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In a lurch to the right widely viewed as part of an effort to woo conservatives, House Speaker Newt Gingrich has vowed to eliminate the National Endowment of the Arts. Saying it is an elitist bureaucracy that promotes obscene and blasphemous works, Newt suggests that rich Hollywood types like Alec Balwin and Michael Ovitz should fund NEA. "Charges of elitism are preposterous," said NEA spokesperson Cherie Simon. "We provide access to excellent art all over the country." Whether the right wing can muster the 218 votes needed to wipe out NEA remains to be seen.

GUGGENHEIM FELLOWSHIPS, 1997 The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation has announced the winners of its fellowships for 1997, a total of 164 artists, scholars and scientists from among 2,876 applicants for awards totaling $4,890,000. Among the art-world winners:

Maryanne Amacher, sound installation artist, Kingston, N.Y. 
Eleanor Antin, installation artist and professor, U. Cal. San Diego
Paul Bochner, painter; Valley Cottage, N.Y.
Gregg Bordowitz, filmmaker and Whitney Museum ISP faculty member
Norman Bryson, art historian, Harvard U.
Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe, painter,  Art Center College of Design, Pasadena
Karin F. Giusti, installation artist, New York
Mirta Gomez Del Valle, photographer, Florida International U., Miami
Michele Hannoosh, professor of French, University College London (a new 
	edition of Delacroix's journal)
Anne Harris, painter and professor, Bowdoin College, South Portland, Me.
Yvonne Jacquette, artist, New York, and visiting critic, Penna. Academy, 
Melinda James, artist, Woodmont, Conn.
An-My Le, photographer, New York Judith Linhares, painter, New York
Charles Long, installation artist, New York
Mercedes Matter, artist, East Hampton, N.Y., and dean emeritus, New York 
	Studio School
Sheila McTighe, art historian, Barnard College (studies in Italian and French 
	genre art, 1580-1720)
Deborah Muirhead, painter and art professor, U. of Conn. 
Cara Perlman, sculptor, New York
Russell L. Roberts, painter, Cambridge, Mass.
Allen Ruppersberg, artist, New York
Laurie Smmons, artist, New York
Denyse Thomasos, painter, New York, and professor, Rutgers U.
Trimpin, sound installation artist, Seattle

The European Parliament has voted to give artists resale royalties throughout the 15-nation European Union. As things stand some EU countries, notably Britain, do not recognize a "resale right" and artists receive no benefit when their paintings are resold. Under the new proposal artists throughout the bloc would be entitled to the same level of royalty, set on a sliding scale according to the selling price of their work. Sotheby's and Christie's say the resale right will force the art market to move from London to New York and Switzerland. Artists say that the new rule would give them less money for resales in countries like France and Germany, where artists currently receive three percent and five percent, respectively.

The 41-year-old British sculptor (and former butcher) Anthony-Noel Kelly, a teacher at Prince Charles's Institute of Architecture, has been arrested in an investigation of the illegal use of human body parts. Kelly is known for his casts of head, feet and torsos, some gilded with silver and gold. The police raid on Kelly's home and studio came after someone recognized a dead man in one of Kelly's sculptures showing the man's head with part of his brain cut away. Police found 20 to 30 pieces of human bodies at his studio. "It was sickening," a detective told the Mirror. The artist declined to comment.

The Judith Rothschild Foundation has granted a total of over $375,000 in more than 25 awards ranging from $4,000 to $42,000, in a program designed to stimulate interest in the work of American artists who have died within the past 20 years. This is the second round of the grants that were established upon the 1993 death of abstract painter Judith Rothschild. Among the projects: $10,000 for a documentary on artist Ray Johnson; $25,000 to the National Gallery of Art to acquire up to 16 works on paper by Dorothy Dehner and organize an exhibition; $15,000 for conservation of abstract wood sculpture by Raoul Hague; $35,000 for a Richard Pousette-Dart retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum; $10,000 for a Jack Smith retrospective at P.S. 1 in Long Island City; and $42,339 for an Artists' Estate Planning Conference and handbook cosponsored with the Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Speaking of the Sharpe Art Foundation, it operates a studio program in New York City at 443 Greenwich Street, 7th floor, and has scheduled an open-studios session on Thurs., Apr. 24, from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. Among the artists-in-residence are Carl Fudge (seen last fall at Lauren Wittels), Brad Kahlhamer (seen last fall at Bronwyn Keenan), Portia Munson (her pink installation was in "Bad Girls" at the New Museum) and Glen Seator (he has the tilted room in the Whitney Biennial).

