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Week of  July 8-15, 2001

1. Special Interest
2. Dance
3. Media
4. Music
5. People
6. Publishing
7. Theatre
8. Visual Arts
9. Arts Issues
10. For Fun


HOW TO EXPLAIN? "We talk about art - and write about art - so poorly. If you eliminated all the easy, lazy superlatives - beautiful, wonderful, powerful, amazing, incredible - from use in any context relating to art, the silence would be deafening. People would stare at each other and stammer and gesticulate, and feel utterly at a loss to describe what they just experienced. This is all the more a problem when the art form, such as music or dance, has no verbal element." Washington Post 07/15/01

PSYCH THROUGH ART: A British psychologist has developed a system of analyzing children's artwork to determine if they have psychological problems. "It uses 23 separate indicators to analyse drawings of individual figures and family groups by five to seven-year-olds. These include: omission of body parts, position of figures, whether the figures appear to be 'floating' in mid-air, whether they appear to be unusually large or small, and whether the child drew over the picture several times before getting it right." The Times (UK) 07/13/01


THE INNER JEROME: Choreographer Jerome Robbins was much beloved for his work. But he was legendarily awful to work with, an unpleasant man who knew how to keep a grudge...The New Republic 07/11/01

DESERT IN BLOOM: A year ago Ballet Arizona was on the brink of collapse, and only an emergency bailout allowed the company to meet its payroll. But things have turned around - "Ballet Arizona is emerging from that near-death experience with a clear artistic vision and a more stable public image. Most tellingly, the level of red ink that nearly drowned the troupe last year has receded." Arizona Republic 07/15/01

LOOKING FOR INSPIRATION: The 15-year-old Philippine Ballet Theatre is having a crisis of budget, artistic direction and dwindling audiences. Is the solution bringing in stars from outside the country? Philippine Daily Inquirer 07/08/01



EMMY NOMINATIONS: The Sopranos (22) and The West Wing (18) win most Emmy nominations on American television. The New York Times 07/13/01 (one-time registration required for access)

  • BUT WHAT ABOUT BUFFY? What's with those Emmy judges? Are they all 108 years old? How else to explain the shows nominated for awards this year? "These people are so decrepit that they can't even change the channel to see what else is on the tube beside The Sopranos, The West Wing, ER, Law & Order and The Practice, the same gang of five that topped the nominations last year." Toronto Star 07/15/01

MOVIE BOYCOTT: Movie ticket prices are up 10 percent over a year ago in the US. Enough! cries a group of movie enthusiasts. Time to protest with a boycott. This Friday (July 13) the group proposes a boycott of movie houses across the country. BBC 07/12/01

THE SCARIEST THING IN HOLLYWOOD - AN ABSTRACT IDEA: As a literary genre, science fiction "has transcended its pulp origins and gained an enormous amount of credibility over the last 25 years." Not so the movies, where space operas and alien-invasions are the norm. Why do so few thoughtful sci-fi novels make it to the screen? "People in Hollywood are afraid that anything that is perceived as an abstract idea will drive people from the theater." The New York Times 07/08/01 (one-time registration required for access)

MEXICO + HOLLYWOOD, A SLOW-BUILDING ROMANCE: It began more than 50 years ago, with The Treasure of the Sierra Madre; with The Mexican last year and Frida this year, it's finally taking shape. The biggest attraction of all may be down-and-dirty practical, as the Mexican government has "streamlined permit applications for filmmakers who want to work in Mexico and overhauled union rules and tax laws." USAToday 07/11/01



REBUILDING ON FAITH: At the end of this year La Scala will close for a 3-year $50 million renovation. But given the difficulty European opera houses have had rebuilding or restoring, "people cannot help wondering if La Scala's management can keep its promise to reopen on Dec. 7, 2004." The New York Times 07/09/01 (one-time registration required for access)

