| In defence of Patricia de Lille

2017-10-05 13:12

Simon Grindrod

Over thirteen years ago, in a previous life, Patricia de Lille and I went canvassing for votes in a shopping center in Milnerton on a busy Saturday morning. Patricia, by then known for exposing the corrupt arms-deal, was generating interest in the ID, her new social democratic alternative to the DA and ANC. To be fair, we did not anticipate an avalanche of votes in this constituency. However, as we walked through the mall handing out flyers, Patricia was greeted warmly by a wide range of people, including an elderly lady in a twin-set and pearls. 

‘Patricia, I wanted to say how much I respect your strength and wish you luck in the elections’, and as she held Pat’s hand added, ‘and I will definitely be asking my char to vote for you’.

The lady obviously thought SA politics needed an outspoken voice and was happy for Patricia to do so, as long as it didn’t upset the status quo too much. It was an example of the fact that Patricia was valued, but would never truly be accepted by the conventional political establishment. I don’t think she ever wanted to be. It remains her greatest appeal.

Since the formation of the Cape Town uni-city 17 years ago, we have witnessed a revolving door of mayors to an almost comical degree. For example, the Morkel and Marais show was memorably damaging, if not entertaining. Indeed, until recently, the average ‘life expectancy’ of a Cape Town mayor had been only slightly higher than that of a rookie U.S Marine in the Vietnam war. Many a political career has fallen flat on the steps of the civic center. 

Ever since the very first uni-city mayor resigned over allegations of surfing porn in his office, power-plays and dirty tricks are now expected and even accepted. Spying, subterfuge, character assassination, factions and scandals are the hallmark of our City politics. Not even the adoption of the executive mayoralty system could stop the infighting, nor protect the office holder. 

Amazingly, it has not been the opposition claiming these scalps, the blood has mainly been drawn through Blue-on-Blue factional warfare. The old Nats, the old DP, the new DA, the old ID and several others. It has never been dealt with if they are honest about it. 

The DA don’t publicly throw chairs at each other, but they are certainly skilled in the tactics of undermining their very own colleagues. Innuendo, whispering campaigns and carefully leaked untruths are far more effective than a full frontal assault. I would rather get a chair on my head from someone I can see, than an endless drip of poison from faceless people in the shadows of my own party.

Patricia De Lille is the first mayor to serve a full-term, and be re-elected to office, since the formation of the uni-city 17 years ago. It is quite an achievement given the turbulence of prior years.

We would therefore think this is a welcome development, a period of continuity and stability for citizens. However, it seems the DA cannot help themselves when it comes to the black arts of taking out their own. Having almost prematurely removed a successful sitting premier earlier this year, they now seem hellbent on removing a sitting executive mayor too. What is wrong with these people? 

The manic attempts by national leadership to exert total control from the center continues to result in overreaction instead of mature dialogue. Helen Zille, to her credit, was seasoned enough to realise that provinces should be allowed, within reason, to resolve their own internal differences without politburo style directives from national office. Obviously, having two centers of power adds to the mix.

How has it come to the sorry state of affairs where citizens have to see their mayor and a senior member of her administration put on ‘special leave’ a week before a critical provincial party election?

I am not sure what ‘special leave’ means when it comes to a mayor but they seem to be making it up as they go along.

It will be interesting to see if the special committee established by the DA, under chairmanship of John Steenhuisen MP, will report its findings before the provincial elective congress this weekend.

The allegations made against De Lille by Alderman JP Smith are both murky and vague. He had apparently authored a memo behind his mayor’s back (leaked to the media) suggesting some individuals in the City may, or may not, have a gripe with the her about possible security upgrades at her house, although he is not sure about it, and had not heard anything about it previously. He admits he has seen no proof of anything untoward. It is as clear as mud.

That is the extent of the matter, the smoking gun, for which the mayor and himself are on now put on gardening leave like naughty kids while the ANC squeal with delight and the DA caucus implodes.

Make no mistake, JP Smith is a very hard working, committed and passionate politician. He represents his constituents extremely well. It is no coincidence that Alderman Smith has declared himself a candidate for the position of deputy provincial leader in the imminent elections, having secured the position of deputy metro chair only a short time ago. It is also no secret he is vehemently anti-De Lille. There is a lot of resentment remaining from the days of the ID and DA merger. Scores are being settled. The question is, at what cost?

So what, exactly, are the offenses for which the DA have suspended their mayor (and Alderman Smith)?

The issue of unspecified and mysterious renovations at her Pinelands home were this week categorically clarified by an official statement from the City of Cape Town. The security equipment was provided within the legislative framework and declared completely above board. I would not be surprised if such routine security apparatus was also installed at the private homes of previous executive mayors – without any fuss.

The ‘shutting down’ of the City’s SUI never happened. It is still in operation, as even a cursory review of statements put out by the Safety and Security Directorate reveal. It is, however, now operating within a clearly defined, legal framework. Was the mayor expected not to act when it was brought to light that the Unit was exceeding its legal mandate? She would certainly have been accused of negligence in not doing so had the situation resulted in negative consequences.

Understandably, Alderman Smith did not take kindly to any curtailment of his powers. Nobody would. Yet, councillors need to be very wary of overstepping the line between ‘hands-on’ involvement and willful political interference in the workings of the civil service. 

It is far too lazy, yet politically irresistable, to now equate the two issues and insinuate that De Lille unilaterally ‘shut down’ the special unit to prevent exposure of her very own corrupt Nkandla estate.

