Edouard Manet's 'Le Printemps' sold for $65.1 million at Christie's last year. Christie's Images Ltd. 2015.

Christie’s to auction acclaimed Manet portrait Nov. 5

Edouard Manet (1832-1883), 'Le Printemps,' signed and dated ‘manet 1881’ (lower left), oil on canvas, 29 1/8 x 20 1/4 in. (74 x 51.5 cm.). Estimate: $25-35 million. Christie's Images Ltd. 2014.

Edouard Manet (1832-1883), ‘Le Printemps,’ signed and dated ‘manet 1881’ (lower left), oil on canvas, 29 1/8 x 20 1/4 in. (74 x 51.5 cm.). Estimate: $25-35 million. Christie’s Images Ltd. 2014.

NEW YORK – Christie’s has announced the sale of a celebrated portrait by Edouard Manet as a highlight of its Impressionist and Modern Art auction on Nov 5. The  painting titled Le Printemps has an estimate of $25 million to $35 million.

The 1881 masterwork comes completely fresh to the market, having remained in the same collection for more than a century and been on loan for the last two decades at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

The proceeds from the sale of the oil painting will benefit a private American foundation supporting environmental, public health and other charitable causes.

From the mid-1860s, Manet (1832-1883) had established his reputation as the leading master of portraiture among the practitioners of “New Painting.”

Actress Jeanne Demarsy is cast as an allegory of spring, a theme artists embraced since antiquity, yet executed in the artist’s ground-breaking painterly style and in a vanguard setting.


ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


Edouard Manet (1832-1883), 'Le Printemps,' signed and dated ‘manet 1881’ (lower left), oil on canvas, 29 1/8 x 20 1/4 in. (74 x 51.5 cm.). Estimate: $25-35 million. Christie's Images Ltd. 2014.

Edouard Manet (1832-1883), ‘Le Printemps,’ signed and dated ‘manet 1881’ (lower left), oil on canvas, 29 1/8 x 20 1/4 in. (74 x 51.5 cm.). Estimate: $25-35 million. Christie’s Images Ltd. 2014.

The Effingham County Courthouse in Illinois. Image by Gerald Roll, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Volunteers transform former Ill. courthouse into museum

The Effingham County Courthouse in Illinois. Image by Gerald Roll, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The Effingham County Courthouse in Illinois. Image by Gerald Roll, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

EFFINGHAM, Ill. (AP) – If the walls of the old Effingham County courthouse museum could talk, they would tell of a rich local history. Delaine Donaldson and his group of tireless volunteers want to the give the historical structure a renewed voice, one that will preserve the county’s shared history for years to come.

“It is a grand history that we have to tell in Effingham County, and we are showcasing that,” said Donaldson.

After a lengthy battle to save the historical structure built in 1870-71, the courthouse reopened on Nov. 11, 2012 as a museum. Since that day, the Effingham County Cultural Center and Museum Association has showcased the transformation of the main floor from a functioning courthouse into a functioning museum.

“The thing that I have noticed is whenever people look at our museum, they say, ‘This is really nice,’” said Donaldson. “They say, ‘Who put this together for you,’ and we say, ‘This is all volunteer, we did it ourselves.’ People are amazed.”

First-floor features share the history of transportation through a large model train and roadway display; the prominent history of military service by area veterans; historical figures like Ada Kepley, who was the first woman in the country to earn a law degree; the 1949 St. Anthony’s Hospital fire; Effingham native George Bauer, who helped write the G.I. Bill; and many other stories and displays.

Donaldson and the 50 or so volunteers who make the operation of the museum possible have now set their sights on the second floor of the old courthouse. Donaldson hopes to repurpose what was originally the main courtroom into a meeting area to hold everything from class reunions to wedding receptions.

“We want to make that second floor a place where we can generate funds to run the courthouse,” said Donaldson. “From day one we have had people say, ‘My daughter is getting married. Can we have the wedding in the courthouse?’”

For the last several months, volunteers have been unearthing the original design of the second floor, which was renovated into office space for courthouse officials over the years. Much of the Formica and old carpet from the last major renovation in the 1960s has been removed to reveal the rustic stately beauty of the era.

