Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Cowboys, the rich, and buying artwork

I was listening to the radio today and heard some amazing statistics from a recently released report on who pays what taxes on this country. A Wall Street Journal writer was discussing the stats from the latest release of Internal Revenue Service data on individual income taxes and (I think) a WSJ article will discuss them tomorrow in an editorial.

One of my pet peeves is the fact that in super wealthy areas such as Bethesda, Reston, Potomac, and generally most of the Greater DC area, it still takes a lot of work to get the same people who don't think twice about dropping a few grand for a sofa, to spend a couple of hundred bucks for a fine arts photograph.

There are nine million people in the United States who are classified as millionaires. If memory serves me right, there are around 125,000 of them living within the Greater Washington, DC area.

Don't believe everything that politicians tell you - from neither party! According to the WSJ reporter summarizing from the IRS report, the top 1% income earners in this nation pay 39.4% of all income taxes - an all-time high.

And they're not all the uberrich getting away with tax murder via offshore investments, blah, blah, blah, that politicians from both parties are always so fond of discussing.

The dirty little secret is that most of this 1% are folks who make $350K a year or higher and 2/3 of them are small business owners.

The top 5% (people who make $175K or higher) pay 59.5% of all income taxes. The bottom 50% of Americans, or half of all income tax payers below the median, pay 3% of all income taxes in this nation.

Those are hard, cold facts - not party-colored slogans burying the truth in search for votes.

And here's an idea for that top five percent of Americans carrying almost 60% of the American tax burden; specifically to the business owners in the bunch: support your local galleries and local artists! There's a tax benefit in there for you.

Instead of hanging motivational posters and pretty reproductions in your offices and factories and workplaces, buy original artwork from your local galleries and artists and that expense is not only a tax write-off, but also helps to kindle the local arts in your hometowns and neighborhoods.

Willie Nelson sings "Mama don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys; Don't let 'em pick guitars and drive them old trucks; Make 'em be doctors and lawyers and such..."

And then let them use their doctorin' and lawyerin' dough to buy some local artwork for their offices and support their local artists.

And cowboys can buy Western art.

WPA Membership Meeting

On Monday, October 29th at 6:30 PM the Washington Project for the Arts is having an important meeting - open and free to the public. The details are here. RSVP to

The event will focus on membership, Art File Online, the WPA\C's separation from the CGA, and their new website.

Missa Pro Pace Forum

A forum discussion accompanying Prof. Chawky Frenn's solo show "Missa Pro Pace" exhibition at the Arlington Arts Center will take place tomorrow, Oct. 18th from 7 to 9 PM at the Arlington Art Center.

If you have not seen Frenn's brutal socio-political works, this is a good chance to see them and also listen to the GMU professor discuss them.

The forum also has uberprintmaker Rosemary Covey discussing her amazing "0 Project," the interactive cross-disciplinary project that she debuted at the AAC this month. Robert Parrish ( will also screen his video documentary of Bosma Dance performing in front of what is undoubtedly The 0 Project’s most visible component: the 300 foot long, 15 foot high banner currently encircling the AAC’s historic Maury school building.

Impressionists by the Sea

On Saturday, The Phillips Collection' newest exhibition, Impressionists by the Sea, opens to the public. The exhibition explores the impact of the newly fashionable French seaside on the Impressionists, and traces the progression of the way the seaside is portrayed throughout the 1800s. It is a chance to see how masterpieces by Courbet, Manet, Monet, Renoir and others chartered the dramatic change in the French seaside as it became more and more popular to go the the beach. Through January 13, 2008.

Mark your calendars

Marc Pachter, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, and Thomas Lutz, Head of the Memorial Museums Department at Berlin’s Topography of Terror Foundation, will participate in a discussion on monuments, museums and the culture of memory at the Goethe-Institut Washington on Tuesday, October 30 at 6:30 pm.

Washington is a city of monuments and memorials – and so is Berlin, though by and large the purpose of the institutions in the two cities is quite different, given their vastly contrasting histories. The discussion will focus on why we build memorials, monuments, and museums, and who they are for. The purpose of memorials in the cultural and educational life of two capital cities looking both to the past and to the future will also be addressed.

Free and open to the public, but RSVP to 202-289-1200 ext. 169