By the way, with 23 years of elected office behind her, I doubt Patricia needs to fleece the taxpayer for a few new bathroom tiles. She is not prone to conventional political spin, but she is definitely very aware not to give her opponents any stick with which to beat her. It just doesn’t add up. It’s nonsense.

The other ‘charges’ presumably are that she is too brash, outspoken and ”rubs people up the wrong way”. The electorate supported her entirely because she was not afraid to speak her mind. She has never been a conventional politician. In this respect, she faces the same problem as Helen Zille – confident and strong women are seen as ‘problematic’, yet confident and strong men are ‘decisive’.

Mayor De Lille is also now being held personally responsible for inflicting upon the Western Cape the severest drought in decades, a drought that was foreseen over 20 years ago by experts who warned previous administrations that action needed to be taken. It is right that any incumbent be held accountable for current actions taken to mitigate the crisis, but entirely unfair to blame one individual for the negligence of previous administrations, at every level, in taking pro-active steps to prevent it.

Yet, the DA wolves continue to circle, awaiting their opportunity to deliver the fatal blow to the lady whose face they once happily plastered on glossy posters as evidence of DA diversity. They proudly boasted of her re-election and her increased majority in 2016.

Patricia was good enough for that purpose back then, yet seemingly not good enough to merit the support of her party leaders now. How difficult could it have been to determine the facts of this case weeks ago? If the mayor is guilty of corruption, she should go. If not, her detractors should either put up, or shut up.

The DA should either back her, or sack her. This ongoing chaos is totally unnecessary.

In 2010, when the ID merged with the DA, a veteran ANC politician commented that Patricia was now ‘riding on the back of a tiger that would finish her’. Other smaller parties are also beginning to discover what the DA actually means by ‘coalition’ government. 

Whatever we may think of Aunty Pat, the lady surely deserves better than this shoddy treatment on the basis of some spurious allegations raised by a rival faction ahead of a bitterly fought elective congress. 

The local politicians in Cape Town may not know any better, but the national leadership of the DA certainly should.

I have known Patricia de Lille, both in and out of formal politics, for many years. Having been out of active politics for a decade, I write this in my personal capacity.

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

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AGO more accessible but still work to be done, gallery CEO says in response to criticism

The head of the Art Gallery of Ontario says while the museum has made progress in creating an art world that is more inclusive, there is still room for improvement.

AGO director Stephan Jost was responding Wednesday to criticism from one of the museum’s former curators, who said he recently left his job because he was worried “about an institution wavering in its commitment to make space for new voices.”

Andrew Hunter, who had served as the AGO’s Canadian art curator since May 2013, left the gallery in September. In a Toronto Star column this week, Hunter expressed disappointment that art institutions aren’t progressing quickly enough in their attempts to be more inclusive, especially when it comes to Canada’s Indigenous community.

Steve Martin Art Curotor

Former curator Andrew Hunter, left, departed the Art Gallery of Ontario in September. During his tenure, he helped create major exhibitions, including the blockbuster show The Idea of North: The Paintings of Lawren Harris. He’s seen here with, from second left, Hammer Museum director Ann Philbin, and that show’s co-curators: Steve Martin and Cynthia Burlingham. (Casey Curry/Invision/Associated Press)

In the piece, he said the AGO is “an institution that remains (like so many others in this country) burdened by, and seemingly committed to, a deeply problematic and divisive history defined by exclusion and erasure.”

In a phone interview Wednesday, Hunter explained that his goal in writing the essay was to provide constructive criticism to the museum, and to clearly express his aims to the public.

“I think often people leave institutions [feeling] like there’s some critical things that need to be said, but it’s hard to say them,” he said.

‘We have a lot of work to do’

Jost said he agrees with Hunter that the art world needs to try harder to be accessible to people of colour, who have historically been left out of many of these kinds of institutions.

“I think that’s something that we’ve made huge progress on, but I also think we have a lot of work to do,” Jost said.

Hunter said that while inclusivity was a frequent topic of conversation with his colleagues, those discussions didn’t always make it to the decision-makers. And even when change was implemented, he said he was often frustrated by how hard it was to sustain.

Black artists

The AGO did a good job of attracting new audiences and reaching out to local black artists in conjunction with the 2015 exhibition of the late Jean-Michel Basquiat’s work, Hunter said. He noted, however, that no such effort was made last year, when contemporary American artist Theaster Gates (at right) exhibited at the museum. (Reuters/Getty Images)

Hunter said the museum did a good job of attracting audience members outside of their subscription base during a 2015 exhibit of black American artist Jean-Michel Basquiat’s work, for example. An advisory board was set up to forge connections with emerging visual artists in Toronto’s black communities, and the museum was glad to see the exhibit reach new audiences.

But he said no such effort was made last year, when Chicago artist Theaster Gates exhibited at the museum.

“There was a real opportunity for the AGO,” he said. But instead “it presented Theaster as an artist, but the deeper part of what his work is about didn’t really get embraced through the institution.”

Stephan Jost

AGO head Stephan Jost was appointed in 2016. (Craig Boyko/Art Gallery of Ontario)

Jost said he remains optimistic that art institutions can open their doors to a wider audience.

“I believe that museums have an incredibly important cultural role to help make us more inclusive, and help us gain greater cultural understanding, both of ourselves and other communities,” he said

He pointed to a current AGO exhibit devoted to filmmaker Guillermo del Toro as an example.

