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It was a sci-fi moment at the new Julia Friedman Gallery when it opened at 118 N. Peoria in Chicago's West Loop Gate with a show of works by bio-tech artist Eduardo Kac on May 4, 2001. Dubbed "Genesis," Kac's show includes samples of a synthetic gene designed by translating a sentence from Genesis in the Bible into Morse code and then into DNA base pairs. The "Genesis" gene -- devised from the verse that reads "Let man have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth" -- is incorporated into glowing bacteria whose image is projected as live video in the gallery. Kac, who teaches at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, gained fame last year when he commissioned a French laboratory to create Alba, a transgenic, glow-in-the-dark albino bunny with genes borrowed from a deep-sea fish.

Friedman, who moved to Chicago seven years ago, says her new gallery specializes in "bridging physical and virtual spaces." Her space is the latest to open in Chicago's new gallery center known as the West Loop Gate neighborhood. Coming up at Friedman in June is a show of new works by local video artist Jennifer Reeder. For more info, call (312) 455-0755.
-- Lori Waxman

A ten-day-old strike by staffers at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa may dampen enthusiasm for the museum's forthcoming blockbuster, "Gustav Klimt: Modernism in the Making," slated to open June 15-Sept. 6, 2001. The museum's curatorial assistants, exhibition installers, communications workers and other technical and support staff walked off the job on May 10 and have been picketing the museum ever since. A spokesperson for the Public Service Alliance of Canada, which represents the museum workers, admitted that the strike was timed to interfere with the big Klimt show, according to a report in the National Post. The union seeks more money and has been slinging criticism at gallery director Pierre Théberge for overseas jaunts and running up "fiscally irresponsible" debts. Stay tuned.

The totals are in for the two weeks of Impressionist, modern and contemporary art auctions in New York City, and Sotheby's is the winner with overall sales of $222.3 million -- or so crows its press release. Sotheby's led in Impressionist and modern with a $140.7 million total and in contemporary with $81.5 million. The May total exceeds Sotheby's combined sales of $196 million last fall and comes close to the $227.7 million total of a year ago.

Sotheby's CEO Bill Ruprech issued a statement that said, "Sotheby's results in this extremely competitive environment are a great testament to the unmatched expertise and experience of our specialists, our international departments who work so well together as colleagues and the transparent environment of our salesroom."

Christie's total for the week is almost $190 million. Phillips, which is conducting its American art sale in New York today, May 22, has not yet issued combined totals. It's single-night Impressionist and modern auction last week, however, totaled $124 million, while its contemporary sale grossed $16.4 million.

A limewood figure of a female saint by the Gothic master Tilman Riemenschneider was sold at Sotheby's New York on May 22 for $2.97 million. Buyer was the Peter Moores Foundation, which plans to exhibit the work at the refurbished Compton Verney, an 18th-century building originally designed by architect Robert Adam and slated to reopen as a museum in 2003. (Other works acquired for exhibition at the facility, which is located on 42 landscaped acres near Stratford-upon-Avon, include Bernardo Strozzi's The Incredulity of St. Thomas and rare archaic bronzes currently on loan to the British Museum.) The Riemenschneider was sold to benefit the new Leo and Karen Gutmann Foundation, which supports grad students in art history, archeology and art conservation.

The Nassau County Museum of Art in New York has yanked a poster of a woman smoking by Art Nouveau master Alphonse Mucha after county executive Thomas Gulotta complained that it sent the wrong message to young people, according to a story in New York Newsday. Mucha's original 1898 litho, which is included in the museum's new show, "Art Nouveau to Art Deco," originally promoted Job brand rolling papers, which Gulotta noted in his press release are often associated with marijuana. The posters were designed to promote the show by being distributed for free to libraries and elsewhere. The printing company is underwriting the $500 cost of replacement posters. The new image, by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, shows a woman drinking a martini.

The ruins of Herculaneum, a fishing village that like its sister city of Pompeii was buried intact by the A.D. 79 eruption of Mount Vesuvius, has been put up for sale by the Italian government, according to a report on Luisa Bossa, mayor of Ercolano, the modern city where Herculaneum is located, says the state has performed no maintenance on the area for nearly two years due to a shortage of funds. The proposed sale would give the new owner rights to excavate surrounding areas and take possession of any artifacts recovered.

The celebrated Philadelphia Weekly newspaper is tightening its belt this summer, eliminating art reviews as well as book and theater reviews. The last art pages -- which usually carry one longer and two shorter reviews by sometime Artnet Magazine Philadelphia correspondent Roberta Fallon -- runs May 23. The Weekly says it hopes to start art coverage again in the fall. In the meantime, Fallon plans to team up with former Weekly art critic Gerard Brown to publish a local "fanzine" of art reviews.

No jokes, please! A group of artists is showing their work in a shipping container plopped down first in SoHo and then in West Chelsea. First up in the standard 20-foot container is Dolores Zinny and Juan Maidagan, whose Exterior Enclosure can be viewed at Avenue of the Americas and Broome Street, May 8-26, 2001. Forthcoming are installations by Alex Villar (May 22-June 9), Amy Hauft (June 2-30) and Judith Barry (July 5-21) at 9th Avenue and 27th Street, then it's back to SoHo for Lisa Bateman's installation, June 8-23. The project is organized by Sandra Skurvida and sponsored by the New York Foundation for the Arts.

Piero Crommelynck, 67, Picasso's favorite engraver, died from cancer at the American Hospital in Neuilly, near Paris, on May 18, 2001. With his brother Aldo, Crommelynck produced over 750 engravings for Picasso between 1963 and his death in 1973. Born in Italy in 1934, Crommelynck opened his studio in Paris in 1959, and worked with many prestigious artists, ranging from Masson and Giacometti to Jasper Johns and Cy Twombly.
-- Adrian Darmon