August 4, 2017

Della Watkins Joins Columbia Museum of Art as Director

Della Watkins. Photo: the Roanoke Times

The Columbia Museum of Art in South Carolina has announced that Della Watkins, the executive director of the Taubman Museum of Art in Roanoke, Virginia, has been named director. She will take up the post on October 1.

After fourteen years of working as an art educator, Watkins began her career in museum education at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in 2013. Under her leadership as executive director, the museum completed an expansion project that increased gallery space, reclaimed its financial footing through fund-raising initiatives, and forged new collegial partnerships.

“After a thorough search process, selecting Della was a clear choice to lead this dynamic organization,” said CMA board president R. Scott McClelland. “Her experience and passion allowed the search committee to check every box for leadership attributes essential to achieving the next step in the museum’s vision.”

August 4, 2017

Bauhaus Building Is Among Recipients of Getty’s 2017 Preservation Grants

The Bauhaus building in Dessau, Germany. Photograph: Yvonne Tenschert / Bauhaus Dessau Foundation

The Getty Foundation has announced that $1.66 million in architectural conservation grants has been awarded to twelve significant twentieth-century buildings as part of its “Keeping It Modern” initiative. Among this year’s projects are Germany’s Bauhaus building in Dessau, designed by architect Walter Gropius; Frank Lloyd Wright’s Price Tower in Bartlesville, Oklahoma; the Yoyogi National Gymnasium, built for the 1964 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan; and the Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand in São Paulo, Brazil.

“Over the past three years, we have given forty-five ‘Keeping It Modern’ grants in twenty-two countries, and we bring together experts working on the conservation projects each summer to share their findings,” Deborah Marrow, director of the Getty Foundation, said. “Together our colleagues are building a critical body of knowledge for the stewardship of modern buildings. This year’s twelve new projects, along with prior grants for landmarks all over the world, will provide models for the protection of modern architecture for future generations.”

In its fourth year, the preservation initiative will support its first project in Russia. Moscow’s Melnikov House, an example of Soviet avant-garde architecture, was built as two intersecting cylinders that are free of interior walls. The house’s unconventional style reflects the boundary-pushing vision of architect Konstantin Melnikov, who designed the house as his studio and family residence. The Getty grant comes at a time of renewed national interest in conservation planning as the building’s stewards prepare to increase the number of visitors to the home.

August 4, 2017

Hammer Curator Defends Jimmie Durham Exhibition

Installation view of the exhibition “Jimmie Durham: At the Center of the World,” 2017. Photo: Gene Pittman for the Walker Art Center

Hammer Museum senior curator Anne Ellegood has addressed criticism of the traveling retrospective “Jimmie Durham: At the Center of the World.” The exhibition, which was mounted at the Hammer in Los Angeles before it opened at Minneapolis’s Walker Art Center in June (it opens at the Whitney Museum in New York on November 3), has reignited a decades-long debate over artist Jimmie Durham’s American Indian ancestry.

In the Bulletin to the Alternative Museum published in 1984, Durham wrote, “I am a Cherokee artist who strives to make Cherokee art that is considered just as universal and without limits as the art of any white man.” However, he has also resisted such categorizations. Following Lucy Lippard’s “Postmodernist ‘Savage,’” which appeared in American Art Magazine in 1993, he wrote a letter to the publication stating: “I am not Cherokee. I am not an American Indian. This is in concurrence with recent US legislation, because I am not enrolled on any reservation or in any American Indian community.”

Durham wrote the letter after President George H. W. Bush signed the federal Indian Arts and Crafts Act (IACA) into law in November 1990. The legislation stipulates that a person cannot be called an “Indian artist” if he is not registered as a member of an American Indian tribe. While it was designed to prevent non-natives from profiting off of the sale of indigenous objects and artworks, it doesn’t take into account American Indians who refused to enroll in a tribe for political reasons or who cannot trace their lineage.

