The Society of the Four Arts, the multi-campus cultural enclave on the island of Palm Beach, recently unveiled the lineup for its O’Keeffe Speaker Series. It’s another star-studded assemblage of heavy hitters in politics, arts, culture and the media.
The political persuasion of the speakers leans conservative in as much as the Miami Book Fair leans liberal, perhaps reflecting the makeup of the Four Arts’ core membership. That said, the lineup is slightly more balanced than last year—and it opens with arguably its biggest marquee name yet.
A star from her very first onscreen appearance, in a 1990 French send-up of “1,001 Nights,” this Welsh actress quickly became one of world cinema’s indomitable beauties, burnishing her striking image in iconic projects from “The Mask of Zorro” to “Chicago” to “Traffic.” Now 50, Zeta-Jones has become more selective of her projects, most of which have critical cachet; she’s portrayed Olivia de Havilland in FX’s catty anthology series “Feud,” and she’s currently starring in “Queen America,” a darkly comic “Pygmalion” riff about a beauty pageant coach forced to transform a bedraggled competitor.
A provocative thought leader with a cult following, Canadian clinical psychologist Peterson has penned two influential nonfiction books straddling sociology and self-help, and his strongly argued opinions on political correctness and religion have found purchase in contrarian circles on both the right and left.
An economist and former president of the American Enterprise Institute, Brooks has spent much of his adult life marinating in Republican orthodoxy, but he seems to have little in common with the divisive tactics of the commander-in-chief. He’ll discuss his latest book Love Your Enemies, a clarion call condemning our tendency to treat our political opposition as subhuman.
An expert on history and economics and a self-described “member of the neo-imperialist gang,” Ferguson correctly predicted the 2008 financial collapse. A New York Timesbest-selling author, he will discuss his latest book The Square & the Tower: Making Sense of a Networked World.
The chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase, the largest American bank, Jamie Dimon is, as they say, part of the 1 percent, with a net worth of $1.4 billion. He’s also proven to be relatively open to discussing his management of one most influential financial institutions in the world, whether it’s suffering withering criticism at congressional hearings or sharing his insights into the world of high finance at open-ended appearances like this one, where the topic is simply “An Afternoon With Jamie Dimon.”
Known as “Bush’s Brain” during his tenure advising the 43rd president—a label that functioned both as a barb and a compliment—this wonkish Republican insider had a great deal of influence on at least four of George W. Bush’s electoral victories, dating back to the candidate’s 1994 gubernatorial run. These days, he writes books, teaches electioneering workshops and discusses current event at lectures like this one, titled “America’s Challenges.”
This historian and journalist spent 33 years editing two of the nation’s leading current-affairs publications, Timeand Newsweek, and he is remains a sought-after commentator on chatfests like “Morning Joe.” He harbors a political interest in the Supreme Court, as evidenced by his latest book and Four Arts lecture topic, “First: Sandra Day O’Connor.”
For this lecture, the focus shifts from news and politics to the art world. As the director of New York’s Museum of Modern Art since 1995, Lowry has a vital role in shaping public appreciation for contemporary art, and introducing countless new voices to the canon. An expert speaker on the role of artists and museums in society, Lowry will speak on “Rethinking the Museum: MoMA in the 21st Century.”
From spearheading webcasts of his fanfare-filled concerts to “Virtual Choirs” bringing together singers from a dozen countries, Eric Whitacre is among America’s most innovative composer-conductors. The Juilliard graduate is as comfortable speaking the old-fashioned way as he is with a baton, hence the subject of his Four Arts lecture: “Finding Your Voice.”
Born in North Korea, Park and her family escaped the brutal regime when she was 13, crossing a frozen river and three mountains to make it to the Chinese border. In her vivid talks, she shares every harrowing detail while homing in on the broader message—why we need to resist global dictatorships. If you attend only one lecture this season, Park’s would be my personal recommendation.
Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson
Attendees of this unique program, “Politics in America,” should expect lively discourse at the very least—and, hopefully, no punches thrown. Provocative conservative Tucker Carlson is one of Fox News’ ratings kingpins; Paul Begala is a liberal commentator on CNN and former counselor to President Clinton. Whatever subject arises, they’ll doubtlessly disagree about it.
The son of broadcast royalty Mike Wallace, Chris has forged his own distinctive career as an anchorman. The host of “Fox News Sunday,” Wallace is a registered Democrat on a right-leaning news and opinion network, and has been unafraid to criticize Trump Administration actions and officials, sometimes to their faces. He’ll speak on “A View From Washington.”
A regular featured speaker at the Four Arts, art expert Strauss will discuss the surprising resurgence of Andy Warhol following the Pop icon’s lauded Whitney Museum retrospective in 2018.
Society of the Four Arts lectures are free for members or $35 for nonmembers, available the day of the lecture only, and pending availability. Visit fourarts.org