Gallaudet University Prepares for Protests Over Suspended Chief Diversity Officer

WASHINGTON—The fight over the Gallaudet University employee, Angela McCaskill is set to reach a new level Thursday. WJLA reports that two pastors, both in favor of gay marriage, are planning to protest McCaskill’s suspension in a rally outside the university tomorrow.

McCaskill, the school’s Chief Diversity Officer, was put on leave earlier this month after her signature on a petition to put Maryland’s gay marriage law on a referendum came to light. The decision has been criticized by both pro- and anti-gay marriage groups, and McCaskill has hired bombastic Maryland attorney J. Wyndal Gordon, who goes by the nickname “The Warrior Lawyer.”

October 25, 2012

Duke University’s Nasher Museum Receives $5 Million

DURHAM—the Nasher Museum at Duke University has received five million dollars from Nancy A. Nasher and her husband David J. Haemisegger. One million dollars will be used to create a visiting curatorship. The museum will acquire modern and contemporary art with the remaining four million. Raymond D. Nasher, Nancy Nasher’s late father, was an alumnus of the school and the museum’s founder.

October 25, 2012

Tang Museum names Berry as new director

NEW YORK—Ian Berry has been named director of the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York. Berry, who currently serves as the museum’s curator and associate director, assumes the position Dec. 1. He is the museum’s third director.

He succeeds John Weber, who is leaving after eight years as the Tang’s director to become founding director of the Institute of the Arts and Sciences at the University of California at Santa Cruz. Berry joined Skidmore as the Tang’s founding curator in 2000 after serving as assistant curator at the Williams College Museum of Art in Williamstown, Massachusetts. He earned a master’s in curatorial studies at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson in 1998, and graduated in 1995 from the University at Albany with a bachelor’s in art history.
He will also serve as a liberal arts professor at Skidmore.

October 24, 2012

Proposition 30 In California Could Determine The Future Of Public Higher Education In The State

CALIFORNIA—The future of higher education in California may hinge on whether or not voters approve Proposition 30 on the November ballot, a measure that would increase taxes and prevent triggered cuts focused almost solely on public schools and universities. Depending on how voters decide, education in California could finally begin to see a restoration of funding, or at least the end of years of devastating budget cuts. When California passed its fiscal year 2013 budget, the numbers were predicated on the passing of Prop 30 on Nov. 6. A failure for the bill would trigger an array of cuts, mostly aimed at K-12 and higher education. If voters reject Prop 30, it is believed that the University of California will accelerate its course of privatization and spark further student protests that will make last year’s tumultuous demonstrations look mild.

Prop 30 would raise income taxes by 1 to 3 percent for the next seven years on individuals making more than $250,000 or couples filing joint returns of more than $500,000 per year, and it includes a quarter-cent sales tax increase for four years. The California Legislative Analyst’s Office, which provides nonpartisan analysis for the state Legislature, concluded Prop 30 would raise an average of approximately $6 billion annually through 2017. Close to 80 percent of the new revenue would come from the top 1 percent of earners in the state, according to the California Budget Project, making it a progressive tax fix overall. The bottom 80 percent of earners, whose incomes have declined in the past 25 years according to the CBP, would pay less than 10 percent of the new taxes.

When Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed the FY 2013 budget, it included an agreement with the University of California not to raise tuition, and the California State University system pledged that if Prop 30 passed, its students would receive a $498 tuition reimbursement. But Robert Meister, president of the Council of UC Faculty Associations, said its budget is dictated by that of the state. Because California’s budget was predicated by the passage of Prop 30 — or significant trigger cuts if it fails — Meister calls the arrangement a form of “budgetary terrorism” on higher education funding. Nevertheless, Meister said faculty have no choice but to support the measure, because there is no plan B to shore up university funding and the alternatives are much worse.

