DENVER PLANS "BIENNIAL OF THE AMERICAS"
Denver’s energetic mayor John Hickenlooper, a former restaurateur and businessman who is now in his second term, understands the power that culture has to bring people together -- and to that end, he is spearheading a new Biennial of the Americas. Scheduled for the summer of 2010, the $6-million project is designed to celebrate contemporary art and ideas "from the tip of Tierra del Fuego to the Northern Hudson Bay," in Hickenlooper’s words. The plan calls for two sections, a contemporary art exhibition and an "ideas pavilion" exploring the sciences and public policy, each overseen by their own independent curator.
The Colorado-based Boettcher Foundation has already made a $2 million grant for the project, and additional funding is in hand from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Coors Brewing Company and the Denver Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau, among other organizations. After the first installment, the biennial is to be repeated every two years, and presumably will grow into a major Denver tourist attraction. With the new Daniel Libeskind-designed Denver Art Museum facility, a new David Adjaye-designed Museum of Contemporary Art / Denver, and a nascent Clyfford Still Museum, the city already boasts considerable visual-arts clout.
Hickenlooper also frames the biennial in terms of the current controversy over immigration in the U.S., noting that a "powerful climate of intolerance" dominates discussion of the question, blocking any solution. "That’s what the biennial will fix," he said.
National focus also turns to Denver at the end of August 2008, when the Democratic National Convention rolls into Pepsi Center downtown, the city’s basketball arena. For the convention, the Denver Office of Cultural Affairs has planned a citywide cultural festival on the theme of democracy. Titled "Dialogue:City," the project is sponsoring events by nine contemporary artists over 10 nights. "Dialogue: City" is organized by Seth Goldenberg and includes participation by Ann Hamilton, D.J. Spooky and Krzysztof Wodiczko. Further details are to be announced.
HUG TO ART COLOGNE
The struggling Art Cologne is bringing in a little Los Angeles glamour to revamp its brand: 39-year-old art dealer Daniel Hug (pronounced "Hoog," we are told) has signed on to direct the fair. Outspoken and energetic, Hug has run a namesake gallery in L.A.’s Chinatown, showing works by Patterson Beckwith, Gaylen Gerber, Los Super Elegantes, Michael Queenland and others. He is given credit as well for having a role in the recent relaunch of Art LA 2008 as a hip international fair of younger dealers. Hug is also grandson of Bauhaus great Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, giving the appointment a certain cachet.
Hug succeeds Gerard Goodrow, who was shown the door in January, as Art Cologne reeled from a perceived loss of status in the face of stiff global art fair competition. At the time, the exhibition company that owns the franchise, KölnMesse GmbH, announced that it was looking at a successor "with connections to Basel." However, as the weeks passed and Art Cologne’s 2008 date approached, nothing materialized, while as recently as mid-March the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung was reporting that the final decision would be announced at the opening of the fair in April.
Art Cologne returns to the German art center, Apr. 16-20, 2008, with 150 dealers, promising a tighter, more focused presentation than in the past.
FOTOFEST2008 IN HOUSTON
Did someone say that the 2008 Armory Show was short on photographs? Maybe all those pictures are in Houston, as the city is currently in the midst of "Fotofest2008," Mar. 7-Apr. 20, 2008. Taking place in all Houston art museums as well as an incredible 107 other spaces, "Fotofest2008" features ten shows focusing on China photography and another 135 exhibitions in all.
The lineup includes shows of Nan Goldin and Bill Brandt at the Museum of Fine Arts, "Vivid Vernacular" at the Menil Collection, and Dawoud Bey at the Contemporary Art Museum. Commercial galleries participating include De Santos, Deborah Colton, Finesilver, Inman, Koelsch, Apama Mackey, McClain and Wade Wilson. Nonprofit galleries, corporate spaces, retail spaces and restaurants and even artist’s studios are involved as well. For a complete list, see www.fotofest.org
CURATOR AS PHOTOGRAPHER
The contemporary art world knows Kathleen Goncharov as a sophisticated curator who has formerly organized shows for the Nasher Museum in North Carolina and currently heads the Brodsky Center for Innovative Editions at Rutgers University. But now Goncharov has come out as a photographer, with her first exhibition on the new "Art Wall" at the venerable Bowery Poetry Club at 303 Bowery in Manhattan. Titled "See America First," Mar. 22-Apr. 13, 2008, the show features color photographs Goncharov took at Yesterday’s Treasures in the Hamptons, an astonishing font of kitsch of all kinds, where polychromed cavemen, knights, aliens and other figures are all displayed cheek-to-jowl.