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Artnet News
Mar. 21, 2006 

The sunny skies have darkened a bit in the schmaltzy world of masscult painter Thomas Kinkade, according to a series of stories in the Los Angeles Times. The devout Christian "Painter of Light" has a "dark side," according to the reports, ranging from shady business dealings to problems with alcohol that have led to scandalous personal behavior. Last month, an arbitration panel ordered his company -- the solely owned Thomas Kinkade Co., based in Morgan Hill, Ca. -- to pay $860,000 for defrauding the owners of two gallery outlets for his works. Five other claims are pending. Kinkade is also accused of urinating on a statue of Winnie the Pooh outside Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, saying "This oneís for you, Walt."

Kinkadeís vastly popular product line, which runs from $10,000 paintings and prints to tote bags, night lights and teddy bears, brought in more than $50 million in royalties between 1997 and 2005, according to testimony in the arbitration case. But after expanding his chain of Thomas Kinkade Signature Galleries to a "$250-million-a-year retail juggernaut" with some 350 stores, the business crashed and now has less than half that number, according to the report. As for his personal failings -- the artist was said to have a "Jekyll and Hyde" personality by one observer -- Kinkade has admitted to overindulging in food and drink during a stressful time, but says that he has now, "with godís help and the support of my family and friends. . . returned balance to my life."

California conceptualist Jeffrey Valance has also gotten into the act, releasing a letter claiming that "his friend" Kinkade wasnít being disrespectful to Pooh, but rather was branching out into performance art.

British performance artist Mark McGowan plans to leave six water faucets running for a year at secret London locations as a protest against the private control of water in the UK, the BBC reports. Thames Water said it would take legal action against the stunt, which would send an estimated 100 million liters down the drain. Last year McGowan left a tap running at the House Gallery in Camberwell, London, for a month, and has also made news for rolling a peanut across London to protest student debt.

Damien Hirst
ís first big show in Mexico City has been a profitable one -- all the works at the Galeria Hilario Galguera have found buyers, according to press reports. "We could have sold it five times over," a Hirst insider told the Telegraphís Colin Gleadell. One big buyer was the Samsung Museum in Seoul, which snagged The Wrath of God (2005), a smaller version of the artistís signature shark-in-formaldehyde sculpture, for $4 million, and The Inescapable Truth, a white dove suspended above a human skull, for $3 million. Hedge fund manager Steven Cohen bought one of the small-scale photorealist paintings, which were priced at $500,000 each.

Itís been rather a while since the Whitney Museum of American Art dipped its toe in the waters of European art, but now the museum has announced plans for "Picasso and American Art," Sept. 28, 2006-Jan. 28, 2007. Organized by Michael FitzGerald, a professor at Trinity College in Connecticut and coordinated by Whitney associate curator Dana Miller, the show includes nearly 40 works by Picasso and another 130 works by American artists, largely focusing on Stuart Davis, Willem de Kooning, Arshile Gorky, John Graham, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, Jackson Pollock, David Smith and Max Weber. The show is accompanied by a 352-page catalogue co-published with Yale University Press. The show subsequently travels to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Feb. 25-May 28, 2007, and the Walker Art Center, June 17-Sept. 9, 2007. 

Considering the mountain of U.S. paper held by China, is there any better place for a show of Chinese contemporary art that the Federal Reserve? "The Face of Contemporary Art in China," a show of 22 works by 17 Chinese artists working in China today, opens at the Federal Reserve Board in Washington, D.C., Apr. 3-Aug. 18, 2006. The exhibition is organized by the Fedís fine arts program director, Mary Anne Goley, and Larry Warsh, founder and publisher of Museums Magazine and lately a big booster of contemporary Chinese art. In the accompanying essay, art historian Karen Smith notes that the globalization of the Chinese market began in earnest in 1991, after a Deng Xiaoping speech began the transition to a market economy almost overnight. Artists in the exhibition are Bai Yiluo, Cui Xiuwen, Fang Lijun, Feng Zhengjie, Gang Zhao, He Sen, Hong Hao, Lin Tianmiao, Liu Rentao, Liu Ye, Qi Zhilong, Wang Guangyi, Yang Shaobin, Yue Min Jun, Zeng Fanzhi, Zhang Peili and Zhang Xiaogang. The show is open only by reservation, which must be made 24 hours in advance. Call (202) 452-3778.

