RIP ~ S.F. Art Institute to close after USF merger deal collapses ~ San Francisco Business Times

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By Alex Barreira  –  Staff Reporter, San Francisco Business Times

Jul 15, 2022 Updated Jul 15, 2022

After more than 150 years, the end is nigh for the San Francisco Art Institute.

The private college, founded in 1871, announced Friday it plans to shutter after the University of San Francisco backed out of a potential acquisition deal that would keep the financially struggling institution and its Russian Hill campus afloat — the second merger negotiation to fall through since the onset of the pandemic.

USF President John Fitzgerald said in a statement that the university had “informed SFAI leadership that it would not enter into a definitive agreement with SFAI due to business risks that could impact USF students, faculty, and staff.” The statement also said USF will start building its own art school, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

In a separate statement the Art Institute said it was “no longer financially viable” and as of Friday has “ceased its degree programs” but will continue on as a nonprofit organization “to protect its name, archives, and legacy.”

The school will leave its campus at 800 Chestnut St., according to the Chronicle. SFAI said in its statement it is “actively working with local and international donor communities” to protect its prized asset, the Diego Rivera Gallery, which SFAI will lose possession of should it default or lose its lease on the building. The University of California owns the land itself, owing to the agreement that established SFAI’s use of the campus.

“The passing of this venerable institution is a loss for the entire art world, especially for SFAI’s friends, colleagues, and SFAI artists: its students, faculty, staff, and alumni,” the school’s board of trustees said in its announcement.

In January USF and SFAI signed a letter of intent to explore integrating the two schools, with the intention of beginning programs this fall. The proposal would reportedly have USF acquiring the Art Institute’s historical buildings, art and film collections and other assets, such as the Anne Bremer Memorial Library and Diego Rivera Gallery, as well as exhibition space, studios, photo labs and a rooftop amphitheater.

However, the sides were unable to agree on the future for the land of the campus itself — a half square block of prime hillside real estate with bay views. That land was donated to SFAI via a trust that turns the land over to UC Berkeley in the event the land is no longer used as an art campus.

In May the Art Institute held the graduation ceremony for what will likely be its last class.

In 2020 SFAI’s graduate campus at Fort Mason Center closed and was put on the market for sublease with 50 years left on its 55-year lease. The campus had reopened in 2017 following a $14 million makeover.

And, who is the guy in the middle, circa 1968?

Edgar Boyles all cleaned up and ready to visit his parents for Xmas

undercover Ranger and A+ student of the semester class

“Astronauts of Inner Space”

MOVIES YOU MISSED: ‘THE BIG LEBOWSKI’ ~ NPR

July 16, 2022

Scott Simon

LISTEN· 7:40

Scott Simon speaks with Kate Holden of Cork, Ireland; Kristan McMahon of Lakewood, N.Y.; and April Price of Erie, Colo. about “The Big Lebowski,” which they all just watched for the first time.

OFFICIAL TRAILER

Jeff `The Dude’ Leboswki is mistaken for Jeffrey Lebowski, who is The Big Lebowski. Which explains why he’s roughed up and has his precious rug peed on. In search of recompense, The Dude tracks down his namesake, who offers him a job. His wife has been kidnapped and he needs a reliable bagman. Aided and hindered by his pals Walter Sobchak, a Vietnam vet, and Donny, master of stupidity.

Taking a Trip With Michael Pollan ~ NYT

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Michael Pollan with Erika Gagnon, of Esalen Institute. His later-life investigations into psychedelics prompted a New Yorker article, a book and now a Netflix series. Credit…Netflix

By Chris Vognar

July 15, 2022, 10:00 a.m. ET

In late 2012, the best-selling author and journalist Michael Pollan (“The Omnivore’s Dilemma”) was at a dinner party in Berkeley, Calif. Among his fellow diners was a prominent developmental psychiatrist, in her 60s, who spoke at some length about a recent LSD trip. This pricked up Pollan’s ears.

His first thought, as he shared during a recent video interview: “People like that are taking LSD?” The psychiatrist went on to explain that the drug gave her a better understanding of the way children think.

