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July 17, 2009 

What a difference a change in political party makes! On July 24, 2009, First Lady Michelle Obama invites the national design community to the White House to celebrate the 10th annual National Design Awards. Several of the award-winners are appearing at Mall museums for public discussions, taking place at 10 am, including Fashion Design winner Francisco Costa and Interior Design winners Calvin Tsao and Zack McKown, who hold court at the Corcoran College of Art & Design. For a complete list of winners, complete with a diverting slide-show of their work, click here

Several big design shows are on the horizon for this fall and next year. At the Museum of Arts and Design in New York, it’s "Slash: Paper under the Knife," Oct. 7, 2009-Apr. 4, 2010, featuring works by approximately 50 artists from 16 countries. Organized by museum chief curator David Revere McFadden, the exhibition showcases the imaginative use of paper as a medium for sculpture, installation and animation. Participants include Thomas Demand, Olafur Eliasson, Tom Friedman, Judy Pfaff and Kara Walker; the show also includes 12 special site-specific commissions. The show is sponsored by Kate’s Paperie.

Up on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum presents "Design USA: Contemporary Innovation," Oct. 16, 2009-Apr. 4, 2010, its survey of works by the winners of ten years of those National Design Awards. The show is sponsored by Target.

Looking further into 2010, down in Atlanta, the High Museum of Art is gearing up for "The Allure of the Automobile," Mar. 21-June 20, 2010, a presentation of 18 of "the world’s rarest and most brilliantly conceived cars" -- what you might call, and in fact the museum does call, "rolling sculptures."  

Among the choice vehicles are a 1934 Packard Twelve Runabout Speedster, a 1937 Bugatti Atalante Coupe and a Tucker Model 48 Torpedo from 1948. Also included are Steve McQueen’s 1957 Jaguar XKSS Roadster, and the 1959 Corvette Stingray prototype. Organized by automotive historian Ken Gross, former director of the Peterson Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, the show is sponsored by Porsche Cars North America.

The strip of greensward running up Park Avenue in New York City is the site of the first U.S. exhibition of outdoor sculptures by Claude and François-Xavier Lalanne, slated to go on view this coming fall, Sept. 13-Nov. 20, 2009. Among the six works are Pomme de New York by Claude Lalanne (b. 1924), a large-scale bronze sculpture of an apple, and François-Xavier Lalanne's (1927-2008) last sculpture, Singe Avisé (Très Grand), a cross-legged monkey with a pensive expression.

Also on tap are sculptures of an anthropomorphized cabbage (with bird’s feet), a rabbit standing with a cane, an owl, a deer and a flock of 12 sheep. The installation is sponsored by the New York City Parks Public Art Program, in conjunction with the Paul Kasmin Gallery (which represents the artists) and the Fund for Park Avenue Sculpture Committee.

Peter Macapia and Marilyn Garber’s Bridge Gallery over at 98 Orchard Street on the Lower East Side is presenting "Wild Child," July 9-Aug. 2, 2009, an exhibition of works by 14 artists, designers and studios that use "digital and algorithmic computing and advanced fabrication." Among the highlights is a completely new-look chess set fashioned of smoky gray, clear and silvery plastic by Los Angeles architect and designer Elena Manferdini, and a prototype bicycle rack in pretzel-y biomorphic shape of bright red ABS plastic by Brooklyn artist Frank Bitoni of FADarch. Other participants include Aranda\Lasch, FPmod, SOFTlab, Biothing and Murmur.

Eleven miniature film sets by the Brothers Quay go on display in "Dormitorium: Film Decors by the Quay Bros," July 16-Oct. 4, 2009, at the Johnson Design Center at Fifth Avenue and 13th Street (a department of Parsons the New School). Also on view are excerpts from their animated films, which range from Street of Crocodiles (1986), based on a short novel by Polish artist Bruno Schulz, to The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes (2006).

The Brothers Quay are Stephen and Timothy Quay, who were born in 1947 in Norristown, Pa., and who now make their home in London. They are celebrated for their stop-motion films, which elaborate a macabre fantasy world, usually without dialogue.  The show debuted earlier this year at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, its organizing institution. 

The Museum of Arts and Design on Columbus Circle has teamed up with Benjamin Moore & Co. for a special program of art commissions. "Art Encounters," as the thing is dubbed, hires artists to paint murals in the museum stairwells. First up is Brooklyn-based artist Mary Temple [see], whose rendering of tree shadows, First Week, remains on view for six months. Also participating in the commission series are sculptor Jackie Ferrara and painter Odile Donald Odita.

Independent curator Helen Varola has been put in charge of contemporary arts programming at the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood, as well as at the three other design centers operated by collector and L.A. MOCA trustee Charles S. Cohen’s Cohen Design Centers firm, the Decorative Center Houston, the Design Center of the Americas in Dania Beach, Fla., and the Decoration & Design Building in New York.

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