Remembering meditation master Luangphor Viriyang Sirintharo #SootinClaimon.Com

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Remembering meditation master Luangphor Viriyang Sirintharo

Arts & CultureJan 03. 2021A photo of Luangphor Viriyang Sirintharo. The message on the board pays tribute to him with the words 'we miss venerable Luangphor Viriyang Sirintharo'.
Credit: Wat Dhammamongkol. A photo of Luangphor Viriyang Sirintharo. The message on the board pays tribute to him with the words ‘we miss venerable Luangphor Viriyang Sirintharo’. Credit: Wat Dhammamongkol.

By Wichit Chaitrong
The Nation

The passing of mindfulness meditation master Luangphor Viriyang Sirintharo in December is a great loss to thousands of his students and followers.

Buddhists pay tribute to Luangphor Viriyang Sirintharo on December 23 at Wat Dhammamongkol in Bangkok.

Buddhists pay tribute to Luangphor Viriyang Sirintharo on December 23 at Wat Dhammamongkol in Bangkok.

While the pain of being unable to meet him in person any longer is immense, he has left behind priceless treasures to enrich the minds of his followers and meditation enthusiasts.

A large number of people have paid personal tributes to the master whose title is Somdet Phra Yanawachirodom, as his body lies in repose at the Wat Dhammamongkol Temple in Bangkok, where he was lord abbot. He passed away on December 22 due to natural causes at the age of 100 years and 11 months.

The steady stream of visitors coming to pay their final respects are a testament to how much he is revered and loved by so many people.

Luangphor Viriyang devoted his life to monkhood and teaching mindfulness meditation. 

Born on January 7, 1920 in Saraburi province, he entered  monastic life when he was 16 years old. He was trained by the late Ajahn Mun Bhuridatta Mahathera (1870-1949), who was among the pioneers of the Thai Forest Tradition, a lineage of Theravada Buddhist monasticism. Ajahn Mun was a highly revered master of insight meditation, or Vipassana.

In early 1960, Luangphor Viriyang founded Wat Dhammamongkol and in the early 1990s, he introduced his meditation teaching in Canada and later the United States.

Laungphor Viriyang created many meditation training courses, ranging from basic to advanced ones.

I personally took three courses — a one-day and three-day course, and a six-month course for training meditation instructors.

I was impressed with the simplicity, flexibility and usefulness of the way his Willpower Institute Meditation Centres led practitioners into the mysteries of the human mind.

On my first day of practising sitting meditation at the temple, I saw a beautiful red light in front of me, like light reflecting from a red ruby.

I did not see that sparkling red light again. Meditation practitioners have long been told not to be obsessed with such mystical experiences.

Luangphor said anyone can taste happiness when his or her mind is calm while practising single-pointed meditation, a technique that involves focusing our mind on a particular spot on our body, such as the tip of the nose. Practitioners usually feel bodily sensations, deep relaxation or feel like they are levitating when they achieve calmness of mind.

However after many months of practice, the bodily sensations and the feeling of levitation may be absent. Many practitioners start to worry that their progress has been stalled, or, even worse, they are overcome by a feeling of failure.

Laungphor comes to the rescue of these practitioners by explaining with an analogy. He says the progress beyond the initial feeling of elation is similar to that of a wealthy person who is thrilled and excited when he makes his first million baht, but as he becomes richer, and makes more and more money, is no longer as excited.

“Don’t worry, and continue your practice,” he would say encouragingly.

Even experienced practitioners, who may have great days when they achieve calmness, can have bad days when they are unable to calm their monkey minds, Luangphor Viriyang would say.

As a monk, he personified  humility. When someone would ask him about mindfulness meditation taught by other monks or other people, he replied that he did not criticise other monks’ teaching methods.

He was also secular and never had a negative attitude towards other religions. He is one of the pioneers among Thai monks in introducing meditation practice in Canada. A few people in Canada joined the first course, but the numbers jumped sharply when local media reported that an old lady who could not walk before attending the meditation, could stand and walk again. 

He was also one of the pioneering Thai monks who  introduced mindfulness meditation practices to the masses.

“In the past, I taught it to monks, but when they leave monkhood the knowledge of meditation practices imparted to them is also gone. So, I decided to create a course for the lay person,” he told his disciples, while recounting his experience as a teacher. 

Starting from the margins of society, mindfulness meditation now has become a mainstream practice worldwide. Luangphor Viriyang is one of the pioneers in making extraordinary efforts and devoting his life to make it happen and it has benefited huge numbers of people.

Although the beloved monk has left his physical body, he will remain a master through his insightful teachings.

Warin Lab all set to kick off trash-to-art exhibition #SootinClaimon.Com

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Warin Lab all set to kick off trash-to-art exhibition (nationthailand.com)

Warin Lab all set to kick off trash-to-art exhibition

Arts & CultureDec 23. 2020

By The Nation

Warin Lab Contemporary is opening its first exhibition “Overflow – From Trash to Art” at its newly renovated art space in a 100-year-old residence-turned-art-space in the culturally rich area of Charoenkrung Road Soi 36, it announced in a press release.

With its focus on the environment in 2021, the exhibition reflects on waste accumulation while introducing the idea of continual use of the same resources.

Based on the notion of a circular economy, Overflow points out that the same product can be used longer through recycling, upcycling, repairing and refurbishment in order to create a closed-loop system by minimising the use of new resources.

Artist Wishulada Panthanuvong has created a site-specific installation made primarily from consumer waste. The entire exhibition room from wall to floor is covered with water bottle plastic caps, aluminium drink cans, wrappers of snacks and household products and various types of aluminium and plastic waste.

“The artist places grandiose articles, all of which are made of waste materials, such as a functional sofa, table, ceiling lamps and hanging sculptures inside the space with the intention that viewers can have a pleasant time in this invented living room,” the press statement said.

“Overflow – From Trash to Art creates a paradoxical condition where people can have a pleasant time in a room filled with trash.

