Cheyenne Historic Preservation Board to Honor Atlas Theatre with LeClercq Jones Award – ShortGo

Cheyenne Historic Preservation Board to Honor Atlas Theatre with LeClercq Jones Award – ShortGo

Each autumn, in recognition of exemplary historic preservation efforts, the City of Cheyenne Historic Preservation Board (CHPB) awards a non-residential business or entity for its contributions in preserving Cheyenne’s commercial-built heritage and their significant efforts to preserve, restore, or reconstruct their property.

This year’s LeClercq Jones Award will be presented to The Historic Atlas Theatre (Cheyenne Little Theatre Players) on Thursday, November 29th at 6:00 p.m. at 211 West Lincolnway during a private ceremony.

If you’re interested in seeing the building, please call (307) 631-3835.

This year marks the seventh annual awarding of the LeClercq Jones Award. LeClercq Jones was President of Frontier Printing for 35 years and is most recognized for his tireless efforts in documenting Cheyenne in pictures, newspaper clippings, historic research, and oral histories. His time-lapsed images of Cheyenne street fronts, taken in 10-year increments from the same vantage point, offer significant historical context for Downtown’s growth and change.

The main goal of the Historic Preservation Board is the preservation of historic places and spaces to remember, learn from, and take pride in the city’s past. The CHPB also undertakes multiple events throughout the year. In addition to the LeClercq Jones Award, they award a prestigious residential homeowner with the Dubois Award in May. The Board also hosts the annual Tour the Legend in September; a historic buildings tour that allows citizens to tour historic buildings and fraternities that have been graciously opened by the owner(s).

The CHPB also undertakes multiple preservation projects throughout the year, working with monetary assistance through grants provided by the Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office and the Wyoming Cultural Trust Fund to preserve and protect buildings and other landmarks throughout Cheyenne. Some current projects include the restoration of the Warren Rest House (which is wrapping up work this month), continued fundraising to restore the Airport Fountain on 8th Avenue (with some work anticipated to start in the summer of 2019), and expanding the Capitol North Historic District.

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http://shortgo.co/cheyenne-historic-preservation-board-to-honor-atlas-theatre-with-leclercq-jones-award/

Iconic L.A. Buildings That Were Saved From Demolition – KCET

Iconic L.A. Buildings That Were Saved From Demolition – KCET

Los Angeles is probably more full of stories of loss – historic buildings demolished – than stories of preservation.

Many structures that are threatened never get a fighting chance, fall into irreversible disrepair, and are eventually razed and even forgotten.

Paper sometimes goes up in flames. Wind blows trees down; trees fall. Things happen. People change their minds. But rather than dwelling on what we’ve lost to demolition, development, or acts of God, why not celebrate the places we almost lost… but didn’t?

Because sometimes if you raise enough of a ruckus and throw a big enough fit, you can actually save a precious historic, cultural, and community resource – even if it ultimately ends up getting repurposed for something else.

Here are five of the best preservation success stories in L.A.; places that were either resurrected from the dead or reincarnated as something entirely new.

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1. Clifton’s Cafeteria, Downtown

There used to be several locations of what was known as Clifton’s Cafeteria, with branches as far flung as the Valley and Orange County (as well as the Clifton’s-run Pacific Seas tropical paradise). But the only one to survive is the forested “Brookdale,” the second one in the chain, now rebranded Clifton’s “Cabinet of Curiosities.” First opened in the 1930s, it operated continuously until it was closed for renovation in 2011. After that, no one was really sure if Clifton’s would ever actually come back. For four years, scaffolding and construction barriers were all anyone could see, aside from the terrazzo sidewalk design that tells the story of L.A., which was just peeking out a little bit. But then, a façade that had been added to the original frontage was removed, revealing the original Clifton’s lettering underneath – and L.A. let out a collective gasp. Under the direction of its new proprietor, Andrew Meieran, the Clifton’s restoration effort completed, and the new Clifton’s opened in 2015.

Everything there is big and bold, from the (fake) giant redwood tree in the middle of the dining room to the taxidermied beasts. For those of us who missed its prior incarnations, there are reminders everywhere. Souvenirs, memorabilia, collectibles, and other ephemera are displayed in museum-grade glass cases. At its heart, Clifton’s wasn’t exactly fine dining. It was a cafeteria that offered comfort fare and, perhaps most famously, Jell-O.

