Macon Georgia’s Mill Hill Arts Village is a utopian vision of inclusive planning, permanently affordable housing stock, and community arts programming. So why were resident artists Samantha Hill and Ed Woodham fired? They believe they uncovered a gentrification scheme, but the Macon Arts Alliance tells a different, incomplete story.
The rise of art fairs has not been all that bad. Yes, we’re stuck with the same galleries showing the same work, but we’ve also seen a rise in alternative venues, the most common being art book fairs. Whether it’s LA or New York, the fairs often have a frenetic energy, particularly the sections dedicated to artist-made zines, which in addition to artist books, often include performances, the sale of related ephemera (think buttons and stickers) and zealous trading. Fair sections divide exhibitors by rare book dealers, distributors and artists. Even the poorest of us can afford something at the fair, which means every visitor can leave with a sense of being able to directly support the livelihood of artists.
Here in Toronto, the arrival of the new Toronto Art Book Fair (TOABF) — which opens today in a historic schoolhouse in the West End, and runs to the end of this weekend — has been enthusiastically received by the local arts community. In fact, much of my Instagram has been filled for the past week with artists like Micah Lexier and Lido Pimienta proudly snapping the wares they’ll be selling. With a tightly-curated 75 vendors participating, it appears the free public event has been far more successful than either Art Toronto or the recently-ended Feature in attracting the involvement of international vendors. Art Toronto mostly attracts galleries outside Canada under its FOCUS curated section (for the 2016 edition in October, it’ll be Latin America) and because Feature was organized by Montreal’s Association des galeries d’art contemporain, it was criticized by local gallerists for its Quebec-heavy regionalism. Further, since Toronto isn’t a “traditional art capital”, those fairs have been challenged in representing a discerning edit of the local commercial gallery scene.
The concentration of media ownership is never a good thing. Integration leads to anticompetitive behaviour in the marketplace — especially among publications owned by the same parent company. So should the art world be concerned by the recent news that Brant Publications, owned by powerhouse collector Peter Brant, now owns all the assets of Art in America, The Magazine Antiques, Modern Magazine and ARTnews, which joins his flagship, Interview Magazine?
It depends on how you look at it. Brant was already a majority stakeholder, which gave him full control over the companies. In July 2015, as the Observer reported, Brant Publications sold its 100% ownership of Art in America to Artnews S.A., the publicly-traded company based in Warsaw, Poland that owned ARTnews. BMP Media, a Brant subsidiary then purchased a 60% stake in ARTnews for $16.9 million.
So the only difference now is that he owns 100% of the stock. The question then arises: now that ARTnews is under private ownership, how will that impact its coverage moving forward, especially since it’s no longer a publicly-held media entity?
On a sunny Sunday afternoon, the second floor of Toronto’s Theater Center was packed with artists for the panel DAMNED IF YOU DO: A Conversation on the Politics of Refusal. Co-presented by local artist-run center Whippersnapper Gallery, the panel focused on stories and strategies from the trenches of the “marginalized”: namely, the tricky pursuit of navigating art and funding systems as an “artist of colour” or “visible minority” or whatever fraught PC term can describe what it means to be a racialized body in the art world.
“How can you say that affordable housing should go towards artist studios rather than homeless domestic violence victims?”
The question, asked on Monday evening by the Village Voice’s Neil deMause during dinner at a luxurious Chelsea apartment, sent some hands reaching for wine glasses. It was a moment in William Powhida and Jennifer Dalton’s MONTH2MONTH, the public art project running in private residences around the city throughout May, that made the stakes of such a project’s engagement housing uncomfortably clear. The guests at the dinner, a varied mix of artists, patrons and the curious, were faced with a paradox of the liberal sensibility whereby supporting the arts might be tantamount to taking housing away from the truly needy. At least until Powhida announced that he, an artist, didn’t think artists should be given studio space over anyone.The problem is one of affordability. The discussion moved on, drinks were refilled.
In the age of poor doors and museum-sanctioned real estate summits, MONTH2MONTH, produced by MoreArt, asks what role the art community, which is so often viewed as an agent of gentrification, can play in the debate around NYC housing.
“The career of the American filmmaker Charles Atlas has been a steady but slow-burning fire for more than 40 years,” wrote Holland Cotter just last year. Despite pioneering the media-dance art form, and collaborating with dancers and performers like Michael Clark, Marina Abramović and Leigh Bowery, Atlas didn’t have his first solo until 1995 at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid. That’s a big name institution to land a solo with, but it’s only been within the past decade that he’s had a steady stream of solo presentations at institutions and galleries. Those include the Tate Modern, London’s Vilma Gold, and Luhring Augustine in Chelsea.
Why the CV gap? This question naturally came up in the context of Atlas’s recent screening of his early works in Toronto. Organized by Pleasuredome, the event was a cross-section of motion movies, narratives and video featurettes accompanied by a book launch of his first monograph at Art Metropole.
If the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (MoCCA) were a book, it’s cover would be looking pretty good right now. The 17 year old institution dedicated to showcasing contemporary artists is in the midst of moving into Toronto’s historic Tower Automotive Building. Expected to occupy 25,000 square feet of the industrial heritage building now being restored by developer Castlepoint Numa, MoCCA’s new permanent home will be the so-called anchor tenant of a new mixed-used community in the Lower Junction neighbourhood. On top of that, the organization hired its first-ever CEO Chantal Pontbriand to bring an international outlook and shake things up. With so many hurdles cleared, MoCCA appears on the verge of becoming one of Toronto’s few international institutional players.
Over at the Lower East Side gallery 247365, artist Brian Belott has opened Dr. Kid President Jr. one of the stranger shows you’ll see this summer—an exhibition comprised of 34 counterfeit paintings of found children’s art. The paintings are hung salon style on the gallery walls and the only clue that they are made by anyone other than a child is their surface. Each is painted with PolyColor on canvas. (PolyColor is a high end version of tempera.)