From the outset, the installation provokes the feeling of inundation from the mountains of waste we collectively create on a daily basis. On a more profound level, it instigates a regenerative approach to repurpose waste materials instead of abandoning them,” it said.

As part of the exhibition, Warin Lab Contemporary is engaging with the local community around Charoenkrung Soi 36 and Wat Muang Kae to separate, collect and hand in their garbage as art materials. The art space also involves the community’s assistance in creating five ceiling lamps from the collected materials. Once the lamps are turned upside down, they will become usable colour-coded garbage bins for the community’s waste management initiative.

Apart from community’s involvement, Warin Lab Contemporary is also soliciting trash donations from corporations, which encourage their employees to separate, collect and contribute reusable garbage from their office and home to the art installation. Corporations which have donated trash for the exhibition include Bangkok Glass, Central Pattana, Chevron (Thailand), Makao Restaurant, Siam Cement, Siam Commercial Bank, Michelin ROH and Omise.

Wishulada has also received trash donated from the public through her online outreach.

Overflow – From Trash to Art will be open to the public from January 23 to March 21, 2021.

The exhibition will also offer an educational workshop on February 6, run by Wishulada, to create a functional item from upcycling daily waste.

In addition, an artist’s talk with TV presenter-cum-activist Wannasingh Prasertkul will take place on February 20. Those interested can visit Warin Lab’s Instagram account or Facebook page to get more information and book a seat for the workshop and the talk.

Japan’s kabuki culture on screen at Iconsiam next week #SootinClaimon.Com

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Japan’s kabuki culture on screen at Iconsiam next week (nationthailand.com)

Japan’s kabuki culture on screen at Iconsiam next week

Arts & CultureDec 14. 2020

By The NationBangkok film and theatre fans are being treated to a rare double bill of Japanese classics next week, courtesy of the Japan Foundation.

“Renjishi” and “Rakuda” starring the legendary kabuki actor Nakamura Kanzaburo will be screened at Iconsiam as part of an evening of classical Japanese drama.

With gorgeous costumes, stunning makeup, and powerful dramas, kabuki is appreciated as the ultimate theatrical artform in Japan. Live productions are now being filmed with the highest resolution cameras for screening in cinemas on state-of-the-art 4K digital projection systems with 6-channel surround sound.

The kabuki evening begins at 7pm with a live performance on the koto, a traditional Japanese string instrument. The double bill of “Renjishi” and “Rakuda” will be screened from 7.30pm.

Entry is free via registration at https://bit.ly/3a0Uj0D but tickets must be collected at Icon Cineconic from 6pm-6.50pm on the day of the performance.

The event takes place at Icon Cineconic on the 6th floor of Iconsiam on Wednesday, December 23.

Light up your home with these illuminating tips #SootinClaimon.Com

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Light up your home with these illuminating tips (nationthailand.com)

Light up your home with these illuminating tips

Arts & CultureDec 07. 2020Colter Zimmer, 13, puts up Christmas lights with his mom, Julie Zimmer, at their home in Crofton, Md., on Nov. 22. MUST CREDIT: Photo for The Washington Post by Evelyn HocksteinColter Zimmer, 13, puts up Christmas lights with his mom, Julie Zimmer, at their home in Crofton, Md., on Nov. 22. MUST CREDIT: Photo for The Washington Post by Evelyn Hockstein 

By Special To The Washington Post · Laura Daily · FEATURES, HOMEGARDEN 

What’s Christmas without holiday lights? For starters . . . no worries that a hot bulb will melt your favorite plastic Snoopy ornament, or fears that adding one more string of lights will plunge your den into darkness. And maybe your heart won’t skip a beat when you receive your December utility bill.

Yes, they have a reputation for being a hassle. But holiday lights have changed. Thanks to LED technology, the nightmares of Christmases past have largely been resolved. Even Clark Griswold would approve of the more reliable, energy-efficient options available these days. 

As a consumer expert, I know how to find a great deal, but I haven’t untangled a string of lights in years – since I moved to the city from a larger home in the mountains. So I asked several experts for their advice on light features, safety, storage and more. Here are our illuminating tips.

– Make a plan. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. Mike and Jenn Onstott, whose spectacularly lit Commerce City, Colo., home attracts thousands of spectators annually, suggest asking yourself: Do I want lights everywhere or in a few select spots? A classic look or more modern? Showy or subdued? Take some measurements. Remember: A 10-foot rail may need 16 feet of lights if you plan to wrap it tightly so the lights are close together. Choose a theme or color scheme.

Frank Skinner, director of marketing for online retailer Christmas Lights, Etc, says: “If you know you like Christmas and will be decorating for years to come, build up a collection. Initially, you might buy clear lights and then add colors in subsequent years. You aren’t locked in, because you can mix and match and rearrange strings.” 

– Choose your bulb. With their soft, warm glow, traditional incandescent lights evoke cozy memories for many. But the more vibrant LEDs have come a long way. LEDs use far less electricity, stay cool to the touch, last longer and come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, lens styles, colors and finishes. 

Over the past six years, the Onstotts have converted 90% of their 27,000 lights to LED, mostly to save on electricity, reserving the remaining incandescent lights for special displays. 

Whether you opt for incandescent or LED, experts agree it’s best not to mix the two in one display. Not only will the lights visually clash, but you may also experience power issues.

– Decide how much you want to spend. Would you rather save money now or over time? A box of 50 mini-incandescent lights can cost as little as $3 in a big-box store, whereas a 50-count string of LED lights may start at $10. Outdoor-specific or commercial-grade lights will cost more. Although incandescent lights are less expensive, they use significantly more electricity and typically last one to three seasons. Though pricier, LED lights are energy-efficient, allowing you to plug more lights in to one outlet. And although most LED light manufacturers say they will last up to five seasons, Skinner says test sets lit 24/7 at his company offices are still burning bright after seven years. 