“He’s Mexican-born, yet his kids go to school here in Toronto,” Jost said. “He’s created a really magical exhibition, but it also is challenging to our audience, because it’s not comfortably in the high-art conversation.”

AGO’s Canadian art department changes name

Meantime, the AGO announced this week that their Canadian art department will become the department of Canadian and Indigenous Art, and named Wanda Nanibush to the new position of curator of Indigenous art.

Georgiana Uhlyarik has been named the curator of the new Canadian and Indigenous Art department.

Jost said the choice to include Indigenous artwork within the umbrella of Canadian work, rather than classifying it in a separate category, is a model he learned about in conversation with friends in New Zealand. The Te Papa museum in Wellington is built around parallel curatorial structures, he said: “one Maori, one settler communities.”


The Art Gallery of Ontario has named Georgiana Uhlyarik, left, curator of its new Canadian and Indigenous Art department. Wanda Nanibush, right, is the AGO’s new curator of Indigenous art. (Art Gallery of Ontario)

“Wanda and Georgiana’s proposal to me was to have two parallel narratives, which makes a lot of sense in terms of how to talk about Canadian and Indigenous cultures, parallel and always interacting with each other,” he said.

Hunter expressed skepticism about the announcement coming on the same day as his public comments, but an AGO spokesperson said discussions had been under way for a while.

“This moment of change provided the right time to put those discussions into action, including the renaming of the Canadian art department,” she said.

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29 winners in Knight Arts Challenge; Midnimo residency at the Cedar canceled over visa delay

Twenty-nine individuals, groups and arts organizations will share $1.29 million in funding from the Knight Foundation in the fourth year of the St. Paul Knight Arts Challenge. The winners were announced Wednesday at the James J. Hill Library, where Tish Jones delivered a new spoken word piece about the Challenge, Ragamala danced and the DeCarlo Jackson jazz group performed.

The Knight Arts Challenge is a program of the Miami-based Knight Foundation, which invests in cities where the Knight brothers once owned newspapers. (Knight Ridder owned the St. Paul Pioneer Press until 2006.) It’s open to anyone, and there are only three rules: 1) the idea must be about the arts, 2) the project must take place in or benefit St. Paul, and 3) the recipient must find funds to match Knight’s commitment within one year.

The Challenge came to St. Paul in 2013 as a three-year, $4.5 million commitment. We asked Victoria Rogers, Knight’s vice president for arts, what brought Knight back to St. Paul for the fourth time. “The Challenge was working in this city,” she said. “It was identifying new ideas. We’re committed to St. Paul and the arts and will continue to support individual artists and organizations to bring the best ideas in the arts to fruition.”

So the fourth Arts Challenge is not the last we’ll see of Knight Foundation in St. Paul? “Absolutely not,” Rogers emphasized. “It’s a city that understands the power of the arts to create the places that we want to live.”

As always, this year’s Challenge winners – drawn from 65 finalists selected from some 300 applicants – are a diverse and creative bunch, with ideas of all shapes and sizes. Greg Watson will use his $6,000 to print poems on paper fans at the Minnesota State Fair. Motionpoems will receive $125,000 to turn the Green Line into a virtual reality experience. The choral ensemble Border CrosSING won $5,000 for a concert with a bilingual Handel’s “Messiah.” Her $75,000 award will enable cultural producer Tana Hargest to convene a think tank of black artists to identify challenges facing St. Paul, propose solutions and share the work in community conversations, podcasts, residencies and more.

In between are ideas that will become songs, story collections, a wayfinding mural in the Creative Enterprise Zone, gatherings in community gardens, lawn art, films, a drive-through theater, an electro-acoustic opera, a Transgender Voices Festival, an aardvark sculpture, a refugee musical, and a performance featuring TU Dance and Bon Iver, to name a few. See the Knight Foundation website for a list of winners and their projects.

“The arts are an economic driver,” Rogers added. “They shape and energize public spaces and places. We fund the arts because we believe they bring people together and connect us more deeply to the communities where we live. I would add that I think the arts create the kinds of communities and cities where we want to live.”

For winners, the challenge part starts now. They must raise the matching funds and get their projects done.

Midnimo residency at the Cedar canceled over visa delay

London-based Somali musician Aar Maanta has been to Minnesota twice before, in 2012 and 2015, for residencies with the Cedar Cultural Center. The first laid the groundwork for the Midnimo program, which began in 2014 and features Somali artists from Minnesota and around the world. Midnimo – Somali for “unity” – builds understanding of Somali culture, revives and preserves Somalia’s musical traditions, and fosters social connections between generations and cultures. All good things.

Aar Maanta

Courtesy of the Cedar

Aar Maanta

But not good enough for the travel ban. Though the four members of Aar Maanta’s band were granted visas, Aar Maanta, the only Somali and Muslim, was not. Despite outreach from Rep. Keith Ellison’s office, which contacted the U.S. Consulate in Belfast (where Aar Maanta and his band did their interviews) on Sept. 19 to request the timely processing of Aar Maanta’s visa, his application was “still undergoing additional administrative processing” as of Sept. 24. That was the last Aar Maanta heard from the consulate.

The visa application process began in May, when the Cedar submitted the required documentation to the USCIS (the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services). The interviews took place on Sept. 1 and the other band members received their visas promptly in the mail.

