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Artnet News
July 8, 2009 

Everyone knows by now that the art world is hurting in the recession, with announcements of new layoffs and furloughs a now weekly occurrence. Yesterday, the National Endowment of the Arts announced a round of emergency funds designed to "support the preservation of jobs that are threatened by declines in philanthropic and other support during the current economic downturn," including a few grants dedicated to visual art. Most notable is the $4.8 million shared out to 29 different "Local Arts Agencies," a class of organization that is truly hurting as governors and mayors attempt to balance strained state budgets. If there is any logic to the distribution of these awards, however, it eludes casual observation.

The two biggest urban areas to benefit from "Local Arts Agency" grants are Los Angeles and Seattle. L.A. two separate $250,000 awards for two organizations, the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs and the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, while Seattle similarly snags $250,000 grants for both the City of Seattle and the Cultural Development Authority of King County. New York, meanwhile, is represented only by the Brooklyn Arts Council and the Flushing Council on Culture and the Arts, which get a relatively modest $50,000 each.

Elsewhere, the sprawling Texas art scene is represented by a lone $250,000 award for the city of El Paso (pop. 600,000). Austin (pop. 750,000), Dallas (pop. 1.2 million), San Antonio (pop. 1.3 million) and Houston (pop. 2.2 million) all go wanting for "Local Arts Agency" support. Could it be that no one worthy applied from these locales? Cross the border to Louisiana, however, and you have a veritable bonanza, with quarter-million-dollar awards for arts councils in New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Shreveport. Chicago does not get any boost for its arts council. San Francisco is represented only by a group called California Lawyers for the Arts, Inc., which gets $25,000.

Ah well -- the amounts are probably too puny to get worked up about anyway. One thing does make sense though: Americans for the Arts, the D.C. lobbying group which spearheaded the effort to save NEA funding for arts organizations, gets $50,000.

The museum world, wracked by donor defection and plunging endowments, also gets some emergency support from the NEA, a paltry $2.9 million shared between some 63 different U.S. museums. To put this in perspective, the recent budget cuts at just one museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, were designed to slash $10 million.

Still, the money is welcome, if nothing else than for the symbolism that art matters to the government. The museum grants are either $25,000 or $50,000 -- enough to keep one full-time job going until things pick up, perhaps. They go mainly to smaller institutions. Thus, in New York City, grantees are Amigos del Museo del Barrio, the International Center of Photography, the New-York Historical Society, the Queens Museum of Art and the Studio Museum in Harlem (all get $50,000), not goliaths like the Met, MoMA and the Guggenheim, despite the trouble at those institutions. Perhaps the giants were embarrassed to apply. (The Dia Center for the Arts is also listed as a New York City institution, though everyone knows that its collections are in Beacon, N.Y.)

The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles -- which touched off the spate of "museums in crisis" stories last year when revelations about its poor budget management came to light -- adds another $50,000 to its much-touted fundraising comeback. The only other L.A. "Museum" grant was $50,000 to the Regents of the University of California at Los Angeles, money that can presumably expect to find its way to the Hammer Museum. Chicago’s Spertus College, which last week announced elimination of almost all support for its in-house museum -- it’s to be open only every-other Sunday museum from now on -- also received $50,000.

Other well-known names on the list to get emergency funding are the Cleveland Museum of Art, Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art -- notable in that all three are actually embarked on expansions of one sort or the other.

The Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Mass., gets $50,000, as does Artrain, Inc., the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based company that sends a roving train car full of art to towns across the U.S. -- it recently announced plans to tour a show featuring images of America, curated by Eric Fischl, in 2010 -- which gets $25,000.

Finally, an additional $1.7 million was shared between 41 smaller visual arts organizations as part of the NEA art stimulus. In New York, these include $25,000-$50,000 grants for well-liked institutions like Art in General, Brooklyn Information & Culture, Smack Mellon Studios, Socrates Sculpture Park and Wave Hill, as well as players like the College Art Association of America, Creative Time and New York Foundation for the Arts.

Are you interested in organizing an exhibition of British art for the Whitechapel Gallery in London? The British Council has issued an open call for a "fifth curator" for a series of five exhibitions to be organized from its collection of 8,500 British artworks from the 20th and 21st centuries. The show, the final in the series, is scheduled at Whitechapel, Mar. 27-June 6, 2010.

Who are the curators? The first exhibition, "Passports -- Great Early Buys from the British Council Collection," organized by Michael Craig-Martin, has just closed; future shows are to be organized by White Cube gallery director Tim Marlow, painter Paula Rego and the artist team of Jeremy Deller and Alan Kane.

Curatorial candidates for the "fifth curator" job must be permanently based outside the U.K., not working in a regular curatorial position, and able to speak and write in English. Applicants are invited to research the collection via the British Council website and download an application. The deadline for proposals is Sept. 4, 2009.

The New York art scene is now deep into summer. Many galleries are closed on weekends, and some may even be looking forward to closing for all of August. But art exhibitions have their own imperative. It’s as if summer group shows are a natural force that cannot be denied. Herewith, a third installment of our list of summer group shows:

* "Suddenly This Summer," July 7-Aug. 7, 2009, at Sikkema Jenkins, features video works by two different artists every week, beginning with Megan McLarney and Manu Arregui, July 7-10, 2009.

* "Wodermare," July 8-Aug. 8, 2009, at Apex Art, 291 Church Street, curated by Susan McIntosh and Albert Wilking, and featuring  work inspired by Alice in Wonderland.

* "On the Pleasure of Hating," July 9-Aug. 23, 2009, at Lisa Cooley, presenting works by six artists, selected by David Hunt, around the notion, articulated by William Hazlitt in 1982, that "hatred alone is immortal." 