“This is like archaeology for a building,” said Donaldson. “When we pulled up the carpeting, we could see the cut marks for the curves in the original flooring.”

With significant work needed in the space, Donaldson and fellow volunteer, Jim Lange, approached the Effingham City Council recently to request the city’s financial assistance for the project. Donaldson asked the council for $75,000 in assistance, which would be put primarily toward restrooms on the second floor.

During the council meeting discussion, Mayor Merv Gillenwater expressed optimism about the city’s assistance, but informed Donaldson that that amount of money wasn’t figured into this fiscal year’s budget. Commissioner Matt Hirtzel suggested a multiyear assistance package for the project, which would stretch the $75,000 over several years. The issue is being considered by the council and will come back at a future meeting for a vote.

Donaldson did inform the council that the museum is exhausting all possibilities to generate money for the project. The Effingham County Board pays the utility bills for the museum, which reach over $10,000 a year, and the museum is considering corporate sponsorship.

Ideally, ECCCMA would like to have the project completed by Christmas, but that “totally depends on the cash flow,” said Donaldson.

The expansive second floor is a step back in time and space. Completely open after the recent removal of a drop ceiling and office partitions, a large amount of work is clearly needed.

“We plan on putting the original courtroom back the way it was,” said Donaldson. “From historical records, people in the area were most proud of this space.”

Volunteer carpenters have rebuilt the raised area where the court proceedings were held, said Donaldson. He added that two old banisters, found by a volunteer, will help complete the look.

“We don’t have any pictures of how this looked,” said Donaldson.

Donaldson pointed to the cost of the banister posts, which were priced at $75 apiece for 150 of them, as an example of the cost of the building.

Other work includes repainting the tin ceiling throughout the second floor and refurbishing plasterwork in the dome, which was uncovered when the drop ceiling was removed. Donaldson said Dr. Ruben Boyajian has offered to paint murals of local historical scenes in the large domed area, which reaches to the peak of the three-story building. Hardwood flooring, fire safe doors, a side room renovation for a catering space and many other features are in the works. Donaldson said a contractor assessed the project before volunteers started on it, and the total cost to renovate the space was an estimated $350,000. He added that price will continually be reduced by the massive amount of volunteer hours.

“We are working diligently to showcase this area,” said Donaldson.

As part of his rationale for the city providing funds for the project, Donaldson pointed to the tourism dollars generated in Effingham by the existence of the museum. In 2013, 2,160 people from around the state, country and world visited the courthouse museum. Donaldson said about a third of those who visited didn’t sign the guestbook.

“We had about 3,000 visitors last year, and we are on track to meet that again this year,” he said, noting that mobile displays will be featured on the second floor for regular museum visitors. “People tell us they want to come back and see the museum again when the second floor is finished.”

For Donaldson, who taught history and sociology at Effingham High School for over 30 years, the incalculable hours he and other volunteers have put into the project are completely worthwhile.

“One of the things that sociologists look at is that in a lot of towns across America today, especially in towns along the interstate, is that they all have the same feel to them,” he said, calling the trend “Generica.”

“The thing that is very important is that we don’t do that. We aren’t a generic community. We are so much more than what sits along the interstate exits,” he said.

Having a strong sense of local history and community is also what creates value in locals’ minds.

“I taught sociology for many years, and the thing that I have found in terms of what attracts people to live in a community is that it doesn’t have a generic sense,” said Donaldson. “That when people leave the town, they have a sense they lost something. The courthouse museum helps provide that feeling.”

___

Information from: Effingham Daily News, http://www.effinghamdailynews.com

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-07-31-14 0254GMT


ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


The Effingham County Courthouse in Illinois. Image by Gerald Roll, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The Effingham County Courthouse in Illinois. Image by Gerald Roll, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Graffiti artist Banksy’s spy mural defaced – with graffiti

LONDON (AFP) – A mural by British street artist Banksy which mocks government surveillance has been defaced with spray paint, leaving fans saying Friday they faced a race against time to save the one-million-pound artwork.

