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Jan. 6, 2010 

One signature Museum of Arts and Design approach to the question of "art and design" is a focus on art installations made of masses of material, any material, as long as it’s not art materials. Thus MAD’s opening show, "Second Lives: Remixing the Ordinary," presented art made from agglomerations of chopsticks, hangars, vinyl records, plastic forks and the like.

This coming spring, the museum is revisiting the technique with "Dead or Alive," Apr. 27-Oct. 24, 2010, a group show of more than 30 artists who make their artworks with organic materials -- insects, feathers, shells, bones, plant matter, fur. The exhibition is organized by MAD chief curator David McFadden, curator Lowery Sims and assistant curator Elizabeth Edwards Kirrane, and promises several special commissions, as well a week-long "preview" to allow visitors to watch the artists in action.

Participants include Jennifer Angus, Nick Cave, Tessa Farmer, Tim Hawkinson, Jochem Hendricks, Damien Hirst, Alastair Mackie, Kate McGwire, Susie MacMurray, Christy Rupp, Shen Shaomin and Levi van Veluw. Costa Rican artist Lucia Madriz has been commissioned to make a "massive, politically charged floor installation" from black beans and rice, while Xu Bing has signed on to make "a shadow version" of a 24-foot-long Song Dynasty painting out of weeds, leaves and roots.

No word yet on what Hirst’s contribution might be. Something to do with a skull or some butterflies, perhaps?

January in New York City means "Americana Week," and one centerpiece of the citywide celebration is the Winter Antiques Show, Jan. 22-31, 2010, at the Park Avenue Armory -- with Magazine Antiques magazine publisher Peter Brant serving as the show’s honorary chairman. Also on board as sponsor is Bank of America, with Sallie Krawcheck, the bank’s head of global wealth and investment management, chairing the opening night gala (see below).

Now in its 56th year, the venerable event benefits the East Side House Settlement in the Bronx. As usual, about 75 exhibitors are showcasing everything from Roman glass to mid-century modern design. Among the highlights are a ca. 1000 BC extensively polychromed Egyptian Sarcophagus at Safani Gallery from New York and a plaster Portrait of Watteau by Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux at Daniel Katz Limited from London.

Peter Petrou Works of Art is bringing a 1934 armchair by Gerald Summers, made from a single rectangle of birch airplane plywood, while Macklowe Gallery is presenting a ca. 1915 Tiffany Studios "Indian Pattern" chandelier from the entrance hall of the Farwell Building in Detroit.

The show’s special loan exhibition, sponsored by Chubb Personal Insurance (as it has for 14 years now), is "Colonial to Modern: A Century of Collecting at Historic New England," a selection drawn from the holdings of members of the regional heritage organization; the installation is overseen by Jeff Daly, recently retired senior design advisor to the director at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Tickets for the benefit gala on Jan. 21 start at $300; general admission to the show is $20, and includes the show catalogue.

The 11th annual New York Ceramics Fair, Jan. 20-24, 2010, organized by Caskey-Lees, debuts at the National Academy Museum at 1083 Fifth Avenue with its usual lineup of international dealers and an extensive lecture series that includes "Making a Moravian Squirrel Bottle," a demo by contemporary potter Michelle Erickson.

The fair’s special loan exhibition, "Art in Clay, Masterworks of North Carolina Earthenware," subsequently appears at the Milwaukee Art Museum and Colonial Williamsburg. Tickets for the Jan. 19 preview are $90; general admission is $20, and includes an illustrated catalogue of the fair.

The Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum has surprised design-world insiders and selected Bill Moggridge as its new director, succeeding the very British Paul Thompson, who left this summer to head the Royal College of Art in London. Moggridge, 66, a working designer who came up with the first laptop computer in 1980 and co-founded the design firm IDEO in 1991, has spent the last decade teaching, writing books and generally promoting the value of design in everyday life; the museum itself bestowed him with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009.

In addition to overseeing the museum, Moggridge must also supervise the museum’s upcoming $64-million expansion project, which has until now been ably handled by Cooper-Hewitt deputy director Caroline Baumann (whom many insiders thought might get the top post). With $53 million in hand to date, the expansion begins this year with the renovation of the museum’s townhouses on East 90th Street.

Jan. 10, 2010, is the last chance to see "The Map as Art," the exhibition at Christopher Henry Gallery at 127 Elizabeth Street in Manhattan that includes a Victorian gown made from New York City subway maps (by Meridith McNeal) that caught the eye of a blogger for the Wall Street Journal. The show is an offshoot of the Princeton Architectural Press book The Map as Art: Contemporary Artists Explore Cartography, by Katharine Harmon and Gayle Clemans, which includes works by Ed Ruscha, Julian Schnabel, Olafur Eliasson, Vik Muniz and many other artists who, obviously, know their way around.

The Woodrow Wilson House in Washington, D.C., opens "My Third Leg: Woodrow Wilson’s Walking Sticks" on Feb. 11, 2010, just in time for President’s Day. The show features over 30 canes, including elaborate Folk Art and historically significant presentation pieces, used by the 28th president from his stroke in 1919 until his death in 1924.

Among the items is a stick made entirely from horn by a life-term convict in the Atlanta Federal prison, and a hickory cane with an alligator figure whittled by a Confederate veteran. For more info, see

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