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Archives for March 2013

Willful Wilsey: Colin Bailey’s First Problem as Director at Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (plus Bailey as mentor, with video)

It's probably a good thing that Colin Bailey wasn't present at the de Young Museum for yesterday's celebratory announcement of his selection to be the next director of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Had he been there, he would likely have winced at remarks by Diane "Dede" Wilsey, the museums' voluble president. During the question-and-answer part of the event, she stated that Bailey would "evaluate whether we have the finest people we can have," in consultation with Richard Benefield, the deputy director, "should he [Bailey] choose … [Read more...]

It’s Colin Bailey! Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco Pick a Scholar “Who is Fun” UPDATED (with video)

"It's a dream come true....I've long wanted to be a director of a museum!" exulted the absent Colin Bailey in a video (at the bottom of this post) prepared by search firm m/Oppenheim for the rollout of his directorship today at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Museum president Diane "Dede" Wilsey described Bailey, currently deputy director and curator at the Frick Collection, New York, as "a leader known internationally as a scholar" and "also somebody who is fun!" Here's what the Frick's director, Ian Wardropper, said about … [Read more...]

BlogBack: John Sandercock, NY Attorney, on Whether MOCA Broke California Law

I still have had no response from LA MOCA to my various questions, regarding the museum's uncertain future and checkered past, but CultureGrrl reader John Sandercock, a New York attorney with no connection to the in-recovery Los Angeles museum, helpfully explains for us why officials from MOCA and legal experts might disagree with the assertion in a 2010 LA Times article (which I repeated, here) that MOCA had "broken state laws": The MOCA Board did not "break the law" in the sense that most people use that expression, which is the violation of … [Read more...]

Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco to Livestream Director Announcement

Wanna see the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco's "Special Announcement," streamed live from the de Young Museum? Soon you can! Go here today at noon, California time, to learn the results of the board's special meeting today to select the museums' new director. … [Read more...]

Board of Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco Tomorrow Considers Appointment of New Director

On P. 3 of its publicly posted agenda for tomorrow's Special Meeting, the board of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco has revealed that it will take up the following item in closed session: Consideration and Possible Action to Appoint a New Director of Museums of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco The trustees will then reconvene in open session and provide a "Possible Report on Action Taken in Closed Session." I'd better be right about this. If the designee is not Colin Bailey, I will be eating the bread of affliction and bitter … [Read more...]

MOCA Reports Commitments to “Nearly Triple” Museum’s Endowment (and requests a CultureGrrl correction)

In an announcement that just hit my inbox, LA MOCA exulted that its trustees "have obtained commitments over the past two weeks that will boost the endowment to more than $60 million, a record high in the museum's 34-year history and a reflection of the board's commitment to keep MOCA as a museum dedicated solely to contemporary art." This is putting their money where their mouths are: MOCA had sent mixed messages last Tuesday regarding its trustees' ambiguous three-sentence statement about MOCA's future independence. It wasn't clear whether … [Read more...]

Anti-Broad Bromide: Roberta Smith’s Muddled LA MOCA Analysis

In her Critic's Notebook piece about the LA MOCA mess that hit the NY Times' website this morning (and presumably will appear in tomorrow's paper), Roberta Smith once again demonstrates that her brilliance as an art critic is not matched by equal acumen in analyzing museum-management issues. Setting the scene for her muddled analysis, Roberta proclaims this in her first sentence: The news out of Los Angeles may have some people pinching themselves in disbelief. I, too, was "pinching myself in disbelief" as I read Smith's misunderstandings … [Read more...]

President Obama at the Israel Museum: Political Subtext of the Dead Sea Scrolls

President Obama's visit this morning to the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, wasn't a mere culture break from his whirlwind schedule of meetings with political leaders in Israel and, tomorrow, Jordan. Israeli officials also had a political agenda in bringing him to see the display of the Dead Sea Scrolls (specifically, the Great Isaiah Scroll, shown above), which are preserved and displayed in the museum's most popular tourist attraction, the Shrine of the Book: The President's guide was the museum's long-time director (whom you met in this … [Read more...]

MOCA’s Confusion-Sowing Declaration of “Independence” (plus the details of Eli Broad’s penalty clause for museum mergers)

The uncertainty regarding LA MOCA's future, caused by a demonstrably under-performing board and administration, reached new heights late yesterday with the museum's release of a three-sentence statement titled, “MOCA Trustees Committed to Independence.” Intended to provide some clarity regarding the museum's murky prospects, it only muddied the waters further: The Board is in agreement that the best future for MOCA would be [emphasis added] as an independent institution. [That's different from saying that MOCA must be independent.] The Board … [Read more...]

Free the Gardner 13: FBI Renews Push to Recover Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum’s Purloined Paintings

The FBI today issued this press release and a video, below, in an effort to reenergize the 23-year-old quest to recover the works stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston. They hope that reminding people of what the paintings look like (in part, via the slideshow below), as well as re-publicizing the $5-million reward for "information that leads directly to the recovery" of the stolen works "in good condition," may very belatedly help solve the case. The above-linked press release reveals for the first time that "the FBI … [Read more...]

News Flash: Colin Bailey to Be Named as Director of Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

Someone with strong ties to the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco told me today that he had it on good authority that Colin Bailey, who is deputy director and curator at the Frick Collection, New York, is soon to be officially named as director of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. I have tonight confirmed this with an unimpeachably reliable art professional (not from the Frick or FAMSF), who has knowledge of the imminent appointment. As you may remember, I had been told last month by an inside source at FAMSF that the museum was then … [Read more...]

