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Artnet News

Six months after George W. Bush took over the White House, he's slashed taxes for the rich and unleashed the corporate polluters on the environment. Now, the former frat-boy is expected to turn his squinty gaze to the question of a new leader for the National Endowment for the Arts, whose current chairman, folk music aficionado William Ivey, has announced plans to resign at the end of September. The post is far from filled, however, and recent press reports have suggested more than a dozen potential candidates.

Leading the pack -- at least from the point of view of NEA supporters -- is Republican New York State senator Roy M. Goodman, a longtime arts advocate who was appointed for a six-year term to the NEA board in 1989 by the senior Bush. Goodman is said to be actively campaigning for the job, and is reported to have support from the likes of New York Cardinal Edward Egan and Senate minority leader Trent Lott (as well as favorable recommendations quoted in the New York Times from actor Tony Randall and Metropolitan Museum director Philippe de Montebello).

But Goodman has already come under fire from Republican right-wingers as "extremely liberal," -- he even spoke out in defense of the Brooklyn Museum in the "Sensation" controversy in 1999 -- with the American Conservative Union leading a charge of some 24 conservative groups opposing his nomination. And GOP consultant Craig Shirley hastened into print at the Washington Times, noting that Goodman may be an "Ex-Lax heir" but is hardly a "regular" Republican.
  • Among the other candidates are:
    William E. Strickland, a former NEA boardmember and current director of the Manchester Craftsman Guild in Pittsburgh, a self-described "entrepreneurial" organization that combines the arts with job training.
  • Alvin Felzenberg, a Princeton Ph.D who is a visiting fellow at the right-wing Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., and who was a cultural advisor to New Jersey governor Thomas Kean in the 1980s and briefly served as a deputy NEA chairman under the senior Bush.
  • Lynn Munson, a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and author of Exhibitionism: Art in an Era of Intolerance; she is a former assistant to Lynne V. Cheney, the wife of vice president Richard B. Cheney and a former head of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Plus: Dean Anderson, a scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center; New York businessman Tom Bernstein; Peter Hero, a former president of the Maine College of Art and current president of Community Foundation Silicon Valley in San Jose; cellist Marta Casals Istomin, the former artistic director of the Kennedy Center who now heads the Manhattan School of Music; Orlando mayor Glenda Hood; former NEA councilmember Colleen Jennings-Roggensack; Henry Moran, director of the Mid-America Arts Alliance in Kansas City; Nancy Risque Rohrbach, currently departing director of the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C.; and George White, director for 36 years of the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, Conn.

According to a report in the New York Times, the Senate and the House are expected to approve a $115-million NEA budget for next year, up $10 million from its current allocation.

After spending several months abroad, the "Rothko Room" is back home at the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. The museum's four Rothko paintings had journeyed to Switzerland for a much-heralded Rothko retrospective at the Beyeler Foundation in Basel, in which they were presented in a replica of the Phillips' installation. The show marked the first time since the room's genesis in 1964 that the four works had traveled. The paintings' return stateside highlights a new acquisition for the Phillips, Rothko's 1944 gouache-on-paper Aubade, a gift of Maryland's Rebecca B. and Julius W. Allen.

The damage wreaked by Tropical Storm Allison in Houston some five weeks ago continues to vex the University of Houston's Blaffer Gallery, which has been closed indefinitely due to flood damage. Director Terrie Sultan says the museum is reopening in September after repairs to electrical and other systems are complete. The exhibition "Here & There/Aquí y Allá: Six Artists from San Juan," originally scheduled to debut on June 29, 2001, has been pushed back until January 2002.

Sculptor Marc Quinn has won the £25,000 Royal Academy of Arts Charles Wollaston Award 2001 at the current "Summer Exhibition" in London. Quinn's marble sculpture Catherine Long, one of eight life-size nude portraits of real people missing one or more limbs due to birth, illness or accident, beat out the other two short-listed works, Frederick Gore's oil painting, Naked at the Feast, and Richard Serra's paint-stick-on-paper, Huddie Leadbelly. The winner was selected from the 1,180 entries in the exhibition, which includes works by Anthony Caro, Tracey Emin, David Mach, Robert Rauschenberg and Bridget Riley. "Summer Exhibition 2001" remains on view until Aug. 13, 2001.

Tourists wanting a glimpse of New York's seedy side can head not to the gentrified Lower East Side but rather up to Central Park West, where "Flophouse: Life on the Bowery" bows at the New-York Historical Society, July 31-Nov. 4, 2001. Presented in conjunction with Sound Portraits Productions and the Bowery Residents' Committee, Inc., the show is based on the radio documentary The Sunshine Hotel and the book Flophouse: Life on the Bowery by producers David Isay and Stacy Abramson and photographer Harvey Wang. The exhibition features Wang's photographs, a recreated flophouse cubicle and a large 1930s neon sign from the Bowery's last liquor store, among other artifacts, plus a free 22-minute audio-tour narrated by sound bytes pulled from the film. The exhibition, funded in part by Laura S. and Jonathan M. Tisch and Random House, Inc., coincides with the paperback release of the flophouse book.

American-Japanese sculptor Isamu Noguchi is getting his first-ever large solo European retrospective at the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein, Germany, Dec. 8, 2001-April 21, 2002. The exhibition features 80 works in an installation by theater impresario Robert Wilson. An illustrated 300-page catalogue, to be released in German and English, will include an homage to Noguchi by close friend R. Buckminster Fuller and a heretofore unpublished article by the artist himself.

Manhattan ancient art dealer Frederick Schultz, who has operated a gallery under his name in the Fuller Building on East 57th Street for six years and is a past president of the National Association of Dealers in Ancient, Oriental and Primitive Art, was indicted in Federal District Court on July 16 on charges that he conspired to receive and possess ancient artworks that were illegally exported from Egypt, according to a report in today's New York Times. The Egyptian government has banned trade in Egyptian artifacts since 1983. Schultz is accused of agreeing to buy the antiquities from an unnamed party who illegally obtained the items in Egypt. Schultz faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison if convicted. Schultz's lawyer, Linda Imes, denied the charges.

The Italian government has launched a nation-wide initiative to keep 61 museums and archeological sites open till 11 p.m. through the summer, till Sept. 15. Dubbed "L'arte migliori i tempi" -- art betters time (?) -- the scheme extends to the Uffizi in Florence, the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna and the Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome, the Palazzo Reale in Turin and the Castel S. Elmo in Naples, among others.

In 1999, Christie's agreed to pay departing CEO Christopher Davidge about $7 million in severance in exchange for favorable testimony in what was then a burgeoning insider-trading investigation, according to a report by Kathryn Kranhold in the Wall Street Journal on July 11, 2001. The revelation comes in a private email made public in New York federal court, and could play a role in the forthcoming trial this fall of Sotheby's former chairman, Alfred Taubman. Taubman's attorneys seek to show that Davidge testified falsely so that Christie's would receive the "amnesty" from the serious criminal sanctions that have hit Sotheby's, which recently paid a fine of $45 million.

Adding to the troubles at Sotheby's, Standard & Poor's lowered Sotheby's Holdings Inc.'s ratings to junk status on July 16, 2001, noting the auction house's ongoing legal difficulties. S&P joins Moody's and Fitch, the other leading U.S. rating agencies, which had already downgraded Sotheby's debt to junk.