Aar Maanta and his band were scheduled to fly to Minnesota from London on Sept. 28. Their monthlong, statewide residency, which would have begun in Mankato this week, has been canceled. The residency would have toured to Minneapolis and St. Cloud, with a performance at the Cedar on Oct. 13.

The Cedar’s program manager Fadumo Ibrahim said in a statement, “This case is a concrete example of how travel restrictions and the travel ban limit artistic voices and freedom. While it’s obviously important for the artists, it’s equally important for the community who had been anticipating this residency. Aar Maanta’s visit to Minnesota would have brought hope and positivity to the Somali and larger communities here, at a time when we all really need it.”

The picks

Tonight (Thursday, Oct. 5) at the Minneapolis Central Library: Talk of the Stacks with Larry Olmsted. Want some parmesan cheese made of wood pulp? How about some fake Kobe beef? In “Real Food, Fake Food: Why You Don’t Know What You’re Eating and What You Can Do About It,” award-winning journalist and author Olmsted gives us the bad news about the U.S. food industry. One reviewer called this New York Times best-seller “the health equivalent of Ralph Nader’s ‘Unsafe at Any Speed.’” Doors at 6:15 p.m., program at 7. Free.

Today through Saturday at Orchestra Hall: Roderick Cox conducts everything. The Minnesota Orchestra’s associate conductor has been in the news. In August, he led South Africa’s Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra in a much-ballyhooed relaunch. (“Extravagant, elegant and moving. That’s how American conductor Roderick Cox was described,” said the Huffington Post.) NBC News did a four-minute feature about him. As one of the very few African-American conductors in the world, Cox gets noticed. Starting tonight, he’ll lead the orchestra three nights in a row. The performances today and Friday are subscription concerts, with music by Dominic Argento, Grieg and Rachmaninoff. 11 a.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday. FMI and tickets ($25-96). For Saturday’s concert, “Send Me Hope,” Cox will conduct the orchestra, local artists and three African-American church choirs in a night of music meant to unify, heal and inspire. 7 p.m. FMI and tickets ($25; $20 under 40; $12 ages 6-17).  

Opens Saturday at the Crane Theater: “The Minotaur.” In the Greek myth, the Minotaur – half man, half bull – lives at the center of a labyrinth. Theseus vows to kill the beast, and Ariadne, the daughter of King Minos, helps him. In Theatre Pro Rata’s modern retelling, the Minotaur is aware that he exists within a story and wants to change the ending so he doesn’t die. An updated Greek chorus tries to keep the narrative on track. Amber Bjork directs. With Kip Dooley, Stanzi D. Schalter and Derek Meyer. 7:30 p.m. FMI and tickets ($14-41; sliding scale at the door). 

"Man with Sad Face" by Jimmy Reagan

Courtesy of the artist

“Man with Sad Face” by Jimmy Reagan

Monday at United Theological Seminary: “Conversations with Jimmy: Art by Jimmy Reagan” artist reception. An internationally recognized outsider artist with autism spectrum disorder, Reagan finds conversation with words difficult. He communicates through bright, bold colors and “tick marks” inspired by van Gogh and other impressionist painters, who are among his many influences. Reagan will be there with family members. The reception will include a panel discussion with Jeff Anderson, Reagan’s art mentor; Peg Reagan, his mom; and Jann Cather Weaver, an emerita faculty member at United. In the Gallery. 6:30-8 p.m. Panel discussion at 7:15. FMI and registration. Free. Exhibition closes Nov. 30.

Tuesday at the Ordway: “The Simon & Garfunkel Story.” A hit on London’s West End, with a sold-out U.K. tour, this concert-style show has won glowing reviews and standing ovations. Backed by a three-piece band and projected images, Taylor Bloom (Paul Simon) and Ryan M. Hunt (Art Garfunkel) sing and strum songs that helped define the 1960s: “The Sound of Silence,” “Mrs. Robinson,” “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” “The Boxer” and more. The story spans their early days to the 1981 Central Park reunion concert. Big nostalgia, beautiful songs. 7:30 p.m. FMI and tickets ($37-67).

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Whitney Museum Unveils Plans for David Hammons Artwork in the Hudson

During the comment portion of the committee meeting, a few residents questioned whether garbage would collect in the water around the artwork’s poles — the Whitney said it would evaluate that — and whether there would be information on site about the history of the pier (the Whitney said it would provide material through signage and an app).

The committee, which handles parks and waterfront issues, agreed to make sure the artwork would not impinge on the pier’s parkland. The plan will now go before the full board later this month.

One resident, who said he’d lived on Gansevoort Street since 1969, likened it to a “resurrection” of the old Pier 52, which was used in the shipping industry before becoming a sanitation and parking facility.

Jane Crawford, Matta-Clark’s widow, who attended Wednesday’s meeting, said in an interview afterward: “It’s very poetic, so beautiful. I’m so honored, as I know Gordon would be were he here. I’m hoping it is fulfilled.”


Manhattan’s Pier 52 shown in a photograph taken by the artist Gordon Matta-Clark, who sliced openings in the shed there to create his own artwork called “Day’s End.” Credit Estate of Gordon Matta-Clark, Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

It was Mr. Hammons himself who proposed the project, said Adam Weinberg, the Whitney’s director, as he made a presentation to the committee. The museum had not been seeking an installation, but after Mr. Hammons toured its new building and looked out over the Hudson, he sent the museum a sketch of his proposed sculpture.