– Buy with confidence. Take note if lights are rated “indoor” or “indoor/outdoor.” The latter are usually more durable. Depending on your local climate, you may want to buy commercial-grade lights that hold up to extreme heat or cold. If you are especially picky, check a sample light string if the lights are on display in the store. Major brands, such as Wintergreen or Kringle Traditions, that supply detailed specifications (such as wire style, color or plug) to manufacturers will stamp their name on the tube near the plug. That’s a clue that the product is of a higher quality.

– Try outside-the-box tricks. Substitute icicle lights (normally used outside) for traditional strings if you want a well-lit indoor tree, suggests Albie Mushaney, host of the HGTV holiday special “You’ll be Home for Christmas.” Instead of wrapping your tree 20 times, you may only need two strands and three to four wraps to achieve the same amount of coverage and light.

Jenn Onstott says to look for lights with faceted bulbs and add reflective ornaments to your tree, so you don’t need as many lights. If you have children or pets, consider erecting and decorating some sort of barricade around your lit tree. Incandescent lights do get hot to the touch, and pets that chew may find light strings tempting. The Onstotts use a baby gate. Mushaney, who has two Great Danes, built a small picket fence.

– Know your power. I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: The biggest difference between LED and incandescent lights is the amount of electricity used. For example, Mike Onstott redid a reindeer display at his home. The original, with 300 incandescent lights, used 122 watts; the new version, with 360 LED lights, uses three watts. “When you’re not pulling as much power, you can put up more lights without short-circuiting your home,” Jenn Onstott says. You need to determine not only what outlets are available, but also what else in your home – lamps, electronics, appliances – is being powered by that circuit. A kilowatt meter ($20 to $30) easily monitors an outlet’s power usage, so you don’t overload it and trip the breaker. 

– Minimize hazards. Remember: Water and electricity do not mix. For outdoor displays, buy lights with a “sealed connection.” That means the base of each bulb has an acrylic seal to permanently affix it to the wire, keeping moisture out. To avoid standing water (or snow), Mike Onstott recommends using stakes to keep plugs above the ground. He also wraps any electrical connections in plastic bags secured by a rubber band.

And Skinner says you shouldn’t use a staple gun to hang lights. “You risk nicking or ripping off the wire coating, causing a potential electrical short.” Instead, use inexpensive clips to attach lights to your roof or gutters. As a timesaver, in lieu of clips, Mushaney rims his house and windows with small screw-in hooks and leaves them up year-round. 

– Take the easy route. Sure, you could invest the time, money and effort in hand-wrapping lights around the trunks of outdoor trees or artfully decorating bushes, but you don’t have to. Manufacturers have developed reasonably priced trunk-wrap lights (essentially lights woven into netting with loop clasps) that expand and stretch around a tree trunk. Net lights can be easily draped over bushes and hedges. So he doesn’t have to run out nightly, Mushaney uses a solar switch on a timer. At sunset, his outdoor lights automatically turn on, then turn off a few hours later.

– Store lights properly. Everyone has their own preferred method for keeping their lights organized when they aren’t in use. Skinner says to simply wrap lights in a circular pattern or roll them into a ball. Then store them in a box. The Onstotts suggest looping them, but instead of using the “palm and elbow” technique commonly used to store extension cords, start by dangling the strand and make decent-size loops, as if you were spooling a cord onto a vacuum cleaner without a hook at the bottom. Use Velcro or zip ties to keep cords together. Sort lights into plastic bins, and label either by location or specific tree. Mushaney hangs outdoor lights over chairs to dry, then puts lights in plastic grocery bags – one strand per bag – with the plug hanging out. Bags go into storage tubs labeled “inside” or “outside.”

– Take advantage of post-Christmas sales. Although retailers run sales in November and December, to get the best deals, shop right after Christmas. You can often find lights and other decorations discounted by as much as 75 percent to 90 percent. Mushaney says he sets the following year’s theme based on what he scores at a discount.

– Look into recycling options. Christmas lights are made from copper, glass and plastic – valuable materials that can actually be recycled and reclaimed. Contact your city’s municipal solid waste office. Many will recycle the lights if you bring them in. They may even run collection days for old lights or point you to a drop-off spot. If you live in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia or the District, you can drop off your lights at any Mom’s Organic Market.

– Get online help. You’ll find all sorts of guides for holiday lighting on topics including artfully wrapping tree trunks, safely hanging lights on gutters or calculating wattage. Christmas Lights, Etc has a collection of lighting and decorating resources on its website, christmaslightsetc.com. Serious decorators should check out the Planet Christmas Forum (planetchristmas.com) or search for fellow holiday light enthusiasts in Facebook groups.

– Make memories. No matter the design, Christmas lights brighten the holidays, and they may spread joy far beyond your front yard. “I grew up poor, and my family had to find ways to entertain us kids, so we drove around looking at holiday lights on houses,” Mushaney says. “That created wonderful memories I’ll always remember. Now, maybe my house will be one that families drive by and build memories, too.” 

When a Baltimore museum tried to raise money by selling three pricey artworks, it backfired stupendously #SootinClaimon.Com

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When a Baltimore museum tried to raise money by selling three pricey artworks, it backfired stupendously (nationthailand.com)

When a Baltimore museum tried to raise money by selling three pricey artworks, it backfired stupendously

Arts & CultureDec 06. 2020“The Last Supper” (1986) by Andy Warhol, a work in the collection of the Baltimore Museum of Art that was slated to be deaccessioned. MUST CREDIT: Baltimore Museum of Art 

By The Washington Post · Sebastian Smee, Peggy McGlone · ENTERTAINMENT, MUSEUMS 

In early October, Baltimore Museum of Art director Christopher Bedford announced a bold plan to raise $65 million for diversity and equity efforts by selling three paintings – including a gigantic Andy Warhol take on Leonardo’s “The Last Supper” – from the museum’s collection.

