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James Cuno, currently director of the Courtauld Institute of Art in London, has been selected as the new director of the Art Institute of Chicago. He succeeds James N. Wood, who last fall announced his plans to retire after 24 years on the job. Cuno, 52, only recently took the London job, moving there from a 12-year stint as director of the Harvard University Art Museums. The AIC is in the midst of a $280-million fundraising campaign for a planned renovation and expansion of its facility. According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, the Chicago job paid more than $438,000 in salary and benefits.

The 12th annual Outsider Art Fair, organized by Sanford L. Smith & Associates, opens at the Puck Building in SoHo, Jan. 23-25, 2004, with 32 dealers from around the world. Among the attractions are a solo show of works by Sam Doyle at Ricco/Maresca Gallery (New York), works by Henry Darger, Joseph Yakum and Frank Jones at Carl Hammer Gallery (Chicago), knotted yarn and cloth sculptures by Judith Scott at the Creative Growth Art Center (Oakland) and works by Grandma Moses, John Kane, Darger and Horace Pippin at Galerie St. Etienne (New York). The special preview tonight, Jan. 22, benefits the American Folk Art Museum. Tickets are $150; for more info, call (212) 977-7170 x308.

New York art dealer Tracy Williams, who most recently was director of Zwirner & Wirth on East 67th Street in New York, has announced plans to open her own gallery in Greenwich Village. Tracy Williams, Ltd., opens in March 2004 in an 1880s townhouse at 313 West 4th Street with a show of works by Portuguese artist Pedro Cabrita Reis. Architect Richard Gluckman is renovating the space and Natalie Karg is overseeing the garden landscaping. Next up are shows by the Norwegian painter Olav Christopher Jenssen and the New York artist Matt Mullican; others working with the gallery are Lili Dujourie, Richard Dupont, Judy Ledgerwood, Anne Marie Schneider, Georgina Starr, Jan Vercruysse and Ouattara Watts.

Two of the international art world's most energetic dealers, Costa Rican gallerist Jacob Karpio and Miami-based Brazilian collector Silvana Facchini, have teamed up to open their own space, Karpio Facchini Gallery, at 1929 NW 1st Avenue in Miami's new Wynwood Art District. The debut show is the first U.S. exhibition by Francis Acea, the Cuban artist who gained an international reputation as part of the Havana-based duo, Ordo Amoris Cabinet. Acea, who now works on his own and lives in the U.S., focuses on "the personal computer as an object as well as a medium, and its relation with the human body." For more details, see

Discipline is back at the National Endowment for the Arts. That is, the NEA is allowing applicants to apply for grants based on their art discipline, such as dance, museums or visual arts, rather than in the new-think categories of "creativity" and "heritage & preservation" that were instituted after the culture wars of the 1980s. What's more, the new "grants for arts projects" guidelines for 2005 are now posted online for the first time. Grants range from $5,000 to $150,000 and are available to nonprofit organizations only (no fellowships for individuals). For details, go to the NEA website.

Bricoleur supreme Tim Hawkinson, the Los Angeles artist who has showed his inventive machine sculptures at Ace Gallery, MASS MoCA and in the 2000 Whitney Biennial, has begun work on a commission to build a giant teddy bear from eight granite boulders for a courtyard of a new engineering school at the UC San Diego, according to the North County Times. The 20-foot-tall, 300-ton sculpture, the 16th work in the university's famous Stuart Collection, is said to appeal to the engineers in part as a study in stacking big rocks.

The Boston Museum of Fine Arts has been guaranteed a $1 million payoff for lending 21 Monet works for a show a the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art in Las Vegas, according to a report in Newsweek magazine. Admission to "Claude Monet: Masterworks from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston," Jan. 30-Sept. 13, is $15 -- and the gallery is remaining open from 9 am to 9 pm. The show should pay for itself with a mere 400 visitors a day, according to Marc Glimcher, the New York art dealer who manages the gallery with his wife, Andrea Bundonis. Earlier exhibitions of works by Andy Warhol and Faberge jewelry from the Kremlin averaged attendance twice that, according to the story. BMFA director Malcolm Rogers notes the museum is "always exploring new ways to bring in revenue. And we love the museum's treasures to be seen in new places by new audiences."

The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis closes on Feb. 15 for a year-long renovation and expansion. To mark the closing, the museum plans a special party and six-hour overnight performance by the U.K.-based theater company Forced Entertainment. And for the next year, the museum has scheduled "Walker without Walls," a series of off-site events by artists, musicians, dancers and others, including a number of commissioned works on a 48-foot-wide billboard near the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, a miniature golf course in the Walker's sculpture garden designed by nine local artists, and installations on the street and in the garden by Thomas Hirschhorn and Christian Marclay, respectively.

The Walker is scheduled to reopen in February 2005 after renovation of the museum's 1971 Edward Larrabee Barnes building and the addition of a new 125,000-square-foot south wing, covered with embossed aluminum mesh, designed by Herzog & de Meuron. The $67.5-million project increases exhibition space by 50 percent to 45,000 square feet, adds a new theater and a four-acre park with an underground, 23-square-foot Skyspace work by James Turrell that allows visitors to view the changing sky through an 11-foot-square opening in the ceiling. The new museum is to feature artist-designed installations by Matthew Barney, Robert Gober, Sherrie Levine and Kara Walker, as well as monographic presentations of works by Jasper Johns, Ellsworth Kelly, Joan Mitchell and Robert Motherwell. Other galleries are devoted to "Mythologies," "Postwar Modernism and its Alternatives," "Shadowland," "Minimalism and its Discontents," and "Chuck Close: Self-Portraits 1968-2004."

Skowhegan, the celebrated summer art retreat in Skowhegan, Maine, has launched a new online "alumni art registry" at The database features information on artists who have taught and worked at the center since its founding in 1946, along with images of their works. This summer's resident Skowhegan faculty, by the way, is Guillermo Kuitca, Donald Moffett, Alix Pearlstein, William Pope.L and Elaine Reichek.

James McNeill Whistler's Arrangement in Grey and Black, No. 1: Portrait of the Artist's Mother, more commonly known as "Whistler's Mother," is traveling from its home at the Muse d'Orsay in Paris for a rare appearance in the U.S. at the Detroit Institute of Arts as part of "American Attitude: Whistler and his Followers," Mar. 14-June 6, 2004. The show includes 13 paintings by Whistler and 50 works by John Singer Sargent, William Merritt Chase, Thomas Wilmer Dewing and other artists. The exhibition was organized by the High Museum in Atlanta, where it already appeared (without Whistler's Mother).

The Bellevue (Washington) Art Museum, which closed in financial and management disarray last September not long after opening a new $23-million facility downtown, may decide to shift its focus from contemporary art to art, crafts and design by regional artists, according to a report in the Seattle Times. Museum officials have scheduled three public meetings to discuss the plan. Former museum director Kathleen Harleman, who quit last August, noted that the museum board had been uncomfortable with the "edginess" of her programming -- including an installation by E.V. Day that featured thong underwear arrayed in space like a swarm of airplanes.

First Lady Laura Bush continues to support the arts in her own modest way. Today, Jan. 22, she honors the San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts in San Angelo, a town in West Texas, by presenting it with the 2003 National Award for Museum and Library Service, a $10,000 prize given by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Five libraries and science museums were also selected from the 90 nominations for the annual award.