Arts News: February 2007 Archives
Buffalo News weighs in on Albright-Knox sell-off
"The bottom line is this: The Albright-Knox Art Gallery has a worldwide reputation for its collection of modern art, and it can either polish that reputation or stagnate and watch its luster fade and its international visitor drawing power erode. Polishing requires money, and the gallery board has decided rightly to focus on its core mission of exhibiting, preserving and collecting modern and contemporary art - and to find the money for that by auctioning off parts of the collection that don't tightly fit the core mission."
(Thanks to the Buffalo News, in which this editorial appeared Saturday)
Fisk University poised to sell prized O'Keeffe amids calls for higher bids
"The cash-strapped university is seeking to sell this painting ['Radiator Building -- Night, New York'] and Marsden Hartley's 1913 'Painting No. 3' from the Alfred Stieglitz Collection donated to the school by O'Keeffe in 1949. In a deal announced last week, the O'Keeffe Museum would ... buy the O'Keeffe work for $7 million. But the art market is surging right now, with some works selling for record prices -- including one Willem de Kooning painting, 'Woman III,' that sold for a staggering $137.5 million last fall. This has led some observers to wonder if Fisk might not be letting go of 'Radiator Building' at a price that amounts to a fire sale."
(Thanks to Jonathan Marx, staff writer for the Tennessean)
Lexington, like many midsized cities, exploring ways culture boosts prestige
"As cooperation among Lexington museums picks up for the 2010 World Equestrian Games and the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial celebration, their relationships could come to change the cultural life of Lexington. Many midsize cities that compete with larger, better-known neighbors are exploring ways to make themselves stand out to visitors from far away and to residents who could be tempted to drive elsewhere. Consider Dayton -- a city just a few hours from Cincinnati, Columbus and Cleveland -- where some arts and cultural groups have grown stronger by combining or by partnering with businesses and schools."
(Thanks to Jamie Gumbrecht, culture writer for the Lexington Herald-Leader)
Joe Boyd, underground rock's invisible man
"It's an odd query coming from the Harvard-educated muso who cut Pink Floyd's first record, produced Nick Drake, made the definitive documentary about Jimi Hendrix and helmed R.E.M.'s best album. But Boyd's varied tastes and easy manner have served him well over the course of a nearly five-decade career. From leading the blues revival to capturing the zeitgeist of Swinging London, helping midwife the English Folk boom to prowling the frontiers of world music, Boyd has been a significant if relatively unknown figure in the history of modern music, serving as a promoter, producer, label owner, filmmaker and self-described 'eminence grise.'"
(Thanks to Bob Mehr of the Memphis Commercial Appeal)
There are so many ways to create art and artists are constantly exploring in every medium.
Two Lansing, Michigan playwrights are premiering a show this evening that grew out of an e-mail conversation. They began riffing on the banalities of overheard office conversation and from there, a play grew. What it has to do with tormented hamsters remains to be seen. When asked what he'd like the audience to leave with, Playwright and Icarus Falling Artistic Director Jeff Croff responded with, "I would like them to leave with less money ... er, actually, I'd prefer they leave with the need to talk about the show with friends over coffee. I'd like them to leave with a bit of exhaustion and wonder. I'd like them to leave that poor little hamster alone."
On another related note, the interview for this story ended up being a lot of fun. Since the play had its genesis in e-mail, we decided to do the interview as a three-way chat between myself and the two playwrights. It was a medium we were all comfortable with and it fostered a great deal of banter and perhaps more spontaneity than we might have had in a more traditional format. As a journalist, it also helped to have all their responses typed and saved and be able to concentrate during the interview on asking questions and talking with both people.
But gallery president defends right to sell
"Through a series of petitions and e-mail campaigns, the group Buffalo Art Keepers has been asking gallery members to request a meeting with the Albright-Knox leaders. The group also plans to file a petition in State Supreme Court early next week to force the gallery to stop the sale, according to Carl Dennis, Art Keepers leader and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet."