“Her hypothesis,” Pollan said, “was that the effects of psychedelics, LSD in that case, give us a taste of what child consciousness would be like — this kind of 360-degree taking-in of information, not particularly focused, fascinated by everything.”

~~~ CONTINUE READING NYT ~~~

Freedom of the Press in FAT CITY??? ~~~ huevón

Andrew Travers, my editor at The Aspen Times since the principled resignation of David Krause a few weeks ago, was fired last Friday for publishing previously banned columns I wrote. They contained truth, locally important information, and the revelation of issues our community would have been otherwise unaware of.

This was supposed to be my last column for The Aspen Times, but now is my first for the Aspen Daily News. It depended on how delicately I crafted this piece; if I stayed between the company lines in giving the reason for my departure, the new owners of The Aspen Times might have allowed me to say goodbye in their paper last Friday. Alas, it’s three spikes and I’m out. I went down looking, released on waivers to the Aspen Daily News.

“Spike” is the term used when a news story or column doesn’t get published. In May, I had back-to-back weekly columns spiked — not by my editors in the newsroom, but by the suits at The Aspen Times’ new parent company in West Virginia, who feared a lawsuit. 

The first column pointed out that the new owner of the Gorsuch Haus site at Lift 1A was unnervingly rude for not stepping up and assuring the town of his plans to go along with the development plans approved by voters. The second was about his big money coming to Aspen and silencing our small-town press through litigation threats, gagging The Aspen Times with questionable claims. We were assured by the executives in West Virginia that the columns would run “eventually”, after the litigation was settled.

The litigation was settled. Andrew ran the columns. He got fired. Everyone else got mad. Intimidation seeped into the newsroom.

There is enough to this story for an upper-level, four-credit journalism school case study to consider over the span of an entire semester. There are ample opportunities for teaching moments and a long list of discussion points. However, rather than recognizing these options, the executives at corporate headquarters determined it was simply better (easier) to fire Travers, a seasoned and talented journalist. 

I believe the crux of this controversy boiled down to weighing the universal omerta of keeping interoffice conversations private versus the obligation of newspapers to report honestly on important issues, even if it means disclosing interoffice conversations to do so. Which is the higher law?

My column launched these conflicting objectives on a trajectory of imminent collision. I linked both of the spiked columns chronologically with e-mail discussions about them with my immediate superiors in the Aspen Times newsroom. The story in that format was compelling, revealing and, if I do say so myself, a damn good read. Corporate headquarters disagreed. The columns went live and within 24 hours, the link was deleted and the story went dark.

Even from a purely business standpoint, I don’t see how this made sense. The story was gaining major traction in readership interest and, even though it did not shed the paper in the most favorable light, it wasn’t a hatchet-job attack, either. What the executives missed, in my opinion, is that this was a real-time example of the meaningful work The Aspen Times has a long history of doing that made it an attractive acquisition in the first place.

Above all, the firing of Andrew Travers is the thing I can’t get over. Written words are powerful, even more so when they are disseminated in the public domain. When you deal with them regularly in this arena, it is easy to get complacent. In the heat of battle, there is temptation to use them to exact vengeance, establish authority, even to punish. I can assure you, in talking with Andrew and examining my own conscience, none of this motivated writing and publishing the controversial material that has led to this point. We felt passionately that this was important news that Aspen had to be made aware of. We were backed by contemporaries. It spoke directly to the feeling of intensely accelerating loss of community to big, outside money. It revealed a threat to the degradation of a cherished Aspen institution that is our newspapers.

In the end, it was Andrew’s call to publish. But, they were my words he courageously stood up for. That weighs heavily. I am humbled, honored and grateful. It is not lost on me that my resignation from The Aspen Times is a pittance of recompense for putting his livelihood, career and a passion in jeopardy. I hope knowing the gesture comes directly from my heart makes it worth something. I know his fearless act towards preserving a free press does.    

Roger Marolt wonders if the new owners of The Aspen Times see more value in the name on the front page than they do in the people in the newsroom that made the name worth something. roger@maroltllp.com