“Is this a provocation? Is it a proposal? Is it a gift?” Mr. Weinberg recalled wondering at the time. “We got in touch with David and his manager and said, ‘We’d love to talk to you about this.’”

Whitney officials worked over the last year on conceiving and evaluating the project with Guy Nordenson, a structural engineer.

Although the museum would raise money to support the installation’s construction and maintenance — costs that have yet to be determined — the Whitney does not own the land and would not own the artwork.

Instead, the installation would belong to Hudson River Park Trust, which would maintain it with Whitney funds. The two have yet to forge a formal agreement, though the trust has approved the project in principle.

It was important to the Whitney to brief local residents about the project first, Mr. Weinberg said — although the news leaked in advance — given the opposition faced by another project in the river, Barry Diller’s proposed island at Pier 55, which was scuttled last month.

Indeed, Mr. Weinberg’s presentation had all the oomph and charm of a salesman trying to avoid the pitfalls of the Diller project, which was opposed largely on environmental grounds. Mr. Weinberg stressed that the Hammons project’s poles would be made of “the thinnest possible material” (eight inches in diameter, he said) and that the installation’s impact on the area would be “the lightest touch possible.”

“There are essentially no shadows, it’s completely open to the light, to the air,” he said, adding: “It is a kind of ghost monument. You have a sense that this is something that was always there, yet it sort of disappears.”


A sketch by Mr. Hammons for “Day’s End.” Credit David Hammons

Mr. Weinberg compared the sculpture to the work of Alexander Calder, whose mobiles are currently on view at the museum. “Calder worked with wire, he was drawing in space,” Mr. Weinberg said. “In many ways, this is a drawing in space that has an evanescent quality.”

“It will not impose on any uses of the Gansevoort Peninsula — you can still have baseball fields, you can still have park,” he added. “It’s one of the biggest public sculptures in New York, yet takes up almost no mass whatsoever.”

Given that the Whitney was founded by an artist — Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney — and that so many artists live in the neighborhood, Mr. Weinberg said the Hammons project is also symbolic of the museum’s close relationship with artists.

Mr. Hammons, 74, has lived in New York for some 40 years, and “worked his way through the art world at a time when it was not so easy for an African-American artist to make his career,” Mr. Weinberg said. Showing slides of Mr. Hammons work, Mr. Weinberg described him as “one of the greatest living American artists.”

Mr. Hammons himself did not attend Wednesday’s meeting, though his manager, Lois Plehn, was present. The artist is famously private — he rarely talks to the press — and independent. He is not represented by a commercial gallery and often turns down invitations from major museums interested in mounting exhibitions of his work.

The project would rest on 12 pilings spaced 65 feet apart — five of them on the peninsula, with a sixth out at the end and another six in the water. It would not be lit at night.

“At the end of the day,” Mr. Weinberg said, “the piece disappears into the darkness.”

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As Frieze London Matures, Choices Push Boundaries

That goal has attracted new blood to Frieze London this year — first-time exhibitors include galleries from Lima, Peru; Bogotá, Colombia; Cape Town and Cairo — and it is reflected in the way the fair is organized.


Romare Bearden’s “Gray Interior” (1969) mixed media collage will be shown by the Michael Rosenfeld Gallery of New York. Credit Romare Bearden Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

As is typical, there is a section for the heavy-hitter galleries from around the globe, including Marian Goodman, Metro Pictures and Michael Werner, and also a subsidized section for newer galleries. Focus, for galleries less than 12 years old, may present collectors with some fresh faces among dealers, including Carlos/Ishikawa, Instituto de Visión and Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler.

But there is also an entire section, new to the fair just for this edition, called “Sex Work: Feminist Art & Radical Politics,” organized by the independent curator Alison M. Gingeras.

The nine presentations, all focusing on one artist, will highlight some of the most boundary-pushing feminist art and “create a market for artists whose work is probably not the easiest to sell,” Ms. Siddall said. For instance, Galerie Andrea Caratsch of St. Moritz will present work by Betty Tompkins, known for her photo-realistic paintings of intercourse.

Ms. Gingeras said that the section evolved out of a book she was writing on the same topic. “A lot of women in my generation were spoiled children of the feminist second wave,” she said. “We took it for granted.”

When Frieze contacted her, Ms. Gingeras said her initial response was, “There’s no way I want to curate something for an art fair,” adding that she had not done such a thing before. “But I thought, I’ll just pitch what I am working on and wait for a ‘no.’”

When the yes came, she attributed it to the commitment on the part of the organizers that “the commercial aspect can’t override the content.”

Somewhat less button-pushing will be the booth of the Los Angeles gallery David Kordansky, showing punchy and graphic paintings and sculptures by Will Boone, including the enamel on bronze sculpture “Prisoner” (2017), depicting hands grasping prison bars.

The first prize for the most high-concept booth may go to Hauser & Wirth, with “Bronze Age c. 3500 BC – AD 2017.” All the works on view will be in bronze, but only half will be for sale; a quarter are loans from museums, and the last quarter are items bought on eBay and elsewhere just for the display.

Neil Wenman, a senior director of Hauser & Wirth’s London branch, said the idea was to set the booth in a fictional environment simulating a “regional, underfunded museum.” He added, “We’re looking at it in a lighthearted way.”

He secured the involvement of Mary Beard, an author and Cambridge professor who made the topic of Rome a best seller with the book “S.P.Q.R.,” getting her to record an acoustiguide and videos. There is even a gift shop.

