365 Days of Art: November 22 – Benton Writes About His Work; Bernstein Continues to Protest NEA

Poker Night (from A Streetcar Named Desire), Thomas Hart Benton, 1948
Poker Night (from A Streetcar Named Desire), Thomas Hart Benton, 1948

November 22, 1967

Thomas Hart Benton writes a letter to Matthew Baigell:

…The better part of our history, cultural history, certainly was the outcome of rural pressures on the centers of cultivation and policy-making. This lasted until the turn of the century and beyond (note effects of rural members in state legislatures). Of course this is no more so. It is just the reverse that now holds. The urban centers now provide the pressures. But our basic cultural ideas, our beliefs as to what constitutes the “American character,” our mythologies, had their origins in the earlier conditions. It was these I tried to represent.”

Handsome Bernstein, dressed in turtleneck and blazer, looking thoughtful.
Leonard Bernstein

November 22, 1989

Leonard Bernstein composes The NEA Forever March to continue his protest of the agency cutting funding for an AIDS exhibition in New York. Earlier in the month, Bernstein declines the National Medal of Arts, selected by the NEA and awarded by President Bush, for the same reason.

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