Curator Announced for Portland’s First CONVERGE45 Art Festival

Kristy Edmunds

CONVERGE45, a city-wide program of contemporary art events planned for Portland in 2016, now has a curator: Kristy Edmunds, who founded and ran Portland Institute for Contemporary Art. “We needed a special curator,” said CONVERGE45 co-founder Elizabeth Leach, who runs a gallery in the city’s Pearl District, reports April Baer for OPB.

After serving at the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, Edmunds later left to direct the Melbourne International Arts Festival in Australia, and has also worked as a consultant for the New York Park Avenue Armory, and as director of the Center for the Art of Performance at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Addressing the theme, “You In Mind,” Edmunds plans to “encourage artists to explore things made without regard to sales or web hits or name recognition,” according to Baer.

Said Edmunds, “Right now, what Portland does and what Portland has offered … matters immensely … because almost everything that we can imagine, someone is trying to extract wealth from.”

And organizers seem optimistic enough about the festival’s future: Nike has been recruited as a sponsor, and curator Cris Moss, director of the University of Oregon’s White Box space, has already been named curator for its 2017 edition.

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June 23, 2017

Julia Peyton-Jones Joins Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac as Senior Global Director

Thaddaeus Ropac and Julia Peyton-Jones.

Former director of the Serpentine Galleries Julia Peyton-Jones has been appointed senior global director of Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac. Peyton-Jones will be based in London where the gallery opened a new space in Mayfair earlier this year. She assume her responsibilities, which includes the creative development of the gallery, on September 1.

“Julia Peyton-Jones is one of the most respected and admired figures in the art world with an unparalleled level of experience,” Thaddaeus Ropac said. “It will be an honor and a joy to work together and develop exciting new projects.”

After twenty-five years at the helm of Serpentine Galleries, Peyton-Jones resigned as director in October 2015. She first joined the gallery in 1991 and led the space for fifteen years. In 2006, Hans Ulrich Obrist became codirector. According to The Guardian, Peyton-Jones said her proudest achievement as director had been to maintain free admission to the gallery as well as to present contemporary art to a wide audience.

June 23, 2017

OMA Reveals Design for Buffalo’s Albright-Knox Art Gallery Expansion

Design rendering of Buffalo’s Albright-Knox Art Gallery expansion.

The Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), the Rotterdam-based firm that was selected to lead Buffalo’s Albright-Knox Art Gallery $80 million expansion and renovation project has announced its plans for the institution’s campus.

Dubbed AK360, the project is the museum’s first expansion in more than half a century. It was made possible after Buffalo-based billionaire Jeffrey Gundlach made a historic donation of $42.5 million, which helped the institution raise an unprecedented $103 million in the twelve weeks that followed the announcement of his gift.

Located in Delaware Park, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the museum aims to better integrate its building with the landscape. “A key question we have been challenging ourselves and our architects with is where should we build,” museum director Janne Siren told Rachele Mongiovi of News 4.

Architect Shohei Shigematsu came up with a plan to expand the museum by 50,000 square feet without compromising any of the parkland. The museum, which is currently only able to exhibit 2.5 percent of its collection at a time, will add two main galleries. One will be built above its sculpture garden, and the second space will be built underground, underneath the current parking lot, which will be transformed into an outdoor exhibition space. The new parking lot will also be constructed underground.

June 23, 2017

Benjamin Sullivan Wins 2017 BP Portrait Award

Benjamin Sullivan, Breech!, 2017.

Artist Benjamin Sullivan’s painting of his wife breastfeeding their eight-month-old daughter has won this year’s BP Portrait Award, the National Portrait Gallery in London’s top prize. Breech!, is the artist’s thirteenth work to be shortlisted for the gallery’s prize exhibition. Sullivan will receive $38,000 and a forthcoming commission from the institution.

Sullivan said he wanted the portrait to celebrate the arrival of their daughter, as well as mark the difficult time his wife had while giving birth to Edith. It was painted over the course of several weeks when a “sense of calm descended” on the couple.

French artist Thomas Ehretsmann received the $12,000 second prize for his work Double Portrait, which depicts the head and shoulders of his wife, Caroline, who was eight months pregnant at the time, and the $10,000 third prize went to Antony Williams for Emma, a portrait of the artist’s friend. The prize exhibition, which opened on June 22, will run until September 24, and then will travel to Exeter, Edinburgh, and Sunderland.

June 23, 2017

London’s White Rainbow Gallery Closes Its Doors

Installation view of “Ingeborg Lüscher, It’s 1 o’clock and the Bell Tolls Eight Times” (November 2016–January 2017). Photo: White Rainbow

The Central London gallery White Rainbow, which opened in 2014, has announced that it will permanently close. “We thank all of our artists, who have challenged, inspired and motivated us throughout,” White Rainbow said in a statement. “The gallery would be nowhere without them.”

