Artist duo Elmgreen & Dragset will be installing a large-scale new work at the Fifth Avenue entrance to the Channel Gardens at Rockefeller Center. Their piece, Van Gogh’s Ear, 2016, will be a 1950s-style upright swimming pool bedecked with a stainless steel ladder, lights, and a diving board. Organized by Public Art Fund and Tishman Speyer, the installation will travel to China with the help of the K11 Art Foundation.
“For many years, Elmgreen & Dragset have been masters of the unforgettably uncanny object. With its dramatic scale, wildly incongruous setting, and cleverly macabre title, Van Gogh’s Ear promises to be perhaps their wittiest installation yet,” said Nicholas Baume, Public Art Fund director and chief curator.
The Art Newspaper’s Anna Somers Cocks writes that Venice was not put on UNESCO’s list of endangered world heritage sites during the organization’s World Heritage Site Committee meeting in Istanbul this past July. The decision for whether or not the city will make the list is being postponed—despite UNESCO’s highly critical summary on the city’s condition—until the next meeting in 2017. If Venice gets added to the list, it would be humiliating to the Italian government, as Italy often uses its conservational expertise on matters relating to foreign policy (fifty-five sites are on this list so far, with only three being located in the West). Also, getting added to the list means more careful scrutiny from UNESCO officials, which the Italian government would likely not welcome.
In 2014 UNESCO gave Italy a warning that by 2016 it had to act, or at least have an outline of solutions, for Venice’s various issues, such as the effects motorized water vehicles have on the city’s architecture and lagoon ecology; its shortage of ideas for making tourism sustainable; the large cruise ships that go through the city; construction, infrastructure, and navigation projects in the lagoon hurting the city and the lagoon; and a united effort in safeguarding the city so that it remains a place of “outstanding universal value,” UNESCO’s benchmark in declaring a place a World Heritage Site.
In 2015, the International Council on Monuments and Sites went to Venice to investigate on UNESCO’s behalf, reporting that no major actions had been taken by the Italian government to fix any of the city’s problems (Venice’s city council even tried stopping ICOMOS from meeting representatives from the civil society, who’ve been more vocal about Venice’s many issues in recent years). The report from this mission was sent to Italy for review, but it was buried among other documents, which means that the report’s more critical commentary was probably never read by Italian officials, who would’ve objected to UNESCO’s suggestion that Italy submit another report by 2017—in other words, escape an “endangered” categorization for one more year.
Members of Israel’s artistic community, including artists, museum directors, and arts educators, filed a lawsuit against the ministry of culture in July due to increased threats to freedom of speech, Lauren Gelfond Feldinger of the Art Newspaper reports. The complaint also calls for the ministry to make their policies and criteria regarding appointments and decision-making transparent to the public.
Decreasing funding to organizations exercising their right of freedom of speech could be a “death blow to culture institutions that rely heavily on public funding,” an unnamed petitioner in the lawsuit, said.
Since Miri Regev, an Israeli army brigadier-general—who has referred to Israeli artists as “instigators,” “ungrateful,” and “tight-asses”—was named the minister of culture in 2015, protests against freedom of speech violations have been on the rise. Controversial policies have been introduced by Regev, such as initiating a loyalty test, which will allow the government to defund or limit funding to artists whose work or actions dishonor state symbols or challenge Israel's identity as a democratic and Jewish state.
In July, professor and artist Larry Abramsom resigned as the head of Shenkar College, an interdisciplinary art school near Tel Aviv, as a statement to make “my most significant educational contribution to my students and to young artists in general, who, sadly, will be facing ever-growing infringements upon their freedom of expression in years to come,” he told the Art Newspaper.
Despite her policies, Regev says she wants to support Jewish Middle Eastern culture. Regev also claims she’d like to see more money go to poor Jewish neighborhoods. And she reluctantly agreed to raise cultural funding for the Arab sector as well.
Despite being assured that the Brexit vote would not impact the funding applications of UK cultural organizations, the arts sector is experiencing delays in receiving promised financial support, Arts Professional reports. Following the referendum, institutions claim that the government is sending mixed messages concerning programming slated to receive European funding.