The fourth annual Gramercy International Contemporary Art Fair, at the Gramercy Park Hotel at 2 Lexington Ave. in NYC, is less than one month away. It opens May 2, 1997, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., and is on view May 3, 4 and 5 from noon to 8 p.m. Admission is $5.

The Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art and the Citibank Private Bank have announced a new Citibank Private Bank Emerging Artist Award to focus on Southern California artists who have not previously had a solo museum show. The annual award -- set for the next three years, at least -- will consist of a show in MOCA's "Focus" series, an acquisition for the collection and a cash award of an unspecified amount. The first winner is to be announced in June. The six-member nominating committee consists of MOCA curator Elizabeth A.T. Smith; Otis Gallery director Anne Ayres; artist Judy Fishkin; U. Cal., Irvine, art historian David Joselit; collector and Walt Disney tv president Dean Valentine; and Citibank art advisory v.p. Jennifer Wells. The four-person selection committee includes MOCA director Richard Koshalek, MOCA chief curator Paul Schimmel, and Smith and Wells.

"Icons: Magnets of Meaning," on view at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Apr. 18-Aug. 5, 1997, presents 12 everyday objects as icons of contemporary culture and benchmarks of current design. Organized by architecture and design curator Aaron Betsky, the show assembles nearly 300 items and focuses on 12 everyday objects, and themes, viz: Blue Jeans, the uniforms of modernism; Lipstick, the masks of beauty; Surfboard, plasticity in a world of flows; Baseball Bat, body machines; BMW 325i, speed and sex and steel; Minicams, you are big brother; Kitchenaid Mixer, gadgets galore; CBS Eye Logo, co-opting the corporate; @, marking the electrosphere; Luxor Hotel, slow buildings for fast space; Sam Houston Tollway and Interstate 10, iconic foundations; and SFMOMA, iconic monumentality.

The Menil Collection in Houston, Tex., is celebrating its tenth anniversary and the 90th year of founder and patron Dominique de Menil with a benefit dinner at the museum Apr. 23 (that is expected to raise $1 million for the Menil endowment--tables go for $25,000 each, individual seats for $2,500). The festivities include a preview of "Georges Braque: The Late Works," organized by London's Royal Academy and appearing in the U.S. only at the Menil.

The Microsoft Network is about to launch a redesigned chat forum, called Artline, with a special link to ArtNet. Welcome MSN subscribers! Get in there and dish that art dirt!

Shopping-mall millionaire and sculpture lover Raymond D. Nasher plans to establish a two-acre sculpture garden in Dallas next to the Dallas Museum. The $32-million project, called the Nasher Sculpture Garden, is scheduled to open in 1999. A selection of the Nasher collection is on view at the Guggenheim Museum till June 1.

Don Diego cigars now offers a brand named after Abstract-Impressionist maestro LeRoy Neiman, 69, with a portrait of the artist by Tom Stabler on the band. Neiman started smoking at age 12 in imitation of Clark Gable, he told the New York Times.

Edgewise press announces the forthcoming publication of its second book, Toward the New Degeneracy by Bruce Benderson. To help defray costs, Edgewise publisher Richard Milazzo is offering 50 copies, signed and numbered by the author, for $50 each. Make checks payable to Edgewise Press, 24 Fifth Ave., Suite 224, NYC, NY 10011-8815.

The Art Institute of Chicago has authenticated a work in its collection, Fete Champetre, as the work of Antoine Watteau. The work had been attributed to an anonymous "follower of Jean Batiste Pater," a pupil of Watteau, and was badly clouded with varnish. New X-ray analysis, the museum said, proves the work to be by the 18th-century master.

The first retrospective of photojournalist, writer and filmmaker Gordon Parks (b. 1912) opens at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C., Sept. 13, 1997. The show, which will tour to museums in eight more cities (including the Museum of the City of New York and L.A.'s California African American Museum) features over 150 photographs and is organized by Corcoran curator Philip Brookman and Deborah Willis, collections coordinator at the Center for African-American Culture and History, Smithsonian Institution.

The English Biblical symbolist painter Stanley Spencer (1891-1959) is the subject of a major traveling retrospective, "An English Vision: The Paintings of Stanley Spencer," at the Hirshhorn Museum, Oct. 9, 1997-Jan. 11, 1998. The show, organized by Hirshhorn director James T. Demetrion and British Council visual arts head Andrea Rose, subsequently appears at the Chicago MCA, Feb. 12-May 10, 1998, and the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco, June 8-Sept. 6, 1998.

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