ARE THE ARTS ESSENTIAL?

A vigorous, timely, necessary defense of creativity.

Eloquent essays on the vital meaning of art.

Arthurs is a senior fellow at the John Brademas Center at NYU, and DiNiscia is Deputy Director for Research and Strategic Initiatives at the Center. In this important collection, the editors gather a racially, ethnically, and culturally diverse group of more than two dozen eminent scholars, artists, professionals working in the field of arts and culture, and funders who support the arts. Jazz pianist Fred Hersch (interviewed by Arthurs), composer Tania León, choreographer and dancer Alice Sheppard, and Deborah Willis, historian of African American photography, join the other contributors in responding to the title question with a resounding “yes.” They argue forcefully for the importance of the arts in strengthening social ties, benefiting individuals, fostering community, engaging with the sciences, and recording and sharing human experiences. As music history scholar Karol Berger notes, “when you think that art is inessential and useless,” remember those artists who have been persecuted, marginalized, silenced, incarcerated, and killed because of the power of their creations. Like Berger, several contributors underscore the political significance of the arts. Philosophy professor and ethicist K. Anthony Appiah asserts that art “readies us for our real lives, enlarges our political possibilities, connects us within and across identities.” For Zeyba Rahman and Hussein Rashid, the arts, speaking through the language of imagination, “can bring alive communities and urgent problems that are unfamiliar to us by creating a universal resonance and relatability.” The arts nurture individuals, just as with other forms of sustenance. “All people…yearn for beauty,” writes Ford Foundation president Darren Walker, “also long for grace, also have hearts as well as stomachs that need to be fed and filled. And people inevitably create beauty and grace when they lift their voices in song, move their bodies to music, shape color and form on canvas or in sculpture, or use language to tell stories in ways that delight and surprise.”

A vigorous, timely, necessary defense of creativity.

Pub Date: Feb. 22, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-4798-1262-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: New York Univ.

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 12


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • IndieBound Bestseller

A WEALTH OF PIGEONS

A CARTOON COLLECTION

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 12


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • IndieBound Bestseller

The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.

Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-26289-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2018


  • New York Times Bestseller

CALYPSO

Sedaris at his darkest—and his best.

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2018


  • New York Times Bestseller

In which the veteran humorist enters middle age with fine snark but some trepidation as well.

Mortality is weighing on Sedaris (Theft by Finding: Diaries 1977-2002, 2017, etc.), much of it his own, professional narcissist that he is. Watching an elderly man have a bowel accident on a plane, he dreaded the day when he would be the target of teenagers’ jokes “as they raise their phones to take my picture from behind.” A skin tumor troubled him, but so did the doctor who told him he couldn’t keep it once it was removed. “But it’s my tumor,” he insisted. “I made it.” (Eventually, he found a semitrained doctor to remove and give him the lipoma, which he proceeded to feed to a turtle.) The deaths of others are much on the author’s mind as well: He contemplates the suicide of his sister Tiffany, his alcoholic mother’s death, and his cantankerous father’s erratic behavior. His contemplation of his mother’s drinking—and his family’s denial of it—makes for some of the most poignant writing in the book: The sound of her putting ice in a rocks glass increasingly sounded “like a trigger being cocked.” Despite the gloom, however, frivolity still abides in the Sedaris clan. His summer home on the Carolina coast, which he dubbed the Sea Section, overspills with irreverent bantering between him and his siblings as his long-suffering partner, Hugh, looks on. Sedaris hasn’t lost his capacity for bemused observations of the people he encounters. For example, cashiers who say “have a blessed day” make him feel “like you’ve been sprayed against your will with God cologne.” But bad news has sharpened the author’s humor, and this book is defined by a persistent, engaging bafflement over how seriously or unseriously to take life when it’s increasingly filled with Trump and funerals.

Sedaris at his darkest—and his best.

Pub Date: May 29, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-39238-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

Categories:
Close Quickview