GEMINI G.E.L. IN OBAMA FUNDRAISER
Wondering how the art world is going to vote in the 2008 presidential election? Well, here are 13 artists who seem likely to go Democratic: John Baldessari, Jonathan Borofsky, Frank Gehry, Ann Hamilton, Jasper Johns, Ellsworth Kelly, Brice Marden, Julie Mehretu, Ken Price, Susan Rothenberg, Ed Ruscha, Richard Serra and Richard Tuttle. All of these blue chip stars have created new limited-edition prints to support the presidential campaign of Barack Obama and the Democratic National Committee.
The portfolio of artworks was assembled by Sidney Felson and Stanley Grinstein, the principals in L.A.’s Gemini G.E.L. They reached out to the artists, though the fundraiser is run through the Obama campaign, which is giving away the portfolio in exchange for a donation of $20,000. "We asked the artists we dealt with," Grimstein said. "We actually got too many responses -- we only wanted 10. But we didn’t want to turn anyone away." The contributions range from characteristic images like Kelly’s Blue Gray Red Green, a composition of the four title colors, to marginally more specific works like Borofsky’s screenprint, Human Structures and the Light of Consciousness for Obama, an undulating field composed of abstract figures holding hands.
Gemini has done similar fundraisers twice before, the first in 1996 to support Harvey Gantt against Jesse Helms, and again in 2004 for John Kerry. In each case, the fundraiser raised more than $1 million. Grinstein estimated that about a third of the portfolios, produced in an edition of 150, had been sold since they debuted last week, and that they would probably sell out. For more info, see www.geminigel.com
WEBSITE TAKES ON PAULSON’S "SHITPILE" PLAN
Looking for a little guerilla commentary on the $700-billion Wall Street bailout currently passing through the Congress? With polls showing most Americans to be suspicious or downright hostile to treasury secretary Henry Paulson’s plan to buy up banks’ bad investments to stabilize the financial system -- an idea that New York Times columnist Paul Krugman dubbed "cash for trash" -- one website getting a lot of play is "Buy My ShitPile, Henry!" "We figured that instead of protesting this plan, we’d give regular Americans the same opportunity to sell their bad assets to the government," the anonymous creators of the site explain, allowing visitors to submit images of "bad assets" they would like the government to take off their hands. Users are encouraged to claim whatever value for these assets that they would like to get, á la Wall Street.
The response has been overwhelming, according to the site’s creator, with the project taking on a life of its own. Postings range from a 1994 white Honda Accord valued at $44,000 and a "half eaten pink cake" priced at $98,850, to more pointed contributions, such as the one tagged "Paulson’s severance package from Goldman Sachs" -- referring to the treasury secretary’s former position as head of one of the banks now lining up for taxpayer assistance -- listed at $39,000,000, or a single U.S. dollar, on offer for just 1¢.
"I am not an artist and the people who helped me build the site aren’t artists," writes the site’s creator (who has opted for anonymity due to "work constraints"), "but after watching the pile grow the last few days and reading many, but not all, of the submissions I am starting to see it as a piece of art." Among those forwarding the link is the Brooklyn art collective The Change You Want To See, which announced that the project was "inspiration" for its participation in a Thursday demonstration against the Paulson plan at Battery Park, called by unions and activist groups. Participants in that action are bringing their actual garbage to Wall Street as a symbolic statement.
CHINESE WARRIORS BREAK RECORDS IN ATLANTA
The High Museum in Atlanta seems to be on a bit of a roll in terms of attracting international attention. Fresh off its "Louvre Atlanta" series of exhibitions in exclusive partnership with the Musée du Louvre in Paris, the High becomes the only U.S. stop for "The First Emperor: China’s Terracotta Army," Nov. 16, 2008-Apr. 19, 2009, a show that previously appeared at the British Museum in London. The exhibition is billed as the largest group of objects loaned abroad from the Museum of the Terracotta Army and the Cultural Relics Bureau in Xi’an, China, with 120 objects associated with the famous sculptural army created during the reign of Qin Shihuangdi, the first emperor of China’s Qin Dynasty. Included are a dozen of the iconic terracotta warriors.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the High has received 37,000 advance reservations for the show, which, according to the museum, is three times the advance interest it received for the first part of "Louvre Atlanta."
