Congress Makes No Promises to Smithsonian; Recent Prizes to Artists

Smithsonian officials said Congress is primarily responsible for paying for its upkeep even though the cultural institution has agreed to a fund-raising campaign to offset $2.5 billion in needed repairs, but Congress may not readily agree to that, reports Bloomberg's Laurence Arnold. Yesterday, Robert Kogod, head of the Smithsonian's facilities committee, told the Senate Rules and Administration Committee, “We are hopeful that upon successful completion of the campaign, we can return to the government funding of facilities and use of private funds for collections, research, education, and exhibitions.” But the chair of the Senate committee, Dianne Feinstein, warned that once the $2.5 billion backlog is addressed, the Smithsonian cannot expect Congress to resume that role. “It's an untenable situation long-term, and somebody has to say we cannot operate this gem this way,” said Feinstein, a California Democrat. Feinstein said Congress is nearing approval of a plan to chip in fifteen million dollars in matching funds once the Smithsonian raises its first thirty million dollars. That money will be dedicated to building maintenance.

Artnet reports on recent awards given out to artists: Houston-based artist Trenton Doyle Hancock has received the 2007 Joyce Alexander Wein Artist Prize, a fifty-thousand-dollar award given out by New York’s Studio Museum in Harlem. Founded last year—the first went to Lorna Simpson—by Newport Jazz Festival founder George Wein, the prize honors the artistic achievements of an African-American artist who demonstrates innovation, promise, and creativity. Hancock is represented by James Cohan Gallery.

Twelve artists from San Francisco have received twenty-five-thousand-dollar Eureka Fellowships from the Fleishhacker Foundation, earmarked for artists from the Bay Area. The awards are spread over the next three years. Winners are Adriane Colburn, Karen Hampton, Kate Pocrass, and June Schwarcz for 2008; Amy Ellingson, Martin McMurray, Leslie Shows, and Jenifer Wofford for 2009; and Tauba Auerbach, Bihn Dahn, Kota Ezawa, and David Huffman for 2010. Finally, ten women have won the 2007 Anonymous Was a Woman artist grants, unrestricted awards of twenty-five thousand dollars designed to go to accomplished female artists over age thirty-five who are “at a critical juncture in their lives or careers.” The anonymous nominators selected Miriam Beerman, Lois Conner, Petah Coyne, Agnes Denes, Diane Edison, Paula Hayes, Joan Semmel, Jill Slosberg-Ackerman, Leslie Thornton, and Carrie Mae Weems.