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The trustees of Fort Worth's nonprofit Kimbell Art Museum seem to be having a merry time at the notoriously wealthy museum, according to a report by Betty Brink in FW Weekly. Within days of the departure of veteran museum director Ted Pillsbury in 1998, the board voted a $750,000 payout for board president Kay Fortson and $747,000 in compensation for her husband, vice-president Ben Fortson. What's more, the board approved another $446,712 for new museum director Timothy Potts -- for his first 45 days on the job, according the FW Weekly. (Potts says the payment included four months salary, moving expenses and "bonuses"). Such big-buck bonanzas are considered rare in the nonprofit world; the average payment for charitable board chiefs is $12,250, according the Council of Foundations. Kimbell treasurer Brenda Cline, who pulls down $157,000 a year herself, denied the sums were excessive. "An independent compensation committee adopted a program that would compensate the Fortsons for all the years they worked as volunteers," she protested. FW Weekly also noted that the fortunes of Fortson's oil company have been in a steady decline. Observers await the Kimbell's 1999 tax returns, which the foundation has yet to file.

The Museum of Modern Art begins its four-year, $650-million expansion by Tokyo architect Yoshio Taniguchi any day now with the demolition of the Dorset Hotel on West 54th Street. Next step is the the closure of the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden, expected in August, to provide a construction staging area when work on the new museum begins next spring. If all goes according to plan, a portion of the museum operations will be transferred to the 140,000-square-foot former Swingline factory at 45-20 33rd Street in Long Island City, which debuts in the summer of 2002 with the special installation of "Collection Highlights" organized by chief curator Kirk Varnedoe. The temporary Queens location will show portions of MoMA's permanent collection and hold exhibitions until completion of the new building in late 2004 or early 2005, when it will be converted for use as an art storage and study center facility. Meanwhile, the strike by members of the Professional and Staff Association of the Museum of Modern Art enters week 13 with no sign of settlement.

The Whitney Museum has unveiled its fall schedule. The line-up includes:
  • "The Color of Ritual, the Color of Thought: Women Avant-Garde Filmmakers in America, 1930-2000," the second half of a series recognizing the achievement of women through the history of American experimental cinema, including films by Mary Ellen Bute, Marie Menken, Yoko Ono and Chick Strand, Sept. 5-Oct. 1.

  • Roni Horn's Still Water (the River Thames, for Example), 1999, fifteen photographs of the surface of the River Thames, marked with tiny numbers referring to segments of text about water that run along the base of the images like footnotes, Sept. 16, 2000-Jan 14, 2001.

  • "Dream Reels: Videofilms and Environments by Jud Yalkut," featuring films, videos and multi-screen projected environments by the 1960s psychedelic artist. The show ncludes collaborations with Trisha Brown, John Cage, Yayoi Kusama and Nam June Paik, Oct. 4-Nov. 12.

  • The first major retrospective in 40 years of the work of photographer Edward Steichen, featuring nearly 200 photographs and examples of his rarely seen paintings and textile designs, Oct. 5, 2000-Feb. 4, 2001.

  • "Highlights from the Whitney's Permanent Collection: Art in America from Pollock to Today," continues the historical trajectory that begins in the fifth floor with art from Edward Hopper to Jackson Pollock. Among the artists featured are Chuck Close, Robert Gober, David Hammons, Eva Hesse, Jasper Johns, Mike Kelley, Willem de Kooning, Jeff Koons, Roy Lichtenstein, Agnes Martin, Mark Rothko, Cindy Sherman, Richard Serra, Pat Steir and Frank Stella, starting Oct. 21.

  • "Sol Lewitt: A Retrospective," the conceptual arist's first comprehensive survey since 1978, presenting nearly 200 works, Dec. 7, 2000-Feb. 25, 2001.

  • "Flashing into the Shadows: The Artist's Film After Pop and Minimalism 1966-1976," featuring films by Vito Acconci, Mel Bochner, Dan Graham, Walter de Maria, Robert Morris, Bruce Nauman, Richard Serra and Robert Smithson. Dec. 7, 2000-Mar. 4, 2001.

Members of Britain's Parliament want to make trading in looted artifacts a criminal offence in order to combat the growing international market in stolen art, reports the London Guardian. Britain currently has no laws prohibiting the trade in works stolen abroad or smuggled out of a foreign country. The parlimentary culture committee also demands that the government act to facilitate the return of Nazi loot and ease the return of human remains on display in British museums. Curiously, the MPs declined taking a stance on the return of the Elgin Marbles, which were removed from the Parthenon in Athens in the 19th century and have been the focus of a long, bitter dispute between Britain and Greece.

Greenpeace is criticizing the British Museum for using wood possibly harvested illegally from the Amazon for an addition to its building, reports the Agence France-Presse. The lumber comes from Amaplac, a subsidiary of the Malaysian logging company WTK, allegedly one of the world's biggest rainforest destroyers. The museum has said that it demands that suppliers use sustainable methods and promises to investigate the questionable materials. Greenpeace protests led to the cancellation of orders from six other clients.

The National Gallery of Art has appointed Elizabeth Cropper dean of the Center for the Advanced Study in the Visual Arts. She succeeds Henry A. Millon, the center's first dean, who retires Jan. 2001. The privately funded center was founded in 1979 to promote the study of the history, theory and criticism of art, architecture and urbanism, and its activities include fellowships, meetings, publications and research.

Issue number 12 of artist Devon Dikeou's Zingmagazine has hit the newsstands, a 264-page compendium of images and texts that is sure to be examined very closely by collectors and curators of cutting-edge art. Among the eyecatching features are "What's Mine Is Mine and What's Yours Is Mine," a series of die-cut pages by Simon Periton, and "Art for the Practicing Heterosexual," a group of paintings by Tracy Nakayama. The magazine has a huge section of reviews, including texts on Oyvind Fahlstrom, Vibeke Tandberg, Lester Bowie, Giasco Bertoli, Jim Shaw, Gary Boas and more. It costs $12 U.S., but can also be purchased with other currencies. For more info check out the website at

After long absence, former New York Times art critic Michael Brenson has reappeared in the popular press, gracing the art-review pages of New York magazine. There he is filling in for critic Mark Stevens, who begins a six-month sabbatical to work on a book about Willem de Kooning. At the Times, Brenson had specialized in contemporary sculpture; since then he has written on the National Endowment for the Arts and done policy work for art foundations. No word yet on whether his first piece, on Barbara Kruger at the Whitney Museum ("Whether people love or hate the work of Barbara Kruger, they remember her words," he begins), will be the first of many art reviews for New York City's hometown weekly.

Both the art and tennis worlds are anxiously awaiting the unveiling of a statue by Eric Fischl commemorating the late tennis great Arthur Ashe, the New York Times reports. Commissioned by the United States Tennis Association, the statue is being unveiled on Aug. 28, the first day of the United States Open. The dramatic, 14-foot-tall bronze effigy of a nude black man reportedly does not represent Ashe, but rather strives for the tradition of ancient Greek statuary. Fischl was selected by a panel led by former Sotheby’s president Michael Ainslie and by Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe, the tennis champion’s widow. The once-controversial artist presented his first show of sculpture at Gagosian in 1998.

-- compiled by Giovanni Garcia-Fenech
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