The Jell-O stayed for a while at this new Clifton’s – but as of the end of 2018, the former cafeteria stopped offering food and operates solely as a nightclub on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. That’s not exactly what Clifford Clinton had in mind when he founded Clifton’s and offered meals on a “Pay What You Wish” basis… but I think he’d be happy that people are still coming…and that one of its neon signs has been burning continuously probably since 1935.

Clifton's Cafeteria

Clifton’s Cafeteria | Sandi Hemmerlein

Clifton's Cafeteria

Clifton’s Cafeteria | Sandi Hemmerlein

Clifton's Cafeteria

Clifton’s Cafeteria | Sandi Hemmerlein

Formosa Cafe

Formosa Cafe | Sandi Hemmerlein

Bonus: Formosa Café, West Hollywood

Until it closed in January 2017, the Formosa Café was one of the most stalwart mainstays of Hollywood nightlife, located across the street from the movie lot that was, at one time or another, Pickford-Fairbanks Studios, United Artists Studio or Samuel Goldwyn Studio. In the early 1990s, its lease expired – and as plans to expand The Lot attempted to encroach on the restaurant’s footprint, it was threatened with demolition. In 2004, the developer of the “Gateway” shopping mall next door agreed to build around it after being wooed by its charms. The 1933 Group has since taken over ownership of the historic landmark and is working to restore the oldest section of the restaurant, the train car – PE #913, in service from 1902 to 1906 – before reopening to the public.

2. Wiltern Theatre, Koreatown

If the case of the Wiltern Theatre teaches us anything, it’s that something that’s very, very far-gone can still be saved. In 1979, despite having been placed on the National Register of Historic Places, the former Warner Western Theatre was almost lost. It wasn’t just threatened with demolition – demolition had already been approved. The demo crews had arrived. The furniture (including the built-in theater seats) had been sold off. There was a giant hole in the ceiling and two feet of water covering the floor. And, like a scene out of a Hollywood movie, preservationists threw their bodies as a human shield to save this beloved Art Deco building. It was one of the earliest preservation victories of the newly formed Los Angeles Conservancy.

Thanks to developer Wayne Ratkovich and architect Brenda Levin, this bygone movie palace from 1931 was able to bounce back and operate successfully as a popular concert and event venue – with many of its original details and ornamentation preserved (or, at least, reproduced). Many Art Deco features have been repainted to their exact original specifications. The centerpiece of the lobby is still the rotunda, which was first restored in 1984 during the multi-million dollar effort to reopen the theater as a performance venue. It’s just now lit by LEDs. Located at the corner of Wilshire and Western, the Wiltern is now operated by Live Nation and open for concerts, movies, and dance parties almost every night of the week.

Wiltern Theatre

Wiltern Theatre | Sandi Hemmerlein

Wiltern Theatre

Wiltern Theatre | Sandi Hemmerlein

Wiltern Theatre

Wiltern Theatre | Sandi Hemmerlein

More Iconic L.A. Buildings

3.  Cinerama Dome, Hollywood

When it was built in 1963 under the direction of Welton Becket (in less than five months), the geodesic dome shape of the Cinerama Dome was as groundbreaking as it is today. It’s still the only theater of its kind in the world. And because the 70-foot dome is such an oddity along Sunset Boulevard, refusing to be dwarfed by the CNN tower that sprung up two blocks down in 1968 or even the big Walgreens that’s been selling sushi across the street since 2002, it makes for a great advertising platform for the latest release starring Shrek, Spiderman or the Minions. (That may be what saves it in the long run.)

Modern-day restaurants, retailers, and of course a parking structure have been built up around the Cinerama Dome – but fortunately, they haven’t consumed it entirely. (It did, however, close for two years and reopen in 2002.) Still operated by Pacific Theatres, The Dome is now part of the Arclight movie theater complex, showing both first-run releases, red carpet premieres, and repertory selections on a screen that measures 32 X 86 feet and is curved at an angle of 126 degrees – a perfect canvas for cinematic extravaganzas like “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World,” which was screened as part of the theatre’s grand opening and has returned a few times since.

Cinerama Dome

Cinerama Dome | Sandi Hemmerlein

Cinerama Dome

Cinerama Dome | Sandi Hemmerlein

4. Central Library, Downtown

The last work of American architect Bertram G. Goodhue, the 1926 completion of Los Angeles’ Central Library interweaves 20th century architectural style with classical influences and references of ancient cultures. It persists as a major landmark in L.A.’s downtown, adjacent to Bunker Hill. But it’s amazing that it’s managed to survive at all – in any form. In the mid-1970s, Central Library was slated for demolition, but it was preserved in 1983 as a result of community efforts and the Los Angeles Conservancy. But it wasn’t yet in the clear – because two fires (both suspected arson) raged through the library’s upstairs, near the Lodwrick M. Cook Rotunda upstairs (in the area now designated as the Teen ‘Scape) and destroyed much of the library’s collection and some of its interior decorations.

