CULTURE & ARTS
07/23/2010 03:38 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

VOICES THIS WEEK: Rodney Punt, David Dagan, Jaime Rojo, Cat Bennett

MADAME BUTTERFLY TAKES WING IN SANTA FE
by Rodney Punt

The plot could not be simpler: American naval officer jilts Japanese wife who later commits suicide. But Puccini's Madame Butterfly was not at all easy to compose, nor initially to stage, and it flopped at its premiere in 1904.
Butterfly, of course, eventually became one of the most popular works in the repertoire, and it remains so. But there are pitfalls: It can easily lapse into picture-book sentimentality, and the work has been tarred in some quarters as a period piece -- pretty but passe.
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KIBBUTZ DIARY: A SHOAH MEMORIAL THE WORD SHOULD SEE
by David Dagan

The best memorial to the Holocaust that I have seen surprises you from a corner of Kibbutz Mishmar Ha'emek in northern Israel.
A gentle, green slope drops off into a basin of Jerusalem stone. The solitary figure of a woman rises over the basin's walls. Her face is turned into her shoulder. Her arms point straight down, toward her lap. She is holding onto something.
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VIVA LA REVOLUCION: STREET ART TAKES SAN DIEGO
by Jaime Rojo and Steven Harrington

"Never Trust Your Own Eyes. Believe What You Are Told," says the ironic slogan in the freshly wheat-pasted graphic piece by street artist Shepard Fairey on the side of a clothing store in San Diego, the town that chased him out for doing street art. One may believe Fairey's politics to be Orwellian reference. Just as easily it could be applied to the academics, historians and would-be art critics struggling daily to describe with any authority what street art is and how it should be regarded. Luckily, we have been able to trust our eyes to make this analysis so far.
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ARTISTS OF WORLD CHANGE
by Cat Bennett

We seem to be drowning in bad news; today the announcement came that more art programs in schools are being cut. That may seem trivial in the face of oil spills and other disasters, but I think not. How can we create a new world when so few of us understand the creative process? When we don't know how to be creative, we tend to be passive and expect governments to solve problems. That mindset hasn't worked. The government has washed ashore like a great whale. If we want the world to change, we need to change ourselves. We need to become creative thinkers.
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