WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (December 26, 2011-January 1, 2012)

ARTS & CULTURE

America’s Cup: S.F. arts groups scramble for role.” By Stephanie Lee. San Francisco Chronicle. December 26, 2011. When America’s Cup races end for the day, crowds leave the waterfront for plays downtown. Musicians and dancers honor holidays for the United States, France and South Korea as those nations compete on the water. Those are the roles local artists envision playing in the America’s Cup, the world-famous sailing race that will arrive in San Francisco in 2012 and 2013. Theater, music, dance and art, they say, will be crucial to keeping visitors entertained beyond the races. But while organizers have touted the event for boosting the hospitality, transportation and construction industries, local arts groups say they’ve been overlooked. The city has committed to raising $32 million for the regatta – none of it for the arts. Artists, city officials and organizers have recently been holding meetings on the subject, including a hearing earlier this month before the Board of Supervisors’ land-use committee. A handful of theater and dance groups – such as FACT/SF, ShadowLight Productions and Antenna Theater – have been fundraising and rehearsing for shows in 2013 that will coincide with the race schedule. The city is fundraising to cover basic elements such as public safety, transportation and the environmental analysis required by state law. Aside from that, a separate $130,000 exists – but only because the port, which is building a cruise terminal, is required to devote a slice of the project money to art. The strategy now is to incorporate existing performances and events into the race calendar, said Jane Sullivan, the city’s spokeswoman for the America’s Cup. One idea is to direct crowds to visual arts studios on designated days. Another is to move the annual Noodle Fest, normally held in Chinatown and North Beach in the spring, to coincide with the races.

Donor of the Day: Globetrotter’s Goal: Extend New York’s Museum Mile.” By Jennifer Maloney. Wall Street Journal. December 27, 2011. Mannie Jackson, who was born in a boxcar and went on to travel the world as owner of the Harlem Globetrotters, has given $5 million to the Museum for African Art for its new Fifth Avenue building, scheduled to open in late 2012. The gift will fund a gallery dedicated to the “heroic leadership” of Nelson Mandela, with whom Mr. Jackson said he and his family developed a close bond through many visits to South Africa. Mr. Jackson, who joined the museum’s board of directors last year, said its mission of education and social justice is close to his heart. “Storytelling and art motivates people to learn more,” he said. “It’s a motivational tool to expand our horizons.” Mr. Jackson played for the Harlem Globetrotters in the 1960s and later became an executive at Honeywell Inc. He has served on the boards of five Fortune 500 companies, and in 1993 bought the Globetrotters, rebuilding the franchise from near-bankruptcy. He said he hoped the Museum for African Art’s collection–showcased in a new $100-million home on Fifth Avenue at 110th Street—would inspire all New Yorkers, especially African-American children. “We want to rebrand Africa,” said Elsie McCabe Thompson, president of the 27-year-old museum. “Africa and Africans shouldn’t be seen as suffering from the disaster du jour.” The museum will occupy the first five floors of a 19-story condominium, designed by Robert A. M. Stern, that will extend New York’s Museum Mile north into Harlem. Ms. Thompson, whose mission to build a new home for the museum has spanned more than a decade, said the museum must raise $11 million more to complete its capital campaign.

Crystal Bridges, the Art Museum Walmart Money Built, Opens.” By Roberta Smith. New York Times. December 26, 2011. By just about any measure, the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, which opened last month in this small town in northwest Arkansas, is off to a running start. The dream-come-true of Alice Walton, an heir to the Walmart fortune, it is characterized by people both inside and outside the museum as a work in progress, with plenty of room for improvement. But there it stands, a big, serious, confident, new institution with more than 50,000 square feet of gallery space and a collection worth hundreds of millions of dollars in a region almost devoid of art museums. Much more than just a demonstration of what money can buy or an attempt to burnish a rich family’s name, Crystal Bridges is poised to make a genuine cultural contribution, and possibly to become a place of pilgrimage for art lovers from around the world. It came into being in record time: it was only in May 2005 that Ms. Walton announced the selection of the Israeli-born Boston architect Moshe Safdie to design the museum and ruffled feathers along the Eastern Seaboard by buying a landmark of Hudson River School landscape painting, “Kindred Spirits,” by Asher B. Durand, from the New York Public Library for around $35 million. The purchase came early in an extended shopping spree that rattled nerves, aroused skepticism and stimulated the art market. Today Crystal Bridges has a spacious and comfortable, if rather coarsely detailed, home set into a beautiful ravine carved by the Crystal Spring, from whence comes the name. (The land was once part of the Walton family property in Bentonville, where Ms. Walton’s father, Sam Walton, opened his first five-and-dime in 1951.) And it has a collection, spanning colonial times to the present, substantial enough to merit the use of the word “masterworks” in the title of its opening exhibition. This display of more than 400 paintings, sculptures and works on paper includes efforts by revered artists like Gilbert Stuart, Thomas Cole and Thomas Eakins and is especially outstanding in its holdings in early-20th-century Modernism, with wonderful clusters of paintings by Marsden Hartley and Stuart Davis and two fabulous canvases by Arthur Dove. It also has the beginning of a distinctive mission, which is to tie together American art and history and the immediate experience of nature in a compelling and accessible way, one that still keeps the art very much in the foreground.