AGE VS MUSIC: "Does a composer's age influence the type of music he/she writes? At what point is one no longer considered a 'young' composer, and can a composer who is chronologically 'old' write in a young way?" NewMusicBox 07/01

BIG IS BIG: Is the notion of a Big Five list of American orchestras outdated? "The Cleveland Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic and Philadelphia Orchestra — are still the brand names in American classical music in ways that the St. Louis Symphony, San Francisco Symphony and Los Angeles Philharmonic are not. Whether or not they deserve this status is beside the point." Andante 07/06/01

UNDERSTANDING AMERICAN: "Lacking an indigenous core repertory, American classical music is to this day impossible to frame. It remains reliant on Old World cultural parents for its menu of masterpieces. It remains bedeviled by an ambiguous and uneasy relationship with jazz, Broadway and other native popular genres." How ironic that those taking the lead in sorting through the American genre are European rather than American. The New York Times 07/15/01 (one-time registration required for access)

TORONTO SYMPHONY ORDERED TO REINSTATE: The Toronto Symphony has been ordered to reinstate its star cellist; he was fired in May after performing in an amateur concert while on sick leave from the orchestra. But Daniel Domb, a 27-year veteran of the orchestra, says he's so angry about the dismissal he won't return. "The bad feelings stirred up in the whole orchestra aren't going to go away anytime soon." Toronto Star 07/12/01

  • BAD YEAR ALL AROUND: Domb was recently twice turned down for his disability insurance claim after a near-fatal head injury suffered in a fall in Mexico. Toronto Star 07/13/01
NAPSTER STILL OFFLINE: A US judge tells Napster that the music file-swapping service will not be allowed to operate online again until copyright song filtering is 100 percent effective. Wired 07/12/01

HOW ABOUT A LITTLE MORE ELITISM? London's Royal Opera House has lost its way, writes Norman Lebrecht. "So long as Covent Garden plies [its chairman's] apologetic counter-elitism, it will offer grunge-level rail-station services. It's on the wrong line. The ROH needs to smarten up, to pursue unashamed excellence without discrimination. If this is elitist, so be it." The Telegraph (UK) 07/11/01

KIROV BUST: The Kirov Opera's summer residency in London has been much anticipated. But opening night was "a severe disappointment, an embarrassment to admirers of the company who had gone into print in advance (include me in), cause for considerable anger, I would imagine, on the part of those who had paid astronomical prices to see and hear what can only be described as a desperately provincial show." The Times (UK) 07/11/01

BLAME IT ON TICKETMASTER: A combination of economic pressures and high ticket prices appear to be taking their toll on the one aspect of the music industry once thought to be impervious to economic factors: pop concerts. "The 10.9 million tickets bought to see the top 50 acts is nearly 16 percent lower than the 12.9 million during the same time last year." Dallas Morning News (AP) 07/11/01

JÄRVI HOSPITALIZED: Conductor Neeme Järvi has been hospitalized. "The 64-year-old musical director of the Detroit Symphony was taken to the hospital Monday from his hotel in Pärnu, Estonia, 75 miles south of the capital, where he was attending a classical music festival. Media reports said he apparently had a stroke." Andante (AP) 07/10/01

OBVIOUSLY A STEINWAY PLOT: Baldwin, arguably the world's second-most prominent manufacturer of pianos, is in bankruptcy court, attempting to overcome years of outdated manufacturing processes, charges of recent mismanagement, and massive overstock. The company says it will rise again, but some dealers are doubtful. Dallas Morning News (AP) 07/07/01



THE BOOK ON CALLAS: "The fallen grandeur of Maria Callas has fuelled quite an industry since her death in 1977, aged just 53; and it wasn't doing too badly when she was alive. Mystique, though, is no friend to scholarship. Living legends make bad history. And with bad history already running riot in at least 30 books devoted to the diva, I am not sure that this one takes us any closer to the truth." The Telegraph (UK) 07/09/01

