Knicks Player's Ball Crosses Over into Arts?

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You read it right, today's headline for my Art Talk is, "Knicks Player's Ball Crosses Over into the Arts?" Please don't worry; yours truly has no plans to expand his art coverage into sports. But this morning, rushing through the Los Angeles Times, I almost spilled my coffee over the front page of its Calendar section.

I'm not too much into sports, but even I recognized the photo of New York Knicks' basketball player, Jeremy Lin. The article heralds him as "the most visible Asian American in the country, if not the world." This phenomenon even has its own name, "Linsanity." He's obviously so big that today Los Angeles Times writes about him not only in the Sports section, but also in its Calendar section, which traditionally covers only arts and culture.


I wonder if any of you remember the last time an artist's name appeared anywhere in the Sports section? My guess is not. Still, I do hope that one day the Sports editors will return the courtesy by welcoming their art colleagues to the front page of their section ... Though if that happens, I wouldn't be surprised if sports fans take up arms.


Meanwhile, while generously expanding its coverage to sports, Los Angeles Times lost big time to its major competitor, New York Times. And it's not the first time that the mighty and venerable New York Times has broken the latest cultural story about L.A. Let me sum it up for you: UC Berkeley managed to misplace, mislabel and subsequently lose entirely an important work by the major Harlem Renaissance artist, Sargent Johnson (1888-1967). As a result, this impressive, intricately carved 22-foot-long redwood panel, valued at over $1 million, was sold to a furniture dealer for . . . yes, you're hearing it right . . . $164.63, including tax. To the rescue comes the Superman, this time taking the shape and form of a major American institution, our very own Huntington Library in San Marino, which acquired this important artwork for its collection.


And it's not the only reason this formidable California museum and research center is in the news. It just announced the successor to John Murdoch, the current director of its Art Collection, who's retiring this summer after ten years in this position. The new man in charge will be Kevin Salatino, who after a short sojourn as a director of a college museum in Maine, is returning to L.A. where he earned accolades first as a curator at the Getty Research Institute and later at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.


Mr. Salatino has a reputation to live up to. He is known for informative and entertaining lectures with rather risqué subjects. I remember his lecture at the Getty some years ago, "Sex in the (Eternal) City: The Grand Tour as Erotic Pilgrimage," where he offered amusing and often unprintable information about sexual escapades of the rich and famous who arrived in Italy to immerse themselves in its history and culture but gave in to carnal temptations. The audience loved it. One hopes that Mr. Salatino has not lost his rare talent for combining academic research with a delightful, deadpan delivery.


Banner image: New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin drives against the Dallas Mavericks point guard Jason Kidd on February 19, 2012 in New York City. Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images