August 4, 2017

Liverpool Biennial Appoints New Trustees

Clockwise from top left: Jonathan Falkingham, Sandeep Parmar, May Calil, Chris Evans, and Anna Valle.

Liverpool Biennial has added five new members to its board of trustees. May Calil, Chris Evans, Jonathan Falkingham, Sandeep Parmar, and Anna Valle join chair Kathleen Soriano and the current trustees, Juan Cruz, Roland Hill, Paul Hyland, Judith Nesbitt, John Shield, and Tony Wilson.

“With their experience and that of our existing trustees, we now have a group of dedicated people with the multiple skills and commitment to steer us through our next phase of development as the UK’s most important international contemporary art commissioning organization and flagship for the city of Liverpool across the world,” Soriano said.

Calil, a collector who has spent ten years working in arts development, held posts at the Royal Academy of Arts and Tate before founding May Calil Consultants. Evans is a London-based artist and tutor at De Ateliers, Amsterdam and Liverpool John Moores University. Falkingham is creative director and cofounder of Urban Splash, which was established in 1993. Parmar is an author, a co-director of the Center for New and International Writing, and a senior lecturer in English literature at the University of Liverpool. Valle is a businesswoman with marketing experience in the FMCG industry. She is currently the vice president of global brands at Walgreens Boots Alliance and global brand director.

August 4, 2017

National Academy of Art Members Rally Behind Dana Schutz

Dana Schutz’s Big Wave, 2016, currently on view in an exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston. Photo: ICA, Boston

After the controversy over artist Dana Schutz’s Open Casket painting of Emmett Till followed her from the Whitney Biennial in New York to the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, Marina Abramović, Cindy Sherman, Ed Ruscha, and Dread Scott, as well as around seventy other members and members-elect of the National Academy of Art, penned an open letter in support of the artist and the ICA for staging a ten-year survey of her works.

The letter was written in response to protests by a group of local artists, activists, and community members in the Boston area who demanded that the ICA shut down the exhibition in their own letter dated July 25 and addressed to chief curator Eva Respini and her team. It reads: “Even though [Open Casket] will not be shown, even in its absence, backing its artist without accountability nor transparency about proceeds from the exhibition, the institution will be participating in condoning the co-opting of Black pain and showing the art world and beyond that people can co-opt sacred imagery rooted in oppression and face little consequence, contributing to and perpetuating centuries-old racist iconography that ultimately justifies state and socially sanctioned violence on Black people.”

The National Academy members condemned the idea of penalizing an artist over an artwork. The letter, which was released on August 3 and has been circulating via e-mail, states: “It is of the utmost importance to us that artists not perpetrate upon each other the same kind of intolerance and tyranny that we criticize in others. We support the ICA-Boston and its decision to exhibit the works of Dana Schutz, and to maintain programming that fosters conversations between people with different points of view, especially given our current political climate of intolerance.”

Open Casket first created waves in the art world when a small-scale protest took place in front of the painting, which depicts the disfigured corpse of Emmett Till, a fourteen-year-old African American boy who was brutally beaten and killed in Mississippi for allegedly whistling at a white woman in a store in 1955. The controversy escalated when artist Hannah Black wrote a letter, which was signed by dozens of artists and writers, urging the curators of the Biennial to take down the work and destroy it. The work has since sparked intense public debate about the representation of African Americans in art and the appropriation of black culture by non-black artists.

August 4, 2017

Walker Art Center’s Deputy Director Steps Down

David Galligan.

David Galligan, deputy director of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, has resigned. The longtime arts administrator’s last official day will be August 11, but he will stay on until September 8 to help the center with the transition. He will then take up consulting work in interim executive management, resource development, strategic planning, and nonprofit governance, among other things.

“David is talented and was a crucial partner to me during our major planning efforts with the new campus,” executive director Olga Viso told the Star Tribune. “I recruited him to help lead this major project which has been successfully completed. It is a great moment for him to make a change.”