A SMALL INVESTIGATION: Controversial Smithsonian chief Lawrence Small has made a lot of enemies. Now the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has reopened an investigation into the private collection of Amazonian tribal art owned by Small. Washington Post 07/10/01

JÄRVI HOSPITALIZED: Conductor Neeme Järvi has been hospitalized. "The 64-year-old musical director of the Detroit Symphony was taken to the hospital Monday from his hotel in Pärnu, Estonia, 75 miles south of the capital, where he was attending a classical music festival. Media reports said he apparently had a stroke." Andante (AP) 07/10/01



FEDERAL JUDGE SAYS AUTHORS RETAIN E-BOOK RIGHTS: Citing "myriad differences between traditional book publishing and publishing in digital form," a US District Court judge has ruled, in effect, that Rosetta Books is free to issue in e-book form works by William Styron and Kurt Vonnegut. Random House, which holds publication rights to the two authors, had asked for an injunction against Rosetta. The ruling has potential for wide impact in the publishing industry. New York Law Journal 07/12/01

THE ILIAD - TOO BORING? A British lottery-funded project to donate a library of classic Great Books worth £3,000 to every school in he country has hit an unexpected snag. Eleven schools have refused the gift on the grounds that the books are either too difficult or too boring. "One Edinburgh teacher complained publicly that an early title, by the Greek historian Herodotus, was 'far too boring'." The Guardian (UK) 07/13/01

BUY AUSSIE: "Between July 1988 and last December, Australians paid about 44 per cent more for fiction paperbacks than US readers and about 9 per cent more than British readers." But proposed legislation to allow the free importing of books is opposed by much of the Aussie book industry. Wonder why? Sydney Morning Herald 07/12/01

THE DISAPPOINTMENTS OF CONTEMPORARY FICTION: Modern novelists seem to have lost - or quickly to lose - the basic skill of telling a common story to common readers. When good story-tellers become successful, their work "becomes thinner and thinner, more and more calculated to appeal to that narrow and treacherous audience of critics, booksellers, publicists and partygoers." The Guardian (UK) 07/08/01

BOOKS - THEY'RE NOT JUST FOR GROWN-UPS ANY MORE: Know what kids are doing more of these days? No, besides that. They're reading. A new study shows them reading more than a book a month, on average, and "minority teens may be reading the most of all." One of the books they're reading may be the old sword and sorcery stand-by Lord of the Rings. Sales of Tolkien's classic are four times what they were last year, probably because of hype for the movie, which is not due out for another five months. & Nando Times 07/11/01

A CHAPTER OF ULYSSES FOR $1.2 MILLION: James Joyce's multi-colored hand manuscript of the "Eumaus" chapter of Ulysses was auctioned at Sotheby's for £861,250 ($1,216,360). That was less than had been projected, based on last December's sale of another draft chapter, which went for $1.5 million. The Guardian (UK) 07/10/01

POETIC OBSCURITY: The collapse of American poetry into the black hole of academic obscurity is a process that has been occurring for half a century. At the beginning of the 21st century, the contrast between the relative health of poetry in Britain and its dire condition in the US is striking." Prospect 07/01

MONEY ISN'T EVERYTHING. RELATIVELY SPEAKING, THAT IS: She's written only one story. Must have been a good one; The New Yorker published it. Book publishers started throwing money at her - $500,000, in one case. She turned down the half million, and accepted a $100,000 offer from Ecco Press, which publishes such luminaries as Edmund White and Czeslaw Milosz. 07/09/01


TICKET SLUMP: Ticket sales in London's West End are down. "Box office takings have dropped by about 10 percent in theatreland as overseas visitors, notably those from the United States, stay away amid fears about the foot-and-mouth crisis." First casualty - Andrew Lloyd Webber's acclaimed The Beautiful Game. The Age (Melbourne) 07/12/01