The windows shattered and had to be replaced. The magnificent globe chandelier (which represents the solar system) survived, though other lighting fixtures had to be replaced with reproductions, including the Art Deco lamps in the Children’s Literature Department, which also houses a number of California history murals (The Landing of Cabrillo at Catalina, etc.). The Dean Cornwell murals that rise to the ceiling have since been restored and cleaned. Now, despite the devastating fires, the library also sports a new wing and a full rehabilitation. And – as an institution focused on printed matter, a threatened and nearly defunct format itself – it takes its preservation seriously. It saved its card catalog cards and has reused them to line the walls of its elevators.

central library downtown

Central Library, Downtown L.A. | Sandi Hemmerlein

branch library downtown

Central Library, Downtown L.A. | Sandi Hemmerlein

Bonus: The Margaret Herrick Library, Beverly Hills

The Margaret Herrick Library, Beverly Hills

The Margaret Herrick Library, Beverly Hills | Public Domain

Beverly Hills Waterworks wasn’t just the first municipal water treatment plant on the West Coast and the first civic building of Beverly Hills. Its construction (and the formation of the Beverly Hills Utilities Corporation) allowed one of the earliest planned communities in Southern California to stay independent of Los Angeles. Because Beverly Hills had its own water – and, though it was sulfurous, a supply that could be filtered, purified, and used – it wouldn’t need to be annexed into L.A. The Waterworks opened in 1928 to much fanfare, and it successfully processed water for Beverly Hills for nearly 50 years. But it closed 1976, when Beverly Hills began buying its water from the Los Angeles Metropolitan Water District.

Just five years after having been damaged by the Sylmar earthquake, the Romanesque and Moorish-influenced building was rendered obsolete. And for 10 years, it stood abandoned – and vulnerable to vandals and vagrants. Even vandalized, the property had retained integrity from its period of significance – including an ecclesiastical facade (a “cathedral of water,” as it were) and a bell tower that hid the chimney that burned off the sulfur in the purification process.

In 1987 – way before the establishment of its current historic preservation ordinance – the City of Beverly Hills considered the old Waterworks building a safety hazard and approved the site for demolition. It was only when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was willing to “pick up the tab” that government officials stood behind its preservation – and in 1991, it reopened as the Margaret Herrick Library and Fairbanks Center for Motion Picture Study. It’s a non-circulating library, which means its collection stays there – but any member of the public is welcome to come peruse the manuscripts, photos, production art, and more in its physical and digital collections.

5. Bullocks Wilshire Building, Wilshire Center

Built in 1929 and designed by John Parkinson, the flagship Bullocks department store on Wilshire Boulevard was one of the first department stores to cater to car culture – with sidewalk-facing window displays to attract the eyes of Wilshire Boulevard motorists on their way east to downtown or west to the Miracle Mile. The iconic tower, rising 241 feet and topped with tarnished green copper, rose above what was then a relatively residential neighborhood and served as a beacon for more than 60 years. The building sustained significant damage during the 1992 L.A. Riots (then under the ownership and operation of Macy’s) and closed in 1993 – but that didn’t spell doom for the “cathedral of commerce,” because Southwestern Law School purchased it in 1994 and embarked on a $29 million restoration to make it suitable for academic purposes.

The Central Hall is still reminiscent of the lobby of the Empire State Building, but you will no longer find an ostrich feather Christmas tree there during the holidays.

In the first floor East Room – formerly a salon for designer shoes and accessories – original lighting fixtures and ceiling details have been incorporated into the design for the Julian C. Dixon Courtroom and Advocacy Center. The former Women’s Sportswear Department is now the Reference Room, whose “The Spirit of Sports” mural is the central focal point. Original 1929 elements intermingle with other design features added later – like a Moroccan chandelier and an inlaid compass in the terrazzo floor of the Palm Court, both from the 1960s. On the second floor, there are a variety of “Period Rooms,” where top designer fashions were modeled by “live mannequins.” The Louis XVI Room transports its visitors to Marie Antoinette’s boudoir in the Palace of Versailles; La Chinoiserie once housed the Chanel Boutique with its French Rococo design with a touch of China, by way of France. Because it now operates full-time as the Southwestern Law School, you can only get into the landmark during a summer open house hosted by Friends of Bullocks Wilshire.