The rationale for going to such lengths was simple. “We all go to so many art fairs,” Mr. Wenman said. “And they tend to bleed into one.” For the practically minded, works by Louise Bourgeois, Jenny Holzer, Paul McCarthy and David Smith will be for sale.

A few galleries will be addressing urbanism and the built environment, among them OMR of Mexico City, making its first appearance in the fair. “We’ve been on the waiting list for a couple of years,” said Cristobal Riestra, a partner in Galería OMR. “Competition is fiercer than ever.”

OMR’s booth will hold 16 works, including Jose Dávila’s sculpture “Untitled (Pac Man)” and Pia Camil’s sculpture “Telluride Interior,” both from 2016. “I think there is something urban in all of them — something that addresses the relationship between nature and the man-made,” Mr. Riestra said.

Visitors to Frieze London who are ready to look at art from previous decades and centuries can stroll through Regent’s Park (perhaps taking the long way through Queen Mary’s Gardens) to get to Frieze Masters, next to the London Zoo.

Luxembourg & Dayan will show a booth packed full of the playful and strange works by the late Italian artist Enrico Baj, who made, among other works, paintings of furniture partly out of pieces of furniture, creating his own kind of collage. The works on view will include “Montagna” (1958).

Just because the art at Frieze Masters is older does not mean that the visitors are. “This fair is totally different than the Continental fairs — it’s a younger crowd of people,” said Ulrich Fiedler, whose Berlin gallery specializes in avant-garde design from the early 20th century. He will show 30 pieces from the Bauhaus that he intends to place with buyers from major museums.

Galerie Ulrich Fiedler first showed at Frieze Masters last year. “I was surprised at the level of interest,” Mr. Fiedler said of his presentation of the De Stijl movement. “I didn’t have one break.”

The interest among younger visitors fits with the organizers’ conception of the event. “There are other fairs showing historical art,” Ms. Siddall said, referring to the European Fine Art Fair, La Biennale Paris and other shows. “But there was a feeling that we could do it differently, and give it a much more contemporary feel and context.”

Michael Rosenfeld Gallery of New York will devote its booth to black artists from the United States to coincide with “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power,” on view until Oct. 22 at London’s Tate Modern. Two mixed-media collages will be among the works on view: Romare Bearden’s “Gray Interior” (1969) and Betye Saar’s “Dr. Damballa Ju Ju” (1989).

“African-American art has alway been part of our program,” Mr. Rosenfeld said. “We have always wanted to expand the canon of art. I have always just shown artists I loved, and the world has woken up.”

As for the Frieze Masters context, Mr. Rosenfeld echoed many art world insiders. “It’s a love-hate relationship I have with fairs,” he said. “But they have become an important part of our program, and we put as much energy into them as we do to shows in our gallery.”

The Tate Modern tie-in is part of that effort. “It’s a costly endeavor, to tie to a museum show like this,” he said. “But we have to sell art. We have to walk that fine line.”

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Jasper Johns at the Royal Academy: Philosopher searching for flickers of grace in the familiar

This week we visit the five-star Jasper Johns exhibition at the Royal Academy.

Who is Jasper Johns?

He’s often described as America’s greatest living artist, a label we’re sure isn’t daunting at all. With more than six decades of work, Jasper Johns has made his mark as an interrogator of the familiar and a playful philosopher searching for deeper meaning. His paintings of American flags, whose richness of meaning only continues to grow, are probably his most famous; one is reported to have sold for $110 million in 2010. His partner was fellow artist Robert Rauschenberg, whose work was the subject of a major retrospective at Tate Modern last year. Art buffs who have seen both shows will enjoy seeing how the pair influenced each other.

What’s the show?

The title of the show – Jasper Johns: Something Resembling Truth – borrows from a quote said by Johns himself from 2006: “One hopes for something resembling truth, some sense of life, even of grace, to flicker, at least, in the work.” This expansive study of his work, comprising of 150 paintings, sculptures, drawings and prints, makes the case for an artist constantly challenging notions of truth and trying to find new ways of seeing and experiencing the world. Doing so will offer up that ‘flicker of grace’. Deep. 

The show brings together a lot of works that don’t often travel outside of their private and public collections, as well as new works by Johns – so it’s a rare opportunity to see so much masterful work in one place.

So what’s it actually about?

Myth-making and memory.  It won’t come as a surprise that an artist famed for his paintings of the American flag would be interested in myth-making. His sculptures of slices of bread and torchlights render the everyday into museum pieces of the future so that we look on them with eyes of people a hundred years from now; “ah, that’s how they lived.” His bronze sculpture of a pot of paintbrushes is not only astonishingly life-like, but it makes the artist’s toolbox into an object of reverence.

Regrets, a 2014 work which comprises of a series of paintings and drawings, is inspired by an old photograph of Lucian Freud in Francis Bacon’s studio. It’s a poignant image already, showing a man doubled over, frail and vulnerable – but when Johns mirrored it, a skull emerged in the middle. In the Royal Academy show, this is shown next to Farley Breaks Down and After Larry Burrows, featuring a similar image of a helicopter pilot breaking down. The two works both feature figures that you almost can’t see – when you spot them, you’re struck by a powerful sense of their depression, grief and sadness. Here, the famous painter and the patriotic fighter are unpicked.