Carnegie gives gift to NY’s public libraries; The foundation will give $5 million to the New York, Queens and Brooklyn public library systems. Earlier this year, the New York Public Library lost $3 million in city funding.” By Miriam Kreinin Souccar. Crain’s New York Business. December 28, 2011. New York’s public libraries are getting a $5 million grant from Carnegie Corp. of New York. The New York Public Library will receive $2 million, and the Queens Library and Brooklyn Public Library will each get $1.5 million. The gift will help make up some of the funding losses sustained by the city’s three library systems in recent years. This year, the New York Public Library lost more than $3 million in city funding. Carnegie has long been a supporter of the city’s libraries. With this grant, the foundation will have given some $15 million to the three public library systems over the past 14 years. Vartan Gregorian, president of Carnegie, ran the New York Public Library from 1981 through 1989. “There is no greater expression of democracy than a library, and no stronger signifier of the potential of our nation to succeed in today’s challenging times,” Mr. Gregorian said in a statement. “It is essential that New York City strive for excellence in its public education and in its library systems.” A spokeswoman for the Brooklyn Public Library said it has not yet determined how it will use the funding. That library system suffered a $1.1 million cut in city funding this year. Linda Johnson, the Brooklyn Public Library’s new CEO said in a statement that the gift will enable the library “to enhance its educational and literacy programs to help all New Yorkers.”

Arts Center at WTC Takes Step Forward.” By Jennifer Maloney. Wall Street Journal. December 30, 2011. A board of directors was named Thursday for a Frank Gehry-designed performing-arts center planned for the World Trade Center site, two days shy of a deadline for the venue to remain eligible for $100 million in funding. The all-star board includes World Trade Center developer Larry Silverstein, Brookfield Office Properties Co-Chairman John Zuccotti and First Deputy Mayor Patricia Harris, said Joe Daniels, president of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum foundation, which will support the arts center board in its infancy. The Wall Street Journal earlier this month reported that the fate of the arts center was in limbo as Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who had lined up willing board members, waited for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to select an appointee. Mr. Cuomo still hasn’t named a representative, and he isn’t required to. But the announcement of six board members clears the way for the arts center to receive $100 million in federal funds through the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., said David Emil, the corporation’s president. Supporters of the arts center Thursday said they are optimistic the governor will appoint a board member. “At some point, we expect the governor, when he feels it’s the appropriate time, to lend his support by naming a designee,” Mr. Daniels said. Josh Vlasto, a spokesman for the governor, didn’t respond to a request for comment Thursday. The other board members named Thursday are Vidicom founder and CEO Christy Ferer, whose husband died in the attacks; Community Board 1 chairwoman Julie Menin; and Zenia Mucha, executive vice president of Walt Disney Co. The selection of Ms. Harris, Mr. Bloomberg’s most trusted adviser, signals the mayor’s strong support for the project. Mr. Bloomberg is chairman of the 9/11 memorial foundation.
Related stories:
Board Named for World Trade Center Site’s Planned Arts Center.” New York Times. December 30, 2011.

Stanford archives open window into Apple origins.” By Terence Chea. San Francisco Chronicle/Associated Press. December 31, 2011. In the interview, Steve Wozniak and the late Steve Jobs recall a seminal moment in Silicon Valley history – how they named their upstart computer company 35 years ago. The interview, recorded for an in-house video for company employees in the mid-1980s, was among a storehouse of materials Apple had been collecting for a company museum. But in 1997, soon after Jobs returned to the company, Apple officials contacted Stanford University and offered to donate the collection to the school’s Silicon Valley Archives. Within a few days, Stanford curators were at Apple headquarters in nearby Cupertino, packing two moving trucks full of documents, books, software, videotapes and marketing materials that now make up the core of Stanford’s Apple Collection. The collection, the largest assembly of Apple historical materials, can help historians, entrepreneurs and policymakers understand how a company that began in a Silicon Valley garage became a global technology giant. “Through this one collection, you can trace out the evolution of the personal computer,” said Stanford historian Leslie Berlin. “These sorts of documents are as close as you get to the unmediated story of what really happened.” The collection is stored in hundreds of boxes taking up more than 600 feet of shelf space at Stanford’s off-campus storage facility. The Associated Press visited the climate-controlled warehouse on the outskirts of the Bay Area, but agreed not to disclose its location. Interest in Apple and its founder has grown dramatically since Jobs died in October at age 56, just weeks after he stepped down as CEO and handed the reins to Tim Cook. Jobs’ death sparked an international outpouring of grief and marked the end of an era for Apple and Silicon Valley.

As Boston museums surge, galleries struggle to keep up.” By Cate McQuaid. Boston Globe. January 1, 2012. Contemporary art is surging in Boston. So why is the gallery scene here so often overlooked? The flowering of interest in contemporary work took off five years ago with the Institute of Contemporary Art’s move from a cramped, ungracious space to its new waterfront building. In September, the Linde Family Wing for Contemporary Art opened at the Museum of Fine Arts. And there’s more institutional attention to come. But commercial galleries are struggling, with the economy, and a city that has not been viewed as supportive.

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