Framed as a response to the summer-long Black Lives Matter protests, Bedford’s idea was approved by the museum’s board of trustees. Sotheby’s was tapped to handle a private sale of the Warhol and to auction works by Brice Marden (“3”) and Clyfford Still (“1957-G”) on Oct. 28.

But the masterpieces didn’t make it to the auction block. With hours to spare, the BMA rescinded the entire plan, capitulating to a firestorm of criticism that had sparked internal board squabbles and resignations and the withdrawal of tens of millions of dollars in promised gifts and art work. The dramatic turnaround sent shock waves through the field and highlighted the fraught nature of “deaccessions,” the term for selling works from a museum collection.

The still-reverberating controversy didn’t just leave Bedford licking his wounds and the BMA with a crisis of governance. It has left American museums in the dark about how to interpret the rules around selling art from their collections – an increasingly tempting option in an era that combines acute budget shortfalls with a booming art market.

All around the country, museums reeling from dried-up revenue streams are considering their options. Publicly held paintings by Jackson Pollock, Claude Monet, Gustave Courbet and Lucas Cranach the Elder have been sold into private ownership in recent months. The number of museums attempting deaccessions in coming months is likely to double, according to Nina del Rio, who handles museum relations for Sotheby’s.

Deacessioning is common practice in art museums, which may need to prune their collections for any number of reasons, including to get rid of duplicates, damaged works or works that simply don’t fit with the rest of the collection.

Guidelines put in place by the Association of Art Museum Directors stated that the funds raised by selling a work should be used only for acquiring new art. The policy was intended to prevent museums – which are nonprofit organizations with favorable tax status – from treating their collections as assets to be monetized. Museums that failed to abide by this policy were reprimanded, shamed and ostracized.

But the AAMD decided to loosen these restrictions in April, just as the pandemic was surging. Recognizing the financial crisis ahead, the membership organization tweaked its deaccessioning policy to allow museums some flexibility for up to two years in the way they use the funds from these sales.

The newly loosened guidelines granted museums more leeway. But how much leeway?

Bedford knew his proposal could get him in trouble. A well-dressed, smooth-talking Englishman in his early 40s, he has led the BMA since 2016. In 2018, he successfully sold seven works from the collection – including another Warhol, a Robert Rauschenberg and a Franz Kline – and used the $16.2 million from the sales to buy works by women and Black artists.

This second sale was supposed to fund a plan for racial equity that went beyond diversifying the collection. Over the summer, art world activists around the country had accused the (mostly white and male) leaders of America’s art museums of exploiting their lower-paid and more diverse staff. Bedford wanted the BMA – the premier art museum in a city that is 65 percent Black – to be seen as a leader in these issues of improving staff equity and community-building, which were separate from the goal of diversifying the collection. And he wanted the whole museum field to take notice.

He was also testing the limits of the AAMD’s new guidelines, which were intended to be a lifeline for financially fragile museums trying to survive pandemic-related closures and the economy’s downturn.

Bedford had made it clear that the BMA is not in financial distress, but he still believed he could take advantage of the revised guidelines, and his belief appeared confirmed when he shrewdly lined up AAMD executive director Christine Anagnos’s support before going public. (Bedford and Anagnos declined to be interviewed.)

Yet if Bedford thought this support would inoculate him from criticism, he was wrong. 

“If you start monetizing the value of the art on the walls, it raises a whole host of problems and leads to a slippery slope,” Laurence Eisenstein, a leading critic, said. “Next time the state or city are thinking about giving money to the museum, it leads to people asking questions like ‘Why don’t you sell some works?'”

The opposition to Bedford’s plan started with a small group of Baltimore art lovers who focused their objections on the choice of works. On the day of the announcement, retired BMA curator Brenda Richardson, who had acquired Warhol’s “The Last Supper” for the museum, told The Washington Post that she was “horrified” by the move to sell it.

Kristen Hileman, another former curator who had helped shape and then defend the 2018 deaccessions, also criticized the new plan. The Warhol anchored the museum’s generous holdings by that artist, she argued, and the paintings by Still and Marden were the only ones by those artists in the collection. Furthermore, as she pointed out, Marden is still alive. Selling works by living artists is widely considered bad museum practice because it signals to the market a lack of faith in the artists that can adversely affect their careers. 

Several prominent art critics also weighed in, including the Los Angeles Times’s Christopher Knight, who excoriated Bedford, implying his motives were cynical. The “sleaze,” he wrote, was “almost too hard to wrap your head around.” And, breaking with convention, Arnold Lehman, BMA director for 18 years until 1997, called the plan “a devastating mistake for (the museum’s) present and its future.”

The value and significance of the works made the proposed sale egregious, Lehman said. “Something that you deaccession that’s worth $100,000, people don’t look. When something is $20 million they start looking,” he said in an interview with The Post after the sale was blocked. Bedford’s plan, he said, “took the deaccession issue and pushed it to an extreme. If you listen to the Constitution it says you can have and bear arms. They are talking about muskets, not AK-47s. This is above and beyond.”

Eisenstein, a lawyer and former BMA trustee, articulated the breadth of the criticisms in an Oct. 12 letter to Maryland government officials that asked them to halt the sale. The letter, charging the museum with “irregularities and potential conflicts of interest in the sales,” was signed by almost 200 community members, including five former board chairs, former board members, donors and docents.

For three weeks after the Baltimore plan was announced, the museum maintained a united front in public. Behind the scenes, however, a frantic game of telephone was unfolding as critics reached out to their networks and urged leaders in the field to keep the pressure on. Less than a week before the auction, that unity began to crumble. The outside criticism turned to internal squabbling and then outright mutiny.

On Oct. 22, artist Adam Pendleton, whom Bedford had invited onto the board, quietly resigned his position. The next afternoon, Amy Sherald – who shot to international prominence after her portrait of Michelle Obama was unveiled at the National Portrait Gallery in 2018 – followed suit. Neither artist offered an explanation, but both seemed to be done with a controversy they hadn’t invited. 

