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Artnet News
July, 13, 2005 

Is it time for the Drawing Center to give up on its increasingly quixotic quest to find a new home at Ground Zero? The idea of moving the sophisticated, avant-garde gallery down to a facility adjacent to a highly trafficked, emotionally charged memorial to the nearly 3,000 people who died in the 9/11 attacks struck many art-world insiders as misguided when it was first announced back in early 2004 [see Artnet News, Feb. 24, 2004]. Now, after a month-long assault on the plan led by New York's right-wing press, the idea has begun to seem entirely unworkable.

Real estate developer Mortimer B. Zuckerman's New York Daily News kicked off the tabloid frenzy in June, with a front-page article attacking the center for showing "anti-American" political art, a now-typical bit of slander that found editorial echoes everywhere, from the Wall Street Journal to the New York Press and beyond. New York governor George Pataki quickly abetted the crime, announcing that "we will not tolerate anything on the site that denigrates America, denigrates New York or freedom or denigrates the sacrifice and courage that the heroes showed on Sept. 11."

The brouhaha has legs -- last week the New York Post attacked the Drawing Center in passing as part of a news story about New York mayor Michael Bloomberg's gifts to New York cultural institutions, and just yesterday the New York Times editorialized against efforts "by a small, vocal group of protestors" to censor exhibitions at Ground Zero. It's worth noting that the controversy involves a certain amount of displacement -- criticism has all but disappeared of WTC developer Larry Silverstein's drive to maximize profits by constructing 10 million feet of office space on a site where so many died, to paraphrase WSJ writer Ada Louise Huxtable.

The drawing that upset the censors, A Glimpse of What Life Could Be Like in a Free Country #6 by Amy Wilson, is a relatively direct adaptation of the now notorious photograph of the hooded Abu Ghraib prisoner with electrical wires attached to his hands. In Wilson's work, the wires extend to spell out the word "Liberty." (Wilson herself says that the battle is clearly about "silencing political speech," and also notes that her work was reproduced out of context -- the image is part of a 14-foot-long drawing containing dozens of figures along with about 2,000 words.)

At present, Drawing Center president George Negroponte remains firmly committed to the move. But he has only lukewarm support from his board, according to insiders, and the Drawing Center staff, including director Catherine de Zegher, is said to be less than thrilled at the prospect of leaping into the Ground Zero political maelstrom (aside from the obvious uncertainties of programming for a large non-art audience, here are the difficulties with the design -- apparently, visitors to the Drawing Center would first have to traverse the International Freedom Center, the other museum planned for the site -- and the chore of raising millions of dollars for the new facility). "How can the museum program, or hire curators, under these conditions?" asked one source. A better question might be -- when will Negroponte see the light and send the moving vans back to the garage?

The Getty Trust in Los Angeles and its high-flying director, Barry Munitz, were recently put under the microscope by the Los Angeles Times [see Artnet News, June 15, 2005], leading Republican Sen. Charles Grassley to rebuke the Getty board, saying it was "spending more time watching old episodes of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous than doing its job of protecting the Getty's assets for charitable purposes." Grassley's opinon counts, since he chairs the Senate Finance Committee, which is examining the rules that govern nonprofit spending on things like first-class travel.

More recently, editor Mark Lacter has reported in the Los Angeles Business Journal that the Getty plans a full-frontal rebuttal to the L.A. Times investigation, which supposedly "vastly overstated" Munitz' annual compensation (some of that $1.2 million is deferred, apparently). Nevertheless, referring to a $7,000 trip on a yacht chartered by supercollector Eli Broad, a $35,000 trip to Tuscany and a $72,000 Porsche SUV -- all of which went on Munitz's Getty Trust expense account -- Lacter agrees that Munitz' "spending habits and perks are more than a little out of whack. So is his judgment." Lacter ends his column with the literary equivalent of a sigh of resignation, noting that if the Getty simply ignores the controversy and says nothing, there's a pretty good chance "the questions will fade away."

Down in Australia, they don't know that it's really summertime -- thus, the 10th installment of the biannual Sydney Art on Paper Fair, July 28-31, 2005, directed by Sydney art dealer Akky van Ogtrop and featuring almost 30 mostly Australian exhibitors at the Byron Kennedy Hall in Moore Park in Sydney. Among the special attractions is "Fresh," a show of six emerging artists (Deborah Bain-King, Pia Larsen, Chris McCaughey, Jennie Nayton, Nikki Ruddy and Court Williams) and a symposium titled "Ritual or Celebration? Contesting the Role of Arts Festivals" (hey, that's what we want to know!) For details, see

The museum boom continues out on Long Island, where the Parrish Art Museum plans to build a new $40-million, 80,000-square-foot facility on a $3.8 million, 14-acre site on Montauk Highway in Water Mill, about two miles up the road from its current brick structure on Job's Lane in the center of Southampton. The future of the present facility, which totals 17,000 square feet and belongs to the town, is under negotiation; the new building is slated to open in 2009.

The new Cyrus and Myrtle Katzen Art Center at American University in Washington, D.C., premieres with "Soft Openings" on July 16-Sept. 17, 2005, an exhibition of works by Edward Burtynsky, Sam Gilliam, Grace Hartigan, Joyce Scott and 18 other artists. "The artists and their pieces are really helping us experiment with the Katzen's incredible space," said Jack Rasmussen, director and curator of the American University Museum at the Katzen. The $45-million, 324,000-square-foot complex of curving limestone walls, located on Ward Circle in northwest Washington, was designed by Einhorn Yaffee Prescott and includes a three-story, 30,000-square-foot museum and sculpture garden, three performance venues, a recital hall and practice rooms, classrooms and rehearsal halls. The new facility replaces the university's 43-year-old Watkins Gallery. For more info, see

Nigeria-born curator Okwui Enwezor, dean of academic affairs at the San Francisco Art Institute and artistic director of Documenta 11 in 2002, has been appointed artistic director of the second Biennial of Contemporary Art of Seville, which opens in the city's Monasterio de la Cartuja de Santa María de las Cuevas in October 2006.

The new Cohen Amador Gallery opens in the landmark Fuller Building at 41 East 57th Street in Manhattan with a group exhibition of gallery artists, Sept. 28-Nov. 19, 2005. Among the artists in the show are Amy Arbus, Thomas Kellner, Maureen Lambray, Tracey Snelling and Edmund Teske. The gallery is founded by Stephen Cohen, owner of the Stephen Cohen Gallery in L.A. and producer of the ArtLA and Photo New York art fairs, and Paul Amador, a photo collector who was a director at Lyonswier Gallery in Chelsea. For more info, see

Ariel Meyerowitz Gallery at 120 11th Avenue in New York's Chelsea art district is closing at the end of the month after nearly six years of showing photographs by a range of artists, including the director's father, Joel Meyerowitz. The final show, "Adieu, a Farewell Exhibition," June 24-July 30, 2005, features works by Harold Edgerton, Louis Faurer, Ralph Gibson, Nadav Kander, Vik Muniz, Gus Powell, Thomas Roma, Todd Webb and many others. The 34-year-old dealer told the Photo District News that she plans to remain in New York and continue to work with the photographers she represented, and possibly do independent curating as well.

Cuban art dealer Alberto Magnan is back in New York's Chelsea art district with a new gallery, Magnan Projects at 317 10th Avenue (around the corner from Sean Kelly Gallery and JG Contemporary). The current exhibition is "Liquid Bodies," June 30-July 30, 2005, a show guest-curated by artist Ernesto Pujol and featuring works by seven young women artists (Constance Brady, Vanessa Davis, Tammie Engelhart, Melissa Messina, Daphane Park, Maya Onoda and Jessica Watson). Among the artists represented by the gallery are Gregory Coates, Duke Riley, Laurie Thomas and Alex Arrechea, a former member of the Cuban cooperative Los Carpinteros who is now launching his solo career. Magnan closed Liebman Magnan Gallery, which exhibited artists like Tania Bruguera and Karen Finley, after splitting with his partner, Kathy Magnan, in 2003. For more info, contact

In conjunction with the exhibition, "3 x Abstraction," the touring show of paintings and drawings by Hilma af Klint, Emma Kunz and Agnes Martin, the Santa Monica Museum of Art is presenting Automatic Drawing Brought Forth through the Ouija Board, a project by Christian Cummings, on the evening of July 14, 2005. If all goes according to plan, Cummings will contact the spirits of the deceased and channel their drawings. A Los Angeles-based artist who also builds exhibitions for the local Museum of Jurassic Technology, Cummings has been chaneling spirits since 2004, including (he claims) those of Barnett Newman and Walt Disney. The event is scheduled for 6-10 pm; for more info, contact

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