an blog | AJBlog Central | Contact me

Archives for August 2012

Powwow Power: Republican Party Platform Is Art-less (except for Native American culture)

"We Believe in America"...but not in the artsMaybe Kevin Gover (whose name, after all, forms the first half of "Gover-nment') has gotten the Republican Party's ear. (As you may remember, his director's office at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington overlooks the Capitol.)My recent text search on the Republican Party Platform came up with no mention of "art" or "culture" (other than red herrings like "part," "stalwart," "agriculture" and that old standby, "culture of dependency"), except for two fleeting instances.On p. 27: … [Read more...]

Meet My 5,000th Twitter Follower (Couldn’t have been a nicer guy!)

I know this person and have always liked him: I couldn't have hoped for a nicer guy (scroll to bottom, although he's changed museums since my 2007 blog post) or a better curator to be my 5,000th follower on Twitter. Thanks, Jim! … [Read more...]

Twitter Blitz: Who Wants to Be My 5,000th Follower?

[UPDATE: Meet my fabulous 5,000th---a veteran museum curator, as it happens---here!]At this writing, I stand at 4,999...If you're not following me on Twitter, you're missing an important supplement to CultureGrrl coverage. At some point, I expanded from merely providing links to my blog posts to providing outside links and quick commentary on news tidbits that I have no time to blog about but know that my art-ings would find interesting.Thanks to my relatively new iPhone, I recently tweeted my instant reactions to discoveries I made on a recent … [Read more...]

Hurricane Watch: Isaac Spares New Orleans Museum, Ohr-O’Keefe Museum

Still Standing: Kenneth Snelson, "Virlane Tower," 1981, in the New Orleans Museum of Art's Besthoff Sculpture Garden News reports from the South indicate that Hurricane Isaac has spared two art museums in its path that were both devastated seven years ago by Hurricane Katrina.Doug MacCash of the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports:The New Orleans Museum of Art...was of midday Wednesday, chief of security Byron Winbush said. Rain water leaked through the windows near the museum cafe, but beyond that, Isaac appears to have spared … [Read more...]

Stealth Name (and logo) Change: AAM Tiger Alters Its Stripes

You can't change your organization's name on its homepage and expect people not to notice. If you surf over right now to the URL of the website that was formerly the homepage of the American Association of Museums, you will see this: Well, at least the AAM acronym still works. The color scheme and logo are markedly different (old logo on left, new colorful but inscrutable logo on right):The president, Ford Bell, is still the same.Already, a few commenters on AAM's Facebook and Twitter pages are wondering "what the heck is this all about?", why … [Read more...]

Trenchant in Trenton: Athena Tacha’s “Green Acres” Rescued from Planned Destruction

Athena Tacha, "Green Acres," 1985-87The 11th-hour announcement today that sculptor Athena Tacha's "Green Acres" in Trenton, NJ, has been saved from the imminent blow of the wrecker's ball struck a welcome blow, instead, for artists' rights. But it also triggered traumatic flashbacks to a less happily resolved conflict between public art and public taste.As Ken Johnson suggested in his Friday NY Times review, Eye Candy or Eyesore, some temporarily installed public artworks come across as the former; others as the latter. Those who regard … [Read more...]

BlogBack: Roy Slade, Former Corcoran Gallery Director, Suggests an Action Plan

Roy Slade, former director of the Corcoran Gallery of ArtRoy Slade, director of the Corcoran Gallery from 1972-77 and director emeritus of the Cranbrook Art Museum, responds to Corcoran Uproar: Anti-Move Protest, CEO Job Description, Next Community Meeting:The responsibility for the Corcoran's current difficulties lies with the trustees who have tried to run it without a professional director. [The background, devoid of art-museum or art-school experience, of current director and president Fred Bollerer is here.] What folly, like trying to run … [Read more...]

Bronx Museum’s Street Smarts: “If you give them free school supplies, they will come.”

The Bronx Museum of the Arts is going international (organizing the Sarah Sze exhibition for the U.S. Pavilion at the 2013 Venice Biennale) but it hasn't forgotten the needs of the economically struggling population in its South Bronx neighborhood. If you're looking for ideas to attract new, under-served local audiences, I can think of nothing better than this free-admission back-to-school program, occurring this Saturday in the museum's Arquitectonica-designed facility: ("Join us for an afternoon filled with art- and food-making activities … [Read more...]

My WSJ “William Matthew Prior” Piece: An Illustrated Companion

All photos by Lee RosenbaumUntil my Wall Street Journal articles are actually published, I never know what their related images or headlines are going to be. I was greatly pleased when I opened today's paper to inspect my Three Prior Engagements review of the Fenimore Art Museum's William Matthew Prior retrospective. The line-up of portraits (left to right) that were chosen by the editors exemplify Prior's three distinct styles. as discussed in my piece---"middling" ("Mrs. Winslow Purinton," on the left), "academic" or "sophisticated" ("Winslow … [Read more...]

Cooperstown Coup: My WSJ Piece on the Fenimore Museum’s “William Matthew Prior”

Paul D'Ambrosio, president and CEO of the Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, NY, in front of William Matthew Prior's self-portrait as a 19-year-old, at the entrance to the artist's retrospective[More on the "Prior" show, here.]William Matthew Prior, a prolific 19th-century New England folk artist, is hard to pin down. He painted portraits in three distinct styles and sold them at three different price points, to address the needs of his middle- and working-class clientele.Part of the fun of perusing the Fenimore Art Museum's Artist & … [Read more...]