Former trustee John Waters, the artist and film director who was about to give the bulk of his personal collection to the museum, privately shared his opposition to the sale, although he went ahead with his bequest. Caplan, a former board chair and an art collector, revoked her promise to donate a significant part of her collection.

The inner turmoil went public when former chairman Charles Newhall III publicly confirmed that he and former chairman Stiles Colwill had rescinded $50 million in promised gifts in protest. (Newhall’s public identification of Colwill was a surprise to his former fundraising co-chair, who had thought his $20 million promised gift would remain anonymous.)

Trouble was also brewing on another front. A powerful group of current and former museum directors was calling and exchanging emails, sharing misgivings about the AAMD’s new guidelines, which they viewed as setting a dangerous precedent. Like a panel of soccer referees disputing a new interpretation of “handball,” they discussed whether Anagnos had erred – had, in effect, gone rogue – when she voiced her support for the BMA plan.

They were surprised that Bedford was trying to exploit the loosened restrictions designed to help cash-strapped museums. If the sale went ahead, they feared, the whole philanthropic model sustaining America’s great art museums could collapse. If you could raise $65 million simply by selling three paintings, how could you ever ask anyone for a donation again?

“I don’t think most directors rush to deaccession works of considerable importance,” said Maxwell Anderson, a past president of AAMD and former director of museums in New York, Indianapolis and Dallas. “I am of a sense, as most of my colleagues are, that fundraising is how you go about these issues. It’s not by the monetization of the collection.”

Anderson and his colleagues were relieved when AAMD president Brent Benjamin wrote a letter to the organization’s members on Oct. 27. Intended as a private memo, the letter clarified the limited scope of the April rule changes, emphasizing their two-year window. (Bedford’s plan technically broke with this by proposing that the funds set up endowments in perpetuity.) While Benjamin did not name the BMA, his rejection of deaccessions intended to fund “long-term needs – or ambitious goals” was viewed by critics as a repudiation. He declined to be interviewed.

That same afternoon – the day before the auction – six BMA trustees, including Caplan, sought an emergency meeting of the board. Their emailed letter to board chairwoman Clair Zamoiski Segal, obtained by The Post, voiced concern that when voting to approve the sales, they “may not have had a full set of information regarding the importance and heritage of these works nor a full understanding of the process by which the sales by Sotheby’s were arranged. Moreover,” they wrote,”the refined guidance from the AAMD demands our immediate consideration.”

Bedford replied within hours, repeating that the AAMD had confirmed that “the BMA’s plans are in compliance” but agreeing to a meeting the next day. An hour later, the museum issued a statement that emphasized the AAMD had not retracted its original support and that the sale would proceed.

“What’s it going to take?” Colwill said heremembered thinking that night, when the BMA again refused to relent.

The next morning, Lehman called his colleague, Anderson, to commiserate over what seemed to be the inevitable loss of the three paintings. The conversation prompted Anderson to ask, “Why don’t we get the old gang together, the past presidents who sat in that chair, to restate what didn’t seem controversial to us?” Using an AAMD email list, Andersoncut and pasted a 60-word letter signed by him and Lehman and addressed to the board chair, Segal, asking her to reconsider the sale.

He sent the draft letter to a dozen past presidents and within a few hours, everyone he wrote to responded and signed it.

“It was inspiring,” he said. “It just proves that most directors are deeply concerned about the hemorrhaging of professional standards.”

The letter hit Segal’s inbox minutes before the executive committee meeting. By the time the full board met later that afternoon – just hours before the auction would hammer its first sale – the board revoked the plan. The paintings would remain in Baltimore.

The larger issues around deaccessioning – the when, why and how it should be done going forward – remain unresolved. But there’s one thing the Baltimore episode made clear: even the most noble of causes, including paying the mostly minority guards a living wage and improving access for the community, can’t be funded by monetizing the collection.

“There was nothing that they wanted to do that wasn’t terrific, forward-thinking, informed. In a majority minority city, you have to look at your audience. You have to want that audience to feel good and welcome,” Lehman, the former director, said. “They own that building.”

But what they also own, it seems, are the paintings inside that building.

Iconsiam to light up New Year with epic firework extravaganza #SootinClaimon.Com

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Iconsiam to light up New Year with epic firework extravaganza

Arts & CultureNov 17. 2020

By The Nation

Iconsiam will ring in the New Year on the banks of the Chao Phraya with “Amazing Thailand Countdown 2021” on December 31 at River Park.

The event will be hosted by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) as part of year-end celebrations taking place simultaneously in five other provinces – Krabi, Sukhothai, Roi Et, Ratchaburi and Phetchabun.

At Iconsiam, a parade of entertainment by top artists will culminate with a pyrotechnic extravaganza featuring over 20,000 fireworks. In an eco-friendly twist, the firework shells are made from sticky rice that will biodegrade when they land.

They will light up the sky along a 1,400-metre curve of the majestic Chao Phraya River and are expected to attract more than 3 million viewers within 5 kilometres of the venue.

Members of the public are invited to take their best shot (photo or video) of the display for the “Magic upon the River” contest, with prizes worth over BtB500,000 up for grabs.

Organisers say the pyrotechnic epic comprises seven acts under the theme “The Wonders of Happiness upon the River”, lighting light the way into the new year with hope, faith, prosperity and happiness for people all over the world.

Ever heard of a babysitter ghost? Every Thai child has one #SootinClaimon.Com

#SootinClaimon.Com : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation.

Ever heard of a babysitter ghost? Every Thai child has one

Arts & CultureOct 30. 2020

By The Nation

All Hallows’ Eve or All Saints’ Day was an ancient pagan holiday held to ward off evil spirits, but is now marked as Halloween – the day when people dress up in fantastical costumes and children go “trick or treat” to collect sweets.

