Roundup: Hong Kong protest art, Smithsonian redo, Hurricane Mama

Roundup: Hong Kong protest art, Smithsonian redo, Hurricane Mama
A statue of a wooden man holding an umbrella, the symbol of the pro-democracy "Umbrella Revolution," stands defiantly in front of the main Hong Kong government buildings in October. Protesters are now debating how to preserve some of this art. (Chris Stowers / MCT)

Trying to preserve Hong Kong's protest art, the Smithsonian's newly unveiled plan to gussy up its campus, the word of the year and how college museums are big and getting bigger. Plus: The incredible story behind the needlepoint created by a young African girl, an interview with Glenna Gordon about how she chronicles the missing, and an L.A. artist's geodesic dome now available for rent. It's all in the Roundup:

— Protesters in Hong Kong are trying to find ways to preserve the art created by the umbrella movement.


— The Smithsonian has laid out a plan for a $2-billion campus overhaul by the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG). It would reimagine the entire area around the building known as "The Castle," create new entrances and connect underground galleries. Let's see if it all goes through as planned. Changes to the National Mall are a touchy subject in design-conservative Washington, as Frank Gehry is well aware

— Speaking of the Smithsonian: The institution's Museum of African Art currently has a show of Bill Cosby's art collection as rape allegations swirl around the actor-comedian. Not the best timing...

— Plus, the rise of the campus museum: Institutions all over the country are opening fancy new joints to show art. This includes the new Anderson Collection at Stanford University, which The Times' Christopher Knight reviewed back in September.

— In other university museum news: As part of the reopening of the Harvard Art Museums, a trove of historic pigments, assembled by a pioneer conservationist, will also go on view. Sounds geeky-interesting.

— Critic Jen Graves of the Stranger has a must-read, beautifully reported story about a mysterious sampler of needlepoint from the 19th century, likely stitched by a "Liberated African" girl named Charlotte Turner. To be certain, "liberated," doesn't necessarily mean "free."

— 19th-century Western art that purportedly depicted Indian life wasn't always true to its subjects. In recognition of that, the Tacoma Art Museum has developed an interesting initiative for providing a modicum of context: including Indian voices in the wall text.

— Partnerships between the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art and various artists, including James Turrell, Laurie Anderson and Jenny Holzer, will bring long-term exhibitions to more than 90,000 square feet of empty gallery space.

— It is now possible to rent L.A. artist Fritz Haeg's dome house on AirBNB. (h/t @drewtewksbury)

— Critic Jerry Saltz rants about the PC police of the art world over at New York Magazine. I'll give him that the age of Twitter and anonymous commenting enables lots of knee-jerk judgment. That said, running a laundry list of art world situations that have angered people without getting into what might have caused the anger to begin with is pretty reductive in and of itself.

— In sort of related news: An article criticizing the Metropolitan Museum of Art for getting in on the Kim Kardashian butt meme cashes in on the Kardashian butt meme by showing said butt at top of the page. For the record, I thought the post was kinda funny, especially for the Met, which rarely displays any sort of institutional humor. Bring on the butts, I say, art history is full of 'em.

— Photographing the unphotographable: Novelist Teju Cole has an interesting Q&A with photojournalist Glenna Gordon about how she records missing and abducted persons through the objects they have left behind. See more images on Gordon's website.

Norway has redesigned its national passport and it is beautiful and elegant. Someone please do this for the U.S. because our eagles-on-every-page look is embarassing.

— Related: Japan now has stop lights in the shape of Astroboy. (Citylab)

— Oxford Dictionaries announces the word of the year for 2014 and it is very California: "vape."


— To celebrate its 10th anniversary at Frank Gehry's Disney Hall, the pipe organ colloquially known as "Hurricane Mama" will get a workout with special organ-focused programming. And it all starts tonight!


— Citylab is doing a series of reports on how some local governments are trying to solve homelessness. In the case of Fort Lauderdale and other cities, that'd be by making it a crime to feed homeless people. Does that get at the root of the problem? Not even close.

— On a lighter note, things that could be handy: Sun Ra's full lecture and reading list from his 1971 UC Berkeley course "The Black Man in the Cosmos."

— Speaking of cosmos, NASA has posted a library of free sounds that the public is free to use.

— And last, but not least, your moment of totally bananas Chinese pop music video.

Find me on the Twitters @cmonstah.