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Artnet News
Sept. 3, 2009 

Call it serendipity. The exhibition "Georgia O’Keeffe: Abstraction," opens at the Whitney Museum of American Art on Sept. 17, 2009, and two days later, Joan Allen’s made-for-TV biopic of O’Keeffe premieres on the Lifetime cable television network. Bob Balaban directs, Allen plays the title role and Jeremy Irons is cast as O’Keeffe mentor, lover and husband Alfred Stieglitz -- O’Keeffe buffs are wondering how the talented British actor will negotiate the accent of the German-American photographer and art dealer who ended up being a quite determined supporter of American moderns. Other players are Tyne Daly as Mabel Dodge Stern plus a batch of New Mexico actors in supporting roles: Jenny Gabrielle as Dorothy Norman, Chad Brummett as Marsden Hartley, Steve Corono as John Marin and Charlie J. Jankiewicz as Paul Strand. The film’s marketing tagline is "her life was a work of art."

One major source for the screenplay -- the film concentrates on the roughly 20 years that O’Keeffe and Stieglitz were together -- is thought to have been Artnet Magazine correspondent Hunter Drohojowska-Philp’s Full Bloom: The Art and Life of Georgia O’Keeffe, published by W.W. Norton in 2004. Sadly for our scribe, nonfiction material is generally considered fair game for Hollywood adaptation, however much original research and writing is involved, so no payments to her were forthcoming. Not so the O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, which received an undisclosed sum for its cooperation with the production. The film was shot on location at O’Keeffe’s Ghost Ranch as well as her house and studio in Albiquiu, and used reproductions of O’Keeffe’s works rather than the original pictures. O’Keeffe Museum curator Barbara Buhler Lynes, who also worked on the Whitney exhibition, served as historical consultant.

The film had its theatrical premiere in Santa Fe on Aug. 28, and received good notices from the local press. Some snark has emerged from behind the scenes, however: one O’Keeffe painting is said to be hung upside down; Allen is reputedly dressed in Little House on the Prairie style rather than in the androgynous, proto-feminist costumes that O’Keeffe actually preferred; and the colors in the landscape scenes, perhaps inspired by O’Keeffe’s paintings, have been kicked up to a near-psychedelic key. For a momentary trailer -- following an annoying advert for Vlasic pickles -- click here

Back in the 1980s, the New York artist Richard Hambleton shared the "graffiti art" spotlight with Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring. Hambleton was especially celebrated for his "Shadow Men," expressionistic splashes of black paint in the shape of ominous figures, done life-size in alleys, corners and anywhere else a real-life mugger might lurk.

Now, more than a quarter-century later, Hambleton is having something of a revival, via a "retrospective" exhibition of about 35 works, a show produced in collaboration with Giorgio Armani as part of New York’s fall Fashion Week celebrations. The show takes place at a "pop-up" gallery at 560 Washington Street, Sept. 15-Oct. 2, 2009, and is organized by producer Vladimir Restoin-Roitfeld (son of Vogue France editor Carine Roitfeld) and Andy Valmorbida, a collector and private art dealer whose office is at 71st Street and Madison Avenue. Both men are working with Woodward Gallery, which represents Hambleton and gave him a solo show at its Eldridge Street space in 2007.

"Giorgio fell in love with the work," Valmorbida told Artnet News. "The exhibition isn’t the kind of typical event you see during Fashion Week -- it should stand out among other brands and give Armani an edge." According to Valmorbida, the works in the survey are largely drawn from private collectors. Hambleton himself, Valmorbida says, has contributed only three works to the show. The exhibition at Woodward Gallery in 2007 sold out at prices as high as $45,000; works in the new show are priced at $25,000-$100,000.

The Dallas art scene suffered a blow this week, with the Contemporary Art Dealers of Dallas "regretfully" announcing the end of its nonprofit space, the CADD Art Lab. The dealers’ group opened Art Lab last year in downtown Dallas, and reports that in one year it had "almost 7,000 visitors, opened six exhibitions, and hosted numerous education programs." The Lab’s most recent show "Launch," July 16-Sept. 3, 2009, featured MFAs from the Dallas, Fort Worth and Denton areas.

At the recent India Art Summit in New Delhi, the art fair’s co-sponsor Rajshree Pathy was passing out somewhat enigmatic business cards, simply stating the word "Contemplate," with her own name listed as "chairperson." Pathy is well-known in India as CEO of Rajshree Sugars and Chemicals, a conglomerate based in the city of Coimbatore, and also as an art collector. According to the Business Standard, now she is also getting into the art education biz.

"We have IT, engineering and medical colleges, but how many art institutes do we have?" Pathy recently told The Hindu. Contemplate, is turns out, is the name of an umbrella organization Pathy has created, with an eye to launching a Coimbatore College of Contemporary Art (COCCA) and COCCA Museum, in an old textile mill that she owns in Coimbatore. "Art has become big business in India, and there are now any number of openings for people with a certificate course in art to get absorbed in different institutions," she said during a talk at the Art Summit, according to the Standard. COCCA plans to offer courses in art business, curatorial practice, art theory and design, with "a faculty built of international and Indian artists and academics."

The museum would feature Pathy’s own collection of Indian masters, as well as foreign artists. Plans are to open the whole complex in January 2011.

In Las Vegas’ recession-blighted Arts District, which has seen galleries close or decamp of late, Brett Sperry is not just opening a new gallery, but actually building an entire new space from the ground up. According to the Las Vegas Sun, the new Brett Wesley Gallery has been totally designed by Sperry "complete with a cantilevered front, floating glass facade, fancy pillars, a photography studio and 1,400 square feet of gallery space."

Sperry can do it. He was one of the founders of Vegas-based Westwood Studios, a videogame developer that created the mega-bestselling Command and Conquer franchise. Apparently, he also has a substantial interest in art, photography and architecture, which led him to design his own art and photo gallery. Also, according to the Sun, since the property crash in Vegas, Sperry bought into a 19th-floor penthouse condo in a tower overlooking the Art District, where he has been holding art exhibitions.

"There is definitely a commercial component, but also philanthropic," Sperry told the Sun. "We’re always waiting for somebody else to do something. It’s a great city. There is a lot going on here. But how will the city evolve its cultural offerings if someone who has seen success here doesn’t contribute?"

Brett Wesley Gallery promises a "more populist" touch than other area art galleries. It debuts Sept. 10 with "The Power of Seduction," featuring 1965 photographs of Marilyn Monroe by Lawrence Schilling; "Iron Curtain," a show of "brooding and sexy" Cold War imagery from painter Kevin Chupik; and "Special Delivery," bronze sculpture by Gerard Basil Stripling. More info at

The video website Babelgum, a YouTube competitor, has launched three new cash prizes for video artists, two for $5,000 and one for $20,000 with a jury that boasts movie star Isabella Rossellini as its chairwoman. Winners also get their vids screened on jumbo monitors in Times Square in New York City. The deadline for submissions is Oct. 18, 2009. Details are available at

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