* "Character Generator," July 9-Aug. 14, 2009, at Eleven Rivington, with nine artists using "text-based approaches" in a show organized by Kitchen curator Matthew Lyons.

* "Soften Your Eyes: Art and Meditation," July 9-Aug. 7, 2009, at M.Y. Art Prospect, a show of seven artists whose work "aims at deeper self-awareness."

* "While We Were Away," July 9-Aug. 28, 2009, at Sragow Gallery, featuring works by Robert Motherwell, Howardena Pindell and six other artists that reflect the influence of travel.

"X: 10th Anniversary Exhibition," July 9-Aug. 14, 2009, at Mixed Greens Gallery, celebrating a decade of shows at the Paige West-founded gallery, with works by some 84 artists associated with the cool space, like Andy Diaz Hope, Linda Ganjian, Ryan McGinness, Soner Ön, Don Porcella, Alyson Shotz and Dirk Westphal.

* "Superfine," July 9-Aug. 7, 2009, at Morgan Lehman Gallery, with drawings, paintings and mixed media works by 15 artists who specialize in "minute details, controlled line and meticulous repetition."

* "Don’t Panic! I’m Selling My Collection," July 9-Aug. 15, 2009, at Rental Gallery, 120 East Broadway, works supposedly drawn from "the private collections of a number of leading art collectors," ranging from Nobuyoshi Araki and Hope Atherton to Andy Warhol and John Wesley.

* "It’s a Scho Ro Summer!" July 9-31, 2009, at Schroeder Romero, a group exhibition of featuring works by gallery artists who are exhibiting in galleries and museums around the world this summer.

* "Passion: Lesbian Visions 2009," July 10-25, 2009, at the Leslie-Lohman Gallery, a show organized by Heidi Russell and featuring works by almost 50 artists as part of Manhattan’s 2009 "Fresh Fruit Festival."

* "Stars!," July 23-Aug. 28, 2009, at Salon 94 Freeman’s, with works by Carter, Katy Grannan, Marilyn Minter, Jack Pierson and nine other artists exploring the notion of stardom as an escape from the self.

And one more in Brooklyn: C.R.E.A.M. Projects at 99 Franklin Street in Greenpoint opens "Rubber Sheets," a group show guest-curated by Nicholas Knight on Aug. 1, with works by nine artists, including Orly Cogan and Nina Katchadourian.

While contemporary art lovers in the Hamptons flood to ArtHamptons, July 10-12, 2009, in Bridgehampton, fans of fine antiques are focused on the 2009 East Hampton Antiques Show, July 11-12, 2009, presenting wares from approximately 60 dealers at the historic Mulford Farm on James Lane in East Hampton. The preview party on July 10 benefits the East Hampton Historical Society. Honorary chair of the event is Ina Garten, the Food Network’s "barefoot contessa"; the show’s corporate sponsors are the Bayberry, Brown Harris Stevens, Channing Daughters and House Beautiful. General admission is $10.

The Vered Gallery in East Hampton is conducting a summer auction, with 100 percent of the proceeds from designated lots benefiting the Teen Trauma Victims of Sderot, Israel. The sale, which launched on July 3 and closes on July 12, features works by a host of well-known artists, from Milton Avery, Ross Bleckner and Oscar Bluemner to Esteban Vincente, Andy Warhol and Tom Wesselmann. The auction takes place online at 

Photographer Steven Klein is hosting this summer’s gala benefit for the AIDS Community Research Initiative of America (ACRIA) at his Bridgehampton home on Saturday, July 18, 2009. The 16th Annual Cocktails at Sunset Party, as it is dubbed, includes a silent auction of works by Jeff Koons, Mary Heilmann, Julian Schnabel and others, and is sponsored by the Calvin Klein Collection and Vanity Fair, along with other donors. Tickets are $2,000, $500 and $250, and can be purchased at

On the weekend of July 18, 2009, art lovers can tour the Hamptons art scene as part of a benefit for Art in General, the veteran Manhattan nonprofit art space. The itinerary includes cocktails at Silas Marder Gallery in Bridgehampton on July 18, and brunch at Calder Foundation advisor Stanley Cohen's Watermill home and a tour of Jerome and Ellen Stern’s private museum in Westhampton Beach on July 19. Also on the schedule is a preview of works by Guy Benfield, Shana Moulton and Rancourt/Yatsuk, winners in Art in General’s 2009 "new commissions" program. The entire package is $350; for more info, contact Kara Meyer at

Add another stop to your Hamptons gallery rounds. Freelance curator Tripoli Patterson has opened the Tripoli Gallery of Contemporary Art at 30a Job’s Lane, across from the Parrish Art Museum in Southampton, N.Y. The new space opens with "The Mysterious Bajura," an exhibition of paintings by Felix Bonilla Gerena, July 11-28, 2009. Coming up is an exhibition of Lola Montes Schnabel, whose intricate portraits of international personalities goes on view on Aug. 1. Rounding out the summer is a group exhibition of works by Lisa de Kooning, Herbie Fletcher and Jake U. Patterson. For more info, see

So long, Driehaus artists grants. The Chicago-based art website, Newcity Art reports that the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation has made the decision to discontinue its annual round of awards to individual artists. The grants, usually given out to three Chicago artists, were valued at $15,000 each, and were unrestricted. Past recipients have included Paola Cabal, Nick Cave, Julia Fish, Gaylen Gerber, Jason Lazarus, Judy Ledgerwood, Inigo Manglano-Ovalle, Philip von Zweck and Anne Wilson. Instead of giving to individuals, Newcity Art reports that Driehaus will now donate money to Chicago’s Arts Work Fund, which will distribute the money to nonprofits.

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