NEW ARTS BLOG AT L.A. TIMES
They call it Culture Monster, All the Arts, All the Time, and it’s the new arts blog from the Los Angeles Times. The blog is off to a good start, with a report by ace critic Christopher Knight on "that big boxy thing being built in the parking lot next to the L.A. Third Church" -- Mark Bradford’s homemade ark, a sculpture for Prospect.1 New Orleans (complete with pictures) -- and the news that Richard Koshalek, 67, the former director of the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, is out as president of Art Center College of Design after student protests over tuition hikes and other issues. Culture Monster also aggregates news from elsewhere, noting Bloomberg’s report on Damian Hirst’s plan to open a shop next door to Sotheby’s in London, for instance.
NEW PROJECTS FOR MOORE SPACE TEAM
Miami’s own alternative art gallery, the Moore Space, closed its doors at the end of the summer, but its principals are definitely staying busy. Founded by Miami art collector Rosa de la Cruz in 2001 in leftover warehouse space in a building in Miami’s nascent "Design District" donated by developer and art patron Craig Robins, the Moore Space has hosted a variety of group exhibitions, as well as festivities keyed to Art Basel Miami Beach every December, under the able directorship of Silvia Cubiña. So able, in fact, that Cubiña, 43, has been hired as the executive director of Miami’s Bass Museum of Art, the 45-year-old institution now housed in the Art Deco Miami Beach Public Library and Art Center. And de la Cruz is not done with the art-exhibition business, either. According to insiders, she is preparing her own museum-quality exhibition space, not unlike those of her fellow Miami art lovers Martin Margulies and the Don and Mera Rubell family, though the de la Cruz facility is to be housed in a new structure in Miami’s Design District. Further details are still to be released, but the space isn’t expected to open until 2009. And finally, Robins too is working on a museum for his collection.
BRITISH GRAFFITI HITS NEW YORK
Thirty-five years after Artists Space opened the New York art world’s first show of graffiti art, and 25 years after Fun Gallery in the East Village made Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat and other graffiti writers the core of its exhibition program, New York City is being invaded by the new stencil-based British brand of graffiti art, made famous by artist Banksy and Bristol art dealer Steve Lazarides. An early visitor to the "pop-up" Lazarides Gallery space due to open "The Outsiders," a group show of gallery artists (excluding Banksy), at Bowery and Houston Street tonight, Sept. 25, 2008, found a crew busy at work getting the space ready. In the meantime, stencil graffiti had bloomed on spare walls in the immediate neighborhood, including a painting of Barak Obama as Superman and a portrait of actor Leonard Nimoy crossed with Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe -- placed right next to the restored Keith Haring mural on the same intersection. Lazarides told the New York Sun that he knew nothing about the street graffiti, but that he welcomed it in spirit.
CONFERENCE ON ARTISTS BOOKS IN NYC
This year the New York Art Book Fair -- the two-year-old art fair sponsored by Printed Matter -- is teaming up with the Art Libraries Society of New York (ARLIS/NY) to present a conference on book art, Oct. 23-26, 2008. Dubbed the Contemporary Artists’ Books Conference, the event features participation from Dexter Sinister, Joseph Grigely, Matt Keegan, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Rirkrit Tiravanija and Buzz Spector, to name a few, and is set to take place at venues including the Brooklyn Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, the New York Public Library and at the Book Fair itself, which this year goes down at Phillips, de Pury & Co.’s 450 West 15th Street location. Look for more information on the conference, see www.arlisny.org/cabc
CURRY STONE PRIZE TO MMA ARCHITECTS
South Africa-based MMA Architects has taken the inaugural $100,000 Curry Stone Design Prize. The prize, bankrolled by a foundation set up by architect Cliff Curry and archeologist Delight Stone, is dedicated to rewarding "breakthrough design solutions with the power and potential to improve our lives and the world we live in." MMA Architects was cited for its design for low-cost, eco-friendly shantytown homes outside Cape Town. Other nominees for the inaugural prize were inventor Shawn Frayne, architect Wes Janz, artist and architect Marjetica Potrc, and architect Antonio Scarponi. Winners are selected by an anonymous committee. The prize’s website is www.currystonedesignprize.com
L&M FOR LOS ANGELES
Plans are proceeding apace for a Los Angeles branch of L&M Arts, the New York powerhouse gallery operated by Robert Mnuchin and Dominique Lévy. Located on Venice Boulevard around the corner from the Abbott Kinney shopping and tourist district, the gallery is renovating an existing building and adding a new two-floor structure. The architect is Kulapat Yantrasast of the wHY Architecture firm. Dealer Sarah Watson, who most recently worked for Gagosian Gallery in Los Angeles, is overseeing the operation, which plans a broad-based program of historical and contemporary art shows. The gallery should open its doors in about a year.