Islamic law.

Even in the privacy of al-Taee's home, painting was a risky endeavor. The extremist group forbids all independent media, and bans artistic renderings of human beings, which it views as a form of blasphemy.

"I expected them to shoot me at any time," al-Taee said.

A little over a year ago, a neighbor who had seen him drawing reported it to the militants. They came at night, breaking through his front door and jumping over the outer walls of his home, he said.

A search uncovered a painting of a woman and a car exploding. The car bomb had killed the woman's husband, who had been a soldier with the Iraqi army, in a targeted assassination.

The militants collected his canvases and tools, and took them away to be burned. He was taken to the Islamic State morality police, known as the Hisbah, which sentenced him to 30 lashes.

"After 15 lashes I started to cry," he said. "I couldn't feel the next 15."

He was jailed for 15 days, and for a month after his release he was unable to draw or paint.

"I couldn't eat, I couldn't draw. I was scared," he said. But he eventually started again, painting and drawing pictures that illustrated life under the extremists and hiding them in a friend's car. When Iraqi forces drove the militants from Hamam al-Alil late last year, he no longer had to worry about being found out.

Reflecting on the risks he took, he said he couldn't bear to give up his art. It's an addiction, he said, "like smoking is an addiction for others." MySA

Teen is crafting his future with Todd's Block Art

ENGLEWOOD, TN: When Todd Godfrey creates art, he works quietly and diligently. The only sound in the room is usually from a video or DVD of one of his favorite 1960s or '70s television shows.

And that's the way he likes it, focusing on shapes and colors as he draws on a piece of wood with colored pencils, creating pieces for his Todd's Block Art label.

"I just finished watching 'Superman' today," Todd said last week as he drew geometric shapes on a large wooden podium.

Todd's mother, Donna Godfrey, said Todd's Block Art is a way for him to be productive and provide for himself someday. She said most of the time Todd will just grab a pencil and start to draw.

Donna and Robert Godfrey first met Todd when they were his foster parents; they adopted him when he was 6 years old. Todd was born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, and he was later diagnosed with autism and super ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).

Now 17, Todd is a sophomore at McMinn Central High School.

April was Autism Awareness Month, but Donna hopes that people will learn more about autism all year long.

The idea for Todd's Block Art began when Todd started folding sheets of notebook paper and doodling on each section; then he began using colored pencils in his designs. To encourage his burgeoning artistry, Todd's parents gave him sanded blocks of wood to draw on.

The more interest he showed in creating the art, the more his parents encouraged him and began to look for ways to turn his hobby into a way Todd can support himself in adulthood.

Although he first began drawing on paper and then small pieces of wood, Todd has moved on to larger items like tables and other furniture. He will gladly accept donations of wooden items, preferably in good condition.

Smaller pieces, like trimmings from Hiwassee Builders Supply, make perfect decorative doorstops and drawing on them offers a nice break between larger projects, Todd said.

After he finishes the designs, Donna polyurethanes the wooden pieces and helps prepare them for sale. She also strings beads for necklaces, with one of Todd's circular pieces of decorated wood as the centerpiece. The suggested gift amount (price) is $15 for a 20-inch necklace and $20 for a 30-inch necklace.

Decorated wooden blocks that are made from 2x4 boards sell for a $5 gift, while larger circles of wood can be used as coasters - Todd asks for a gift of $6 for a set of four coasters.

Todd uses his earnings to buy more art supplies and he has a savings account and plans to open a checking account, as well.

Also, Todd could use a better sander to prepare the wood for decoration.

"We had a handheld one, but we went through two of them," Donna said, noting a stationary belt sander would work better and last longer. The Daily Post-Athenian

The Top 20 Most Vibrant Arts Communities in America (2017)

SMU’s National Center for Arts Research (NCAR) announces its third annual Arts Vibrancy Index, which ranks more than 900 communities across the country, examining the level of supply, demand, and government support for the arts in each city.

This year, 20% of the communities on the most-vibrant list appear for the first time – a total of eight new communities, including one new state, Alaska. Key movements and new communities featured on the lists include:

Pittsburgh, PA; Richmond, VA; and Rochester, NY, which were ranked in 2015 but not in 2016, all reclaimed spots on the top 20 large cities list;
Bremerton-Silverdale, WA; Ithaca, NY; Asheville, NC; and Barnstable Town, MA are new to the index and are featured in the top 10 medium cities list;
Hudson, NY; Greenfield Town, MA; Oneonta, NY; and Juneau, AK, also new to the index, are in the top 10 small cities list.
For the first time, community rankings are organized into three distinct lists based on size: large (population over 1 million), medium (population between 100,000 and 1 million), and small (population under 100,000 with an urban core of 10,000-50,000), a departure from the previous iterations of the index that combined medium and small communities into one list.

For the complete lists and methodology, please visit the NCAR's reports.

In addition to the Arts Vibrancy Index, NCAR provides scores for every U.S. county on its interactive map, based on measures of arts dollars, arts providers, government support, and socio-economic and other leisure characteristics.

“In the current climate, it is more important than ever to recognize the vital role that the arts play in creating dynamic places to live, work, and visit, and the Arts Vibrancy Index shows us that this is the case in communities all across the country, not just in large cities and on the coasts,” said Dr. Zannie Giraud Voss, director of NCAR. “The index helps us understand what factors contribute to making an urban area artistically vibrant and culturally rich, and illustrates how vibrancy manifests in a wide variety of forms that are often tied to that community’s unique identity.” The report complements each listed community’s scores with its story of what makes it unique and dynamic.

