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Easy for them to say: Clooney, Murray, Damon want Greece’s Patrimony Back!

As reported in the LA Times, movie stars George Clooney, Bill Murray and Matt Damon recently made statements around the launch of their movie “Monuments Men” that the British Museum should return the Elgin Marbles back to Greece.

But what, you say, would that mean for all the Egyptian stuff at the Louvre that was carted off by Napoleon at around the same time? Damon reasonably dismisses British protests that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about because he’s an American, but cultural patrimony is not a black-and-white issue. The argument can be made that cultural property laws restrict international trade in antiquities, and that if they had always existed, the world’s great border-crossing encyclopedic museums wouldn’t be nearly so great, or so border-crossing. So what’s more important, George et al.: stewardship, or ownership?

Planned Reagan Statue Celebrates the “Hunk in Trunks”

Responding to the urgent national cries for a statue commemorating Ronald Reagan as a hot young lifeguard, the town of Dixon, IL is commissioning a life-sized bronze of the former movie star and President to complement the other two statues the town already has, reports the LA Times. If only the statue would be like one of artist Omri Amrani’s sports figures in motion — maybe of Reagan jogging along the edge of the lake, Baywatch-style?

Rest easy, America: your nagging itch is about to be scratched, handsomely!

Arts Publisher Gets Dissed, Shamed and Sued

blouin

CEO Louise Blouin

Louise Blouin seems to be in trouble these days. Her reputation as an employer is so clouded that when the CEO of Blouin Media, publisher of Artinfo.com and Art + Auction, called a snow day yesterday, Dan Duray of the Gallerist suggested that it was simply because it was payday and, since Monday is a holiday, the company could avoid paying its employees until at least Tuesday.

The snow day came only a day after Blouin and the company president were served with lawsuit papers, filed by two former top executives who claim that they were fired after complaining about missing paychecks and commissions. A Blouin spokesperson said “there were disputed commissions that did not belong to them, and that is why they were terminated,” but the lawsuit claims that Blouin explained to other staff members that the plaintiffs were “greedy,” “evil,” and “stole” money, clients and commissions. The New York Post reports that the two plaintiffs are among a number of former Blouin staffers who have left to join Artnet News, a digital publication that aims to compete with Artinfo.com.

Blouin’s reputation as a fair employer has been nose-diving for a while now. Last month, C-Monster Carolina A. Miranda, freelance arts writer, launched a relentless Twitter campaign called #BlouinShaming:
Screen shot_C-MonsterThe two plaintiffs also charge that, despite many years of service at Blouin Media, they were classified as independent contractors when they should have been classified as full-time employees. It should be noted that all Glasstire writers are part-time freelancers, which, as Glasstire contributor Laura Lark explains in her recent article “The Lark Guide to Artworld Behaviors,” makes it “not a ‘real’ job, but then here is a little bit more of that sentence (the all caps are hers):

…it really boils down to money—and though Glasstire PAYS ITS WRITERS BETTER THAN ANY PUBLICATION I’VE EVER WORKED FOR, it’s not a “real” job…

Is Dumb Starbucks an Art Project, a Comedy Stunt, or About to Get Seriously Sued?

dumbstarbucks1Most people who have been on any social media site in the past few days have read about Dumb Starbucks, the coffee shop that opened a few days ago in Los Angeles. Articles are being enthusiastically forwarded and re-forwarded about the mysterious faux Starbucks, many concluding that it must be some sort of brilliant conceptual art project. In fact, this afternoon L.A. conceptual artist Marc Horowitz took to Twitter this afternoon to claim responsibility: “Would love to do interviews about #dumbstarbucks — just waiting for @TODAYshow or @jimmykimmel.”

But later in the afternoon, several major news sources began reporting that Comedy Central’s Nathan Fielder is the man behind the Starbucks parody. “I’m proud to announce we’ll be opening our second Starbucks in Brooklyn, New York soon… This really caught on so I’m going to ride it out,” he announced.