In Thailand, however, ghosts have traditionally been part of daily life and have been given many forms. For instance, there’s Mae Sue, or the babysitter ghost that “purchases” newborns to protect them from evil spirits.

Kongkaew Weeraprajak, an expert in ancient languages at Department of Fine Arts under the Culture Ministry, said Mae Sue was created at a time when childbirth was unsafe. Many babies died in delivery or were stillborn, and their deaths were blamed on evil spirits that had allegedly stolen their souls.

Mothers traditionally tricked these evil spirits by giving their child an ugly name and “selling” it to Mae Sue to prove that even the mother doesn’t love the baby enough. The Mae Sue guardian spirit then watched over the baby for the first year of its life.

Pathom Jinda, a scripture on traditional Thai medicine, says: “If the baby’s placenta is buried in Mae Sue’s home, it will make Mae Sue love, care, protect and play with the baby. However, if the mother does not do this, the Mae Sue will haunt the baby, making it cry and bringing it illness.”

The scripture gave each day of the week a different babysitter ghost with a different name. For instance, the babysitter for children born on Sundays is called Vichit Nawan, has the head of a lion and lives on an anthill. A Monday-born is watched over by Wanna Nongkran with a horse’s head, who lives in a well, while a Tuesday-born’s babysitter is called Nangyak Burisuthi, who has a buffalo head and lives in a shrine.

Vichit Nawan/ Wanna Nongkran/ Nangyak Borisuthi

Vichit Nawan/ Wanna Nongkran/ Nangyak Borisuthi

Wednesday-borns are watched over by Samsamomlatat, an elephant-headed guardian angel that lives on a Bodhi tree. Thursday-born children are protected by Galo Thuk, a deer-headed angel that lives in a pond, while Friday-borns are looked after by Nang Yai Nongyao with a cow’s head who lives on a banyan tree.

Saturday children are watched over by Ekkalai with the head of a tiger who lives in a spirit house.

Samsamomlatat/ Galo Thuk/ Nang Yai Nongyao/ Ekkalai

Samsamomlatat/ Galo Thuk/ Nang Yai Nongyao/ Ekkalai

Though these beliefs have no scientific basis, they are still observed by many mothers. In fact, mothers still believe that when a baby burbles and chatters, it is actually talking to its babysitter ghost.

Chinese artwork sells for record price of $77m #SootinClaimon.Com

#SootinClaimon.Com : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation.

Chinese artwork sells for record price of $77m

Arts & CultureOct 26. 2020Part of Ming Dynasty painter Wu Bin's long scroll entitled Ten Views of a Fantastic Rock. [Photo Credit: China Daily]Part of Ming Dynasty painter Wu Bin’s long scroll entitled Ten Views of a Fantastic Rock. [Photo Credit: China Daily] 

By China Daily

The Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) painter Wu Bin’s long scroll Ten Views of a Fantastic Rock was sold for 512.9 million yuan ($76.6 million) at the 15th Anniversary Celebration of Beijing Poly Auction on Sunday, marking the highest auction price for ancient Chinese artworks.

Ancient Chinese calligraphy works and paintings were fetched a total price of 1.08 billion yuan during the day’s auction events.

Part of Ming Dynasty painter Wu Bin's long scroll entitled Ten Views of a Fantastic Rock.[Photo provided to China Daily]

Part of Ming Dynasty painter Wu Bin’s long scroll entitled Ten Views of a Fantastic Rock.[Photo provided to China Daily]

Part of Ming Dynasty painter Wu Bin's long scroll entitled Ten Views of a Fantastic Rock.[Photo provided to China Daily]

Part of Ming Dynasty painter Wu Bin’s long scroll entitled Ten Views of a Fantastic Rock.[Photo provided to China Daily]

Part of Ming Dynasty painter Wu Bin's long scroll entitled Ten Views of a Fantastic Rock.[Photo provided to China Daily]

Part of Ming Dynasty painter Wu Bin’s long scroll entitled Ten Views of a Fantastic Rock.[Photo provided to China Daily]Part of Ming Dynasty painter Wu Bin's long scroll entitled Ten Views of a Fantastic Rock.[Photo provided to China Daily]Part of Ming Dynasty painter Wu Bin’s long scroll entitled Ten Views of a Fantastic Rock.[Photo provided to China Daily]Ming Dynasty painter Wu Bin's long scroll entitled Ten Views of a Fantastic Rock.[Photo provided to China Daily]Ming Dynasty painter Wu Bin’s long scroll entitled Ten Views of a Fantastic Rock.[Photo provided to China Daily]

Escaping the bad news cycle #SootinClaimon.Com

#SootinClaimon.Com : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation.

Escaping the bad news cycle

Arts & CultureOct 11. 2020

By The Washington Post · Elahe Izadi · FEATURES, MEDIA 
Henry David Thoreau used to make fun of people like us. 

“Hardly a man takes a half hour’s nap after dinner,” the poet snarked in 1854, “but when he wakes he holds up his head and asks, ‘What’s the news?’ as if the rest of mankind had stood his sentinels.”

No disrespect to the bard of Walden Pond, but he didn’t have to live through 1 a.m. tweets from the president of the United States announcing he caught a deadly virus during a global pandemic.

“I wake up several times a night in a panic and grab my phone to see the latest,” says Kay Bolden of Shorewood, Ill. “If I accidentally leave my phone inside while I walk the dog or water the garden, I’m a nervous wreck until I can check the news again.”

Turn on CNN or Fox News, and there’s a helicopter taking President Donald Trump to the hospital. Refresh Twitter, and nearly all of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are in quarantine. Check your news apps and see another firestorm in the West, another hurricane in the East, another unarmed Black man shot by police, another update to our national coronavirus death toll.

Sleep? At a time like this? No way. So we stay up late, doomscrolling on our phones until our eyes dry out. During the day, we let television sets roar while we juggle jobs (if we are lucky enough to have them), children, dishes. We want to shut the news off, but we can’t get enough.

