Cape Town Students Arrested after Burning Paintings Near Site of Protest

student at site of protest

A small group of students has taken paintings from the University of Cape Town’s dorms and lit them on fire, reports News24. The incident took place near the shack erected by protesters campaigning against the university’s lack of dorm space for students from poorer backgrounds.

According to Gerda Kruger, a spokesperson at the university, the act of arson occurred after school officials asked the students to move their protest and shack off the road. “They refused, and while we were still deliberating on what to do, a group entered the two residences on our upper campus, removed artwork from the walls, and set it alight in a fire.”

Police armed with stun grenades then showed up, dispersing the crowd and making arrests on the spot.


July 20, 2017

NYC Unveils Cultural Plan to Expand and Diversify the Arts

Bill de Blasio. Photo: Mike Segar for Reuters

On Wednesday, July 19, Mayor Bill de Blasio released New York City’s first-ever comprehensive cultural plan, which examines issues ranging from equity and inclusion to the affordability of arts programming. Dubbed CreateNYC, the 180-page report, which includes input from more than 200,000 New Yorkers, both celebrates the city’s cultural scene and aims to strengthen it.

“This is a city of unmatched cultural richness that expresses itself on sidewalks, in storefronts, in museums, theaters and parks in every single corner of the five boroughs. New York City is the world capital of art and culture,” said Mayor de Blasio. “If we are going to continue to live up to that title we must use every tool we have to ensure that every resident, in every neighborhood, has the same access to cultural opportunities.”

Highlights of the plan include increased support for low-income communities and underrepresented groups, the promotion of greater diversity and equity in the workforce, financial support for individual artists, expanded access to cultural events for people with disabilities, and collaboration with arts organizations on sustainability goals.

July 19, 2017

Nazarian Family Gifts CSUN’s Valley Performing Arts Center $17 Million

Younes and Soraya Nazarian. Photo: Irfan Khan for the LA Times.

The Valley Performing Arts Center at California State University, Northridge received a $17 million gift from first-generation Iranian immigrants Younes and Soraya Nazarian last Tuesday, Jeffrey Fleishman of the LA Times reports. The donation is the largest single arts gift ever awarded to the state’s university system.

Younes Nazarian, head of the Los Angeles–based Nazarian Enterprises, which invests in alternative energy, logistics technology, aerospace, and real estate, and his wife Soraya Nazarian, a sculptor who often works with Italian marble, fled their home in Tehran during the 1979 Iranian Revolution and migrated to California.

Four decades after the revolution, the Nazarians decided it was time to give back to their community. With their contribution to the 1,700-seat Valley Performing Arts Center, the couple hopes to boost the center’s visibility and strengthen its programming. Younes and Soraya’s daughter Sharon Nazarians, the president of the Y&S Nazarian Family Foundation, said, “Los Angeles is a very invigorating place to be in terms of art. It wasn’t always like that. When we first came from Iran, LA was not really well known as a mecca of the art world. But I think today we’re a serious player. The creativity California represents is penetrating the arts world.”

July 19, 2017

Biennale of Sydney 2018 Announces Artists and Theme

Chen Shaoxiong, The Views, 2016.

The theme for the Biennale of Sydney 2018 has been announced. Titled “SUPERPOSITION: Art of Equilibrium and Engagement,” the exhibition will highlight “the concept of superposition in quantum mechanics as a metaphor to link the notions of equilibrium and engagement and provide us with insights into the world today. We are surrounded by conflicting ideas across all levels of humanity: different cultures; readings of nature and the universe; political ideologies and systems of government; and interpretations of human history, including the history of art and definitions of contemporary art,” according to Mami Kataoka, the show’s artistic director.

Jo-Anne Birnie Danzker, director and CEO of the Biennale of Sydney, said, “[The biennale] encourages us to consider how all things of this world interact with each other. [It] promises to be an inspiring and important means for us to contemplate our place in the world.” The show will run from March 16 until June 11, 2018 at multiple locations throughout Sydney.

The artists participating in the twenty-first Biennale of Sydney are:

July 19, 2017

Wall Street Journal Sued by Antiquities Dealer Over ISIS Story

Hicham Aboutaam

Hicham Aboutaam, an antiquities dealer, has brought a libel suit against the Wall Street Journal over an article published in May that claimed he and his brother were being investigated by Switzerland, France, Belgium, and the US for handling ISIS-looted artifacts, writes Barry Meier of the New York Times. It seems that the dealer’s reputation has been damaged since the story came out. A $50,000 donation to the Toledo Museum of Art for an antiquities-rich exhibition, “The Berlin Painter and His World”—given on his gallery’s behalf, Phoenix Ancient Art, based in New York—has been returned.

Colleen Schwartz, a representative for the paper, said in a statement that the piece was “thoroughly reported, fair and wholly accurate. We fully stand by the article and will mount a robust defense to Hicham Aboutaam’s lawsuit.”

Published May 31, the article said that the Aboutaams were not charged with any wrongdoing in regards to the investigations. The brothers are on a list of fifteen other dealers who are also being looked into by French authorities, but the people in that grouping were not named in the story.

July 19, 2017

Construction Begins on New Affordable Artist Studios in New York

Brooklyn Army Terminal. Photo: Nicholas Lemery Nantel.

