July 17, 2016

Alan Vega (1938–2016)

Alan Vega

Artist, musician, and performer Alan Vega died on Saturday, according to a statement from his family that was posted by vocalist and radio host Henry Rollins, formerly of the California hard-core band Black Flag, on his website. Vega is best-known as the vocalist for the band Suicide, which he formed in New York with Martin Rev in 1970 and is widely considered to be influential to a number of subgenres of music, including punk, industrial, and techno. The band’s live shows were infamous and marked by a notable level of violence and aggression, including one incident where, according to Vega, he had an axe thrown at his head during a show in Glasgow in 1978, presaging the dangerous reputation punk rock would come to accrue. Vega himself tended to carry a chain around on stage and cut himself during performances.

Born in Brooklyn as Alan Bermowitz, Vega was working in sculpture and experimenting with electronics at the Project of Living Artists, a publicly funded workshop downtown, when he met Martin Rev. They formed Suicide and began performing at galleries, with their second-ever show titled “Punk Music Mass,” which some say was the first time a band used the word “punk” to describe their own music. The band’s name was inspired by “Satan Suicide,” an issue of Vega’s favorite comic book, Ghost Rider, which they used as a song title. Their first album came out in 1977 and featured the ten-minute track “Frankie Teardrop,” which narrates the tale of a man pushed to his limits by poverty, eventually murdering his own wife and child before killing himself.

Suicide became inactive in the 1980s, but Vega went on to become a popular singer in France, bagging a deal with a major label that tried to market him as a more alternative Bruce Springsteen. He continued to release solo albums, the latest of which was Station (2008), and sell his sculptures in more recent years.

The statement from Vega’s family on his passing is excerpted below.

July 15, 2016

Job Cuts at the Met Might Exceed 100 in a Wave of Layoffs

Thomas P. Campbell

After a hiring freeze and a round of voluntary buyouts, the Metropolitan Museum of Art is looking to cut more costs by trimming down its core staff by about fifty positions, Robin Pogrebin of the New York Times reports. More than fifty employees have already taken buyouts since the museum announced that it had a $10 million deficit, which the Met’s president said could quickly inflate to $40 million if it did not start to scale back.

“There is no letting up on the quality and the commitment we have to excellence—nothing we’re doing will be discernible or visible to the public,” Daniel H. Weiss, the Met’s president and chief operating officer, said. “We’re planning to streamline our budgets but not to diminish our mission.”

Curatorial and conservation jobs may have to be reduced by 5 percent, and the administrative staff, which includes the marketing, human resources, and digital departments, might be cut by 15 or 20 percent. The number of annual exhibitions will also be slimmed from fifty-five to around forty. The museum has already postponed an expansive show on Versailles.

July 15, 2016

NYPD Monitors Gallery After It Received Threats for Displaying Flag Protesting Police Brutality

Dread Scott’s flag outside of Jack Shainman Gallery.

According to Angelica Rogers of the New York Times, Jack Shainman Gallery was put under special alert by the NYPD after it received numerous threats for displaying artist Dread Scott’s black-and-white flag that reads: “A Man Was Lynched by Police Yesterday.”

The flag, which was raised outside of the Manhattan gallery’s building, is a historic nod to a similar flag that the NAACP flew outside its headquarters in 1936 after A. L. McCamy was lynched in Dalton, Georgia. Scott re-created the flag after Walter L. Scott was murdered in North Charleston, South Carolina, last year and tweaked the phrasing by adding the words “by police.”

The artist said that he wanted people to be aware of the similarities between the recent incidents of police brutality and “lynch mob terror.” He and the gallery began receiving threats after Fox News published an article on July 11 stating that the gallery was standing by a work that “accuses police of lynching African Americans” in the wake of the murder of five officers by a sniper in Dallas.

July 15, 2016

The Contemporary Austin Establishes $100,000 Art Prize

Suzanne Deal Booth

The Contemporary Austin has announced that it has established the Suzanne Deal Booth Art Prize, a $100,000 biennial award that includes a solo exhibition at the institution’s Jones Center and a scholarly publication. The prize will support working artists in various stages of their careers.

The award’s selection committee consists of Deal Booth; Heather Pesanti, the museum’s senior curator; Stephanie Barron, senior curator and head of LACMA’s Modern Art Department; Naomi Beckwith, curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Peter Eleey, chief curator at MoMA PS1; Hamza Walker, director of education and associate curator at the University of Chicago’s Renaissance Society; and Heidi Zuckerman, CEO and director of the Aspen Art Museum. The inaugural winner will be announced this fall, and the exhibition accompanying the prize will be held in 2018.

Deal Booth earned her master’s degree in art history and conservation from New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts. During her studies, she worked with collector and philanthropist Dominique de Menil. Booth has worked at several institutions, including Les Monuments Historiques, Kimbell Art Museum, the Menil Collection, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the J. Paul Getty Trust. She also serves on the boards of the Contemporary, LACMA, the Menil Collection, the Centre Pompidou Foundation, and Ballroom Marfa. She established the Booth Scholar in Residence at the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies and the Booth Family Rome Prize Fellowship at the American Academy in Rome.

July 15, 2016

Museum of Arts and Design Announces New Board Leaders and Trustees

Michele Cohen

The Museum of Arts and Design has announced several recent appointments, including a change in leadership. Michele Cohen will succeed Lewis Kruger as chair of the board of trustees. Ann Kaplan has been elected secretary, and Joan Hornig and Barbara Waldman will join the board as new trustees.

