Baltimore City Paper

Wandering Eye: Frank Conaway Jr.'s crazy videos, Jerry Saltz on Matisse, and more

YouTube videos posted by state Del. Frank M. Conaway Jr. (D-40th District), the son of the elected clerk of the Baltimore City Circuit Court of the same name, both of whom are unopposed for re-election in the Nov. 4 general election in Baltimore, captured the attention of Baltimore Sun reporters because of their cryptic incoherence. Conaway Jr. subsequently took them down yesterday. They've been preserved here, where Baltimore web developer Chris Cook also tries to unravel what it all means, including by referencing a 2006 City Paper article that describes the documented evidence of Conaway Jr.'s mental illness. That CP article appeared prior to Conaway Jr.'s first victory in a general election, but after he'd already won in the 40th District's Democratic primary, and since then the 40th District's voters have repeatedly returned him to Annapolis, where his oddities become manifest in his empty legislative record. Apparently, this is fine with the bulk of the 40th's Democratic voters, who just tossed out a veteran Baltimore City legislator, Shawn Tarrant, who is completely rational, but kept Conaway Jr. (Van Smith)

Jerry Saltz, drooled over by artists and fellow critics alike, is the closest thing art writing has ever had to a rock star. And his Vulture piece on Matisse's cutouts at MoMA, which certainly pleased Baltimore's Matisse-Industrial Complex, leads with this epic opening: "Nothing readied me for the visual thunder, physical profundity, and oceanic joy of Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs at MoMA. In The Cut-Outs, Matisse found the artistic estuary he'd always been looking for, a way to concretize and make physical the painted flat space of his own early 20th-century invention, Fauvism — color used to describe form, its fatness, fullness, and where it's located in space, while being almost abstract, voluptuously colored, radically simplified, or elaborated." 

But Saltz was not just blown away by Matisse, he uses the cut-outs to make a case that his work ushered in a new way of looking at art, championing a post-macho aesthetic (much of Saltz's piece seems aimed at the new cubism exhibition over at the Met, which even the New Yorker treated as an important chore). "It has never been explained why pure beauty, form, color, comfort, or even kittens are any less visceral than a picture of a bull with a naked lady being raped in the background." 

Saltz has certainly turned Picasso into a straw man with this argument, but it does make even a Matisse agnostic want to go have a look. (Baynard Woods)


Congressman Elijah Cummings of Baltimore joined Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren Monday to send a letter requesting the Government Accountability Office investigate non-bank mortgage servicers. Housingwire broke the story yesterday. Mortgage servicers are the people who process your payment or—when trouble hits—help you get a loan modification. Or don't. Cummings and Warren say the companies, which have grabbed up market share in recent years, are vulnerable to economic downturns because they are not required to have as much money on hand as banks. Other regulators have found some of them to be shady. It was servicers, not "too-big-to-fail" banks, that led the robo-signing scandals of the early 2010s. The shenanigans continue, apparently. On Tuesday the New York Department of Financial Services sent an open letter to one of the big services, Ocwen, alleging that it had back-dated letters to customers in order to make them miss deadlines to appeal the denial of their loan modifications. (Edward Ericson Jr.)