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MOMA STRIKE HEATS UP|
The strike by the Professional and Administrative Staff Association of the Museum of Modern Art (PASTA-MOMA) continues unabated since its beginning on Apr. 28 -- in 11 weeks, the two sides have not had a face-to-face meeting. Recent developments include some lobbying on behalf of PASTA-MOMA by Teamsters president James P. Hoffa, who complained in a letter to Goldman Sachs that the investment bank was promoting unfair working conditions by underwriting $250 million in bonds for the MoMA expansion. Hoffa added that the union was reviewing its accounts with the bank, which include several billion dollars in Teamster pension funds. But a crucial question remains -- will construction unions respect the PASTA-MOMA picket line later this month when work on the museum's expansion is scheduled to begin? Stay tuned. (This story was reported by Steven Greenhouse in the New York Times on July 9).
On the cultural front, philosopher-art critic Arthur C. Danto and the editors of the Nation have weighed in strongly on the side of the union. In the current issue, which features Danto's review of "Making Choices," the editors urge MoMA to reach a settlement with its employees, and presume that the review will serve as an alternative to visiting the strike-bound museum. As for Danto, he notes that he saw the shows before the strike began. The exhibition "should be one of the summer's treats for everyone," he states, "once the labor dispute has been settled."
THE ART OF THE ARTIFACT
The onslaught of crowd-pleasing museum exhibitions of pop culture continues. First there was the Guggenheim's wildly successful "The Art of the Motorcycle," followed by the Metropolitan's fall extravaganza "Rock Style" and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art's current "Design Afoot: Athletic Shoes 1995-2000." Now we can look forward to the Boston's Museum of Fine Arts' "Dangerous Curves: Art of the Guitar," Nov. 5, 2000-Feb. 25, 2001. Organized by MFA curator of musical instruments Darcy Kuronen, the display features more than 130 instruments and examines more than 400 years of guitar design. The show, one of the first since new director Malcolm Rogers fired several senior curators and announced a radical restructuring of curatorial departments, is sure to be a blockbuster with its video kiosks and its audio guide featuring commentary and recordings by contemporary musicians, as well as its weekly concerts. What's next? A history of beer cans?
TATE LAUNCHES ONLINE COMMISSIONS
Visitors to the Tate Gallery website can be excused for thinking that hackers have taken over. Something called the "Mongrel Tate" comes up, with notes referring to "the Tate's collection ... present with the mud, skin and scabs of the Thames" and "Mongrel Tate Britain, home of 500 years of tasty babes, luxury goods and psychological props of the British social elite." In fact, the Tate commissioned the entire parody, dubbed Uncomfortable Proximity, from Harwood@Mongrel.
The Tate's second commissioned web art project, Simon Patterson's Le Match des couleurs, is set to go online July 12. The piece features a recording of Radio France 1 football commentator Eugène Sacomano reading the soccer returns of all the teams who have ever played in the French Football League, followed by the assignment of a color value to each team based on the Hexadecimal Equivalent color system used on the Internet. Both works are on view at http://www.tate.org.uk/webart until June 30, 2001.
RINGLING MUSEUM STRUGGLES CONTINUE
It's been less than two weeks since Florida State University officially took charge of the Ringling Museum and the fur is already flying, reports Charlie Huisking in the Sarasota Herald Tribune. Ringling board members have refused to sign an interim operating agreement drafted by FSU, objecting to two paragraphs giving museum interim director Arland Christ-Janer control over a wide range of activities they say renders the Ringling governing board powerless. FSU representative Jill Chamberlin urged board members to sign the agreement, noting that it would be in effect for only 60 days while a more formal agreement is drafted. The board approved its own version of the document instead, but Chamberlin said she has no authority to agree to any changes. The issue remains in limbo until university president Talbot D'Alemberte and provost Doug Abele return from vacation later this month.
MARLBOROUGH OPENS BRANCH IN MONTE CARLO
Marlborough Gallery has opened its new branch in Monte Carlo, Monaco, in the Old Harbor district, an area considered the city's center of artistic activity. The 3,200-square-foot gallery is located on the ground floor of a renovated factory that contains several artists' studios as well. Director of Marlborough Monte Carlo is Italian dealer and writer Eva Menzio, who had her own gallery in Turin for nearly 20 years and represented the celebrated Arte Povera group. The inaugural exhibition features paintings by John Alexander, Avigdor Arikha, Frank Auerbach, Fernando Botero, Claudio Bravo, Stephen Conroy, Richard Estes, Red Grooms, Bill Jacklin, R.B. Kitaj, Paula Rego, Larry Rivers, Thomas Sánches and Manolo Valdés, and is up through Sept. 30.
The gallery's opening was timed to coincide with the "Festival International de Sculpture de Monte Carlo," a biennial exhibition of monumental sculpture installed in the city's gardens, terraces and seaside promenade surrounding the Place du Casino. This year's presentation focuses on contemporary American artists, and includes work by Alice Aycock, Jonathan Borofsky, Louise Bourgeois, Deborah Buterfield, Dale Chihuly, Jim Dine, Bryan Hunt, Red Grooms, Donald Lipski, Dennis Oppenheim, Tom Otterness, Beverly Pepper, George Rickey, Lucas Samaras, Julian Schnabel, George Segal, Joel Shapiro, Kenneth Snelson, Keith Sonnier, Frank Stella and James Surls. The exhibition has been curated by French independent curator Solange Auzias de Turenne, International Public Art Marlborough president Dale Lanzone and Marlborough Gallery president Pierre Levai. The festival remains on view through Oct. 2000.
BRIT MUSEUMS MISSING ART
The British government has released a list of nearly 150 items -- ranging from expensive paintings to trivial items -- missing from nine national museums, the London Guardian reports. Topping the list is the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, where some 15 seascapes from the 17th to the 19th century estimated to be worth £90,000 have gone lost. A dealer in Amsterdam alerted the museum after buying an early 17th century Dutch oil from a seller who turned out to be using a false name, leading the institution to undertake its first audit in 14 years. Other national galleries reporting items stolen, missing, or "unaccounted for" include the British Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum.
CANADIAN MUSEUM DAMNED BY ITS SUCCESS
Canada's Art Gallery of Windsor finds itself victim of its own success, reports CBC Radio. The nonprofit museum rented its old space to the Ontario Casino Corporation in the early '90s, receiving almost $8 million (Can.) and the construction of a new gallery worth more than $20 million in exchange. Now the Windsor City Council's budget committee believes the museum no longer needs its annual half-million dollar municipal subsidy. A resolution asking that the gallery draft a long-term budget without the city's contribution has been passed on to the council and awaits final deliberations in December. The gallery directors say they are agreeable to discuss ways of becoming more self-sufficient, but add that they cannot do without the city's funding.
PORTRAITS ON TOUR
The Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery is sending an estimated 1,000 portraits from its collection to museums and other institutions across the U.S. and in Europe and Japan while its home, the Old Patent Office Building, is closed for major renovation. In addition to special thematic groupings and individual portraits going out on loan, 250 of the museum's most important works will tour in four special exhibitions, starting with "Portraits of the Presidents from the National Portrait Gallery," which travels to the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum in College Station, Tex., Oct. 6, 2000-Jan. 15, 2001. Many of the works are part of the museum's permanent display and have rarely been seen outside Washington, D.C. The Portrait Gallery, which closed to the public in Jan. of this year, is scheduled to re-open in 2003.
-- compiled by Giovanni Garcia-Fenech