Letters from the week of September 23, 2004

Elementary, Watson: Who the hell is the ASU Art Museum trying to fool? Its curators have made such a big, stinking deal over Joe Watson's stories in New Times, actually blaming Watson for ruining its exhibition. What a crock!

Those idiots should be happy anybody even drives across town to see the damn piddling thing! There's literally nothing to it, except the big floor sculptures of the senators giving the Hitler salute. After all the hoopla, I was shocked at how tiny the exhibition was. I wandered into the other room thinking there must be more to it and was bombarded by images of old people dying in nursing homes. Turned out it was a separate exhibition across the hall.

Somebody should send whoever put together this show to a nursing home, because they obviously haven't a clue as to how to put together an interesting show.

My only criticism of New Times is that, because of all the coverage, I thought I was going to be seeing a really important exhibition, not this bore-fest. Officials from both parties will be laughing at this pathetic display, if they even bother to tune in to it.
Adam Samuelson, via the Internet

Dropping In

A sense of community: In response to a recent Speakeasy ("Art for Whose Sake?", Robrt L. Pela, September 9), I'd like to voice strong support for Las Artes de Maricopa County. I think that there is one great and unmentioned benefit inherent in a program where high school dropouts are engaged in works of public art: ownership.

Folks who feel compelled to drop out are often undervalued as individuals and as part of a collective. Giving people the opportunity to lay claim to public space in a positive way, by contributing to the environment of the streets they share with their fellow citizens, helps build a sense of community for them that may have been partially destroyed by disparaging attitudes toward those who have dropped out.

Prior to attending Cornell, I obtained a GED after having left high school because of institutional homophobia. While taking the GED exams, I met many people who were beneficiaries of programs similar to this public arts endeavor. I heard stories of how the opportunity to gain practical training, to trade work and to be rewarded for hard work and for academic achievement gave them the encouragement they were so often denied while enrolled in traditional educational institutions.

Any city would be lucky to have young people -- who have been failed by their schools -- become involved in public art projects. It's good for the dropouts and good for the community as a whole!
Addy Free, Phoenix

Get a grip: Your Speakeasy column is so funny from week to week. Robrt L. Pela is a comic genius, and I couldn't agree more with what he said about Las Artes de Maricopa County. Can somebody at the county please get a grip on what it takes to constitute art? Pela's comments were so on target that he had my sides splitting.
Brenda Teal, Glendale

A hatcht job: Regarding the recent Speakeasy by Robrt L. Pela on Las Artes de Maricopa County: It was a blatant hatchet job by a flunky reporter who can't even find the "e" for his own name.

Mary Rose Wilcox and Jessica Martin should be commended for offering the opportunity to disadvantaged young people. These two ladies, along with artist-in-residence Jim Covarrubias and Bernice Lever (who holds down the fort), are inviting, encouraging and teaching these young people to better themselves. They are instilling not only through education but a sense of community.

The aim is that the young people will be able to see outside their own world and rise to overcome their plights. What better way to spend the almighty tax dollar than to offer encouragement and participation in our society? Money is such a trivial nit to pick considering the potential results. These young people don't have to be in that program -- they choose to be in it.

It's interesting that Pela admits to having had four years of art and he still sucked. He should get a grip on something besides his mouse and re-focus his energy. He sucks as a reporter, too.
Les Ryan, Phoenix

Tin Ear

Go South by Southwest, young man: Loved your column about the Arizona Rock Coalition's South by Southwest Music Festival Project ("Messing With Texas," Brendan Joel Kelley, September 16) -- particularly from a technical point of view. It reinforces my belief that a band's bio needs to be professionally written to be effective. If a band's media kit starts off with a startling, interesting and original sentence, it will be read!

Your facts were accurate, and I agree with many of your conclusions -- one of which was that it would have been better if the organizer of this movement were from the music industry and had a lot of pull to get bands into the festival. It would have been ideal if we at A.R.C. had spent three or four months learning more about South by Southwest before we started talking about it. But I felt we could help, and the South by Southwest deadlines pushed us to start immediately. And I'm probably as skeptical about so-called "industry pull" as you are.

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