Saturday, February 27, 2010

Keith Waldrop

From our review of Keith Waldrop at AS2220's Project Space:
Providence poet Keith Waldrop was regarded as a major writer — as well as translator, Brown teacher for four decades, and publisher, with his wife Rosmarie, of Burning Deck Press — long before his book Transcendental Studies: A Trilogy won the National Book Award last year. A selection of 60 collages, spanning many years, now at AS220's Project Space, reveals his artistic side.
Read the rest here.

Keith Waldrop, AS2220 Project Space, 93 Mathewson St., Providence, Feb. 7 to 27, 2010.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Clarification: Captains Courageous Festival letter

Yesterday the Gloucester Daily Times printed our editor Greg Cook's letter about the upcoming Captains Courageous Festival in Gloucester on March 6. He has asked us to clarify some things about the letter because of editing that was done by the newspaper without his input. And though he wrote in his capacity as commodore of the Society for the Preservation of Fitz Hugh Lane, which is independent of our projects here, we've decided to let him use our platform to explain. Mr. Cook insists that a grammatical error was introduced into the first sentence of letter by the newspaper – but he believes this makes his letter better. We reproduce both the newspaper's version and Cook's original here for you to make your own decisions.

As it appeared in the Feb. 25 Gloucester Daily Times:
Letter to the editor: Ahoy! Captains Courageous!

To the editor:

I look forward with much excitement to the Captains Courageous Festival on March 6, as I'm sure all Cape Ann residents are.

And though I know it is probably impossible to make any additions to this great event at this late date, I'd like to hereby officially propose adding a screening of the 1994 film "Cabin Boy," a comedy update of the 1937 "Captains Courageous" film starring David Letterman, Bob Elliot and Chris Elliott (son of the famed Bob Elliott, of Bob & Ray),

It may not be a great film or a greatly funny film, but it's "Captains Courageous" — and any self-respecting "Captains Courageous" fest would benefit from having it.

Society for the Preservation of Fitz Hugh Lane
Mr. Cook's original letter:
Ahoy, Captains Courageous Fest!

I look forward with much excitement to the Captains Courageous Festival on March 6, as I’m sure all Cape Ann residents do. And though I know it is probably impossible to make any additions to this great event at this late date, I’d like to hereby officially propose adding a screening of the 1994 film "Cabin Boy," a comedy update of the 1937 "Captains Courageous" film starring Chris Elliott (son of the famed Bob (Elliott) & Ray), David Letterman, Bob Elliott, and maybe someone else you might have heard of. It's not a great film. Or a very good film. Or very funny. But it's "Captains Courageous" and any self-respecting "Captains Courageous" fest would benefit from having it.


Gregory A. Cook
The Society for the Preservation of Fitz Hugh Lane

Thursday, February 25, 2010

MAASH update

Yesterday, Celeste Wilson, chair of the Massachusetts Advocates for the Arts, Sciences and Humanities's (MAASH) board of directors, sent out an update about how the Boston-based arts advocacy nonprofit is doing since its executive director Dan Hunter and director of development Hathalee Higgs announced in December that they were leaving MAASH to launch their own creative economy consulting firm, Hunter Higgs. Their departure left MAASH without any staff.

Wilson writes:
As you may already have heard, there have been some significant staffing changes at the Massachusetts Advocates for the Arts, Sciences and Humanities over the past few months. However, the mission of the organization remains the same.

On behalf of the MAASH Board of Directors, we want to assure you that we see this as an opportunity to engage our members to insure that the mission of MAASH and its work is aligned with your needs. We all agree that the work of advocacy is vitally important for the arts, sciences and humanities, especially in this time of budget planning. Therefore, the advocacy alerts and services to our members will continue through this period of transition.

Over the next few months, working closely with The Boston Foundation, we will be convening meetings and surveying our members. We want to understand fully the challenges you face and ensure the organization continues to meet your needs.

Your dues will continue to support grassroots organizing advocacy to increase state funding for this important work. We've come a long way, but continue to face many challenges. We must continue to work together to educate the people of Massachusetts about the economic, social, and educational value of the arts, sciences, and humanities.

