On April 8th, 2014 eight Honors College students joined John Frohnmayer, former chairman of the National Endowment of the Arts, for lunch and a discussion about his career and his memoir, Leaving Town Alive: Confessions of an Arts Warrior.
Frohnmayer was appointed to the chairmanship of the NEA by President George H.W. Bush in 1989 but was asked to resign in 1992 due to criticism of the NEA, particularly funding for controversial artists such as Robert Mapplethorpe.
“First Amendment issues are very thorny,” Frohnmayer said. He and the students discussed the problems that arise when the government funds art. Since his resignation from the NEA, Frohnmayer has been widely recognized for his advocacy of First Amendment rights. He is currently the chair of Oregon Humanities, the Oregon affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Frohnmayer is involved in art from the creative side, too. He’s currently at work on a book about philosophy and rowing, and he will be teaching an Honors College colloquium course in fall, 2014 on that subject as well. He has also been a singer for much of his life, and his musical comedy SPIN was produced by Oregon State University in 2008. He’s currently working on another musical comedy. “This one is set in a grocery store,” he says. “So much of what we do is around food.”
Frohnmayer is currently the chair of Oregon Humanities, the Oregon affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, which “uses literature and the humanities to help people build communities.” And that’s what’s important about art, he says: “It’s so important for people with passion and ability to be involved.”
CATEGORIES: Courses and Faculty News