July 11, 2009

Shepard Fairey Pleads Guilty to Three Charges

The Boston Globe reports that Shepard Fairey, the street artist who for decades has plastered his stickers and posters on buildings and street signs, issued an apology today and agreed to ban himself in Boston.

Fairey consented to a plea deal that will prohibit him from carrying stickers, posters, wheat paste, brushes, and other tools of the graffiti trade while in Suffolk County for the next two years. Under the arrangement, Fairey pleaded guilty to three vandalism charges and must pay a two-thousand-dollar fine to one of his adversaries, Graffiti NABBers for the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay.

In a statement, Fairey apologized to the citizens of Boston for “posting my art in unauthorized spaces without the consent of the owner.”

“I believe in the importance of making art accessible through many avenues, and I will continue to advocate the use of legal public spaces for meaningful artistic expression and communication. Freedom expression is the bedrock of our democracy,” Fairey said. “However, I also believe it is important that people respect private property and do not use it without the authorization of the owner.

As part of the agreement, Suffolk assistant district attorney Adam Foss told the judge in Boston Municipal Court that they will dismiss eleven other outstanding vandalism charges against Fairey, who is perhaps best known for his “Hope” poster of President Obama.

July 10, 2009

David Woodhouse Wins Competition for Burnham Memorial

The Chicago Tribune reports that the architect David Woodhouse has been named the winner of a controversial design competition for a memorial to Daniel Burnham that will celebrate the legacy of the Chicago architect and urban planner. Woodhouse’s plan will reshape the grassy open space of Chicago’s Museum Campus, just north of the Field Museum, with a gently sloping lawn, a diagonal pathway, and a variety of stone walls, including two set at right angles that would form a ceremonial corner honoring Burnham’s influential Plan of Chicago. The estimated construction cost for Woodhouse’s design, which will also include a sculpture of Burnham, is five million dollars. A representative of Chicago philanthropist Richard Driehaus, who underwrote the competition, called the plan “highly respectful” of the Museum Campus. Organizers of the competition also emphasized that the memorial will offer a striking view of Grant Park and the downtown skyline.

July 10, 2009

Dutch Return Ancient Artifacts to Iraq

The Netherlands has returned to Iraqi ownership dozens of ancient artifacts that were stolen from the country after the US-led invasion of 2003, reports BBC News. The sixty-nine items were surrendered by Dutch art dealers after Interpol disclosed their illegal origin. Among them was a terracotta relief of a bearded man praying, believed to be more than two thousand years old. Tens of thousands of items are believed to have been looted from Iraq in the chaos that followed the invasion. Despite international efforts to track items down, fewer than half of the artifacts have been retrieved. Ronald Plasterk, the Dutch minister for education, culture, and science, said the world should “cherish and honor” Iraq’s history as the cradle of civilization. “These objects lose a lot of their value if they are stolen from their site,” he said. Plasterk also noted that the items were surrendered by Dutch art dealers once police informed them they had been stolen.

July 10, 2009

Ai Weiwei Censored in China

Ai Weiwei’s activism has finally provoked the Chinese authorities to act against him, reports Chris Gill for the Art Newspaper. The artist notes that police are staking out his studio, and last month his blog was deleted, as well as his commentaries on China’s version of Twitter. Ai has been running a campaign documenting the death of schoolchildren in the Sichuan earthquake of May 2008, alleging that the number of fatalities was due to local officials siphoning money from school building costs. The artist told the Art Newspaper that he was recently involved in two other worrying incidents: In the first, unknown persons visited his mother’s house; when Ai asked them for identification they refused to provide any, nor would they leave, leading him to call the local police. He remarked, “Two days later an undercover guy was following me, I asked him, ‘Why are you following me?’ Another came, and I kicked his car door to get him to report it, but he wouldn’t. So I went to the police station to make a complaint.” The artist has launched another blog and will republish his investigations into the Sichuan disaster on it. “I don’t know how long it will last before it is blocked,” he said, “but the server is in the US, so the content will remain.”

