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Artnet News
June 17, 2009 

With all eyes on Iran as the country breaks out in protests over the recent presidential election, one local activist gaining an international audience is A1one, an anonymous Tehran-based graffiti artist. A1one is known for stickers, posters and spray-painted works featuring a distinctive pop-eyed character based on what he describes as "ancient Iranian motifs and also world motifs." On his blog, "Tehran Walls," A1one describes himself as a "Vandal or Anarchist," and insists that he is "not about politics" (perhaps his greatest series is "More than 200 Cracks in Tehran," featuring vivid images from Persian miniatures and other sources peeking out through cracks in painted surfaces). Amid the recent turmoil, however, his work has taken on a topical aspect.

To wit, A1one’s stickers have begun to pop up in Tehran (the blog "FryingPanFire" recently posted snapshots of several street works and dubbed them "Images for a New Age"), with several showing A1one’s unique characters cradling portraits of Mir-Hossein Mousavi, the challenger to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the disputed election. Other stickers show a creature shaped like a large pen with eyes, wearing the green face scarves that some protestors have taken to wearing. The latter works are titled "Protestors of Pen," and presumably support free speech. Other large versions of A1one’s creature have been spotted holding up signs that state "Where is my vote?" All the images can be seen on the artist’s Flickr photostream, which also features some vivid images from the recent street protests in the Iranian capital.

Another hip Chelsea gallery has announced that it is closing. Becky Smith, director of Bellwether, located at its space at 134 Tenth Avenue, sent out an email to supporters on Wednesday, June 16, 2009, stating that she had decided to shutter the space due to the "current financial climate." Bellwether opened ten years ago in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and quickly became one of several must-see galleries in the local art scene. Over the years the gallery helped launch or nurture the careers of many artists who are now fairly well known, including Ellen Altfest, Tanyth Berkeley, Adam Cvijanovic, Trevor Paglen, Sharon Core and Charlotta Westergren. Smith plans to continue to work with gallery artists, and promises "several shows with them in a Bellwether-at-large capacity."

A proposed ¥11.7 billion proposal for a new National Center for Media Arts ("Kokuritsu Media Geijutsu Sogo Senta") in Tokyo, dedicated to manga, anime, video games and "technology art," has become a hot button issue in the current Japanese elections. Long gestating as a way for Japan to promote its culture, the idea of constructing a new media center has been fast-tracked and written into a just-passed "supplemental budget" as an economic stimulus measure for the recession-plagued Japanese economy. The proposal would fund a facility with approximately 10,000 square meters of space, with "management outsourced to private enterprise," according to the Japan Times. It would have a mission to "research, collect, nurture and exhibit the work of young creators in the fields of manga, anime, video games and art forms using computers or electronic media." Studies expect that such a facility would attract 600,000 visitors a year.

Not everyone thinks this is a good idea, however. In a recent debate, Yukio Hatoyama, head of the Democratic Party of Japan, which is challenging prime minister Taro Aso, referred to the proposed new museum scornfully as a "State-run Manga Café." Hatoyama has even suggested in speeches that the push to build the center is being driven by Aso’s well-known affection for comic books. Though some of the furor about the National Center for Media Arts died down once the supplemental budget passed in March, the Japan Times notes that the "argument about the NCMA will likely flare again during the upcoming election."

, the Philadelphia-based publisher of artists’ multiples, has published a benefit portfolio to raise funds for humanitarian relief in Northern Uganda, where a civil war has been raging for more than two decades. Works by Michael Bevilacqua, Jeremy Deller, Kenny Scharf, Laurie Simmons, Shinique Smith, Mickalene Thomas and Kelley Walker are included in the portfolio, with 100 percent of proceeds going to YouthAIDS, Shanti Uganda and Building Tomorrow. Published in an edition of 25, the prints are 16 x 20 in. and cased in a linen box. The price is $5,500, or $4,400 is purchased in the next 30 days. For more info, click here (enter PORTFOLIO at checkout for discount).

Is Louisville, Ky., about to become a new center for contemporary art studies? Local art lovers are taking the idea seriously enough that they have hired a consulting firm, AMS Planning & Research, to conduct a "feasibility study" about launching Kentucky School of Contemporary Art (KySCA), a new accredited four-year contemporary art college. Details are vague, but apparently the school is already incorporated as a nonprofit with a 20-member board, with tuition planned to be a modest $10,000 per year, and a trial class to be launched this fall, taught by Skylar Smith at the 21c Museum Hotel -- the luxury hotel dedicated to contemporary art -- in Louisville. According to Louisville’s Courier-Journal, "KySCA would help students explore how serious they are about an art career."

The DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Lincoln, Mass., has announced its inaugural DeCordova Biennial dedicated to showcasing promising New England artists, scheduled to kick off in January 2010. The initiative expands upon the museum’s long-running "DeCordova Annual Exhibition," giving it a sharper focus and "emphasis on quality," according to director Dennis Kois. The show is to be curated by Dina Deitsch, with an advisory board that consists of Portland Museum of Art director Mark Bessire, Boston CyberArts Festival director George Fifield and Yale University Art Gallery curator Jennifer Gross. In addition to the show at the DeCordova, the biennial promises to feature satellite exhibitions at spaces throughout New England.

The seventeen artists who have been selected for the inaugural show are Greta Bank, Ross Cisneros, Georgie Friedman, Paul Laffoley, Phil Lique, Xander Marro, Christopher Mir, Liz Nofziger, Oscar Palacio, Otto Piene, William Pope.L, Randy Regier, Ward Shelley, Laurel Sparks, Mark Tribe, August Ventimiglia and Karin Weiner. The initiative is funded by the Deborah A. Hawkins Charitable Trust.

Socrates Sculpture Park, Mark di Suvero’s art greensward on the East River in Long Island City, is putting on what amounts to a craft fair on the weekend of June 27-28, 2009. Dubbed "Makers Market," the event is presented in cooperation with American Craft, the Noguchi Museum and R 20th Century, and features a curated selection of craft objects by 30 makers in a series of large tents.

Participants, who hail from ten U.S. states, include Andrea Corson, Atlas Industries, Batle Studio, Circle A Cycles, Craig Watson, Daniel Michalik / DMFD Studio, Elyse Allen Textiles, Eric Bonnin Ceramics, Eric Silva, Esque Studio, Found My Animal, Garnish by Kara Hamilton, Gratz Industries, hivemindesign, Hope Ginsburg / Sponge, Jane D'Arensbourg, Judith Trezza, Kitty Jones, Neil Hadlock, Palo Sanko, Patrick Weder Design Inc., Platform, Produce, R 20th Century, Sanam Emami, Satomi Kawakita Jewelry, Shelton Studios, Spring design&art, Teroforma, Thaddeus Wolfe, Urban Aesthetics, LLC, and Walt Siegl Builder.

A special preview on Friday, June 26, is $50, with proceeds supporting the project; for tickets, click here. Also on view at Socrates is the park’s spring exhibition, "State Fair," May 10-Aug. 2, 2009, featuring works by 11 artists, including Margarita Cabrera, Charles Gute, Stephen Shore and William Stone.

The estate of painter Jack Tworkov (1900-1982) has published a collection of the artist’s writings. The Extreme of the Middle: Writings of Jack Tworkov (Yale University Press, $45), edited by artist Mira Schor, offers Tworkov’s perspective on the Eighth Street Club, the Abstract Expressionist movement and many of his contemporaries. An exhibition of Tworkov’s work organized by Norte Maar, "Against Expremes: Five Decades of Painting," opens at the UBS Art Gallery in New York, Aug. 13-Oct. 27, 2009.   

Art dealers are invited to apply to participate in TEFAF Showcase 2010, which takes place Mar. 12-21, 2010, at the Maastricht Exhibition and Congress Centre in the Netherlands. The special section of the illustrious TEFAF Maastricht fair admitted seven dealers in 2009, limited to galleries not less than three years old and not more than ten. The booth fee is €5,000. Applications are due by Oct. 1, 2009; for details, see

More than 25 poets performing at once, all in silence? This has got to be seen to be believed. Avant-garde poet and sometime art critic Eileen Myles has organized "The Collection of Silence" for the Dia Art Foundation’s summer program at the Hispanic Society at Audubon Terrace at 155th and Broadway in Manhattan. The event, which takes place at 7 pm on June 30, 2009, brings together 25 poets, along with dancers, a life-drawing group, about 40 kids from P.S.4 and others, all to perform silently to express "peace, aimlessness, relief, solidarity, resistance, solace, irony, frivolity, had enough." The audience is invited to "stroll amongst this silent happening at your own genial pace," and is urged to "dress vividly and shamelessly as if you were attending a wedding or a renaissance fair or a nature hike, an art opening, poetry reading or to spray-paint things on your roof." The silence is scheduled to end at 8:15, and "morph into a decent party."

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