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What with contemporary art's exploration of, ahem, "gender" issues, it's no surprise that New York's nascent "sex museum" has appointed an art critic to organize its premiere exhibition. Grady T. Turner, the sometime Artnet Magazine writer who has been director of exhibitions at the New-York Historical Society for seven years, has been named curator of the new Museum of Sex, where he will organize the inaugural exhibition on the history of sexuality in New York City.

"It's a big undertaking," Turner writes via email, "encompassing the stories of prostitution, birth control, pornography, censorship, gay and lesbian communities, divorce and AIDS." And, of course, porn also has its role. "Yesterday I saw what is purported to be the oldest extant blue movie, Free Ride (1913), filmed in the wilds of Ft. Lee, N.J.," confided Turner, a father of four. "It's quite a revelation, with all of the trappings of a silent movie -- dialogue placards, whimsical narrative -- with frolicsome nudity and fornication. Who knew that our grandparents were into this!"

The Museum of Sex was originally slated to open in 2004 as a for-profit operation housed in a $20-million renovated building at 27th Street and Fifth Avenue, but it's now in go-slow mode. According to Crain's New York Business, founder Daniel Gluck had to scale back his plans after major investors backed out. He reportedly has a $1-million kitty, and will mount the sex show in an unknown location for 10 months with a $12 to $15 admission in order to allow his investors to recoup their money.

Speaking of sex, the Tom of Finland Foundation has announced plans for the first Erotic Art Fair in New York, to be held at the Lesbian and Gay Center at One Little West 12th Street, June 23-24, 2001. "The purpose of the fair is to celebrate erotic art in all its forms," said foundation president Durk Dehner, who launched the organization in 1984 with the late erotic artist, Tom of Finland (1920-91). The group has organized six such fairs in L.A.; the New York installment coincides with Gay Pride Weekend. For more info, contact the foundation at (213) 250-1685 or check out

In an astonishing story, the London Sunday Times has reported that guards at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) were routinely "too drunk to stand," as the newspaper headline put it. At one private party, visitors were seen sniffing cocaine off the base of Canova's sculpture The Three Graces, the newspaper said. On another occasion, two guards at the museum were so inebriated they were crawling on hands and knees on their patrols of V&A corridors.

The revelations came after the V&A hired a detective firm to look into security at the museum, which was hit by the theft of two Constable works in 1998. Codenamed "Operation Angel," the investigation put an undercover officer on the guard force for four months in 1999. On one occasion, the investigator noted "the pungent odor of cannabis" coming from the guard booth. Other liberties were taken as well. Another diary entry noted finding "three courting couples in the ironwork gallery" during an evening soiree at the museum. The undercover guard "had to escort them down. One of them was in a considerable state of undress."

V&A assistant director Jim Close told the newspaper that procedures have been put into place to prevent further incidents.

The Chicago Athenaeum at Schaumburg in Schaumburg, Ill., unveils "Sky Art: The International Art and Design of Kites," Apr. 21-May 20, 2001. The show includes approximately 40 historic and contemporary kites, plus a display of miniature kites, from Japan, Korea, India, Britain, the Netherlands, Germany and the United States. The largest kite for the inside of the museum will be the 14-foot-long Bear kite by Don Mock of Washington State. Other artists who have contributed kites to the show are Dennis Oppenheim, Makato Sei Watanabe, Nina Levy and Apostolos Fanakidis. The American Kiteflyers Association will fly two monumental kites, Octopus and Trilobite on Saturday, Apr. 21, from 12:00 to 5:00, and library visitors are invited to bring their kites for flying as well. For more info call (847) 895-3950.

The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation has announced the winners of its annual fellowships in the arts and sciences. The prizes go for specific projects at varying budgets, so fellowship amounts are not generally disclosed -- although the average amount is believed to be about $35,000. Among the winners are artists Harry William Bartnick, Natalie Bookchin, Martha Burgess, Charles Cajori, Marsha Cottrell, James Drake, Judy Glantzman, Joanne Greenbaum, Christine Heindl, Jim Isermann, Roberto Juarez, Eva Lundsager, Vera Lutter, Beverly McIver, John Mulvaney, Cliffton Peacock, Amy Sillman, Alan Wiener and Nadine Zanow.

Winners in photography are Marcia Lea Due, Robbert Flick, David Hilliard, Jocelyn Lee, Sharon Lockhart, Stephen A. Scheer, Taryn Simon, Mike Smith and Richard S. Street.

Fellows in art history are Maggie Bickford (auspicious visuality in China), Michele H. Bogart (the Art Commission and public culture in New York City), Anne Higonnet (a history of private art museums), John Richardson (a life of Picasso, 1917-1939), Larry Silver (the rise of visual genres in the Antwerp art market), Abigail Solomon-Godeau (gender, genre, and the female nude in France), Nancy Shatzman Steinhardt (Chinese architecture of the 4th to 6th centuries) and David T. Van Zanten (the architect's contribution to the shaping of European cities in the 1840s and 1850s).

Other winners include New York Times culture reporter Ralph Blumenthal, NYU professor Andrew Ross (work and play in the new economy), comic-book journalist Joe Sacco, New York critic Deborah Solomon (a life of Norman Rockwell) and Fairfield Porter biographer Justin Spring (a cultural history of Provincetown).

The American Academy of Arts and Letters has awarded eight prizes for 2001 totaling over $50,000. Five $7,500 awards for exceptional accomplishment went to Chakaia Booker, Lucky DeBellevue, Martha Diamond, Jacqueline Humphries and Justen Ladda. Other winners include painter Bernard Chaet ($5,000 Jimmy Ernst Award in Art), painter Laura Owens ($5,000 Willard L. Metcalf Award) and painter Blake Rayne ($5,000 Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Foundation Award). Work by this year's award recipients is featured in an exhibition at the Academy galleries at 155th Street and Broadway, May 17-June 10, 2001.

The Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art in Indianapolis has announced winners of the 2001 Eiteljorg Fellowship for Native American Fine Art. Five fellows -- two from Canada and three from the U.S. -- take home $20,000 in cash, and show their work in an exhibition at the Eiteljorg Museum. The winners are Rick Bartow (Yurok/Mad River Band), South Beach, Ore.; Joe Feddersen (Colville Confederated Tribes), Lacey, Wash.; Teresa Marshall (Mi'kmaq), Millbrook Reserve, Truro, Nova Scotia, Canada; Shelly Niro (Bay of Quinte Mohawk), Brantford, Ontario, Canada; and Susie Silook (Siberian Yupik/Inupiaq), Anchorage, Alaska. The fellowship, which is funded in part by a $490,000 grant from Lilly Endowment, Inc., will also recognize the late Allan Houser (Chiricahua Apache, Fort Sill, Okla.) as a master artist.

T.O.A.S.T., the Tribeca Open Artist Studio Tour, is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, Apr. 28-29, 2001, from 1 to 6 p.m. Maps readily available in the neighborhood, as well as on the tour website, to help art lovers navigate a free, self-guided walking tour to more than 65 artist's studios. A window display of work by participating artists is on view at New York Law School on Church and Worth Street. For further info, call (212) 479-7313.