Thursday, March 19, 2009

Boston Art Dealers Association on Rose

The Boston Art Dealers Association – and friends – mailed the letter below to Brandeis University yesterday to protest the Waltham school’s plans to close its Rose Art Museum and pawn off its collection:

March 18, 2009

Mr. Perry Traquina
Secretary, Board of Trustees
Brandeis University
415 South Street
Waltham, MA 02453

To the Officers and Members of the Board of Trustees:

As members of the Boston art community we feel compelled to speak out about Brandeis University’s decision to close the Rose Art Museum and sell parts of its collection. Among the things that make the greater Boston area a significant location for art and culture are the institutions of higher learning and their respective venues for public exhibitions. The Rose Art Museum, from its inception in 1961, has been an important part of this scene.

From Sam Hunter to Carl Belz to Joseph Ketner and now Michael Rush, each director has put his own signature on the museum and consequently has been an active participant in the local arts community. Museums like the Rose that mount ground‐breaking exhibitions and have collections of the highest caliber are invaluable teaching resources. That art is undervalued in our society is not new, but to have it so blatantly undervalued by an institution of higher learning is a new low.

As we have watched this sad saga unfold, it has become increasingly clear that one of the biggest problems is the lack of credibility from the office of Brandeis University President Jehuda Reinharz. At the beginning, the closing of the Rose Art Museum was presented as a “no choice situation” with the University’s very existence hanging in the balance and immediate action demanded. Since then, there has been some backtracking by the Brandeis administration and an apology from the President for “screwing up”. Many people, who did not read this letter of apology closely, assumed that the administration was reversing its decision to close the museum. Nothing could be further from the truth; the letter was in effect apologizing for the way the announcement was so abruptly made and not for its decision to close the museum.

Removing the collection from public view and selling works of art breaks a covenant with the Rose’s donors. These gifts were made to benefit Brandeis and its community in perpetuity. There must be a less ethically questionable way for Brandeis to deal with its current economic crisis. Chopping off a significant part of what makes Brandeis a vibrant, unique and respected institution is not the solution.


Joanna Fink, Alpha Gallery ∗
Alan Fink, Alpha Gallery ∗
Jane Young, Chase Gallery ∗
Joyce Creiger, Creiger Group ∗
Jennifer Wood‐Patrick, Gallery AA/B ∗
Arlette Kayafas, Gallery Kayafas ∗
Arthur Dion, Gallery NAGA ∗
Judy Ann Goldman, Brandeis University, ’64, Judy Ann Goldman Fine Art∗
Robert Klein, Robert Klein Gallery ∗
Barbara Krakow, Barbara Krakow Gallery ∗
Andrea Marquit Clagget, Andrea Marquit Fine Arts ∗
Amnon Goldman, Mercury Gallery ∗
Emily Weintraub, Mercury Gallery ∗
Destiny M. Barletta, Pucker Gallery ∗
Bernard Toale, Toale Projects ∗
Howard Yezerski, Howard Yezerski Gallery ∗ **
Nielsen Gallery ∗
Alison Collins, Gallery Director, Iris Gallery of Fine Art Photography
Susan Lanoue, Lanoue Fine Art
Martha Takayama, Tepper Takayama Fine Arts
Frank Roselli, Soprafina Gallery
Abigail Ross, Judi Rotenberg Gallery
Kara Braciale, Proof Gallery
Suzan Redgate, Copley Society of Art
Marcia Vose, Vose Galleries of Boston
Tony Decaneas, Panopticon Gallery of Photography
Beth Kantrowitz, bk projects
Joyce Parlapiano, the Accidental Gallery
Heather Roy, Artana Gallery
James Hull, Director, Suffolk University Art Gallery
Stephanie Walker, Walker Contemporary**
Russell LaMontagne, LaMontagne Gallery**
Steven Zevitas, Steven Zevitas Gallery

∗ Member, Boston Art Dealers Association **Member, Boston Contemporary Group

Cc: Board of Directors, Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University
Jehuda Reinharz, President, Brandeis University

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

X-ray reveals secrets of Tintoretto painting

In preparation for its current blockbuster exhibition “Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese: Rivals in Renaissance Venice,” Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts X-rayed its Jacopo Tintoretto painting “Nativity” and found out that it had a hidden past. Discover it yourself in this slideshow I put together here.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

St. Patrick's Day Parade

The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research photographed the 2009 St. Patrick's Day Parade in Southie on Sunday, which featured bagpipes, Fox commentator Bill O’Reilly, Star Wars storm troopers, gunplay and St. Patty himself. More photos are here.

Bread and Puppet’s “27 Dirt-Cheap Money Dances”

Here are some photos of Bread and Puppet’s Lubberland National Dance Company’s “27 Dirt-Cheap Money Dances” as performed at Spontaneous Celebrations in Jamaica Plain on Sunday night.

Photos by The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Can Brandeis leaders be trusted?

Can Brandeis leaders be trusted?

1. When Brandeis leaders first announced plans to close the Rose Art Museum on Jan. 26, they sent out an e-mail to members of the press stating that the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office “has been informed and has not balked at this at all, given the situation the [university] finds itself in.” But it turned out that the AG’s office had just been notified that afternoon and had not offered an opinion on the plan.

2. The initial announcement implied that faculty backed the administration’s plan. That implication turned out to be something of an exaggeration.

3. On Feb. 5, President Jehuda Reinharz issued a statement seeming to backpedal by saying “the museum will remain open,” when in fact details of the plan seemed not to have changed one wit.

With such a pattern of, uh, semantic error how much can we believe what Brandeis leaders say? And if they can’t be trusted, is that grounds for removal?

