Saturday, December 20, 2008

Museum School alum paints Bush portrait

Robert Anderson of Darien, Connecticut, who studied at Boston’s School of the Museum of Fine Arts, painted the portrait of George W. Bush that the president unveiled at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery yesterday. Anderson, a classmate of the Bush’s at Yale, was selected by the White House and commissioned by the Smithsonian.

“I want to thank my buddy – my college classmate, Bob Anderson, for painting this portrait,” Bush said after unveiling the canvas yesterday. “It actually looks like me, which is a good sign. [Laughter.] You did a fabulous job. This is not the first time that Bob has painted me. He had a warm-up – he did my portrait for the Yale Club. Recently, I asked him what was different this time around. He said, ‘Well, this time around he had to use a lot more gray.’ (Laughter.) I also understood Bob didn't have any difficulty depicting my eyes or my hands – but he had a lot of trouble with my mouth. And I told him, ‘That makes two of us.’ [Laughter.]”

Pictured: George and Laura Bush stand in front of their portraits yesterday after the unveiling. Photo by Eric Draper.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Korea Times: Koreans seeking “stolen” reliquary at MFA

The Korea Times reported Monday that a Seoul Metropolitan Council member and Buddhist monks plan to visit the U.S. in January to ask Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts to return a reliquary “that was stolen during Japanese colonial rule of Korea.”

Asked about the matter and the accuracy of the article’s allegations, MFA spokeswoman Kelly Gifford writes, “We have not been contacted by this group or anyone about Korean objects in the collection. Not sure where this is coming from.”

The article says the stupa, believed to have contained relics of the Buddha and eminent monks, “is assumed to have been made during the Goryeo Kingdom (918-1392) and kept at Hoiam Temple until it was seized by Japanese colonial authorities in 1939. The Boston Museum has allegedly bought the piece from Japan.” A saria reliquary resembling the article's description is in the MFA’s collection and described as acquired “by exchange, June 8, 1939.”

"We will visit Boston to see the item first and are considering filing a suit with a local court for its return," Council member Boo Doo-wan told the English-language daily newspaper based in Seoul. "We are also planning to visit the United Nations headquarters to talk to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and meet with South and North Korean delegates to ask for their support."

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Michie named MFA decorative arts curator

Thomas Michie, curator of decorative arts and design at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art since 2005, has been named senior curator of decorative arts and sculpture in the department of the Art of Europe at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, the museum recently announced. He is expected to begin work in Boston in March. The Worcester native was previously curator of decorative arts at the RISD Museum in Providence.

Michie will fill the position previously held by Tracey Albainy, who died in December 2007.

Ortiz named Harvard Museum deputy director

José Ortiz, the deputy director and chief of finance and administration at the Smithsonian Institution’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden since 2005, has been named deputy director of the Harvard Art Museum, the museum announced today. He is expected to begin work in Cambridge on March 2.

Ortiz replaces Richard Benefield, the Harvard museum’s deputy director from 1999 to mid-September 2008, who left to be founding executive director of the Walt Disney Family Museum, which is being built in San Francisco. (Cool, Richard!)

Ortiz previously served as manager for administration at New York’s Cloisters and in administrative positions at the Smithsonian Institution’s Anacostia Museum and New York’s Museum of Television and Radio. He served as a manager for Citibank in New York from 1978 to 1991.

Peabody Essex adopts new hours

The Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts, has announced that beginning Jan. 1 it will now be closed on Mondays instead of being open every day.

It is unusual for museums to be open every day – locally Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, the Harvard Art Museum and the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge may be the only museums open every day year round. But the Peabody Essex's switch prompted questions of whether the new shorter hours might (1) reflect the Peabody Essex looking to reduce costs because of the effects of the international economic meltdown and/or (2) reflect a response to sluggish attendance at the museum.

Peabody Essex publicist April Swieconek writes:
“We need this change regardless of the economic climate, and have been contemplating it for some time. If the downturn had never occurred, we would still need the day for installations, maintenance, etc. That said, we are compelled like other museums to find ways to adapt to the economy. The timing is evident and the financial advantages are definitely a consideration for us.

"As far as attendance is concerned, there is actually no change overall. We are on target for the year, up slightly from last. Obviously, we looked at our attendance figures in choosing a day (and Monday was the winner). Monday is also happens to be the day most museums close, so for the sake of consistency...

"At this point, we have not made other changes due to the economy. We are constantly examining what we need to do to streamline operations expenses, especially now. I can tell you with certainty that we have absolutely no plans to make changes to our planned exhibitions and programs."

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

New assistant deputy director at Clark

The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts, has named Thomas Loughman to its newly created position of assistant deputy director. He started working at the museum in mid October.

It’s notable to see a museum expanding staffing during these tough economic times. “As the Clark moves forward with the expansion of its programs and campus, we recognized a need for an additional staff person who could assist with planning issues and keep special initiatives moving forward,” a Clark spokeswoman explains.

Loughman is a 1995 graduate of the Clark/Williams College graduate program in art history. He has worked in the department of prints, drawings, and photographs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art; as visiting assistant professor at Pennsylvania State University; and from January 2004 to October 2008 as curator of European art and since January 2007 as assistant to the director for exhibitions at the Phoenix Art Museum.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

RISD Museum gets $1 million grant

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded a $1 million grant to the RISD Museum of Art in Providence to create an endowment to support a three-year postdoctoral curatorial fellowship in the Department of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs, the museum announced last week. The grant aims to increase academic use of the 26,000-works collection, housed in the Minskoff Center at the RISD Museum’s new Chace Center, by faculty and students at Brown and RISD.

Photo of RISD’s Minskoff Center by Warren Jagger, 2008.

Monday, December 15, 2008

“Keeping Time” at PRC

From my review of “Keeping Time: Cycle and Duration in Contemporary Photography”:
"Keeping Time: Cycle and Duration in Contemporary Photography" at Boston University's Photographic Resource Center is a rumination on a fundamental equation of photography: light x time = photo. Photography is usually about an instant in time, but the seven artists here stretch that pictorial moment out to hours or months. The show was organized by PRC curator Leslie K. Brown, who puts together some of the most deep-think shows in the region, but the work here struggles to be as compelling as her theme.
Read the rest here (it begins halfway down).

“Keeping Time: Cycle and Duration in Contemporary Photography,” Photographic Resource Center, Boston University, 832 Commonwealth Ave., Nov. 7, 2008, to Jan. 25, 2009.

Pictured from top to bottom: Matthew Pillsbury (New York, NY), “Alex Franklin, Project Gotham Racing, Las Vegas, Tuesday, November 22nd, 2005, 10:48 – 11:24pm,” 2007, and “Desperate Housewives, Balboa Park Inn, The Orient Express Room, San Diego, Sunday, August 14th, 2005, 10 – 11pm,” 2008, both archival pigment ink print, courtesy of the artist and Bonni Benrubi Gallery, NYC; Sharon Harper (Cambridge, MA), “Moon Studies and Star Scratches, No. 6, June - September 2004, Saratoga Springs, New York; Middlesex, Vermont; Johnson, Vermont; Eden Mills, Vermont; Greensboro, North Carolina,” digital C-print from 8x10 transparency, courtesy of the artist and Galerie Roepke, Cologne; Rebecca Cummins (Seattle, WA), “Betty at Ray’s Boathouse, Seattle, WA: A recording of shadows every 20 minutes over lunch (noon - 1:15pm), December 26, 2003,” archival inkjet print, courtesy of the artist; Chris McCaw (San Francisco, CA),” Sunburned GSP#229 (San Francisco Fog/ Every 15 minutes),” 2008, and “Sunburned GSP#163 (Mojave),” 2007, both unique gelatin silver paper negative, courtesy of the artist and Michael Mazzeo Gallery, NYC.