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February 2011



Billy Bragg. Which Side Are You On!

"Which Side Are You On?" is a song written by Florence Reece in 1931. She was the wife of a union organizer for the United Mine Workers in Harlan County, Kentucky. In 1931 the miners of that region were locked in a bitter and violent struggle with the mine owners. In an attempt to intimidate the Reece family, deputies hired by the mining company illegally entered and searched the Reece family home. Sam Reece had been warned in advance and escaped, but Florence and their children were terrorized in his place. That night, after the men had gone, Florence wrote the lyrics to "Which Side Are You On?" on a calendar that hung in the kitchen of her home. She took the melody from a traditional Baptist hymn, "Lay the Lily Low", or the traditional ballad "Jack Munro". Florence recorded the song and it can be heard on the CD Coal Mining Women.

Reece supported a second wave of miner strikes circa 1973, as recounted in the documentary Harlan County USA. She and others perform "Which Side Are You On?" a number of times throughout.

What's at stake in Wisconsin, and why: Grit TV

Feb 21, 2010, Wisconsin. Lauria Flanders of Grit TV  interviews Matt Rothchild and John Nichols. Watch this. There are three more interviews in Madison, with more to come here

“Unions realize that this is a threat to their very existence,” says Matt Rothschild, editor of The Progressive, of Scott Walker’s attempt to strip collective bargaining rights from public workers. And some of the usual suspects are behind Walker’s attack—from the Koch brothers to Republican ideologues. “These corporations want to get these people off the playing field,” says John Nichols, of The Nation.



NO MORE WAR national council for reduction of armaments 1922
NO MORE WAR poster from National Council For Reduction of Armaments 1922 source

Highlight from The New York Times February 6, 1922
"...It was stated that the council will likewise urge Congress to cut drastically the appropriations fo the army and navy and to take the manufacture of munitions out of private control. This latter, it was explained, would be 'in line with the recent report of the League of Nations condemning the private manufacture of munitions as a menace to peace' " 
Will urge
Meanwhile, it seems that the whole movement was started by women:

"It will be recalled that the movement had its birth in Europe two years ago, spread to ths country largely through the influence of women pacifists in Europe, and began to attraact attention here when demonstrations were arranged here for the Forth Of July."


Then the women, the men and the press started fighting over this:

"I affirm it is my intention never to aid in or sanction war, offensive or defensive, international or civil, in any way, whether by making or handling munitions, subscribing to war loans, using my labor for the purpose of setting others free for war service, helping by money or work any relief organization which suports or condones war."


Filed under The Department Of The More Things Change

quotations taken from:



ARTS AGAINST CUTS staged a fabulous agit- prop demonstration at Southeby's Contmporary Art Auction, February 15th

The Feb. 15th, auction at Sotheby's in London sold 44 pieces of art for whopping total of $71,051,252. (Cindy Sherman is the sole woman artist reported by Art Info) In the middle of the auction:

"Suddenly, in a concerted and well-choreographed action, a small group of smartly dressed youth who had infiltrated the salesroom set off a barrage of high-decibel cell-phone alarms and emitted exaggerated moans and groans. They threw faux £50 bank notes in the air — touching off a mild scramble for souvenirs in the room — and went about unfurling a large red banner with block white letters spelling out the words, "Orgy of the Rich." SOURCE

from the website Arts Against Cuts: 

Anti-Cuts Activists Disrupt Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Auction

LONDON – Over 100 anti-cuts activists disrupted Sotheby’s Contemporary Art auction in London this evening in protest against banker bonuses and funding cuts to public services and the arts. A dozen protestors inside the auction rooms staged a loud protest by mimicking sexual noises, fainting and setting off personal alarms in what they termed the “Orgy of the Rich”.

A corresponding protest outside featured performers staging a mock auction selling off public services such as education, libraries and the NHS.

“We are here to expose the orgy of the rich that the Sotheby’s auctions represent,” says one of the protestors inside the auction rooms. “The super rich, bankers and collectors who buy this art exist in an international bubble of their own and don’t seem at all affected by the so-called ‘austerity’ of the government. They commodify creativity and Sotheby’s helps them ferret away their goods by offering creative accounting services such as ‘obtaining conditional exemption’.

The Sotheby’s Contemporary Art auction features secondary market artworks expected to fetch upwards of £30million. Pieces from Gerhard Richter, Andy Warhol ad David Hockney were among the works on offer to the highest bidder. ‘Most of these works will end up in the hands of private collectors or used as tax havens, while vital public provisions such as Education and Health Care, get the shaft’ says a protestor.

‘This evening’s take of 30 million pounds would pay the annual salary of 1389 new teachers, 1765 qualified nurses or the budget of 150 libraries for a year.’

The organisers of the demonstration are from a broad coalition of artists, students, public servants and creative workers formed in 2010 in reaction to the coalition government’s announcement that the arts and educational institutions will have to produce more on a lot less.

