Saturday, June 07, 2008

URI officials comment on arts cuts

Yesterday afternoon, University of Rhode Island spokesman David Lavallee e-mailed me the university’s official public statement about its elimination of the school’s Fine Arts Center Galleries program and “Great Performances” series, and its the firing of the programs’ longtime directors Judith Tolnick Champa and Roxana Tourigny. I’ve reproduced the entire document below:
Friday, June 6, 2008
URI Department of Communications and Marketing

Statement concerning University of Rhode Island’s Great Performances and Fine Arts Center Galleries programs.

The University of Rhode Island faces a $17 million budget shortfall as a result of the state of Rhode Island’s fiscal 2008-09 budget. In response, the University has asked all departments to make reductions that would preserve the University’s curriculum in undergraduate and graduate programs.

Donald H. DeHayes, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs, said of the $17 million total, the University has asked academic affairs to reduce its budget by $12 million. The academic affairs budget at the beginning of the current fiscal year was $120 million. The total University budget at the beginning of the current fiscal year was $524 million.

“We went through all of the academic programs and our number one goal was to protect the delivery of our curriculum to our students,” DeHayes said. “Protection of curriculum is paramount. Programs that provide enrichment to the University and to the wider community had to be put on hold for the time being.”

The College of Arts and Sciences, the largest of the academic colleges at URI, was asked to reduce its budget by $2.7 million. To remain in line with the University’s priorities, the College has eliminated the Great Performances series and the Fine Arts Center Galleries program. The cuts will result in a savings of $325,000. Those funds are being used to deliver the curriculum.

“We value both programs, and we know they provide unparalleled cultural enrichment to the University community, the residents and the artists and performers of our state,” DeHayes said. “But our top priority has to be the needs of our students. Our students and faculty, as well as parents, can be assured that we will continue to deliver with quality a great curriculum.”

Great Performances has brought artists of world renown in diverse genres to the Kingston campus and community on a regular basis during the past 21 years.

The Fine Arts Center Galleries have been a part of the Fine Arts Center since 1972, but more recently have offered a comprehensive range of exhibitions, including photography, sculpture, painting, multi- and mixed media, historical and commemorative themes, and many more.

Responsibility for the galleries is being shifted to the Department of Art and Art History, and Winifred Brownell, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said she is beginning talks with donors to endow both programs.

“Obviously, the Great Performances Series and our Fine Arts Center Galleries programs have brought tremendous and acclaimed cultural programming to our campus,” Brownell said. “But be assured that we are continuing our academic programs in art, art history, music and theater and supporting our undergraduate and graduate curricula.”

Brownell said, “the University Artist music series, which is endowed, and the Kingston Chamber Music Festival, which is supported by external funds, gifts, and sponsorships, will continue, as will performances and productions by students, faculty and staff in the URI Departments of Theatre and Music. Student art exhibitions will also continue, and we plan to raise funds to support exhibitions by faculty and visiting artists.

“We deeply appreciate the extraordinary work that Roxana Tourigny (director of Great Performances) and Judith Tolnick Champa (director of the Fine Arts Center Galleries) have accomplished, but our top priority is our curriculum. We can no longer fund these outstanding public arts programs. You can’t reduce the University budget by $17 million and expect to maintain all programs.”

Brownell said those who want to contribute to support public arts programming at URI and enhance cultural enrichment opportunities should call, should Thomas Zorabedian, associate dean, at 874-2853 or email him at All contributions to URI are tax deductible.
The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research broke the story on Wednesday with this brief. My initial follow up is here. More to come.

Update: URI arts cuts

From my Friday report at the Providence Phoenix:
On Tuesday, the University of Rhode Island informed Judith Tolnick Champa, who runs the URI Fine Arts Center Galleries, and Roxana Tourigny, who runs the school’s “Great Performances” program, that they will be laid off, effective July 4, and that the galleries and performance program will close.

