October 7, 2016

President of Juilliard to Step Down After Three Decades

Joseph W. Polisi (far right) with two musicians.

Joseph W. Polisi, the longest-serving president of New York’s Juilliard School, has announced that he will step down in June 2018, after more than three decades at the helm of the institution.

During his tenure, Polisi oversaw a major expansion project that added 40,000 square feet of space to the Irene Diamond Building at Lincoln Center. He also spearheaded the construction of Juilliard’s first dormitory in order to build a greater sense of community among its students.

He expanded the school’s curricular offerings, creating new programs in jazz studies and historical performance as well as a new master of fine arts in drama program. He established the Music Technology Center, which is now the Center for Innovation in the Arts; developed an exchange program with Columbia University and Barnard College; oversaw the development of partnerships with Carnegie Hall and the Metropolitan Opera; and strengthened the school’s touring program. The Juilliard Orchestra now performs throughout Asia and Europe.

October 7, 2016

Angry Neighbors Threaten Istanbul Gallery Forcing It to Close Early

A screen shot from a video of an altercation at a gallery opening in Tophane, Istanbul.

According to Carey Dunne of Hyperallergic, a gallery in the conservative neighborhood of Tophane, Istanbul, was forced to close an exhibition opening early after neighbors, who were angered over the consumption of alcohol (which is forbidden by the Islamic faith), started verbally assaulting people and threatening violence.

Gallery owner Melih Apaydın said, “There wasn’t any loud music. We were just talking to each other.” She added, “The attackers came from the surrounding buildings. They swore at us and threatened us. Because we knew about previous similar attacks, we didn’t want to get involved.”

The gallery called the police, but they did not come to break up the altercation. Instead, they told the staff to end the event earlier and close its doors. Among the twenty-one female artists featured in the exhibition titled “Kuytu” (Secluded), Vardal Caniş said, “A big family, including grandparents, parents, and the children who were disturbed by the crowd including both male and female guests and by the alcohol consumption came to the place and started yelling at the people. They wanted to inflict physical violence on the father of an attending artist.”

In recent years, similar incidents with gallerygoers being targeted for drinking alcohol have occurred at other venues in the city. In the fall of 2010, a group of men carrying broken bottles, pepper spray, batons, and knives raided several galleries that were having openings on the same night, which resulted in five people being hospitalized. In 2014, men armed with sticks raided an exhibition of graffiti art titled “Erör” (Error) hosted by Mixer Art Gallery, which has since relocated from Tophane to a more liberal area. In 2015, another attack transpired at the Daire Gallery.

October 7, 2016

Portland Art Museum Announces Expansion and 20-Year Partnership with Rothko Family to Exhibit Rarely Seen Works

Design rendering of the Portland Art Museum’s Rothko Pavilion.

The Portland Art Museum has announced that it has agreed to an art-loaning partnership with members of Mark Rothko’s family, which will allow the institution to exhibit major paintings from the Rothkos’ private collection over the course of the next two decades.

“Our family is thrilled to enter into this partnership with the museum,” Christopher Rothko said. “Portland played a formative role in my father’s youth, and we are eager to share these works with the public and give Rothko a more active role in the vibrant cultural life of this city.” Christopher Rothko and Kate Rothko Prizel, the Abstract Expressionist’s children, will be loaning the works.

The museum is also planning an expansion project, including a new glass-walled building that will add 30,000 square feet of space. At the request of the anonymous lead donor, it will be named the Rothko Pavilion in honor of the artist’s legacy. Born as Markus Yakovlevich Rotkovich in Latvia in 1903, Rothko settled with his family in Portland when he was ten years old. His first solo exhibition was organized by the Portland Art Museum.

Designed by Chicago-based Vinci Hamp Architects, the three-story pavilion will be connected to the main building and will feature 9,840 square feet of exhibition space, a third-floor sculpture garden, a new education and design lab, and additional space for the museum’s library.

Slated to open between 2020 and 2021, the expansion will cost approximately $75 million, which includes the cost of construction and establishing an endowment. To date, the museum has raised $21.75 million.

