STEINBECK CENTER OPENS IN SALINAS
Last chance to see the inaugural exhibition at the new National Steinbeck Center, located at One Main Street in the heart of historic Oldtown in Salinas, Calif. -- the writer's birthplace. "This Side of Eden: Images of Steinbeck's California," organized by Steinbeck Center director Patricia Leach and local art dealer Steve Hauk, features 65 works dating from 1919 to 1989 that show the settings of Steinbeck works like East of Eden, Cannery Row and Tortilla Flat.
The show includes a portrait of Steinbeck by Alexander Warshawsky, a scene from Tortilla Flat by Peggy Worthington, and works by Burton Boundey, Sam Colburn, Jesus Maria Corcoran, Judith Deim, Maynard Dixon, Smith O'Brien, Millard Sheets and others. It's on view till Sept. 13, and is to be followed by "Mexican Folkways -- Tradition in Celebration," Sept. 26, 1998-Jan. 10, 1999.
The $10.3-million, 37,000-square-foot center, designed by architect Peter Kasavan, opened earlier this summer on June 27. In addition to its exhibition galleries, the center boasts the country's largest Steinbeck archive and seven multimedia theaters with film clips on the writer and his works. For more information call (831) 796-3833.
BACON ESTATE TO SHAFRAZI, FAGGIONATO
The Francis Bacon estate, which has previously been represented by Marlborough Galleries in London, is now being handled by Tony Shafrazi in New York and Gerard Faggionato Fine Arts in London. A selection of pictures dating from 1950-91, including the painting the artist was working on at his death, goes on view at Shafrazi's SoHo gallery on Oct. 31, 1998. According to the Sunday Times of London, Bacon heir John Edwards, who is being advised by U.S. lawyer John Eastman, has also donated the late artist's studio and its contents to the Hugh Lane Gallery in Dublin (Bacon's birthplace), which will open the room to the public in the year 2001.
DAMIEN HIRST'S DRUG DEAL
London bad-boy artist Damien Hirst has sold his west London restaurant, Pharmacy, for shares in the Hartford Group that could be worth as much as £7 million, according to a report in The Guardian. Hirst owns the trendy night spot, which is done up like a drugstore with Alka Seltzer in the windows and suppositories in the bathrooms, along with PR powerhouse Matthew Freud (who is great-grandson of Sigmund) and two other investors. In what is called a "reverse takeover," Freud becomes ceo of Hartford, with plans to establish the firm as a global restaurant giant, opening Pharmacy branches around the world (Berlin is first). Earlier this summer the Royal Pharmaceutical Society complained that the bar was confusing the sick and convinced Hirst to add "Bar and Restaurant" to the Pharmacy name and remove the authentic pharmacy green neon cross hanging outside the restaurant.
NAME CHANGE FOR V&A? Victoria & Albert Museum director Alan Borg has touched off a British firestorm by suggesting that the 100-year-old name of the museum should be changed to something more descriptive of its contents. Borg suggested something like the "National Museum of Art and Design." How about naming it after Lady Di.
JEWELS OF DORA MAAR
For nine years, between 1936 and 1945, Pablo Picasso showered his lover and model Dora Maar with hand-painted jewels that have never been on the market -- till now. Maar's $25-million estate, which includes 10 paintings, 50 drawings and numerous artifacts by Picasso, also features a cache of jewelry decorated by Picasso, with presale estimates ranging from about $3,500 to $12,000. The sale takes place in Paris under the auspices of the Piasa auction group (Picard Audap Solanet & Associates) and auctioneer Jean-Jacques Mathias on Oct. 27-29. The trove is briefly on view at Phillips in New York on Sept. 26-28, 1998. The 140-lot collection is fresh to the market, since it was kept in Maar's Paris apartment and bank vault until she died in 1997 at the age of 89.
HAPPENING AT THREAD WAXING SPACE
The Thread Waxing Space annual benefit on Sept. 15 features a Happening-inspired performance by the rock musicians Beck and Yoko Ono, among other performers. The show is mounted in conjunction with the New York appearance of "Beck & Al Hansen: Playing with Matches," a joint survey of some 100 works by the late Fluxus artist Al Hansen and Beck, his grandson, that premiered this summer at the Santa Monica Museum. Tickets for the Thread Waxing benefit are $150; standing room is $50. For more info contact Jesse Jacobs at (212) 564-6367.
HOT DÜRERS AT BRITISH MUSEUMS?
