Saturday, April 04, 2009

Globe = "My Life In Ruins"?

I know it's (probably) just a coincidence, but does The New York Times need to run an ad for the film "My Life In Ruins" on its page about The New York Times threatening to kill The Boston Globe? (Screenshot from 9:07 tonight.)

Papercut Zine Library may have to move

Papercut Zine Library, which offers a 12,000 item free lending library plus concerts, may have to move by the end of June because, the library says, its landlord has put its Cambridge building, The Democracy Center (left), up for sale.

If the owner, the Foundation for Civic Leadership, does sell the property, it could also displace other activist organizations that make their home there, including Art Without Borders, Avaaz, Boston Mobilization, The Foundation for Civic Leadership, Sustainable Endowments, The Pacific Forest Trust and The Catholic Democrats.

Beyond saying “it’s a lot to do with the economy,” Papercut librarian Kimberly Boutin declined to get into detail about reasons for the potential sale. The Democracy Center has not yet responded to a call I put in yesterday. Cambridge assessors office documents say the Foundation for Civic Leadership has owned the building since 2002. (The facility seems to be three joined buildings, with parts dating back to 1800.)

Papercut has scheduled a public meeting to discuss its future at 7:30 p.m. April 23 at The Democracy Center, 45 Mt. Auburn St., Cambridge. (RSVP to or call 617-492-2600.)

“We are interested in exploring fundraising ideas, potential leads for new spaces, and potential partnership opportunities for the library,” it announced in an e-mail yesterday morning. “We would like to also take the opportunity to hear from library patrons and others about how you think the library could be improved, and what folks would like to see [in a] new space.”

Papercut, which marks its fourth birthday in May, has helped Boston Comics Roundtable organized the Boston Zine Fair -- in addition to presenting its own concerts and library. “It’s the largest collection of zines in the North East that we know of,” Boutin tells me. “…Most of us are cringing at the thought of moving our library.”

Friday, April 03, 2009

Hechtman to leave Proof

Julia Hechtman (left) plans to leave Proof Gallery at the end of May. She and co-founder Kara Braciale opened the South Boston gallery in September 2007. It will remain in operation.

“I’ve really loved being at Proof,” Hechtman tells me, “but it’s hard to do and teach and have an art practice. Something had to give.”

Hetchtman and Braciale met in Chicago, where they’d both gone for art school. Hechtman was still living there in spring 2007 when Rebecca Gordon, director of Second Gallery in Boston, announced she would be shutting it down to go to Chicago for art school. Gordon offered her space rent-free (her family owns the building) to whomever put forth the best proposal for its continued use as an experimental gallery.

It was an amazing deal. She selected Hechtman and Braciale, who was then living in Worcester, to create what’s become Proof. The two women ran it as co-directors. Braciale will now be director, Hechtman says. William Matelski, an intern who became the gallery’s assistant, will serve as assistant director.

The gallery is in the midst of applying to become a nonprofit. Hechtman, who teaches at Brandeis and Northeastern, plans to spend the month of June on an artist’s residency making photographs and videos in Iceland. She’ll still have ties to the gallery. At Braciale’s invitation, she plans to serve on its new board.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

MFA eliminates 54 jobs

Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts announced today that it is eliminating 54 positions due to the global financial crisis.

“After careful consideration, we have reduced expenses by approximately 12%,” the MFA reports. “Regretfully, through electing not to fill 21 currently vacant positions and by reducing our staff by 33 members, we are eliminating 54 total positions.”

“The effect of the market on the value of our endowment, which provided close to one-third of our operating budget, has been profound,” the museum reports. “From June 30, 2008, through February 28, 2009, the endowment has declined approximately 30% to an estimated value of $359 million.”

Revenue from its shops, restaurants and membership sales are also down, the MFA says.

In addition to the job cuts, the MFA says it will eliminate salary increases for FY10, reduce the salaries of the director and management team, “re-assessed the exhibition schedule,” reduced staff travel, “re-shaped” concert and film programming, and curtailed print communications.

"Acting Out" at the ICA

From my review of "Acting Out: Social Experiments in Video" at Boston's Institute of Contemporary Art:
Javier Téllez's 2007 black-and-white film "Letter on the Blind, For the Use of Those Who See" starts with a catchy premise: he gathered six blind New Yorkers at an empty public pool in Brooklyn to act out the fable of the blind men and the elephant. It was one of the more memorable pieces in last year's Whitney Biennial, and it's the highlight of "Acting Out: Social Experiments in Video" at the Institute of Contemporary Art. It's hard to go wrong with an elephant.

