From Architizer: The Spanish village of Júzcar in Andalucia was once a pristine whitewashed village. Last spring the settlement was painted bright blue by the Sony corporation as a publicity stunt for “The Smurfs” movie. Sony promised to restore the town and provide compensation for doing so after six months. Little did this village of 220 residents realize that the gimmick would jumpstart their tourism industry, which went from a few hundred visitors a year to 80,000 people in six months. The town now wants to stay blue.

This week, the anti-slavery origins of the Christmas tree in the US, iPad art apps, Ai Weiwei documentary, Georgian architecture, the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, danger in Pompeii, the state of the New Orleans art scene and Stocking.

 An academic does a pretty good job of arguing that the Christmas tree first appeared in the United States as an antislavery symbol. (via AFBurianGroundNPS)

 For everyone who received an iPad as a gift this holiday season. Here are some suggestions from Hyperallergic to get you started in an artful way (in no particular order):

  • Mixel, which we’ve reviewed and is a fun collage program with a social aspect (free)
  • Clibe, an social sketchbook, which we reviewed (free)
  • Sketchbook Pro, which Wired called “[a] drop-dead gorgeous app for digital artists packs a rich feature set into a surprisingly intuitive interface.” ($1.99)
  • iFontMaker, which allows you to make your own handwritten typeface very quickly ($6.99)
  • Art Authority, which may not have the best interface but it has 1,000 high quality images of Western art’s greatest hits. ($4.99, holiday 1/2 special)
  • JoAnn Verburg’s AS IT IS AGAINwhich is the first book conceived and created by an artist to be experience on the iPad (free)
  • the Frank Lloyd Wright Fallingwater app, which gives you a tour of one of the most unique architectural wonders in America ($9.99)
  • And there are dozens of museum catalogues but here are some notable ones:
    • MoMA’s Ab Ex (free)
    • Guggenheim’s Cattelan ($5.99)
    • LACMA’s California Design (free)
    • Kimbell and Santa Barbara Museum’s iCubist, which is accompanies their Picasso/Braque show (free)

 For a sobering look at today’s Christian holiday take a look at the Christmas occupation tree in Bethlehem, which is made of empty tear gas canisters. (via Nancy K)

 Check out the trailer for the much anticipated Ai Weiwei documentary, Never Sorry.

 The capital of the Republic of Georgia, Tbilisi, is in the midst of modernization but does that mean it may lose a lot of his historic vernacular architecture that gives it much of its character?

Several miles of 17th, 18th and 19th-century walls have been removed to be replaced by reinforced concrete, or breeze-block, the houses redesigned as pastiches of themselves, usually with one or two extra floors, occasionally to be re-fronted with the same bricks, sliced down the middle.

 A look at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, which seeks to propagate Scottish national identity and sounds like a wonderful place to explore.

 Another collapse at Pompeii has people worried about the archeological site’s fate.

 In an interview this week on Daily Serving, curator Dan Cameron discusses the New Orleans art scene and includes the rather unbelievable claim that “[New Orleans’s] St. Claude district … now constitutes the critical mass of artist-run spaces for the entire country.” Is that possible? Always a booster of New Orleans, he also seems to be a big supporter of the LA art scene.

 We’re always eager to keep you up to date with the latest memes and online trends, so let us present Stocking, because Planking is so mid-2011.

Required Reading is published every Sunday morning-ish, and it is comprised of a short list NOT THIS TIME of art-related links (10 or less) to long-form articles, videos, blog posts or photo essays worth a second look.

Hrag Vartanian is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic.