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Dec. 12, 2007 

Which is better, a complete set of facsimiles or a limited selection of originals? Ambitious viewers can decide for themselves this month, as the Triple Candie exhibition space in Harlem presents full-color offset reproductions of the 60 paintings in Jacob Lawrence’s The Migration of the Negro, an epic work made by the 24-year-old artist in 1941. According to Triple Candie, Lawrence considered the paintings to be a single artwork and intended that they all be exhibited together, though he sold half the series to the Museum of Modern Art and half to the Phillips Collection shortly after it was made.

Despite Lawrence’s intentions, major Lawrence retrospectives have routinely included only parts of the work, and thus "radically misrepresented" it, Triple Candie says. The Lawrence retrospectives of 1960 (at the Brooklyn Museum and 16 other venues), 1974 (at the Whitney Museum) and 1986 (at the Seattle Art Museum) all featured only fragments of the work. Both MoMA and the Phillips Collection have also exhibited it in truncated form. The Migration of the Negro has never been shown in its entirety in Harlem, where it was originally made.

What’s more, the misrepresentation of the work continues to this day. The Triple Candie exhibition is mounted to coincide with "Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series: Selections from the Phillips Collection" at the Whitney Museum, Nov. 21, 2007-Jan. 6, 2008, which presents only 17 of the 60 panels. That show was originally scheduled to appear at the Studio Museum in Harlem, but had to be moved to the Whitney due to high humidity in the original venue’s galleries.

The Triple Candie show, titled "Undoing the Ongoing Bastardization of The Migration of the Negro by Jacob Lawrence," is organized by the directors of the space, Shelly Bancroft and Peter Nesbett. Nesbett, who is also editor of Art on Paper magazine, was formerly director of the Jacob and Gwendolyn Lawrence Foundation, and is the co-author of the two-volume The Complete Jacob Lawrence (2000), which includes a catalog raisonné and Over the Line, a collection of essays. He is also author of Jacob Lawrence: The Complete Prints (1963-2000).

"Undoing" also includes 14 custom-designed posters that document the many museum exhibitions over the years that presented only parts of Migration, by reproducing postage-stamp-sized images of the panels that were included in each show. Also featured in the exhibition is "a rural wooden shack," not unlike those painted by Lawrence, but here brightly colored and "meant to serve as a surrogate for Triple Candie." These parts of the show were devised by the curators themselves.

Triple Candie has become known in the last season or two for exhibitions that raise provocative questions about museum practices, often by seeming deliberately to misrepresent the artworks on display. Notable in this regard were a pair of monographic exhibitions done without the approval of their subjects, that is, shows of facsimiles of works by David Hammons and Cady Noland, both artists who tend to resist the blandishments of the art system.

Art critic Jerry Saltz called the 2006 Triple Candie exhibition, "Cady Noland Approximately," which contained only copies of works by the artist, an "esthetic act of karaoke, identity theft, body snatching and entrepreneurial table turning." This time around, Triple Candie is taking what Nesbett called "the moral high ground," by representing the work "as it is meant to be seen" -- with the exception that it isn’t the actual work, of course. At press time, email queries to Whitney Museum curators on the question had gone unanswered.  

No artist represents the carefree and colorful sensibility of the 1960s better than the late artist Alan Shields (1944-2005), who would often celebrate the opening of his shows (at Paula Cooper Gallery and elsewhere) by painting the fingernails of gallery-goers in multiple hues. Part of the "Post-Minimalist" generation of the late 1960s and early ‘70s, Shields made work that had what art critic Roberta Smith called "a joyful quality."