The store opened this weekend as a near perfect replica of a Starbucks, advertising Dumb Frappuccinos and displaying Dumb Starbucks mixed jazz CDs at the register. Also available was a handout explaining the store, which included this statement: “Although we are a fully functioning coffee shop, for legal reasons Dumb Starbucks needs to be categorized as a work of parody art. So, in the eyes of the law, our ‘coffee shop’ is actually an art gallery and the coffee you’re buying is considered the art.”

Reverend Billy. Photo via Portland.indymedia.org

Reverend Billy. Photo via Portland.indymedia.org

This is not the first time Starbucks has been the subject of an art intervention. Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping (run by Bill Talen, playwright/artist and 2009 Green Party NYC mayoral candidate) took his mess-with-Starbucks performance art act on the road, stopping in Houston about a decade ago to cause a mob-flash-style confusion at the twin (later, three at the same intersection!) Starbucks in River Oaks.

Starbucks seems to be handling this latest jest in stride. In an email to USA TODAY, Starbucks said Dumb Starbucks is not affiliated with Starbucks, adding, “We are evaluating next steps and while we appreciate the humor, they cannot use our name, which is a protected trademark.” A spokeswoman told the AP that the majority of trademark disputes are “handled informally.”

Starbucks’ attitude so far seems to suggest that they have learned something about the powerful headache of social media. Only a couple of months ago, they sicced lawyers on a small brewpub in Cottleville, Missouri for naming one of their stouts “Frappicino.” The Huffington Post published a hilarious article entitled “Best Response To Starbucks Cease And Desist Letter Ever” that went viral. This time, Starbucks is being more cautious, though it’s doubtful the Brooklyn Dumb Starbucks will actually appear.

Leonard Knight, 1931 – 2014

Salvation MountainLeonard Knight, creator of the legendary folk art environment Salvation Mountain near the Salton Sea, died yesterday at the age of 82. As reported by the Imperial Valley Press, some of the Korean War veteran’s ashes will be interred at the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in Point Loma. The rest will be scattered at Knight’s magnum opus, a remarkable, brightly painted hill that proclaims “God is Love” and that was featured in the 2011 film Into the Wild.

Artadia Wants You! Deadline for First Round of LA Grants September 30

Artadia: The Fund for Art and Dialogue is accepting applications from all visual artists living and working in Los Angeles County, but hurry! Applications must be submitted online by September 30, 11:59 PM (PST).

Individual artists and collaboratives at any point in their careers could win from $5000 to $15,000 in unrestricted payola, to be used however the artist sees fit.

Awardees will be selected in the fall of 2013 through Artadia’s two-tiered jury process. This is Artadia’s first awards cycle in Los Angeles.

For eligibility requirements and to access the online application, visit: http://artadia.cuerate.org

Five Exhibitions to anticipate in the up coming season

While the Fine Art Landscape is really more of a 365 days a year affair, September still feels like a renewal of promise. Perhaps our affection for the academic calendar is in our aesthetic DNA. Perhaps cooling tempertures index a return to culture. Regardless of catalytic source, here are five excellent exhibitions which will grace the Los Angeles Landscape in the coming months. Don’t miss them!

 

Heather Gwen Martin at Luis de Jesus

September 7th through Oct 12th, 2013

Heather Gwen Martin at Luis de Jesus

Ms. Martin paints as though traditions and expectations didn’t exist. Her canvases hover between volume and line, never really settling on either. Her color palette defies convention. And of late her scale has increased significantly. Nice to see a relatively young artist mature into her promise.

R.J. Kitaj at LA Louvre

October 10th through November 9th, 2013

R.B. Kitaj at LA Louver

Rarely do the intellect of the mind and the intuition of the paintbrush meet on a performance plane. The artwork of RJ Kitaj offers such theater in consistent and mesmerizing doses. His professional life was spent as a devout American expat in London. His personal trajectory reads like gripping fiction. The paintings and drawings continue to vex and captivate.

