In Memoriam

April 2009 | BY | Issue 67, June 2009 | NO COMMENTS

The cultural world lost three members in recent months—creators of large, medium and pint-size works.

Sculptor Coosje van Bruggen created large-scale public art in collaboration with her husband Claes Oldenburg. The couple’s 40-plus site-specific sculptures include the 38-foot-high “Flashlight” at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas; “Cupid’s Span,” a massive bow-and-arrow embedded in Rincon Park, San Francisco; and “Spoonbridge and Cherry” at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. Van Bruggen died in January at age 66.

Ceramic artist Mary Ann Charette, who died in early December at the age of 78, was known for her porcelain and raku pieces featuring animals in motion. Her work was featured recently in the book 500 Animals in Clay. Charette maintained a studio at the Torpedo Factory Art Center in Alexandria, Va., which held a memorial exhibition of her work in March.

Hans Beck spent three years developing the tiny toy people that would be released in 1974 as Playmobil figures. Now called the “Father of Playmobil,” Beck continued refining the toys and developing new products for the company until his retirement in 1998. He died in Germany in February at the age of 79.

Style Spotlight: To Sell or Not to Sell?

April 2009 | BY | Issue 67, June 2009 | NO COMMENTS

Will the Rose Museum of Art at Brandeis University close this spring? Will the artwork owned by the university be sold or auctioned? Will the building be converted to an exhibition gallery? Your guess is as good as ours.

Months of turmoil have followed the January announcement by university president Jehuda Reinharz that the school’s board had voted to close the art museum and “publicly sell the art collection.”

Since then, Reinharz has backtracked on his statements, most recently suggesting that the museum will become a “teaching and exhibition gallery” and that no works would be sold for at least two years. The museum owns more than 7,000 works, including pieces by Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol and Willem de Kooning.

Even the museum’s staff has staged their own subtle protest, posting on their webpage a wide range of statements from national cultural leaders who oppose the closure, letters from concerned alumni and friends, and links to a petition to ask the university to change their plans. Staff expected the museum to remain open through May.

For up-to-date information on the current status of the Rose Art Museum, visit

Iconic Portrait Finds Home, Kicks Up Storm

April 2009 | BY | Issue 67, June 2009 | NO COMMENTS

Shepard Fairey’s mixed-media stenciled collage image of President Barack Obama has found a permanent home at the National Portrait Gallery.

A symbol of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, a red-white-and-blue portrait of the candidate with the word “HOPE” emblazoned below, has found a home at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C.

But despite the seeming success of the image, both the work and the artist Shepard Fairey have found themselves surrounded by conflict.

In February, Fairey preemptively filed suit against the Associated Press, the source of the original photograph that was altered to create the portrait. The lawsuit was prompted by AP’s request for credit and compensation for the work. Fairey’s lawyers contend the work is protected by fair use. And those lawyers have been busy. At virtually the same time as he filed suit, Fairey was arrested by a Boston police officer on an outstanding graffiti charge from 2000. The artist was on his way to the opening of an exhibition of his work at the Institute for Contemporary Art (the show continues through Aug. 16).

Style Spotlight: Celebrating Sam Maloof

April 2009 | BY | Issue 67, June 2009 | NO COMMENTS

For Sam Maloof, furniture is about function. “Furniture should be felt,” he says. “I think that art is alive and wants to be felt, and it wants to be touched.” Photographer Gene Sasse pays homage to the master woodworker in an equally tactile experience, Maloof Beyond 90: An American Woodworker, a book so finely crafted, it’s a work of art itself.

Each copy is handmade, composed of 92 pages of original giclee photographs printed on archival paper, bound in leather and finished with a wood accent. Sasse began production on the limited-edition book in March, and will produce 500 copies, in addition to 50 artist proofs signed by himself and Maloof.

Sasse first encountered a Maloof piece in the late 1970s, when he photographed a collector’s home and was taken by a rocker and cradle by the artist. He set out in 2006 to record Maloof’s genius, and spent two years studying him at rest and at work. The purpose of Maloof Beyond 90 is to capture the essence—the soul—that Maloof weaves into his work, and to reveal his unending passion for life.

Contributors include President Jimmy Carter, fellow woodworkers Wendell Castle, Mark Johnson and Larry White, and Museum of Fine Arts, Boston curator Jonathan Fairbanks.

Each copy sells for $1,500. To learn more, visit

Style Spotlight: A New Center of Glass Art?