Berkeley’s Loss: Toyo Ito Wins the 2013 Pritzker Architecture Prize

Toyo Ito, 71, the Tokyo-based architect who is most famous for his 2000 Sendai Mediatheque, which withstood the devastating 2011 earthquake (in which Sendai was near the epicenter), was named today as recipient of the 2013 Pritzker Architecture Prize. The $100,000 award will be presented May 29 at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston. You can see other images of his buildings that are located in Japan, Taiwan and London (the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion), here. What you can't see is an Ito building in the U.S. His … [Read more...]

Who Wants to Be My 7,500th Twitter Follower? UPDATED

UPDATE: Thanks for following, @paintcast, aka Kevin McCarthy---wearin' the green and following McCultureGrrl on St. Patrick's Day! My counter has been been hovering between 7,498 and 7,499 for a while. (Sunday's a slow "following" day.) At this writing, I'm just one away (although these numbers tend to fluctuate a bit). Maybe I'll take my 10,000th follower out to lunch, if I'm still tweeting. (Airfare to Metro NYC area not included.) … [Read more...]

LA Times Reveals Provisions Regarding Mergers in the 2008 Eli Broad/MOCA Agreement; USC Still Interested

Mike Boehm of the LA Times has gotten his hands on the 16-page bailout agreement between Eli Broad and LA MOCA. That 2008 document, Boehm reports, "includes a four-page section concerning 'significant actions' that MOCA trustees can't take with a simple vote. One of them is agreeing to be subsumed under another local museum---such as LACMA---before 2019." Here's Boehm's description of the merger-discouraging details: The review process [for a possible merger] would begin with the appointment of an independent three-member "special … [Read more...]

Crystal Bridges Developments: Acquisitions, Shared Works, New Trustee (plus the mysterious “strategic plan”)

Aside from Crystal Bridges Museum's recent major upheavals in staff, there has been an impressive number of major developments at the Bentonville, AR, museum that Alice Walton built. Its collection has been beefed up with about 2,000 new works (including works on paper), including gap-fillers such as one just announced this afternoon, which Crystal Bridges will share with the Metropolitan Museum: Trumbull's "Hamilton" had been hanging at Crystal Bridges, on loan from Credit Suisse, beside Gilbert Stuart's iconic "Constable Hamilton" … [Read more...]

Rescue Miscue: Outlandish Proposal to Save the Corcoran by Dumping Its Art UPDATED

If this is saving the Corcoran, I wonder what wrecking it would look like. The Save the Corcoran coalition has surprisingly thrown its support behind Wayne Reynolds' "vision for a future Corcoran." What's more, the group has urged his appointment as board chairman of the financially beleaguered Corcoran Gallery of Art and the Corcoran College of Art + Design. Reynolds is not currently a member of the board. How Reynolds' plan would further Save the Corcoran's commitment to honor "the Corcoran’s legacy and history" is beyond me. As … [Read more...]

Hear Us Now: KCRW Podcast of Knight, Bernard and Me on MOCA’s Suitors

Below is the audio podcast from the just concluded program about MOCA's serious problems and potential solutions, on KCRW's "Which Way, L.A.?", hosted by Warren Olney. The MOCA segment, with LA Times art critic Christopher Knight, MOCA Mobilization co-founder Cindy Bernard and me, starts at about 10:30 into the broadcast. (My own participation begins at about 19:16.) I get the last word, in which (contrarian that I am) I manage to say something nice about Eli Broad. Click the arrow. Hear our commentary: … [Read more...]

Coming Soon on KCRW: My “Which Way, L.A.?” Commentary on MOCA/LACMA/USC/NGA

Want to know what I think about the astonishing news (reported this afternoon by the NY Times' Patricia Cohen) that Eli Broad has approached the National Gallery, Washington, about a possible LACMA-trumping agreement for a five-year collaboration? You can hear me debunk that proposal as "kicking the can down the road" on public radio station KCRW's Which Way, L.A.?, tonight at about 7 p.m. (LA time). I'll post the KCRW podcast on CultureGrrl, when available. My comments were part of a discussion led by veteran host Warren Olney that … [Read more...]

MOCA Poker: Will Eli Broad Attempt to Stop LACMA’s Proposed Takeover? Can LACMA Afford MOCA?

In his Saturday NY Times article about the possible Los Angeles museum merger, Adam Nagourney noted that "there is one person now in a position to block it: Eli Broad." That's because a condition of MOCA's acceptance of the Broad Bailout (scroll to last page), as Eli stated in 2008, was "to keep MOCA independent. Being merged into another institution would destroy the fabric of a great museum and would sacrifice the independent curatorial vision that has created an extraordinary collection and many unparalleled exhibitions." Broad was … [Read more...]

All’s Fair at the Fair: Eric Shiner, Warhol Museum’s Director, Defends Getting Cozy with Commerce

In today's NY Times review of the Armory Show, Karen Rosenberg described Warhol Museum director Eric Shiner's close participation in this commercial art extravaganza as "the boundary-blurring of a museum director playing curator at an art fair (and justifying this decision with the old Warholian saw about art and business)." I've already issued some cutting commentary about this "old Warholian saw." As I said here (in a post about Shiner's shine for Brillo), the business-friendly practices of some artists, like Warhol and Murakami, "doesn’t … [Read more...]

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