In an open letter to David Davis, the UK secretary of state for exiting the European Union, David Gauke, chief secretary to the treasury, has recently addressed the arts sector’s uncertainties. He reassured the public that multiyear projects scheduled to receive funds by European Structural Investment Funds, including the European Social Fund and the European Regional Development Fund, both of which support arts organizations, will be fully funded and that the support will not be interrupted after the UK leaves the European Union. However, these reassurances are only short term; they only apply to projects that have signed contracts or funding agreements before the treasury releases its autumn statement in the fall.
UK-based organizations will still be able to partner with EU funded multiyear projects, such as Creative Europe, the EU’s program to support the cultural, creative, and audiovisual sectors. (The initiative has $1.63 billion allotted for European projects scheduled from 2014 through 2020.) Gauge said, “The commission have made it clear that the referendum result changes nothing about eligibility for these funds. The treasury will underwrite the payment of such awards, even when specific projects continue beyond the UK’s departure from the EU.” However, Creative Europe recently announced that deadlines for the UK’s culture subprogram of Creative Europe have been postponed and a new timetable is forthcoming.
The Arts Development Company, a community interest company comprising former members of the Dorset County Council Arts Development Team, is fearful that it won’t receive the European Regional Development Fund’s pledged match of its $633,000 grant from Arts Council England’s Creative Local Growth fund. The funds will support a proposed $1.3 million project to develop cultural tourism, outdoor events, visual arts and enterprise development in the regions of Bournemouth, Dorset, and Poole.
Seattle residents have launched a petition protesting Seattle Art Museum’s $45 million expansion of its Asian Art Museum citing the museum’s lack of transparency regarding the project and its plans to encroach on a beloved city park’s space, Jen Graves of The Stranger reports.
In a statement, the Seattle Art Museum said that the overhaul will “allow us to expand onsite conservation care of our collections and to give additional emphasis to South Asian art, a critical area for future development.”
Designed by LMN Architects, the expansion project will increase the museum’s 3,000-square-foot footprint by 7,500-square-feet. It will boast of additional exhibition space, an education studio, and art storage. According to spokeswomen Rachel Eggers, only 20 percent of the project budget will be spent on the expansion. The majority of the budget will fund the renovation of the institution’s 1933 building, which will include upgrades to the facility’s heating and A/C systems and bathrooms. The museum will also address its accessibility for disabled visitors and make seismic improvements. It plans to close its doors in the spring of 2017 to begin construction, which is slated to take eighteen months.
According to Capitol Hill Seattle, Seattle resident Jonathan Mark was critical of the museum’s takeover of part of Volunteer Park, a nearly fifty-acre city park in the Capitol hill neighborhood. He said, “This plan reduces critically needed open space and tree cover. The area is a lovely and well used part of the park, providing a quiet retreat away from the more social space formed by the triangle of the big lawn, conservatory, and water tower.”
Volunteer Park Trust, a nonprofit dedicated to restoring, preserving, and protecting the park, wrote a letter to Seattle Art Museum reminding the institution to respect and take into consideration the needs of the park as it moves forward with its expansion.
In an email, director and CEO Kimerly Rorschach told Lauren Cavalli of Artforum.com that “We are in the early design phase for the Asian Art Museum’s much-needed renovation and proposed modest expansion. As part of the public phase of this process, we have been working closely for over a year with the City of Seattle and parks advocacy groups—including the Seattle Parks Foundation, Volunteer Park Trust, and Friends of Seattle’s Olmstead Parks—to develop our plans. In addition, this summer we began a series of community outreach sessions to share information and hear feedback that will continue into winter. While we are still far from a final design, the intention is to create a solution that preserves the historic building, affirms the Museum’s ability to function as a modern museum and important cultural resource, and enhances the natural beauty of Volunteer Park.”
The project was initially due to launch in 2008, but was postponed after the collapse of Washington Mutual, which led to financial hardships for the museum. In 2014, the City Council allotted $11 million funds for the expansion. Seattle’s Architectural Review Committee reviewed the designs for the historic building during a meeting on August 12. Community outreach meetings will continue to be hosted by the museum throughout the fall.
Harlem-based artists launch initiative to convert poet laureate Langston Hughes’s house into a nonprofit dedicated to preserving Harlem’s cultural legacy, Tom Kutsch of The Guardian reports.