April 2009 | BY | Issue 67, June 2009 | NO COMMENTS

Stephen Knapp’s “Risen Blue,” is among the works in the “Contemporary Glass Among the Classics” exhibition at the Chrysler Museum of Art through July 19. Credit: © STEPHEN KNAPP

Seattle may remain the undisputed West Coast center of glass art, but the East Coast title seems to be up for grabs. Corning, N.Y.? Pittsburgh, Pa.? Or, Hampton Roads, Va.?

Though the southeastern Virginia region seems an unlikely candidate for the reigning capital of glass east of the Mississippi, it’s giving its competition a run for the money with this spring’s “Art of Glass 2,” the sequel to its wildly popular 1999 glass festival.

Along with two major glass exhibitions at the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, accompanied by a quartet of shows at the Contemporary Art Center of Virginia in Virginia Beach, the festival will also feature glass-themed performances at the Virginia Arts Festival and a variety of events at more than 20 regional sites.

Highlights of “Art of Glass 2” include:

  • “Lino Tagliapietra in Retrospect: A Modern Renaissance in Italian Glass,” at the Chrysler Museum through July 19.
  • “Ashes to Ashes: Life and Death in Contemporary Glass,” at the Contemporary Art Center of Virginia April 24-Aug. 23. (Four glass exhibitions will run concurrently during these dates at this location.)
  • “Tiffany Glass: A Riot of Color” at the Muscarelle Museum of Art in Williamsburg through July 12. For a complete schedule of events, visit

Parting Shot: Beach Baby

April 2009 | BY | Issue 67, June 2009 | NO COMMENTS

Miami has a reputation for attracting the young, trendy, beautiful and thin to its hip hot spots and crowded beaches. Yet Swiss artist Olaf Breuning’s buxom 150-ton sand beauty seemed perfectly at home when she made her appearance last December as part of the city’s Art Basel events. Martin and Cricket Taplin, owners of Miami’s art-loving Sagamore Hotel, commissioned the artist to construct the Paul Klee-esque reclining statue. “I’m very proud to be making an art piece you cannot buy,” Breuning told The New York Times Style Magazine.

Though wind and sea have long washed the woman away, she left a lasting impression, and modest she was not. When Miami officials suggested a bikini top to cover her bare chest, Breuning kindly refused. “I just thought it’s nicer without,” he told The Miami Herald.

Editor’s Note: Traveling (Yes!) on a Shoestring

April 2009 | BY | Issue 67, June 2009 | NO COMMENTS

It just doesn’t get better than this; An incomparable view of Lower Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge, which has inspired poets, painters and musicians for generations. Credit: © NYC & COMPANY/BAMI ADEDOYIN

Need some good news? Given the current state of the U.S. economy, cities big and small are tripping all over themselves to make leisure travel more affordable. From our perspective, it couldn’t be happening at a better time.

AmericanStyle has just released the results of its 2009 Top 25 Arts Destinations readers’ poll, a treasure trove of 75 pre-vetted arts cities, and the enticements to come visit are hard to resist. Couple that with discounted airfares, special package rates in hotels and a panoply of free or nearly-free summer events scheduled by museums and cultural organizations across the country, and who wouldn’t want to get bitten by the travel bug?

Best of all is that with so large a selection of arts cities to choose from, you’re bound to find at least one or two within day-tripping distance—cost-cutters, for sure, but also an opportunity to go back again and again for cultural shots in the arm on less than a tank’s worth of gas.

New York hits the top of charts for the sixth time in a row in the Big Cities category. AmericanStyle readers voted hands-down that the Big Apple is the ultimate sensory experience, especially in summer when it throws open its doors and spills out into the streets for an ongoing parade of arts festivals, street fairs and cultural events. Visual arts bargains abound for savvy travelers, and walking—the only way to really immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of this pulsing metropolis—is always completely free.

Chattanooga, Tenn., is the big surprise in the Top 25 listings this year, pulling a major upset in the Mid-Size Cities rankings to landslide its way into the No. 2 slot. Freelancer Shirley Moskow provides full coverage of Chattanooga’s arts scene in the City Arts feature in this issue. Complete lists and information on all of the 2009 Top 25 Arts Destinations are also included.

If you’re scratching your head wondering where our back-of-the-book Datebook listings went, starting with this issue they’ve migrated to the AmericanStyle website. We’ve also tweaked our Table of Contents page and repositioned Datebook Previews behind the main features section to make room in the print edition for more articles about the people and places that make writing about the arts such a pleasure.

Hope Daniels

If You Go: Chattanooga

April 2009 | BY | Issue 67, June 2009 | NO COMMENTS

The Chattanooga Arts Tour, led by artists, gives you the opportunity to visit private studios and public art sites in Chattanooga. Reservations are required. Visit for more information.

Artist Studios

Although the following working artists welcome visitors to their studios, they do not keep regular hours. It is advisable to call and set up an appointment.

Miki Boni and Thomas Paulsin
1611 Mitchell Ave.

Terry Cannon
2601 Broad St.

Jim Collins
Collins is not set up to receive visitors, but his contact information is available on his website.

Christopher Mosey
Ignis Glass Studio
1800 Rossville Ave., Suite 4

John and Peggy Petrey
559 E. Main St.

Galleries and Organizations

Loose Cannon Gallery
1800 Rossville Ave.

River Gallery and Sculpture Garden
400 E. Second St.
423-265-5033, ext. 5

Association for Visual Arts
30 Frazier Ave.

City Arts: Chattanooga

April 2009 | BY | Issue 67, June 2009 | NO COMMENTS

“Mickey Watcher,” a powder coated aluminum and steel sculpture by Jim Collins, made an appearance at the River Gallery Sculpture Garden as part of the artist’s solo show.

When joggers and bicyclists complained that the River Walk in Chattanooga, Tenn., did not have distance markers, the city didn’t just install signs. It commissioned artist Jim Collins to create colorful sheet metal sculptures—depicting a mother pushing a baby carriage, joggers and bicyclists, among other subjects—to mark the miles.

Chattanooga supports artists and appreciates the ways they enhance the area’s quality of life. Its annual celebration of the arts, the “4 Bridges Arts Festival,” held April 18-19 this year, attracts creators and patrons from around the country.

It wasn’t always so. The thriving manufacturing center, known as the “Dynamo of Dixie,” fell victim to urban blight. By the middle of the 20th century, foreign competition forced the closing of foundries and factories in Chattanooga. High unemployment and racial tension followed. Air pollution was so bad that in 1969 Walter Cronkite called Chattanooga “the dirtiest city in America” on the CBS Evening News.

Forty years later, the comment still rankles Chattanoogans. It also spurred them to action. Private foundations and public agencies reinvented the city together. Allied Arts, a private association, was formed in 1969 to promote the arts. A big boost came in 1985, when the city launched a 20-year plan to reclaim 22 miles along the Tennessee River. The city also committed $100,000 a year for public art. Now contemporary sculptures accent the cityscape.

“The transformation is amazing,” says Mayor Ron Littlefield. He credits artists who moved into gritty neighborhoods with playing a key role in the renaissance.

If You Go

For more of “City Arts: Chattanooga,” pick up the June 2009 issue of AmericanStyle today!

Arts Travel: Finding Main Street, U.S.A.

April 2009 | BY | Issue 67, June 2009 | NO COMMENTS

The National Trust for Historic Preservation has named its 2009 Dozen Distinctive Destinations— towns in the United States that have maintained their visual and cultural identities in the face of suburban sprawl.

This year’s destinations range from a Nevada town that has retained the spirit of the Old West to a vibrant Georgia community that has served as a musical breeding ground for a wide range of popular bands. The 2009 Distinctive Destinations are:

  • Athens, Ga.
  • Bristol, R.I.
  • Buffalo, N.Y.
  • Fort Worth, Texas
  • Franklin, Tenn.
  • Hot Springs, S.D.
  • Lake Geneva, Wis.
  • Lititz, Pa.
  • Santa Barbara, Calif.
  • Santa Fe, N.M.
  • Saugatuck-Douglas, Mich.
  • Virginia City, Nev.

Arts Travel: Armchair Traveling to the Prado

April 2009 | BY | Issue 67, June 2009 | NO COMMENTS

Who’s that man in the doorway? Zoom in on “The Family of Felipe IV” to check him out.

The cost of international travel in this economy has many world-travelers rethinking their vacations. If a visit to the Museo del Prado in Madrid has been on your wish-list, you can now get a taste of it without leaving home.

In collaboration with Google, the Prado is the first museum in the world to offer ultra high-resolution images of its masterpieces on the Internet, allowing viewers to zoom in far enough to see the artists’ brushstrokes, providing a view that isn’t even accessible by visiting the works in person.

Available via Google Earth, visitors gain access to the 14 paintings by entering a three-dimensional rendering of the museum. Each of the works can be viewed in extraordinary detail, down to the smallest fragment and most minute stroke.

Begin your journey at

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