The decision came suddenly and sent shock waves through the state’s art community. Vesela Sretenovic, a friend of Tolnick Champa and a curator at Brown University’s Bell Gallery, says, “It was such a surprise. It was hard to react. People are still in disbelief.”

A Facebook group “Save the Galleries!!” was set up Wednesday morning by URI photo instructor Zoey Stites to protest the cuts, and by 3 PM Thursday the group listed 100 members, with more continuing to sign up. Tolnick Champa is organizing a public meeting at the university’s main gallery at 4 PM on Tuesday, June 10, to brainstorm “about the galleries at URI and supporting the arts in general.”

“I felt something was coming,” she says. “I know I’m not immune to the financial crisis at my university. I thought they would tell me my budget was slashed. I was called in and told the galleries are done and my job is done, and it’s not a question of quality, it’s a budget question.” She has worked at URI for 17 years.
Read the rest here.

The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research broke the story on Wednesday with this brief.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Arts slashed at University of Rhode Island

Tuesday the University of Rhode Island informed Judith Tolnick Champa, who runs the URI Fine Arts Center Galleries, and Roxana Tourigny, who runs the school's "Great Performances" program, that they would be laid off, effective July 4, and that the galleries and performance program would close. The decision was attributed to the state's – and in turn the Kingston university's – budget crisis.

Updates soon.

Gallery at 17 Peck is moving

The Gallery at 17 Peck, at 17 Peck St. in Providence, is moving to 303 Atwells Ave. The gallery will continue operations at the old location through June 6 and then reopen at the new site on June 10.

Naoki Honjo

Tokyo photographer Naoki Honjo turns Japanese metropolises into adorable li’l things in the shots in his “Small Planet” show at Bernard Toale Gallery, which I review here. His style is part of the “tilt-shift miniature faking” trend, which you can check out here, here, here and here.

“Naoki Honjo: Small Planet,” Bernard Toale Gallery, 450 Harrison Ave., Boston, May 14 to June 28, 2008.

Pictured from top to bottom: “Tokyo, Japan (Swimming Pool),” 2005; “Yokohama Kanagawa, Japan (Night Intersection),” 2002; and “Tokyo, Japan (Taxi Stand),” 2005.

“Parade for the Future” is June 15

The inspiring folks of Platform2 are inviting people to join them in their global-warming-themed “Parade for the Future,” beginning outside Boston’s Park Street T station at 4 p.m. Sunday, June 15.

“Let's celebrate what hasn't happened yet, notably the impending submergence of our city under water due to climate change,” they write. The parade, carrying a giant wave, will proceed from the T station “along the flood line of the neighborhood, tracing a worst-case scenario future geography from the year 2108.”

They write: “There will be scuba divers and sharks and seaweed. There will be music and swimming!”

To participate just show up, “wear blue. Trick out your bike. Bring your kids. Bring your pets. Wear a costume (mournful, maudlin or magnificent). Just show up. Wear your shark costume or just wear blue.”

Platform2 events – organized by iKatun, Andi Sutton and Jane D. Marsching – have been some of the most thoughtful, intriguing stuff going on around here. Don’t miss this one.

Thoughts on the last Platform2 event, “Failure Support Group” in February.
The invite to Platform2’s September 2007 “RISK: Race, class, geography and art.”
Note the correspondences between “Parade for the Future” and this global warming event at Boston Common in April 2007.

Abelardo Morell

I review Brookline photographer Abelardo Morell “Pictures in Pictures” exhibit at Bernard Toale Gallery here. The show includes his recent color camera obscura photos.

It’s instructive to compare Morell’s 2007 color shot of Santa Maria della Salute (above) with a black-and-white version he shot there the year before, which you can see (and which I reviewed) here.

“Abelardo Morell: Pictures in Pictures,” Bernard Toale Gallery, 450 Harrison Ave., Boston, May 14 to June 28, 2008.