October 24, 2012

New wave of student protests announced all over Italy from tomorrow

ROME— New school and university student protests have been announced all over Italy for this Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. During the October 12 protests in Naples and Milan, students announced that they would take the streets again in a 3-day demonstration that was called on the Website under the slogan “liberate knowledge”. Demonstrations are to be held in the regions of Apulia, Campania, Latium, Tuscany, Liguria, Lombardy and Piedmont. “What we’ve been witnessing in the past twenty years – students of the Knoweledge Network explained – with cuts in resources, hikes in University fees and the introduction of a fee in secondary schools, the entrance of external students and the restrictions in the democratic process is nothing else but a privatisation”.

October 23, 2012

Chus Martínez Named Chief Curator at El Museo del Barrio

NEW YORK—Chus Martínez has been appointed as chief curator at El Museo del Barrio, New York. She will replace Deborah Cullen, who was director of curatorial programs and left in June to become director and chief curator of Columbia University’s Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery. Martínez has worked for Documenta for the past three years as head of the department of artistic production. Some of her prior positions include chief curator at MACBA, Barcelona, director of the Frankfurter Kunstverein (2005–2008), and curator of Cyprus‘s national pavilion at the fiftieth Venice Biennale in 2005. Margarita Aguilar, director of El Museo del Barrio, said, “Chus Martínez is an inspiring curator who will bring an innovative and exciting approach to our collections and exhibitions.”

October 19, 2012

Rahm Emanuel Unveils Sprawling Chicago Arts Plan

CHICAGO—After a year of meetings with thousands of art activists, the Chicago mayor released his highly anticipated and far-reaching cultural plan for Chicago. It includes 10 initiatives, 36 recommendations, and 200 specific ideas. Among other proposals, it suggests designating the arts as a “core subject” within Chicago public schools and naming a “chief creative officer” in every school. Emanuel also proposes a low-cost health insurance program for self-emplyed artists.

October 19, 2012

US Supreme Court ‘first sale’ case unintentionally risks making basic museum functions copyrights infringement

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a copyright case later this month that could have serious unintended consequences for the nation’s art museums. If a decision by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals is upheld, every museum in the U.S. that exhibits modern art created overseas could potentially be infringing copyright. “The most basic of museum functions—exhibiting art—could give rise to infringement claims,” said Stefan Mentzer, a partner with White & Case who filed an amicus brief [PDF] with the Supreme Court on behalf of the Association of Art Museum Directors and 28 museums of art. “The decision has the potential to disrupt the mission of American museums and interfere with the public’s access to art.”

On its face, the case before the High Court, Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, has nothing to do modern art. The case concerns Supap Kirtsaeng, who came to the U.S. from Thailand to study at Cornell University—and found that textbooks published in Asia by Wiley were cheaper than those available in the U.S. He got relatives to ship copies of the textbooks to him and made money selling them on eBay. Wiley sued Kirtsaeng for infringing its U.S. copyrights on the books’ domestic editions. Kirtsaeng’s defense was based on a provision of copyright law first recognized by the Supreme Court in 1908 called the “first-sale doctrine,” which allows people to sell used books without permission from the copyright owner. Wiley, however, argued that the first-sale doctrine does not apply to books or other copyrighted materials made overseas. The federal district court and the Second Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with Wiley, and Kirtsaeng appealed the case to the Supreme Court.

The first-sale doctrine not only gives the owner of a work the right to resell it, but also to display and lend it without obtaining permission from the copyright holder. Until the appeals court ruling, museums had long understood that this law applied to works produced both in the U.S. and overseas. “Under the Second Circuit’s reasoning, merely hanging a foreign-made painting on the walls of a museum, buying and importing a sculpture that was created outside the country, or loaning either to another institution for exhibition to the public, could give rise to claims of copyright infringement,” Mentzer wrote in the amicus brief.