Here ICA curator Jen Mergel collects videos by five artists to frame a trend of artists staging "social experiments" that they hope will yield insights into life and politics and society and what not. These pieces are like arty versions of the manufactured moments and stunt contests of reality TV — and another sign of reality TV's global hegemony. Like "American Idol" or "Survivor" or "Colonial House," the projects become their own creatures; not about real life exactly, they're documentaries of the behavior of people in contrived situations, a genre that offers its own strange fascinations and insights.
Read the rest here.

"Acting Out: Social Experiments in Video," ICA, 100 Northern Ave., Boston, March 18 to Oct. 18, 2009.

Pictured: Javier Téllez, "Letter on the Blind, for the Use of Those Who See," 2007.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Chunky Move at ICA

I've posted a slideshow of my photos of the Australian dance troupe Chunky Move performing "I Want to Dance Better at Parties" at Boston's ICA on Friday, March 27, here.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Al Gore speaks at Wang Theatre

I’ve written several times in the past few years about how Al Gore’s landmark 2006 documentary film “An Inconvenient Truth” is the preeminent example of global warming art – and one of the most significant examples of political art of the past century. He spoke last night at Boston’s Wang Theatre. It was not particular arty, but I’ve posted excerpts from his talk here.

Photo by The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research.

New hires at Clark, Wadsworth Atheneum

The Clark Art Institute and Hartfard Atheneum have announced new hires.

Jay A. Clarke (left) has been named the Manton Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts. She is expected to begin work on May 4. She arrives from the Art Institute of Chicago, where she was an associate curator of prints and drawings. She has taught at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Brown University. Here she fills the shoes of James A. Ganz, who left last year to be a graphic arts curator at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

Patricia Hickson began work as the Emily Hall Tremaine Curator of Contemporary Art at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford during the second week of March. She comes from the Des Moines Art Center, where she was curator and program manager for the Des Moines Art Center Downtown. The Wadsworth position she fills had been left vacant for a few years, according to a spokeswoman for the institution. Hickson previously held curatorial positions at the Williams College Museum of Art, the San Jose Museum of Art, and the Institute of Contemporary Art Boston.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Casa de la Cultura gets new name

Casa de la Cultura/Center for Latino Arts in Boston debuted its new name on Saturday: “Villa Victoria Center for the Arts.” The name re-identifies the center with Villa Victoria, a 435-unit, mainly Puerto Rican, affordable housing community in the South End.

The arts center opened at the community-building organization Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción in 1986 as the Villa Victoria Cultural Center, but the first director, Jorge Hernandez died three weeks later. So it was quickly renamed The Jorge Hernandez Cultural Center -- with the sign outside saying both Jorge Hernandez Cultural Center and Villa Victoria Cultural Center. In 2003, it was renamed Casa de la Cultura/Center for Latino Arts.

Confusion ensued. The new name change aims to clarify that all the intuition’s arts programming -- gallery, theater, dance programming -- falls under the center.

“People have asked why we dropped the word ‘Latino’,” center director Javier Torres tells me. “One of the things we want to try to do is build cross-cultural collaboration.” Leaders also hope the new name will be more attractive to potential renters of the space, he says.

"Yousuf Karsh: Portraits of Artists" at RISD

From my review of "Yousuf Karsh: Portraits of Artists" at the RISD Museum:
Yousuf Karsh is one of the giants of portrait photography. His iconic shots of Winston Churchill, George Bernard Shaw, and Ernest Hemingway are the definitive portraits of the craggy grand old men. And his photos of a willowy Audrey Hepburn and a smoldering Anita Ekberg ain't nothing to sneeze at. But "Yousuf Karsh: Portraits of Artists" at the RISD Museum (224 Benefit Street, through August 23) is the photographer at his weakest.

There are a handful of striking shots here. Georgia O'Keeffe is a flinty, witchy, black-clad ol' pioneer gal seated gazing toward her rough wooden door and a slice of New Mexico desert. A deer skull hangs on the wall behind her, and her hand touches a weathered tree stump. Another photo shows a white-bearded Edward Steichen rowing with a woman by a hill of birches. Karsh pays careful attention to light — leaving nearly everything shadowed, except for the people in the boat, the crests of the waves, and a fleecy tree.

But most of the 27 photos here, a gift to the museum from Karsh's widow Estrellita, feel gimmicky. Karsh often seems not to know what to do with artists and succumbs to trying to be arty.
Read the rest here.

"Yousuf Karsh: Portraits of Artists," RISD Museum, 224 Benefit St., Providence, Feb. 27 to Aug. 23, 2009.