IT GOES TWO WAYS: "All drama demands interaction between performers and audience. Is it really at its best when we sit in silent ranks, applauding when we're told to, filing in and filing out in careful awe? A glass wall seems to have descended between audience and players. But whose idea was it to put theatre on this pedestal of respectful silence?" The Independent (UK) 07/11/01

DIRECTOR AS CEO: We usually think of directors as being the one responsible for success of a production. But "the director of any big show - whether a musical, a full-scale Shakespearean or classic drama - is in fact profoundly reliant on an army of collaborators whose names and contributions the public never registers unless they scour the small print of the programme. The director is often less magician and dictator than he is manager and facilitator." The Telegraph (UK) 07/12/01

MACKINTOSH HEADS FOR THE SHOWERS: With some of his long-running shows closing, and new shows failing to settle in to extended runs, mega-producer Cameron MackIntosh says he will no longer produce new shows. Backstage 07/12/01

TRYING TO GET BACK ON TOP: Andrew Lloyd Webber has booked a theatre on Broadway this fall for a revival of his 1975 show By Jeeves. Sir Andrew is "said to be smarting from the fact that, since the closing of Cats last year, he has only one show - The Phantom of the Opera - running in New York. Once the undisputed king of the Great White Way and the West End, he has not had a hit show in years." New York Post 07/13/01

TOUGH TIMES FOR BLACK THEATRES: "In the 1970s and '80s, there were as many as 200 African-American theaters in the United States. Today, there are fewer than 50, and only a handful of those have budgets of more than $1 million. 'The challenges of black theaters are the exact same challenges that white theaters face, however the results are more devastating for us, because we started out with so few companies'." Minneapolis Star-Tribune 07/08/01

STAYING VIABLE: What does the theatre world have to do to compete with the vast array of entertainment options available in the 21st century? Stop trying to be television, for one thing. "The theater must appeal to our inner sense of wonderment - and, even more simply, the awareness of human skills and human ingenuity." New York Post 07/08/01


FIGURATIVE BIAS: Anti-conceptual forces are on the rise. London's Tate Gallery is looking for a new curator of modern British art. But is there a catch? "The job that holds out the promise of 'recommending new acquisitions to Tate's director of collections' also guarantees you will be vilified by a growing movement of artists infuriated by the bias towards conceptual art largely dictated by Tate director Sir Nicholas Serota and his Brit Art cronies at the Saatchi gallery." Glasgow Herald 07/13/01

A BARGAIN AT JUST UNDER $8.4 MILLION: "One day after a small sketch by Leonardo raised the world record for the artist to a £8.14 million ($11.47 million), a Michelangelo study of a woman mourning became the second highest Michelangelo drawing at £5.94 million ($8.39 million) . Far more beautiful than Michelangelo's study for 'The Risen Christ,' which sold last year at Christie's for a record £8.14 million ($11.49 million), the Michelangelo sold at Sotheby's was comparatively reasonably priced." International Herald Tribune 07/12/01

  • DRIVEN OUT BY INFLATION: Prices of Old Master drawings are soaring, but long-time connoisseurs are deserting the market, "driven away by the most phenomenal inflation ever witnessed where art is concerned." International Herald Tribune 07/14/01

SAVING STONEHENGE: Stonehenge "has been a national disgrace for as long as anyone can remember." The World Heritage Monument is noisy and plagued with auto fumes and gawking tourists. A new plan to fix the site around the stones sounds promising, but why choose architects known more for their cement office towers than historic sensitivities? The Telegraph (UK) 07/14/01

CANADIAN STRIKE SETTLED: The 200 creative and technical staff at Canada's National Gallery have settled their strike against the museum. "The 63-day strike was often acrimonious. The gallery accused the strikers of harassing visitors to its major summer show, a retrospective of Austrian painter Gustav Klimt." CBC 07/12/01

IMPROPER SALE: A French court has convicted a New York art dealer over his purchase of artwork looted by the Nazis from a Jewish family in World War II. He purchased the Flemish Master painting in 1989 and the French court ruled he had not made the purchase in good faith. Chicago Tribune 07/08/01

