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The latest museum to find itself under fire for linking its exhibition program to its corporate fundraising is the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, current venue for the traveling retrospective of designers Charles and Ray Eames, which is on view there June 25-Sept. 10, 2000. The Los Angeles Times reports that "Charles and Ray Eames: A Legacy of Invention," is sponsored by Vitra International, the German firm that supplies European and Middle Eastern markets with Eames furniture, and receives additional funding for the North American venues of the show from Herman Miller Inc., the American company that sells Eames furniture everywhere else.

The Times seems especially exercised because versions of items in the show can be bought at the museum gift shop -- as was the case when the survey appeared at the Cooper-Hewitt in New York, though Gotham commentators didn't make a fuss. LACMA director Andrea Rich maintains that "a corporate sponsor has no involvement in the content of an exhibition or the scholarship upon which it rests," and vice-president for development Katharine DeShaw adds that the items sold are negotiated in a separate contract with the shop.

Charges of esthetic nepotism have tainted a number of exhibitions recently, including the Metropolitan Museum's "Rock Style," sponsored by Tommy Hilfiger, and the forthcoming Armani show at the Guggenheim, which has received backing from Giorgio Armani.

Eric Fischl's new statue commemorating tennis great Arthur Ashe was unveiled at the Arthur Ashe Stadium in Forest Hills, N.Y., on Aug. 28, the first day of the United States Open -- and the work is eliciting as much controversy as the artist's sexually charged paintings did in the 1980s. Commissioned by the United States Tennis Association, the dramatic, 14-foot-tall bronze effigy of a nude black man does not represent Ashe, according to Fischl (who has been known to swing a powerful racket himself), but rather strives for the tradition of ancient Greek statuary.

In any case, its nudity is unnerving tennis enthusiasts. "It's typical New York," a Springfield, Ill., lawyer told the New York Post. "Everything in New York they have to display genitals or vagina in order to shock. They just can't show him like he was." The Los Angeles Times quotes Lamont Bryant, who runs a tennis academy in Chicago, saying "They need to take it down, really... Why is he playing tennis with no clothes on?"

Fischl, who says the problem lies with the viewers' inability to have a "communal experience," was selected by a panel led by former Sotheby's president Michael Ainslie and by Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe, the tennis champion's widow. About half of the cost of the statue was contributed by a small group of tennis fans, with the balance of about $300,000 donated by the USTA.

The prize for art-world gossip goes to married columnists Rush & Molloy in the Aug. 25 Daily News, when they published a picture of waif supermodel Kate Moss on the Spanish isle of Ibiza with her new boyfriend, controversial yBa Jake Chapman, described as "a sculptor famous for his penis-nosed Pinocchio." The blurb even includes a picture showing the pair sans shirts.

Scandal-haunted Manhattan art dealer Andrew Crispo has been sentenced to seven years in prison for attempted extortion in connection with threats to kidnap the four-year-old daughter of a lawyer involved in his bankruptcy case, reports When he made the threats, Crispo was reportedly angry over the bankruptcy-induced sale of his historic house in Charleston, S.C., which he had hoped would eventually hold his art collection. Lurid details of Crispo's past adventures -- which include a stint in jail for tax evasion, a scandal over involvement in a sadomasochistic ritual murder (he was never charged), a separate lawsuit over sadomasochistic sex at a 1984 drug party at Crispo Gallery (he was acquitted) and the 1989 explosion of his art-filled Long Island house (he received $5 million from the Long Island Lighting Company) -- can be found in David France's Bag of Toys: Sex, Scandal and the Death Mask Murder (Warner Books, 1992).

More than 70 artists have donated work to the Democratic National Committee for DNCART2000, the first-ever Internet art auction fundraiser for a political party. Potential bidders are required to pay $1,000 to register for the silent auction, which runs from Sept. 11 to the first week in October. Half of the fee goes on account toward purchase of artworks by Richard Diebenkorn, Jim Dine, Robert Rauschenberg, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol and others. All participants receive a special limited edition sterling silver pin designed by Chuck Close, who led the committee selecting the works and contributed two large photo portraits of presidential hopeful Al Gore for the sale. Additionally, a handful of photographs by Tipper Gore will be raffled to registered participants. More information is available at

Legendary modernist architect I.M. Pei returns to the Everson Museum in Syracuse, N.Y., on Sept. 1 to present plans and a model of his new East Wing winter garden addition. The 83-year-old designer has come out of retirement especially for the expansion to the Everson, which is the first museum building he designed (it was completed in 1968). The proposed 25,000-square-foot project includes new exhibition galleries, studios and classrooms for educational art programs.

Pittsburgh's Frick Art & Historical Center inaugurates its artist-in-residence program with "Clayton Days - Picture Stories by Vik Muniz," Sept. 9-Oct. 22, 2000. Muniz spent several weeks at Clayton, the restored 19th-century estate of industrialist and art collector Henry Clay Frick, taking photographs with period equipment from the low perspective of a child and using children and adults in period clothing as his models. The museum is also presenting the photographer's "Flora Industrialis" series, 20 pictures of artificial flowers presented as a botanical field guide.

New York artist and Artnet Magazine columnist Joy Garnett is getting ready to send out the first fall issue of her weekly electronic newsletter, Newsgrist. Using the slogan "where spin is art," the e-letter aims to bridge the gap between low tech and new media technologies and features news, art classifieds and a horoscope. Check out the website or sign up for a free subscription at

-- compiled by Giovanni Garcia-Fenech
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