Retraining your eyes. Johns takes the familiar and sends it spinning; his famous Target paintings look like eyeballs rather than bullseyes. Racing Thoughts, one of the first paintings in the show but painted in 1983, looks like the wall of an art gallery that’s taken LSD. But look in the corner and you see water pipes, and realise the artworks are stuck to an industrial building; the museum has taken to the streets.

When you see Johns’ number sculptures, you wouldn’t read them – you just glance at them and assume that they do in fact read 1-9. You see but don’t really look – as Johns would say “the mind already knows”. The sculptures encourage you to pause, to read each number.

The power of language. Johns was influenced by literature, and worked with Samuel Beckett – the result of which is featured in the show. When Johns uses language in his work, he conveys both its relationship to visual perception – painting the words blue in red, yellow in green – as well as its potential to be more powerful than it knows. In the 1959 work Tennyson, the poet’s name is in block lettering at the bottom, but the words are hidden, you have to look for them. When you find them, the piece suddenly becomes a gravestone. All that, from a few letters. In Fragment of a Letter, he makes the mundane intimate, honing in on one passage, making it significant rather than skimmed over.

Three pieces to look at for slightly longer

Within. This huge painting greets visitors as soon as they arrive, signalling that Johns’ multi-layered work will conjure up surprises. The top layer brings to mind tough, dusty elephant hide, grey and raw. Look a bit closer and underneath lie shimmering glints of a rainbow.

Flag.  They’re not Johns’ most famous works for no reason, and they’re definitely not just flags. It’s a depiction, a version – carrying on its familiar stars and stripes the weight of the impersonal and the personal, the records in the history books and history as it was experienced individually. Through Vietnam to Trump’s America, this meditation on patriotism, symbolism, and national and personal identity still feels strikingly potent.

Painting with Two Balls. What happens to a painting when you shove two balls in the middle of it? It’s breaking the rules – it changes everything. Suddenly it’s exposed as an object. We wonder what lies within, and we can also see within: an empty space.

Read our review of Jasper Johns: Something Resembling Truth.

In his five-star review, Ben Luke said: “Throughout, there’s an underlying philosophical enquiry into making, looking and thinking: objects from the studio appear on paintings’ surface — a broom, a cup used to stir paint. Stencilled words appear wittily or esoterically, emerging from or sinking into the paint, even hanging on a wire.”

Until Dec 10, Royal Academy;

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

MAKING A DIFFERENCE: Black Cultural Events connects people with activities

SOUTH LOS ANGELES — Driving down the freeway one day en route to the high desert with her husband, Pamela Ashe-Thomas received a text message from a friend.

The friend asked Ashe-Thomas if she would be attending a gallery opening and reception that night. Frustrated that she hadn’t heard about the event sooner and had to miss it, Ashe-Thomas thought to herself: “Why are these events all word-of-mouth? Why isn’t there a place where I can find out about these things?”

“That was the day I decided something needed to be done about it,” Ashe-Thomas said, and the idea for her brainchild Black Cultural Events was conceived.

Black Cultural Events, an online, African-American cultural events calendar for the city of Los Angeles, came into existence with the help of her brother David, a digital media specialist.

“I wanted to see what’s going on the city for black folks, and I wanted him to put it all in one place for me,” Ashe-Thomas said.

A psychology professor at the Cal State Long Beach, Ashe-Thomas is part of an on-campus group for black women students. Once or twice a semester, she likes to plan an outing with them, but said she often found it difficult to find a cultural event to take them to.

Since it began in February 2016, Black Cultural Events has grown to 7,500 subscribers, and the number is steadily rising, Ashe-Thomas said.

“We send out a newsletter once a week, every Thursday, where we highlight five or six events that are happening that week, plus a few upcoming ones,” she said. They also include a featured restaurant in the weekly newsletter.

But beyond simplifying people’s search for black cultural events in Los Angeles on the web, Black Cultural Events also is helping other entities.

Pamela Ashe-Thomas

“The smaller nonprofits that are putting on events and programs now have a place to put up their events,” she said. “Organizations need to develop their programs, and we give them an opportunity and a platform to help build their audience. We provide a service to those who are trying to promote their events online, for free, with 24/7 access.”

Nonprofits and other organizations can submit and upload their events themselves, which are then added to the website’s event calendar.

The number of nonprofits and organizations that currently use Black Cultural Events to promote their events is easily between 50 to 100, Ashe-Thomas said, and they hope to see it increase.

Apart from wanting to see their subscribers grow, Ashe-Thomas said that she hopes the future of Black Cultural Events helps build and strengthen the community.

“We’d like to put together a black college network for black cultural events,” she said. “We want to take groups of students from all over the area and expose them to cultural events, to have students from universities come together.”

For now, Black Cultural Events is fulfilling a need that Ashe-Thomas saw was lacking.

“Black America needs its own comprehensive cultural events website, one for black families, black art lovers, black concert-goers, and black theater-goers, just for black culture lovers overall,” reads its website. “We’re starting here, at home, with the wonderful cultural richness of black Los Angeles.”


Founder: Pamela Ashe-Thomas

Years in operation: 1 ½

Location: Online, Los Angeles

Number of employees: 7

Annual budget: Self-funded, N/A

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

NFL’s embrace of Timberlake a racist, sexist joke

Justin Timberlake, gay news, Washington Blade

One of Justin Timberlake’s more cringeworthy moments: cornrows. (Photo courtesy Twitter)

Reports that Justin Timberlake will headline the 2018 Super Bowl offer further evidence of the NFL’s racism, sexism and ageism. It’s craven lunacy that NFL executives would consider asking Timberlake back while continuing to boycott all things Janet Jackson in the wake of the duo’s infamous 2004 nipple-baring performance.