October 7, 2016

Bing Thom (1940–2016)

Bing Thom

Bing Thom, a Canadian architect known for his redesign of the building that houses the Arena Stage in Washington, DC, which transformed the city’s southwest waterfront, died on Tuesday in Hong Kong at the age of seventy-five, Martin Well of the Washington Post reports.

Thom’s projects ranged from the Guildford Aquatic Center in Surrey, British Columbia, and the Tarrant County College in Fort Worth, Texas, to the Chan Center for the Performing Arts at the University of British Columbia.

Born in Hong Kong in 1940, Thom and his family moved to Vancouver in 1949. He earned his bachelor’s degree in 1966 from the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, where he studied under architect Arthur Erickson, whom he would later work for. He received his master’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1969.

In the 1970s, Thom worked for the Pritzker Prize–winning architect Fumihiko Maki in Tokyo. Shortly thereafter, he returned to Vancouver and opened his own firm in 1981.

Thom’s redesign of the complex where the Arena Stage is located, called the Mead Center for American Theater, involved refurbishing two buildings and adding a third. He connected the three structures with one roof. After the theater opened in 2010, Roger K. Lewis, an architecture critic at the Washington Post, called the $130 million project an “aesthetically bold, sometimes theatrical, architectural ensemble unlike anything else in Washington.”

In a 2010 interview, Thom told the New York Times, “I sometimes analogize a city to a string of pearls. As an architect I’m as interested in the string as in the pearls.”

Two of Thom’s Hong Kong–based projects, the Xiqu Center for the Performing Arts and the University of Chicago Center, are currently still under construction.

October 6, 2016

Cooper Union’s Architecture Archive Awarded Grant to Digitize Collection

Analysis: Le Palais du Gouveneur, Le Corbusier. Alexander Gorlin. Design III, Fall 1975.

The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art’s Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture has received a $149,736 federal grant that will support the creation of an online archive for its Student Work Collection.

The Institutes of Museum and Library Services grant will allow the archive to organize, catalogue, and digitize more than thirty thousand works, with four thousand student projects from the 1930s, including blueprints, photographs, drawings, and small- and large-scale models.

“Not only will this enable us to multiply our audiences, but it effectively allows us to share the pedagogical heritage of the school with the world at large,” Nader Tehrani, dean of the school of architecture, said. “I am delighted to share this news with our alumni, whose work is the subject of this archive, and also pleased to be able to speak to our prospective students to help them better understand the ethics and discipline that underlie this work.”

Established in 1983, the school of architecture’s archive stemmed from a project that John Hejduk and Roger Canon initiated in 1970 while organizing the exhibition “Education of An Architect: A Point of View” (1971) for New York’s MoMA.

Associate dean Elizabeth O’Donnell said, “The collection documents student work, but reveals as well the radical changes in architectural theory, practice and the tools of architectural investigation and representation over the last fifty years.”

October 6, 2016

Former Students File Lawsuit Against NYU over Its Singapore Art School

NYU Tisch Asia School of the Arts

Three former students of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts in Singapore, which closed in 2012, have filed a class action lawsuit against the university claiming that the school was an “educational scam” that burdened students with high tuition costs for a subpar program, Channel News Asia reports.

According to the complaint, NYU advertised the program as an extension of its New York Tisch location, promising the same quality of education.

“Except for the cost of tuition, Tisch Asia never lived up to the level of Tisch New York,” the suit states. The three plaintiffs allege that they did not receive the same level of instruction, quality of equipment, and opportunities to intern or gain experience in their chosen field and were required to pay between $100,000 and $165,000 to attend.

Anna Basso, Amy Hartman, and Jaime Villa Ruiz cited a professor not knowing how to use a camera, a teacher promoting outdated techniques during a cinematography course, and classes being taught by alumni as examples of the school’s shortcomings.

John Beckham, an NYU representative, said that the students at the Singapore campus had the same curriculum as the New York school and claims that the suit is “wholly without merit.” Beckham said, “We expect to prevail in court.”

October 6, 2016

Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis Staff Member Attacked

Kelley Walker, Black Star Press, 2007.