Joel Otterson at Maloney Fine Art

November 9th through December 21st, 2013

Joel Otterson at Maloney Fine Art

Sampling and mash ups may be thought of primarily as musical terms but Otterson’s witty and elegant sculpture apply a remix paradigm to the plastic arts. Difficult to categorize or pigeonhole, Otterson is always optically fetching.

Robert Heineken at Marc Selwyn Fine Art

September 28th through Novemebr 2nd, 2013

Robert Heineken at Marc Selwyn Fine Art

The most inventive photography in today’s fine art landscape was created in the 1970′s and 1980′s. This is clearly the conclusion when one sees Heineken‘s diverse body of work. There are feminist readings. There’s socio-political content. More than anything though you sense fun, invention and experimentation in everything he touched. The images lure your attention. Discovery of process expand admiration.

Don Bachardy at Craig Krull Gallery

September 7th through October 12th, 2013

Don Bachardy at Craig Krull Gallery

I liken Bachardy as the consummate marathon runner in an art world obsessed with sprinters. His laser like focus on the portraiture genre documents several generations of creative luminaries in the concentric circles of Los Angeles. This exhibition will focus on literary lions, often when they were still cubs but each with a steely gaze of determination that won them admiration. The slowly morphing execution over the years, from tightly rendered graphite lines to nearly expressionistic color and brush strokes is fascinating as well.

-Mario M. Muller, Los Angeles, September 3rd, 2013

From Curator/Scholar to L.A. Gallerist: Paul Schimmel to Join Hauser & Wirth

Paul Schimmel (Courtesy Patrick McMullan)

Former MOCA Chief Curator Paul Schimmel will join the gallery Hauser & Wirth as a full partner to open Hauser Wirth & Schimmel in Los Angeles in 2015.

It’s been almost a year since Schimmel’s controversial and abrupt departure (some say firing, others resignation) after his 22-year tenure at MOCA, which provoked the public resignations of four major artist board members. “I believe that MOCA’s strengths have always been in relationship to the outstanding scholarly curatorial practice it had established,” said former trustee and artist Catherine Opie. “What concerns me is seeing the museum embracing more celebrity and fashion.” The provocative new MOCA Director Jeffrey Dietch had himself only recently made the opposite jump from the commercial world to the nonprofit world.

This distinction between the museum and the commercial gallery, between nonprofit and for-profit, seems to be blurring, as is discussed in an interesting article about Schimmel’s decision in Art F City. Some see this shift as positive (as in many comments on Schimmel’s recent move), some see it as negative (as was articulated during the Dietch controversies), and some are merely cautious (as stated by USC’s Fisher Museum of Art director Selma Holo to LA Times’ Culture Monster: “One understands that these worlds blend, but there are still or should be some lines that are not crossed.”)

If Jeffrey Dietch is bringing the commercial world to museums, it sounds like Paul Schimmel plans to bring a bit of a museum sensibility to the new gallery. “I think it’s going to be quite different in the respect that it will be done on a larger scale, have fewer exhibitions and a combination of selling and non-selling exhibitions,” said Schimmel to the LA Times. He said he imagines three to five exhibitions a year that “come out of the Hauser & Wirth program but feel more museum-like in terms of scale, scholarship and complexity.” And, according to their press release, “Hauser Wirth & Schimmel will place significant emphasis upon education and public programs, offering an array of on-going events and activities inspired both by its exhibitions and the local culture.”

Schimmel began his career at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, where he was a curator from 1975 to 1977 and senior curator from 1977 to 1978. He served as the chief curator of the Newport Harbor Art Museum, Newport Beach, from 1981 to 1989. In 1990, he became chief curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA), a position he held until 2012.

 

 

 

 

YouTube Introduces PayTube: Subscription Channels Get Test Run

YouTube announced a new subscription service Thursday, opening the door to a whole new way to pay for content on the popular video sharing site, and possibly changing the game for over-the-internet video delivery. A pilot program allows users to subscribe for a 99¢- $2.99 per month to thirty channels, and will test whether users who will watch through 30 second ads to get the videos they want will pay up front. Stay tuned!