(Thanks to Colin Dabkowski, arts writer for the Buffalo News, and to Lee Rosenbaum's CultureGrrl blog on artsjournal.com)
Trucking art out of Buffalo
"The Albright-Knox Art Gallery released a list of 196 items that will be sold this spring at Sotheby's New York City auction house. In addition to antiquities, the auctions will include artworks from Africa, China, Southeast Asia, India and pre-Columbian North America, as well as 19 master paintings and European works of art from the 14th through 16th centuries. The works extend from the 13th century B.C. to the early 20th century. Highlights of the list were published by Sotheby's in November, and included the classical sculpture "Artemis and the Stag," valued at $5 million to $7 million, and a collection of Chinese porcelain."
(Thanks to By Colin Dabkowski, arts writer for the Buffalo News)
Buffalo sale exemplifies corporatization of art in America
"The message is, once again, that those entrusted with the sacred task of safeguarding our public patrimony have become as irresponsible as the money-grubbing executives who have given corporate America such a bad name. The works of art in the Albright-Knox Art Gallery don't belong to the directors or curators, who move in and out of communities as job opportunities present themselves. Nor are they the property of the trustees, who are meant to hold them in trust for the people of Buffalo, but who now show that they cannot be trusted.
(Thanks to Tom L. Freudenheim, who wrote this for the Wall Street Journal)
The link between culture, business and civic character
Here is an excellent example of cultural journalism that lays out for the reader why culture is important. Instead of just examining the quality of a museum exhibit, it examines what it means to a community. Lexington, Ky., will be the home of the World Games in 2010, an international horse competition and exhibition. Instead of just opening their doors and expecting people to come, culture writer Jamie Gumbrecht reports that museum administrators are being proactive in their pursuit of compelling exhibitions, economic impact and impacting how the world sees Lexington. This is the first part of a two-part series.
(Thanks to Jamie Gumbrecht, culture writer for the Lexington Herald-Leader)
All arts is local
As finalists for "American Idol" were selected, hometown newspapers began coverage of locals trying to became America's next celebrity. In San Antonio, columnist Jeanne Jackle writes about Haley Scarato's bid for the spotlight in the San Antonio Express-News. Here in Savannah, my colleague Amy Morris wrote a frontpage story for the Savannah Morning News on how Stephanie Edwards fought her way onto one of TV's most popular shows.
Utilizing an already artful community
The University of Kentucky is using its outreach infrastructure to create centers throughout the state that focus on the arts. It's the first program of its kind in the U.S. The reasoning behind the initiative, headed by Stephanie Richards, who receives Governor's Award in the Arts today, is the that arts are good for the economy and good for a community's quality of life. Moreover, the program aims to identify and bring forth artistic endeavors already happening in communities. "Art, for generations, has been in the mechanics of the culture and day-to-day life, so the quilting was just part of the mechanics to survive when they needed heat," Richards says. "They didn't consider it art. Painting, oral historians and storytellers. ... When we first started doing our story gatherings, people said to be careful because people will be afraid to tell their stories.
(Thanks to Rich Copley, culture writer for the Lexington Herald-Leader)
Gordon Wright (1934-2007), maestro, antiquarian and mountainman, took classical music to corners of the earth
"The body of Gordon Wright was found by friends Wednesday night on the front porch of his cabin in Rainbow Valley near Indian south of Anchorage. The longtime conductor of the Fairbanks Symphony Orchestra appeared to have died from natural causes, state troopers said. He was 72. Wright lived alone in a one-room cabin off the power grid that was inaccessible by road. Friends, including this writer, brought the body out to the community parking area by sled, a quirky and utterly Alaska exit for a quirky Alaska character, a musician and a wit who, friends say, would surely have smiled at the antics and affection that accompanied his grand finale."
(Thanks to Mike Dunham, arts editor of the Anchorage Daily News)
Can public art really reflect a city's identity?
"One danger in pursuing public art that authentically reflects who we are, even assuming we can figure that out, is that it can easily become a public art by which we inauthentically imitate ourselves -- or a stereotype of ourselves."
(Thanks to Mike Greenburg, a columnist for the San Antonio Express-News)
Composers live outside New York?