A long-time resident of Shelter Island on Long Island, where he grew his own vegetables and fished, Shields is now the subject of a survey exhibition in his old neighborhood. "Alan Shields: Stirring up the Waters," Oct. 21-Dec. 31, 2007, is organized by Alicia Longwell at the Parrish Art Museum in Southampton. Shield’s "deconstructed paintings," according to a review by Benjamin Genocchio in the New York Times, incorporate "the nihilism and angst" of the Vietnam era, while his "collage esthetic" is a precursor of artists like Jessica Stockholder and Jim Lambie

Veterans of the recent rash of art fairs in Miami know that all the advertising and promotion can be a headache -- but in at least one case, it has had actual devastating consequences. Harold Golen Gallery, located at 2921 NW Sixth Avenue in Miami’s Wynwood Art District, a scant four blocks from the Rubell Collection, was a victim of a fire early Monday morning, which broke out in an upstairs storage space. Firefighters were able to extinguish the blaze before it consumed the building, and believe the fire was caused when a balloon floating over the building, advertising the gallery, came into contact with electrical wires.

Golen deployed the balloon during the fairs to promote his current show, "Subjective Reality," as well as a music and video art event curated by Juraj Kojs on Sunday, Dec. 9. On view were works by Ron English and lesser-known "Pop Surrealist" figures such as Travis Louie, Skot Olsen, Pooch, Kieth Weesner and Chet Zar. According to the dealer, some $100,000 worth of art was destroyed, and other works sustained smoke damage.

Did someone say there were too many art fairs? Well, add one more to your schedule -- Art Hamptons, July 11-13, 2008, sited in a 12,000-square-foot custom building on the grounds of the Bridgehampton Historical Society on Montauk Highway (just across from the Candy Kitchen). Founder Rick Friedman, an art collector, longtime Hamptons resident and veteran of the Hamptons Home & Garden Show as well as Show Biz Expo, said he hoped to feature all the artists who are linked to the Hamptons, from William Merritt Chase and Childe Hassam to Chuck Close and April Gornik. About 40 galleries are expected to take part. For further details, see

On the scene in Miami’s Design District during Art Basel Miami Beach was Hollywood actress Eva Mendes (Ghost Rider, Hitch), promoting her new calendar for the bright red digestive liquor Campari at the launch of House of Campari. Mendes stuck around to get a tour of the exhibition, dubbed "25 Bold Moves" and featuring works by 25 emerging artists, selected by Simon Watson and Craig Hensala of Scenic (the indefatigable Watson’s cultural marketing group). According to a Campari press rep, "Eva expressed how much she appreciates contemporary art and took a liking to many of the pieces of artwork on display." Among the new talent: Quentin Curry, Keltie Ferris, Becca Mann and Paul Mpagi Sepuya.

The Art Dealers Association of America (ADAA), the professional organization of 170 top art galleries in the U.S., has accepted four new members. Los Angeles’ Regen Projects and Blum & Poe join the club, as do Howard Greenberg Gallery and Debra Force Fine Art, Inc. in New York. According to the ADAA, to be considered for acceptance, "a dealer must have an established reputation for honesty, integrity and professionalism among their peers, and must make a substantial contribution to the cultural life of the community by offering works of high aesthetic quality, presenting worthwhile exhibitions and publishing scholarly catalogues." 

The "funky little surf town" of Paia, on the north shore of Maui in Hawaii, is attempting to go plastic-bag free, with a little help from Pop artist Peter Max. In order to raise the $10,000 needed to get a shipment of re-usable cornstarch bags to the community, so that local merchants have an alternative to environmentally unfriendly plastic bags that damage the local ocean life, residents have put together an art auction of hand-painted art bags, featuring Max and other local artists. Also participating are Woody Harrelson and Willie Nelson. Bidding is open Dec. 3, 2007-Jan. 25, 2008, online at

A show of paintings and sketches by Marvin Franklin is set to open at the New York Transit Museum, Dec. 18-Mar. 30, 2008. Franklin was an MTA track worker who was slain earlier this year when he was hit by a G train in an on-the-job accident. It also turns out that he was an accomplished artist, having received a degree in art from the Fashion Institute of Technology. Donations and proceeds from the show go to benefit the TWU Local 100 Widows & Orphans Fund. The museum is located at Boerum Place and Schermerhorn Street in Brooklyn Heights.

