STUDIO MUSEUM LAUCHES EXPANSION
The Studio Museum in Harlem, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, is expanding its 125th Street facility. In the works are a new facade, auditorium, cafe and the museum's first permanent collection galleries. The design, by Rogers Marvel Architects, will increase the space from 60,000 to 72,000 square feet. The Ford Foundation has chipped in $1 million for the capital campaign, and Manhattan Borough President Virginia Fields and City Councilman William Perkins have both promised to come up with $300,000 towards the project. Work is slated to begin this August.
ROBERT FRANK VIDEOS FROM MFA HOUSTON
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, is offering for the first time a videotape of Robert Frank's first feature-length film, Me and My Brother (1965-68), which combines documentary footage of Allen Ginsberg, Peter Orlovsky and Orlovsky's catatonic brother Julius with dramatic scenes scripted by Frank and Sam Shepard. Price is $75. Also available (for $40) is the award-winning Pull My Daisy (1959), co-directed by Alfred Leslie and featuring narration by Jack Kerouac and performances by Ginsburg, Orlovsky, Gregory Corso, Richard Bellamy, Larry Rivers, Alice Neel and Delphine Seyrig. The MFAH maintains an archive and circulating collection of Frank's film and video. To order: (713) 639-7365.
SMUGGLED MASTERPIECE AT ASIAN ART FAIR?
An ancient Chinese bronze candelabra, or spirit tree, may have been illegally smuggled out of China and sold at the International Asian Art Fair at the Seventh Regiment Armory in New York, according to the New York Times. The artifact was bought for a reported $2.5 million by Leon D. Black, a trustee of Museum of Modern Art, from Belgian art dealer Giselle Croes. Only two other intact spirit trees are known; they date from the first to third centuries A.D. and come from the Three Gorges region on the Yangtze River, an area which has recently seen increased illegal excavations in conjunction with the construction of a new dam. Black, who is a boardmember of the Jewish Museum as well as MoMA, was co-head of corporate finance at Michael Milken's Drexel Burnham Lambert in the 1980s and now heads Apollo Advisers, an investment company.
ART CRITICS FOR CHICAGO
The Chicago Art Critics Association (that's CACA, for short) has been founded to promote critics, art writing and art criticism as a discipline, according to the inaugural number of the exceptionally lively and sharp-tongued CACA Newsletter. Among the 18 members are Franz Schulze, James Yood, Susan Snodgrass, Michael Bulka, Kathryn Hixson and Ann Wiens. For more info: Chicago Art Critics Association, PO Box 10871, Chicago, Ill. 60610.
OPPENHEIM BRINGS RINGS TO FLATIRON PLAZA
On June 1, Dennis Oppenheim installs his 30-foot-tall sculpture Engagement -- a pair of tilted steel rings embedded in concrete, with two steeple-roofed houses where the diamonds should be -- on the traffic island at Broadway and 23rd Street in front of the Flatiron Building in New York. The work will be on the site for one year. Oppenheim's Device to Root Out Evil, a sculpture in the form of an inverted country church that debuted at the 1997 Venice Biennale, is currently being installed as part of the permanent collection of the Denver Art Museum.
A.I.R. GALLERY BIENNIAL A.I.R. Gallery in New York holds its 3rd A.I.R. Gallery Biennial, a juried exhibition open to all women artists, Dec. 1-19, 1998. Works that hang on the wall (not freestanding sculpture) by women artists residing in the U.S. are eligible. Whitney Museum curator Elizabeth Sussman is juror; applications are due by June 12. For more info call A.I.R. at (212) 966-0799.
NYU SYMPOSIUM ON PUBLIC ART New York University hosts 35 artists, critics and other experts in a 10-day conference on public art called "Public Strategies," June 1-10, 1998, at the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Film Center at 36 East 8th Street. Among the speakers are critic Eleanor Heartney, who will deliver the introductory lecture, and a wealth of artists: Dennis Adams, Julie Ault, Judith Baca, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Michael Clegg and Martin Guttmann, Seitu Jones, Joyce Kozloff, Tony Labat, Suzanne Lacy, Mike Mandell and Larry Sultan, Amalia Mesa-Bains, Julia Scher, Francesc Torres, Mierle Laderman Ukeles and Krzysztof Wodiczko. The conference is organized by Cheryl Younger, director of the American Photography Institute. For more info call (212) 998-1998.
HILLARY & CHERIE IN HARTFORD FOR DE HOOCH Hillary Rodham Clinton and Cherie Booth Blair (wife of British Prime Minister Tony Blair) are joint honorary patrons for "Peter de Hooch," which appears at the Dulwich Picture Gallery in London, Sept. 3-Nov. 15, 1998, and the Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Conn., Dec. 17, 1998-Feb. 27, 1999. The show is organized by the Wadsworth's new director, Peter C. Sutton, a leading authority on de Hooch, a contemporary of Vermeer.
This summer, the Walters Art Gallery in Baltimore closes its 1974 Building, its wing that houses everything from Egyptian and 19th-century galleries to temporary exhibition space, for a $18.5-million renovation. Among the changes are a new four-story glass entry atrium and a new family art center, plus expanded galleries, conservation lab and museum store. Reopening is slated for spring of 2001. Exhibitions continue at the museum, including "Angels from the Vatican," "Art in Poland, 1572-1764" and "Scythian Gold."
ANTIQUITIES THEFT IN NIGERIA
Nigeria has lost more than $200 million worth of art and artifacts over the past five years, according to Yaro Gella, Nigeria's director-general of museums and monuments. Six museums had been broken into and 95 items taken during that period. Gella accused diplomats of smuggling artifacts out of the country, according to Reuters.
CHRISTIE'S FIRST ASIAN SALE IN L.A. Christie's Los Angeles offers more than 200 lots of Asian art and artifacts in its first Asian art auction today, May 20, 1998, at 6 p.m.
PHILLIPS SELLS PIECE OF MARS
On May 17, Phillips auction house in New York sold a 28-gram piece of a Mars meteorite for $4,600, well over its presale estimate of $1,000-$2,000. "This is a new world record for a piece of Mars," said Phillips natural-history specialist Darrell Pitt. The meteorite, called Governador Valadares, was found in Brazil in 1958. Of the 20,000 known meteorites, only 12 are from Mars. The sale totaled more than $500,000 for 240 items. Top lot was $145,500 for a slice of a meteorite from Chubut, Argentina, which contains "a spectacular mosaic of hundreds of sparkling olivine crystals," according to Reuters.
MET MAKES PHONE BOOK COVER
The May 18 press viewing of Ellsworth Kelly's sculpture installation in the roof garden at the Metropolitan Museum of Art was usurped by a press conference featuring Bell Atlantic spokesman James Earl Jones, announcing that an illustration of the museum graces the cover of the new Manhattan phone books. At the ceremony, a Bell Atlantic marketing official presented Met director Philippe de Montebello with a framed phone book cover signed by Jones. The illustration is by Mary Lynn Blasutta of New Paltz.