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Archives for January 2014

Pieces of Puzzle to Secure Detroit Institute’s Independence Fall Into Place

Following close upon the news that the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Battle Creek, has pledged $40 million towards the Grand Bargain, the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) has now agreed itself to raise $100 million as part of the campaign to purchase its independence from the City of Detroit and protect its collection from sales to pay the municipality's creditors. Here's the DIA's full announcement: Detroit Institute of Arts to raise $100 Million toward Detroit’s Revitalization January 29, 2014 (Detroit)—As an anchor and investor in Detroit’s … [Read more...]

Gladiator in the Architects’ Den: Elizabeth Diller’s Bravura Performance on MoMA’s Expansion

She probably didn't change the hearts and minds of the many in the architectural community who adamantly oppose the Museum of Modern Art's (to my mind justifiable) decision to knock down the 12-year-old American Folk Art Museum in connection with its next expansion. But Elizabeth Diller walked away from last night's presentation and panel discussion on the expansion (sponsored by two of her critics---the Architectural League and the Municipal Art Society of New York, as well as the American Institute of Architects New York Chapter) with a … [Read more...]

Detroit Institute’s Good-News Day: Governor, Key Legislators Endorse Art-Rescue Funds (with video)

More good news today for the Detroit Institute of Arts. Here's the museum's reaction to this afternoon's expected announcement by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (joined by the state's House Speaker and Senate Majority Leader---all Republicans) of a plan to provide up to $350 million over 20 years to protect the collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts from monetization and to support the city's pensioners: Governor Snyder’s announcement is continued good news for the City of Detroit, its pensioners and the DIA. Support from the Governor and … [Read more...]

Rhodes Rules: Good News for Detroit Institute of Arts

Looks like a step in the right direction for defenders of the collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts. This just in from Nathan Bomey's live blog of Bankruptcy Court hearings for the Detroit Free Press: BREAKING: Judge [Steven] Rhodes denies creditor attempt to establish independent committee to assess value of the Detroit Institute of Arts. The court "lacks the authority to grant the requested relief," Rhodes says. "The court further concludes however that even if it did have the authority and discretion to grant this motion, that … [Read more...]

My Takeaway (so far) From Judge Rhodes’ Detroit Bankruptcy Hearing (and Grand Bargain misgivings)

I've learned (from cases like this) that trying to interpret judges' off-the-cuff comments in courtroom hearings is like trying to read tea leaves: They may be tipping their own hands or they may merely be playing devil's advocate, attempting to draw out further insights and greater clarity from the attorneys arguing a case. That said, Judge Steven Rhodes seems to have made all the right noises at this morning's hearing on whether to monetize the Detroit Institute of Arts' [DIA's] collection. As reported in Nathan Bomey's live blog for … [Read more...]

News Flash: Detroit Free Press Live-Blogging Bankruptcy Hearing on Museum’s Art UPDATED

UPDATE: As I posted this, court arguments regarding the Detroit Institute of Arts' [DIA's] collection had just wrapped up. But this just in from Nathan Bomey's live blog from Judge Steven Rhodes' bankruptcy hearing: "Judge Rhodes said he plans to rule on the DIA art committee motion at 3 p.m. Gov. Snyder and legislative leaders plan to announce a deal today at 3:30 p.m. to contribute state funding to a foundation funding [the] deal to help spin off the DIA and reduce pension cuts. But as you can probably tell from this hearing, there will be … [Read more...]

Game On: Guggenheim Helsinki Architectural Competition Green-Lighted

Can the dauntless, doughty Guggenheim vanquish all doubters and plant its flag in Finland? The chances for realization of a Guggenheim Helsinki improved last week with the 10-5 vote by the Helsinki City Board to set aside as its possible location a waterfront parking lot adjacent to the the Tallink-Silja shipping terminal in the city's South Harbour (image above). After the conclusion of an architectural competition for the project, the Helsinki City Council (as distinguished from the City Board) will vote on whether or not to proceed. … [Read more...]

Another Dicey Choice: LA MOCA Picks Dia Art Foundation’s Philippe Vergne As Director

After the Deitch Disaster, LA MOCA needed to make an impeccable choice for its next director. Instead, it's made a flawed one. Philippe Vergne, director of the Dia Art Foundation since 2008, does have a lot going for him---deep, impressive curatorial credentials, including distinguished work at the Walker Art Center, where he was deputy director and chief curator, "organizing more than 25 international exhibitions as well as artist residencies and the Herzog & de Meuron facility expansion," as described in MOCA's announcement. What's … [Read more...]