The piece, titled “Spy Booth,” depicts three men in trench coats using listening devices to tap into conversations at an actual public telephone box in Cheltenham, southwest England.

It is just three miles from the UK government listening post GCHQ, which was the subject of a series of recent revelations by fugitive former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.

Vandals spray-painted silver and red graffiti on to the elusive artist’s design overnight, but residents have expressed their hope that the piece, valued at 1 million pounds ($1.7 million, 1.3 million euros), can be saved.

Residents have been using toothbrushes and cloth to clean the piece and prevent any lasting damage.

“Spy Booth” had been under threat of removal after interest from an American investor, who wanted to buy the work and transport it from the wall.

But the Save The Banksy campaign to keep the mural in place appeared to have succeeded earlier this week, when Hekmat Kaveh, a local businessman, stepped in to purchase it.

Kaveh said on Friday he was “absolutely appalled” by the vandalism but remained focused on protecting the work.

“It only given me more determination to make sure that we — Save the Banksy — do actually save it,” he said.

“Everybody is just really, really upset,” said Angela De Souza, another member of the campaign group.

“The Banksy is protected by anti-graffiti paint but we are in a race against time because the paint could seep through the layer of protection and ruin the artwork.”

Banksy is renowned for his street artworks, which often use subversive or satirical imagery to tackle subjects such as war, capitalism, hypocrisy and greed.

He also left an artwork on Israel’s controversial West Bank separation barrier.

The artist’s identity remains shrouded in secrecy but he is believed to have started out as a graffiti artist in the southwestern city of Bristol.

#   #   #

Morphy’s acquires Vegas-based Victorian Casino Antiques

DENVER, Pa. – Dan Morphy, president and founder of Morphy Auctions in Lancaster County, Pa., today confirmed his company’s acquisition of Victorian Casino Antiques (VCA), a Las Vegas-based auction house renowned for its sales of vintage gambling/coin-op machines and antique advertising. The purchase adds the Western-states presence Morphy has long felt was essential to solidifying his firm’s reputation as a national auction house.

“We are now a coast-to-coast business,” Morphy said. “Las Vegas is California’s playground and is only a 4-hour drive from Los Angeles. It will be a convenient destination for both consignors and bidders from the West Coast.”

Victorian Casino Antiques’ long-established corporate name will be retained, with the new tagline “a Morphy Auctions company.” VCA’s current staff of 15 employees will continue in their present roles. Additional staff will be hired as the Las Vegas operation expands.

“Morphy’s is a full-service auction house. We sell everything, including fine and decorative art, furniture, antique guns and now, with opening of our newest division, classic cars. Las Vegas needs an experienced auction house that can handle all types of antiques and estate goods in addition to the specialty categories that Victorian Casino and Morphy’s share in common. We will be fulfilling a need in the local community, while at the same time serving consignors from surrounding states,” Morphy said.

Peter Sidlow, 77, has served as president of VCA since 2002 and will continue in that role. Sidlow said the sale of his company to Morphy’s has reinvigorated him.

“I will be working for Morphy’s, now, which is a top-notch organization that I’m thrilled to be part of. But instead of being involved with day-to-day operations as I was before, much of my job, now, will consist of representing the company at shows and seeking out and securing consignments,” said Sidlow. “I’ve been a collector for over 70 years, and because of the many contacts I’ve made along the way, I can bring in some great collections. I know where they are.”

Morphy praised Sidlow and his staff, describing them as “a first-class team.”

“I’ve watched Peter Sidlow for years and have had nothing but admiration for him. He has a vast knowledge in so many categories. Before purchasing Victorian Casino, he built one of the country’s premier classic car collections, for example. Also, I like the way Peter runs his sales. He has a great relationship with his employees, who are devoted to him. If ever there were an ideal merger of business models, it’s the one that brings together the teams and ideals of Morphy’s and Victorian Casino. I’m very confident the blending of our two companies will be an easy transition, because we both do business the same way.”

Morphy said his goal will be to “take Peter away from the nuts and bolts of running the back end of the business and put him on the road so he can meet with clients and talk to people at shows,” adding, “That’s how I changed my own role at Morphy’s Pennsylvania headquarters, and it made a very positive and tangible difference.”