Corcoran Uproar: Anti-Move Protest, CEO Job Description, Next Community Meeting

"Not for Sale": Logo of the Save the Corcoran CoalitionThe ad hoc Save the Corcoran Coalition recently sent a letter to the CEO of the Washington, DC, museum and art school, Fred Bollerer, its board chairman, Harry Hopper, and its board of trustees, calling upon them to "demonstrate a greater commitment to maintaining the gallery's home in Washington, DC."They suggested an action plan for expanding near the Corcoran's current site in downtown Washington, rather than selling its Ernest Flagg-designed 1897 building and moving to another location … [Read more...]

Attorney Sandy Lindenbaum, 77, Dean of NYC Cultural Real Estate Development

Go-to attorney for cultural capital projects: the late Samuel ("Sandy") LindenbaumYou are planning a major cultural-facility expansion project, which will require zoning variances, may rile NIMBY activists and will need an expert skipper to navigate through the perilous shoals of the New York City government approval process. Who you gonna call?For decades, there was one answer---Sandy Lindenbaum. Whenever I covered NYC government hearings regarding cultural projects, Sandy (or one of his law partners) was always in attendance. (Before him, the … [Read more...]

Reading the Fine Print: What’s Wrong with the Fisk/Crystal Bridges Agreement? CORRECTED

In yesterday's BlogBack, former Crystal Bridges curator Chris Crosman laid out his arguments in favor of Fisk University's $30-million sale of a half-share in its Stieglitz Collection to Alice Walton's Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. The bulk of the proceeds---some $22.5 million---is to be used to beef up the financially shaky university's endowment. Professional artworld guidelines (which Crosman criticized) stipulate that proceeds from art sales should be used for the benefit of the collection, not for general operations, capital … [Read more...]

BlogBack: Chris Crosman Praises Fisk/Crystal Bridges Deal, Blasts AAMD’s “Myopic” Policy

 Chris Crosman, former curator at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, ARPhoto by Lee Rosenbaum[Much more on the details of the final Fisk/Crystal Bridges deal, here.]Chris Crosman, founding curator of Alice Walton's Crystal Bridges Museum (who left his post on Dec. 31, after working there for six years), responds to News Flash: Court Order to Send Fisk's Stieglitz Collection to Crystal Bridges:As someone who was involved with the Stieglitz Collection saga from the earliest conversations between the Crystal Bridges Museum … [Read more...]

Sotheby’s Net Income Plummets 42%; Washington Post’s Art-Market “Boom” Is a Bust

Left to right: Bill Ruprecht, president and CEO of Sotheby's; Steven Murphy, CEO of Christie'sIt was more than a little astonishing to see the Washington Post trumpeting the current "boom" at the "major auction houses" in an Aug.10 art-market report---Is Collecting Art the New Gold?Three days before the publication of that bullish article by freelancer Kevin Nance, Sotheby's had already reported bearish results for the first half of 2012: Its $74.8-million first-half net income declined 42% from the same period in 2011; total revenues of $408.9 … [Read more...]

Happy Ending: Detroit Director Graham Beal’s Live Chat on the Millage Passage

Adding a bravura coda to his well orchestrated (and successful) campaign for the tri-county passage a property levy (millage) to support operations at the Detroit Institute of Arts, its director, Graham Beal, has just concluded a live web chat (moderated by the Detroit Free Press' Mark Stryker), in which he answered questions from the community. Lee's question, relayed to Beal by Stryker near the end of the hour, never got a response. So how about it, Graham: "What are your ideas for making the DIA more successful at fundraising for the … [Read more...]

LA MOCA’s Financial Morass: Bloomberg’s Kazakina and Palmeri Expose the Shortfalls

LA MOCA's Boardroom It's amazing what a little investigative reporting can do. Kudos to Katya Kazakina and Christopher Palmeri of Bloomberg, who dug out documents and interviewed concerned MOCA trustees to uncover the most disturbing picture yet of the state of the disarray in LA MOCA's finances and governance. This moves the ball way down the field from previous reports (including my July 6 Fiscal Fizzle post) and gets the answers to some questions on which I was previously stonewalled: On July 2, two days after the close of the … [Read more...]

Native American Slideshow: Objects Cited in My WSJ Review

In a comment posted to my Wall Street Journal review yesterday on shows of contemporary Native American art in New York, reader Dar Horn wrote:This art will show up in galleries when there is a demand for it. That will only happen when the art buying public is aware of it. Shows like these help. A slideshow in this article would have, too.Dar, your wish is my command. As you know, a photo of the first object that I cited in my WSJ piece accompanies the article. You can see my photos of both sides of "Ironworker Cradleboard" in yesterday's … [Read more...]

Party Time at Detroit Institute: Champagne Spillage for the Millage

They were celebrating last night at the Detroit Institute of Arts, as voting results indicated success for the museum's millage. Mark Stryker of the Detroit Free Press reports: A crucial millage for the Detroit Institute of Arts passed easily in Wayne and Oakland counties, but was approved by the slimmest of margins in Macomb County as the final votes were tallied.... The millage passed by just 1,340 votes [in Macomb], with a total of 125,200 votes cast. The margin was 50.5% in favor of the tax, and 49.5% against. The measure was … [Read more...]

Endangered Art Museums: An Alarming Trend—PART II UPDATED

[Part I is here.] Last Thursday, I took note of the "alarming number of art museums [that] are currently in extremis or slowly recovering from near-death experiences," and I focused on two formerly moribund but now rebounding institutions---the Rose Art Museum and the American Folk Art Museum (whose current show at the South Street Seaport Museum was favorably reviewed the next day by the NY Times' Roberta Smith). Now let's analyze the alarming situations at three still stricken museums from across the country---the Midwest, the East, and … [Read more...]

an ArtsJournal blog