The institutions represented in the brief include many of the nation’s most prominent museums, known for their collections of modern, postwar, and contemporary art. In addition to the Art Institute of Chicago, these include the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and New York City’s Museum of Modern Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and Whitney Museum of Art, among others. The brief lists dozens of well-known artists, including Alexander Calder, Salvador Dalí, Alberto Giacometti, Frida Kahlo, Yayoi Kusama, Rene Magritte, Joan Miró, and Diego Rivera, whose works originate outside the U.S. but are part of the museums’ collections.

October 17, 2012

Artist Michael Asher, Pioneer of Institutional Critique dies at 69

CALIFORNIA—On Sunday night the Los Angeles artist Michael Asher died in his sleep following a long illness. A tireless practitioner of institutional critique — for his Bucksbaum Award-winning contribution to the 2010 Whitney Biennial Asher proposed that the museum stay open 24 hours a day for an entire week, though the project was shortened to two days due to budgetary and staffing concerns — he had also taught at the California Institute of the Arts since the 1970s.

Similarly ambitious Asher projects included rebuilding ten years worth of temporary walls for his labyrinthine exhibition at the Santa Monica Museum of Art in 2008, an installation in a trailer that he kept moving around Münster for the duration of the city’s Skulptur Projekt 07, and a published record that he kept of every artwork ever deaccessioned by MoMA.

October 16, 2012

New Museum Hires Johanna Burton as Director and Curator of Education

NEW YORK—Earlier this summer, Eungie Joo announced she was stepping down as director and curator of education and public programs at the New Museum to become director of art and cultural programs at Inhotim, mining baron Bernardo Paz’s contemporary art Shangri-La in southeast Brazil. The New Museum has picked the curator and academic Johanna Burton to take her place. Ms. Burton currently serves as the director of the graduate program at the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College, the contemporary art proving ground in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y., a position she has held since 2010.

The new position marks a return to the New Museum for Ms. Burton, who co-curated an exhibition of Sherrie Levine’s work at the Whitney Museum last year and has written essays and edited books on artists like Cindy Sherman, Mel Bochner and Marilyn Minter. She previously served as a curatorial fellow at the museum in 2002, the year it announced plans to move from its Soho location to a new home on the Bowery. Before starting at Bard in 2010, she spent two years as associate director and senior faculty member at the Whitney Independent Study Program. Her stint at CCS Bard culminated with an ambitious group show, “Anti-Establishment,” that opened at CCS Bard’s Hessel Museum in June and runs through Dec. 21.

Ms. Burton’s role at the New Museum will be wide-ranging, encompassing the programming for the museum’s fifth-floor education space, its roster of educational programs, the events—from performances to panels—that take place regularly in its theater and its Museum as Hub program, which facilitates collaboration with other institutions around the world. Burton will remain a member of CCS Bard’s graduate committee and finish up curatorial and publishing projects already underway. In 2014, Los Angeles’s Hammer Museum will open an exhibition about institutional critique and appropriation that Ms. Burton is co-curating with the Hammer’s Anne Ellegood.

October 11, 2012

Art Institute of Chicago to issue $100 million in bonds to trim pension obligations

CHICAGO—The Art Institute of Chicago is selling about $100 million of taxable and tax-exempt bonds partly to shore up unfunded pension obligations.The institute plans to issue about $61 million of tax-exempt debt as soon as this week through the Illinois Finance Authority and $40 million of taxable bonds itself, according to offering documents. The securities mature from 2013 to 2040. The sales will be led by Morgan Stanley

With interest rates in the $3.7 trillion municipal bond market near their lowest level since the 1960s, “the current low-yield environment presents a very favorable opportunity for the institute to refinance its debt and to re-examine its capital structure,” Erin Hogan, director of public affairs at the museum, said in an e-mail. “We are hoping for strong demand for the bonds.”

The Art Institute is rated A1 by Moody’s Investors Service, its fifth-highest grade, in part reflecting the museum’s pension and retirement liabilities. The benefits totaled $64.5 million in the 2012 fiscal year, according to a Moody’s report.

