Your eyes and ears on the world of art and culture.

Today we dedicate this page to the Washington Post, the New York Times, The Guardian, and CNN, for excellence in journalistic reporting. These are the media outlets that Donald Trump has banned from at least one of his news conferences. In the name of a free and open democracy we urge you to support these fine journalists/writers/reporters/editors any way you can.

In support of an open Internet, with unlimited educational opportunities, the Metropolitan Museum of Art has offered 375,000 public domain artworks from its collection free to the public, to be used any way you want to. No permissions are required, and there are no limitations on how you can upload, download, or otherwise use them.

A young and talented Chinese photographer, Ren Hang, has just died at the age of 29. Hang was known for his unabashed photos of naked young people along with fresh fruits, images that are sculptural and stark in their frankness. Hang's work was difficult to show in a society that tends to reject nudity . A Dutch publication reports that Hang committed suicide.

Following a Brooklyn Academy of Music premiere in 2014, The San Francisco Opera has just produced "The Source". The opera is based on the events of Chelsea Manning's disclosures through WikiLeaks, her sentence to 35 years in prison (subsequently lifted by former President Barack Obama), and her tranformation from male into female while incarcerated. The New York Times gives us a telephone interview with the composer Ted Hearne, with specific questions about the audiences in 2014 and now.

If you read nothing else today, be sure to learn about The White Rose, the Smithsonian online revelation of a secret group of students that resisted the Nazis. There are sentences here that will surely resonate for you, as they did for me. Quoting Jurgen Wittenstein: "It was not good enough to keep to oneself, one's beliefs, and ethical standards. The time had come to act." Pamphlets urged readers to "break through their apathy". Among their last words, before being guillotined: "We will not be silent....We are your bad conscience." One of them was later made a saint by the Russian Orthodox Church. The White Rose activities remind us of the cost of passivity, what eminent French scholar Henry Rousso calls "the past that does not pass," and I call the past that must never come to pass again.

In a report titled "An Embarrassment of Riches", Art News shows us some extraordinary pieces from the Sergei Schukin art collection. Said to be worth $10 billion dollars, the art was taken from Schukin and given to the State (of Russia) by Lenin in 1918 as examples of "capitalist decadence". Many of them have never been seen before and have left Russia for this exhibition in France for the first time in almost a century. Feast your eyes on Matisse, Picasso, Braque, Gauguin, Degas and others in this splendid exhibition.

Copying the Japanese tradition of ceramic reparations, artist Rachel Sussman has used gold to fill the cracks in sidewalks. Calling her series "Alchemy: Transformations in Gold", now at the Des Moines Art Center, Sussman addresses the beauty in aging as well as the economic and philosophical implications of gold. She speaks of the "aesthetic philosophy of wabi-sabi inherent in the work and the organisms themselves: quiet and imperfect, bearing the proud patinas and injuries of age, while flirting with the boundaries of permanence."

In 1887-88, Georges Seurat painted Parade de Cirque, also known as Circus Sideshow. Now the Metropolitan Museum of Art has constructed an exhibition centered not only on Seurat's interest in the circus but on the works of other 19th century artists with a similar fascination. Using posters, paintings, prints and illustrated journals, the Met gives a broad historic view of this vibrant period in art history.

I continue to share with you my fascination with the brain and our attempts to mimic it. This article from the New Yorker, called "A Computer to Rival the Brain", takes us from the history of early computing, using weaving and threads as a prototype, to the realization that computers, like human brains, are messy and imperfect.

We all know that gesture and body language carry intense meaning, a meaning that tends to vary from culture to culture. Here is a posture, known as wushu, a form of kung fu, that seems to be stately and athletic. In fact it represents audacity and daring, as opposed to what is expected of women in Afghanistan. This form of martial arts is considered unsuitable for females. The shape of her body also references a hexagram, well-known in Hindu mythology. The implication is of a strong new place for women in society.

Speaking of audacity, this robot on wheels is clearly a model of aggression, with no attempt at reconciliation. The founder of Boston Dynamics says of his creation, it "has a lot of knowledge of how to throw its weight around." In an updated video, Boston Dynamics demonstrates the rather fierce athleticism of its new robot. Is this where we're headed: testosterone trumps all?

Leonardo Online gives us a fascinating review of a new book about John Cage. Called "The Selected Letters of John Cage", it appears to be two books in one. The first takes us through the struggles of an avant-garde artist as he tries to make his insights accepted and respected. The second, running along the bottom of the pages, documents who the people are that Cage interacted with. The combination, says Ellen Pearlman, offers an invaluable picture of "how he framed his world, and how, in turn, his world framed him."

A.O.Scott, in the New York Times, reviews the movie "I Am Not Your Negro", calling it a "life-altering documentary". Although it is ostensibly about James Baldwin, it carries implications far beyond the life of one man, even a brilliant writer like Baldwin. Scott gives a rousing endorsement, of the movie itself, of the voice-over narration by Samuel L. Jackson, of Raoul Peck's achievement. To sum it up, Scott writes of Baldwin, "At the end of the movie, you are convinced that you know him. And, more important, that he knows you. To read Baldwin is to be read by him, to feel the glow of his affection, the sting of his scorn, the weight of his disappointment, the gift of his trust."

A powerful voice of outrage comes through from an exhibition called "REJOICE! OUR TIMES ARE INTOLERABLE: Jenny Holzer's Street Posters, 1977-82". Holzer began by making street signs on colored paper and posting them all over New York City, at a time when she was a student. Comments that she made then, which seemed beyond extreme, now seem prescient. Her rage is balanced by her compassion, need for revenge, and acute sense of the absurd. In today's Trumpian other-worldly world, she is a potent cry for waking up.

Many of us have played with origami or other forms of manipulating paper. (Remember those paper airplanes from school?) Matthew Shlian has turned the hobby into an art form. His "geometric paper sculptures", as shown at Florida Gulf Coast University, combine inspiration with engineering, taking the humble piece of paper to a new height.

Although less than 4 minutes each, these two contemporary string quartets offered by the Free Music Archive could start, or end, your day with moments of peaceful contemplation. Note that this invaluable site offers hours of free listening pleasure in a variety of genres.

c. Corinne Whitaker 2017