What is the Rose family saying?

The Rose family issued a statement this evening objecting to Brandeis’s leaders plans to shutter the Rose Art Museum and pawn its collection. (They were scheduled to speak publicly at the museum tonight – but I couldn’t make the event.) Three things stand out in their statement (entire text here):

1. It calls out the Brandeis administration for – to paraphrase – being full of shit. It notes how administrators like (the unnamed) President Jehuda Reinharz are playing semantic games when Reinharz seemed to backpedal on Feb. 5 by saying “the museum will remain open,” but the details of the plan seemed not to have changed one wit. The Roses state: “Any other understanding of the university’s current plan is disinformation.”

2. It makes clear that if things go forward as Brandeis leaders plan, museum staff will be laid off and exhibits will cease this summer – a de facto closing of the museum, whatever Brandeis leaders (and their crisis management public relations firm) decide to call it.

3. It proposes a way forward by calling for Brandeis to renew the contracts of museum staff, install a new show after the Hans Hofmann exhibit comes down in May, promise not to sell any Rose art, and to “honor the donors’ intentions” by maintaining the Rose as a public art museum.

Item 3 is a good roadmap for beginning to regain the trust of donors whose support is vital for continued operations of the museum – but I’d add one more step. Brandeis leaders have shown themselves to be both incompetent and untrustworthy (see item 1) in their handling of this situation. The school requires new leaders in its administration and board before their error can fully heal.

Dec. 23: Rose freezes curator search
Jan. 26: Brandeis to close Rose
Jan. 27: Update: Brandeis to close Rose, sell art
Jan. 27: Brandeis president’s e-mail on Rose
Jan. 27: Brandeis’s money
Jan. 27: AG on Brandeis's plans
Jan. 29: Brandeis’s liquidator-in-chief
Jan. 29: The first painting Brandeis should pawn
Jan. 29: Question: Brandeis financial management?
Feb. 5: Brandeis won’t close Rose?
Feb. 5: Will defunct Rose replace defunct Safra Center plan?
Feb. 9: Open discussion at the Rose tomorrow
Feb. 11: How do you solve Brandeis’s budget crisis?
March 16: Rose family objects to closing Rose museum

Rose family objects to closing Rose museum

Below is the entire statement issued by the Rose family this evening objecting to Brandeis’s plans to shutter the school’s Rose Art Museum and pawn off the collection:

We speak on behalf of over 50 living members of the Rose Family. The current Brandeis University administration intends to close the Edward and Bertha C. Rose Art Museum, and to sell the art works in its renowned collection.

We Object.

We urge the current university president and the trustees to restore the use, budget, staffing, and activities of the Rose Art Museum until a final decision is issued by a court.

The university is effectively closing the museum before the Attorney General or any court has ruled that closing is allowed. This is being accomplished not only by a premature announcement of closure, but also by withholding the Rose’s own money – and cutting its staff, resources, and activities. “Re-purposing” the museum is closing by another name. It would not be the Rose. Any other understanding of the university’s current plan is disinformation. The administration wants to control money given to the Rose for museum purposes, to sell precious works of art, and to close the museum.

We Object.

We, the Rose Family, protest the plundering of the Rose Art Museum and its collection. Ed and Bertha Rose not only funded the planning and construction of the museum, but also set up three funds, separate from the Brandeis endowment, to perpetuate the Museum: the Rose Maintenance Fund, the Rose Museum Endowment Fund, and the Rose Endowed Purchase Fund. The existence and mission of the Rose benefit art, culture and education — locally and worldwide. The Rose offers students and the public a prized modern and contemporary art collection.

The art has been put on the auction block. The museum has been put on the chopping block.

We Object.

We seek:
1. Immediate renewal of contracts with the Museum Director and all his staff. Those salaries are paid from dedicated funds donated to or raised by the Museum – not from the general budget of Brandeis.

2. Authorization for the Director to prepare and install the next exhibit, to open when the Hans Hofmann exhibit comes down in May. Otherwise, the walls will be bare and there will be no exhibitions. Brandeis will have effectively closed the Rose Art Museum.

3. A promise that Brandeis will not sell any art belonging to the Rose.

4. A commitment that Brandeis will honor the donors’ intentions that there be a public art museum at Brandeis, and the Rose is that museum.

The museum is not for closing; the art is not for sale.

We object.

Joyce Perkit
Ariel and Jamie Keefer
Kurt and Paula Shapiro
Sharyn and Leon Lane
Craig and Jagoda Lane
Kimberly and Richard Kopelman
Marge and Murray Rubin
Stephen Rubin
Susan and Don Shanbar
Jodi and Joe Emerson
Cori and Eric Goldstein
Samuel and Phyllis Petnov
Elihu Petnov
Helen Rosen
Bernard Saklad
Ronna Cooper
Margo Cooper
Michael and Helena Cooper
Flora Cooper
Daniel Cooper
David and Judy Thomson
Judy Weiner
Harvey and Marilyn Spencer
Karen Spencer Dees
Amy Rocheleau
Stephanie Belghiti
Ellen Spencer
Howard J. Rosenthal
Peter D. Rosenthal
Andrew B. and Meryl Rose
Robert M. and Elinor B. Rose
Sydney G. Rose
William J. and Lisa Rose
Margery Rose Goodman
James and Jane Quinn
Carol G. Comras
Daniel H. Comras
Doris Rose Hopengarten
Profs. Jane and Richard Moss
David Moss
Fred Hopengarten, Esq.
Betty Herr, MD
Annie Hopengarten
Steven Hopengarten
Leslie Rose Ainsley
Debra Rose
Meryl Rose
Michael Baskin
Carol Baskin Stroyman