Bullocks Wilshire Building

Bullocks Wilshire Building | Sandi Hemmerlein

Bullocks Wilshire Building

Bullocks Wilshire Building | Sandi Hemmerlein

Bullocks Wilshire Building

Bullocks Wilshire Building | Sandi Hemmerlein

https://www.kcet.org/shows/socal-wanderer/iconic-la-buildings-that-were-saved-from-demolition

[Video] First Look at ‘The Legend of Boggy Creek’ 4K Restoration, Arriving Next Year – Bloody Disgusting

[Video] First Look at ‘The Legend of Boggy Creek’ 4K Restoration, Arriving Next Year – Bloody Disgusting

At the time of writing this article, Charles B. Pierce’s 1972 film The Legend of Boggy Creek is not yet available on Blu-ray, but that will soon change thanks to a restoration that the George Eastman Museum is currently working on. Observer-Reporter brought the news to our attention earlier this year, teasing a 4K restoration that’ll arrive in theaters and on Blu-ray.

The site noted, “Pamela Pierce Barcelou (the director’s daughter) has partnered with the George Eastman Museum to restore “The Legend of Boggy Creek” in 4K resolution for an eventual Blu-Ray and theatrical release. This will be the first time the film has been seen in its proper, Techniscope format since the original theatrical release.”

They added, “The restoration is being performed using the original negative from Technicolor and original prints. The elements will also be stored and cared for by museum.”

The fully restored/remastered version of the film will premiere June 14, 2019 at the historic Perot Theatre in Texarkana, TX, and you can preview the restoration below.

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[Video] First Look at ‘The Legend of Boggy Creek’ 4K Restoration, Arriving Next Year

We will restore peace in Brass, says Bayelsa CP – The Nation Newspaper

We will restore peace in Brass, says Bayelsa CP – The Nation Newspaper

Stakeholders, LGA boss warn troublemakers 

The Bayelsa State Commissioner of Police, Joseph Mukan, on Tuesday vowed to end the crisis rocking Twon-Brass, an oil-rich Island in Brass Local Government Area of the state.

Brass has been torn apart by violent clashes between members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) ahead of the 2019 general elections.

Both parties have traded blames on the crisis as they struggled for political control of the council.

But Mukan said his command had put modalities in place to restore the peace in the council adding that some suspects had been arrested in connection to the impasse.

He said: “The Brass crisis is under control. We are on top of the situation. We are assuring them that peace will return to Brass. We have arrested some suspects already”.

Worried by the development, stakeholders condemned the incessant violence in Twon-Brass and called on security agencies to restore the peace in the oil-rich island.

The stakeholders under the auspices of the Brass Progressive Youths (BPY) also warned that safe heavens should not be provided for the perpetrators of the violence.

The group in a statement signed by its coordinator, Tarinyo Micah lamented that the once peaceful Island had become a theatre of war because of cult-related activities.

The group decried the killings and wanton destruction of properties in the community, saying it was clearly the handwork of desperate politicans”

It said that most of the youths who terrorized the community were backed by the desperate politicans, who gave them assorted arms and assured them of police protection.

The group recalled that one of the cultists arrested recently with a rifle was later released after persistent pressure from some powerful forces in Abuja.

BPY in the statement noted that such political intervention emboldened the cultists, who were more determined to unleash mayhem on the people. 

The group maintained that the violence in Twon-Brass would continue except urgent steps were taken to check the activities of the miscreants and their sponsors.

It also attributed the crisis in the area to the current manipulation of the security apparatus in the state, insisting that the frequent change of police commissioners worsened the situation in Brass and other areas. 

The group cautioned youths in the area against further violence and called on the Federal Government and the Inspector-General of Police to take urgent steps to address the situation.

It expressed worry that if nothing was done, the situation would be worse during the 2019 general elections adding that those who wanted to win at all cost would provide more arms for youths to carry out more deadly attacks.

Also, the Caretaker Chairman of Brass, Victor Isaiah, condemned a recent attack on a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) identified as Desmond Robert.

He said: “Though preliminary investigation revealed the unfortunate incident was cult related as the assailants were said to be after an unidentified person, I condemn the act of violence in its totality and will not tolerate attacks by any group or persons under any guise. 