Pictured: “Camera Obscura Image of Santa Maria della Salute with Scaffolding in Palazzo Bedroom,” 2007; “’The Night Cafe,' Yale University Art Gallery,” 2008; and “North America,” 2007.

Springfield, Harvard art museums renamed

The Springfield Museum of Fine Arts announced Thursday that it will be renamed the Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts in honor of a $4 million donation from the couple to the museum that was initially made anonymously last November.

Mr. D’Amour is the chairman and CEO of the Springfield-based Big Y supermarket chain and a member of the Springfield Museums board of trustees.

The art institution, which is part of the Springfield Museums, plans to use half the donation to fund an endowment for the art museum and the other half to fund the ongoing construction of a new Museum of Springfield History.

The Harvard University Art Museums announced at the end of April that it would change the name of its art museums to the “Harvard Art Museum” because “it better expresses the institution’s mission, grows out of an initiative to further unify and integrate the museum’s collections and programs.”

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

New curator at Casa de la Cultura

The Casa de la Cultura / Center for Latino Arts in Boston announced today that Evan Garza (at left) has been named its curator and gallery manager. He arrives from Houston, where he worked as special projects director at Deborah Colton Gallery. He’s also an arts writer and critic.

Clark Art Institute to open Stone Hill Center

The Clark Art Institute in Williamstown has announced that it will open its Stone Hill Center, just south of the museum’s two main buildings, on June 22. The two-story, 32,000-square-foot Tadao Ando-designed building will offer 2,500 square feet of galleries, the Williamstown Art Conservation Center and 1,000 square feet for classroom and meeting use. Surrounding grounds designed by Reed Hilderbrand Associates will be used to display sculpture.

The galleries will open with an exhibition of works by Winslow Homer and John Singer Sargent from the museum’s collection.

The project is part of an ongoing transformation of the Clark. The museum is planning Clark@MassMoCA, 29,000 square feet of exhibition and storage space at Mass MoCA in North Adams, which it hopes to open in 2011. Also in the works are construction of a new exhibition, visitor and conference center with additional galleries at the Williamstown campus and renovation of the Clark’s 1955 building to create 40 percent more gallery space, which are scheduled to be completed in 2013.

Pictured from top to bottom: The Stone Hill Center seen from the north, the building’s courtyard and the Williamstown Art Conservation Center seen from the terrace.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Diamond-Newman Fine Arts moving?

Diamond-Newman Fine Arts is looking to move out of its third-floor location in the gallery building at 450 Harrison Ave. in Boston. Two sources close to the matter say that the gallery is eyeing the storefront space which Allston Skirt Gallery is vacating downstairs in the same building.

Gallery director David Diamond declined to confirm that detail, but says via e-mail that “our goal has been to move into a first-floor space and now that there is at least one open we are planning to move.” He adds that “we have not signed any lease on any new space.”

Sunday, June 01, 2008

The creative economy

From today’s New York Times:
New York’s very wealthy … apply for a line of credit before art auctions, supposedly to buy a painting or a sculpture, but use that borrowed money to pay other debts.

“Most people won’t go to their banker and say: ‘You know I’m in desperate trouble. I need funds,’ ” said Andy Augenblick, president of Emigrant Bank Fine Art Finance, which allows clients to borrow against art collections worth more than $2 million. Mr. Augenblick said that the number of requests for these types of loans is five times higher than a year ago. He said that while these borrowers claim that they don’t need the money, their latest financial statements show that their net worth has withered in the past year.

Art consultants find that the very wealthy are more receptive to parting with their precious works. Cassie Rosenthal, an owner of the Chelsea gallery Goff & Rosenthal, said that since the subprime crisis hit in the fall, and especially since the new year, some collectors are willing to sell pieces that were off limits in the past. She said that when the deals close quickly, they’re happy.

“Most people will just sort of say: ‘Will you sell this for me? When you can get me payment?’ ” Ms. Rosenthal said. “It’s more about the urgency of getting paid.”