Within the Brooklyn Army Terminal, a former military supply base built nearly one hundred years ago and located along the waterfront in the Sunset Park neighborhood, the Brooklyn-based nonprofit ArtBuilt has begun construction on fifty thousand square feet of new workspaces for artists and artisans of all stripes. According to Victoria Stapley-Brown of the Art Newspaper, around fifty tenants are set to move into the new spaces by the end of 2017. Each tenant will be provided with an affordable, long-term lease. The initiative is a part of New York’s Affordable Real Estate for Artists (AREA) program, in collaboration with other stage agencies—such as the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and the Department of Cultural Affairs—to create reasonably priced workspaces for artists throughout the city over the next ten years. Mayor Bill de Blasio announced in 2015 that he’d deliver “five hundred dedicated affordable work spaces for the cultural community,” as a gesture to keep the city’s arts professionals happy and, indeed, within the boundaries of New York.

Studios for the incoming tenants will range in size from 250 to four thousand square feet. The Brooklyn Army Terminal has three million square feet of usable space—the City of New York has invested about $115 million for its refurbishment. Chashama, another nonprofit organization, has already renovated sixty thousand square feet of space for artists on the property. Esther Robinson and Guy Buckles, the executive codirectors of ArtBuilt, said in a statement, “New York would be a poorer place without its small-scale producers. We’re helping these vital but vulnerable economic generators stay in NYC, not just to survive but to flourish, for the benefit of all New Yorkers.”

July 19, 2017

Cultural Leaders Fight to Protect Free Movement of Artists Post-Brexit

Nicholas Serota, the chair of Arts Council England. Photo: Alicia Canter for The Guardian.

More than four hundred cultural, educational, and scientific organizations and representatives from across Europe have endorsed “Our Shared European Future,” a series of recommendations for Brexit negotiators in the European Union and the UK, which calls for the protection of cultural exchange across borders.

The document urges politicians to introduce measures such as cultural and educational permits, which will allow people and assets operating in the education, science, culture, and research sectors to continue to move with ease between the UK and the EU. It also calls for the UK to continue contributing to multilateral programs such as Creative Europe so that it may remain effective and UK institutions and individuals can remain eligible for inclusion in its programming. In addition, the cultural leaders are calling for the UK to guarantee residency for EU nationals working in the UK as well as British nationals working in the EU.

Other key recommendations include engaging with young people on post-Brexit policy-making; maintaining equal intellectual property and copyright laws between the UK and EU; and consulting with leaders and experts in the arts, education, science, and research fields in order to make informed decisions.

July 18, 2017

Off Vendome Closes in New York

View of “Lena Henke and Max Brand,” 2015, at Off Vendome.

Off Vendome will close its New York location at 254 West Twenty-Third Street by the end of this month. Originally founded in Düsseldorf in 2013, the gallery has shown artists such as Sam Anderson, Lena Henke, Max Brand, Ian Cheng, Talia Chetrit, Dustin Hodges, Jacob Kassay, Zak Kitnick, Bradley Kronz, Veit Laurent Kurz, Win McCarthy, Jeanette Mundt, Juan Antonio Olivares, Margaret Lee and Emily Sundblad, Kyle Thurman, and Ellie de Verdier. Off Vendome also recently participated in the first edition of Condo New York.

July 18, 2017

Eight Arts Writers Awarded $50,000 Rabkin Prize

Dorothea and Leo Rabkin. Photo: Lauri Martin

The awardees of the $50,000 Rabkin Prize for Arts Writers have been announced, according to Glasstire.

The eight winners are:

Phong Bui, cofounder and artistic director of The Brooklyn Rail

Charles Desmarais, art critic for the San Francisco Chronicle

Bob Keyes, writer for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram

Jason Farago, art critic for the New York Times

Jeff Huebner, arts journalist and freelance writer based in Chicago, Illinois

Carolina Miranda, staff writer for the Los Angeles Times

Christina Rees, editor in chief of Glasstire in Dallas, Texas

Chris Vitiello, writer, curator, and organizer based in Durham, North Carolina

The jurors for this year’s prizes were artist and critic Walter Robinson; writer and editor Lisa Gabrielle Mark; and Paul Ha, director of the List Visual Arts Center at MIT.

“Our program will recognize outstanding career contributions by art critics who inform the public through their writing on contemporary art and artists. This program is by nomination and it will involve the input and deliberation of panels of nationally recognized curators, writers, artists and other thoughtful readers of contemporary art criticism,” the Rabkin Foundation said in a statement. The foundation was established by Dorothea and Leo Rabkin in 1999 in honor of Leo, who was an artist and art collector.

July 18, 2017

Arts Council England Funds New Sculpture Triennial

The Hepworth Wakefield. Photo: Marc Atkins.

The Leeds Art Gallery, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, the Henry Moore Institute, and the Hepworth Wakefield—a grouping of institutions also known as the Yorkshire Sculpture Triangle—have secured nearly one million dollars for the launch of an international sculpture triennial that will be known as the Yorkshire Sculpture International, reports ArtDaily. The exhibition, which will take place from July to September 2018, is being funded through Art Council England’s Ambition for Excellence program.

The director of the Henry Moore Foundation, Godfrey Worsdale, said, “Since the early twentieth century, Yorkshire has been associated with the development of sculpture. Over recent years, Leeds Art Gallery, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, the Henry Moore Institute and the Hepworth Wakefield have brought collective energy and expertise to the subject through exhibitions, commissions, collections, archiving, and academic research.”

Sarah Maxfield, Arts Council England’s area north director, said, “Yorkshire has long been celebrated for its wealth of world-class sculpture and I’m delighted that we are funding this project through our ‘Ambition for Excellence’ program. ‘Yorkshire Sculpture International’ will illustrate how the region is a world center for cultural excellence in sculpture and I’m looking forward to seeing the new commissions.”