The city of Lvov in the Ukraine has claimed ownership of several drawings by Albrecht Dürer now in British collections, including the British Museum, the Courtauld Institute and the Barber Institute. According to a report in the Times of London, a collection of 24 Dürer works was looted by Nazi forces from the Lubomirski Collection in Lvov (then in Poland) and delivered directly to Adolf Hitler, who treated them as prize additions to his planned Hitler Museum. After the war, U.S. forces failed to return the works to Lvov, then under Russian occupation, instead turning the trove over to what has been called a "cash-strapped descendant of the Lubomirskis who had been working for U.S. intelligence," who then sold the works. The British museums say they acquired the works legitimately.
SCULPTURE GARDEN FOR SFMOMA
The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art plans to build a parking garage with spaces for 405 vehicles on the east side of the museum. The new 85-foot-tall structure will have a 16,000-square-foot sculpture garden on its roof, and access to the museum's fifth floor.
GLUCKMAN DOES AUSTIN MUSEUM
The Austin Museum of Art has tapped New York architect Richard Gluckman to design its new $35-million, 100,000-square-foot facility in downtown. Construction is slated to begin in 2000.
STERN TO YALE
Manhattan architect and preservationist Robert A.M. Stern has become dean of the Yale School of Architecture, succeeding Fred Koettner, who is returning to private practice.
VAN GOGH FRENZY IN THE CAPITAL
Over 600 people lined up on Sunday, Aug. 31, to obtain the first free passes to "Van Gogh's Van Goghs" slated to appear at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., Oct. 4, 1998-Jan. 3, 1999. The National Gallery anticipates up to 400,000 visitors to the exhibition, which includes 71 works from the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.
FOXWOODS CASINO FUNDS MUSEUM
The 550-member Pequot Indians tribe has opened the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center near the hugely successful Foxwoods Resort Casino in southeastern Conn. The $193.4-million, 308,000-square-foot structure, dedicated solely to the Pequots, includes a vast library, an 185-foot-tall stone-and-glass viewing tower and a 22,000-square-foot life-size diorama of a precolonial Pequot village. The huge museum is 20 percent larger than the National Museum of the American Indian planned by the Smithsonian Institution for the Mall in Washington, D.C. "Frequent gambler points" earned at the casino can be applied to the $10 museum admission.
CHINATI FOUNDATION OPEN HOUSE
The Chinati Foundation, founded by the late Minimalist Donald Judd on a former military base near Marfa, Tex., holds its 12th annual open house on Oct. 10-11, 1998. On view is a temporary exhibition of work by John Wesley and Hamish Fulton, as well as permanent installations by Judd, Chamberlain, Andre, Oldenburg, Kabakov and Ingolfur Arnarsson. Admission is free; for more information contact the Chinati Foundation at (915) 729-4362.
NEW EDITOR AT ART NEWSLETTER Kelly Divine Thomas is the new editor of the ARTnewsletter, succeeding Amy Fusselman. Thomas formerly worked at Reader's Digest.
NEW DIRECTOR AT OBERLIN MUSEUM Sharon F. Patton is new director of the Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College in Oberlin, Oh. Patton was chief curator at the Studio Museum in Harlem (1988-1991) and since 1991 has taught art history at the University of Michigan and been director of the Center for Afro-American and African Studies there since 1996. She succeeds Anne Moore.
LINDA DURHAM OPENS IN GALISTEO, N.M.
After 17 years as a mainstay of the Santa Fe art scene, Linda Durham Contemporary Art decamped to Galisteo, N.M., where she has opened a new 2,000-square-foot exhibition space. The two sky-lit galleries and surrounding sculpture garden is designed by Beverly Spears. The gallery opens a solo show of recent paintings by Harmony Hammond on Sept. 5. For more info contact Linda Durham Contemporary Art, Galisteo, N.M. 87540; phone (505) 466-6600; fax (505) 466-6699.
The ArtNet special commendation for creativity in an exhibition announcement goes to British artist Mike Sale for the card for his show "Traffic" at XL, Xavier LaBoulbenne's gallery on West 20th Street in Chelsea. The orange-and-white, oblong card has a design familiar to all New York drivers, the sight of which automatically produces an unpleasant sinking feeling. Among the conceptual artist's previous works are a proposal to throw a brick through the window of the Berlin Nationalgalerie, a wall painting of his first name in the design of the Nike logo, and what could be called a kind of self-portrait videotape taken from inside a toilet bowl looking up.