White Rainbow told artforum.com that it does not have any future projects planned at this time, but it will continue with its research activities. Over the years, the gallery presented a range of artists, with a focus on contemporary art from Japan. Often showcasing works by Japanese artists never before seen in the UK, the gallery aimed to raise awareness of Japanese post-war art history and its relationship to international art movements. “Minimalist Anyway,” an exhibition of works by Lydia Okumura and Kazuko Miyamoto, which closed on June 10, was the galley’s final exhibition.

June 22, 2017

Congresswoman Wants to Forgive Arts Professionals’ Student Debt

Participants at a demonstration against the normalization of more than trillion in student debt, which took place at the Whitney Biennial on Friday, May 5. Photo: Occupy Museums

Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez is working to help artists reduce their student loan debt by as much as $10,000. If the American Arts Revival Act is passed it will also extend federal public service loan forgiveness to cultural workers, museum professionals, and certain arts and humanities professors who work with children, adolescents, and seniors.

“Those working in the arts and related fields make invaluable contributions to New York City and to our entire nation,” Velázquez said. “Individuals that dedicate themselves to these professions enrich our culture and my bill would provide many of them with relief from mounting student loan debt.”

The average debt for a graduate specializing in art, music, and design averages at nearly $22,000. According to Occupy Museums—whose ongoing project Debtfair asks artists who are struggling to stay out of the red to share their experiences—artists today are grappling with a total running debt that exceeds $55 million.

June 22, 2017

World Monuments Fund Launches Initiative to Train Refugees in Conservation

Ruins of the ancient city of Palmyra. Photo: AP

The World Monuments Fund has secured $680,000 to train refugees from Syria and Jordan in conservation skills in order to rebuild cultural heritage sites devastated by ISIS and other conflicts. The award is part of the British Council and the UK government’s Department for Culture, Media, and Sport’s $38 million fund to safeguard heritage and the arts.

To launch the initiative, the World Monuments Fund and its British affiliate, World Monuments Fund Britain, will work with Petra National Trust in Jordan to open a training facility. The organizations will recruit a group of candidates who can then serve as mentors to other refugees taking part in the eighteen-month program.

“In recent years we’ve witnessed the devastating impacts of human conflict on the Syrian people and their treasured cultural sites, and we are eager to help renew community strength through this exciting new initiative,” Joshua David, president and CEO of the World Monuments Fund, said.

June 22, 2017

Sunday Painter Gallery Relocates to London’s Vauxhall District

Will Jarvis and Harry Beer.

Alex Greenberger of Artnews writes that Sunday Painter gallery in London will move from the Peckham neighborhood to the Vauxhall district where Tate Britain as well as the galleries Cabinet, Greengrassi, and Corvi Mora are located. An exhibition by American painter Cynthia Daignault will inaugurate its new space.

Cofounded by artists Will Jarvis and Harry Beer in 2009, the gallery first started out as a project space, which evolved into a commercial gallery in 2013. The name of the gallery was inspired by an insult that was thrown at the gallerists when they were studying art at Camberwell University. Someone called them “Sunday painters” for pushing back against the school’s attempt to make studio practice fit a more academic format.

June 22, 2017

Detroit’s 2017 Kresge Artist Fellows Announced

2017 Kresge Artist Fellows. Photo: Noah Stephens.

Eighteen artists from 750-plus applicants have been selected to join the 2017 class of Kresge Artist fellows, reports Ryan Patrick Hooper for the Detroit Free-Press. Each prize winner receives a cash award of twenty-five thousand dollars plus a year of professional support by Creative Many Michigan. This year’s fellows are Nicole Macdonald, Catie Newell, Jennifer Harge, David Philpot, Jeanne Bieri, Robert Sestock, Sydney G. James, Juan Martinez, and Matthew Angelo Harrison. In addition, two artists—Leah V. (creative nonfiction) and Austen Brantley (sculpture)—were selected for five thousand dollar Gilda Awards, commemorating late Detroit painter Gilda Snowden.

Since 2008, the Kresge Arts in Detroit program has given over $4.5 million to metro-Detroit-area cultural practitioners. According to Kresge Arts in Detroit director Christina deRoos, “This is not a judgment on the best artist in the city—this is a curated group of individuals representing literary and visual arts excellence in metro Detroit for 2017.”

June 22, 2017

New York’s Envoy Enterprises to Close in August

Envoy Enterprises. Photo: Google Maps

Jimi Dams of Envoy Enterprises on the Lower East Side announced that the gallery will close its doors on August 4 after more than a decade, Artnews reports. Located at Eighty-Seven Rivington Street, the gallery will stage a final exhibition titled “So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Adieu.” The show will feature a number of artists who have exhibited at the space over the years.

In a letter addressed to the gallery’s friends, Dams said that his reason for closing “is simple. . . .It is not fun anymore.” The gallerist continued to bash the art world’s growing emphasis on fairs “where eyes have been replaced by dollar signs” and “an eagerness to experience and learn replaced by hiring personal shoppers.”

Dams concludes his tirade by reflecting on the potential the arts have to make a difference. “We should be improving people’s lives through art, we should be trying to create a world where art is living on every level, indivisible from life and for everyone to experience.”