A Glass of Chianti

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

We all love Fort Worth

even... Matthew Yglesias?!
Can anyone seriously dispute that the vast majority of America's premiere institutions of education and high culture are located in the "blue" areas? That's not to say the South is some kind of total wasteland -- I visited the Fort Worth Modern Art Museum earlier this year and it's first-rate, albeit a bit small -- but on the whole this stuff is primarily in the Northeast and to a lesser extent on the Pacific coast.
This is part of a much bigger blogfest (see here for a good, but still long, summary of the debate thusfar) on the various points touched upon in this Jeffrey Hart article.

A couple of points:
1. Fort Worth, TX = pretty cool.

2. The city was founded a mere 156 years ago. Were the cultural institutions in the vast majority of cities 150 years after founding beter, worse or about the same as where Fort Worth is now? I think we're doing pretty well here.

3. The museum itself is fairly small, but (and there's no hyperbole here) if you take the museum's collection which focuses on postwar art and compare it to the MoMA's collection from the same period, no sane person could conclude that the New York institution has a better track record in acquisitions. (Caveat: I've not gone to MoMA. My only in-person contact with their collection is when they brought their traveling exhibition around the country while their building was being completed a few years ago. It made a stop in Houston. The contemporary galleries sucked. Unless they just left all the good stuff from the postwar period back home in New York, I stand on firm ground with that assessment.)

4. Admission price: $8 here; $20 there. (Does anyone else throw up when just thinking about a $20 admission fee?)*

5. Others can make the case whether or not the South and West has dumbed down the American conservative movement. (Honestly, I think that has probably happened. However, it's not because conservative Southerners and Westerners are dumber than their conservative Yankee counterparts, it's that they have a long populist history. That particular strain of modern Republicanism makes my teeth hurt, to be quite honest. Good heavens, though! Could you imagine what would have happened had the populist South not been integrated into the various conservative coalitions? I think all conservatives can agree we're better off that they did.) What I do feel equipped to addressed is why, even given the little art jewels like we have here in Fort Worth, high culture doesn't thrive here. (Hint to the high culture vanguard: it's not that Southerners are stupid.) Next post, though, next post.

*No, this doesn't relate to anything. Like the warm weather, it's just something that bothers me.