Art Grant Hits Bottom

The British Press is calling it “cheeky” and a “bum deal.” Welsh artist Sue Williams, 53, was awarded a £20,000 ($32,760 US) grant to study cultural attitudes towards female buttocks. Mrs. Williams explained, “The project is taking on the issues around the bottom and how it is viewed in contemporary culture and viewed by the male.” Her evaluation process entails making plaster casts of women’s behinds.

The Arts Council of Wales awarded the grant, which was funded by lottery sales. Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament Adrian Sanders speculated that most people would question using the lottery money for this purpose. However, the comments on The Sun’s web site ranged from wry to favorable. There were more than a couple of offers of assistance.

Congressman Comments on Ronald Reagan Statue

Congressman Wally Herger, representing the people of California’s District 2, was on hand at the unveiling of the Ronald Reagan statue in the Capitol Rotunda on June 3, 2009. Below are his written comments about the event, and a video he recorded as he stood in front of the statue:

I wanted to let you know about a recent event commemorating one of California’s greatest historical figures. Yesterday, in the Capitol Rotunda, Congress dedicated a statue honoring former President Ronald Reagan. I was fortunate to have the honor of attending the ceremony.  It was a moving ceremony and I can think of no person more worthy of this tribute than President Reagan. President Reagan’s contributions to the United States include helping to end the Cold War by bringing the Soviet Union to its knees, and sparking an unprecedented era of economic growth and job creation through his support for across-the-board tax relief on the American people.

“Former First Lady Nancy Reagan delivered remarks in remembrance of her husband.  At the unveiling, Mrs. Reagan commented that it was a “wonderful likeness” of her late husband.  Leaders of both the House of Representatives and the Senate gave speeches honoring our 40th President along with his former Chief of Staff and Treasury Secretary James Baker.  The 7-foot, bronze statue contains pieces of the Berlin Wall, in recognition of his unyielding commitment to freedom everywhere.”

See Also:
Reagan Statue in National Statuary Hall Collection [Art2u; June 3, 2009]

Reagan Statue in National Statuary Hall Collection

Nancy Reagan will be on hand for the unveiling of the Ronald Reagan statue in the National Statuary Hall at the United States Capitol on Tuesday, June 3, 2009. On Monday, Mrs. Reagan was at the side of President Barack Obama as he signed the Ronald Reagan Centennial Commission Act, which calls for national celebrations and educational programming to honor the 100th anniversary of the former president’s birth in 2011.

President Reagan helped as much as any president to restore a sense of optimism in our country, a spirit that transcended politics, that transcended even the most heated arguments of the day,” said President Obama.

The sculpture of President Reagan is the creation of Chas Fagan. It was commissioned and paid for by the Ronald Reagan Foundation.

There are 100 sculptures in the National Statuary Hall Collection, two from each state in the Union.

Damien Hirst, Dead Cows and Cradles of Hope

“I have a really good business manager,” said Damien Hirst. “He told me a long time ago ‘You’d better make sure that you’re using the money to chase your art ideas rather than the art to chase your money ideas.’ Which is a very important thing to never forget.”

That is sound advice coming from Mr. Hirst, 44, the “most prominent member of the group known as Young British Artists” Mr. Hirst, with the help of his business manager, has become a multi-millionaire. The “art” upon which Mr. Hirst has built this fortune includes “pickled sharks, the corpse of a cow suspended from a rope, its entrails lying beneath it alongside banknotes, and the severed head of a cow covered in live, buzzing flies.” The dominant theme of his body of work (pun intended) is death.

So it is particularly sweet that Mr. Hirst has teamed with one of his biggest collectors, Victor Pinchuk, to fund a new neonatal center in Kiev, Ukraine, “Cradles of Hope.” Mr. Hirst donated $320,000 to the Victor Pinchuk Foundation for the purchase of 60 pieces of equipment used to treat babies born with extremely low birth weight. The money came from the sale in February 2009 of a painting called “Dark Days.”

The Victor Pinchuk Foundation was established in 2006 by Ukrainian billionaire industrialist Victor Pinchuk. The goal of the foundation “is to contribute to the modernization of Ukraine and to bringing up a new generation of Ukrainian leaders who are committed to serving the country.” The Foundation has six ambitious fields of focus: Health, Education, Culture, Human Rights, Ukrainian Economy, Local Community.

See Also:
Damien Hirst says crisis will stimulate artists [Reuters; April 24, 2009]
Hirst Teams with Pinchuk to Fund Ukrainian Neonatal Center [ARTINFO; April 24, 2009]
Damien Hirst [Wikipedia]
Viktor Pinchuk [Wikipedia]

Happy Birthday to David Gilhooly

David Gilhooly

David Gilhooly

On any given April 15th, many Americans are sweating out last minute tax returns. But my thoughts always turn to my good friend David Gilhooly. He was born April 15, 1943, in the Sierra Nevada foothills of California. A sculptor, painter, printmaker and all-around fine artist, David rose to prominence in the 1960s as a creative force of the California Funk Art movement.

In the late 1980’s, I had the privilege of getting to know David Gilhooly when I worked as his assistant at a printmaking studio in California. In 1999, he shared his ideas with me in an interview for my web site, Art2u. Ten years later, From FrogWorld to ShadowLand: A Conversation with David Gilhooly is still worth a read.

Happy Birthday David!

Castrobama

The first major group show of American artists in Cuba opened on Saturday, March 28, 2009. It’s called “Chelsea visits Havana.” No, not that Chelsea. Even though Ms. Clinton’s father was sympathetic to the frequent visits to Cuba by American art dealers, this show got its name from the Manhattan district where the 30 artists in the exhibit usually hang their hats and their work. (Perhaps ironically, the last big exhibit by American artists in Cuba was in 1986, during the Reagan Administration.)

A sculpture by Padraig Tarrant called “Castrobama” shows facing cutout profiles of President Barack Obama and former Cuban dictator Premier Fidel Castro. Predictably there is also a depiction of Marxist revolutionary Che Guevera, as well as “New Mount Rushmore,” a sculpture of the four Presidents of the original Mount Rushmore monument (George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln) with the addition of — surprise — President Obama, assembled out of New York City Yellow Pages.

This is the first exhibition we made after Obama rose to power. This is a kind of lighthouse of the next process of the culture and the politics between Cuba and the United States,” said Aberlado Mana, curator of contemporary art at the Fine Arts Museum in Havana.

Aren’t you overjoyed?

See Also:
Cuba opens first big U.S. art exhibit since 1980s [Reuters; March 28, 2009]
Art exhibition fuels US-Cuba thaw [BBC News; March 29, 2009]