“This is no way to live,” Bolden admits. “But how can I relax? The country is going crazy.”

Our news media ecosystem has been building to meet this crazy moment. Forty years ago saw the birth of cable news with CNN, the conceit of which was basically “let’s train our cameras on what’s happening and let it unfold, so that the viewer never wants to turn it off,” says Lisa Napoli, author of “Up All Night: Ted Turner, CNN, and the Birth of 24-hour News.”

Even if he couldn’t have envisioned an event quite like this, CNN’s first president, Reese Schonfeld, certainly prepared for it when building the network, Napoli adds. He “imagined unfolding news captivating viewers like a live drama.”

Welp, talk about a live drama. The problem, now, of course, is that there’s no end in sight. We’re in the middle of a presidential election, a sudden Supreme Court vacancy, the aforementioned global pandemic, natural disasters and the biggest social protest movement in decades. And each new development is more unbelievable than the last.

“It’s like a plot keeps churning, twist after twist, and they just keep the character arc going up and up and up, and you’re just waiting for that last third of the book where the protagonist gets their revenge or it comes to a nice happily-ever-after – and it just doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen,” says Elisa Nader of Ashburn, Va. She tries to tune it out with “The Great British Baking Show” at night, and walks outside during the day. “But I get back on my phone because it’s like, you’re afraid to miss something, even if it doesn’t matter if I miss something.”

In Dallas, English professor Karen Roggenkamp has a pile of papers to grade, children to help with distance learning and a house that “currently resembles a dilapidated pigsty. 

“Yet every time I put my phone down or turn off the radio,” she says, “I feel a crush of not knowing if I am missing any news updates or some important new ‘angle’ on a story I’m following.” 

News consumption jumped dramatically at the start of the pandemic in March, when several news outlets reported spikes in web traffic. Digital readership has since leveled off some, but for many sites, it’s still higher than pre-pandemic times. Over the summer, cable outlets like Fox News and the evening newscasts of the three big networks attracted some of the biggest audiences they’ve had in years. 

But the news cycle has gotten out of hand since last week, and many of us have the horrifying screen time reports to show for it.

Tracy Dingmann and her boyfriend had planned a getaway to northern New Mexico last weekend – “peaceful, non-connected, disconnected type of vacation.” But “the whole time we were just glued to MSNBC – which, unfortunately, I get through satellite radio in my car,” she says. As long as they could get reception on their phones, they frantically checked Twitter for updates and launched into “long, intense discussions” about the news, she says.

Is all of this news healthy for us as thinking and feeling humans? Let’s consult an expert. 

“The clear message of research from the last 20 years is that there is no psychological benefit to repeated exposure to bad news,” says Roxane Cohen Silver, a professor of psychological science, medicine and public health at the University of California at Irvine. 

So why do we torture ourselves like this? Silver conducted a study of more than 4,000 people during an especially intense period of news – from the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013 through the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando – and found that trauma-related media exposure fuels a cycle that just creates more and more distress.

“One of the ways people respond to their anxieties about a particular crisis is to monitor the media about that crisis,” she says. “But that serves to amplify the distress, which leads to increased concerns, which leads to media consumption.”

It’s like being scared of spiders and then constantly scanning every room you enter for spiders and WebMDing “spider bites side effects.” Or freaking out about the state of our democracy and studying the 25th amendment at 3 a.m. 

It’s a cycle that’s very difficult from which to extricate yourself.

“I’m not in any way advocating people put their head in the sand or censorship,” Silver says. “I’m just saying, make news consumption a more conscious decision.”

Some have taken some drastic measures to manage this situation: news fasts, deleting apps, putting phones on “airplane mode.” 

“I have thought about getting a flip phone,” confesses Shazat Shawan of Brooklyn, who, it should be noted here, is 23. “Maybe that will stop the constant barrage of information getting thrown my way.”

Karen Ho, a finance and economics reporter for Quartz, has become the “Doomscrolling Reminder Lady” on Twitter, where she tweets tips on how to unwind and reminds her followers every night that it’s OK to put their phones down and go to bed.

“Most of the stuff on Twitter is not worth looking at right before going to bed. It’s bad for anxiety and depression, and I remind people they’re worth doing things that make them happy,” Ho says. “It can feel like a small act of agency when that’s been taken away.”

Ho gets it. Many any of our normal distractions are now gone. The pandemic has eliminated concerts, movie theater nights, parties. Whereas past news cycles ebbed and flowed over time, the kinds of crises that once came every few months now hit us every day, which also adds to the distress, Silver says. All while our fellow citizens navigate job losses or heavy workloads, children home from school or the care of sick loved ones.

Bolden, the Illinois woman who can’t walk her dog without looking at her phone, says she’s worried about the election, her health care access and being Black in America. Watching the news feels like ascending a gigantic roller coaster that’s so long “you can’t see the top. You can’t see where it’s going.”

“You just know,” she says, “that going down is going to be rough.”

Much of America has stopped celebrating Columbus Day, but the explorer remains revered in Italy #SootinClaimon.Com

#SootinClaimon.Com : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation.

Much of America has stopped celebrating Columbus Day, but the explorer remains revered in Italy

Arts & CultureOct 11. 2020A statue of Christopher Columbus is dumped into a lake in Richmond, Va. MUST CREDIT: Washington Post photo by John McDonnellA statue of Christopher Columbus is dumped into a lake in Richmond, Va. MUST CREDIT: Washington Post photo by John McDonnell 

By The Washington Post · Stefano Pitrelli · WORLD, THE-AMERICAS, EUROPE 
ROME – While many Christopher Columbus statues were toppled this year in the United States – dragged into Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, beheaded in Boston – the towering marble monument to the explorer in his hometown, Genoa, Italy, is disturbed only by pigeons.