YOURNAMEHERE.MUSEUM: Plans for a .museum domain name include provisions to certify which institutions can claim the domains, a kind of Good Housekeeping Seal for museums. But what are the criteria, and who gets to play? The New York Times 07/09/01 (one-time registration required for access)

CAVE RIGHTS: French archeologists are ecstatic to have discovered ancient cave engravings that could date back 28,000 years. But French pride is dampened somewhat by the discovery that an English couple actually owns the land where the caves are located. "Their second home, bought for just over £100,000, could now be valued at millions of pounds by the French courts." The Times (UK) 07/08/01

SOMETHING FROM NOTHING: London has been experimenting with filling Trafalgar Square's empty fourth plinth with temporary artworks. "People, especially municipal councillors, have a problem with empty spaces and get itchy fingers every time they spot one." But Rachel Whiteread's commission for the plinth makes nothing of something - and maybe that's just what's needed. New Statesman 07/09/01

PHOTOGRAPHIC MEMORY: Imagine a world without photographs. In the modern landscape it's difficult - they're everywhere around us. So one can imagine what a revolution photography must have been back in the early 1800s... USNews 07/09/01

REINVENTING ARCHITECTURE: Twenty-five years ago America sowed the seeds of an architectural cultural revolution. "How could that ruling class of architects ever be overthrown by a renegade band of amateur philosophers and impudent pamphleteers?" The New Republic 07/11/01

SÃO PAOLO LIVES ON: The São Paolo Biennial is one of the most unlikely success stories of the art world. Plagued by government interference and general instability, the event has nonetheless survived for 50 years, and gained worldwide respect. "It is difficult to overstate the biennial's impact on Brazilian and Latin American art. As the first event in the Southern Hemisphere to gain a place on the international art calendar, it has molded two generations of artists, curators and collectors." The New York Times 07/11/01 (one-time registration required for access)


DON'T JUST MAKE NICE: About the only public words George Bush has spoken about the arts was last month at Ford's Theatre, when he quoted Lincoln: "Some think I do wrong to go to the opera and the theater. But it rests me. A hearty laugh relieves me and I seem better after it to bear my cross." So there it is - fun, amusing, a diversion. Certainly that's the conservative vision of art, and one that attracts public funding in the US these days. But isn't it possible that "going to the theater, despite Bush's quotation of Lincoln, might be something more than a way to get some rest?" Los Angeles Times 07/15/01

THE NEXT NEA CHIEF? Who will President Bush appoint as the next chair of the National Endowment for the Arts? There is lots of speculation, but some arts advocates are urging Bush to appoint a businessperson with an interest in the arts rather than an artist or arts administrator. Washington Post 07/13/01

STOLEN LIABILITY? A man sends a note to the Museum Security Network alleging that a California woman has a stockpile of art looted by the Nazis. The MSN, published in the Netherlands, publishes the allegations in its newsletter. The charges were false, and now the target of the allegations is suing. How much responsibility does the small internet site bear? Salon 07/13/01

ONE GREENBERG = A THOUSAND TASINIS: A US Court of Appeals has ruled that "the National Geographic Society violated the copyrights of freelance photographer Jerry Greenberg by republishing his photos on a CD-ROM set without his permission." The Society plans to appeal to the Supreme Court, arguing that their CD is a digital replica, not a republication; therefore, this case is unlike the recent Tasini suit, in which the Supreme Court ruled in favor of free-lance writers. Wired 07/09/01

FINDER'S FEE: Author Hector Feliciano, who wrote a book about art thefts by the Nazis, is suing the estate of dealer Paul Rosenberg for $6.8 million, a "17.5% fee based on 'the standards of the art industry for the recovery of works of art,' and is applied to a value of $39 million worth of paintings which Mr Feliciano says he helped recover through extensive work 'under the promise to be paid'." The Art Newspaper 07/08/01