July 10, 2009

Temporäre Kunsthalle Advisory Board Members Speak Out

Julian Heynen (from Dusseldorf's K21), an ex-adviser to the Temporäre Kunsthalle Berlin, has gone on the record to explain the reasons for the advisory board’s recent mass resignations, reports Artinfo. According to Heynen, the kunsthalle was built as a contemporary art space meant to stand in Berlin’s Schlossplatz until September 2010 and has suffered from the need for strong management, noting, “It was never clear who spoke for the kunsthalle or who was the artistic head of the institution.” Director Thomas Eller noted that the space had “too many intellectual owners pulling in different directions,” resulting in a lack of structure. Eller and Heynen, along with fellow artistic advisers Katja Blomberg (director of Berlin's Haus am Waldsee), Dirk Luckow (director of the Kunsthalle zu Kiel), and Gerald Matt (director of the Kunsthalle Wien), have all recently relinquished their positions. The advisers, Eller in particular, had been working to establish a permanent building for the kunsthalle, an idea that has been circulating in Germany since the close of a previous space in 1994. For a previous Artforum.com report on this item click here.

July 9, 2009

Victoria and Albert Museum’s 2009 Jameel Prize Winner Announced

Saudi businessman Mohammed bin Abdul-Latif Jameel handed over a forty-one-thousand-dollar prize to the Iranian designer Afruz Amighi last evening. Amighi, the winner of the inaugural Jameel Prize, was born in Iran and now lives and works in the US.

The prize was launched by the Victoria and Albert Museum this year and is supported by Mohammed Abdul Latif Jameel. It will be awarded to a contemporary artist or designer for work inspired by Islamic traditions of craft and design. The competition is to take place every two years.

This year’s panel of judges was chaired by Mark Jones, director of the V&A. The finalists all currently have work on display at the V&A’s accompanying exhibition. The full short list of artists can be found here.

July 9, 2009

New Art Fair for Abu Dhabi

After the recent cancellation of ArtParis: Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi today announced the establishment of a major new annual event featuring international contemporary art and design, according to the Eye of Dubai. Presented under the patronage of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi Art will take place November 2 through 19 and will celebrate its inaugural edition with an art fair, exhibitions, multimedia performances, presentations, and tours and gala events at the Emirates Palace.

Abu Dhabi Art will include galleries from the Middle East, Europe, and the United States, many of which have never before exhibited in the UAE. There will also be a design program and a monumental installation of large-scale works by Arab artists.

July 9, 2009

Lorne Buchman Named President of Pasadena Art Center College of Design

Lorne M. Buchman has been named president and chief executive of the recently strife-ridden Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, reports the Los Angeles Times’s Mike Boehm. The campus was riven last year by dissension and protest over its future and its educational priorities, leading to the resignation of longtime president Richard Koshalek after the school’s board of trustees denied him a contract extension and sidelined an expansion and construction program that ranked high on the agenda he had been hired in 1999 to pursue. Several months later, Koshalek was appointed director of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.

Buchman, who was president of the California College of Arts and Crafts (now California College of the Arts) from 1994 to 1999, will start his new job in October. Since 2006, he has been president of Saybrook Graduate School and Research Center in San Francisco, dedicated to an approach to human and social improvement known as humanistic psychology. Buchman also is the principal in Buchman Associates, a consulting firm that helps nonprofit organizations build facilities. He has a theater background, with an undergraduate degree from the University of Toronto and a doctorate from Stanford. He has been a faculty member and administrator at the University of California, Berkeley.

“Art Center has always been one of the most highly respected independent colleges of art and design in this country, and I couldn’t be happier about this opportunity,” Buchman said in a prepared statement.

July 9, 2009

Brush Fire Forces Evacuation at Getty Center

About twenty-four hundred people were evacuated from the Getty Center in Los Angeles as firefighters battled a hillside brush fire west of the museum’s entrance, reports the New York Times.

The fire had burned more than eighty acres on a hillside adjacent to the 405 Freeway, which was clogged with cars, according to city fire captain Steve Ruda. County fire crews were assisting city firefighters, he said, and the flames were 20 percent contained. Seven helicopters dropped water on flames that were creeping north. As white smoke drifted skyward, about sixteen hundred visitors took the museum tram and shuttles to retrieve their cars, said Julie Jaskol, a Getty spokeswoman.

The evacuation was not mandatory, she said, and “just a precaution.” No structures had been damaged and none were threatened, said fire officials. No injuries were reported, said Captain Ruda.