MORE ON THE MESS AT PARSONS
The New York Times weighed in last weekend on the ongoing ordeal faced by longtime fine arts faculty at the New School, a large percentage of which have been put out to pasture as part of aggressive moves to modernize the department under new chair Coco Fusco [see Artnet News, Apr. 3, 2009]. Among other things, the Times article highlighted an email sent to the New School administration by members of the fine arts faculty at Columbia University, decrying the "suddenness of this wholesale action coupled with the clear lack of prior dialogue," and calling the developments at Parsons "anti-artist, anti-arts education and frankly anti-culture." The letter was signed by some prominent art-world names: Gregory Amenoff, Jon Kessler, Blake Rayne, Thomas Roma, Tomas Vu-Daniel and Kara Walker.
The Times article ignored, however, what many insiders consider the special significance of the letter. Fusco had taught at Columbia until she defected to Parsons last July -- so the fact that Columbia teachers have thrown themselves into the fray against their former colleague seems a statement in itself.
In the meantime, following the press coverage the matter has received, the United Auto Workers (which organizes adjuncts at the New School) has come to view the firings as an assault on the union, and is now planning a school-wide rally to "save Parsons fine arts department," though details of the effort are still being worked out. As an amusing side-note, the union has also come to frame the fight as a defense of the traditional arts (though affected teachers are at pains to stress that they are not opposed to an increased focus on technology itself). As Marie Dormuth of UAW local 7902 said, "We are concerned that the traditional arts, painting and sculpture and others, be heard." For updates on the struggle, faculty have begun a blog, fittingly titled www.parsonspinkslips.blogspot.com
JOHN WESLEY IN VENICE
Add another stop to your already endless Venice Biennale peregrinations. Italian supercurator Germano Celant has organized an "anthological exhibition" of more than 150 works by U.S. Pop painter John Wesley (b. 1928), sponsored by the Fondazione Prada and taking place at the Fondazione Giorgio Cini on the Isle of San Giorgio in Venice. The exhibition is on view during the biennale, from June to October, and admission is free. For more info, see www.fondazioneprada.com
"PARTISAN" PART TWO AT ART CHICAGO
One effort the Merchandise Mart took to get things going again at Art Chicago last year was the introduction of "Partisan," a show of political and socially conscious art selected from artworks brought to the fair by participating galleries. Well, "Partisan" is back this year, under the supervision of guest curator Mary Jane Jacob, director of exhibitions at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The 2009 show ranges from works by Philip Evergood and other Social Realist artists of the 1930s and ‘40s, to 1970s political art by Leon Golub and Nancy Spero. It also includes Dinh Q Le’s The Penal Colony, a large-scale surveillance installation by New York artist John Delk, and portraits of housing-project residence by Chicago photog Paul D’Amato. The show features approximately 25 artists in all. "Partisan" remains on view during the run of Art Chicago, May 1-4, 2009.
NEW PHOTO FAIR FOR MADRID
A new fair devoted to photography opens next month at the Madrid fairgrounds (site of ARCO). MadridFoto, May 7-10, 2009, presents 47 galleries from a dozen countries, all under the artistic direction of Giulietta Speranza, former deputy director of PhotoEspaña and co-curator of the Madrid collective Doméstico. Participants include Enrique Guerrero (Mexico, D.F.), Helga de Alvear (Madrid), Juana de Aizpuru (Madrid), Oliva Arauna (Madrid), Senda (Barcelona), Soledad Lorenzo (Madrid), Clairefontaine (Luxembourg), Du Jour (Paris), Luciana Brito (São Paulo), Luis Adelantado (Valencia-Miami), Moriarty (Madrid), My Name Is Lolita Art (Valencia-Madrid), Nicolas Metivier (Toronto) and TraversÍa Cuatro (Madrid). For more details, see www.madridfoto.es
GUGGENHEIM FELLOWS ANNOUNCED
The 2009 round of Guggenheim Fellows has been announced, with 180 awardees in all (out of a pool of about 3,000 applicants). Last year, the foundation said that it had handed out $8,200,000 to 190 winners, allowing the mathematically inclined to determine an average grant size of something like $43,150. For 2009, however, the foundation failed to announce a total.
Winners in fine arts: Michael Ashkin, Dike Blair, Paul Bloodgood, Tom Burckhardt, Nancy Chunn, Margaret Cogswell, Paul Laffoley, Thomas Lawson, Paul Etienne Lincoln, Medrie MacPhee, Leonore Malen, Joanna Malinowska, Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle, W.G. Raad, Stephanie Snider, Jered Sprecher, Shirley Tse, Faith Wilding, Pamela Wilson-Ryckman and Alexi Worth.
Winners in photography: Thomas Joshua Cooper, Osamu James Nakagawa, Suzanne Opton, Anna Shteynshleyger, Cheryle St. Onge, Brian Ulrich and Byron Wolfe. Video and Audio: Heidi Kumao, Federico Solmi. Other winners include new media pioneer Lynn Hershman Leeson, who received a fellowship in film.
CLARK CUTS STAFF SIX PERCENT
The prestigious Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Mass. has slashed six percent of its staff -- nine full-time and part-time staff -- in an effort to cope with the fallout from the current economic crisis. Attendance has actually been up lately, according to the Berkshire Eagle, but the value of its endowment has plunged some 25 percent. According to Clark deputy director Tony King, the firings "impacted staff throughout the organization with a variety of years of service."
ORAL SEX SCULPTURE CONTROVERSY IN OHIO
It’s being called "the most talked about show that no one saw." Bowling Green State University administrators have been involved in an ongoing controversy since last month, when they removed a sculpture from a show at the Little Gallery, located on the school’s campus in Huron, Oh. The offending work, by Pennsylvania-based James Parlin, was titled The Middle School Science Teacher Makes a Decision He’ll Live to Regret, and depicted a female middle-school student performing fellatio on a male teacher. The polychromed sculpture was on view as part of an exhibition titled "A Bakers Dozen," Mar. 2-Apr. 7, 2009, which also featured works titled Sami Drops a Deuce, John Put His Head in the Oven and The Man Who Hasn’t Seen His Genitals in Years, all depicting vignettes relating to issues in the artist’s personal life.
According to various reports, on Mar. 17, the director of the Little Gallery, David Sapp, was instructed to remove the work by school administrators concerned that children visiting the nearby auditorium "may have been directly affected by the specific criminal act depicted." Sapp refused, and when the administrators confiscated The Middle School Science Teacher anyway, he closed the entire exhibition in protest. Now, Sapp is said to be considering resigning his position in protest, and students on campus have protested the move as an example of censorship.
Hapless BGSU administrators can’t seem to do anything right -- even their refusal to provide an image of the offending work to the Sandusky Register has become an issue, with the paper claiming that it "raises questions about whether university officials are complying with the school's policy for keeping public records."