Typically, VCA conducts three to four auctions annually, with each containing an eclectic mix of gambling and coin-op machines; antique advertising, jukeboxes, gameroom items and other novelties. These events draw large crowds of bidders to the VCA gallery, a phenomenon that defies the growing trend seen in most other parts of the country.

“Auctions have gravitated more and more toward the Internet, but we’ve continued to attract live audiences because people view Las Vegas as a destination,” said Sidlow. “They come for the auction, but they stay on to enjoy the many other things you can do in Las Vegas.” Bidders who cannot attend in person will be able to participate in all VCA/Morphy auction events by phone, absentee or online through LiveAuctioneers.

The first Victorian Casino auction jointly produced with Morphy Auctions will take place Sept. 19-21, 2014. The 1,700-lot sale will feature approximately 100 antique and vintage gambling machines from the storied collection of the late William F. Harrah (1911-1978), founder of Harrah’s Hotel and Casinos. The collection was retained by Harrah’s corporation after Bill Harrah’s death and later became the property of Caesar’s Entertainment Corporation. Many of the machines were kept in storage, while others were displayed in Caesar’s executive offices. Most recently, the collection was acquired by VCA, specifically for inclusion in the September auction.

“The Harrah collection we will be selling is relatively small, but the excitement value is very large,” said Sidlow. “The Harrah name is legendary.” Among the collection’s highlights is a 1904 Caille roulette floor machine that may fetch $150,000 to $250,000.

Morphy’s is planning a January 24-25 Coin-Op & Advertising sale at the Las Vegas gallery. The company’s first West Coast Classic Car Auction is tentatively scheduled for March of 2015, also at the Las Vegas premises. Other auctions in the immediate pipeline for the Vegas gallery will focus on antique firearms, and fine and decorative art. All will feature Internet live bidding via LiveAuctioneers.

For additional information or to discuss consigning to a future Morphy’s/Victorian Casino auction, contact Dan Morphy by calling 877-968-8880 or emailing dan.morphy@morphyauctions.com; or Peter Sidlow, 702-382-2466 or vca@lvcoxmail.com.

# # #


ADDITIONAL IMAGES OF NOTE


1904 Caille roulette floor machine, mahogany with ornate repousse, nickel-plated embellishments. Provenance: the William F. Harrah collection. Morphy Auctions/Victorian Casino Antiques image

1904 Caille roulette floor machine, mahogany with ornate repousse, nickel-plated embellishments. Provenance: the William F. Harrah collection. Morphy Auctions/Victorian Casino Antiques image

Top view of 1904 Caille roulette floor machine, mahogany with ornate repousse, nickel-plated embellishments. Provenance: the William F. Harrah collection. Morphy Auctions/Victorian Casino Antiques image

Top view of 1904 Caille roulette floor machine, mahogany with ornate repousse, nickel-plated embellishments. Provenance: the William F. Harrah collection. Morphy Auctions/Victorian Casino Antiques image

Pablo Picasso, 'B250 Sculpture, Tête de Marie-Thérèse.' 1933, Paris, from the Caisse à remords, drypoint with scraper printed on Arches paper, stamp signed lower right, one of 20 artist's proofs, published by Galerie Louis Leiris, 1981. Courtesy: John Szoke Gallery, New York, N.Y.

New York Print Week, Nov. 3-9, rolls out robust schedule

Pablo Picasso, 'B250 Sculpture, Tête de Marie-Thérèse.' 1933, Paris, from the Caisse à remords, drypoint with scraper printed on Arches paper, stamp signed lower right, one of 20 artist's proofs, published by Galerie Louis Leiris, 1981. Courtesy: John Szoke Gallery, New York, N.Y.

Pablo Picasso, ‘B250 Sculpture, Tête de Marie-Thérèse.’ 1933, Paris, from the Caisse à remords, drypoint with scraper printed on Arches paper, stamp signed lower right, one of 20 artist’s proofs, published by Galerie Louis Leiris, 1981. Courtesy: John Szoke Gallery, New York, N.Y.