Galligan previously served as treasurer and then COO of the center, from 1985 to 2002. During his tenure, he helped to persuade the Minneapolis City Council to pay for a $25 million underground parking garage, and to develop the Walker’s 2005 addition. He also spearheaded the center’s efforts to launch online education programs and was instrumental in balancing its budget. He returned to the center in 2013 to collaborate on plans for its new campus and the renovation of its sculpture garden. Galligan was present at the dismantling ceremony of Los Angeles–based artist Sam Durant’s Scaffold, following protests by the Dakota Nation in the days leading up to the sculpture garden’s opening in June.

August 3, 2017

New International Festival Attempts to Revive Venetian Glass Industry

Pae White’s installation, Qwalala, in Venice in 2017. Photo: Enrico Fiorese

While Venice is struggling with overcrowding—roughly 20 million tourists invade its narrow streets each year—it is also making an attempt to revive its declining glass industry, the Art Newspaper reports. With competition for cheaper alternatives, a shortage of young glass blowers, and the fading popularity of Murano glass, the city aims to restore interest in this Venetian tradition by launching the first-ever international festival dedicated to the medium. Venice Glass Week kicks off on September 10 and will run until September 17.

Promoted by the Town Council of Venice, the festival will consist of more than 140 exhibitions, talks, educational initiatives, and film screenings, among other programming. The weeklong event was organized by three Venetian institutions: the Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia, Fondazione Giorgio Cini, and the Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti.

The festival will launch with the opening of the exhibition “Vittorio Zecchin: Transparent Glass for Cappellin and Venini,” curated by Marino Barovier. Held at Fondazione Giorgio Cini, the show features transparent glassworks designed by Zecchin during the 1920s for V.S.M. Cappellin Venini & C. and later for the M.V.M. Cappellin & C.

August 3, 2017

Graham Foundation Awards $400,000 to Organizations for Making Advancements in Architecture

helloeverything and SelgasCano, Kibera Hamlets School in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2016.

The Graham Foundation announced today that it has awarded more than $400,000 in grants to organizations across the globe for projects engaging original ideas in architecture. Among the forty-one projects recognized are exhibitions, publications, events, research projects, and site-specific installations and performances.

“This year marks an extraordinary group of projects from organizations around the world working to advance architectural thinking, push the boundaries of the field, and expand into previously underrepresented areas,” said Graham Foundation director Sarah Herda.

Recipients include the Architectural League for its publication examining the physical dimensions of the criminal justice system in the built environment as critical spaces of urban infrastructure; the 2017 Black in Design Conference organized by the African American Student Union at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design; and Storefront for Art and Architecture’s exhibition curated by Bryony Roberts, which addressed marching performances as a medium for community cultural identity and political resistance. A full list of the 2017 grantees can be found on the foundation’s website.

August 3, 2017

MoMA Names Michelle Elligott Chief of Archives, Library, and Research Collections

Michelle Elligott.

The Museum of Modern Art in New York has appointed Michelle Elligott as chief of archives, library, and research collections. She succeeds Milan Hughston, who retired in 2016. “I am confident that Michelle will provide exemplary leadership to the archives and library and will continue to advance our efforts in acquisitions, preservation, and accessibility, across all platforms, to ensure that MoMA is a leading center for the study of modern art,” said director Glenn Lowry.

Elligott first joined the museum as the Rona Roob Senior Museum Archivist in 1999. Since 2014, she has served as MoMA’s chief of archives. She recently codirected the museum’s comprehensive online Exhibition History project, which documents the museum’s exhibitions from its founding in 1929 to the present and is illustrated by primary documents. Elligott coedited MoMA’s first self-published history, Art in Our Time: A Chronicle of The Museum of Modern Art (2004) and maintains the Modern Artifacts column in the art magazine Esopus. Her book on former MoMA director René d’Harnoncourt, titled René d’Harnoncourt: The Art of Installation, is forthcoming in 2018.