Baltimore CityPaper: Cotton Matters: Jeffrey Kent’s Preach! seeks to deliver us from the history we may have forgotten By Bret McCabe

Yes, that is a blindfolded preacher hanging on the walls of the Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park Museum in Fells Point, the subject of the brightly colored painting “A Beautiful Sunset That Was Mistaken for a Dawn.” And if it’s a little startling, that’s intentional. Preach! New Works by Jeffrey Kent, the latest explosive device improvised by MICA’s Exhibition Development Seminar (EDS), wants to shake you out of a comfort zone. So, yes, blindfolded preacher. And he’s holding a placard topped with backward American flag; other figures hold signs defending California’s Proposition 8, the 2008 state constitutional amendment that stipulated that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized.” And, yes, that blindfolded preacher is wearing an Obama ’08 campaign pin. And sweet Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, that same blindfolded preacher wearing an Obama ’08 campaign pin, holding a sign supporting Prop 8 is also clad in minstrel blackface—and topped with a golden, angelic halo. How does that go again: And lead us not into damnation? Keep reading here.


Screen Shot 2013-02-19 at 2.29.53 PMArt Eff City From New York to Nebraska, Art Schools Top the White House’s Debt Scorecard by Corinna Kirsch

In last week’s State of the Union address, President Obama promised to launch the College Scorecard, a website that serves a straightforward purpose: to find out “where you can get the most bang for your educational buck.” With the website’s release this week, it comes as no surprise to find out that art students are laden with more debt than most other professions.

The Wall Street Journal, when comparing The White House’s college rankings site, finds that the schools with the highest median debt come from arts schools. The country’s highest median debt load upon graduation sits at $52,035; that startling figure comes from The Creative Center, a for-profit art college in Omaha, Nebraska. New York’s Manhattan School of Music comes in second with a median debt load of $47,000. Read the rest here.



Hyperallergic: How to Talk about Art: Cindy Sherman Edition by Cat Weaver

If only you knew how to talk about Cindy Sherman you’d feel better about throwing yourself into the ring with all the art pundits and critics who have been falling over themselves to give kudos to the current MoMA retrospective which covers her 35 year career from when she was good until now.

“This is feminism and Cindy Sherman is their knight in shining tinted moisturizer.”

You’d think it would be easy to talk about Cindy Sherman since the experts who have championed her work for decades have provided so much material. And the show’s been up since February 26, so you’ve all had a chance to get an eyeful of the critics’ latest panegyric ululations.

But the talking points are many and although there’s a consensus— we like her — there’s a lot of hot air circulating around the reasons why. On top of that, there’s not a lot of room, or tolerance, for dissent. Read the whole darn article here.



WSJ: The Crown Prince of the Art World: As the youngest curator to direct the Venice Biennale in more than a hundred years, Massimiliano Gioni will test his gritty-yet-glamorous approach to modern art when the prestigious fair opens this summer. by Ian Volner

INTERNATIONAL CONTEMPORARY art curators are not known for their charm. For that select class of professional explainers and tastemakers, a certain hauteur seems to be the norm—a prerequisite, perhaps, given the hermetic complexity of so much contemporary art.

But Massimiliano Gioni is different.

Thirty-nine years old, the Italian-born director of special exhibitions at Manhattan’s New Museum of Contemporary Art has the kind of ready smile that gives you the feeling you’ve met him before, possibly over drinks, and that one of you might still owe the other a round. When he speaks about art, he’s engaged and informed, but just as likely to stray off topic and tell you, say, about his university days in Bologna, when he translated Harlequin romance novels for extra cash. “It was actually a decent salary, but it had terrible consequences for my psyche,” he recalls. “Then again, I knew more synonyms for ‘nipple.’ ” Read more here.


Washington City Paper: The National Mall and the Hirshhorn Bubble: Too Many Studies, Not Enough Building by Kriston Capps

The latest issue of architecture journal Clog is devoted to the National Mall. Among several dozen short essays about the National Park Service-regulated expanse in downtown Washington, one of the standouts comes from Ennead Architects, a New York-based firm that has put in 15 years on various Mall projects. The unsigned editorial is short, but it delivers a message that should register with anyone following the slowly developing Hirshhorn Bubble: “As we have come to learn, in Washington, D.C., there is plenty of money for studies but little money for architecture.”


Ennead may feel stung by its involvement with the ongoing restoration of the 1881 Arts and Industries Building and the development of the 35,000-square-foot Education Center at the Wall, an underground project for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial that is just now getting underway. “The nature of the Mall itself is incredibly diverse,” Ennead acknowledges, but goes on to say, “The Mall also happens to be the epicenter of one of the most over-regulated cities in the country from the standpoint of architecture and planning.” Ennead makes no such complaints about its experiences building the Newseum, focusing instead on the federally regulated Mall. Read the rest here.


Baltimore City Paper: Ask First FORCE follows up Victoria’s Secret hack with V-Day action on National Mall By Chloe Helton-Gallagher

On Valentine’s Day, FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture, a team of local activists and artists led by Hannah Brancato and Rebecca Nagle, will create a temporary memorial to survivors of sexual violence by floating the phrase “I can’t forget what happened, but no one else remembers” on the reflecting pool on the Mall in Washington, D.C. “This temporary monument is a call to create a permanent monument to survivors of rape and abuse in the United States,” Brancato says.

The group formed not long after October of 2010, when Current Gallery hosted an exhibit entitled FORCE: On the Culture of Rape, curated by Brancato and Nagle, which featured artwork that dealt with sexual violence head-on. The exhibit boldly tackled a sensitive but important issue with both potency and fearlessness. When the show came down, the conversation was only just beginning. Building on the momentum of the exhibition, Brancato and Nagle widened the scope of the project, naming an umbrella group FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture. Since then, they have engaged in a number of projects promoting messages that “CONSENT IS SEXY” and that the best sex comes from good communication. Whole article here.


Bloomberg: Desperate Art Galleries Give Up as Chelsea Rents Double By Katya Kazakina

Fifteen years after Magdalena Sawon moved her Postmasters Gallery to Manhattan’s Chelsea district from SoHo, the art dealer is heading back downtown because her rent is about to double. “This is my last season here. I am unwilling to pay $30,000 a month,” said Sawon, whose 3,800-square-foot gallery occupies a ground-floor space on West 19th Street.

The midsize art galleries that helped transform western Chelsea from a dead area adjoining the West Side Highway into New York’s major art hub are being squeezed out of the neighborhood by booming real-estate development and rising rents.

“The mid-range galleries are going to just vanish from Chelsea,” said Sawon, who expects that “anything radical or experimental” will become rarer as dealers seek to cover expenses by staging more-predictable shows that do well commercially. Anchored by the elevated High Line walkway and park, the area between 10th and 11th avenues is attracting technology and fashion companies that present tough rivals to contemporary-art galleries. Read more here.

And, last but not least, Portlandia’s take on Performance Art: