Bring Back the Golden Fleece!

Back in the days when some Democrats actually cared about government waste, Senator William Proxmire of Wisconsin became famous for his “Golden Fleece” award, which exposed absurd federal spending boondoggles. Since then, the government’s hemorrhaging of our tax dollars has only gotten worse.

The same thing is going on at the state level. Democrats consider all spending, no matter how stupid, to be an “investment” and therefore desirable. My home state of Minnesota is even worse than most, which is why our State Arts Board hands out an unbelievable amount of money to “artists” for just about anything. In 2018, the Arts Board gave Jim Denomie a $10,000 grant:

Denomie will create a series of large paintings in response to Standing Rock and other contemporary events from a Native American perspective.

“Standing Rock” refers to left-wing protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline, which begins in the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota and continues through South Dakota and Iowa to a terminal in Illinois. The pipeline is being built because people need oil. The protests occurred because…I’m really not sure why. Maybe because protesters were paid by leftist and “green” interests? I don’t know.

In any event, Mr. Denomie has now produced his Standing Rock painting. It was hailed by the Minneapolis Star Tribune. This is it; click to enlarge:

The painting is so poorly executed that it is hard to tell what is going on. We know that it depicts President Trump groping Lady Liberty only because the Strib’s news story tells us so. The painter is so inept that he can’t render a recognizable image of Donald Trump, one of the most easily recognizable people in the world. Similarly, the news story tells us that “Barack Obama is portrayed as a sitting duck.” Can you find him? My only candidate is a guy who appears to be seated on a toilet and bears little apparent resemblance to Obama. Is he a “sitting duck”? Beats me.

The real question, of course, is why Minnesota’s taxpayers should be forced, against their will, to support inept left-wing artists. If Mr. Denomie wants to create a bad painting, fine. If some leftist wants to buy it from him, fine. That is none of our business. But when our state government forces all of us to pay for this travesty, it becomes our affair.

This particular painting is not alone, of course. The Minnesota State Arts Board also approved contributions like these:

Rosy Simas, Minneapolis $9,875
“Weave” honors the interwoven, interdependent nature of our world in an intersectional Indigenous dance project that envelops the audience in an immersive experience of story, dance, moving image, and quadrophonic sound.
***
Deborah Thayer, Saint Paul $10,000
Thayer will choreograph “All Hail the Queen,” using somatic explorations to unearth experiences of the female voice and vagina. The piece will be presented as an evening length dance installation in Minneapolis.
***
Cecilia M. Cornejo, Northfield $10,000
In collaboration with the Mexican community of Northfield. Cornejo will complete Ways of Being Home, a poetic documentary that addresses issues of marginalization and belonging as experienced by that community.

This one is hilarious:

Jason Coyle, Minneapolis $10,000
Coyle will complete and distribute the documentary short Charlie, Bella, Cooper, which examines the deaths of three domestic pets whose lives were ended by law enforcement.

Furry lives matter! The list goes on and on, this is just a sampling:

Diana M. Fraser, Saint Paul $10,000
Across the course of the 2017-2018 project year, I will produce a broadcast length documentary about queer women’s access to safe medical spaces in the Twin Cities.

Some of the grants make no sense. See if you can figure out what this is all about:

Jennifer Glaws, Mound $10,000
Glaws will exhibit The Collectiveness (Of Ourselves), an interactive, multimedia performance installation investigating acts of belonging. A work in progress presentation will be shown at the Art Attack event in the Northrup King Building.
***
Nancy Rosenbaum, Minneapolis $10,000
Media artist Rosenbaum will produce an audio documentary featuring first person reflections of people who experienced the July 1967 uprisings in north Minneapolis.
***
Kirsten L. Whitson, Saint Paul $9,950
Whitson will create and perform cello concerts reflecting global racial injustice and genocide with video program notes, history, personal stories about cultural loss, and audience feedback sessions.

Cello concerts “reflecting global racial injustice and genocide”? Seriously?

David Mura, Minneapolis $10,000
Mura will research and write a multigenre book of poetry exploring race in contemporary America, including the legacy of the internment. This is a book of intersections of communities, histories, and types of writing.
***
Harmony H. Neal, Northfield $10,000
Neal will develop new models for storytelling that illustrate societies grounded in human flourishing, cooperation, and environmental sustainability. She will lead a Writers Resist: Women’s March on Literature event.
***
William Nour, Minneapolis $10,000
Nour will develop his play Turbulence and present it to an audience over three weekends. He will work with community members to tell a story of anti-Arab racism in the airline industry and homophobia in the Arab community.
***
Aamera Siddiqui, Saint Paul $10,000
Siddiqui will write Sharam aur Izzat, a play about a South Asian American woman struggling with depression, family secrecy, stigma, and a mental health system with limited cultural understanding.
***
Jonathan Herrera, Minneapolis $10,000
Herrera will complete a series of large-scale prints exploring different relationships between the narratives of migrants and historical instances of trauma.
***
Jennifer Newsom, Minneapolis $10,000
Newsom will develop Barricade, a new work exploring the relationship between black and blue bodies (i.e. African Americans and police) in an immersive installation within a gallery setting in Minneapolis.
***
Jacob Aaron Schroeder, Minneapolis $10,000
Schroeder will create sculptural, two-dimensional, and text based works on the emotional and mental state of queer men within greater Minnesota, for his first solo exhibition in the Twin Cities.

A large majority of the projects supported by the State Arts Board have no apparent political angle, although quite a few could turn out to be leftist when they are delivered. Many, probably most, are not amenable to politicization. But not a single one has an apparent conservative perspective. It is fair to ask, why should taxpayers be forced to support the creation of art at all? And if they are going to support the creation of art, or alleged art, why should 100% of the projects supported, if they have an apparent political leaning, be leftist?

The simplest solution is, bring back the Golden Fleece. Taxpayers’ money is being wasted, or worse. Let’s end the left-wing boondoggle!

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