As Americans feud over whether Columbus Day should remain a federal holiday – or whether the man who first charted the transatlantic route in 1492 should be remembered as a colonial oppressor – in Italy, Columbus is still held in high esteem. Italians tend to think of him as the sum of their best qualities: ingenuity, courage and resilience.

“Columbus represents genocide,” protesters had written in Richmond, Va., after throwing a Columbus statue into a lake. In Italy, that’s just not the case.

The disconnect may have to do with a lack of knowledge among Italians about the more objectionable aspects of Columbus’s life and legacy. But scholars say there’s also a national defensiveness that has gotten in the way of further understanding.

Italians hear little that is critical of Columbus in school. A 2019 high school textbook, “History and Forgotten Stories,” says only: “Columbus exhibited unquestionable skills as a navigator, but wasn’t able to govern the new territories. Thus began the decline of his mythos and of his authority.”

Giuseppe Marcocci, professor in Iberian history at the University of Oxford, said: “Italian school textbooks still present a clear divide between Columbus the discoverer and the subsequent arrival of Cortez the (Spanish) conqueror. In reality, the two processes are intimately intertwined.”

Europe’s former colonial powers have increasingly begun to reckon with the brutality of that historical period. Indeed, when the United States’ Black Lives Matter protests spread to European cities, the chants were about both modern-day discrimination and colonial legacies. But Columbus – who sailed for Spain and served as governor of Hispaniola – has so far largely escaped a reassessment in Italy.

“Some vague awareness of his colonist brutality has only in the last few years made it into classrooms,” said Marina Nezi, a newly retired high school history teacher in Rome. “But (Italy has) a very long history, and school years are often not enough to tell the whole of it.”

The idealized version of Columbus is crystallized in Italy’s most famous encyclopedia, which defines him as a “great navigator, discoverer of America.” When older Italians think of Columbus, they may visualize Gabriel Byrne’s solemn, silver-haired portrayal in a mid-’80s Italian American TV production.

To be sure, the United States held an almost universally romantic view of Columbus until sometime after the celebration of his voyage’s 500th anniversary, when people started looking into the unsavory parts of his past.

“In 1992 America, (Columbus’s reputation) was still immaculate. Thirty years later, it’s a whole other era. The current Italian attitude is still stuck at that time,” said Giulio Busi, author of “Christopher Columbus, the Sailor of Secrets.”

Busi suggested that Italians have resisted their own reassessment, because they’ve taken U.S. criticism of Columbus personally.

“There’s a firewall of Italianness that has prevented the critique from breaking through and garnering a meaningful following,” Busi said. Toppling his statues “feels like an attack on our nationality.”

This summer, a national newspaper launched a campaign to collect signatures: #HandsOffColumbus. Facebook groups were formed.

“More than 500 years after his death (Columbus) has to suffer new insults,” Francesco Giubilei and Marco Valle wrote in the conservative newspaper Il Giornale in July. “Thinking that by destroying his statues and eradicating his memory one may solve (U.S. society’s racial tensions) is hypocritical and wrong.”

Andrea Castanini, deputy editor of Genoa’s Il Secolo XIX daily, said his newspaper has published several pieces about the attacks on Columbus statues in the United States, with Italians voicing their dissent. “He’s a local hero, and residents were defending him, for what that’s worth. They are very proud of him,” Castanini said.

Men like Columbus, wrote Gabriella Airaldi in one such appeal, “have contributed to building our identity. By destroying (them) you ultimately harm yourself.”

Italian right-wing politicians, too, have been calling out for the safeguard of the national hero’s monuments in the United States.

Responding to the removal of a statue in Columbus, Ohio – a onetime gift from Genoa – Giorgia Meloni, leader of the Brothers of Italy party, called the sailor “a great Italian” and proposed: “Let’s get it back and display it in one of our beautiful squares … lest it lies abandoned in some warehouse.”

“Against Columbus, like ISIS. Shame on you,” Matteo Salvini, leader of the far-right League party, wrote on Facebook, comparing Black Lives Matter protesters to “Islamic terrorists.”

Columbus has played a role in identity formation on both sides of the Atlantic.

In the United States, the idea of Columbus Day was promoted by Italian immigrants trying to project a sense of belonging in the face of sometimes violent xenophobia.

“Columbus becomes this figure that Italians latch on to as a way to get a foothold in this incredibly hostile environment that they find themselves in,” Joseph Sciorra, of Queens College’s Italian American Institute, told NPR.

In Italy, the mythology of Columbus was used to help hold a young nation together. It was politics, not science, that turned a man who lived in a time when Italy didn’t even exist, and would only ever write in Spanish, into a lasting symbol of national pride.

The stark white monument in front of Genoa’s railway station was dedicated in 1862, just one year after Italian unity was attained. It speaks the language of patriotic propaganda. The explorer leans on an anchor with an Indigenous woman sitting meekly at his right. The inscription reads, “To Christopher Columbus, the Fatherland.”

The barely formed Italian state required Romantic heroes, and Columbus fit that bill because of what his real accomplishments had been.

“After him, the ocean was no longer labeled ‘dark and mysterious’,” says Franco Farinelli, geographer at the University of Bologna.

“People already knew the world was spherical. But Columbus was the first to translate that into a map, finding the shortest route and actually risking (his life) to follow it. It’s a pillar of Western, performative thought. He invented the New World, but, of course, he did it for a conquest-oriented entrepreneurial operation.”

During his seven years as governor of Hispaniola, the island that is now divided between Haiti and Dominican Republic, Columbus is reported to have ruled with a ruthlessness that was unfortunately common for the time.

“Establishing the specific individual responsibilities of Columbus is tough,” Marcocci said, but within 25 years of his arrival, most of the native Taíno population had died from enslavement, massacre or disease.

More broadly, Columbus is blamed for opening the floodgates to European colonization – an indictment that some academics say is shaky at best.

Whatever the future of Columbus’s fame, “his is a story of a rise and fall,” Busi said. “If you look at it that way, toppled statues fit his mythos.”