“The arts are an underappreciated sector in America. As this report demonstrates, the idea that they are for an elite few is simply not true. The arts generate tremendous amounts of tourism dollars, enhance and encourage a love of learning, and connect diverse communities and people,” said Karen Brooks Hopkins, NCAR’s Nasher Haemisegger Fellow. “Arts institutions house our greatest treasures and serve as gathering places for people to come together in a shared appreciation for human expression. At the end of the day, when all else is said and done, art is the only thing that endures from generation to generation to generation.”

The overall index is composed of three dimensions: supply, demand, and government support. Supply is assessed by the total number of arts providers in the community, including the number of arts and culture organizations and employees, independent artists, and entertainment firms. Demand is gauged by the total nonprofit arts dollars in the community, including program revenue, contributed revenue, total expenses, and total compensation. Lastly, the level of government support is based on state and federal arts dollars and grants.

Beyond the specific rankings, select findings in the Arts Vibrancy Index include:

Every region of the country is represented in the index: Arts vibrancy is not exclusive to large, coastal metropolitan areas—cities large and small from every region appear in the index. While large and medium metropolitan areas are represented in all regions of the country, the list of small communities is dominated by those located in western (Alaska, Colorado, Montana, Utah, Wyoming) and northeastern states (Massachusetts, New York, and Vermont).
Rankings of communities that have previously made the list are in constant flux: Many factors contribute to these shifts, including transformations in a city’s cultural scene (for example, through the opening of a large arts center), changes in population size, or the extent to which a city’s cultural activity can attract or involve its neighboring communities.
Arts vibrancy takes many shapes and forms. Some communities have large, impressive nonprofit cultural institutions (e.g. Los Angeles, Denver, Newark, and Santa Fe), some have an abundance of smaller organizations and venues (e.g. Asheville, NC; Juneau, AK; and Missoula, MT), while others are particularly attractive to artists (e.g. Breckenridge, CO and Bozeman, MT) or to tourists (e.g. Barnstable Town, MA and Vineyard Haven, MA). Some cities are robust and strong in a variety of arts sectors (e.g. Pittsfield, MA), while others excel in one particular art form (Nashville). Some communities also received high levels of government support, including Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York, and Summit Park, UT.
Vibrancy in very large cities takes two distinct forms: Some cities feature a strong concentration of arts vibrancy in the urban core with less going on in the surrounding areas (e.g. Chicago and Philadelphia), while others feature vibrancy distributed evenly throughout the larger metropolitan area (e.g. Boston and Cambridge).
The majority of arts-vibrant cities have a population either under 300,000 or between 1,000,000 and 3,000,000. This finding holds true even after analyzing medium and small communities separately.
The Lists

The full lists, with detailed information on each community, are available in the full Arts Vibrancy Report, including scores on each of the three metrics of vibrancy, i.e. level of arts providers (supply), arts dollars (demand), and government support for the arts.

Large Cities

Among cities with populations of 1 million or more, the five most vibrant arts communities are as follows:

Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV
New York-Jersey City-White Plains, NY-NJ
San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco, CA
Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, TN
Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI
Pittsburgh, PA; Rochester, NY; and Richmond, VA rejoined the top 20 list this year, having ranked in 2015 but just missed the cut-off in 2016. In this year’s top 20, they are ranked 16, 19, and 20, respectively. Only two cities did not move on the top 20 large communities list—Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, at #1 and Boston, at #6—while all other communities shifted in their rankings. In the top five rankings on this list, the biggest move was Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington trading places with Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale; L.A. ranked #5 last year, and now #7.

See the Interactive Map | Download the Report

Medium Cities

Four communities with populations 100,000 to 1 million are new to the Top 10 medium city list: Bremerton-Silverdale, WA; Ithaca, NY; Asheville, NC; and Barnstable Town, MA, though none of these cities were in the top five:

Pittsfield, MA
Santa Fe, NM
San Rafael, CA
Missoula, MT
Burlington-South Burlington, VT
Small Cities

For small communities, defined as areas with an urban core of 10,000-50,000 people, four cities are making their debut on the list: Hudson, NY; Greenfield Town, MA; Oneonta, NY; and Juneau, AK. These new cities rank #5, #6, #7 and #8 in the Top 10 small communities list, respectively. The top five cities are:

Breckenridge, CO
Summit Park, UT
Bennington, VT
Bozeman, MT
Hudson, NY
About NCAR

In 2012, the Meadows School of the Arts and Cox School of Business at SMU launched the National Center for Arts Research (NCAR). The vision of NCAR is to act as a catalyst for the transformation and sustainability of the national arts and cultural community. The goals of the Center are to unlock insights on: 1) arts attendance and patronage; 2) understanding how managerial decisions, arts attendance, and patronage affect one another; and 3) fiscal trends and fiscal stability of the arts in the U.S., and to create an in-depth assessment of the industry that allows arts and cultural leaders to make more informed decisions and improve the health of their organizations. To work toward these goals, NCAR integrates data from DataArts and its Cultural Data Profile[1] and other national and government sources such as Theatre Communications Group, the League of American Orchestras, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Census Bureau, and the National Center for Charitable Statistics. NCAR makes its findings available free of charge to arts leaders, funders, policymakers, researchers, and the general public.

NCAR develops reports based on this uniquely comprehensive set of arts organizations’ data. It assesses the industry from multiple perspectives, including sector/art form, geography, and size of the organization, and it determines what drives health from the organization’s conditions and its community’s characteristics. Recent publications include a white paper on diversity and equity in the arts, a white paper dispelling the myth that the arts are elitist, and reports on the health of the U.S. arts and cultural sector. In July 2016, NCAR launched the KIPI Dashboard, a free online diagnostic tool that allows arts organizations to benchmark their individual performance in nine finance and operations categories against their peers.

For more information, please visit the NCAR website at SMU National Center for Arts Research