After an unnamed Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis employee was verbally and nearly physically attacked at a gas station for being a member of the institution’s staff on Monday, October 3, the museum released a statement saying that in recent weeks its employees have been harassed and threatened.

The statement reads: “CAM has always welcomed argument, dialogue, dissent, and debate about its exhibitions. In recent weeks, members of CAM’s staff have been harassed and personally threatened. Today, a staff member was attacked in public for wearing a CAM T-shirt. While we welcome debate, we cannot accept hate speech or violence.”

According to Artnews, the staff member, who was identified as a woman of color, was approached at a gas station by another woman who asked her if she worked at the museum. After the employee confirmed that she did, the woman started to insult her. She threw a soda bottle at her, and according to museum director Lisa Melandri, “tried to take a few swings at her.”

“Something real happened to somebody on staff,” Melandri told Artnews in an interview. “It is my responsibility, as director, to care for the staff members. It simply was essential to share that something had happened, and that a different kind of escalation in anti-CAM [rhetoric] was happening.”

The incident occurred almost a month after the museum opened a Kelley Walker exhibition that has sparked protests due to Walker’s appropriation of civil rights movement photos and images of African American women. Titled “Direct Drive,” the show initially caused public outrage at an artist talk during which Walker and chief curator Jeffrey Uslip didn’t satisfactorily answer the audience’s questions.

The museum stated: “Because of direct threats to Chief Curator Jeffrey Uslip, we have decided that he will not participate in the public conversation on Friday. Executive Director Lisa Melandri will be answering questions from attendees regarding the role of CAM in the community, as well as furthering the discussion about the exhibition ‘Kelley Walker: Direct Drive.’”

October 6, 2016

Elaine Lustig Cohen (1927–2016)

Elaine Lustig Cohen

Elaine Lustig Cohen, artist, graphic designer, and AIGA medalist known for her book jackets, exhibition catalogues, and pioneering typographic works, has died at the age of eighty-nine.

In her artist’s statement, Cohen said, “My life as an artist has been shaped by two passions: for graphic design created in the public sphere on the one hand, and by the exploration of a related private vision in painting, on the other.”

Born Elaine Firstenberg in Jersey City in 1927, Cohen found her passion for modern art at the age of fifteen after a visit to Peggy Guggenheim’s Art of This Century gallery. While attending Newcomb College at Tulane University, she studied art and learned about design “in the Bauhaus sense.” At twenty years old, Cohen met Alvin Lustig, an American graphic designer whom she later married. She worked as a teacher for a short period of time, but left arts education to work in Lustig’s studio. After her husband’s death in 1955, Cohen took over his projects. She designed the architectural lettering for the Seagram Building, brochures for the Girl Scouts, and book jackets for Meridian Books.

In a 2015 500 Words for artforum.com, Cohen discussed an exhibition of early paintings that was on view at Philip Johnson’s Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut. She said, “When I was doing graphic design in the postwar period, architecture was going to save the world! We were all going to be good in life because of the space we lived it in. It’s a wonderful dream, but that was the mind-set of the time.” She added, “Postwar expression for me was not about individualism or the freedom of a Jackson Pollock; it was about cultural renewal in an architectonic expression.”

October 5, 2016

Joseph Wheelwright (1948–2016)

Joseph Wheelwright, White Birch Kouros, 2003

Vermont- and Boston-based artist Joseph Wheelwright has died, according to the Boston Globe’s Bryan Marquard. The creator of the Sleeping Moon, installed in Dorchester’s Peabody Square, Wheelwright received his BA and MFA at Yale and RISD, respectively, and helped found Humphreys Street Studios and the Boston Sculptors Gallery. Wheelwright often made work from natural materials, using granite, ice, and even uprooted trees, sometimes forming them into what he once called “sentient beings that are there communicating with you, if not cavorting.”

Wheelwright staged a 2003 show at the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, which, according to the Globe’s Cate McQuaid, celebrated “both humanity and nature.” Added McQuaid, “There’s a dark side to both . . . which Wheelwright generally skirts in favor of humor and familiarity.”