Osaka Severs Ties with San Francisco over “Comfort Woman” Statue

A picture of the comfort women statue in St. Mary’s Square in San Francisco. Photo: Paul Chinn / San Francisco Chronicle.

Hirofumi Yoshimura, the mayor of Osaka, Japan, is severing ties with its sister city, San Francisco, over a statue commemorating the many thousands of Korean, Chinese, and Filipino “comfort women” who were detained and sexually assaulted by Japanese soldiers before and during World War II, writes Jacey Fortin of the New York Times. Yoshimura announced that Osaka would end its relationship with San Francisco when its mayor, Edwin M. Lee, signed a resolution to make the statue a city monument. “Erecting comfort women statues in the United States and other countries is in conflict with our country’s stance and extremely regrettable,” said Yoshihide Suga, Japan’s chief cabinet secretary, at a press conference on November 24. Earlier this year, a comfort woman statue placed outside the Japanese embassy in Busan, South Korea, caused Japan, in an act of protest, to suspend economic negotiations in helping stabilize South Korea’s currency.

There are fears that the statue will incite violence against Japanese Americans in the United States, as more than one hundred thousand people of Japanese heritage were imprisoned in US internment camps during the 1940s, around the same time the Imperial Japanese Army was enslaving women. South Korea has also been accused of keeping women as prostitutes for American soldiers during the 1960s and 1970s, and in January a South Korean court declared that the government broke the law by detaining these women.

Julie Tang, a retired California Superior Court judge and chair of the Comfort Women Justice Coalition, does not see the San Francisco statue as any kind of insult to the Japanese. “The issue is women’s freedom from sexual violence, especially from rape and assault during wartime,” said Tang.


January 17, 2018

Eight-Five Artists Awarded MacDowell Colony Fellowships

2018 MacDowell Colony fellows. Photo: (clockwise from top left): Stacey Steers, Rashawn Griffin, Mary Ruefle, Koji Nakano, Amity Gaige, Basil Twist, Morgan Thorsen, and Eric Puchner.

The MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire, has awarded fellowships to eighty-five artists, working in seven disciplines. The fellowships are for upcoming late-winter and spring residencies. Writers Rebecca Skloot, Elif Batuman, and Azmat Khan, poet Mary Ruefle, composer Evan Chambers, filmmaker Stacey Steers, and artists Starlee Kine, Basil Twist, and Carl Wilson are among the recipients. Each fellow will be awarded $10,000 and will be provided with a private studio.

“Once again, an amazing array of gifted artists have applied for MacDowell fellowships. These artists range in age from twenty to ninety-two, perhaps the widest range we’ve ever had,” executive director Cheryl A. Young said. “This generational span is a testament to our continued effort to help artists of all ages and at all stages of their careers. This mix also makes for a richer experience for those in residence.”

Also among this group are artists displaced by the recent natural disasters in Florida, Texas, and Mexico. MacDowell Fellows who live in the affected areas were eligible to apply for emergency time if their studios, homes, or livelihood were impacted. The MacDowell Colony awards more than three hundred fellowships each year.

The 2018 fellows are as follows:

January 17, 2018

Nancy Wilhelms to Step Down as Executive Director of Anderson Ranch Arts Center

Nancy Wilhelms. Photo: the Anderson Ranch Arts Center.

The Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Colorado has announced that Nancy Wilhelms, who has successfully led the organization for five years, will step down as executive director at the end of the year. Wilhelms will continue to head the institution as it searches for a new successor to ensure a smooth transition in leadership. 

“During her tenure, Nancy has been instrumental in the successful growth of the Ranch,” board chair David Fuente said in a statement. While Wilhelms was at the helm of the organization, the Ranch increased its operating budget by 34 percent and its endowment by 27 percent. She also helped enhance programs such as the Featured Artists Series, which invited Frank Stella, Christo, Marina Abramović, Theaster Gates, Steve McQueen, Carrie Mae Weems, and Catherine Opie, among other artists to the arts space, and spearheaded the development of the new Critical Dialogue Program, the Advanced Mentored Studies Program, and other initiatives.

Commenting on her departure, Wilhelms said, “I am looking forward to pursuing new opportunities in arts and culture, and working with the board to help the Ranch enter the next phase of its growth. I plan to remain a very active member of the Ranch family and community.”

January 17, 2018

Moscow Judge Extends Russian Director Kirill Serebrennikov’s House Arrest

Kirill S. Serebrennikov. Photo: Operstuttgart.

On Tuesday, January 16, 2018, a Moscow court extended the duration for which Kirill Serebrennikov, the artistic director of the Gogol Center, will remain under house arrest. Serebrennikov has been accused of embezzling government funds. Supporters of the embattled director believe that the charges were brought against him in order to punish him for organizing performances featuring sexually explicit and politically-charged content.

According to the New York Times, investigators are now claiming that Serebrennikov embezzled $2.3 million—twice as much as they originally thought—through his theater company, Seventh Studio. If he is convicted, the judge may award the Ministry of Culture the same amount as compensation.

While cultural figures have spoken up in his defense and repeatedly petitioned for his release, President Vladimir V. Putin declared that Serebrennikov must secure his freedom through the Russian legal system. When testifying in court on Tuesday, the director alleged that he was falsely accused of the crime by the accountant for Seventh Studio, Nina L. Maslyaeva, who also named four others as collaborators. His trial is scheduled to take place in three months.

January 17, 2018

Yuki Terase Appointed Sotheby’s Head of Contemporary Art, Asia

Yuki Terase.

Sotheby’s has named Yuki Terase as head of contemporary art, Asia, a department that is based in Hong Kong. Terase will lead be responsible for the auction house’s private sales of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and western contemporary art in Asia, and will contribute to the company’s business development efforts in Japan.