Proceeds of the museum’s taxable bond sale will be used “without limitation” to pay for “accelerating funding to the institute’s unfunded pension-benefit obligations,” Ms. Hogan said. The retirement plan had enough assets to meet about 65% of obligations to employees as of June 30, 2011, up from 53% the year before, Bloomberg data show. The museum employed about 1,030 full-time and 573 part-time workers as of June 30, according to offering documents. All are non-union workers.

The Illinois Finance Authority, a so-called conduit issuer, last sold bonds on behalf of the art museum two years ago, Bloomberg data show. The debt maturing in 2040 was priced to yield 4.93% in May 2010.

October 10, 2012

Christo launches art award in Abu Dhabi

ABU DHABI—Christo Launches Namesake Award in Abu Dhabi: The environmental artist teamed up with NYU Abu Dhabi and the Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation to launch the Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award, which grants $5,000 to an artist currently in tertiary education to realize a project outside the confines of a gallery. “We hope this award will encourage and support a generation,” the 77-year-old Bulgarian-born artist said.

October 9, 2012

U.S. Bank pledges $125,000 to Saint Louis Art Museum

SAINT LOUIS—The Saint Louis Art Museum announced a $125,000, multiyear commitment from the Private Client Reserve of U.S. Bank to sponsor the museum’s leadership giving group, the Beaux Arts Council. The Beaux Arts Council, which was formed more 30 years ago, provides unrestricted annual support for the museum.

U.S. Bank has supported the Saint Louis Art Museum since 1980, and this is the bank’s largest contribution of annual support to the museum to date. The Private Client Reserve is a part of U.S. Bank’s Wealth Management Group that serves clients with $100,000 to more than $100 million in investable assets. U.S. Bank is one of the largest banks in the St. Louis area, based on $12.4 billion in local charter deposits as of June 30.

The Saint Louis Art Museum is one of the St. Louis area’s largest nonprofit organizations, with a fiscal 2011 operating budget of $28.3 million. The museum’s $162 million expansion is scheduled to open in June 2013.

October 9, 2012

Rothko Vandalized at Tate Modern

LONDON—A Rothko mural at the Tate Modern in London was vandalized on Sunday afternoon when a visitor applied what museum officials described as “a small area of black paint with a brush to the painting.’’ A photograph posted by a visitor, Tim Wright, on Twitter also shows the name Vladimir scrawled on the painting along with the phrase “a potential piece of yellowism.’’

Yellowism is an artistic movement led by Vladimir Umanets and Marcin Lodyga. Mr. Umanets told the BBC that he is responsible for defacing the painting, saying: “I am not a vandal. I haven’t done criminal damage.’’ Comparing himself with Marcel Duchamp, he added, “Art allows us to take what someone’s done and put a new message on it.’’

The 1958 mural “Black on Maroon’’ is one of a series of paintings originally commissioned for the Four Seasons Restaurant in the Seagram Building in New York. But Rothko, appalled by the restaurant’s clientele, changed his mind and refused to deliver the paintings. Instead he ended up giving nine of them to the Tate. The conservator Julia Nagle told BBC’s Radio 4 program on Monday that she has “every faith” that the painting can be restored.

October 8, 2012

San Francisco Museums’ 10-Month Battle Over Labor Conditions Comes to an End

SAN FRANCISCO—Electricians, security guards, custodians, graphic artists, office administrators, and retail staff at San Francisco’s Legion of Honor and M.H. de Young museums voted today to ratify a new contract with their employer, the Corporation of Fine Arts Museums (COFAM). The agreement signals a moment of elation and relief among museum visitors and outside observers after a 10-month dispute in which COFAM and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1021 traded accusations of stubbornness, obstructionism, and disregard for the museum’s fiscal sustainability.

