Live tweets from the Association of Art Museum Directors meeting in New Orleans last night revealed that Detroit Art Institute director, Graham Beal, was going public with news of a “grand bargain” between city mediators and a number of interested national and local foundations, including the Kresge Foundation, The Ford Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, as well as the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan.
The news, breaking since December amidst rumors and paranoia, came just hours before headlines in The Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News announced that negotiations, while still in progress, and still entangled in some sticky complications, seemed to be promising some dramatic relief in the form of some $300 — $500 million dollars.
Oddly, Beal was paraphrased in AAMD’s tweets as stating that DIA itself had been locked out of negotiations and had little to do with the deals:
Tweeted @MuseumDirectors, “Beal: @DIADetroit has had very little to do w/negotiations. They have happened around us; I have never met the Emergency Manger #AAMDNOLA”
The plan to leverage foundation support has been largely driven by U.S. District Court chief judge Gerald Rosen, the Mediator in the Detroit bankruptcy case, who called the foundations together this fall to discuss solutions for saving DIA’s collections and supporting pensioner’s claims. Ford Foundation CEO, Darren Walker, has also been cited as a booster, bringing other foundations on board.
The sign says ADMISSION in large letters and lists a charge of $25 for adult visitors. So you must pay $25. No, wait: the small print says, “Recommended” so it’s free but you are asked to volunteer something along the lines of $25. But, that can’t be because it also touts “No extra charge for special exhibitions” — so that means there is a charge for admissions, so…what do you pay?
Well, If you are duped by the large print, you pay $25; if you feel guilty or cheap in the face of the sign and the cashier, you pay $25; and if you are buying tickets online you’ll find that the Met sells them for $25 with no caveat. Only those in the know will pay like a New Yorker, a voluntary fee of anywhere between 1 and ten dollars.
The signage is confusing (and the sales policies more so) and no one doubts that the obfuscation of your right to enter for free is deliberate: the museum would like to make some money.
That is why two recent law-suits brought against the hallowed New York institution in response to it’s deceptive admissions policies reveal that it’s time to interrogate, not just the disingenuous signage, but the entire body of assumptions regarding who the museum and its art belong to, and who should pay for its maintenance.
Two Suits, One Firm, and Harold Holzer
To begin, let’s get some very important facts straight: the Metropolitan Museum resides on Central Park land which it uses free of charge in exchange for its service to the public. The building is leased rent-free from the city under the same stipulation.
“The Met,” says architect Theodore Grunewald, who, along with fellow long-time member Patricia Nicholson, filed a suit in November of last year, “is as much the property of citizens as the trustees who manage the art inside.”
Filed by the law firm, Weiss & Hiller, this suit which is still pending, cites a survey which found that 85 % of nonmembers polled (out of a pool of 360 visitors) thought entry fees were required, and requests that the state court in Manhattan block the Museum from charging any fees at all. Meantime the same law firm has filed a new suit!
Did You Buy Tickets with a Credit Card?
On Tuesday the Met was hit with a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of three visitors, Filip Saska and Tomas Nadrchal of the Czech Republic, and museum member, Stephen Michelman of Manhattan. They are claiming that the Met “engages in an intentional campaign of misdirection that includes misleading signage and fraudulent marketing.” This newest complaint also asks for an injunction, as did the one in November, but adds a request for “unspecified damages” to be payed to all visitors who, in the last three years, paid for admittance with a credit card.
(In other words, if this case goes forward, Met Admission Policies + Ticket Purchase w/ Credit Card w/in last three years = Cluster Fuck)
“Free admission was conceived of 150 years ago for an entirely government-subsidized institution, like the Smithsonian. There is no model for this kind of operation any more. The city contributes $10 million of a $240 million-dollar-budget. We rely on many crucial revenue streams to maintain our building, preserve, protect, exhibit, and publish our collections, and mount up to 25 shows a year. This lawsuit flies in the face of reality and the huge amount of responsibility and work we have in the service of our collections and our visitors.”
How to Talk about Art (H2TaA ) has been The Art Machine’s slowly growing manual for those who wish to master artspeak as practiced by art critics, art educators, galleries, dealers, copywriters, and journalists.
Originating with the need to validate and describe artwork which was no longer narrative and which relied more and more heavily on inside jokes and academic references, artspeak has grown into its own with a lexicon that is comprised, not only of tropes and catch phrases, but of technical, scientific, and otherwise borrowed terms which have been adapted to its own needs. “Virtual space”, “gesture” ,”intervention”, “appropriation”: these are all words which used to be safely housed in the worlds of aesthetics, dance, psychology, and legal documents and are now used to create press releases for anything from sculpture to performance to collage.
