Visual artists absent from the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities

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Twenty-five new appointees have joined the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. So it’s not exactly heartening to note that the distinguished roster includes no visual artists.

Or, perhaps, half a visual artist: Chicago’s Paula Hannaway Crown, a former banker at Salomon Bros. Inc., is now a principal of the investment firm Henry Crown and Co.; she is also, her official bio says, an artist. Her husband James was Barack Obama’s chief presidential campaign fund-raiser in Illinois.


Fourteen of the appointees are business people, educators, arts organization trustees (Crown is on the board of New York’s Museum of Modern Art), lawyers, politicians, etc. The remaining 10 are architects and performing artists, half of them actors.

According to its website, the committee works ‘directly with the three primary cultural agencies – National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) – to initiate and support key programs; to recognize excellence in the fields of arts and humanities; and to encourage private-public partnerships around those disciplines.’

The United States is a big country. Apparently, no full-time visual artists suitable to serve could be located.

-- Christopher Knight