Though both parties began well ahead of time to work to replace the contract that expired in October 2011, negotiations were described by both sides over subsequent months as stilted and drawn-out. Tensions reached a high point last May when San Francisco city supervisor Eric Mar — himself a former shop steward of the SEIU Local 790 — wrote an op-ed in the San Francisco Examiner strongly supporting the union, echoing veteran members’ complaints about wage freezes (particularly among future workers) and arguing that COFAM’s stipulation that workers make a contribution to their own health coverage was unfair. Though exact details of the negotiations have been kept out of the public record, management’s descriptions of their own offers have been swift and articulate throughout the process.

On the evening of September 7th, protesters gathered outside the entrance to the de Young in Golden Gate Park during the museum’s weekly event series, “Friday Nights at the de Young Museum.” Wearing purple hoodies and t-shirts to show their support (SEIU’s logo is the color of grape bubble gum), demonstrators held signs, sang “We Shall Overcome,” and chanted, “Who’s got the power? Union power!” Police were called after the protestors had fully barricaded the entrance, and CBS reported 19 people were arrested on suspicion of trespassing.

Two weeks later, COFAM released a statement announcing a “tentative accord” with the union under which 100 members would receive a 12 to 18 percent pay raise during the three years that their new contract is in effect. This would be in addition to a three percent pay increase upon signing the new contract and another three percent raise on January 1, 2013.

October 4, 2012

Student demands met at Cairo university

CAIRO— After weeks of demonstrations by angry students, classes are set to resume Wednesday October 2nd at the American University in Cairo, a spokesman said. Former Higher Education Minister Amr Salama said negotiations between the school administration and students have resulted in a smaller tuition increase, the Egypt Independent reported Tuesday.

Instead of a 7 percent hike, the administration has agreed to an increase of 2.3 percent. Six other student demands are also being met, Salama said. They include the abolition of a disciplinary board to punish students involved in the protests and the formation of a fact-finding committee to study actions by both the administration and students.

Salama said that students will also be able to participate in future discussions about the university’s budget. The school has some 6,500 students.

October 2, 2012

Chinese Government to Shut Down Ai Weiwei’s Firm

BEIJING— Chinese authorities plan to shut down Ai Weiwei’s production company, Beijing Fake Cultural Development, because it did not follow annual registration requirements. The company last week lost its final appeal against a $2.4 million tax evasion fine, which the artist announced he has no plans to pay. Ai’s lawyer, who announced the news in a blog post, said it is not clear when the closure will go into effect or how the news would affect the tax evasion fine.

October 2, 2012

Famed Political Geographer and Professor Neil Smith: 1954 – 29 September 2012

NEW YORK—Neil Smith (1954 – 29 September 2012) a renowned Scottish geographer and academic, passed this weekend on September 29th due to organ failure. He was a Distinguished Professor ofAnthropology and Geography at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

Smith was born in 1954 in Leith, Scotland. From 2008 to 2012 he held a twenty percent appointment as Sixth Century Professor of Geography and Social Theory at the University of Aberdeen. Dr Smith earned his B.Sc. degree from the University of St. Andrews, and his Ph.D. degree from Johns Hopkins University, where he studied under David Harvey. Formerly, he was the Robert Lincoln McNeil Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania, and taught at Columbia and Rutgers universities, where, in this last, he was Chair of the Geography Department (1991–94), and a senior fellow at the Center for the Critical Analysis of Contemporary Culture.

Smith’s research explored the broad intersections among space, nature, social theory, and history, including trenchant analysis of American Empire. In his major work of social theory (Smith 1984), he proposed that uneven spatial development is a function of the procedural logic of capital markets, thus, society and economies ‘produce’ space. Prof. Smith is credited with the convincing theories about the gentrification of the inner city as an economic process propelled by urban land prices and city land speculation — not a cultural preference for living in the city in his seminal article, “Toward a Theory of Gentrification: A Back to the City Movement by Capital, not People” (1979). A memorial will be held in New York City.

October 1, 2012

Gerrit Rietveld Academie
St. John\'s University
CCS Bard
St Moritz Art Academy