Review: Richard Estes’ Realism

Richard Estes, Jone's Diner, 1975 / Courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum

Giorgio Vasari, introducing his Lives of the Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, wrote that “the ravening maw of time…has…blotted out and destroyed the names of all those who have been kept alive by any other means than by the…pens of writers.”

Let us hope he was wrong. If the reputation of any of today’s artists is to survive time’s maw, it will be in spite of many of those who write about art, and especially of those who write the blurbs accompanying art objects in museums. Take as an example the current exhibition at the Smithsonian’s American Art Museum on one of the founders of Photorealism, Richard Estes.

Forbearance

A Two Minutes Hate ('1984')

Not so long ago, in an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times, a woman by the name of Madeline Janis spent 751 words of precious editorial-page real estate bemoaning the fact that she didn’t like her dying father’s politics. Miss Janis, a progressive lioness, wrote that her dad routinely refused to engage her in arguments. Instead, he preferred enjoying her company and talking about less contentious topics. Yet while moving him into an assisted-living facility, she came across his dark secret. The villain owned a collection of Rush Limbaugh hats. Janis told her father he should throw them out.

ORANGE SCARE: Why Halloween Threatens America

A young Biff Diddle (right) celebrates Halloween.

Today, America’s children will take to the streets. Fortunately, it won’t be to cast votes. (It’s bad enough that non-military citizens under 40 are allowed to vote, in my humble opinion.)

No, what I’m talking about is much, much worse: the godforsaken ritual known as “Halloween.”

As far as made-up holidays go, Halloween is more of an abomination than Thanksgiving, which, as I have previously explained, is basically a glorified ode to appeasement, teeming with hideous gourds. Dining with the enemy? Sounds like something John Kerry would do.

The Latest Evidence that Bicyclists Are Self-Absorbed Monsters

Monsters / AP

As we know, bicyclists are terrible. They’re terrible in large part because they’re horribly inconsiderate. They think it’s totally fine to do 10 mph on a street in front of a bus carrying 80 people. They think it’s fine to do 10 mph on a sidewalk where everyone else is moving 2 mph. They think it’s fine to rip up streets and parking spots in order to build infrastructure that very few people use. Their self-absorption is legendary.

It’s time to add another chapter to the legend, however. Bicyclists are so self-absorbed that they will violate ebola quarantines and risk spreading an organ-liquifying disease just so they can go on a bike ride. Not even, like, a bike ride to someplace. Just a leisurely spin on their monstrous, two-wheeled contraption.

Michael Bay-ghazi

The Auteur of Awesome / AP

Reports that Michael Bay, the Auteur of Awesome, may be tackling a feature film about Benghazi was both welcome, and rather exciting, news.

I have no particular interest in addressing the various controversies surrounding the attacks on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, that led to the murder of our ambassador to that nation. It seems clear that the administration initially tried to downplay the idea that this was a terror attack. And they had good reason to, given that Obama had spent the last two years campaigning on the idea that al Qaeda was in retreat and, therefore, not an important issue. “Osama bin Laden is dead and GM is alive,” etc. But it’s all a moot point now.

What is interesting about this news is that it seems to be a perfect fit for Bay, one of our foremost populist filmmakers. It’s a story that hits all the right populist buttons: honorable military/ex-military types fighting to the death to defend an American ambassador from a raging horde of foreign terrorists as the civilian elite completely and utterly botches the response to the attacks and the commander in chief jets off to a lavish fundraiser in Las Vegas. Even if Bay completely avoids all the political insinuations one way or the other—and I imagine he will, as his populism has never struck me as terribly partisan—he can still churn out an incendiary indictment of the Obama administration’s handling of the crisis. On film, incompetence and malfeasance are more or less interchangeable.