Our telephone number remains the same at 617-725-0155 and voicemail will be checked regularly. To reach us by email please use Our new mailing address is P.O. Box 961859, Boston, MA 02196.

We look forward to working with you during this transition period and welcome your input as we move forward.

Celeste Wilson
Chair, MAASH Board of Directors
Dec. 19, 2009: MAASH staffers leave to start consulting firm.

Henry Horenstein

Boston photographer and longtime RISD teacher Henry Horenstein’s photos of the ‘70s and ‘80s, included gritty shots of honky tonk clubs and race track denizens. But his work has grown increasingly soft and romantic in his nudes and zoo animal photos of the past 15 years. Now comes his exhibit “Show” at Walker Contemporary.
Over the past decade, Boston photographer Henry Horenstein has delved into the world of burlesque and drag performers in Boston, New York, LA, and New Orleans. At first, he would shoot during performances, but then, frustrated by poor lighting and bad angles, he switched to studio shots, which give the images a clean, controlled look like that of fashion photos.
Read the rest here.

Henry Horenstein, “Show,” Walker Contemporary, 450 Harrison Ave., Boston, Jan. 22 to Feb. 27, 2010.

Henry Horenstein’s photo exhibit “Honky Tonk: Portraits of Country Music 1972-1981” at the RISD Museum in 2007.

Pictured from top to bottom: Henry Horenstein’s photos “Jackie Beat California Institute of Abnormalarts, (CIA), Los Angeles, CA,” 2007; “Violet Valentino, Jacques Cabaret, Boston, MA” 2006; “Shoes, California Institute of Abnormalarts, (CIA), Los Angeles, CA,” 2007; “Rainbow Frite, Boston, MA” 2003; “Prince Poppycock, Los Angeles, CA,” 2006; “Jess, South Boston, MA,” 2008; “Fishnets, New York Burlesque Festival, Southpaw, Brooklyn, NY,” 2005; “Dita Von Teese, Tease-O-Rama I, Shim-Sham Club, New Orleans, LA,” 2001; “Danyella de Meux, Los Angeles, CA” 2005; “Amber Ray, Los Angeles, CA,” 2005 (lips); “Amber Ray, Los Angeles, CA,” 2005 (eye).

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Domin-Ohs! in Brattleboro

Brothers Mike and Steve Perrucci of Pennsylvania return to the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center in Vermont at 5:30 p.m. Monday, March 1, for their third annual domino knockdown extravaganza. Video of last year's version is above -- the action starts four and a half minutes in. (More video here.)

Admission is free for children 8 and under, $3 for BMAC members, $5 for all others. Doors will open at 4:30 p.m. The museum is located at the intersection of Main Street (Route 5) and Routes 119 and 142.

Westfield kids make Obama mural from 2,420 dominoes.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Rose protestors targeted by Brandeis restructuring?

Brandeis University programs whose students and staff prominently protested school administrators’ proposal to shutter the school’s Rose Art Museum and sell its collection are among those slated for elimination, under a proposed academic restructuring announced yesterday (full report in pdf here, summary here).

The key affected programs include the masters degree programs in cultural production and theater design, both of which would be phased out as soon as students currently in the program graduate. The plan also calls for “significantly” cutting funding for the Brandeis Theater Company and related theater production activities over the next two years.

Andrew Gully, Brandeis senior vice president for communications, denies claims that these programs were targeted because they were affiliated with students and faculty prominent in Rose protests. "That's false," he says in an e-mail. "In fact, a number of prominent faculty opponents of the university's Rose Art Museum position last year are members of the Brandeis 2020 Committee that made the 18 proposals."

The Waltham school says cuts are necessary to address the school’s continuing financial problems. Programs from anthropology to biochemistry to computer science are targeted for cost cutting, but most of the changes call for reductions or merging of programs. Besides the art programs, the only other programs that the plan says “should be terminated” are the undergraduate majors in Italian Studies and in Hebrew Language and Literature; undergraduate minors in Yiddish and East European Jewish Culture and in Internet Studies; as well as scientific research in the areas of chemical dynamics, immunology, radio astronomy and combinatorics.

The 23-member faculty, staff and student Brandeis 2020 Committee, which formulated the plan, said that as many as 7 full-time and six-part time faculty and staff would be eliminated beginning around July 2011, but no administrative support staff cuts are proposed. These proposals come on top of the recommendations of the Curricular and Academic Restructuring Steering Committee last year to cut 35 faculty or roughly 10 percent and increase undergraduate enrollment by 400 students or roughly 12 percent. Combined, the school believes, these proposals could save the school $3.8 million annually.

The Undergraduate Curriculum Committee, Graduate School Council, Faculty Senate, four School Councils, and open student forums are expected to review the plan before Provost Marty Krauss announces whether school administrators will forward the plans to the school’s Board of Trustees for review at its March 24 meeting, when the school’s annual budget is expected to be approved.

Dec. 23, 2008: Rose freezes curator search
Jan. 26, 2009: Brandeis to close Rose
Jan. 27, 2009: Update: Brandeis to close Rose, sell art
Jan. 27, 2009: Brandeis president’s e-mail on Rose
Jan. 27, 2009: Brandeis’s money
Jan. 27, 2009: AG on Brandeis's plans
Jan. 29, 2009: Brandeis’s liquidator-in-chief
Jan. 29, 2009: The first painting Brandeis should pawn
Jan. 29, 2009: Question: Brandeis financial management?
Feb. 5, 2009: Brandeis won’t close Rose?
Feb. 5, 2009: Will defunct Rose replace defunct Safra Center plan?
Feb. 9, 2009: Open discussion at the Rose tomorrow
Feb. 11, 2009: How do you solve Brandeis’s budget crisis?
March 16, 2009: Rose family objects to closing Rose museum
March 16, 2009: What is the Rose family saying?
May 15, 2009: The end of the Rose?
May 20, 2009: Voices from the Rose.
May 20, 2009: Rose collection treasures.
July 27, 2009: Rose overseers sue to preserve museum, stop sale of art: If museum can’t be saved, they say give art to new Rose Preservation Fund.
July 31, 2009: Key weaknesses in the Rose suit.
Sept. 15, 2009: Brandeis seeks dismissal of Rose lawsuit.
Sept. 25, 2009: Brandeis president announces resignation.
Sept. 28, 2009: Brandeis’s Rose Museum: Where to go from here?
Oct. 2, 2009: Administrative exodus from Brandeis.
Oct. 8, 2009: Rose budget increased?
Oct. 14, 2009: Brandeis agrees to not sell some Rose art: Attorneys disagree on what happened at hearing yesterday.
Oct. 16, 2009: Attorney General investigates Brandeis over Rose.
Oct. 28, 2009: Quiet protest at “Rose at Brandeis" opening: Cops attend too, while Brandeis board meets.
Nov. 1, 2009: Brandeis considers suing Harper’s Magazine.
Nov. 3, 2009: Brandeis seeks art curator … but not for Rose.
Nov. 10, 2009: Review of “The Rose at Brandeis” exhibition.
Dec. 18, 2009: Brandeis looks for new Rose staff.
Feb. 2, 2010: Brandeis hires Rose to litigate Rose.
Feb. 22, 2010: Moody's: Brandeis a more risky investment.

Cri$i$ at Center for Maine Contemporary Art

The venerable Center for Maine Contemporary Art in Rockland is asking for planning and reorganization ideas as it struggles to right itself after declining revenue from attendance, membership and donations apparently created, in executive director Mary Ann Schierholt’s words, “exponentially increasing debt in recent years.”

Things came to a head last Oct. 30, when the center, which was founded in 1952, made a startling announcement: two months after Schierholt was named the center’s new executive director, the nonprofit said it had to cut its staff and hours because it was facing a financial crisis. What wasn’t immediately clear was that this meant laying off four staffers – all its staff except for Schierholt – and closing for much of the winter (Dec. 20 to May).

