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 being open for 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 The gallerist continued to bash the art world’s growing emphasis on fairs “where eyes have been replaced by dollar signs” and “an eagerness to experience and learn replaced by hiring personal shoppers.”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.”

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September 19, 2017

Honolulu Biennial Announces New Appointments and Dates

From left: Scott Lawrimore, Nina Tonga, and Jens Hoffmann.

The Honolulu Biennial has appointed Jens Hoffmann as its artistic director. It has also named Nina Tonga and Scott Lawrimore as curators of the biennial’s second edition, scheduled to open on March 9, 2019, and run through May 5, 2019.

“Honolulu Biennial is an opportunity to position Pacific dialogs in global contexts that transcend nationalism, regionalism and isolationism. Hawaiʻi as our archipelagic point of departure—an intersection of cultures formed by distinct experiences of islands and island-nations and patterns of oceanic migration and exchange—offers an unstable though forward-looking lens in which to engage the world’s relationship to this place,” said Hoffmann, Tonga, and Lawrimore in a group statement. “We look forward to working together to present a second edition that builds on the successes of the first by expanding its reach to include artists from the Americas and Southeast Asia, a satellite site located on a neighbor island, new venues in Honolulu, and more public programming.”

The first iteration of the biennial, installed at numerous sites throughout the Hawaiian capital, ran from March 8 to May 8, 2017, and brought in 97,305 visitors.

September 19, 2017

Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District Authority Appoints New Board Chair

Henry Tang Ying-yen

Henry Tang Ying-yen has been appointed the board chairman of Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District Authority (WKCDA), writes Helena Halim of ArtAsiaPacific. Tang starts his two-year term on October 1.

Tang, who helps run a large family knitwear business, worked as Hong Kong’s chief secretary from 2007 until 2011. He also served as the WKCDA’s first board chair from 2008 to 2011. Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s chief executive, said, “Mr. Tang has this very unique experience of working in the government and in the private sector . . . I have every confidence that under Henry’s leadership, the WKCDA project will be brought to new heights.”

Tang will have much to take care of once he steps into his new role, such as securing additional funding for the district’s development and catching up on delayed construction projects. There has also been a great deal of controversy surrounding the WKCDA: In February, the authority was criticized over its “secret” collaboration with the Beijing Palace Museum to build a new branch of the institution in the West Kowloon district without any consultation from the public. The museum hid certain costs from the WKCDA until after a construction contract between the two parties was secured.

September 19, 2017

Germany Creates Database to Help Prevent Looting of Cultural Property

The Temple of Baal in the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra, destroyed by ISIS. Photo: Sandra Auger / Reuters.

The German government has created an internet portal to support the country’s Cultural Property Protection Law, according to Catherine Hickley of the Art Newspaper. The law, which came into effect in 2016, was enacted to protect German national heritage and put an end to the illegal trafficking of looted art and antiquities. The portal offers information on artists, museums, archives, and cultural property regulations for collectors. There is also material on cultural heritage regulations from sixty other countries, including Egypt, China, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

Dealers say German law protecting cultural property is made up severe regulations that are perhaps the toughest in the world. Any antiquity available for purchase in Germany requires an export license from the object’s country of origin. The law also mandates that exporters of cultural goods beyond a certain age and value need to have an export license from one of Germany’s sixteen states. Monika Grütters, Germany’s culture minister, says the law is one of her most significant achievements, especially in light of the ancient sites being looted and destroyed by terrorists in Syria and Iraq.

The new portal is accessible here. English and French versions of the site are in the works.

September 19, 2017

New Lower East Side Gallery Will Focus on Women Artists

Art dealer Sara Kay.

Hilarie M. Sheets of the New York Times reports that Sara Kay, who founded the Professional Organization for Women in the Arts in 2008, served as the director of White Cube London, and worked as a specialist in old master drawings at Christie’s for twenty years, is now opening a gallery on New York’s Lower East Side that will focus on women artists. The Sara Kay Gallery will open on September 28, 2017, in an 1890 townhouse at Four East Second Street—a space that used to house Rivington Arms.

Kay says she plans on creating a “conversation among artworks from different genres.” The gallery’s inaugural exhibition, “A Limitless Vision: The Collection of Audrey B. Heckler,” will feature works by a number of well-known outsider artists—such as Adolf Wölfli, Aloïse Corbaz, Madge Gill, and James Castle—alongside a work by Jean Dubuffet and ceramics by Picasso.

September 19, 2017

Banksy Raises $277,000 for Humanitarian Groups

Banksy, Civilian Drone Strike, 2017.

The proceeds from the sale of graffiti artist Banksy’s Civilian Drone Strike, 2017—a work depicting three Predator drones dropping bombs on a framed illustration of a house and stick figures—will go to two humanitarian organizations: Campaign Against Arms Trade and Reprieve, writes Damien Gayle of The Guardian. The picture was auctioned off at the Art the Arms Fair, a five-day expo that forms part of a larger, two-week festival organized to counter the Defense and Security Equipment International arms fair, which ran concurrently with the protest events. The auctioning of Banksy’s piece brought in about $277,000.

“The arms fair is a moral abomination,” said Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade. More than one hundred protesters who tried to interrupt the delivery of goods to the arms fair were arrested.

In June, Banksy found himself in trouble with the British government for trying to sway the general election by offering a free print to anyone who did not vote for Tory candidates. “I have been warned by the Electoral Commission that the free print offer will invalidate the election result. So I regret to announce this ill-conceived and legally dubious promotion has now been canceled,” the artist said in a statement on his website.