NEW YORK – In its on-going effort to celebrate the fine art of printmaking, the International Fine Print Dealers Association announces that New York Print Week will take place Nov. 3-9 with a round of special exhibitions at numerous museums and libraries, as well as cultural institutions, satellite fairs and IFPDA-member galleries throughout metropolitan New York.

“New York Print Week extends the enthusiasm generated by the Print Fair to numerous venues throughout New York City where people can engage with artists, collectors and curators to enrich their knowledge of printmaking,” said Michele Senecal, executive director of IFPDA. “It also affords them the opportunity to view prints in context with paintings, drawings or sculpture.

According to Senecal, in addition to the flagship IFPDA Print Fair and satellite fairs, the following museum and galleries will mount shows. “We are privileged that these important cultural institutions are part of New York Print Week.”

Among the many print exhibitions that will be on view in museums are: “The Paris of Toulouse-Lautrec: Prints and Posters,” Museum of Modern Art; “Kandinsky: Before Abstraction:1901-1911,” the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; “Sublime: The Prints by J.W.M. Turner and Thomas Moran,” at The New York Public Library; “Dürer, Rembrandt, Tiepolo: The Jansma Master Prints Collection from the Grand Rapids Art Museum,” Museum of Biblical Art; “New Prints 2014/Autumn,” International Print Center New York; and “InkSplash 2014,” Rockaway Artists Alliance Studio 7 Gallery, Fort Tilden, Gateway National Recreation Area, Rockaway Point, NY 11695.

In addition to the IFPDA Print Fair, which opens for its five-day run on Nov. 5, at the Park Avenue Armory, several IFPDA members will mount exhibitions at their galleries. They include:

– “New Projects, Gemini G.E.L.” at Joni Moisant Weyl, 535 West 24th St., 3rd Floor, New York, NY 10011 | www.joniweyl.com

– Alyson Shotz’s recent bodies of work, “Topographic Iterations, Recumbent Folds, and Imaginary Sculptures,” at Carolina Nitsch Project Room, 534 W. 22nd St., New York, NY 10011 | www.carolinanitsch.com

– “Kenny Scharf Monoprints,” a series of new monoprints at Pace Prints, 521 W. 26th St., 3rd Floor, New York, NY 10001 www.paceprints.com

– “James Rosenquist F-111 (South, West, North, East) and Drawings from the ’70s” atSenior & Shopmaker Gallery, 210 11th Ave., 8th Floor, New York, NY 10001 | www.seniorandshopmaker.com

– “Jacob Kainen: Very Large Monotypes: From 1935 to 1942” at Pia Gallo with Conrad Graeber Fine Art, 53 E. 64th St., 3rd Floor, New York, NY 10065| www.piagallo.com

– “Pat Keck Color Woodcuts: A Survey 1994-2014” at G.W. Einstein Co., 98 Riverside Drive, #9D, New York, NY 10024 | www.patkeck.com

To coincide with the IFPDA Print Fair, three satellite fairs are also taking place. They include:

– Editions/Artists’ Books Fair features over 40 contemporary publishers and dealers who will present their latest prints, multiples and artists books. The fair is partnering with Christie’s Education to present a series of lectures and guided tours. 540 W. 21st St., Ground Floor | www.eabfair.org

– Fourteen art dealers – from old masters to contemporary including Japanese prints and contemporary printmakers – will exhibit at the New York Satellite Print Fair, Bohemian National Hall, 321 E. 73rd St., New York, NY 10021 | www.nysatellite-printfair.com

– The eighth edition of Brooklyn’s alternative fair, Prints Gone Wild will be held for one night only on Friday, Nov. 7, from 6 p.m. until 1 a.m., Littlefield NYC, 622 Degraw St, Brooklyn, NY www.cannonballpress.com

For more information visit, www.printfair.com or phone 212-674-6095.


ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


Pablo Picasso, 'B250 Sculpture, Tête de Marie-Thérèse.' 1933, Paris, from the Caisse à remords, drypoint with scraper printed on Arches paper, stamp signed lower right, one of 20 artist's proofs, published by Galerie Louis Leiris, 1981. Courtesy: John Szoke Gallery, New York, N.Y.

