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Artnet News
May 14, 2009 

San Francisco may soon see a strikingly avant-garde tribute to gay rights hero Harvey Milk, in the form of Pink Cloud, a "body of mist illuminated by colored light hovering above the intersection of Market and Castro." The work is the brainchild of the duo of Christian Werthmann + LOMA, who won a commission way back in 2000 to memorialize Milk. According to plans published in the 2007 book Living Systems, the feat is to be accomplished via four poles at the corners of the intersection connected to underground fog machines, and equipped with pink lights illuminating their spray.

Originally intended as a permanent tribute, but long on hold, the idea is being resurrected as an attraction to grace a temporary public plaza at the intersection, May 11-July 11, 2009, to try to draw traffic to local businesses. The San Francisco Arts Commission, which is sponsoring Pink Cloud, is holding a public meeting, May 17, 3-5 pm at the Eureka Valley Recreation Center, so that residents can voice opinions about the work. With any luck, it will soon be a reality.

With the opening of the Art Institute of Chicago’s new modern wing just around the corner -- it debuts Saturday, and has already been dubbed a success by New York Times critics Nicolai Ouroussof and Roberta Smith -- the museum moved to head off a public relations headache yesterday, bowing to public pressure over a proposed admission fee hike, set to take effect May 23. Kind of. Instead of raising ticket prices to $18, admission goes up to $16 (it is currently $12). A museum spokesperson also said that the age that accompanied minors can get in free will be raised to 14, from 12. Chicago alderman Ed Burke had been leading a legislative crusade to reverse the hike.

"Like most universities, art museums, and learned societies, CAA has been significantly affected by the global economic downturn." So begins a communiqué from the College Art Association posted by Linda Downs on the CAA website, which goes on to announce budget-saving measures decided on by the organization’s board of directors at a meeting earlier this month. Most significantly, CAA is suspending three grant-making programs for 2009-10: the "Professional Development Fellowship Program" for graduate students; the "Millard Meiss Publication Fund" to support art-history manuscripts; and the "CAA Annual Exhibition" grant (the CAA promises that it plans an exhibition opposite its 2010 convention despite the loss of funds).

Other trims include: the annual College Art Association conference -- the academic art world’s premier get-together -- will be one day shorter, running Feb. 11-13, 2010, with all 120 planned sessions packed into the tighter schedule; the organization’s newsletter, CAA News, will become online-only, starting in July; and CAA publications The Art Bulletin and Art Journal will go sans color illustrations for 2009-10, with further cost-cutting measures left to the respective editors-in-chief, "with a strict attention to quality consistent with the identity and mission of the journals."

The Rhode Island School of Design, one of the country’s top art schools, sent an email to students and faculty on Wednesday, announcing a variety of measures to cope with its plunging endowment, which has lost some $125 million since peaking at $375 million at the end of 2007. Foremost among them is slashing about 20 full- and part-time staff, through layoffs and early retirements, to be implemented alongside a package of wage freezes and reductions in employee retirement-plan contributions. The school’s RISD Museum will also go dark for the entire month of August, a move director Hope Alswang told the Providence Journal was "the least bad option."

In a statement accompanying the notice, RISD president -- and super-designer -- John Maeda said, "We have had to make some difficult decisions, but I am fortunate to lead an organization with such clear guiding principles." Maeda, incidentally, is also active on Twitter (see, where he often shares aphoristic bits of wisdom. The day before the announcement, he offered the following: "When people ask if I've stopped designing I say, ‘No. I'm designing how to talk about/with/for our #RISD community.’"

Brooklyn artist Spencer Finch (b. 1962) has been commissioned to design a massive stained-glass "skyscape" for the new High Line park in Manhattan’s Chelsea art district. Dubbed The River That Flows Both Ways, Finch’s work is to be sited in a series of existing windows in a former loading dock in the Chelsea Market building between West 15th and 16th Streets. The work involves 700 individually crafted panes of glass representing the "water conditions" on the Hudson River over a period of 700 minutes in a single day. The work, which is jointly sponsored by Creative Time, Friends of the High Line and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, is due to be unveiled in June 2009. The work is one of two commissions funded in part by a $250,000 Rockefeller Foundation grant to Creative Time.

After two years of construction and renovation, the Metropolitan Museum of Art unveils its refurbished Charles Engelhard Court in its American wing on May 19, 2009. In addition to the Engelhard pavilion -- which holds approximately 60 monumental marble sculptures, stained glass and other architectural elements -- another dozen of the museum’s colonial interiors have been reordered and reinterpreted. The renovation completes the second phase of a larger, $100-million overhaul of the entire American wing, due to be completed in 2011. 

The Hermitage Amsterdam museum -- the first satellite branch of the Russian State Museum Hermitage in St. Petersberg -- opens to the public on June 20, 2009 with "At the Russian Court: Palace and Protocol in the 19th Century," an exhibition of more than 1,800 objects, including Fabergé jewelry, gala dresses and the last tsarina’s grand piano. The public opening follows considerable ceremony the night before, a gala that is expected to be attended by both Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands and Dimitry Medvedev, president of the Russian Federation. The new museum is housed in the 17th-century Amstelhof on Amsterdam’s Amstel River, a 96,000-square-foot space that has been renovated at the cost of nearly $50 million. For more info, see

The second annual Madison Avenue Gallery Walk, featuring 50 galleries, is set for May 16, 2009, 11 am-6 pm. Free guided tours, artist presentations and a silent auction are promised. Participants range from Adelson Galleries and Anita Friedman Fine Arts to Zabriskie Gallery and Zwirner & Wirth. For further info and a map, see

Los Angeles gets a new gallery tonight, May 14, 2009, as Country Club opens at 451 Fairfax Avenue, 6-9 pm, with "NewAgeRiot," an exhibition "seeking spaces that are both internal and transcendent." Artists included in the show are Kamrooz Aram, Beth Campbell, Bob Flanagan, Jack Goldstein, Jen Liu, Larry Mantello, Shana Moulton, Manuel Ocampo, Lisa Raskin and Sleep (Todd Pavlisko & Max Schubert). The gallery is the brainchild of Christian Strike, the man behind the Cincinnati-based Iconoclast Editions as well as the touring exhibition and book, "Beautiful Losers."

The U.S. arm of the International Association of Art Critics is presenting a panel at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York on May 23, 2009, titled "In Translation: How the Nomadic Lives of Contemporary Critics Affect Their Writings." Moderators are Artforum reviewer Marek Bartelik and ARTnews deputy editor Barbara A. MacAdam, and panelists include Brooklyn Rail publisher and editor Phong Bui, Art in America contributing editor Eleanor Heartney, former Village Voice critic Kim Levin, and freelance critics Lilly Wei and Linda Yablonsky. The panel is free -- it begins at 6:45 pm -- but reservations are required: contact

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