Sonoma Valley Museum of Art Receives Largest Gift in its History

Sonoma Valley Museum of Art

Christian Kallen reports in the Sonoma Index-Tribune that the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art in California has received a generous gift from the estate of the late Calvin Vander Woude, who was for many years a board member at the institution, that could amount to more than $1 million. An initial $850,000 had already been given to the museum from his trust in December, but additional funds are expected after the distribution of Vander Woude’s estate of original art from a public auction in San Francisco this April.

Kate Eilertsen, a former executive director of the museum and a longtime friend of Vander Woude, helped arrange the auction and has said his collection includes a number of original prints from modern artists such as Salvador Dali. Vander Woude, who died last September, was a native of Iowa and moved to Palm Springs in California in the 1980s where he met his life partner the designer Hal Broderick. He served on the museum’s board of directors from 2008 to 2012, and helped found the Calvin R. Vander Woude Education Center there.


February 17, 2017

Italy Recovers Large Guercino Painting Stolen in 2014

Guercino’s Madonna with the Saints John the Evangelist and Gregory the Wonderworker, 1639, was stolen from the Church of San Vincenzo in Modena, Italy, in 2014.

Italy’s Carabinieri art crime unit has recovered a large painting by Giovanni Francesco Barbieri (better known as Guercino), Madonna with the Saints John the Evangelist and Gregory the Wonderworker, 1639, that was reported stolen from a church in Modena in 2014, Hannah McGivern of the Art Newspaper reports.

Officials of the Church of San Vincenzo said that the ten by six feet Baroque altarpiece was not insured and that the alarm system protecting the work was inactive because of a lack of funds. Since the church is rarely open to the public, the authorities believe the criminals responsible for the theft must have hidden in the building after a Sunday mass.

Three men were recently arrested after approaching a collector in Casablanca, Morocco, about selling the work for roughly $993,000. The collector recognized the piece and reported the incident to the police who informed Interpol and the Comando Carabinieri Tutela Patrimonio Culturale. Culture minister Dario Franceschini said that the government is currently negotiating the return of the artwork.

February 17, 2017

Wendy Yao Wins White Columns / Shoot the Lobster Award for Creating Opportunities for Artists

Wendy Yao

White Columns and Shoot the Lobster announced today that Wendy Yao, the founder of the Los Angeles–based bookstore Ooga Booga, is the recipient of the 2017 White Columns / Shoot The Lobster Award, which recognizes individuals who work to create opportunities for both artists and audiences. Yao will receive a $5,000 cash prize and a commissioned artwork that will be presented to her during the 2017 Printed Matter LA Art Book Fair, which kicks off on February 24.

Artist and publisher Asher Penn said, “Ooga Booga has become a non-institutional hub within the Los Angeles area; a go-to place for its selection of books, multiples, fashion items, and accessories. Outside Los Angeles, Ooga Booga is an icon of independent entrepreneurship, participating in art and book fairs, opening temporary satellite stores, creating online resources for independent publishers, and organizing events in various venues.” She added, “While Yao insists that the store’s success could not be possible without the support of the store’s participants and local community, as well as the help of interns and staff, Ooga Booga is nevertheless an incredibly small and personal operation.”

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Yao founded Ooga Booga in 2004. Specializing in artist publications, music, design, and independent culture, the second-floor shop has hosted a range of events over the past thirteen years including free performances, film screenings, readings, radio shows, book and music events, exhibitions, and artist projects. Is also publishes fanzines, art books, and music recordings.

February 17, 2017

Israel Shutters Jerusalem Gallery over Anti-Occupation Programming

Protesters at the Barbur Gallery in Jerusalem. Photo: Emil Salman

Jerusalem’s Barbur Gallery was forced to close last week for organizing an anti-occupation group event after culture minister Miri Regev expressed that the gallery is not permitted to host political programming since it is renting a city-owned building, Nir Hasson and Melanie Stern of Haaretz report.

Breaking the Silence, an Israeli veteran anti-occupation group that works to create dialogue on the reality of life in the occupied territories, was invited to the gallery on Wednesday, February 8, where CEO Yuli Novak spoke about a recently published report detailing anonymous testimonies of soldiers recounting transgressions.

During the event around two hundred people gathered outside the gallery to protest against its closure while a few dozen right-wing activists protested against the Breaking Silence group. Police erected barriers between the two parties to prevent the scene from escalating.

February 17, 2017

Bill Cunningham’s Personal Effects Donated to New York Historical Society

Bill Cunningham’s signature Biria bicycle, Nikon camera, and trademark blue jacket.

The New York Historical Society announced today that the personal possessions of celebrated New York Times fashion photographer Bill Cunningham have been donated to its permanent collection.

John Kurdewan, Cunningham’s former assistant and staff editor at the New York Times, and Louise Doktor, a longtime friend of the photographer, donated Cunningham’s personal library of more than two hundred books as well as his signature Biria bicycle, Nikon camera, and trademark blue jacket, among other items.

These objects will join “Facades,” a collection of photographs in which Cunningham paired models in period fashion with historic settings, which the artist had previously donated to the historical society. The first exhibition of “Facades” was held in 1976; it went on view again in 2014.

“The New York Historical Society enjoyed a longstanding relationship with Bill Cunningham, dating back to his first donation of eighty-eight gelatin silver photographs representing his ‘Facades’ series and continuing to the end of his life,” Louise Mirrer, president and CEO of the New York Historical Society, said.

February 17, 2017

Boston Cultural Council Awards More Than $450,000 to Arts Organizations

Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston.

