Friday, June 27, 2008

MFA building fund raises $500 million

Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts announced this morning that it had reached the $500 million fund-raising goal of its “Building the New MFA” campaign, which began in July 2001. The MFA’s expansion and renovation is scheduled to be completed in late 2010.

The campaign collected more than 25,000 donations, with more than half of the money coming from MFA trustees, the museum said.

As part of the announcement, the museum announced that its West Wing will be renamed the Linde Family Wing in honor of Joyce and Edward Linde’s financial generosity to the campaign. Mrs. Linde has served as an MFA trustee since 2001. And a new 150-seat auditorium in the new American Wing will be named in honor of Barbara and Ted Alfond to commemorate their generosity. Mrs. Alfond is the president-elect of the museum’s board of trustees and served as the fund-raising campaign co-chair.

Gifts of $10 million or more were received from Barbara and Ted Alfond, Joyce and Edward Linde, George D. and Margo Behrakis, the estate of Roberta G. Logie, the Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family Foundation, three anonymous gifts, and State Street Corporation.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

It’s not just the number of galleries closing

but which galleries are closing.

Matt Nash is right when he writes that the Boston galleries shakeup is part of the usual churn of any art scene, but what he keeps missing is that these aren’t just any galleries that are closing (or significantly cutting back). The loss of galleries like Allston Skirt, Bernie Toale, Space Other, Rhys, Judy Ann Goldman and (the fledgling) Julie Chae is a major blow to the scene. (Even if some of them say they are only going on hiatus.)

At issue is how much the Boston galley scene will be engaged with the question of where art is going, rather than where art has been. The absence of these galleries significantly reduces the amount and quality of artwork by living (and often local) artists that will be seen here. Visits to the South End just got a lot less interesting.

Though some existing galleries are stepping up – Steven Zevitas moving to larger more visible space, GASP expanding – and a few new galleries are joining the mix, their numbers don’t balance out with the losses. And it's not at all clear yet that the quality of their exhibitions can offset the lost programming.

The Boston galleries shakeup

The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research's definitive reports on the Boston galleries shakeup:
March 20: Allston Skirt to close.
March 25: Boston gallery shake-up – Allston Skirt closing, Bernard Toale reducing operations and gallery director Joseph Carroll taking over much of the space, Yezersky moving.
April 1: Round-up of galleries shakeup, with analysis of causes. Allston Skirt, Space Other, Judy Ann Goldman to close. Rhys rumored to be leaving town. GASP expanding. Space 242 opening. Walker Gallery coming. Axiom co-director leaving. Miller Block rumored to be moving. Zevitas considering move. Urdang looking for new space. HallSpace moved.
April 1: Space Other to close.
May 5: Julie Chae closes?
May 6: Julie Chae (sorta) moving.
May 13: Pepper Gallery closing.
May 13: Miller Block moving.
May 15: MPG Contemporary to close.
May 22: Rhys Gallery is leaving for LA.
May 23: Soprafina Gallery moving on up.
May 29: Steven Zevitas moving downstairs.
June 2: Diamond-Newman Fine Arts moving?
June 15: Galleria Florentia coming to Newbury Street.
June 17: Lumas opens on Newbury Street.
June 19: Walker Gallery to be at 38 Newbury St.
June 26: Alpha Gallery to shrink.
June 26: It's not just the number of galleries closing, but which galleries are closing.

July 11: Walker not moving to Newbury Street.
July 17: Sad, sad.
July 22: Urding Gallery seeks new space.
July 25: Gallery XIV closing at Harrison Ave.
Aug. 7: Yezerski move probably delayed.

Alpha Gallery to shrink

Alpha Gallery will shrink over the summer, as the new Walker Gallery takes over part of its space on the seventh floor at 38 Newbury St. in Boston.

I reported on June 19 that Walker Gallery plans to open “next to” Alpha on Sept. 6. It turns out that Stephanie Walker will actually move into part of Alpha’s space, taking over Alpha’s back gallery (which you can see through the doorway at left in the photo above) and extending it forward through Alpha’s main gallery to the floor’s main hallway.

“We’ve been basically keeping our ear out for something like that for a while,” Alpha assistant director Justin Tiernan tells me. “Except for once or twice a year we don’t really use the second gallery.”

Alpha's main gallery will have a net loss of about 12 linear feet of exhibition wall space, Tiernan says. Alpha has no plans to close, he says; the change was just motivated by the gallery’s long sense that it had too much space.

Get your art news here first

or wait three months and get the same stuff from the other guys.

The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research on March 25:
“Three of Boston's most important galleries are about to make major changes, and rumors are rampant that several others may soon move or close — signaling a major upheaval in the city's art scene.”

The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research on April 1:
“A week after Allston Skirt Gallery got two of its artists named among the four finalists for the Institute of Contemporary Art’s 2008 Foster Prize, word began to spread that the nine-year-old gallery would be closing at the end of its next show.

"The news turned out to be the first sign of a major gallery shake-up involving a number of Boston’s most prestigious venues. Three galleries are closing, several are moving, and others are restructuring.”

Cate McQuaid in The Boston Globe on June 25:
“The boxes, rolls of duct tape, and odd pieces of art scattered around the Allston Skirt Gallery might be mistaken for a witty conceptual art installation. But they're not. Owners Beth Kantrowitz and Randi Hopkins, in business nine years, are packing up their Harrison Avenue space for good.

"Allston Skirt is just one of 14 key galleries in the South End and on Newbury Street that will have closed, moved, subdivided, or gone on hiatus by the end of the summer. That's more than one-third of the commercial galleries on Boston's contemporary-art scene. It's a seismic shift.”

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Zombie kickball!

A third annual Zombie Kickball outbreak looms over Portland this weekend. Preparty at The Asylum, 121 Center St., at 9 p.m. June 27. Kickball game at Carter Field on the Eastern Promenade at 2 p.m. June 29. Followed by after party at Space gallery, 538 Congress St.

A report in the Portland Press Herald.

Monday, June 23, 2008

MCC grant winners announced

The Massachusetts Cultural Council today announced the finalists and winners of its 2008 artist fellowship grants. They are:

Drawing/Printmaking/Artist Books
Christopher Abrams
Sandra Allen
Reese Inman
Fred H.C. Liang
Alexis Mahon
Julie Miller
Leslie Schomp
Debra Weisberg

Sandra Cohen
Candis Smith Corby
Brian Corey
Joel Janowitz
Laurie Kaplowitz
Ilana Manolson
Todd McKie
Stephen Mishol
David Moore
John O'Hearn
James Peters
James Stroud
Corrine Ulmann

Traditional Arts
Stephen Earp for Redware pottery.
Thomas Matsuda for Japanese Buddhist sculpture