It is my opinion, that many people who feel they can’t talk about art, much less speak TO it, are actually lacking a background in artspeak. H2TaA seeks to span that educational gap.
I also believe that by studying artspeak, one can pull the mask off artspeak-agents and reveal the mechanizations behind the catalogs and pamphlets, bringing to light an artist’s laziness of imagination, or a curator’s dependance on slang and technique, or the general trade tendency to make excuses for work that is overly subjective (or too academic) to be enjoyable. In brief, an interpretation of wall cards can shed light on all of the unnecessary posturing that has led to the elitist view that contemporary art is somehow beyond the ken of the public when it is, actually, beyond the ken of EVERYONE.
Learning H2TaA is just another way to bring art out of the academic tool box and into the light.
It’s been madness from the start. Hennessy Youngman was chosen by curating guest art photographer Marilyn Minter who has been putting together a series of “Virgin” shows in the Massimilano Gioni / Maurizio Catallan pop-up, Family Business.
Called “Virgins” the shows were intended to feature works by artists who have not yet had solo shows.
But Jayson Musson decided to hand his alter-ego Hennessy’s slot over to any and all artists who wanted to drop stuff off before the show, which he dubbed “It’s a Small Small World.”
This, he thought, would be a gesture of gratitude —a way to “give back” to the arts community that has lent so much love and loyalty to Hennessy and his YouTube series, Art Thoughtz.
But as it turns out, Jayson Musson’s generosity has caused the walk-in-closet sized gallery an epic headache: flooded, as could only have been anticipated, by artwork from adoring fans and artists hungry for some wall time, the gallery was forced, today, to close it’s doors. Family Business had been scheduled to accept work through Sunday but the gallery is now saying that they will not take any work tomorrow.
Meantime, Musson’s NY debut will take place at Postmasters: “Through a Glass Darkly,” will feature Musson’s “BLM” (Black Like Me) posters and a Hennessy Art Thoughtz video. “Through a Glass Darkly also features work by artists Oasa DuVerney, and Julia Kul.
Critic, performer, painter, and lecturer, Jayson Musson has made a splash on YouTube with his alter ego, Hennessy Youngman. In a series he calls ART THOUGHTZ, Youngman sits in an “alabaster alcove” and delivers laugh out loud funny art critical patter to his audience which he addresses as “Internet.”
The videos which pretend to dispense advice to novice artists and lay people, but which contain a meta-level of art (and art world) criticism, have launched him from relative obscurity to courted celebrity. Recently he has been much sought after for lectures and tours at universities and cultural centers.
So it should be no surprise that, having just begun, he is already “giving back.”
Invited by fine art photographer Marilyn Minter to show work at FAMILY BUSINESS (opened in February by Larry Gogosian, Maurizio Cattelan and Massimiliano Gioni) Youngman has turned curator, deciding to open the floodgates and let all of his fans rush on into the sacred white cube.
Any and all who bring work to 520 W. 21ST ST in Chelsea, NY will be in Hennessy’s “IT’S A SMALL, SMALL WORLD” show; no exceptions.
“IT’S MY WAY OF GIVING BACK TO/ AND THANKING THE INTERNET FOR SUPPORTING AND WATCHING MY SHIT.”
Drop Off Dates:
FRIDAY 3/30 – SUNDAY 4/1
Artwork in every media will be accepted and Mr. Hennessy himself will be there to take them from you.
IT’S A SMALL, SMALL WORLD:
OPENING RECEPTION TUESDAY: 4/3 at 6PM.
Following up on the Velvet Underground v The Andy Warhol Foundation story, Hollywood Reporter speculates similarly to The Art Machine that the famed fruit’s copyright may belong to the record label.
Hollywood Reporters’s Eriq Gardner, wondering why the Velvet Underground hasn’t used a more fail-proof strategy of claiming the copyright for themselves (instead of opting to claim trademark protection on an image in the public domain) says,
“According to the facts in record, MGM Records paid both the band and Warhol $3,000 to furnish the image for use on the 1967 album cover. If the record label paid the money as a work-for-hire agreement, the true “author” of the image, under the law, would be the record label. We asked Universal Music Group, the seeming successor to MGM Records, to comment, but so far, we haven’t heard anything.”
It is an interesting speculation and one we may wonder about: is MGM silently planning its own little coup? And, if so, was it inspired by the Velvet’s bold but transparent strategies, or by press speculation about the Warhol graphic being a “work for hire?”
Or, maybe MGM has secret plans prompted by questions from sites like Hollywood Reporter asking them questions about the graphic? How meta would that be?