Pablo Picasso, ‘B250 Sculpture, Tête de Marie-Thérèse.’ 1933, Paris, from the Caisse à remords, drypoint with scraper printed on Arches paper, stamp signed lower right, one of 20 artist’s proofs, published by Galerie Louis Leiris, 1981. Courtesy: John Szoke Gallery, New York, N.Y.

The closed Red Location Museum in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Image by Joziboy at English Wikipedia. This file is licensed by the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Unrest in shantytown forces anti-apartheid museum to close

The closed Red Location Museum in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Image by Joziboy at English Wikipedia. This file is licensed by the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

The closed Red Location Museum in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Image by Joziboy at English Wikipedia. This file is licensed by the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

PORT ELIZABETH, South Africa (AFP) – South African shantytown residents have forced the closure of a museum honoring anti-apartheid heroes, accusing the authorities of building “a house for dead people” while they live in squalor.

Once a tourist magnet, the Red Location Museum in New Brighton outside the southern city of Port Elizabeth houses hundreds of “memory boxes” containing the life stories of anti-apartheid activists, including the late liberation icon Nelson Mandela.

The modernity of the 22 million rand ($2 million) building, which won several international architectural awards, stands in total contrast to the plastic and corrugated iron structures which serve as houses for the neighboring community.

The museum closed nine months ago in the face of threats by residents to assault visitors and efforts to reopen it have been met with violent protests.

Its website says only that it “is closed due to community protests,” in what is one of the oldest settled black townships of Port Elizabeth.

The building has now been stripped by people helping themselves to electrical wiring, water pipes, power sockets, fencing and wooden fittings for their shacks.

Like many of the poor around South Africa, the New Brighton residents feel they have not benefited enough from the end of apartheid and the rise to power of Mandela’s African National Congress.

“We raised this issue from the beginning – in 2005 when they started building this museum,” community leader Thembisile Klaas told AFP.

“Why build a house for dead people when us the living do not have a roof over our heads?

“We are living in shacks which get flooded each time it rains … and yet the municipality spends millions of rands building a museum.”

Community leaders say they have demanded houses for years but have only received empty promises from the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality – the local authority for the area.

Some security guards hired to patrol the perimeter of the building – which was also used as a research facility by historians – have abandoned their posts in fear for their lives.

“The conditions are getting worse. The fencing has been cut in several places and there is no lighting,” said one guard.

“Even the covers of the drains outside have been pilfered. It is dangerous, you don’t know when you will be attacked,” he said.

“The building used to be very busy and we used to mingle with international tourists here but now it’s a ghost.”

Deputy mayor Chippa Ngcolomba said the housing problem was being addressed but complained that the issue was being used as a “political football.”

“We have put in place a number of security interventions to make sure the museum is safeguarded,” Ngcolomba said.

“We are still investigating the situation so as to come up with a long-term solution.”

Port Elizabeth was a hotbed of the anti-apartheid struggle where ANC leaders such as Govan Mbeki, the late father of former president Thabo Mbeki, once lived.

Chris du Preez, the museum’s acting assistant director, says no artifacts or documents were stolen or damaged during the looting.

The museum’s “memory boxes” – 12, unmarked, rusted, room-size containers – were inspired by the boxes migrant workers used to hold their prized possessions when separated from their families. Each offers a different vision of the struggle in South Africa.

Large portraits of apartheid activists are also on exhibit, along with photographs of migrants laboring in South African mines and others depicting the horrors of apartheid such as black people being whipped by police.

“We are lucky that the thieves have not yet laid their hands on important and valuable documents, files and other materials inside or on display inside museum,” he said.

“They have been stealing things which form part of the building structure and not the records, files and other items kept inside,” said Du Preez.

The museum won the 2006 Lubetkin Prize awarded by the Royal Institute of British Architects as the best new building outside the European Union.

Its open space design and saw-tooth roofs are seen as a reference to the port city’s industrial activity and strong trade union history.

City authorities could not say when the museum would reopen, while community activists said it would not happen until they had decent houses.


ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


The closed Red Location Museum in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Image by Joziboy at English Wikipedia. This file is licensed by the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

The closed Red Location Museum in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Image by Joziboy at English Wikipedia. This file is licensed by the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

The Corcoran Gallery and School of Art in Washington, D.C. Image by APK is gonna miss Jeffpw. This file is licensed under the Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

DC philanthropist proposes alternate plan for saving Corcoran

The Corcoran Gallery and School of Art in Washington, D.C. Image by APK is gonna miss Jeffpw. This file is licensed under the Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

The Corcoran Gallery and School of Art in Washington, D.C. Image by APK is gonna miss Jeffpw. This file is licensed under the Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

WASHINGTON (AP) – Wayne Reynolds, a leading Washington philanthropist, laid out an alternative plan in court hearings this week to save one of the nation’s oldest museums and its college as a judge considers whether to break up the nearly 150-year-old Corcoran Gallery of Art.

Reynolds previously led a $54 million campaign to turn around Ford’s Theatre and said he sees similar potential in the museum next to the White House founded in 1869 by William W. Corcoran as a place to “encourage American genius.” Reynolds testified Wednesday that he could marshal dozens of major donors to save the financially struggling Corcoran and make it a world-class center for creativity and innovation in art and technology.

“People want to be part of something that’s special, that’s bigger than themselves,” Reynolds said, later discussing a list of 23 potential alternate trustees he said would help him turn the Corcoran around. “It’s all about vision and leadership.”

However, Reynolds testified that in dealing with the Corcoran over the past two years, he observed a chaotic “goat rodeo” behind the scenes. In late 2012, he said Corcoran officials asked him to become their next board chairman then rebuffed his interest, canceled meetings and blocked trustees from talking with him.

Instead, Corcoran officials signed a deal to merge with George Washington University and the National Gallery of Art. A judge is now considering whether to approve the proposed merger, which would turn over the art, college and real estate to the two larger institutions. Witnesses have testified those assets are worth about $2 billion.

Corcoran attorney Charles Patrizia disputed Reynolds’ version of events late Wednesday, saying his testimony isn’t supported by the record.

A key sticking point in talks about the Corcoran’s future has been the notion of selling art to fund the museum. Corcoran Chairman Harry Hopper called that “the third rail of American art” because it would endanger the museum’s accreditation. Reynolds said he proposed selling some art and putting the focus on the college instead. Artworks kept in storage could be sold, he said, in order to buy contemporary art.

Hopper, who has led the Corcoran as board chairman since 2009, testified that he has spent many hours exploring options after years of financial troubles. The museum had been plagued by a failed campaign in the early 2000s to raise $160 million to build an addition designed by Frank Gehry and later struggled during the nation’s financial crisis, he said.

A 2011 consultant’s report found the Corcoran “has struggled to find a successful business model for 40 years or more.” Between 1985 and 2004, the Corcoran had a surplus in only two years. The museum also faces mounting renovation needs with some estimates surpassing $100 million.

So Corcoran officials considered selling the building or partnering with a university or museum. In 2013, they began negotiations with the University of Maryland, which proposed investing $95 million in the Corcoran and taking on the art college, according to documents revealed in court. But months passed, and Maryland officials came back with a drastically reduced offer, Hopper said.

That’s when Corcoran officials revisited earlier talks with George Washington University and the National Gallery of Art.

Under a plan finalized in May, the Corcoran building would continue operating as a museum, though with less gallery space. Most of the building would be devoted to the Corcoran School of Art and Design as part of George Washington University, and the university would renovate the historic Beaux-Arts building. The National Gallery of Art would acquire the bulk of the Corcoran’s 17,000 artworks and run the exhibit programs.

George Washington University President Steven Knapp testified Tuesday that the deal saves the Corcoran legacy and is a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create something truly powerful” with a new model for arts education.

___

Follow Brett Zongker on Twitter at https://twitter.com/DCArtBeat .

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-07-31-14 0850GMT


ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


The Corcoran Gallery and School of Art in Washington, D.C. Image by APK is gonna miss Jeffpw. This file is licensed under the Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

The Corcoran Gallery and School of Art in Washington, D.C. Image by APK is gonna miss Jeffpw. This file is licensed under the Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.