CULTURAL RENAISSANCE IN . . . BUFFALO?
Several cultural movers and shakers from Buffalo, N.Y., rolled into Manhattan last month for a special deluxe press luncheon at the swanky Campbell Apartment in Grand Central Station. New Albright-Knox Art Gallery director Louis Grachos outlined his museum's forthcoming exhibitions, notably "Extreme Abstraction," July 15-Oct. 2, 2005, a grand show of over 100 artists, ranging from Kandinsky, Malevich and Mondrian to contemporary talents. Grachos is also working on "Beyond/In Western New York," Apr. 30-June 19, 2005, a sprawling exhibition of local talent -- from Canada and Cleveland as well as Central New York -- mounted in cooperation with several artist-run spaces and organizations.
Another part of Buffalo's cultural revival involves the city's extensive stock of historic buildings by Frank Lloyd Wright, many of which are currently being restored by a group including Buffalo attorney John Courtin and real estate investor Howard Zemsky, as well as Albright-Knox board chair Charles W. Banta. Harvard University architectural professor Toshiko Mori has designed a new $9-million visitors' center for the 1903-05 Darwin D. Martin House, former abode of one of Wright's close friends and patrons (currently in the midst of a $30-million, multi-phase restoration and reconstruction); groundbreaking for the center is set for late 2005.
Last November, Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo also opened the $1.2 million Blue Sky Mausoleum, originally designed by Wright for the Martin family but never built. Also under construction is a filling station designed by Wright, being constructed at the Pierce-Arrow Museum (sorry, you won't be able to actually get gas there) as well as a Wright-designed boathouse for Buffalo's West Side Rowing Club, one of the nation's largest.
Several other architectural restoration projects are under way in the city as well. Hallwalls, the city venerable alternative space, is merging with folksinger Ani DiFranco's Righteous Babe records and reopening later this spring in the fully restored Gothic Revival Asbury Delaware Church.
RAUSCHENBERG: KEEPING BUSY AT 80
The indefatigable artist Robert Rauschenberg is keeping busy in his 80th year. On view at PaceWildenstein is a new group of his large-scale collage paintings dating from 2002-04. Called "Scenarios," the ca. 7 x 10 ft. works collapse bright, corporate Pop into a gritty, anti-precious imagery of everyday city life. A show of "Scenarios" goes on view at the Miami Art Museum, Mar. 4-July 3, 2005, and tours to the University Museum in Lafayette, La., May 21-Aug. 31, 2005. What's more, "Robert Rauschenberg ROCI/USA," an exhibition of works that were first shown at the National Gallery of Art in 1991, is currently on view through February at Jacobson Howard Gallery in Manhattan.
Meanwhile, on the Left Coast, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art is mounting a show of Rauschenberg's fine art posters this spring, Mar. 10-June 19, 2005. This year, Rauschenberg is also taking home the prestigious International Prize Julio Gonzalez for Lifetime Work from the Institut Valencia d'Art Modern. Best of all, the Metropolitan Museum of Art opens "Robert Rauschenberg: Combines," Dec. 20, 2005-Apr. 2, 2006, a show of ca. 75 objects made between 1954 and '64, in a show organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.
BENEFIT ART AUCTION AT GBE
Artist Erik Parker and his wife Brooke Parker have organized a benefit art auction to help raise funds for the medical expenses for Amina Tastini, an 18-month-old girl who is battling leukemia. The sale is slated for 6-10 pm, Monday, Jan. 31, 2005, at Gavin Brown Enterprises at Passerby, 436 West 15th Street, with previews on Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 29-30. A long list of artists have contributed works to the benefit, including Ellen Altfest, Katherine Bernhardt, Will Cotton, Wade Guyton, Elizabeth Peyton, Danica Phelps and Peter Saul. For more info, call (917) 251-1596.
BEARDEN BENEFIT FOR TSUNAMI RELIEF
Aaron Payne Fine Art, the Manhattan art gallery at 305 East 61st Street that specializes in 20th-century American art, is offering a work by Romare Bearden with the proceeds earmarked for tsunami relief. The anonymous owners of Bearden's 1945 Golgotha (or Crucifixion), a 24 x 28 in. Cubist-styled oil on masonite, plan to donate their proceeds for the sale of the work to the International Rescue Committee, the humanitarian aid organization originally founded by Albert Einstein to help victims of the Nazis. The Bearden work is priced at $95,000; for further info, contact the gallery at (212) 888-8858.
