Obama honors Yo-Yo Ma, others with Medal of Freedom

Posted on: February 15, 2011

Monday (2/14) on the Los Angeles Times blog Culture Monster, Mike Boehm writes, “If a fundamental aim of contemporary visual art is to get out ahead of conventional wisdom and mass opinion and keep the public off-balance, here’s some evidence that its most illustrious practitioners have been doing their job: when President Obama presents Jasper Johns with the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Tuesday at the White House, it will be the first time in 34 years that a painter or sculptor has won the nation’s highest civilian honor. Obama joins John F. Kennedy and Gerald Ford as the only presidents who have given a medal to a painter or sculptor. … When it comes to honoring people in the art forms that Culture Monster covers—art/photography, architecture, classical music/opera, jazz, theater and dance—Obama, halfway through his term, is setting a vigorous pace. Johns and Yo-Yo Ma, who is also among this year’s 15 recipients, bring Obama’s artist-honoree total to four, on track for eight in a single term. The White House has announced that it will stream the ceremony live on its website at 10:30 a.m. Pacific/1:30 p.m. Eastern time on Tuesday.”

Photo by Justin Lane/EPA