"Bearings: The Female Figure," a group show of new work in all mediums by 62 women artists organized by photographer Allen Frame, opens at P.S. 122 Gallery in New Yorkís East Village, Apr. 2-23, 2006. Among the artists in the show are Joan Semmel, Lisa Kereszi, Carrie Levy, Ann Mandelbaum, Christine Osinski, Sally Tosti, Mariette Pathy Allen, Llinda Salerno, Eri Morita, Jo Shane, Thelma Garcia, Laura Elkins, Pam Butler, Jeanine Oleson, Nan Goldin, Miriam Cooper, Barbara Nitke, Abby Robinson, Nicola Tyson and Sue Williams. The showís opening boasts a belly dance performance by photographer Elinor Carucci, who is also signing copies of her book, Diary of a Dancer (the performance is scheduled for 4 pm on Apr. 2).

The Portland Art Museum has announced the artists in the "2006 Oregon Biennial," July 29-Oct. 8, 2006, at the Portland (Ore.) Art Museum. The show is organized by Jennifer Gately, PAMís curator of Northwest art. The artists are Brad Adkins, Marcy Adzich, Holly Andres, Pat Boas, Chandra Bocci, Michael Brophy, Benjamin Buswell, Grace Carter and Holly Andres, Matt Clark, David Eckard, Andrew Ellmaker and Mark Brandau, Ty Ennis, Anna Fidler, Emily Ginsburg, Heidi Preuss Grew, Jesse Hayward, Mark Hooper, Jo Jackson, Kristan Kennedy, Zack Kircher, K.C. Madsen, Federico Nessi, Lucinda Parker, Matthew Picton, Brittany Powell, Shawn Records, Vanessa Renwick, David Rosenak, Storm Tharp, Mariana Tres, Laura Vandenburgh, Bill Will and Amanda Wojick.

Art collector Mickey Cartin, who is chairman of the CLS electric supply company in Hartford, Conn., has opened up a new temporary gallery space in downtown Hartford, according to a report in the New York Times by art critic Benjamin Genocchio. The 4,000-square-foot storefront, dubbed the Cartin Collection, is overseen by curator Steven Holmes and currently features a show titled "Ex.06.01.06103," more than 100 works by Gregory Gillespie, Sean Mellyn, Christian Schumann and other artists from Cartinís holdings. For further details, see

Superdealer Larry Gagosian is building a new gallery in Chelsea at 528 West 21st Street, according to a Bloomberg news report. The 9,200 square foot space - his current gallery on West 24th Street is 26,000 square feet -- is being designed by Gluckman Mayner Architects. The one-story building, formerly occupied by Manhattan Laminates Inc., is located on the south side of the street between Paula Cooper Gallery and Kustera Tilton Gallery.

After 17 years on the job, Sarah Nichols has retired as chief curator and curator of decorative arts at the Carnegie Museum of Art. During her tenure, the museum established major collections of contemporary glass and aluminum -- she organized the touring exhibition, "Aluminum by Design: Jewelry to Jets" -- and expanded the collection of architect-designed chairs. Nichols continues as adjunct curator at the museum, and is currently organizing "Translations and Transformations: Glass -- Venice and America, 1950-2006," which opens at the Carnegie in 2007.

At least one visitor to the 2006 Armory Show got away with a real bargain -- the anonymous miscreant stole the top of a cookie jar from the Artnet booth early in the show. But it wasnít just any cookie jar, and it wasnít just any top. It was Charlie Finch Devouring Mary Boone (2001), a sculpture by Elliott Arkin of star Artnet Magazine critic Charlie Finch taking a bite out of dealer Mary Boone -- and the top is the sculpture of Finchís head. A $2,500 reward is being offered for return of the work.

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