“During my first weeks here, “Schierholt wrote in a Feb. 19 announcement (entire text below), “I met with potential donors to discuss their support of CMCA. While they received me warmly, many of these individuals adopted a ‘wait and see’ attitude, having no doubt heard of the financial challenges the organization had faced in recent years. By mid-October, it was apparent that the funds needed to continue CMCA's status quo were not available.”

“An in-depth analysis of financial results from the last ten years made it clear that CMCA's current business plan was unsustainable in an uncertain financial future,” Board of Trustees co-chairs Dudley Zopp and Judith Daniels reported on Nov. 17. “A board's first duty is to ensure the survival of the institution. It was with great reluctance, after weeks of careful consideration of our options, that the board approved an extended winter recess with staff layoffs, during which we will restructure our business model to emerge a leaner, more focused organization. We will be working hard to come up with a new plan that will enable us to operate in the black, while allowing CMCA to adapt to the new reality of the contemporary art scene in Maine.”

The center continues to make plans for this summer. As Schierholt had announced on Dec. 18: “We have begun planning the summer 2010 season with the return of our curator emeritus, Bruce Brown. Bruce Brown's exceptional aesthetic is legendary in Maine's contemporary art scene and we are thrilled to have him with us. Plans for 2010 include our popular and important Biennial and major exhibitions of seldom-seen work by Yvonne Jacquette and Will Barnet.”

But for now the center’s future remains uncertain.

Center for Maine Contemporary Art Executive Director Mary Ann Schierholt entire Feb. 19, 2010, announcement:
Dear CMCA Supporters,

With this letter I am sending along many thanks to CMCA supporters who have made our 2009 annual appeal the most successful in our history. I also want to clarify our circumstances for those who have expressed their many concerns.

Last fall, financial realities compelled CMCA to make very difficult management decisions to reduce staff and close for the winter in order to keep the organization afloat. These changes are allowing us time to regroup and ready ourselves for a successful future. We expect CMCA to live up to – and build on – the rich history and tradition of this 58-year-old organization.

To put our current situation in perspective, allow me to review briefly the circumstances that have led us here. Over the past few years, revenue from attendance and membership has steadily declined. Concurrent with this decline, general financial support had decreased as well, resulting in exponentially increasing debt in recent years. Unfortunately, our sources of operating credit were depleted, as well.

When I took on the role as Executive Director, with all the responsibilities the position entails, it was with the understanding that CMCA was fast approaching a dire financial situation. It was also understood – by the board and me – that I would move swiftly to help this organization return to a positive direction and re- establish its half-century-old pattern of growth.

In recent years CMCA's annual operating expenses have been approximately $500,000 (of which our two annual fund-raisers, the art auction and craft show, net an average of less than $100,000). One of my first goals after accepting the position was to explore additional sources of funding. In today's climate of reduced public arts funding, the viability of arts organizations falls heavily on the generosity of private donors.

During my first weeks here, I met with potential donors to discuss their support of CMCA. While they received me warmly, many of these individuals adopted a "wait and see" attitude, having no doubt heard of the financial challenges the organization had faced in recent years. By mid-October, it was apparent that the funds needed to continue CMCA's status quo were not available.

With no recourse but to decrease the most expensive line item on our operating budget -- payroll in excess of $200,000 annually – we made a painful decision. We would close for the winter season and, unfortunately, we had to eliminate staff positions. Quite simply, we ran out of money, and keeping the staff any longer while still meeting our legal obligations was not possible. We felt the timing of this decision was critical, as we had to implement the action while we still had sufficient funds to pay three months of medical benefits, reimburse unused personal and vacation time due each employee, and pay unemployment benefits, for which the organization is responsible.

This decision was arrived at over the course of several committee meetings and after in-depth financial analyses before being presented to the full board. The board's decision was to close for the winter season and eliminate staff positions. The implementation of these events was assigned to a committee that included, among others, the Board Co-chairs and Executive Director.

We informed the staff that in order to attract additional sources of funding, a fiscally responsible restructuring of the organization would be necessary. Under the reorganization, different staffing positions would necessarily be created. It was clear that it would be a very long time before we would be able to hire four full-time staff members. Of course former staff would be considered, if interested, in the newly structured positions whenever our reorganization plan allowed for staff growth.