African American writer Renée Watson, who is spearheading the project, is hoping to raise $150,000 on the crowdfunding site IndieGoGo and has already received more than $78,000 in donations. Watson said, “For the past ten years, I’ve walked past the brownstone where Langston Hughes lived and wondered why it was empty. How could it be that his home wasn’t preserved as a space for poets, a space to honor his legacy? I’d pass the brownstone, shake my head, and say, ‘Someone should do something.’ I have stopped saying, ‘Someone should do something’ and decided that someone is me.”
As executive director of the I Too, Arts collective—a nonprofit organization committed to nurturing voices from underrepresented communities in the creative arts—Watson aims to raise enough money to lease and renovate Hughes’s Harlem brownstone, where the writer worked from 1947 until he died in 1967.
“There has been an outpouring of support and encouragement from both the local community as well as the larger community of poets and writers,” Watson said. “In a place like Harlem, I believe it’s important to hold on to the tangible places where black artists lived and created.”
The Baltimore Museum of Art has announced that it has appointed Katy Siegel, curator at large at the Rose Art Museum, as senior programming and research curator. Siegel will be responsible for developing exhibitions, public programs, audience development initiatives, and partnerships. She will assume the role on September 1.
“As one of the most influential thinkers in the field of post-war art, [Siegel] will join an already vibrant team at the museum who will work within the institution and beyond its walls to set the BMA’s creative course for the next five to seven years,” director Christopher Bedford said.
Siegel currently serves as chair of Modern American Art at Stony Brook University. During her tenure as curator at large at Brandeis University’s Rose Art Museum she organized numerous shows, including “Pretty Raw: After and Around Helen Frankenthaler,” “Light Years: Jack Whitten, 1971–1974,” and “The Matter that Surrounds Us: Wols and Charline von Heyl.” Siegel is a contributing editor at Artforum and has authored several books, including The Heroine Paint: After Frankenthaler, 2015, and Since ’45: America and the Making of Contemporary Art, 2011.
Joshua Barone of the New York Times reports that Craig Peterson, currently the director of programs and presentation at Gibney Dance, will be the new director of the Abrons Art Center starting this September. Peterson will be taking over for Jay Wegman, who’s leaving Abrons to become the senior director of NYU’s Skirball Center for the Performing Arts. Wegman is credited for profoundly reinvigorating Abrons’s programming over the last ten years.
Abrons is a branch of the Henry Street Settlement, a Lower East Side social services organization founded by nurse and activist Lillian Wald in 1893. “It’s clear that Henry Street is deeply invested in the success of its forward-thinking arts programming. I look forward to being a part of this organization’s incredible legacy of social change,” said Peterson.
Prince’s 50,000 square foot estate, Paisley Park, located just twenty miles outside of Minneapolis, will be turned into a museum, writes Nate Freeman of Artnews. The future of the estate has been in limbo since the recording artist’s death on April 21, 2016.
Paperwork has been submitted to the City of Chanhassan, Minnesota for this change by the administrators of the artist’s estate—Prince’s family and Bremer Trust, a bank. The museum will open on October 3, 2016.
Prince’s family said in a statement, “The new Paisley Park museum will offer fans a unique experience, an exhibition like no other, as Prince would have wanted it. Most important, the museum will display Prince’s genius, honor his legacy, and carry forward his strong sense of family and community.” There will be guided tours of all the home’s facilities—recording studios, performance spaces—and his vast collection of awards and musical instruments.
According to Nate Freeman of Artnews, Lisa Cooley Gallery has closed. The last exhibition at the space, “Jeff Witscher: August,” ended on August 26, 2016. No other exhibitions are slated for the future on the gallery’s website.
Cooley has been on the Lower East Side for eight years. Her space on Norfolk Street, designed by the architectural firm Ashe + Leandro, was three times the size of her space on Delancey Street (Cooley opened her first space in 2008 on Orchard Street).
Cooley represented Trudy Benson, Alice Channer, Fiona Connor, Andy Coolquitt, Cynthia Daignault, Matthew Darbyshire, Josh Faught, Lucy Kim, Scott Reeder, Alan Reid, Sue Tompkins, Ben Vida, and Jennifer West. Artforum.com writer Yin Ho picked Tompkins’s exhibition at the gallery in March 2016, and Michael Wilson reviewed Fiona Connor’s show there in Artforum’s November 2015 issue.