Ask 'Mimi' Jan. 12, 2014

Each week, Melissa "Mimi" Merli answers three arts and entertainment questions:

Hugh Bridgeford of Urbana poses interesting questions about the ownership of street graffiti by the anonymous British artist Banksy:

"Once Banksy paints a wall, who owns the image? Can the owner of the wall sell it? Should private collections or public museums buy it? And what, if anything, should be done to preserve it?"

Contemporary art expert Jonathan Fineberg of Urbana replies:

"The copyright to the image belongs to the artist or his estate until 75 years after his death. This matters in regard to reproducing the work in a book or film, though newspapers/media are exempt as fair use.

"The artist has no claim to the actual object; if you own the wall, it's yours. Many venues are trying hard to preserve these with glass covers and the like. I think there have been cases already where somebody has taken down a wall to preserve and even sell it.

"If we think the quality of the work is great, that it adds something significant to how we understand the world, then we should collect it. If it is merely entertainment, then we shouldn't bother.

"Although I don't think Banksy is a game changer, his work does merit collecting. But only if it can remain in its original site because that is part of its meaning."

2. Who would be on the Mount Rushmore of musical acts from central Illinois?

Bluegrass fiddler/singer Alison Krauss immediately comes to mind. The former Champaign resident with the ethereal voice has 26 Grammy awards, more than any other female artist.

Danville-born singer-pianist Bobby Short was considered the foremost interpreter of Cole Porter and other 20th century American songwriters. A cabaret icon in Manhattan, he was a favorite of Jackie O, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and Woody Allen, who featured him in "Hannah and Her Sisters" and used Short's version of Porter's "I Happen To Like New York" in the "Manhattan Murder Mystery" credits. The Library of Congress designated Short a Living Legend in 2000; he died five years later.

Singer-songwriter Dan Fogelberg launched his career in the early '70s as a student at the University of Illinois. His Joe Walsh-produced album "Souvenirs" (1974) produced his first hit, "Part of the Plan." He went on to release a string of gold and platinum albums. He died in '07.

The rock band REO Speedwagon formed in C-U in the late '60s and went on to sell 40 million albums worldwide. And the band's still playin'.

3. From Melissa Mitchell of Champaign:

"I was disappointed I didn't 'get on the bus' for Deke Weaver's fall performance of 'Wolf.' Will a video version be available soon?"

The multimedia, multiperformer "Wolf" started in Urbana with a chartered bus trip to Allerton Park in Monticello, where most of the action took place. It's part of Weaver's "Bestiary" series about endangered animals.

His reply:

"The 'Wolf' video will be available ... but I wouldn't say 'soon.' I finally finished editing the 'Elephant' video. The footage for both 'Elephant' and 'Wolf' looks fantastic, thanks to the amazing people at Shatterglass Studios who shot them. 'Monkey,' which was at the Station Theatre, wasn't shot by Shatterglass but still looks good.

"We're considering a 'Bestiary' docs showing at the Art Theater Co-op but haven't asked them yet."

Have a question? We'd love to hear from you. Please email it to mmerli@news-gazette.com.

Topics (4):Art, Music, People, Theater

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