jan/feb 2017: news page

“Still Life with Two Owls (MOCA),” 2016, Jonas Wood. Rendering, courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles

As 2016 drew to a close, the exterior façade of the Arata Isozaki-designed MOCA Grand Avenue building (1986) was transformed with the installation of a massive vinyl reproduction of Los Angeles painter Jonas Wood’s “Still life with Two Owls,” (2014). The work, covering an estimated 5,200 square feet, will remain on view for approximately one year.

The Whitney Museum of American Art has announced the full list of participating artists for the 2017 Whitney Biennial. The upcoming event, co-curated by associate curator at the Whitney, Christopher Y. Lew and independent curator Mia Locks, is the first to be held in the museum’s new downtown location. Thematic concerns addressed in the exhibition include “the formation of self and the individual’s place in a turbulent society” with works by 63 participants, ranging from emerging to well-established artists and collectives working in both traditional and experimental media.

The Smithsonian American Art Museum announced the gift of 93 works of art from the collection of the late Margaret Z. Robso, marking the largest acquisition of self-taught artworks in 20 years to the institution. The Robson gift, donated by the collector’s son, includes paintings, drawings and sculptures by 48 major self-taught artists, including James Castle, Ulysses Davis, Thornton Dial Sr., William Edmondson, Howard Finster, Bessie Harvey, Leroy Person, Judith Scott, and Bill Traylor.

The Saint Louis Art Museum announced the acquisition of Detached III (2012), a large-scale sculpture by the English artist Rachel Whiteread from her series of concrete sculptures depicting the interior space of garden sheds. The sculpture will be installed in the museum’s Grace Taylor Broughton Sculpture Garden near the 2013 David Chipperfield- designed expansion in the spring.

The Orange County Museum of Art has announced the participating artists for the 2017 California-Pacific Triennial. The upcoming exhibiton, titled “Building as Ever,” was curated by OCMA senior curator Cassandra Coblentz; the exhibition will explore the “temporal precariousness of the built environment” by examining issues of preservation and displacement, as well as the effects of global economics and politics on urbanization. The expanded geographic parameters of the triennial, established in 2013 by former chief curator Dan Cameron, grew from the original California Biennial launched by the museum in 1984. The upcoming event includes artists from who live and work in 11 countries ranging from the West Coast of North and South America to China, South Korea, Japan and Australia.

The Harvard Art Museums announced the gift of ten artworks by Nam June Paik, in addition to a $1 million gift from business school alumnus Ken Hakuta, the nephew of pioneering video artist.­­

The Portland Museum of Art in Maine announced a $5 million matching gift donation from art patrons Judy and Leonard Lauder in support of the museum’s “Focused Endowment Initiative” to increase its total endowment by $15 million. To honor the donation, the largest in its history, the position of PMA director will be renamed the Judy and Leonard Lauder Director of the Portland Museum of Art.

The Denver Art Museum announced the pledged donation of $25 million from board chairman J. Landis Martin and his wife, Sharon Martin, as the lead gift and catalyst to launch the revitalization of the museum’s North Building. The iconic seven-story structure was designed by renowned Italian modernist Gio Ponti, in collaboration with local Denver architects James Sudler and Joal Cronenwett, in 1971 is celebrated as one of the first-ever high-rise art museums in the United States. In recognition of the largest standalone financial gift in the museum’s history, the North Building will be renamed the J. Landis and Sharon Martin Building upon project completion.

“Lovers,” 2011, Cyrus Tilton, Steel wire, muslin and wax, 12′ x 6 1⁄2′ x 6 1⁄2′
Photo: courtesy Vessel Gallery

Chief curator Scott Shields of the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento announced that Bay Area artist Cyrus Tilton has won the 2016 John S. Knudson Prize, the first year the prize has been awarded. Established in 2012 by a gift from the estate of art collector John S. Knudson, the prize recognizes emerging to mid-career California artists who have not yet had a solo show at a major art museum. The prize includes a sum of $25,000, and will also entail a solo exhibition at the Crocker, slated for fall 2018. Tilton, a sculptor, is known for his deconstructed, vaguely surrealistic works that feature inventive use of materials and frequent references to nature. His 2011 show at Vessel Gallery in Oakland, “The Cycle,” depicted several iterations of the lives of locusts, a potent allegory for our own society’s penchant for obsessive consumption. Works included wall panels depicting locust eggs in soil, a swarm of nearly 500 whirring fabric locusts suspended from the ceiling, and a striking roomsize depiction of a pair of mating locusts made of steel wire and waxed muslin. Titled Lovers, the piece was on display again this fall as part of a crowd-sourcing campaign by the gallery, to help fund the work’s potential purchase by a suitable institution and to support the artist, who is currently battling stage four esophageal cancer. The work found its home: in addition to the Knudson Prize, in December, the Crocker Art Museum also announced that they had accepted Lovers into their permanent collection.


Christy MacLear, currently Robert Rauschenberg Foundation’s chief executive, will join Sotheby’s to expand the auction house’s advisory services for artists and artist estates. She will serve as vice chair of Sotheby’s fine arts division beginning in January 2017.

Guillaume Cerutti, president of Christie’s Europe, Middle East, Russia, and India operations, will assume the position of CEO upon the exit of Patricia Barbizet, who has announced that she will step down from her post as CEO in January 2017.

Ravi S. Rajan, currently dean of the School of the Arts at SUNY Purchase, will be the new head of California Institute of the Arts, after a unanimous vote by the board of the California art school. The announcement comes nearly 18 months after Steven Lavine, who served 29 years at CalArts, announced that he would step down as the president of the institution.

Hank Willis Thomas has been appointed to the Public Art Fund’s board of directors. Kellie Honeycutt, who has served as communications director since 2010, has been promoted to director of institutional advancement effective January 1, 2017.

Grace Kook-Anderson, former curator of contemporary art at the Laguna Art Museum, Calif., has been appointed curator of Northwest art at Portland Art Museum, Ore.

Lisa Kirby announced as the next board president at the Worcester Art Museum, Mass. Kirby currently serves as the chair of audience engagement committee and is a four-year board member.

Laurie Ann Farrell announced as the new curator of contemporary art at the Detroit Institute of Arts, joined by assistant curators Lucy Mensah, previously a fellow in the modern and contemporary department at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and Taylor Renee Aldridge, a writer and arts administrator based in Detroit and co-founder of the online journal Arts Black, creating the largest curatorial staff for contemporary art in 15 years at CIA. Farrell previously served 10 years at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia, where she organized shows there with artists such as Carrie Mae Weems, Alfredo Jaar, and Xu Bing.