In their words ‘We are fighting back against the most aggressive attacks on the public sector in living memory. We are in solidarity with the other sectors fighting against cuts and openly welcome co-ordinated creative action to oppose the selling off of our public services, the demise of the welfare state, the speculative valuation of art and the orgy of the rich.’


Susan B. Anthony, The Cause was too just

"The cause was too just a one for me to believe in anything but its final triumph. The first work was, of course, all propaganda. The idea of women was so new that we had to go up and down the land, and sow and harrow, and be harrowed. We had to create and educate a sentiment for our reform."

Susan B. Anthony
quoted in an interview by Emma Horn Smith in The Saint Paul Globe, May 01, 1904

Elsa Schiaparelli, Political Irony In Surrealist Fashion

"Elsa Schiaparelli was the first and arguably the most influential designer to explore irony in dress, collaborating frequently with fellow Surrealists Jean Cocteau, Salvador Dali, and Man Ray. Following the tenets of Surrealism such as the banishment of false rationality and restrictive customs and structures, she conflated tropes of music,deliberately presenting incongruity and discordance. Riffing off fine art history, she employed painterly trompe l’oeil to give the illusion a 1938 evening dress was inside-out and had tears in the fabric, revealing glimpses of the “right” side (meanwhile, the matching veil had three-dimensional “tear” flaps, further disorienting the viewer)" 

Tove  Hermanson ,  Political Irony In Surrealist Fashion, at the always fascinating blog  Worn Through, Apparel from an academic perspective


War Is Peace: Lockheed Martin's Dystopian Vision

George orwell 1984 signet edition cover adapted by Liza Cowan for NoLockheed Burlington vt

Adapted from  Signet Books cover for George Orwell's dystopian novel,1984

The idea of Lockheed Martin heading up Climate Initiatives makes about as much sense as wearing a plunging neckline while sporting a button that reads "Anti Sex League"

"War is Peace"

"Freedom Is Slavery"

"Ignorance Is Strength"

 Quotation source

And because this IS an art educational blog, you will be interested in the source of this image as well:
George orwell 1984 signet books 1951 art by Alan Harmon

George Orwell, 1984, Signet Books 1951. Cover art by Alan Harmon

Lockheed Martin wants what's best for you: If by "you" they mean "themselves"

Poster by Liza Cowan CowanDesign for NoLockheed

Do not listen to the poison that spills from the pens of the Public Relations department at Lockheed Martin. To earn your trust, they spend more per year than you make in a lifetime. 


Will you let them buy you?


I have a nice bridge I could sell you.



Les Ballets Russes - film footage found!

Les ballets russes Les Sylphides from V& A museum
The Ballets Russes on stage during their first visit to the Fêtes des Narcisses when they danced Les Sylphides and Aurora’s Wedding (which is shown in this photograph). source- V&A Museum

The film won't embed, but do click this link to British Pathe to see film.

This is the only known footage of the Ballets Russes, the most exciting dance company of the 20th Century. Impresario Serge Diaghilev was adamant that no films be made of his ballets. This is a rehearsal of Les Sylphides, 1928 at the Fetes des Narcisses at Montreux, Switzerland. Serge Lifar dancing the lead.


see also THIS blog from the V&A museum curator Jane Pritchard:


What we see is I believe the June 1928 Festival (the topiary arch indicates this is the Ballets Russes second visit to Montreux when they danced Les Sylphides, Cimarosiana and the Polovtsian dances from Prince Igor). I believe that Serge Lifar was dancing the lead role – sometimes referred to as the poet. No doubt the long wig worn confused the cataloguer to suggest ‘One female dancer (representing Narcissus?)’.


See also this   from the Ballets Russes exhibition website at the Victoria & Albert Museum

Real Vermont Maple Syrup

Vermont Maple Syrup. Starting yesterday McDonalds has to serve real Maple Syrup, at least in Vermont,  thanks to the Vermont Department of Agriculture. But Vermont wasn't always so vigilant. Several decades ago faux maple syrup products were manufactured in Burlington and marketed nationwide. Vermont Maid Maple syrup was mainly fake. Not sure what they used then, but now the listed ingredients are water, Sorbitol, cellulose gum, natural and artificial Maple Butter Flavor (sulfites) Salt, Sucrose, Caramel Color, Sodium Benzoate, Acesulfame Potassium, Phosphoric Acid, Sorbic Acid, Potassium Sorbate. (source) Yummy.

Maypo, maple flavored cereal made by Maltex, wasn't really maple based either.

Both of these companies sold the rights and production of these products long ago. Although the products still exist, they are no longer made in Burlington or even in Vermont. If they were, I'm sure that the food and consumer- conscious community of Burlington would have made sure that these companies used the real stuff. 

Images from Liza Cowan ephemera collections.

MORE from me, ages ago

EVEN MORE from me, also a while ago

Vivian Maier, Nanny Street Photographer, Update

Vivian Maier, street photographer

I know a lot of you enjoyed reading about the Nanny Photographer at my other blog, Small Equals. The more we see of her work, the more amazing her story is. She was such a brilliant photographer with no formal training. And worked in total obscurity, leaving a legacy of thousands of images.