Novice collectors, take note. Bargains galore can be found at the "Night of 1,000 Drawings" fundraiser at Artists Space in SoHo on Dec. 13, 2007. The open-call exhibition and sale features more than 1,000 works on paper by well-known and emerging artists, clipped laundry-style to cords strung throughout the space. One hitch -- the drawings are all anonymous. Admission is $10, and drawings a priced at either $35 or $60, depending on size (up $10 from last year!). The event runs from 5-10 pm, with an open bar from 7:30-9.

Houston-based artist Trenton Doyle Hancock has received the 2007 Joyce Alexander Wein Artist Prize,a $50,000 award given out by New York’s Studio Museum in Harlem. Founded last year -- the first went to Lorna Simpson -- by Newport Jazz Festival founder George Wein, the prize honors the artistic achievements of an African-American artist who demonstrates innovation, promise and creativity. Hancock is represented by James Cohan Gallery.

Ten women have won the 2007 Anonymous Was a Woman artist grants, unrestricted awards of $25,000 designed to go to accomplished female artists over 35 who are "at a critical juncture in their lives or careers." The anonymous nominators selected Miriam Beerman, Lois Conner, Petah Coyne, Agnes Denes, Diane Edison, Paula Hayes, Joan Semmel, Jill Slosberg-Ackerman, Leslie Thornton and Carrie Mae Weems.

Twelve artists from San Francisco have received $25,000 Eureka Fellowships from the Fleishhacker Foundation, earmarked for artists from the Bay Area. The awards are spread over the next three years. Winners are Adriane Colburn, Karen Hampton, Kate Pocrass and June Schwarcz for 2008; Amy Ellingson, Martin McMurray, Leslie Shows and Jenifer Wofford for 2009; and Tauba Auerbach, Bihn Dahn, Kota Ezawa and David Huffman for 2010. Grantees are required to remain in San Francisco the year of their award.

Artist’s grants from Artadia: The Fund for Art and Dialogue (A:FAD) have focused on San Francisco for 2007, with a judging panel consisting of Daniell Cornell, Sylvie Gilbert and Mary Jane Jacob selecting 10 Bay Area artists from a field of 500 applications. Sergio de la Torre, the Center for Tactical Magic and Chris Sollars receive $15,000 unrestricted grants, while David Hevel, Desirée Holmann, Michael Light, Trevor Paglen, Catherine Wagner, Hank Willis Thomas and Amy Wilson Faville take home $1,500 each. A:FAD partners with different cities to reward local artists, and in the past has worked in Boston, Chicago and Houston. Upcoming A:FAD grants are planned for New York, Atlanta and Miami.

Gabriel Pérez-Barriero has been named director of the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros in Miami. Pérez-Barriero currently serves as curator of Latin American art at the Blanton Museum of Art in Austin, and organized "The Geometry of Hope," the current touring collection of Latin American abstraction from the Cisneros Collection. He succeeds Rafael Romero D., now to become director emeritus and senior advisor. Pérez-Barriero assumes his position Apr. 15, 2008.

Kudos to Artnet Magazine’s own critic Charlie Finch, featured in the current issue of Time Out New York, which devles into the effects of internet on cultural journalism. The mag queried top critics like Charles Isherwood, A.O. Scott, Linda Stasi and Alex Ross (and a blogger called the Thigh Master), but gave Finch the last word: "Criticism is about the critic," he said, "and everybody’s a critic."

Artnet Magazine associate editor Ben Davis is set to appear on the "Review Panel," Dec. 14, 2007, at the National Academy Museum, alongside the New York Sun’s Lance Esplund and Lilly Wei of Art in America. Hosted by editor David Cohen, the panels have given art critics a public forum for several years now, announcing the exhibitions to be discussed in advance so that audience members can actively participate. The shows under consideration this time around are Tara Donovan at the Metropolitan Museum, Anne Harris at Alexandre, Bharti Kher at Jack Shainman, David Reed at Max Protetch and Zhang Huan at the Asia Society.

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