I’d like to address Albert H. Black’s letter (“Art reviewer shares blame for expecting explanations,” Aug. 25) commenting on Daniel Kany’s art review of David Driskell’s work.

From an artist’s standpoint, I must defend Mr. Kany. The art critic has, in the past, wielded huge power in making or breaking careers. Clement Greenberg was the premier critic from the late ’30s to the ’50s.

That kind of godlike posturing has thankfully been replaced with thoughtful, constructive and honest reviewing, such as New York magazine’s Jerry Saltz, who was fearless in his reviews.

Mr. Kany likewise offers a subjective and educated opinion, one with which you may or may not agree.

After reading his Aug. 18 review, I learned some facts about the background of Driskell. I may have a completely different reaction to the paintings than Mr. Kany; however, it made me think about the work in terms of the artist’s historical influences.

Every art student has faced the dreaded “critique.” It is there that we learn to listen to very subjective yet constructive advice.

We may not agree with it, but it affords us an avenue by which we can move our work forward and improve. This is especially true for “blossoming professional” artists whose works are reviewed by critics.

Mr. Black, in suggesting “leaving it to the eyes of the beholder,” misses the opportunity for the viewer to hear other opinions. Yes, go look at as much art as you can, but also be open to all opinions. Information from many sources will only help us appreciate art in a more thoughtful way.

Lin White

Pownal

Casino proposals would level playing field for the Downs

The Downs respects the views of residents opposed to gaming, including betting on horse racing. I did, however, want to correct a misstatement in a letter from Suzanne Foley-Ferguson (“Scarborough could lose say over casino on Downs land,” Aug. 27).

The Downs has not proposed any recent legislation that would allow expanded gaming without a local referendum. The Downs believes that a local referendum is essential before gaming should be allowed, either at our current location or if we are able to move to another city, such as Biddeford.

The zoning ordinance that the Town Council passed and state law expressly require a local referendum and would require the track to reach a revenue-sharing agreement with the council. The Downs supports both requirements.

The bills the Downs has proposed to the Legislature would only correct unfair provisions that were drafted to give an unfair advantage to Maine’s existing casinos.

Those fine-print provisions prohibit the Downs from moving more than five miles (i.e., to Biddeford); require its local referendum to have been completed by December 2003, and prohibit the Downs from operating within 100 miles of the casino in Oxford.

Horsemen and track employees work hard to earn their living, but they are being asked to fight an uneven battle against casino operators. Scarborough Downs is asking for a level playing field that will allow it to compete against casino gaming.

We realize that some people don’t support gaming, and we very much respect their opinion on this issue. Casino gaming has now arrived in Maine (at multiple locations), and if harness racing is to survive, a racino is needed at Maine’s largest commercial track, located in a community that desires its economic benefits.

All we and horsemen are saying is “Let us compete.”

Sharon Terry

president, Scarborough Downs

Falmouth

Racist diatribe reminder of need to battle ignorance

Wednesday marked the 50th anniversary of the Freedom March on Washington, D.C.

The front-page article in that day’s Press Herald (“Local official rebuked for offensive Obama Web post“) poses a distressing irony.

Americans of all ethnicities, races, religions, sexual orientations and political beliefs draw pride from those who sacrificed to help our society evolve into a more tolerant and compassionate nation.

David Marsters’ public, vitriol-laced diatribe threatening our twice-elected president harkens back to the sad days prior to the civil rights movement. It stuns many of us living in this state that such hatred is celebrated by some.

Only those of us who recognize the horror of such ignorance can overwhelm such narrow-minded ignorance.

The Rev. Martin Luther King eloquently expressed his hope that we as Americans would learn to judge others not by “the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

As a society, we have made strides in this direction. Mr. Marsters has given pause that perhaps we have not come as far as many have hoped.

My sincere desire is that we will hear the ignorance amongst us and allow it to strengthen our resolve that indeed we shall overcome.

James M. Kirsh

Falmouth

Dr. King would have fought for factory-farmed animals

This week’s 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s March on Washington is being observed with marches, speeches and speculation on what causes Dr. King would embrace today.

He would certainly continue to work for racial equality. But he would also likely advocate for a rapid withdrawal from Afghanistan, workers’ rights, gay rights and animal rights.

Yes, animal rights. Although he is best known for advocacy of racial equality, Dr. King opposed all violence, like the Vietnam War. And there is no greater violence than that perpetrated each day against billions of cows, pigs and other sentient animals in America’s factory farms and slaughterhouses.

The day before his assassination in 1968, Dr. King came to Memphis to champion the most oppressed human beings in America — African-American sanitation workers.

Today, it would also be about the most oppressed living beings in America — animals raised for food, experiments and entertainment.

Although Dr. King never lived long enough to extend his circle of compassion, justice and nonviolence to non-human animals, his wife, Coretta Scott King, and his son Dexter Scott King did, by embracing the vegan lifestyle. A great way for us to honor the King legacy is to follow their lead.

Paul Mahn

Portland