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The Republicans have effected a friendly takeover of the New-York Historical Society, with an eye towards using the 200-year-old Manhattan museum as a showplace for the Republican Convention at the end of the summer, according to a report by Robin Pogrebin in the New York Times. Under the leadership of Republican fundraiser Richard Gilder, a stockbroker and recently elected Historical Society trustee who is a big collector of historical documents, the museum has tabled a previously planned show about slavery in New York and cancelled exhibitions devoted to Times Square, German-American New Yorkers and the New York subway system. In their place is a $5 million blowout dedicated to Alexander Hamilton, considered by conservatives to be the father of American capitalism. The show is being organized by Republican propagandist Richard Brookhiser, author of a book, Alexander Hamilton, American, but a first-time curator who is nevertheless reportedly pulling down $100,000 for the job.

The Historical Society has been struggling for years; in the early 1990s, the trustees approved a scandalous sell-off of a trove of artworks in the museum collection. More recently -- while under executive director Betsy Gotbaum, a top New York Democrat -- the institution has been known for modest if scholarly shows, mounted in hallway exhibition spaces and largely ignored by both the popular and art press. Now, it seems likely that the Right Wings propaganda machine will end up being the motor that revives the troubled institution on Central Park West. Gilder has contributed $2 million to the Hamilton show, and says he hopes to double the societys $10 million annual operating budget and increase attendance from 100,000 to 250,000 visitors a year. When the Hamilton exhibition opens to the public on Sept. 10 (following private previews for the Republican Party faithful), the faade is to be wrapped in a giant replica of a $10 bill, which still bears Hamiltons portrait.

The political action group Downtown for Democracy has organized a major fundraiser and art auction to raise hard money to beat George W. Bush in the November presidential election (hard money is the best kind -- according to election rules, it can be used for direct advocacy for a candidate). Art Works for Hard Money takes place on Tuesday, June 29, 2004, 8 pm-midnight, at Gavin Browns Enterprise at Passerby, 436 West 15th Street in Manhattan. Tickets are $75; call (718) 290-9153 for more info.

Participating artists include John Baldessari, Matthew Barney, Cecily Brown, Edgar Bryan, Mathew Cerletty, Paul Chan, Dan Colen, Meg Cranston, Steve di Benedetto, Trisha Donnelly, Keith Edmier, Harrell Fletcher, Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe, Chris Hanson & Hendrika Sonnenberg, Rachel Harrison, James Hayward, Christian Holstad, Jacqueline Humphries, Ryan Johnson, Thomas Johnson, Tony Just, Julie Kirkpatrick, David Korty, Nick Lowe, Christie Lyons, Nick Mauss, Adam McEwen, Sam Messer, Laura Owens, Elizabeth Peyton, Monique Prieto, Michael Rees, Kim Schoenstadt, Pieter Schoolwerth, Michelle Segre, Amy Sillman, Josh Smith, Aaron Spangler, Spencer Sweeney, Charline von Heyl and TJ Wilcox.

The D4D benefit is coordinated with an auction of more than 170 works by top contemporary artists at Phillips, de Pury & Co. on June 29, organized by two pro-Democratic groups, America Coming Together and Arts PAC. The silent auction is scheduled for 6:30 pm and the live auction at 8 pm; tickets begin at $1,000. For info, click here.

New York artist Fred Wilson, whose traveling retrospective closes at the Studio Museum in Harlem on July 4, 2004, has left Metro Pictures for PaceWildenstein. Wilson, who won a MacArthur Foundation genius grant in 1999 and represented the U.S at the 2003 Venice Biennale, is the latest of several artists to join PaceWildensteins power stable recently; others have been Israeli video artist Michal Rovner and abstract calligrapher James Siena.

They know how to throw a party out in Los Angeles. MOCA Contemporaries, the support council for the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, is turning the gala opening for the new exhibition of work by young French designers Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec into a fundraiser for the museum. The opening night fete is slated for June 26, 2004, at the Pacific Design Center, and features performances by the French jazz singer Morganne and DJ Eddie Ruscha (son of L.A. artist Ed Ruscha), as well as a raffle with prizes ranging from furniture by the Bouroullecs to a weekend getaway at the new Four Seasons Hotel in Provence. Also promised are gourmet noshes and hefty gift bags. Tickets are $40 in advance and $50 at the door; purchase now through

White Columns, the Greenwich Village alternative art space, has long been celebrated for its huge slide file of thousands of unaffiliated artists. Now, the resource -- a frequent reference for dealers, curators and collectors -- has been digitalized and added to the organizations website, Each artist in the Curated Artist Registry (the file is not open to all comers, but rather is selected from submissions by the White Columns staff) is represented by 15 images and biographical and contact info; the registry also boasts a specific keyword search. The online project was made possible by a grant from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

Art Chicago 2005 wont be at Navy Pier in mid-May, its usual venue and date. Rather, the 11-year-old Midwestern contemporary art exposition -- which has lost market share in recent years to new fairs in New York, London and Miami -- is now scheduled for July 14-18, 2005, in a custom-made, 125,000-square-foot tent structure at some location in downtown Chicago, to be announced. Art Chicago organizer Thomas Blackman Associates calls the move a new beginning (the fair was held in such a tent during its first two years), and says the 2005 version of the fair is sure to be the perfect event to effectively finish the international contemporary art season with a bang."

Italian postmodernist Rudolf Stingel is covering New Yorks Grand Central Station - traversed by as many as 125,000 people a day -- with a 27,000-square-foot, fuscia and electric blue floral wall-to-wall carpet. Dubbed Plan B, Stingels audacious conversion of an urban landmark into a gargantuan Victorian parlor goes on view July 1-July 29, 2004. The project is commissioned by the Art Production Fund, funded in part by Maurice Kanbar, Alcoa Foundation and Yves Saint Laurent, and presented in collaboration with Creative Time and MTA Arts for Transit. A similar, if rather smaller, version of the piece is currently on view in the lobby and outdoor plaza of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, June 11-Aug. 8, 2004.

The Public Art Fund is organizing an exhibition of seven large sculptures by famed Viennese libertine artist Franz West at the entrance to Lincoln Center in New York and the installation of two more works at Doris C. Freedman Plaza at the southeast corner of Central Park, July 7-Aug. 31, 2004. Franz West: Recent Sculptures is the first major outdoor display in the U.S. of the artists colorful and comical abstractions, and coincides with the extensive Summer at Lincoln Center festival of music, dance, theatre and other events. Among the sculptures on view are the 20-foot-tall pink column of four knobby spheres titled Dorit, the suggestively corkscrewing sculpture Bronze and a large lavender archway called Double Ring.

The Great Parade: Portrait of the Artist as Clown, an exhibition of nearly 200 artworks spanning more than 200 years, goes on view at the National Gallery of Canada, June 25-Sept. 19, 2004. The major summer show is organized by museum director Pierre Théberge and a curatorial committee that includes Jean Clair of the Musée Picasso and Didier Ottinger of the Centre Pompidou, Ann Thomas and Mayo Graham of the NGC, and Constance Naubert-Riser of the Universit de Montréaal. The exhibition has already appeared at the Grand Palais in Paris.

Melissa Chiu, curator for contemporary art at the Asia Society on Park Avenue in Manhattan, has been appointed director of the societys museum. She succeeds Vishakha N. Desai, who has been named president of the Asia Society. Prior to her 2001 appointment at Asia Society, Chiu was founding director of the Asia-Australia Arts Centre in Sydney; she has recently won a Getty curatorial research fellowship for a forthcoming show on the art of the Cultural Revolution and its contemporary legacy.