GETTING THE PARTY STARTED AT P.S.1
P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center in Long Island City kicks off its ever-popular summer "Warm Up" Saturday festivities this weekend, July 4, 2009, with music and more in the courtyard. Inaugurating the series of performances, which take place all summer long, is a live set by Reagenz featuring Jonah Sharp (Space Continuum) and Move D, and a DJ set by Daniel Bell (DBX). For updates on future shows, see http://twitter.com/PS1WarmUp. The party runs from 2-9 pm; admission is $10.
Providing shelter for the partying, as well its own peculiar ambiance, is a soaring yurt-like structure designed by the architectural firm MOS (architects Hilary Sample and Michael Meredith), titled Afterparty. The unusual design begins with a series of catenary arches of aluminum piping, covered on the inside with open-weave aluminum fabric and on the outside with Indonesian palm-fiber thatch. The design is an architectural encapsulation of late and early modernism, said the architects, with "primitivism" on the inside and "arte povera" on the exterior. "It’s Romanesque Bedouin," said Meredith. "Or Bauhaus Metal Party." The structure has open oculuses at the top of its several "chimneys," which act to circulate air -- and which are also rigged to emit a light spray of water.
NEW GALLERIES AT THE GRASSROOTS
After Artnet News listed some of the galleries in Chelsea and elsewhere that have closed in the last year or two, the critic and curator David Gibson (who runs the blog Article Projects) sent in his own, more Pollyannaish list of galleries that have actually opened in the last year. It adds up, Gibson says, to "a grassroots emergence of new spaces, mostly run by artists."
Among the 20 or so spaces are the now well-known X-Initiative on West 22nd Street in Chelsea, Bill Powers’ Half Gallery on Forsyth Street on the Lower East Side, Kumukumu Gallery at 42 Rivington Street and Mountain Fold on the 18th floor of 55 Fifth Avenue at 12th Street.
Last but not least is Art Connects New York, a Manhattan-based group that organizes collections of donated art for New York City social services and nonprofit organizations.
"SHOCK" IN CLEVELAND OVER RUB’S DEPARTURE
Philadelphia’s newspapers were cooing about the Monday announcement that Cleveland Museum of Art director Timothy Rub had been selected as new head of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, with board chairman H.F. "Gerry" Lenfest making the rounds to tout Rub's "scholarship, connoisseurship and excellent management and fundraising skills." One city’s gain is another’s loss, however, and a different angle on the story could be found over at the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, where critic Steven Litt described Clevelanders as "shocked and disappointed" by the news. "I've had better days than this," CMA trustee Mark Schwartz told Litt. "This is sad."
Indeed, Rub’s decision to decamp for Philly seems to have been negotiated in relative secrecy, and come as something of a shock to his supporters in Cleveland. Rub had only been serving at the Cleveland Museum since 2006, and as Litt points out, his "three-year tenure is the shortest in the museum's history." "It was a total surprise," board of trustees head Alfred Rankin Jr. told the Plain-Dealer. "Surprise is probably an understatement."
During his short time at the CMA, Rub helped launch an enormous, three-part, $350-million expansion of the museum, masterminded by Rafael Viñoly. To add insult to injury, the announcement of Rub’s departure came hard on the heels of the debut of the first part of that initiative, the CMA’s new East Wing, on Saturday. Apparently, both the CMA and the PMA held off on releasing word of Rub’s decision -- a whole two days! -- to avoid directly clashing with the celebrations. The announcement was also delayed until after the weekend because of the opening of an exhibition dedicated to former CMA director Sherman Lee, June 27-Aug. 23, 2009. The press release for that show lauds "Dr. Lee’s tenure of more than three decades as a curator and director of the CMA."
Rub continues to serve in Cleveland through September. For his part, he insists that the decision was made based mainly on his love of modernism, a category in which the Philadelphia Museum excels. Or, as someone called punkwahoo summed things up on the Plain-Dealer website, with all the wit customary of newspaper comment boards, "Philly gave him a better rub."
