Tagging and other art crimes

Tag, you’re a jerk.

Tag, you’re a jerk.

Art crime By now, Arts DEVO’s fellow arts lovers have probably heard the big art-world news: Some jerk has vandalized the beautiful Chico News & Review newspaper box that local artist Seamonster painted for us. The box—which sits in front of CN&R HQ—now features the words “rape culture” across the chest of the blue-lipped protector of our weekly expression of free speech.

I hate tagging. It’s usually just anonymous artless doodles or hastily scribbled words that mess up something that was way more interesting looking before the uninvited collaboration. Of course, by saying anything about this particular tag, I give this Sharpie-wielding activist way more exposure than he or she deserves, but in the interest of considering all forms of expression and then commenting, I’ve put it here for discussion.

My take? It’s a wrongheaded attempt at social comment that makes the simpleminded implication that merely showing female breasts is objectification (it should be noted that, the breasts in the painting are behind a thin tank top). I don’t believe that to be true, but I do think that being told to cover up painted breasts is pretty damn repressive.

Speaking of art Nazis In really important art news that you likely have heard, it was announced this week that a huge collection of fine-art paintings and prints stolen by Nazis during World War II has been found in Munich, Germany, according to a story first reported in the German magazine Focus. The apartment where the stash of nearly 1,400 works by the likes of Pablo Picasso, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and many others was uncovered was home to Cornelius Gurlitt, son of a Nazi-employed art broker named Hildebrand Gurlitt. The works, many of which had been assumed destroyed during the war, are estimated to be worth approximately $1.4 billion. Some of the pieces found were previously unknown paintings by Henri Matisse and Marc Chagall.

As incredible and infuriating as the story is, the most amazing thing might be the fact that the discovery is likely only “the tip of the iceberg,” according to Robert Edsel, author of The Monuments Men. Edsel’s book about the efforts of the Allies’ Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives program to protect European art from the Nazis during WWII has been made into a movie (directed by George Clooney, and starring Clooney, John Goodman, Bill Murray and Matt Damon) coming out in February. In an interview in the Los Angeles Times, Edsel said that “there are still hundreds of thousands of missing cultural objects” looted by Nazis. His hope is that the film will raise awareness of the lost treasures, and he is working with the filmmakers on a project that, as the story puts it, “will engage the public in helping to expedite the recovery of still-missing artworks.”


• Pageant Theatre reminder: The local art-house theater’s Go Digital or Go Dark crowdfunding campaign begins this week. Starting Friday, visit and follow the link to the Indiegogo page and a nifty video featuring a song about The Pageant by Jonathan Richman: “The obtuse and the strange/ It has the whole range.”

• Kage will set you free: The Kyle Gass Band is coming to Chico! One half of the cock-rocking comedy duo Tenacious D will be hitting The Maltese Bar & Tap Room stage with his band on Nov. 20, and locals the Pageant Dads will be opening. Presale has already begun and more than half the 100 tickets have sold in less than a week. Go to and reserve your spot while you can.