Tuesday’s Art Notes

BY Molly Finnegan  February 15, 2011 at 10:45 AM EST

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President Barack Obama presents the 2010 Medal of Freedom to American artist Jasper Johns on Feburary 15, 2011 at the White House in Washington, DC. The Medal of Freedom is the Nation’s highest civilian honor and is presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors. Photo by Tim Sloan/ AFP/ Getty Images

On Tuesday, President Barack Obama honored artist Jasper Johns, cellist Yo-Yo Ma and arts and disability advocate Jean Kennedy Smith (whose organization VSA we profiled recently) with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, via The Los Angeles Times reports on the rarity of a visual artist receiving the nation’s highest honor given to a civilian

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The president released his 2012 budget proposal on Monday, with many cuts in arts and culture spending for organizations like the National Endowment for the Arts. The Smithsonian Institution actually saw an increase, but that money is slated for the construction of a new National Museum of African American History and Culture. The Washington Post breaks down the numbers.

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New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg will be donating $32 million in grants to arts organizations through his family foundation, via The Wall Street Journal.

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In Egypt, protesters are calling for another resignation: that of the antiquities minister, via The Associated Press.

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The yellow of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers is wilting faster than other colors in his paintings, via BBC.

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A Seattle art dealer has been sentenced to four years in prison for orchestrating the theft of art from his clients’ homes, via Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

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Animal rights organization PETA has offered to pull Baltimore’s Edgar Allan Poe House out of financial trouble if it will agree to display a pro-vegan advertisement, via The Baltimore Sun.

[After the jump, remembering musician George Shearing and actor Kenneth Mars]

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George Shearing, one of the great modern jazz musicians, born blind in South London who began playing the piano at age 3, has died in New York after a prolific career composing and performing, via The Guardian.

Shearing’s most memorable song is “Lullabye of Birdland,” named after the famous New York nightclub, here performed by Ella Fitzgerald:

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Comedic actor Kenneth Mars, who had a long career in television, as well as memorable film roles as the German playwright in Mel Brooks’ The Producers and an Croatian musicologist in Peter Bogdanovich’s What’s Up Doc?, died Sunday at the age of 75 in California, via The Associated Press.