“I am, therefore, warning troublemakers to give Brass LGA a wide berth because the relevant security agencies in collaboration with the Brass Volunteer have been equipped and capable of dealing decisively with any situation that threatens the hard earned peace and serenity currently experienced in the council area”.

“However, let me seize this opportunity to advise and remind indigenes and residents of Brass to report any suspicious conduct or movements around their areas to law enforcement agencies for immediate action”.


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We will restore peace in Brass, says Bayelsa CP

“Bathtubs Over Broadway,” Reviewed: Can a Musical Sponsored by a Toilet Manufacturer Be a Work of Art? – The New Yorker

“Bathtubs Over Broadway,” Reviewed: Can a Musical Sponsored by a Toilet Manufacturer Be a Work of Art? – The New Yorker

From the title alone, it’s obvious that “Bathtubs Over Broadway,” a new documentary by Dava Whisenant that opens this Friday, will be a delight. Its subject is the industrial musical—plays produced by corporations for their employees to enjoy at nationwide or regional sales meetings and conventions. Steve Young, who was, for more than twenty years, a writer for David Letterman, became obsessed, in the mid-nineties, with these shows—in particular, with LPs of them, which were pressed solely to be distributed to employees as souvenirs. The ostensible subject of “Bathtubs Over Broadway” is the amusement value of these exotic, eccentric by-products of show business, whose kitschy pleasures include celebrations of automobiles, dog food, and disposable blood-absorbing liners for the operating room, in a number that rhymes “hysterectomy” and “appendectomy.” But the overarching and underlying question that the film poses is nothing less than: What is art? And, for that matter, is the conventional definition of good art too narrow to account for the merits of such works as these?

Young admits that he was initially attracted to these records because he found them “unintentionally hilarious.” (This is the quality that led him to work the musicals into bits on the Letterman Show, for the recurring segment “Dave’s Record Collection.”) But, as he devoted himself to collecting the albums more intensively and combed archives and personal collections for memorabilia, whether sheet music or handbills, photographs or reels of film, Young discovered that, alongside the intrinsic element of absurdity and incongruity, there’s often a sincere and authentic spark of creative imagination and ingenuity.

He noted that some of these shows employed major artists (or ones who’d later become famous), both behind the scenes and onstage, including the composers Sheldon Harnick (better known for “Fiddler on the Roof”) and the team of John Kander and Fred Ebb (“Cabaret”); such actors as Chita Rivera, Florence Henderson, Bob Newhart, and Martin Short; and directors including Bob Fosse and Susan Stroman. Young also became fascinated by other performers and composers whose prominence in industrial musicals wasn’t matched by success in public theatre, and he sought to learn more about their art and their lives.

“Bathtubs Over Broadway” chronicles Young’s own story, as a writer early in his career who had no hobbies and instead found an obsession—and whose increasing involvement with industrial musicals coincided with David Letterman’s retirement and Young’s own withdrawal from comedy writing. (Fascinatingly, Young describes himself as “comedy-damaged,” explaining that decades of immersion in comedy have left him evaluating the craft rather than responding to it, and his sideline in industrial musicals appears to restore him to a state of unjaded passion.) Yet the central enticement of the documentary comes from the records and films of the musicals themselves. “Bathtubs Over Broadway” springs to life above all when Young puts an LP on his turntable, when he’s in a Library of Congress viewing room and sees a private 16-mm. copy of a production, or when digitized copies of soundtracks and films are excerpted directly into the film. The movie includes clips from the disco-style Johnson & Johnson “sunscreen musical of 1978,” a musical number called “Xerox Spoken Here,” the sheet music for an instrumental number called “Seagram’s Symphony,” and a scene of a kick-line chorus singing a financial ditty about “the extra margins that accrue.”

These clips reveal that many of these industrial musicals offer more than mere curiosities; they’re beautiful. Whisenant’s film catches Young two decades deep into his obsession, which, thanks to the Internet, became a far less lonely one. It enabled him to connect with other collectors, to acquire more recordings, and, above all, to find composers and performers who specialize in industrial musicals—artists whose names would have been otherwise lost to history because their work was explicitly intended not to be seen or heard by the public. Sid Siegel wrote music and lyrics for two hundred and fifty such shows. Michael Brown, who wrote music and lyrics, directed productions, and starred in them as well (in a clip of one show that he did for J. C. Penney, Brown plays the role of the historical Penney himself, an early-twentieth-century small-town shopkeeper with big problems and big plans). The prolific industrial-musical songwriter Hank Beebe delights Young with an on-camera rendition of a twisty and bouncy automotive tune called “Diesel Dazzle.” By presenting the gleeful idiosyncrasy of these artists’ flamboyantly poetic renderings of arch-prosaic subjects, Young and Whisenant confront colossal matters of aesthetic theory with a sly wink.