"Composer-critic Virgil Thomson once wrote that to be an 'American composer,' one simply had to be an American and write any kind of music you like. By that standard, at least, Atlanta is a hotbed of contemporary classical sounds. While there's no reliable estimate of how many composers operate in the metro area, at least 120 people have added their names to lists kept by the two most prominent Web sites for local composers. It's a scene that seems perpetually ready to blast off."
(Thanks to Pierre Ruhe, staff writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
We here at Art.Rox wouldn't normally post a story from the LA Times about a federal agency in Washington, D.C. But given this whole venture into the blogosphere was inspired by our time at the NEA Arts Journalism Institute at the University of Southern California, we figured an article looking back at Dana Gioia's (highly successful) first term as chairman of the NEA would be appropriate.
Remaking the National Endowment for the Arts: " ... (Dana) Gioia has had a profound effect on the NEA, converting the once-beleaguered federal program into the nation's main engine for integrating arts and education. It's a remarkable turnaround for an agency whose mere name was once enough to get Newt Gingrich and other social conservatives foaming at the mouth. Controversial exhibits, including Robert Mapplethorpe's homoerotic photographs and Andres Serrano's picture of a plastic crucified Christ in a jar of urine, made the NEA the central battleground in the 1990s culture wars."
(Thanks to Scott Martelle, staff writer for the Los Angeles Times)
Art reflecting local culture: A collector of post-1960s American prints told the Capital Times in Madison, Wisc., that Madison's sophisticated counter-cultural character is more suited to his collection than a city like Atlanta, whose museums chafed at the word "stoned" being used in the art.
The result is a gift to the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art of three prints: Andy Warhol's 1982 portfolio of six colorful silk-screened dollar signs called "$1"; Robert Rauschenberg's 1989 color photogravure entitled "Soviet/American Array III"; and James Rosenquist's 1987 black-and-white aquatint and etching called "The Prickly Dark."
The benefactor is Stephen Dull (pronounced DOOL), a high-powered corporate executive for the VF Corp., a company based in Greensboro, N.C., whose brand names include Wrangler and Lee blue jeans, North Face outerwear and Nautica clothing. Dull is looking for an institution to give his entire collection to in future years. His collection includes works by Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, Jim Dine, Claes Oldenburg and Kiki Smith. Will this gift inspire others to donate large collections to musueums in the American Outback?
"Absolutely," Dull told the newspaper. "I've been attracted to what the museum is doing for a long time. I've seen many other museums, and this is a really tremendous institution. The new building is just a manifestation of the commitment to and support from the community to contemporary art. To me, this is about finding a place where art has the place in other people's lives that it has had in mine."
Call it the curse of topicality. The week that North Carolina's Council of State is forced to vote on changes in lethal injection protocols, a regional company stages Dead Man Walking. Read about how this all came together, here.
There's a fun interview with poet Andrei Codrescu at the Idaho Statesman site; check it out here.
Apparently Monet plays well in the outback: the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors bureau announced that "the Monet in Normandy exhibition at the North Carolina Museum of Art injected almost $24.3 million dollars in tourism revenue into the Wake County economy - more than double the initial projection." Just think....with all that money, maybe they could buy a Monet of their own! Anyway, read about it here.
Arts advocates in Kansas were relieved to learn that Gov. Matt Blunt has included money for the arts -- a little over $8 million -- in his annual budget recommendation. Though it's a pitance, some had feared the gov was going to stiff the arts completely. Read more here.
Floridians, apparently, love Florida -- Richard Florida, that is: "The Miami-based John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has picked Tallahassee and two other communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers, Charlotte, N.C., and Duluth, Minn./Superior, Wisc., as the launch sites of the new Knight Creative Communities Initiative. It's a partnership with social theorist Richard Florida, author of 'The Rise of the Creative Class,' and Leon County's business, education and government leaders to enhance the area's economic base beyond government and education." Read more about it here.
Finally, at risk of self-promo, here is a review I wrote of the most recent performance by the Missoula Symphony Orchestra. I've gotten notes of thanks and praise from members of the chorus and the audience; I've also gotten angry letters telling me I need to show "fealty" (!?!?) to the orchestra and that reviews like this "will shut down this valued institution." So I guess a mixed-bag performance inspired a mixed-bag review which resulted in mixed responses!