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HIGH-TECH CAFÉ IN MOMA GALLERIES|
The hot new hangout for New York art lovers is Café/Etc. located in the basement of the Museum of Modern Art. The new bistro, which recently opened in former galleries potentially endangered by nearby subway construction work, features several high-tech art projects along with a store and a spacious, 24-table restaurant. Visitors can snack on what the museum is calling its latest "Projects" exhibition -- a set of paper cups, plates and napkins designed by Julia Jacquette and featuring a picture of a banana split with mottoes like "I think of pressing my lips against yours." Or, they can just hang out and read magazines supplied for free on a handy rack (one drawback -- no Artnet News).
The décor at Café/Etc., organized by film and video curator Mary Lea Bandy, relies heavily on … film and video, to good effect. The entryway features several projects, including a computer program featuring 50 clips from Alfred Hitchcock movies and a wall-sized projection of Andy Warhol 16mm films from the '60s, including the 58-minute Kiss. One corner of the space holds a video station with 12 monitors tuned to www.moma.org. A second computer station features an interactive program exploring the MoMA photo collection (visitors look at images and guess who done it, Walker Evans or Paul Strand), developed with IBM. In a third corner is an old-fashioned kinetoscope showing the proto-hip-hop moves of the 1894 Annabelle Butterfly Dance.
The outpost of the museum shop stretches along one wall, offering great gifts for Xmas, including MoMA2000 messenger bags ($45), MoMA2000 t-shirts ($20), MoMA2000 mousepads ($18), MoMA2000 candles ($12), MoMA2000 token holders ($12), MoMA2000 kaleidoscopes ($7) and MoMA2000 rulers ($6).
UNION JOB ACTION AT MOMA
Speaking of the Museum of Modern Art, it was hit by a two-hour work stoppage on Tuesday, Dec. 14, as some 200 members of its Professional and Administrative Staff Association (PASTA) walked off the job to protest what the union called an unfair contract offer. "Modern Art, Ancient Wages," read several placards. "'Modern Starts' -- Not without Us," read others. The museum management has offered a 2.5-percent wage increase, somewhat below the annual rise in the cost of living. (Union officials are quick to point out that the average salary of the unionized workforce, which includes curators as well as clerical and retail staff, is a pauperish $28,000 a year.)
More importantly, the union is concerned about job security during MoMA's $500-million expansion project -- which may require the museum to close its 53rd Street facility temporarily, perhaps beginning in Spring 2001. Layoffs have already hit some museum staff (the six-member offset department), and PASTA wants the museum to guarantee jobs for senior employees. In the meantime, MoMA proceeds with development plans for exhibitions at P.S.1 in Queens, as well as at the hush-hush Swingline Warehouse, also in Queens.
A Manhattan Supreme Court judge is about to decide whether the Whitney Museum is a Scrooge in its dealings with 73-year-old Fayelene Dijxhoorn, who claims to be a tenant in a museum brownstone at 943 Madison Ave. The New York Post broke the news of the dispute in an "exclusive" report headlined "Rent-control tenant says museum's forcing her out" on page 22 of its Dec. 14 edition. "They would be happy if I was dead," exclaimed Dijxhoorn to the newspaper reporter. A museum insider notes that the brownstone apartment is not Dijxhoorn's primary residence -- a requirement under the state's rent-control laws. The museum is hopeful that her court motion will be thrown out.
CATHOLIC MAG PICKS BLACK JESUS
Move over Chris Ofili! In its contest to find a new face for Jesus for the 21st century, the National Catholic Reporter has picked a painting of a dark-skinned Son of God by Janet McKenzie of Island Pond, Vt. McKenzie, whose picture was one of 1,700 entries, said that she used a woman as a model and intended to portray all races, not just African. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, almost half of the world's one-billion Catholics are non-white, and one of the leading candidates for the next Pope is the Nigerian Cardinal Francis Arinze. McKenzie won a $2,000 prize.
WEB GIANT ATTACKS ARTISTS
Web retailer eToys has moved to smash the website of the Zurich-based electronic art group etoy.com. The artists have priority -- etoy.com was founded in 1995, two years before eToys -- but the toy giant trademarked the name first. A Los Angeles judge has granted an injunction against the Swiss artists and forced them to shut down their site. Incredibly, etoy.com reportedly turned down an offer of $500,000 from eToys to buy the name. Etoy.com has won awards at the Ars Electronica festival in Lubjlana and has the backing of Austrian chancellor Victor Klima. Though etoy.com is now down, other web activists have come to its aid -- toywar.com and eviltoy.com have appeared to spread the message and garner support for etoy.com.
WTO RIOTS SHUTTER SEATTLE MUSEUM
The protests and civil unrest surrounding the World Trade Organization meetings earlier this month in Seattle, Wa., led the Seattle Art Museum to shut down on Dec. 1 and 2. "We didn't have protests in our immediate neighborhood," said a museum spokesperson. "But the city itself was pretty much on lockdown and no visitors could come to the area -- so it didn't make sense to stay open." Also canceled was "Artwalk," a special event on the first of each month in which downtown galleries stay open late.
A BRIDGE TOO FAUVE?
Speaking at the Dayton Art Institute last week, Ohio governor Bob Taft detailed plans to dress up Ohio's interstate highways by painting bridges different colors and imprinting slogans and logos on sound barriers. New York art lovers will remember that some years ago the New York City Art Commission hired painter Wolf Kahn to pick the colors for several bridges over the East River.
NEW CURATOR FOR BALTIMORE
Katherine Rothkopf has been named curator of painting and sculpture at the Baltimore Museum of Art. A grad of the legendary art history department at Williams College, she is currently associate curator at the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C.
NEW CHIEF AT ASPEN MUSEUM
Dean Sobel, chief curator of contemporary art at the Milwaukee Art Museum, has been appointed director of the Aspen Art Museum. He organized "Identity Crisis: Self-Portraiture at the End of the Century," which appeared at the Aspen museum in 1997.