AFTER A valedictory speech on July 23, National Endowment for the Humanities chairman Sheldon Hackney will ride off into the sunset.
His resignation becomes effective in August. NEH hasn't had to endure the abuse of the National Endowment for the Arts, whose survival is once again in doubt, but Mr. Hackney and his agency have taken their lumps, too.
There was strong criticism of funding a "National Conversation." Grants were provided to schools, libraries and community groups two years ago to hold discussions on subjects ranging from ethics to ethnicity. Opponents said Americans didn't need government kits and guidebooks to tell them how to hold a discussion.
They missed Mr. Hackney's point that many of this nation's problems might lessen if people would just talk to each other.
The NEH budget was cut from a high of $172 million in fiscal 1993 to its current level of $110 million. President Clinton has asked Congress for $136 million in the next fiscal year, but getting that much is not considered likely.
The head of the Maryland Humanities Council, Barbara Wells Sarudi, says it's hard to tell about the post-Hackney era.
He supported Maryland projects, but so could his successor. She is worried that the next chairman will have a smaller budget to share with the Maryland council, which receives 75 percent of its funds from the NEH and other federal sources.
FOR NEARLY a decade, Federal Hill's Gomez Gallery -- which was first known as the Gomez-Knight Gallery -- has been an important venue for exhibiting paintings, sculpture and other works of art. It recently added a Baltimore first -- a room that displays only photography.
"We've shown a great deal of photography through the years. It's a passion of mine and I felt it was time to make a commitment to it," explained the gallery's owner, Walter Gomez.
Art lovers do not even have to leave their home to visit the Gomez Gallery these days. The gallery has gone cyber. Just tap into its website -- www.gomez.com
THE HATFIELDS are having a birthday party, and they're holding it over at the McCoys' place?
That was the initial thought when the Baltimore Bicentennial Celebration committee announced it was holding a "Backyard Barbeque Bash" last Saturday at Golden Ring Mall, several miles across the city line in Baltimore County.
In fact, this event was the product of thoughtful recognition that Baltimore city and county have a relationship that transcends political boundaries.
The Simon-DeBartolo Group that owns Golden Ring contacted the city committee and asked if it could host a bicentennial event, noting that many of its shoppers live in the city and many more of them moved to the county from the city. The mall has had a bicentennial information kiosk and lists in its house organ the city's many birthday-related events.
Though hot weather kept the turnout down, the mall event reflected positively on the city-suburb link -- more so, say, than the pizza chain billboard that looms high over the state penitentiary complex downtown.
This massive billboard shows a mouth-watering pie under the heading "Pizza Envy" and lists all the places in the suburbs you can find this pizza: Baltimore, though, is not one of them.
Pub Date: 7/19/97