“Yuki’s depth of experience and relationships around the world make her a critical component of our contemporary art team and I’m thrilled to have her spearhead our efforts in such an important part of the global marketplace,” Amy Cappellazzo, chairman of Sotheby’s fine art division, said in a statement.

Since joining Sotheby’s in 2011, Terase has led a number of white-glove sales, including “Full Circle: Yoshihara Jiro Collection, Brushwork,” “From Asia to the World, Brushwork II,” “All the World’s a Stage,” and “Yamaguchi Takeo—Composing Monochrome.” She also initiated a sale in collaboration with street fashion designer Nigo, as well as one guest-curated by the K-Pop singer T.O.P. in October 2016. Previously, Terase worked for Morgan Stanley as a member of its mergers and acquisition advisory team in Tokyo.

January 17, 2018

Amy Sherald Joins Baltimore Museum of Art as New Trustee

Amy Sherald. Photo: Christopher Myers.

The Baltimore Museum of Art announced that contemporary artist and Baltimore resident Amy Sherald has been elected as its newest trustee. Sherald, who was recently commissioned to paint Michelle Obama’s portrait, will officially take her board seat on February 20. She joins thirty-nine other active trustees in guiding the institution.

“As we develop a new strategic plan, it is important to have the voice of artists like Amy on the BMA’s board of trustees,” director Christopher Bedford said. “Amy will bring a unique perspective to museum leadership, one that not only draws on her career as one of today’s most important artists, but also on her ties to the city of Baltimore itself.”

Commenting on her new post, Sherald said, “The BMA is pioneering the way for institutions to become more inclusive by championing contemporary artists from all walks of life. I am honored to be able to have a voice in helping move the museum forward.”

January 17, 2018

The Awl and The Hairpin Prepare to Shut Down

Screenshot of The Awl.

The influential website The Awl and its sister website The Hairpin, which is geared towards women, announced on Tuesday that they will be shutting down. Known for showcasing writing about eccentric and offbeat topics, the platforms have featured content ranging from David Foster Wallace’s self-help library to the dos and don’ts of time traveling. A decline in ad revenue was cited as the reason for the closures.

Michael Macher, the publisher of the Awl Network, told Benjamin Mullin of the Wall Street Journal that “We’ve always been somewhat intentionally small, and scale has become increasingly important for securing large ad deals.” He added, “It’s a structural shift with the way media buyers and agencies relate to publishers—and for better or worse less of those dollars are falling to indie publishers.”

“For nearly a decade we followed a dream of building a better Internet, and though we did not manage to do that every day we tried very hard and we hope you don’t blame us for how things ultimately turned out,” The Awl said in a statement. “We’re intensely proud of what we managed to accomplish over the years, and while most of the credit goes to an astoundingly talented team of writers and editors, the greatest achievement any site can claim is in the quality and fervor of its audience, and on that score we feel like we were the most successful organization ever.”

January 17, 2018

Monya Rowe Gallery Is Returning to New York

Polina Barskaya, Kitchen with Sunflowers, 2017, acrylic on panel, 8 x 10".

Monya Rowe Gallery, which has been located in Saint Augustine, Florida since 2015, is now moving back to New York, the city it called home since at least 2005, writes Nate Freeman of Artnews. “Thank you for supporting our exhibitions throughout this Florida chapter. We look forward to seeing you in New York,” said the gallery in a statement.

Details as to where the gallery will be relocating to in the city have not been provided. Before heading south, the gallery was located on Manhattan’s Lower East Side at Thirty-Four Orchard Street, which is currently occupied by Alden Projects. Monya Rowe’s inaugural New York show will feature a recent body of work by Polina Barskaya.

January 17, 2018

Yale Center for British Art Receives Gift of 125 Photographs

James and Claire Hyman.

Collectors Claire and James Hyman have gifted the Yale Center for British Art with 125 photographs, writes Alex Greenberger of Artnews. The pictures are currently on display at the museum until March 29.

Works by Fay Godwin, Bill Brandt, Martin Paar, Anna Fox, and Bert Hardy, among other artists, are represented in the donation. “Claire and I hope that by making this donation at such a seminal moment it will help provide a platform for the Center’s ambitions to develop its engagement with British photography,” said James Hyman.

January 17, 2018

New Moscow Art Center Will Be Crucial Link on City’s Museum Mile

A rendering of the GES2. Image: Renzo Piano Building Workshop.

Moscow’s V-A-C Foundation—an enterprise “dedicated to the development and international presentation of Russian contemporary culture,” according to its website—will be unveiling the GES2 next year, a Renzo Piano–designed contemporary art center that will help to link three other major institutions along the city’s Museum Mile, writes George Nelson of the Art Newspaper. The GES2 will aid in connecting the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Tretyakov Gallery, and the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art. The institutions, “which have been used to working in quite an isolated ideology,” according to Teresa Mavica, the V-A-C Foundation’s director, will now be “forced to have a conversation.”

“Moscow’s mayor wants to make this place like a cultural capital of the world,” said Mavica. “The idea arrived after understanding the level of cultural segregation in which Moscow has been for so long. It’s time for the Russian capital to become more open, for institutions to work together and themselves become an important actor of the social movement.”

The Museum Mile project is a part of Moscow’s “My Street” urban renewal program. Anton Belov, the director of the Garage, pushed the Russian government to approve the Museum Mile effort last year. But an ever-increasing budget, along with botched deadlines and residential debacles, has spurred a great deal of criticism against the program’s work. A representative from Arkhnadzor, an architectural preservation group, says construction has harmed ancient structures. Yevgeny Asse, an architect based in Moscow, was quoted in the Moscow Times saying that the city “has turned into hell.” Mavica, however, is undaunted: “Give us a couple of years and we will make the center beautiful.”