In terms of theatrical craft, industrial musicals rivalled Broadway both because their artists were themselves Broadway artists and because the companies that sponsored them invested Broadway-type resources into their production. One composer explains that the show that he wrote for Chevrolet in 1956 had a three-million-dollar budget, whereas the Broadway première of “My Fair Lady” the same year was staged for $446,000. (That’s one reason why performers sought work in these shows: Stroman says that an actor could make a year’s living doing four industrial shows.)

The musical that provides the movie with its title was sponsored in the late nineteen-sixties by the American Standard company, which manufactures bathroom fixtures. “The Bathrooms Are Coming,” written by Siegel, featured a song about revolution—“bathroom revolution”—and a lyrical ballad for an actress, titled “My Bathroom” (a woman’s bathroom is “a private kind of place” in which, the character sings, she can “cream and dream”). Young found the actress who performed that scene, Patt Stanton Gjonola—who made her career in industrial musicals—and she, in turn, found her copy of a 16-mm. film of the production. A clip shown in the documentary reveals an intimately imaginative production number, realized by means of special effects, in which Gjonola does a duet with herself. It’s a moment of great theatre that’s heightened to a moment of great cinema (the documentary offers no clue to the identity of the “Bathroom” director). “With melodies so catchy, if they were about something else than bathrooms, would they be standards now?” Young wonders.

Along with the stoking of company pride, the musicals appear to have fulfilled another, extraordinary function beyond that of the sponsoring companies’ dreams. According to several of the actors and writers of these shows, the audiences of salespeople, managers, dealers, and suppliers was authentically enthusiastic. As Young says about these mid-level businesspeople, “Suddenly they were being shown a version of their world in which they’re heroes, and it’s glamorous.” Where the commercial theatre offered the public “Death of a Salesman,” industrial musicals depicted the life of salesmen, albeit in optimistic terms—which nonetheless were carefully calculated to correspond with salesmen’s own dreams, desires, and ideals.

Young’s extraordinary insight points to a glaring absence in Hollywood movies and popular shows: the lack of connection with the experiences of daily life, the failure of many playwrights and filmmakers to depict the lives of ordinary people—both people at work and consumers—with a sufficiently detailed confrontation with the pleasures and problems of workaday details and with a sufficiently far-ranging realm of imagination and fantasy. The tone of these shows may be hectoringly cheerful and goal-oriented, but—at least judging from the brief samples included in the movie—they suggest close ties to material life and its inextricable element of inner identity that most movies and plays can only envy.

These industrial musicals are linked, in this regard, to TV commercials, where the so-called Golden Age of freewheeling creativity, the nineteen-sixties, also overlapped with the prime era of industrial musicals. Many great filmmakers have made commercials; few got their start in commercials (Michael Cimino is one who did, in the sixties). Their brevity limits the scope of individual artistry no less than their mercantile messages and assumptions do. The length and span of these musicals, by contrast, places them on more equal footing with publicly performed plays—which is why it’s all the more urgent, for determining their merit, for the productions briefly excerpted in “Bathtubs” to be digitized and reissued in full.

Many classic works of art are, in effect, commercials, from Pindar’s epinician, or victory, odes to Bach’s church cantatas. For that matter, plays and movies aren’t immune from propagandistic values, whether imposed on the artists or shared by them. It’s a mark of mediocrity, on the part of an artist or, for that matter, of a critic, to judge works by their ostensible subjects rather than by their approach to them. (This is an especially welcome reminder in the heat of Oscar season, as matters of civic importance, often dramatized with numbing banality, dominate attention.) At the same time, the critical-rediscovery industry, the recognition that much work formerly derided as disposable is worth considering as art, has a crucial downside: mistaking mere recognizability for merit. Whether some, or any, industrial musicals are worthy of a place in the theatrical pantheon remains to be determined. But this very question reflects Young’s passionate critical legwork and discernment, along with that of other similarly devoted collectors, and their jubilant preservation in Whisenant’s film.

https://www.newyorker.com/culture/the-front-row/can-a-musical-sponsored-by-a-toilet-manufacturer-be-a-work-of-art

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