September 19, 2017

Meredith Monk Awarded 2017 Gish Prize

Meredith Monk.

The trailblazing composer, singer, and interdisciplinary artist Meredith Monk has won the twenty-fourth Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize. She will receive approximately $250,000 and will be honored during a ceremony at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on October 26.

Established in 1994 through the will of legendary stage and screen actress Lillian Gish, known as the “First Lady of Cinema,” the prize recognizes artists from any discipline who have pushed the boundaries of an art form, contributed to social change, and paved the way for the next generation.

“I am humbled and grateful to receive the Gish Prize,” Monk said. “It’s exceptional for being a prize that a great artist decided to give to other artists, and even more special for the values that Lillian Gish expressed when she said it should recognize contributions to ‘the beauty of the world.’ I believe, as she did, that art can be a healing force, a source of light during dark times. With boundless admiration for her, and profound respect for the artists who received this prize before me, I am thrilled to have been chosen for this one-of-a-kind award.”

September 19, 2017

Bronx Museum of the Arts Appoints Klaudio Rodriguez as Deputy Director

Klaudio Rodriguez.

The Bronx Museum of the Arts has named Klaudio Rodriguez, formerly the curator at the Frost Art Museum at Florida International University in Miami, as its new deputy director. Rodriguez will be responsible for assisting in the management of staff and the implementation of the museum’s exhibitions and public programming.

During his tenure at the Frost Art Museum, Rodriguez worked closely with the museum’s director and development office to build membership, develop new revenue sources, and fundraise. He also helped organize exhibitions of Uruguayan art, South American geometric abstraction, and video works by women artists, as well as “Narciso Rodriguez: An Exercise in Minimalism” (2016–17). Additionally, Rodriguez serves on the diversity and mentoring committees of the Association of Art Museum Curators and recently participated in the Getty Leadership Institute.

“I am thrilled that Klaudio is joining the Bronx Museum as deputy director,” noted executive director Holly Block. “The experience and expertise he brings will result in thought-provoking exhibitions and programs of local, national, and international significance, as well as new ways to more deeply engage with our community.”

September 18, 2017

Judy Baca to Expand Major Los Angeles Mural

Judy Baca, The Great Wall of Los Angeles, 1976, paint on concrete. Installation view, Los Angeles.

During last week’s slew of openings for the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA initiative in Los Angeles, artist Judy Baca announced that her 2,754-foot-long mural, The Great Wall of Los Angeles, 1976, will be expanded in the coming years with new sections, according to a report by Jori Finkel in the Art Newspaper. Originally conceived in 1974, the mural documenting California’s history up to the 1950s was completed over five summers and employed more than four hundred youths and their families. The mural was painted along a concrete wall of the Tujunga Flood Control Channel in the San Fernando Valley area of LA. Baca completed a restoration of the project in 2011 and is now planning to add hundreds of feet of new scenery to reflect recent history. The mural currently ends with images of Wilma Rudolph, who was an African American Olympic gold medalist, and American Indian athlete Billy Mills, who won a gold medal at the 1964 Olympics.

Baca stated that the next section of the mural will focus on images of radical protest from the 1960s. For example, the Olympic torch that Mills holds will be altered so that it is shown falling into a circle representing a generation on fire. Baca said that “these semi-hippie, but not entirely hippie, my-generation people have fire in their chests and they are met by the Alabama hoses and the dogs, and yet they are people in total peace and calm recognizing they must stand for what they believe in . . . We’re hoping this is going to be an inspiration for the next generation.”

In collaboration with the Social and Public Art Resource Center (SPARC), which was founded by Baca in 1976 and oversees The Great Wall, the artist plans to paint the additions indoors on a substrate and then transfer the material to the installation outside. SPARC is now raising money for this next phase of the mural. Debra J. T. Padilla, the executive director of SPARC, noted, “It costs about $600,000 a decade, and we have the 1960s, ’70s, ’80s and ’90s to go”—in addition to the cost of a new studio for the production of the piece’s extension.

September 18, 2017

Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art Announces New Director

Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy

The supervisory board of the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam has announced that Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy will serve as the public institution’s new director, starting on January 1, 2018. She succeeds Defne Ayas, who has led the institution successfully for two three-year terms, the maximum for a director at Witte de With according to the organization’s governance code.

Hailing from Mexico, Hernández Chong Cuy has been curator of contemporary art at the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros since 2011. She has also developed exhibitions independently, including “The Neighbors” (2016−17), an exhibition series at the Bronx Museum of the Arts in New York, and “Let’s Walk Together” (2016), a survey exhibition of Mario Garcia Torres at Museo Tamayo in Mexico City, a museum she also previously served as the director of, from 2009 to 2010. Hernández Chong Cuy was artistic director and chief curator of the Ninth Mercosul Biennial in Porto Alegre, Brazil, in 2013, as well as an “agent” of Documenta 13 (2012) in Kassel.

The outgoing director of Witte de With stated: “I am thrilled to see what we were able to achieve in the past six years, especially in the way we have become more of an open and inclusive place, and how we continued to be a site of excellence for exhibitions, while also transforming into a stage for global and national debate about the role of art and culture in society . . . I am grateful for the opportunity I was given here to work with some of the most generous and demanding artists, thinkers, and writers of our times. I will cherish this place and its people for the rest of my life. Sofía’s appointment aligns wonderfully with our ambitions to keep this center a continuously relevant one. She is someone who is conscientious and of uncompromising curatorial rigor, and, as such, the perfect person to lead this institution into the next, and possibly the most important, chapter of its evolution.”