Rescuing Wright: New Jersey’s Bachman Wilson House Moves to Crystal Bridges

A little known architectural gem in my home state, New Jersey, which I once visited and greatly admired (on a Wright-in-New Jersey bus tour), is about to be taken apart and transported to Bentonville, AR, along with the furniture and fixtures designed for it. I'm very glad this is happening. Gratitude is owned to the Crystal Bridges Museum for saving the 1954 Bachman Wilson House in Millstone---a millstone around the necks of its owners, architect Lawrence Tarantino and Sharon Tarantino, who bought it in 1988 and did much to restore and … [Read more...]

BlogBack: Chris Crosman on Saving Folk Art Museum’s Building

In previous posts, I acknowledged that my failure to mourn the demise of the American Folk Art Museum's former building was a contrarian view (although Jerry Saltz is one who agrees with me). Giving the opposite side of the argument is Chris Crosman, founding curator of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (who left there at the end of 2011). Crosman, who had to deal with some architectural challenges of his own, responds to Contrarian Musings: Why Folk Art Museum’s Building Should Not Be Saved: This was never a building sufficient in … [Read more...]

MoMA’s Excoriated Expansion: The Critics Pile On (plus AFAM’s good year) UPDATED

Everyone's beating up on MoMA, with a few sharp jabs reserved for Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the architects for the Museum of Modern Art's planned expansion. The pile-up seems more like a referendum on what MoMA has become under Glenn Lowry's directorship than on the museum's just announced architectural and programmatic initiatives. Someone yesterday asked if I knew of anyone who had written favorably about this project. All I could come up with is this long list of detractors: Paul Goldberger (Vanity Fair), Jerry Saltz and … [Read more...]

Progress (but no closure) in “Grand Bargain” to Protect Detroit Institute’s Art

The Detroit Institute of Arts has just issued the following statement regarding today's announcement by the federal mediator, Chief District Judge Gerald Rosen, that some $330 million has been pledged by local and national foundations (identified at the above link) to support the "Grand Bargain" to prevent sales from the Detroit Institute of Arts' treasured collection to help address the city's financial crisis: The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) is an active partner in the effort to develop a solution that will assist in the revitalization … [Read more...]

Contrarian Musings: Why Folk Art Museum’s Building Should Not Be Saved (with slideshow)

The Museum of Modern Art's public-relations rollout of its latest (can we never say "final"?) expansion seems to have been about as convincing to the invited scribe tribe as was Gov. Chris Christie's "I-am-not-a-bully" press conference yesterday regarding BridgeGate in Fort Lee. Leading the procession of mourners for the soon-to-be demolished Tod Williams Billie Tsien-designed headquarters for the now relocated, downsized but resurgent American Folk Art Museum (AFAM) was distinguished architecture critic Paul Goldberger, with whom I engaged … [Read more...]

Museum of Modern Art’s Folk-Art Decision: It’s a Knockdown (plus plans for MegaMoMA)

NOTE: The links that I provided on Jan. 9 to the "Message from...Glenn Lowry" and to the "Vision Statement" for the expansion are, strangely, no longer functional, just three days later. They can now be found here (with Lowry's message renamed, "The Future MoMA: A Work in Progress") along with a newly added "Architect Statement." (I've updated the links below with the new functional link.) The Museum of Modern Art and Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the architects for the next phase of MegaMoMA's inexorable campaign to conquer W. 53rd and 54th … [Read more...]

MOCA’s Unfinished Revival: “Financial Stability” (but no director yet)

With today's announcement that it has "met and exceeded its goal of raising the museum’s endowment to a historic high of over $100 million," LA MOCA has upped its endowment goal to $150 million, saying that it has succeeded in "secur[ing] its financial stability." What it hasn't yet secured is a permanent leader who can stabilize its revolving-door directorship. Randy Kennedy and Carol Vogel of the NY Times today reported that "the candidates considered have been museum professionals, not figures from the commercial art world [emphasis … [Read more...]

West Wing Dramas: Cleveland Museum’s Insubstantial Information and Creative Accounting

I have never seen a more ignored major expansion of a top-tier American art museum than the Jan. 2 public opening of the final phase of the Cleveland Museum's eight-year, $350-million Rafael Viñoly-designed expansion and renovation. I can only guess that the museum is low-keying the West Wing's rollout because of the shadow cast by this recent debacle, which left it without a permanent director, with a big hole in its exhibition schedule, and with the urgent need to restore public confidence. The opening of the West Wing, which allows the … [Read more...]

The Year in CultureGrrl, 2013 Edition (and a request)

My daughter's wedding and my grandson's birth, which occurred in rapid succession (and in unexpected order!), made 2013 was more personally than professionally momentous for me. I did enjoy my mainstream-media work, public radio commentary (click each word for links to different stories) and lecturing gig, but my ambivalence about blogging (which devours the lion's share of my time) grew stronger. My professional soul-searching intensified this year, as the stream of donations from my art-lings became a trickle and ads were few and far … [Read more...]

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