GUGGENHEIM GETS $50 MILLION Guggenheim honcho Thomas Krens must have a Midas touch. Peter B. Lewis, CEO of the Progressive Corp. insurance company and a museum trustee since 1993, has now promised a total of $50 million to the Gugg, the largest cash grant it's ever received. He gave $10 million two years ago (and got his name on the museum theater for his generosity) and promises $10 a year for the next four years.
STEVE WYNN RENTS ART
Ace art reporter Carol Vogel reveals in the New York Times that gambling mogul Stephen A. Wynn, chairman of Mirage Resorts, earns nearly $5 million a year renting his blue-chip art collection to his own company. According to the company's 1997 10-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Mirage itself spent $190 million on art in the last two years, then sold $25 million worth to Wynn and now rents it back. The collection includes some top auction sales: a $12-million Degas dancer, a $7.35-million Giacometti, a $4.5-million Matisse still life, and works by Picasso, Johns, Kline, Pollock, Rauschenberg and more.
GLASS-WILSON DIGITAL OPERA PREMIERES Monsters of Grace 1.0, the new collaboration between composer Philip Glass and avant-garde theater impresario Robert Wilson, premieres today, Apr. 15, at the reopened Royce Hall on the UCLA campus. The computer-generated stereoscopic opera, accompanied by a live performance by the Philip Glass Ensemble, features a new high-tech 70-mm film projection, with 3-D images that the audience views through digital goggles designed by L.A. Eyeworks. Admission is $35 and the show runs Apr. 15-26 (it's due later in the year in New York). It inaugurates the reopening of UCLA's landmark 1,829-seat Royce Hall theater, which was all but destroyed in the 1994 Northridge earthquake and has now been rebuilt with $63 million in government and private funding.
CHRISTO WRAPS BASEL Christo and Jeanne-Claude plan to wrap 170 trees in the park of the Fondation Beyeler near Basel this coming November. The variety of trees -- chestnut, oak, ask, plum, birch, willow and more, measuring from three to 25 meters high -- will be wrapped in translucent polyester and rope after they lose their leaves. Accompanying Wrapped Trees at the Fondation Beyeler will be a Christo show as well as one of trees by Cezanne. The Christos have wrapped trees before: in Saint Louis, Mo., and Eindhoven, Holland, in 1966; at MoMA in 1968; and in Sydney in 1969.
ITALY WANTS TEMPELSMAN ANTIQUES Italy wants some Greek antiquities owned by American collector Maurice Tempelsman, the American diamond dealer who was a longtime companion of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. According to the Associated Press, the artifacts include fragments -- heads, hands and feet -- of the Greek goddesses Demeter and Persephone that Italian cultural officials say were stolen in the early 1980s from an archaeological site in Morgantina, in central Sicily. Tempelsman says he doesn't know anything about it.
NEW SECURITY FOR EGYPTIAN MUSEUM
The sprawling Egyptian Museum in Cairo's central Tahrir Square has installed a new $3-million security system, ordered after a 1996 robbery in which a man hid in a sarcophagus overnight and stole more than 20 objects from the museum (he was later caught). Museum visitors now pass through metal detectors and X-ray machines scan their bags, while security officers in a computerized control room scan banks of television monitors that show every corner of the 1902 sandstone edifice. "The museum is now surrounded by electronic rays which can detect weapons and burglary attempts,'' Culture Minister Farouk Hosni told reporters.
WORLD PRINT FESTIVAL
The World Print Festival in Ljubljana, Slovenia, has been scheduled for Nov. 10-Dec. 20, 1998, by the AGART Art Association. The plan calls for artists to compete for prizes in the same technique. During the festival, a Congress of print artists will be organized in Bled, a tourist center. For more information, go to http://www.src.si/~agart. according to an email from Stane Zerko or contact the World Print Festival, Cankarjeva 10, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia (tel/fax 386 61 1258449).
SAN ANTONIO BOUND ArtPace, the new alternative space founded in San Antonio by Salsa magnate Linda Pace, has announced winners of its lavish artist-in-residence program through the year 2000. Among the 18 artists are six from other countries, six from the U.S. at large and six locals from South Central Texas. International: Milan conceptualist Maurizio Cattelan; London-based Lebanese sculptor Mona Hatoum; London-based filmmaker Isaac Julien; Brazilian sculptor Rivane Neuenschwander; Johannesburg-based post-Apartheid artist Tracey Rose; and Tokyo performance artist Yutaka Sone. U.S. recipients: California photographer Laura Aguilar; Chicago installation artist Arturo Herrera; Bronx installation artist Pepón Osorio; California installation artist Jason Rhoades; Pakistan-born New York painter Shazia Sikander; and Brooklyn sculptor Sarah Sze. Texas: San Antonio sculptor John Hernandez; San Antonio installation artist Rebecca Holland; Austin installation artist and U. of T. professor Margo Sawyer; video artist Regina Vater, San Antonio float-maker Tony Villejo; and conceptual artist and U. of T. prof Melvin Ziegler. Panelists: New Museum curator Dan Cameron; Blanton Museum curator Annette DiMeo Carlozzi; Chicago MCA curator Amada Cruz; independent curator Kellie Jones; Hans-Ulrich Obrist, curator of the Musee d'Arte Moderne de la Ville de Paris and co-director of the 1998 Berlin Biennial; and artist and UCLA professor Nancy Rubins.
HERB ALPERT AWARDS
Five artists have won $50,000 awards from the Herb Alpert Foundation and the California Institute of Arts. Winners are experimental film and video artist Jeanne C. Finley, San Francisco dancer Joanna Haigood, New York theater sensation Danny Hoch, allegorical Minimalist Roni Horn and charismatic San Francisco musician Pamela Z. The CalArts/Alpert Award in the Arts come with an invitation to participate in a teaching residency at the Disney-founded school.
The 1998 ArtTable award for distinguished service to the visual arts goes to Stephanie French, vice president of corporate contributions and cultural programs at tobacco behemoth Philip Morris. The award will be presented by Joan Mondale; Brooklyn Museum director Arnold Lehman will give the keynote speech.
BURTON WORK, OTHER ACQUISITIONS, FOR NGA
The National Gallery of Art will fabricate a version of Six-Part Seating (1985) by the late artist Scott Burton for its new sculpture garden, now under construction. Other NGA acquisitions include three photographs by Brassai and four by Richard Misrach, a litho from 1932-33 by Burgoyne Diller, a 1942 Josef Albers drypoint, six pen-and-ink drawings by William Baziotes, three etchings by Louise Nevelson, a William T. Wiley ink drawing and a 1997 chalk drawing by Martin Puryear. The acquisitions are courtesy the NGA Collectors Committee, which has bought 187 works since 1975.
CONDOMS ARE COLLECTIBLE: REUTERS
Prophylactics have become the newest hot thing in collectibles, according to a recent story by Richard Chang from Reuters news service. Actually, it's old rubber tins that are being collected, sez a new book on the subject, Remember Your Rubbers! by G.K. Elliott, George Goehring and Dennis O'Brien (Schiffer Publishing). A rare Blue Goose brand tin from 1920 supposedly sold through a telephone auction for $2,000, and in July 1992, Christie's London even sold a 19th-century condom made of animal skin for about $5,000.