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Quick Takes: Obama's cultural agenda

February 14, 2012

President Obama on Monday honored several artists, writers and organizations for their contributions to the nation, and pledged to make the arts and humanities a priority for as long as he is in the White House.

Obama bestowed eight National Medal of Arts and nine National Humanities Medals during a ceremony in the White House East Room. Among this year's recipients were actor Al Pacino, poet Rita Dove, singer Mel Tillis, pianist Andre Watts, philosopher and novelist Kwame Anthony Appiah and the United Service Organization, which holds performances for American service members stationed around the world.

Obama urged the honorees to help mentor a new generation of artists and scholars, saying their role in the nation's future would be equally as important as the next generation of engineers and scientists.

—Associated Press

Frost documents lead to arrest

A man pleaded not guilty Monday to a charge that he stole a number of original cards and letters written by poet Robert Frost that were in a desk donated to the nonprofit agency where he worked and then sold them for more than $25,000 in cash and other goods.

Timothy Bernaby, 42, was arrested Friday after he was spotted by law enforcement officers in the courthouse in White River Junction, Vt., on an unrelated matter. He is free on $5,000 bail and declined comment as he left the courthouse Monday.

The documents remain in the possession of the person who purchased them from Bernaby, said county State's Attorney Robert Sand. The original owner of the documents wants them back, he said.

—Associated Press

Michael Brand gets Sydney post

Former Getty Museum director Michael Brand has surprised the art world yet again — this time by taking a job instead of leaving one.

After a six-month global search, the Art Gallery of NSW in Sydney, Australia, has appointed Brand as the museum's new director.

Brand will be the ninth person to assume the role in the gallery's 120-year history when he steps into the position in the middle of this year, following Edmund Capon's 33-year tenure.

Brand, a native of Australia, is currently acting as a consultant to Toronto's Aga Khan Museum. He served as director of the Getty in L.A. from 2005 to 2010, leaving without explanation 10 months before his contract was to expire.

—Jamie Wetherbe

'Glee' episode honors Houston

In a bit of amazingly coincidental timing, Tuesday night's Valentine's Day "Glee" episode will become an impromptu tribute to Whitney Houston.

Love songs will be featured throughout the episode, including "I Will Always Love You," the Dolly Parton song that Houston covered to multiplatinum success in 1992.

Actress Amber Riley, who plays Mercedes, will perform the song.

While the song's inclusion in the episode was decided long before Houston's untimely death on Saturday, the producers aren't letting the episode pass by without finding some way to honor the Grammy-winning singer. A card will be added to the end of the episode memorializing Houston.

—Patrick Kevin Day

Jolie scripts Afghan project

Angelina Jolie says she's not yet sure whether she will follow her directorial debut on the Bosnian war with another film on such serious material — but she has already written a script focusing on the conflict in Afghanistan.

Jolie, who presented her movie "In the Land of Blood and Honey" at the Berlin International Film Festival, told reporters there Monday that even her husband, Brad Pitt, is unfamiliar with her Afghanistan idea.

"I did write something on Afghanistan," she said. "Nobody's seen it yet. Brad hasn't seen it. It's hidden. So I don't know how very good it is, but it's been a pleasure to write."

—Associated Press

Finally

Garden closed: Visitors to the Getty Center can expect a slightly less scenic experience for the rest of winter and much of the spring. The famed outdoor central garden at the Brentwood location will be closed to the public from Tuesday through May 27 for upgrades, the museum said.

White and blue: Jeff Beck, Mick Jagger, B.B. King and Keb Mo are among the artists who will perform at the White House Feb. 21 to celebrate blues music and recognize Black History Month. "In Performance at the White House: Red, White and Blues" will be streamed on the White House website, http://www.whitehouse.gov/live

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