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Artnet News
June 24, 2008 

Elizabeth C. Baker
, editor of Art in America magazine since 1974, has resigned her post, effective immediately. Her successor is Marcia E. Vetrocq, a senior editor at the magazine. Some kind of change had been expected at A.i.A. since its purchase six months ago by collector Peter Brant, who put designer Fabien Baron and Glenn O’Brien in charge as co-editorial directors, overseeing Art in America along with its sister publications, Interview and the Magazine Antiques.

What the new direction might be remains to be seen, though presumably it’s younger, fresher, shorter and more global; a redesign of the magazine is promised by the November issue. And Baker won’t be leaving the A.i.A. masthead entirely. Her new title is editor at large in charge of special projects, a job that includes book publishing -- one possibility is thematic anthologies drawn from the magazine’s past content -- as well as advising on Art in America’s quiescent website. 

Is the Palm Beach International Art & Antique Fair -- in recent years known by the enthusiastic if nonspecific moniker "Palm Beach!" -- ready to return to its former glory? According to the Palm Beach Daily News, impresarios David and LeeAnn Lester are in the process of retaking control of the illustrious Palm Beach fair, which they founded in 1997. By 2001, Artnet Magazine decorative arts writer Brook S. Mason was comparing the fair to TEFAF Maastricht, and the Lesters cashed out, selling the operation to DMG World Media for a princely sum reported to be in the neighborhood of $18 million. But alas, the times have changed, and in the intervening years, according to most reports, the fair has been losing money, clout and exhibitors.

Initiatives floated for rejuvenating the fair include re-launching an opening night gala with the Norton Museum, doing concentrated marketing in Florida and New York, and creating a program of glamorous VIP events on the model of Art Basel Miami Beach. The new dates for the rechristened Palm Beach International Fine Art Fair are Feb. 3-9, 2009, at the Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach.

Meanwhile, the Lesters’ other high-profile endeavor, SeaFair -- the floating luxury yacht intended as a mobile fine-art fair, which debuted last year to a host of problems -- is currently docked in Jacksonville, Fla. According to a representative of ExpoShips, the Lester-led organization that runs the fair, SeaFair is to kick off a summer tour on July 7 in Jacksonville, doing 12 stops, before starting its fall program on Sept. 4 in Boston.

The Guggenheim Museum is finally shedding its temporary scaffolding -- up for almost three years now -- and unveiling the restored Frank Lloyd Wright landmark. On the occasion the museum is mounting four special exhibitions from its collection (all have opened already: selections from the holdings of Justin K. Thannhauser; "Vasily Kandinsky: Beginnings," a preface to the full-scale Kandinsky retrospective planned to open in late 2009; "Toward Abstraction: Works on Paper," 60 works by 25 artists spanning Cubism to Surrealism; and "New York in the 1940s," a selection of Surrealist-inspired work that complements the Gugg’s other big summer show, its Louise Bourgeois retrospective, June 27-Sept. 28, 2008.

The New Museum presents "Live Forever: Elizabeth Peyton," Oct. 8, 2008-Jan. 11, 2009, a survey of over 100 works by the contemporary romantic realist. Organized by New Museum senior curator Laura Hoptman, the show subsequently appears at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, the Whitechapel Art Museum in London and the Bonnefantenmuseum in Maastricht. The exhibition is sponsored by Banana Republic.

Gallery openings have long been their own type of theater, and now performance artist David Levine is making a point of it. On June 27, 2008, for the final show of the season at the lively Curators Without Borders gallery on Berlin’s celebrated Brunnenstrasse [see "Fountain of Youth," Jan. 11, 2007], Levine is presenting a gallery opening as a theatrical performance. Titled "Closing Opening," the show features art made by actors "in character" as artists, selected and installed by an actor "in character" as a curator -- Levine is a fan of "method acting" -- while the opening is attended by more than a dozen actors playing gallery-goers. Otherwise, the gallery is sealed, and members of the real audience watch from outside. For more info, see

Esthetic entrepreneur Malcolm McLaren, who founded the Sex Pistols in the 1970s and now serves as a director of Phillips, de Pury & Co., has teamed up with Creative Time to show his subtly provocative girlie video Shallow, a series of 21 "musical paintings" that set images of women from 1970s erotica to contemporary music, on the giant outdoor MTV video screen in Times Square, June 25-Aug. 14, 2008. For a detailed schedule and directions, see

Philippe Vergne, chief curator at the Walker Art Center and co-curator of the 2006 Whitney Biennial, has been named new director of the Dia Art Foundation, effective Sept. 15, 2008. A curator of considerable accomplishment, Vergne must master a director’s tasks at Dia, which include finding a New York exhibition space and the money to pay for it. The last curator to take on that job, Jeffrey Weiss, resigned after only nine months on the job. Stay tuned.

The New York Civil Liberties Union is holding a benefit art auction on June 25, 2008 -- tomorrow -- designed to raise funds to help the NYCLU  "continue to defend and promote the fundamental principles embodied in the Bill of Rights, the U.S. Constitution and the New York Constitution." Titled "Just Art ’08" and organized by NYCLU Young Professionals, the event takes place at the powerHouse Arena at 37 Main Street in DUMBO, Brooklyn, at 8 pm. The artwork up for auction is inspired by NYCLU case studies, and comes from Nick Atlas, Mary Button, Christine Goncharuk, Phillip Kim, Marlon Krieger, Jared Rodriguez and Emanuele Simonelli. In addition to the art, the evening includes appetizers, open bar and a DJ set by Au Revoir Simone. Tickets are $40 in advance, $50 at the door. More info at

Karol Lawson has been appointed interim director of the Sweet Briar College Art Gallery, in Sweet Briar, Va. Lawson formerly headed the Maier Museum of Art at Randolph College in nearby Lynchburg, where she resigned last year in protest when the college moved to sell off top works in its collection in the current overheated art market [see Artnet News, Oct. 11, 2007]. Her one-year appointment begins July 15.

The Indianapolis Museum of Art has announced a series of promotions, and one new hire. Joanne Cubbs, formerly curator of folk art at the High Museum in Atlanta, has been named adjunct curator of American art at the IMA. Ronda Kasl has been promoted from assistant curator to senior curator of painting and sculpture before 1800, while Lisa Freiman advances to senior curator of contemporary art, from associate curator.

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