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The trustees at Fort Worth's Kimbell Art Museum are defending themselves against allegations of excessive pay featured in last week's FW Weekly. In the article, tax documents revealed that the board voted a $750,000 payout for board president Kay Fortson and $747,000 salary for her husband, vice-president Ben Fortson, and that three of the eight voting board members are Fortson's adult children. Kimbell officials respond that the compensation was paid at an annual rate of $250,000 for work performed from 1996 to 1998, and that it is not for their roles as trustees, but that Mrs. Fortson's salary is for overseeing and managing all foundation and museum affairs, and Mr. Fortson earns $100,000 as vice president and $150,000 as chief investment officer, reports the Fort Worth Star Telegram. Furthermore, the couple affirms that family members did not vote on the payments. Former Kimbell museum director Ted Pillsbury, however, denies that the Fortsons were full-time employees during his tenure. It remains to be seen whether the Internal Revenue Service will investigate the museum's figures.

California philanthropists Ann and Gordon Getty are being sued for $327,000 plus attorney fees and punitive damages by artist Garth Benton for painting over his mural in their home, reports the San Francisco Examiner. According to the painter, the untitled 15 by 40 foot painting was created on canvas to allow removal and the Gettys were advised of that fact before the work was installed in their mansion in 1986. Benton says he discovered the $327,000 piece had been destroyed after asking for a photograph in March. for his upcoming catalogue raisonné. A spokesman for the family says experts are now working to remove the paint from the mural and restore it to its original condition.

Striking PASTA-MOMA workers are holding an "Artists' Roar" rally on Friday, Aug. 14, 5-7 p.m., in front of the Museum of Modern Art to mark the 99th day of the strike. Local 2110 UAW members -- which include archivists, educators, curatorial staff, librarians, registrars and sales people -- have been on strike since Apr. 28 over what they call healthcare givebacks, blatant union-busting, job security and substandard wages.

Promising tax news for artists -- Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy has introduced a bill to restore for the first time in 30 years a deduction for artists who donate works to charitable institutions, reports ArtsWire. Under current law, art collectors who donate artworks can deduct the fair market value of the work from their taxes, but artists can only deduct the actual cost of the materials used to produce the work. Among the stipulations in the "Artist-Museum Partnership Act" is that the work be appraised for fair market value.

The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Mass., is gearing up for a major expansion, reports the Boston Globe. The project by Cooper, Roberston and Partners, the firm responsible for the Museum of Modern Art's master plans, include adding 80,000-100,000 square feet of space to the original 1955 building and its 1973 addition. Clark director Michael Conforti says he envisions added separate spaces rather than one big structure to get visitors out into the 140-acre landscape, including some underground buildings to preserve the view. The museum is currently considering some 25 architects for the job and it hopes to eventually stage a public competition with displays by three or four short-listed architects, preferably candidates outside the usual pool of museum designers. Other goals include strengthening the current Clark Fellows program, which brings leading scholars for up to a year and a new lab for the Williamstown Art Conservation Center. Phase one of the plans are scheduled to be completed in 2005, in time for the museum's 50th anniversary.

The World Jewish Congress is investigating U.S. Army records at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., to cross-reference data of plundered artworks with the lists of possibly-looted works disclosed on museum websites, reports the Wall Street Journal. The project, scheduled to be implemented by this fall, hopes to redress the lack of success in finding the owners of works posted by museums around the country, including the Art Institute of Chicago, the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Artnet contributor and SUNY Stony Brook professor Donald Kuspit has kept pretty busy, publishing four new books this year. Redeeming Art: Critical Reveries (Allworth Press, New York) is a collection of short reviews and essays, many published elsewhere, on everyone from Sue Coe and Alex Grey to "Authoritarian Abstraction." The Dialectic of Decadence is an essay originally published in 1993 and reissued by Allworth as part of its Esthetics Today series. Psychostrategies of Avant-Garde Art (Cambridge University Press) is a psychoanalytic interpretation of bohemianism in art. The Rebirth of Painting in the Late Twentieth Century (Cambridge University Press) covers artists ranging from Picasso and Pollock to Keith Haring and David Wojnarowicz. To order contact the bookstore.

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art has appointed Madeleine Grynsztejn as senior curator of painting and sculpture. She replaces Gary Garrells, who left last December to become the chief curator of drawings and curator of painting and sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Grynsztejn comes from the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, where she has been curator of contemporary art since 1997.

The North Carolina Museum of Art is open around the clock for the last weekend of the highly popular "Rodin: Sculpture from the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Collection and Additional Works," from Aug. 12 at 9 a.m. to Aug. 13 at 7 p.m. The exhibition, which opened Apr. 16, features more than 130 sculptures and a selection of drawings pulled largely from the Cantor Collection, the world's largest and most comprehensive private collection of the artist's work.

-- compiled by Giovanni Garcia-Fenech
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