The black woman took the fall for the accident, while the white boy was celebrated and saw his career take off in the aftermath. Yes, I said “accident.” Amid the endless speculation about whether it was planned or not, one fact is always forgotten: the FCC under then-Chair Michael Powell launched a thorough investigation into the incident, prodded by angry members of Congress. The senior MTV executive in charge of the show was forced to turn over her laptop to investigators, who concluded: “The FCC found nothing to suggest they had planned the moment,” as ESPN reported. That finding is consistent with Jackson’s denials that it was planned.

Ten years after Powell pretended to be offended by the split-second nipple flash in a series of TV interviews, he finally admitted the truth to ESPN. “I think we’ve been removed from this long enough for me to tell you that I had to put my best version of outrage on that I could put on,” he said, while rolling his eyes.

Nevertheless, Jackson was immediately blacklisted by CBS, MTV Networks and mainstream corporate radio. She was disinvited from the Grammy Awards that year, despite being a 26-time nominee and five-time winner. Timberlake was welcomed at the ceremony, accompanied by his mommy. He used the opportunity to apologize, dutifully carrying water for a network — and a conservative Republican administration — at the expense of his one-time friend Jackson.

It was a cruel stab in the back for Jackson, who did so much to advance Timberlake’s career. Before letting him share her Super Bowl stage, Jackson hired Timberlake and his cheesy boyband mates from N*Sync to open for her on 1997’s acclaimed “Velvet Rope” world tour. Many had never heard of Timberlake before that tour.

Timberlake would go on to appropriate Janet and Michael Jackson’s style and moves. Jimmy Fallon once dubbed him the “president of pop.” Luckily, presidents can be impeached. Timberlake is really the “appropriator-in-chief,” stealing liberally from the Jackson playbook and from other black artists over the years. He once even wore his hair in cornrows, an unintentionally hilarious and cringeworthy choice.

When Timberlake was the target of the MTV prank show “Punk’d,” his true personality was revealed. The gag involved IRS agents and a moving truck showing up at Timberlake’s mansion as he’s told he owes $900,000 in unpaid taxes and his belongings are being repossessed. He bursts into tears and again calls mommy for help. When he realizes it’s a gag and that cameras are rolling, he reverts to his phony “bad boy” persona, complete with “yo yo yos.”

Timberlake is a copycat, a cheap imitation of talent. He’s an average-looking Mickey Mouse Club alumnus who rode a wave of ‘90s teeny-bop cheese to undeserved fame and fortune. He is the embodiment of mediocrity. A saccharine, non-threatening, milquetoast pop star for the white bread Orlando suburbs.

And yet, the NFL is reportedly ready to give him the headliner slot at the Super Bowl at a time when the country is finally beginning to engage in a dialogue about systemic racism thanks to athletes taking a knee during the National Anthem. Two steps forward and two steps back.

Virtually no one seems to think Jackson stands a chance of being invited back to the Super Bowl, even though she’s the much bigger star by any measure. Timberlake’s four solo studio albums have sold about 27 million copies worldwide, compared to Jackson’s roughly 160 million records sold. She’s won every music industry award there is — a total of 370, including five Grammys, 33 Billboard Music Awards and 11 AMAs. She even holds nine Guinness World Records, has an Oscar nomination and was named MTV’s inaugural “Icon” award recipient.

The next generation of pop stars have unanimously cited Jackson as a primary influence, including: Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Beyonce, Usher, Mya, Lady Gaga, Pink, Tinashe, Aaliyah, Ciara, among many others. Jackson has collaborated with a diverse array of music’s biggest stars, including Elton John, Luther Vandross, Missy Elliott, Carly Simon, Q-Tip, Chuck D, Kathleen Battle, P. Diddy, Kanye West, Nelly, Herb Alpert and Michael Jackson. And her music has been covered by everyone from Whitney Houston and Prince to Buckcherry and most recently Katy Perry.

Outside of music, Jackson starred in three successful sitcoms as a child actor; she’s a New York Times Best-Selling author and four of her five feature films debuted at No.1 at the box office.

And though Timberlake is much younger, Jackson is proving her modern relevance and staying power. While Timberlake’s last album was released in 2013, Jackson’s last outing was 2015’s “Unbreakable,” which debuted at No.1 on Billboard’s albums chart, her seventh compared to three solo No. 1 albums for Timberlake. Jackson is currently on a 56-date “State of the World” tour selling out arenas across the country at age 51 without a new single to plug and without doing any media appearances to promote the tour.

She is inexplicably absent from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, despite two nominations. Here’s hoping the Rock Hall finally gives Jackson her due next year.

But back to Timberlake. The NFL’s embrace of this cad, who so blithely tossed Jackson under the bus, reinforces all the racist, sexist and ageist stereotypes about American popular culture. We can only hope the NFL will do the right thing and reconsider giving such a platform to someone so undeserving. Jackson certainly deserves another shot at that stage, but she doesn’t like to repeat herself and has nothing left to prove. Jackson gracefully endured years of ridicule and boycotts. She’s proved herself the better person and the bigger star, no matter what the NFL decides.

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment