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UPDATED: The Cleveland Museum's creative funding plan


In a move that's sure to put museum-lovers and benefactors around the country on notice, the Cleveland Museum of Art has requested permission from a court to use funds restricted for the purchase of art to finance its ongoing expansion. [Via Modern Art Notes, originally from a story in the Cleveland Plain Dealer by art critic Steven Litt. UPDATE: Lee Rosenbaum, a major voice on the museum world in the blogosphere, weighs in on the Cleveland situation on her blog, CultureGrrl. Also, Judith H. Dobrzynski, at Real Clear Arts.]

While that might seem like a simple enough request on its face, the move could set a precedent for other American museums seeking to expand their facilities. From the story in the Plain Dealer:

"The museum's request means getting the court to grant approval to "deviate" temporarily from the wills of wealthy donors who stipulated that their endowment bequests and trusts could be used only to buy art."

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Opposition to Google Books settlement grows

With just five days left until the Sept. 4 deadline for individual authors to opt out of the 334-page class-action settlement negotiated by the Authors Guild with Google Books in October 2008 with respect to the distribution of digital rights to all books in print on the World Wide Web, significant opposition to the agreement has now emerged. (see Google Book Search Settlement Notice to Rights-holders - Books & Inserts Registry)

A coincident deadline for all major stakeholders and other affected parties to the settlement also arrives on Friday. That is the last day to file written objections or amicus briefs for or against the agreement to the U.S. Federal District Court Judge Denny Chin in New York City. The Court is expected to announce its decision and establish procedures to enforce it at a "Fairness Hearing" to be held on Oct. 7.

The Google Books Settlement and the Future of Information Access, a daylong seminar examining the far-ranging implications of the settlement for librarians, academic scholars, copyright law specialists, and privacy advocates was scheduled for Friday at the University of California at Berkeley's School of Information. Even as the conference took place, however, several developments with a direct bearing on the settlement have arisen in recent days.

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The composers' popularity contest

MozartidealWNED-FM has been playing a lot of Mozart over the last couple days, which I have heard in bits and pieces because that is the way you unfortunately wind up hearing music on the radio. I listened to part of a wind serenade while stuck in a traffic jam on the 190. This morning on the way to work it was the end to the great G minor symphony.

That was when it hit me, Mozart -- pictured at left, in an idealized portrait I have always loved -- must be No. 2 in the Top 10 Favorite Composers poll they have going on. That means the top slot must be going to Beethoven. Mozart and Beethoven have been neck and neck for the last 20 years anyway. Before that Beethoven was the hands-down favorite. While not watching this contest closely, I was thinking Mozart would get the No. 1 slot. Well, as the joke goes, Buffalo always is a bit behind the times.

Then again, when I try to choose between Beethoven and Mozart I get foggy too. How do you choose?

I do not like the word "favorite" applied to music for that reason. When I am interviewing people I might ask about composers they feel close to or pieces of music they love, but do not say "favorite." Unless you're 6 years old, things are complicated. And even when you are 6 they sometimes are.

Has anyone out there been monitoring this contest? Any thoughts?

I'll start us off. My mother told me Rachmaninoff did not even place. That shocks me. He seems not to have the place in the public consciousness that he had a few decades ago. He even figured in "The Flintstones," remember? They played "Rachy-maninoff." On the other hand Tchaikovsky and Dvorak are both in WNED-FM's Top Ten. I did not expect that.

Both my mom and I were also surprised that Bach rated the No. 3 slot. Not that he does not deserve it, it is just surprising to see him in there. Maybe because it is like comparing apples and oranges, comparing Bach with Brahms. I think Brahms was No. 4.

One more thing, I have probably said this before but I do wish the radio would be more careful about what they play when. The great Mozart G minor symphony mid-morning ... do they have to? Listening to something like that in the middle of a busy day when you can't give it the attention it deserves, it's just wrong. I think it can ruin the music for you.

A final thought: It would be a riot if the No. 1 slot did not go to Beethoven as I am so sure it will. Watch, there'll be a dark horse. Moussorgsky, say, sweeps the contest! Or Ottorino Respighi. I do love my Respighi. I would not mind that.

Well, we'll find out in the next few days.

Meanwhile, any other thoughts out there?

-- Mary Kunz Goldman

Artvoice apologizes for copyright infringement

In today's edition of Artvoice, publisher Jamie Moses issued an apology to Hero Design Studio and local designer Julian Montague for an employee's misappropriation of work that did not belong to Artvoice. Moses' statement subtly cast aspersions on Hero Design for refusing to be satisfied with an apology from the newspaper.

An excerpt follows:

Apologies to Hero Design and to Julian Montague. Last week, when we found ourselves unexpectedly needing to fill the back page, an employee in the design department was asked to make a filler ad to promote our coming fall issue. The employee did a Google search for an “autumn” image and used some lovely artwork created by Hero Design. The employee also added a skyline silhouette from the cover for Mark Goldman’s book City on the Edge, designed by Julian Montague. Julian was satisfied with an apology, but Hero Design was not pleased at all with the unauthorized use of their art. We completely understand, and again, we’re sorry this happened.

Moses also wrote, reassuringly enough, that Artvoice has "no need to steal artwork from anyone and it is not our policy to do so."

Hero's owners had not yet read the apology and would not comment on the situation, citing ongoing communication with Artvoice in an effort to resolve the dispute.

--Colin Dabkowski


464 gallery to host mayoral meeting on the arts

464 gallery announced today it would host a town hall meeting on urban revitalization and the arts on Sept. 1 at 6 p.m. A release from the recently opened gallery says mayoral candidate Michael "Mickey" Kearns will attend the meeting, and that incumbent Byron Brown will drop by for half an hour.

It'll be curious to see what, if anything, comes out of the discussion. It's at least heartening to know that the two mayoral candidates, say what you will about their political agendas, have agreed to attend a meeting at a relatively little-known establishment in a low-profile neighborhood to talk about the arts. That's promising.

As for gallery owner Marcus L. Wise, his simple hope, as he wrote in the release, is to "make sure that art does not get left out of the process." 

--Colin Dabkowski

David Foster Wallace remembered

Nearly a year has passed since the suicide of David Foster Wallace (1962-2008), the essayist, novelist, and short-story writer many believed to be most important creative artist of his generation.  In order to mark the one-year anniversary of his death, the Peabody Award-winning Wisconsin Public Radio program To the Best of Our Knowledge, which has an extensive archive of exclusive interviews by and about Wallace, compiled a retrospective on the Infinite Jest author.
The program, which includes a considerable amount of new material, aired this past weekend on many NPR affiliates, including WNED AM 970 here in Buffalo, where I heard it while driving through a thunderstorm on Sunday.  In this 54-minute broadcast, which I suggest you download as MP3 Format Sound File for later reference, you will hear: 

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Busted: Artvoice ganks art from Hero Design and Julian Montague

The Twitter account and blog of Hero Design Studio, a local boutique firm and storefront known for its innovative concert poster designs, has been lighting up with some pretty serious allegations since Friday.
Late last week, I came across this message, via Buffalo blogger Alan Bedenko: "Stealing our artwork is a REALLY bad idea!!!! Seriously check this out, stolen right from our website:" Later, local designer Julain Montague piped up that another element on AV's back cover was approrpiated from one of his designs, a book cover for Mark Goldman's "City on the Edge."

Hold on a second. Could Buffalo's alt weekly possibly have stolen artwork directly from the Web site of a well-known local design firm and the cover of a popular local book? A call to Artvoice Managing Editor Geoff Kelly confirmed that indeed it did.
Kelly admitted the paper's transgression and attributed it to a designer employed by the paper.

"Someone in our art department made a stupid, terrible mistake and we are working toward a resolution with Hero Design," Kelly said, adding that he was confident the two sides would come to an understanding.

An employee at Hero confirmed that owners Mark Brickey and Beth Manos-Brickey were outraged by the apparent plagiarism, though they have not yet returned calls.

Take a look at the artwork in question:

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Juliana Spahr awarded Hardison Prize

Juliana Spahr, one of the leading "poet/critics" to emerge on the American literary landscape over the past decade and a key figure associated with the University at Buffalo's Poetics Program in the 1990's, 
has been awarded the 19th annual O.B. Hardison, Jr. Poetry Prize by the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., Poets & Writers Magazine reported on Wednesday.
Ms. Spahr, who earned her Ph.D at UB in 1995, is the author of seven books of poems, including Response (Sun & Moon Press, 1996), winner of the National Poetry Series Award, and an influential book of criticism Everyone’s Autonomy: Collective Reading and Collective Identity (University of Alabama Press, 2001).  Her recent books are This Connection of Everyone with Lungs (University of California Press, 2005),  a collection of poems written after (and in response to) 9/11 and the buildup to the US invasion of Iraq, and The Transformation (Atelos Press, 2007), a lyric memoir describing the movements and ideas of three persons who traverse between Hawaii and New York City while discussing cultural geography, ecology, anticolonialism, queer theory, language politics, academia, and ongoing wars (not necessarily in that order).
While here in Buffalo, she and fellow poet Peter Gizzi organized the New Coast Conference, a major gathering of younger writers and thinkers influenced by the Language movement in late March and early April of 1993 that re-established Buffalo as one of the focal points of avant-garde poetics in North America.  Along with fellow poet Jena Osman, she also founded the journal Chain, which became a leading venue for innovative topical and cross genre writing from 1995 to 2004.

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American Book Review looks at "Fiction's Future"

The current issue of the always topical American Book Review  takes up "Fiction's Future" as its focus, and the results are a lot like listening in to the conversations in the lobby of a Modern Language Association convention during lunch hour.  Rather than address the subject in the staid way The New York Review of Books might with the throat-clearing gravitas of a predictably circumspect essay by a world class scholar-critic or perennial Nobel Prize for Literature candidate, editor Jeffrey R. Di Leo and associate editor Tom Williams employ the same kind of collagist approach ABR applied to the question "Why Teach Creative Writing?" in its previous issue.
Some sixty-two prominent fiction writers and critics, many of whom might be mentioned in that hypothetical New York Review piece, weigh in with  Words, Sentences, Ouotes and other cryptic musings ranging from one word pronouncements ("Dismal"--Lee K. Abbott, or "Neural"--Stephen J. Burn) to dire warnings ("THE WAY THINGS ARE GOING IN THE WORLD, THERE'S NO FUTURE FOR FICTION"--Raymond Federman), playful quips ("The future of fiction is its past, though that future, too, is a fiction."--Michael Joyce) to concise and reasoned statements by the likes of Robert Coover, Lydia Davis, Larry McCaffery, Christina Milletti, Charles Johnson and Marjorie Perloff that--were it not for their "metatextuality"--might be mistaken for the prognostications of market analysts. 
Survey-like features are quite good at getting a representative sampling of opinions one might encounter "in the field" (as those at the MLA convention might say), but sensing perhaps that a discussion of as innovation-driven an art form as fiction shouldn't operate under such sound bite like constraints,  Di Leo and Williams ask thirteen of their original correspondents back for Elaborations.  Here the results read much less like talking points.  

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New A.S. Byatt novel on Man Booker longlist

The Children's Book, A.S. Byatt's nearly 700 page exploration of the Edwardian "cult of childhood," is one of 13 works on the preliminary "longlist" for the British Commonwealth of Nations and Ireland's Man Booker Prize for Fiction, it was announced last month in London.  The panoramic novel traces the life of a prominent late Victorian fairy tale writer and children's author, her social circle, and the effect her progressive ideas have on her own seven children and one working class runaway who comes under her charge through the so-called "Edwardian summer" to the catastrophic slaughter of World War One and social and cultural upheaval of Europe in the Modernist era.
Byatt, who visits Buffalo on October 9th to launch the 2009-2010 Babel Series of readings at Kleinhans Music Hall, is one of two former winners on the Man Booker longlist.   The author, who was born Antonia Susan Drabble (her younger sister is novelist Margaret Drabble), but publishes using her first husband's surname, previously won for Possession: A Romance,  her remarkable 1990 novel that succeeded, however improbably, in making Victorian literary scholarship seem both intrigue-filled and sexy.

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