WILLIAMSBURG ARTIST EATS SHEETROCK
We've heard of starving artists, but this takes the cake (so to speak). Pittsburgh-born, 29-year-old New York artist Emily Katrencik is eating the sheetrock wall that separates the exhibition and living space at LMAKprojects, a gallery recently opened at 60 North 6th Street in Williamsburg by art dealer and art historian Louky Keijsers. Since Jan. 1, 2005, Katrencik has been eating 1.956 inches of sheetrock each day, in an effort to "collapse boundaries between the artist and dealer, and the architecture and the body." She promises to keep it up for 41 days in all, until a sizeable passage between the two spaces has been, um, cleared. "It's not bad for her health," said Keijsers. "Her teeth still look good." An opening for the show is slated for Friday, Jan. 28, 7-9 pm. For more info, see www.lmakprojects.com. The gallery also has a Chelsea branch at 526 West 26th Street, #310, where an exhibition of works by Silvia Russel is currently on view.
QUEENS MUSEUM KIBOSHES WEIRD EXPANSION DESIGN
The Queens Museum has officially canned an expansion design adopted nearly three years ago, according to the New York Times. California architect Eric Owen Moss' 55,000-square-foot expansion would have added a bizarre, asymmetrical glass mezzanine to the front of the museum's existing limestone facade, a structure that resembles -- in the drawings, at least -- a kind of bulbous tumor. "It wasn't doing the trick," said Queens Museum director Tom Finkelpearl, who was elevated to his post after the design's original adoption. A new expansion plan is being sought from a list of eight firms compiled by the city, including Rafael Violy, Polshek Partnerships, Arquitectonica and Gluckman Mayner Architects.
"HOMOMUSEUM" AT EXIT ART
Last minute applicants to the next big thing at Exit Art in Manhattan have till Feb. 1, 2005, to submit their project proposals for "Homomuseum: Heroes and Monuments," slated for spring 2005 at the provocative alternative space. The show invites artists to submit a portrait of an influential, historical "moment or person" in the gay community, a portrait that might belong in a national art museum of LGBT artists -- lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. For details, see www.exitart.org
FRENCHMAN TO CO-CURATE WHITNEY BIENNIAL
The Whitney Museum of American Art has announced the two curators of the forthcoming "2006 Whitney Biennial Exhibition," the country's leading show of contemporary American art -- and one member of the team is French. The always-controversial exhibition is being organized by Philippe Vergne, the French-born senior curator at the Walker Art Center who has been named director of the new Franois Pinault Foundation for Contemporary Art in Paris, and Whitney's curator Chrissie Iles. According to www.whitney.org, artists who wish to submit materials for the show should send proposals to Biennial Coordinator, Whitney Museum, 945 Madison Ave., New York, N.Y. 10021.
MORE GATES GEAR FOR SALE
When it comes to Christo & Jeanne-Claude's The Gates, Central Park, New York, slated to unfurl for two weeks beginning on Feb. 12, 2005, art lovers have an even wider assortment of souvenirs to choose from than previously reported here [see "Christomania Hits New York," Jan. 25, 2005]. The Central Park Conservancy is offering a special watch with a drawing of The Gates on its face ($100) and a hooded black The Gates sweatshirt ($45) along with posters of the project, both signed and unsigned. Proceeds go largely to the conservancy, with New York City and Nurture New York's Nature also taking a share (the artists take nothing). Shop online immediately at www.the-gates-at-central-park.com
SERRA FOR SAN DIEGO
The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego has commissioned Richard Serra to design a site-specific sculpture for the museum's new downtown facility. The as-yet-untitled Serra work consists of six forged steel blocks, 52 x 58 x 64 inches each, to be permanently installed in the concourse on the west side of the expansion, which is expected to add 2,200 square feet of exhibition space and new facilities for lectures, education and staff. Both the new museum and the Serra commission are to be unveiled in fall 2006.
MAX HENRY AT PARIS REVIEW
Freelance New York art critic and curator Max Henry (former author of the popular "Gotham Dispatch" column in Artnet Magazine) has been named arts editor of the Paris Review. The first issue with his contributions -- Winter 2005, featuring Maurizio Cattelan's sculpture of JFK in his coffin on its cover -- should be available shortly.
AFRICAN ART CURATOR AT HIGH MUSEUM
The High Museum of Art has appointed Michael D. Harris as consulting curator of African American art, a new post. Harris is a practicing artist as well as a professor of African and African American art history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
WATSON TO KATONAH MUSEUM
Neil Watson, executive director of the Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts, has been named executive director of the Katonah Museum of Art in Katonah, N.Y.
Contact wrobinson @ artnet.com