Our staff had worked hard for many months under very difficult circumstances. We, of course, acknowledged their hard work and dedication. We thanked them for persevering with inadequate resources. Certainly, this was a very upsetting situation, for which we are all very sorry.

To answer questions raised about my professional history, yes, some of my experience is in real estate, but in the management of such firms, not sales. I do not have a Maine real estate license and I do not intend to get one. During my management career, I have specialized in the turnaround of struggling organizations. I am confident that that process is now underway here at CMCA.

Much hard work still lies ahead. In the coming weeks we will continue to brainstorm planning and reorganization ideas. We invite your participation by sending your ideas along to us at

Thank you for your support, interest, and participation.


Mary Ann Schierholt
Executive Director

Monday, February 22, 2010

Moody's: Brandeis a more risky investment

Brandeis University in Waltham has been judged a more risky financial investment by the ratings firm Moody’s Investors Service as the school seeks to sell nearly $180 million in bonds this week, mainly to help it refund existing debt, the Boston Business Journal has reported.

Moody's lowered Brandeis’s rating to A1 from Aa3 because of what it sees as the school's long-term "history of operating losses," recent investment losses, several years of heightened endowment spending, and a 12 percent decline in students applying to be freshmen in fall 2009. Though the agency noted that Brandeis has made moves to cut costs by cutting faculty and reducing the number of doctoral students, plus applications for fall 2010 seem to be up.

Boston Business Journal reported that "Moody’s said the school suffered a 17 percent investment loss during the fiscal year that ended June 30. But since then, investments have recovered along with the overall stock market. The endowment’s total was about $619 million as of Dec. 31, Moody’s said."

Bill Killen

Bill Killen of Burrillville, Rhode Island, redraws Renaissance prints by Albrecht Durer, substituting porn stars for saints. As seen in his exhibit at AS220 last month, he adds twin jailbait girls — one lifting her skirt — into Durer's engraving of St. Philip. He removes St. Anthony from a Durer engraving and inserts a pair of scantily clad women sunbathing with a boombox hanging from the saint's cross. He turns an engraving of Jesus being whipped before crucifixion into a S&M scene by replacing Christ with a pair of porn stars, one with her underwear pulled down to mid-thigh, enjoying the rough stuff.

Killen's sacrilegious smut is in outrageously poor taste — purposely so — and so pointing this out sounds more like a compliment. And the guy can really draw, in this case using the antiquated medium of silverpoint, a technique Durer himself used in the 16th century. It reads as a challenge: anything Durer can do I can do too. At times, Killen seems to be pointing out the smut running through old master art that has been given a patina of class by time. But the weakness is that it mostly reads as a sweaty middle school one-liner.

Bill Killen, AS220's Main Gallery, 115 Empire Street, Providence, to Jan. 3 to 29, 2010.

Pictured: Bill Killen, "Nemesis," silver point on prepared paper.

"Trash" etc. was at AS220

From our review of "Trash," Steven Subotnick of Providence and Laura Shirreff of Providence, which were on view at AS220 last month and now are closed (sorry this post is so belated):
"Trash" at AS220's Project Space (93 Mathewson Street, Providence, through January 29) focuses on our love-hate relationship with garbage. Curator Lee Fearnside of Ohio loosely organizes the five-person show around the theme of artists exploring "the complex connections between garbage and human behavior" in a nation with "a rubbish crisis."

There are some outright references to our refuse, like Fearnside's photos of water in sewage treatment plant ponds. But mostly what we have here is artists using recycled materials or images in their work in a magpie tradition that reaches back to Robert Rauschenberg and Pablo Picasso. It seems more a reflection of our culture than commentary upon it.
Read the rest here.

"Trash," Steven Subotnick and Laura Shirreff, AS220, Providence, Jan. 3 to 29, 2010.

Pictured from top to bottom: Scott Lapham, "Perfectly Preserved Shoreline #2"; Lee Fearnside, "Waste Water Treatment"; Steven Subotnick, stills from his animated video "Jelly Fishers"; and Laura Shirreff "Body Series 1."