The Los Ageles County Museum of Art Bids to Take Over Los Angeles’ Imploding Museum of Contemprary Art

mocaPerhaps forming the Los Angeles County Museum of Contemporary Art, LACMOCA, and saving two letters!? Talk about merging the two institutions has bobbed to the surface before, most recently in 2008, just before MOCA was rescued by billionaire Eli broad, but this time the idea was initiated by the MOCA board itself. LACMA director Michael Govan outlined the proposed merger in a letter to the MOCA board, describing a deal that would keep the MOCA’s current locations and name, but tie the two institutions together financially.

Dance Into The New Year with Artpix

Merce Cunningham Dance CompanyARTPIX, Houston-based art-magazine-on-a-disc, has released a 3-disc DVD, Merce Cunningham Dance Company: Park Avenue Armory Event 2011, in collaboration with the Merce Cunningham Trust. The DVDs document the final performance of the Cunningham Company at the Seventh Regiment Armory on Park Avenue at 67th St. in New York on December 29-31, 2011. Six performances featuring fourteen dancers dancing “excerpts” of fifty years of choreography on three separate stages are a retrospective goodbye to an era in modern dance.

David Velasco writing in Artforum in December called it “One of the best films of 2012″, noting that it was “not released in theaters or shown at any festivals or streamed on Netflix or anywhere,” which of course makes it all the more exclusively desirable. Exclusivity notwithstanding, the set is still not overpriced- $60 from Microcinema International, or only 21 cents for each of the film’s 279 minutes! Feel free to sit, stand, or wander to observe the various dances being simultaneously performed on the three stages, all inside your TV!

RIPNEKST: Ex-Houston Graffiti Writer NEKST Has Died

Sean ??, aka NEKST has died. He began writing as Next in Houston in 1996, and was voted “best Graffiti writer” in 2003, by the Houston Press, even as they suggested he move to escape relentless police pressure. He did a stint in Austin; Rachel Koper of Austin’s Women and Their Work Gallery had this remembrance: “He lived in atx for some years before he went ‘dash snow’ in NYC. It breaks my heart. I kicked him out of Gallery Lombardi several times in 2003!! He kept coming back anyway. Offered to be my security guard and other bull. the Kid was tenacious.” He later was active in New York as part of the MSK crew (Mad Society Kings) before his death. Juxtapoz magazine has this hundred-pic tribute to the hardworking artist, well-known for his widespread, large-scale works.

Layer-Cake City: New Roman Excavation Finished, Subway, Under Art Center, Under Traffic Circle

Excavations for a new subway station in Rome had unsurprisingly, run afoul of “the most important Roman discovery in 80 years”, according to the Guardian (UK). While tunneling under the ancient Italian capital, railway workers uncovered an amphitheater built by the Emperor Hadrian in 123 c.e., which has been excavated and will open to the public soon, 18 feet beneath the busy Piazza Venezia. Railway engineers think that the new subway station can be squeezed in, using one of the original roman hallways as an exit to street level.

The third subway line in Rome runs 80 feet underground, below the level of the city’s earliest habitation, but has to come up sometimes for air shafts and stations, each time seeking the path of least resistance through ancient, medieval, renaissance and modern construction. It’s a mixed blassing for archeologists: something historic always gets destroyed, but funding to do the digging would not  be forthcoming otherwise.

Art Fair Buying Spurred by Fiscal Cliff

MoMA Prepares for Fiscal Cliff with Kim Kardashian Look-Alike Contest at Mondrian Hotel

The Art Newspaper (Art Basel Edition) reports that the fiscal cliff, and attendant economic uncertainty if anything, has been good for sales of high-end art at the Art Basel Miami Beach art fair this week. Melanie Gerlis, Gareth Harris and Riah Pryor interviewed collectors and dealers who felt that the looming tax uncertainty for the wealthiest Americans was driving a perceived flight towards art as a solid investment. saying that collectors were “using art as a medium-term store of value while other potential investments are proving volatile.”

Whitney Announces Curators for 2014 Biennial

On Thursday The Whitney Museum announced three curators for the 2014 Whitney Biennial: Tate Modern film curator Stuart Comer, curator of film at Tate modern, Institute of Contemporary Art Philadelphia associate curator Anthony Elms assistant curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art Philadelphia, and Michelle Grabner, chair of the painting and drawing department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, will select the artists and works for the museum’s 77th bi-annual. Each of the three will curate a floor of the exhibition, advised by the Whitney’s staff curators Elisabeth Sussman and Jay Sanders. The show opens in March 2014

Saltz as Low-Budget Collector: If it Quacks like a Richter . . .

Art critic Jerry Saltz has gotten the collecting bug- but, not being able to afford the seven-figure prices of the Gerhard Richter paintings he craved, instead challenged artists to fake one for him. He details his trials and eventual success at commissioning a satisfyingly Richterian abstraction for $155, and the promise and challenge of what he calls “little dick art” in New York Magazine. “I’ve got a Kara Walker cutout on order. Calders, Duchamps, Rothkos are all on the way. My wife is worried. So am I.”

Accused Picasso Vandal Speaks: KPRC Interviews Uriel Landeros in Monterrey, Mexico

Intrepid local TV news reporters tracked Uriel Landeros to Monterrey, where he is hiding out from charges of felony graffiti and criminal mischief in Houston after allegedly spray painting  over Picasso’s Woman in Red Armchair at the Menil Collection. In a brief interview with KPRC TV’s Nefertiti Jacquez, Landeros claims association with the Occupy movement, and that his alleged action was aimed at righting wrongs and exposing the corruption of banks, government and large institutions in the United States and Mexico. Asked if he plans to return to Houston to face the charges, he said “it’s not my priority right now,” as commenters on the video froth.

In related news, the Yes Men, also claiming affinity with the Occupy movement, also using direct actions to publicize their positions, but so far staying just on the right side of the law, have almost reached the $100,000 goal for the Kickstarter campaign to fund their new movie!

Met Sued by Members Hoping to Overturn the Free Museum’s $25 Admission Fee*

Chang W. Lee/NY Times

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is being sued by two of its members who claim that the  museum intentionally makes it difficult to understand that the $25 admission charge is merely a suggestion, not a requirement. The City originally granted the Met its prime location in Central Park on the condition that it remain open free of charge several days per week; even the suggestion of an admission charge only began in the 1970′s. A survey of museum-goers found that 85% who had paid the $25 at the door did not realize they could have gotten in for free.

Urban Art: It’s Not Always Crime Anymore (In Canada)

In Toronto, a panel of five city staffers with backgrounds in “the arts, urban design, architecture and other relevant disciplines” has been officially set up to decide on issues of the preservation of street art. The panel decides whether a given piece of street art is of sufficient artistic merit to exempt the owner of the property on which it is painted from fines for failing to remove it. As in many cities, in Toronto it is not only a crime to paint other peoples buildings, it is a crime not to un-paint them.

The panel is a nod to the growing respectability and commercial clout of street art in the midst of Toronto’s latest crackdown on graffiti, and offers some relief to property owners hosting legitimate artworks (rather than slumlords allowing urban decay), but none to painters: “Even if it’s Picasso, you’re not allowed to paint on other people’s walls,” says Elyse Parker, a city official who has coordinated several street beautification initiatives.

The panel came about in part in response to an embarrassing incident last May, when zealous city anti-graffiti squads painted over a popular stencil-style mural by Joel Richardson, which he says the city had paid him to paint, and is one of many incidents in Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s war on graffiti, which has irked property owners by targeting them with a flood of city removal orders.