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Miami artist George Sanchez has built an unusual public artwork in a derelict space under the I-395 expressway in Miami's Overtown district, a few miles north of the Miami Art Museum. Dubbed The Blessing, Sanchez's construction of steel bar and packaging foam is a stage-prop version of Le Corbusier's Villa Savoy in Poissy, France, completed in 1928 and now an emblem of modernist architecture. The work includes 250 feet of neon, and is lit at night like a large lamp. The local community redevelopment agency kicked in $15,000 towards costs -- the first art project funded by the city of Miami (as opposed to the county, which has a big art program). The artwork is designed as a "focal point to engage the surrounding context in a meditation concerning its future," says Sanchez. The work debuted last month and is expected to stay on view till Easter weekend.

The "Whitney Biennial in Central Park," organized by the Public Art Fund at the invitation of the Whitney Museum, features five artists jointly selected by Whitney Biennial curator Larry Rinder and PAF head Tom Eccles -- Keith Edmier, Kim Sooja, Roxy Paine, Kiki Smith and Brian Tolle. A walking tour of the works begins at Doris C. Freedman Plaza at 59th Street and Fifth Avenue. Smith's contribution is Sirens and Harpies, a group of 20 bronze figures, each with the head of a woman and the body of a bird, sited at the gateway to the zoo. Paine's work is Bluff, a 50-foot-tall tree made of shiny stainless steel, sited on the Mall by the Sheep Meadow. The new commissions, sponsored by Bloomberg, go on view Mar. 7-June 30, 2002.

The Guggenheim Museum has announced the five finalists for the 2002 Hugo Boss Prize, a $50,000 award underwritten by the German design giant that is to be awarded later in the year. The five are Francis Alÿs (Belgium), Olafur Eliasson (Denmark), Hachiya Kazuhiko (Japan), Pierre Huyghe (France), Koo Jeong-a (Korea) and Anri Sala (Albania). Jurors for the biennial prize, which has been awarded three times before, include Trans editorial director Sandra Antelo-Suarez, Guggenheim deputy director Lisa Dennison, Istanbul Biennial curator Yuko Hasegawa, Guggenheim director Thomas Krens, ARC-Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris director Suzanne Pagé and Guggenheim curator Nancy Spector. An exhibition of the finalists is slated for early 2003.

The Penny McCall Foundation in New York has given $30,000 awards to seven artists and one critic, totaling $240,000. Grant winners are Ellen Berkenblit, Anne Chu, Maria Helena Gonzalez, Janet Henry, Julie Mehretu, John Pilson and Stephen Vitiello. Former Village Voice critic Robert Atkins received the independent critic/ curator award. McCall Foundation award recipients are selected from nominations submitted by an anonymous national committee, and are not restricted as to use or purpose. These are the first grants made by the McCall Foundation since McCall's death in Kosovo in 1999 while working for Refugees International.

One of the most feared paparazzi of the 1970s is having a retrospective at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. "Off Guard: The Photographs of Ron Galella," June 6-Sept.1, 2002, features approximately 300 photographs spanning the photojournalist's career. Galella's controversial techniques -- Andy Warhol once described him as "being in the right place at the wrong time" and Jackie Kennedy got a court order keeping Galella at least 25 feet away from her -- resulted in photographs that are remarkably animated and candid.

The Cleveland Museum of Art has acquired a monumental new sculpture by Frank Stella from Museum of Modern Art president Agnes Gund and her husband, Daniel Shapiro. Titled Catal Huyuk (Level VI B) Shrine VI B., the Stella sculpture weighs 1,715 pounds, is more than 10 feet tall and projects almost eight feet from the wall. It is made of aluminum pipe and cast aluminum. Other recent acquisitions at CMA include a 6th-century, gold and garnet-covered belt buckle from the Ukraine, an 11th century bronze depiction of a Jina and a stone head from ancient Mexico.

Dog fancying art collectors are heading for Doyle New York for the annual "dogs in art" auction, Feb. 12, 2002, at 1 p.m. Coinciding with the annual dog show of the Westminster Kennel Club in New York, "dogs in art" is co-hosted with Bonhams of London and features over 350 lots celebrating man's best friend. The presale exhibition goes on view Feb. 9 at Doyle's Manhattan headquarters at 175 E. 87th Street in Manhattan. The auctioneers promise a "howling success." For more info check out

The first-ever solo exhibition of works by Photo Realist artist Chuck Close opens at the American Academy in Rome, Feb. 21-Apr. 21, 2002. "Portraits" is devoted to large-scale prints of human faces.

The international art set is flocking to the Freer Gallery at the Smithsonian Institution this weekend for a conference on "Who Defines the Contemporary: Biennials and the Global Art World," Jan. 12, 2002. Speakers include Shanghai Biennial curator Hou Hanru, Artthrob editor Sue Williamson and Museum of Modern Art curator Paulo Herkenhoff, with New Museum curator Dan Cameron serving as moderator. The morning is devoted to tours of Smithsonian exhibitions; the afternoon to panel discussions. For more info, see the website.

Joseph Helman Gallery has departed its longtime home at 20 West 57th Street for Chelsea, and will open a show of works by Wes Mills in a 14th-floor space at 601 West 26th Street next month. Helman and his wife Ursula are also in the process of restoring an ancient fortified borgo in Umbria near the historic hill town of Todi, Italy. Exhibitions at Petacciolo, as the property is called, are expected to begin in 2003, said Peter Ryan, who directs the New York gallery. A new gallery tenant, as yet unannounced, is expected to move into Helman's former space.

GYORGY KEPES, 1906-2001
Gyorgy Kepes, 95, artist and theorist who founded the Center for Advanced Visual Studies at M.I.T. in 1967, died at his home in Cambridge on Dec. 29. Born in Hungary, Kepes worked with Laszlo Moholy-Nagy in Berlin in the 1930s and joined the New Bauhaus in Chicago in 1927; in 1945 he moved to M.I.T. As an artist, he was known for abstractions produced on photo paper without a camera as well as mixed-medium paintings. He wrote several books.