NYT Highlights the Plight of State Cuts to the Arts: Say Goodbye to the Largest Ball of Twine Replica

New York Times writer Robin Pogrebin on Tuesday highlighted cuts to arts funding by the states and, specifically, the negative effect it will have on replicas of the largest ball of twine. The headline blared, "Arts Outposts Stung by Cuts in State Aid."

Pogrebin explained the impact of Kansas' decision to eliminate its arts budget: "For 10 years Erika Nelson, an artist in Lucas, Kan., has been making miniature models of giant pieces of Americana, putting them in a van and driving around the country to show people."

The journalist explained:

She has made tiny copies, for example, of the World's Largest Ball of Twine, which is down the road in Cawker City, and the World's Largest Can of Fruit Cocktail, which is in Sunnyvale, Calif.

She calls her mobile museum The World's Largest Collection of the World's Smallest Versions of the World's Largest Things.

[Emphasis added.] Pogrebin singled out Kansas' Republican governor:

Governor Brownback has created the Kansas Arts Foundation, dedicated to private fund-raising to fill the void left by the budget cut. 'The governor campaigned last fall on returning the state to core responsibilities such as education and public safety,' said Sherriene Jones-Sontag, a spokeswoman for Mr. Brownback. 'He believes that the arts should be privately funded.'

Recently he sent a letter to citizens urging them to contribute to the foundation. 'I have no doubt that the arts will continue to thrive through private donations,' he wrote.

Rosslyn Schultz, the executive director of the Grassroots Art Center in Lucas, said via e-mail that she thought it was incredible that the governor, having just cut $4,300 from the council's $78,000 operating budget, was looking for donations.

'Really,' she asked, 'are you kidding, Governor Brownback?'

In the same section on Tuesday, the Times promoted other examples of unusual art, including a naked man sweeping up dust on Wall Street. This doubled as protest. Melena Ryzik wrote:

Seconds after 7 a.m. on Monday, trousers were dropping and skirts were lifting all along Wall Street. The mass dishabille was part of a site-specific work of performance art, 'Ocularpation: Wall Street,' by an artist, Zefrey Throwell. It was intended as a commentary on work and the economy, Mr. Throwell said, though that seemed to be lost on the police stationed near the New York Stock Exchange.


For Mr. Throwell, 35, the moment has been a long time coming. Over coffee in Bryant Park last week, he explained his project. It was 'an educational attempt,' he said, 'to lend more transparency to Wall Street, a street which is so damn mysterious.' Drawing on the common fear of appearing in public naked, he hoped to create 'an absurdist Freudian nightmare' of nude employment: 'Wall Street, exposed,' as he put it.