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The Mothership Has Landed: Well, a mothership has landed. Chris Richards reports that the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, set to open in 2015, has acquired the prop space ship that Parliament-Funkadelic used in its live shows. This isn’t the original mothership, which was dumped in a Prince Georges County scrap yard in the early 1980s, but a replica the funk collective used beginning in the mid-’90s. Richards’ 2010 feature about the whereabouts of the original Mothership—-which remains missing—-inspired Smithsonian curators to seek it out. Also, Richards gets props for having George Clinton’s home phone number.
Wall Power: On Tuesday, the National Portrait Gallery unveiled a painting of Bill and Melinda Gates it commissioned. Yesterday, Daily Beast art critic Blake Gopnik devoted too much energy to offering a counterintuitive defense: “It does a better job of pointing more people to its subject when it fits all the oil-on-canvas cliches of official portraiture. More artfulness would be beside the point, and distracting. In a sense, by obeying the cliches it becomes that much more transparent, almost like a snapshot photo whose features we read through.” Fine. Sure.
Fitter Happier: River James, a newish band featuring Army of Me’s Vince Scheuerman, is willing to cop to being more Bob Marley than Radiohead.
Today on Arts Desk: An interview with Diane Cluck; baklava with Helen Zughaib.