“MAD will be celebrating its sixtieth anniversary this fall, and I welcome the opportunity to lead the board into the next chapter of the museum’s history,” Cohen said. “We are extremely grateful for Lewis Kruger’s more than twenty-five years on the board and the past seven as chair. He led us through a period of transition for the museum and the completion of our capital drive.”

Cohen has worked at Cohen & Steers, a global investment managing firm, for eighteen years. She joined the museum’s board in 2008. She also served on the institution’s collections, development, education, and executive committees. In 2014, she was elected board secretary, and in 2015 she was appointed vice chair. As chair of “Loot: MAD about Jewelry,” an annual artist-made jewelry exhibition and sale, she raised $2.5 million.

July 15, 2016

Boyle Heights Activists Demand Art Galleries Leave the LA Neighborhood

Community meeting held in Boyle Heights on Tuesday, July 12.

Residents of Boyle Heights—a working-class neighborhood located east of the arts district in downtown Los Angeles—are demanding that art galleries move out of their neighborhood, Hillel Aron of LA Weekly reports. The activists view the galleries as catalysts for gentrification.

“We have one pretty simple demand,” said Maga Miranda, a member of the Defend Boyle Heights group, “which is for all art galleries in Boyle Heights to leave immediately and for the community to decide what takes their place.” Miranda, who is also part of a new coalition called Boyle Heights Alliance Against Artwashing and Displacement, claims that the activists are not against culture. The alliance opposes galleries because they are part of a “broader effort by planners and politicians and developers who want to artwash gentrification.”

During a two-hour community meeting on Tuesday that drew about one hundred people to the Pico Gardens housing project, residents expressed that they fear the galleries will make Boyle Heights into a “luxury zone,” which will cause the cost of housing to skyrocket.

July 15, 2016

Luce Lebart Appointed Director of the Canadian Photography Institute

Luce Lebart

The National Gallery of Canada has announced that Luce Lebart, director of collections and curator at Paris’s French Society of Photography, was named the first director of the Canadian Photography Institute. She will assume her new role on August 29.

A photography historian with degrees from Université Paris 1, Université Paris 8, and École nationale supérieure de la photographie in Arles, Lebart specializes in scientific and documentary photography, the history of archiving, and photographic techniques and processes. At the French Society of Photography, she is responsible for the management and conservation of collections, communications, and integrating the collections within the network of France’s National Library. In 2015, she published various works, including Memories of the Sphinx (Souvenirs du sphinx) and Mold is Beautiful. She co-organized the exhibition “A Burden of Proof” (“Images à charge”), 2015, which was presented at Le BAL in Paris, the Photographers’ Gallery in London, Camera in Turin, and the Fotomuseum in Rotterdam, and she collaborated with Sam Stourdzé on the exhibition “Lady Liberty,” which is on view this summer at the international festival Les Rencontres d’Arles 2016.

Housed within the National Gallery, the institute was established by the National Gallery of Canada and the National Gallery of Canada Foundation in 2015. The research and exhibition center aims to grow the gallery’s collection of more than 50,000 photographs and 146,000 negatives.

July 15, 2016

Christian Marclay Receives SF MoMA’s 2016 Contemporary Vision Award

Christian Marclay

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art has announced that artist Christian Marclay will be honored with the institution’s 2016 Contemporary Vision Award for creating work that foregrounds contemporary art as a vital part of public life.

“We have a special connection with Christian—we commissioned Video Quartet in 2002, and his seminal piece, The Clock, closed SF MoMA in 2013 prior to our expansion, marking the end of one era and the beginning of another for our museum,” director Neal Benezra said. “His understanding of what is visually compelling, combined with his ability to create powerful cinematic narratives, makes him an ideal recipient of this award.”

The London and New York–based artist is known for his transformation of musical objects into commentary on visual culture. Throughout his three-decade career, Marclay has experimented with fusing sound, photography, video, and other media. The Dadaist DJ has collaborated with musicians such as John Zorn, Elliott Sharp, Fred Frith, Zeena Parkins, Shelley Hirsh, Christian Wolff, Butch Morris, Otomo Yoshihide, Arto Lindsay, and Sonic Youth, among many others. His work has been exhibited by numerous institutions, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, Venice Biennale, Centre Pompidou, the Walker Art Center, LACMA, Tate Modern, and Kunsthaus Zurich. In 2011, Marclay was awarded the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale for his cinematic tour de force, The Clock, 2010. The work features thousands of edited film fragments in a twenty-four-hour montage that examines how time, plot, and duration are depicted in cinema, and it also serves as a working timepiece.

July 14, 2016

The Bessie Awards Announce 2015–16 Nominees

Joya Powell

Established in 1983, the Bessies were named after dance teacher Bessie Schoenberg in recognition of her work in choreography, performance, music composition, and visual design. Three of the awards were presented at the press conference today. Joya Powell received the Outstanding Emerging Choreographer Award for her choreographic engagement with issues of justice and race. The award for Outstanding Revival was given to Donald McKayle’s choreographed modern dance “Rainbow ‘Round My Shoulder.” This year’s jury, which consisted of Yoshiko Chuma, Liz Gerring, and Bill T. Jones, honored Pam Tanowitz with the 2016 Juried Bessie Award for using form and structure as a vehicle for challenging audiences to think, feel, and experience movement.

The thirty-second annual award ceremony will take place at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Howard Gilman Opera House on October 18. “After five glorious years at the Apollo, we are thrilled to be bringing the awards to BAM’s historic opera house,” Lucy Sexton, executive director of the Bessies, said. “It is in some sense a homecoming—BAM hosted the awards from 1985 to 1990—and it is especially meaningful as Brooklyn is home to so many artists.”

The 2016 nominees are as follows: