ALL HANDS / News & reflections

By David Brittan, your curator and editor

OCTOBER 20, 2020

Wonder of the day

Marisa Roësset dressed in black against a red curtain
María Roësset Mosquera (1882-1921). Full-Length Self-Portrait (1912). Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía (Madrid).

OCTOBER 7, 2020

A magazine for the love of art. That’s the new tagline on our masthead, replacing “Art is the answer.” Although art is still the answer to many big questions (including the ones below), I thought it was important to establish that we are indeed a magazine. That is, we have many different contributors, we tell stories in a variety of formats, and we strive for an appealing balance of dependability and surprise.

My only reservation about the new tagline is the word art. Will people understand that we don’t just mean painting and sculpture? That we care about all forms of art? The arts would be clearer, but that has a posh ring to it, like something you become a patron of or have a National Endowment for. We’re all about the love, not the prestige. But is it clear from the word art that we love music, literature, theater, film, photography, dance, and any other activity that brings beautiful and intriguing creations into the world? Will people get it? I don’t know. I guess we’ll have to show them.

“The only thing better than singing is more singing.”

Ella Fitzgerald

SEPTEMBER 29, 2020

Share with your friends. Articles now have “share” buttons, making it easier for you to post them on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Tumblr, and WordPress). There are also buttons for emailing or printing. These all come after the article (until I can figure out how to move them). Please share.

Another “My Great Teacher” item. Maria Alvarado, of Riverside, California, is the first reader to answer the call for stories about teachers who got us fired up about art, music, or other creative pursuits. She was transformed by not one but two piano teachers. I hope Maria will inspire you to tell your own story.

A spell of Nietzsche. Maria’s submission gave me one of those rare opportunities to correctly render the surname of the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. If you are missing a consonant, he’s probably got it.

“We have art in order not to die of the truth.”

Friedrich Nietzxwsqztzsche

SEPTEMBER 23, 2020

Need help “following”? I’ve heard that visitors to The Necessary don’t always see a Follow button on the homepage or other pages. In theory, a small floating box is supposed to appear in the lower right corner of the page — but it’s skittish. I’ve added a clearer Follow button on top of the navigation menu. If you still have trouble, email me and I’ll send you an official invitation to follow us.

If art is the answer, what is the question? OK, here’s a question. Who had more hair, Simon or Garfunkel? (Ba-dum-pum.) Now here’s a serious art question. How do we escape the Frantic Culture of Now, that shallow, shifting, ephemeral world with its hyped-up sense of urgency, its fomo (fear of missing out), its confusion of recency with importance, its preoccupation with what is hot and what is cool (ignoring the first law of thermodynamics, which guarantees both will soon be lukewarm), and its surrender to the natterings of social media and the onrush of forgettable memes? I think you can guess my answer. I would go so far as to say that the more we submit to the Frantic Culture of Now, the more we forget what culture even is. Yes, culture has a vibrant present. But it also has memories, and memories of memories. This is where art lives and where The Necessary invites you to hang out.

“You read something which you thought only happened to you, and you discover that it happened 100 years ago to Dostoyevsky. This is a very great liberation for the suffering, struggling person, who always thinks that he is alone.”


SEPTEMBER 21, 2020

And we’re off. Welcome to Day One of The Necessary, a relentless, meandering, lurching, scampering, spiraling, backtracking, leaping, loping journey into that part of the human psyche that makes and responds to art. Like all important journeys, it begins in a state of sleep deprivation and last-minute panic. Earlier today, every article at the top of the homepage vanished. It was like getting up on the morning of your great adventure and realizing you’ve lost your passport. It seems a small piece of code had gotten kicked under the bed. Panic over. Much is left unfinished. You will encounter pleas for your ideas and entreaties to share what you know. And you may trip over loose wires or broken links — in which case I hope you will let me know right away, by comment or email. Meanwhile, look around. Be sure to Follow us. And tell your friends.

Acknowledgements. The Necessary could not have gotten off the ground without brilliant and generous friends — Bruce Beutler, Myra Durkin, Rebecca Kaiser Gibson, Catherine Grace, and Hume Vance — who contributed their talents to a then nonexistent publication. My wife, Kathleen Brittan, has earned a medal (her fifth this year) for putting up with a project that has been “two weeks from launch” for the past six months. My deepest thanks to all who had faith.

Upcoming. The aforementioned Hume Vance, conjurer with words, looks deep into the brain of another conjurer with words, Vladimir Nabokov. To Hume, the novelist’s word play reinforces a view of language as an active, almost athletic process. “Do you suppose,” Hume asks, “that composing sentences could have some analogy to snaking your hand over and behind cans and bottles to grasp and retrieve a little-used container at the back of the shelf?” Look for his story soon, in The Necessary.

“Although I do not care for the slogan ‘art for art’s sake,’ there can be no question that what makes a work of fiction safe from larvae and rust is not its social importance but its art, only its art.”


Headshot of Barbara Diehl Peirce


This magazine is launched in loving memory of Barbara “Beau” Diehl Peirce (1954-2020), artist, fiddle player, therapist, and creative soul.

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