Boston Mayor Marin Walsh has announced that the Boston Cultural Council will award $464,750 to 173 local arts organizations and cultural projects this year.

“These grants allow for a diverse group of organizations and projects to pursue their creative ideas,” Walsh said. “Any time we are able to support hardworking local artists and innovative institutions, we are building a stronger and more dynamic arts ecosystem in Boston.”

Among the groups that received funding are ArtsBoston Inc., the Boston Ballet, the Boston Book Festival, Eliot School of Fine and Applies Arts, Hyde Park Art Association, the Independent Film Society of Boston, Kadence Arts, Mass Poetry, the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, the National Center of Afro-American Artists, the Boston Arts Festival, the Institute of Contemporary Art, and Unbound Visual Arts.

February 17, 2017

Rhizome Announces Winners of Third Prix Net Art Award

Eva and Franco Mattes

Rhizome and Chronus Art Center, both nonprofits dedicated to the support of new media art, have named Porpentine Charity Heartscape, Eva and Franco Mattes, and Bogosi Sekhukhuni as the winners of the third annual Prix Net Art Award, which recognizes contemporary artists who are committed to working online. This is the first time three artists have been selected for the award. They will each receive $5,000.

Eva and Franco Mattes are an Italian artist duo currently working in New York. In their practice, the artists often combine the internet with video and installation to explore the ethical and moral issues arising when people interact remotely, especially through social media, and the blending of reality and simulations.

Porpentine Charity Heartscape is a writer and game designer. Known for creating games that elicit strong emotional responses such as her Howling Dogs, 2012, in which the gamer is in a futuristic holding cell and is made to endure bizarre scenarios while living in a decaying room. Conceptual artist Bogosi Sekhukhuni is originally from Johannesburg where he is a member of the CUSS group collective working primarily in digital art. He is also a founding member of the “tech-health artist group” NTU, which is concerned with the “spiritual futures” of the Internet.

February 17, 2017

Cologne Foundation Rejects Hauser & Wirth’s Claim to Represent August Sander Estate

August Sander

SK Stiftung Kultur, a Cologne-based cultural foundation, has declared that it represents the estate of twenty-first-century photographer August Sander despite Hauser & Wirth’s announcement earlier this week stating it will represent the artist’s estate in collaboration with his great-grandson, Julian Sander.

In a statement, the foundation said that it reviewed Hauser & Wirth’s announcement with “incomprehension” and that the August Sander estate is in Cologne and will remain there. SK Stiftung Kultur claims it bought the estate comprising 10,700 negatives, 3,500 prints, the artist’s correspondence, library, furniture, and photographic equipment from gallerist Gerd Sander, the photographer’s grandson and father of Julian Sander, in 1992.

“Since then the institution has been taking care of the estate, increasing the number of vintages etc. through acquisitions” and aims “to carry out scholarly research into the complete works of the artist, present them to the public in exhibitions and publications, and preserve them for posterity,” the foundation said. It added, “SK Stiftung Kultur also purchased the unrestricted rights of use in regard to location, content, and time, therefore they are in the possession of SK Stiftung Kultur—the representative of the estate of August Sander.”

February 17, 2017

Jannis Kounellis (1936–2017)

Jannis Kounellis. Photo: Wikipedia

The Greek-Italian artist Jannis Kounellis has died. Kounellis was born in Piraeus, Greece. After surviving World War II and civil war, he moved to Rome and enrolled in the Accademia di Belle Arti. He became an early member of the arte povera movement, participating in the seminal “Arte Povera – e IM Spazio” show curated by Germano Celant. Kounellis became known for works that eroded the boundaries among painting, sculpture, found object, and eventually even performance. In the late 1960s, he began introducing live animals into his art, once famously bringing a dozen horses into a gallery. In the following two decades, he expanded his material iconography to include postindustrial elements like coal and smoke.

Kounellis’s first solo show in New York took place at Sonnabend Gallery in 1972. In 1986 the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, staged a retrospective of his work, and he exhibited in Documenta, the Venice Biennale, and the Biennale of Paris, among other festivals. In the October 2015 issue of Artforum, Paola Nicolin reviewed a two-location show of Kounellis’s work; Nicolin wrote, “His work always suggests a register beyond the range of the visual. Indeed, the dense industrial materials, earthen hues, and odors that are typical of Kounellis’s art elicit in me a magical synesthetic response.”

February 16, 2017

Johannesburg Art Gallery Temporarily Closes Due to Rain Damage

Johannesburg Art Gallery

James de Villiers of News24 reports that the Johannesburg Art Gallery in South Africa has temporarily shut down due to damage caused by heavy rainfall. According to city officials, the gallery has no budget for repairs and has been having problems with a leaky roof since 1989.

Nonhlanhla Sifumba, a representative from the mayoral committee for community development said, “The previous administration left the facility in shambles.” Staff members were forced to remove artworks from the walls and store them in the basement during a recent downpour. She added, “We could not risk the lives of our employees after emergency services, occupational health and safety, and risk management were all called to the scene and advised that the facility be closed.”

Over the years the gallery has faced mismanagement of funds, poor workmanship on building repairs, lack of maintenance, and thieves who have been stealing copper from the exterior of the building. Millions of dollars were allocated to the gallery prior to its centenary celebrations in 2015, but almost nothing was done to renovate the venue. Still, the gallery’s years of neglect may be coming to an end. Sifumba believes that the city’s new administration is “committed to fixing this historic and important institution which will play an important role in boosting tourism and maintaining the city’s status as the home of the arts.”