FLETCHER DOES JULY 4TH FLOAT
The Aspen Art Museum has commissioned the services of Portland artist Harrell Fletcher for its annual artist-designed contribution to the Colorado resort town’s "Old-Fashioned Fourth of July Celebration and Parade." Fletcher is perhaps best-known for his online collaboration with Miranda July, Learning to Love You More, but he has also done pieces critical of nationalism, such as his 2005 project The American War, a travelling photographic recreation of Vietnam’s War Remnants Museum. So it’s no surprise that his new project will, as the museum says, "engage with the notion of the parade itself and our expectations of the function and purpose of floats." Fletcher’s bicycle-powered entry is inspired by an ad for services found on a local bulletin board, and promises to be a "monumental tribute to a local person not typically celebrated in a parade."
SQUABBLE GREETS JEREMY DELLER PARADE PLANS
Turner Prize winner Jeremy Deller, who recently toured an exhibition across the U.S. that encouraged visitors to talk about Iraq [see "Weekend Update," Mar. 20, 2009], caused a bit of a stir with his latest art proposal. Deller wanted to include a contingent of smokers in one of his trademark "processions," which kicks off the Manchester International Festival, July 2-19, 2009. According to the Manchester Evening News, the city fathers are not amused.
"Unbelievably irresponsible," said one, who seemed to think the event would promote smoking to children. David Hockney, a smoker himself, is also said to have gotten involved, providing a drawing of an ashtray to be carried in the procession. The parade, which also includes mill workers, rose queens, fans of the Happy Mondays rock group and a musical tribute to the town’s first fish-and-chips shop, is scheduled to take place July 5, 2009, and last one hour.
"POP LIFE" AT THE TATE
What has Jack Bankowsky been doing since he left his post as editor of Artforum magazine back in 2004 (besides serving as the mag’s editor-at-large, of course)? He’s been assembling "Pop Life: Art in a Material World," which appears at Tate Modern, Oct. 1, 2009-Jan. 17, 2010. The show approaches artists from Andy Warhol to Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst, and focuses specifically on their cultivation of their public personas, conjuring up "a dazzling mix of media, commerce and glamour to build their own brands." Other artists in the show include Richard Prince, Martin Kippenberger, Takashi Murakami and the yBas. "I’m interested in the social context," Bankowsky said, noting that the exhibition includes a recreation of Keith Haring’s now-defunct Pop Shop. The show also includes a recreation of Hirst’s 1992 performance, in which identical twins sit beneath two identical spot paintings. Twins can contact the museum to volunteer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
BIG BUCKS AT L.A. MOCA
After flirting with fiscal disaster last year [see "Meltdown at MOCA," Nov. 20, 2008], the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art has come back gangbusters. The museum recently announced that it had raised nearly $57 million in the past six months -- a sum that includes $16.4 million from the museum’s trustees, along with the $30 million pledged by Los Angeles supercollector Eli Broad. The turnaround, Broad said, demonstrates MOCA’s "importance to the local, national and worldwide arts community."
ART FUNDING SAVED IN CORPUS CHRISTI
A small victory against the rising tide of cuts in state arts funding came on Tuesday in Corpus Christi, Tex., where public pressure caused city officials to rethink a proposed $433,000 cut in support to institutions like the Art Museum of South Texas, Texas State Museum of Asian Cultures and Art Center of Corpus Christi. The announcement of the U-turn "brought a standing ovation from more than 100 people wearing stickers and holding signs advocating for the arts who had packed the City Council Chambers, planning to lobby for funding," according to the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. Area arts funding normally comes from hotel taxes, which have taken a huge hit during the recession, but the city found the money by raiding the general budget, postponing an election scheduled to amend the city charter and cutting funds for temporary workers allotted to the city’s "development services" office. A committee was formed to develop more long-term solutions to the budget crisis.