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'Viva Las Vegas' – Elvis returning to home away from home

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Written by KIMBERLY PIERCEALL, Associated Press   
Monday, 02 March 2015 10:48
Elvis Presley Summer Festival hotel banner, Hilton, Las Vegas, 1975. Image courtesy of archive and Heritage Auctions. LAS VEGAS (AP) – Graceland will always be home, but Las Vegas is set to be Elvis Presley's home away from home yet again.

The King first played Vegas almost 59 years ago and spent months as a Sin City resident. Now, the Westgate Las Vegas hotel-casino will house a rotating display of Elvis memorabilia and artifacts rarely seen outside his famed Memphis, Tennessee, Graceland mansion.

Feel like getting married? Graceland Vegas will include an Elvis Presley-sanctioned wedding chapel.

Such chapels already dot the Las Vegas landscape and there's been no scarcity of Elvis exhibits and shows, including a short-lived tribute by Cirque du Soleil in 2012. But organizers say this is the real deal.

The very showroom where Presley performed several hundred sold-out shows when the hotel was first known as The International, and later as the Las Vegas Hilton, will be revamped to look much like it did when Elvis shook his hips – complete with semi-circular booths.

The exhibit – all 28,000 square feet – will be the largest Presley display outside Memphis.

Here's a look at some of the memorabilia and memories the exhibit will feature:



“We walk into everything with ‘what would Elvis want?’” said Joel Weinshanker, managing partner of the company that has owned a majority of Elvis Presley Enterprises since November 2013. “Absolutely positively, he would want to be back in Vegas.”

An actor singing Elvis songs – perhaps Hound Dog or Heartbreak Hotel – accompanied by backup singers and an orchestra, will perform in the same 1,600-seat showroom.

David Siegel, CEO of Westgate Resorts, said it was destiny that he bought the property in July 2014, decades after seeing Elvis perform there, accompanied by his ex-wife whose godfather happened to be Elvis' manager, Col. Tom Parker.

And when he bought it, he wanted to bring Elvis back.

As luck would have it, Weinshanker wanted the same thing and saw in Siegel someone willing to reinvest in the property where Elvis lived on the 30th floor for months of the year.

“It's really going to be the authentic Elvis experience,” he said.



Angie Marchese, Graceland's director of archives, said the exhibit will be the largest Elvis exhibit outside Graceland. The clothing will come straight from Elvis' closet in most cases. Blue Suede Shoes anyone?

Among the items expected to be displayed:

– A wooden sign larger than even Elvis. Parker paid for the 24-foot-tall image of Elvis to advertise the singer's first performances in Las Vegas in 1956 at the New Frontier, since demolished.

– The tablecloth contract. To ink the $1 million a year contract to perform at The International, Parker and the hotel's owner Kirk Kerkorian retreated to a nearby coffee shop, signing where there was no dotted line – on the tablecloth itself – complete with coffee cup stains.

– A two-piece black tunic and single-button black suit. For his first performances at The International, Elvis wore two demure outfits – the black tunic during the show and the black suit for the news conference afterward. Neither have felt the Las Vegas air since Elvis wore them July 31, 1969, she said.



“Those of us that lived it, Elvis never left the building,” said Dominic A. Parisi of the performer's lingering presence.

He won't say how old he is, but he was old enough to ready Elvis' rooms at the casino-hotel with meals (an early evening breakfast of well-done eggs, well-done toast, well-done bacon) and drinks, heavy on the bottled water, from 1972 to 1976 while Elvis performed there.

Now director of the hotel's room service and specialty restaurants, Parisi fondly recalled his encounters and talks with the King.

“He loved the hotel. He loved Vegas,” he said.

He loved chatting about everyday things – girls, cars and Las Vegas – Parisi said.

Parisi said he sometimes goes up to the 30th floor to Elvis' old suite, has a glass of wine and reminisces.

“Hopefully he's listening,” he said.


“Graceland Presents Elvis: The Exhibition - The Show - The Experience” is slated to open April 23, with the exhibit costing $22; performances start at $49.

Copyright 2015 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-02-26-15 2226GMT

Elvis Presley Summer Festival hotel banner, Hilton, Las Vegas, 1975. Image courtesy of archive and Heritage Auctions.
Last Updated on Monday, 02 March 2015 11:14

Catherine Futter named to new leadership position at KC museum

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Written by Museum PR   
Friday, 27 February 2015 17:07
Catherine L. Futter. Photo by Mark McDonald, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – During opening week for two special exhibitions at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the museum has announced that Catherine L. Futter – responsible for both exhibitions – has been promoted to the Louis L. and Adelaide C. Ward Senior Curator of European Arts.

The new title reflects a greatly expanded role for Futter as she heads a newly created division overseeing three existing departments: Arts of the Ancient World, European Paintings and Sculpture, and Architecture, Design and Decorative Arts, which includes American Decorative Arts.

In addition to her new role as head of a large curatorial division, Futter is currently steering the museum’s wider discussion of a cultural district, a conversation that involves concepts for 10, 20 to 30 years from now in Kansas City’s Midtown/Plaza area. She is the curator for the original exhibition Jump In! Architecture Workshop and responsible for the Nelson-Atkins presentation of Ferran Adrià: Notes on Creativity. Also, she is co-curator of A Shared Legacy: Folk Art in America, which opens March 28.

Futter is a graduate of Duke University, where she concentrated in Medieval and Renaissance Studies, with a focus on Italian Renaissance paintings. She earned her doctorate from Yale University and developed a specialization in American and European decorative arts from 1850 to the present. In 2002, she joined the Nelson-Atkins as Curator of Decorative Arts. She curated a major international loan traveling exhibition, Inventing the Modern World: Decorative Arts at World’s Fairs, 1851-1939, that opened at the Nelson-Atkins in 2012.

She has been critical in bringing contemporary artists into the Nelson-Atkins programs with celebrated and innovative exhibitions such as Resting Places Living Things: Designs by Michael Cross; Forever, an installation by Clare Twomey; The Future of Yesterday: Photographs of Architectural Remains of World's Fairs by Ives Maes; and Presence & Absence: New Works by Tom Price.

In more recent years, her title expanded to include Architecture and Design, as her projects stretched to include stewardship of the museum’s cultural district initiative. Futter also is a member of the museum’s Strategic Leadership Group, and she was a Fellow in 2014 with the Center for Curatorial Leadership.


Catherine L. Futter. Photo by Mark McDonald, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
Last Updated on Friday, 27 February 2015 17:27

In Memoriam: actor Leonard Nimoy, 83

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Written by LYNN ELBER, AP Television Writer   
Friday, 27 February 2015 13:51
Leonard Nimoy (Spock) at the Las Vegas Star Trek Convention 2011. Image by Beth Madison. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Leonard Nimoy, the actor known and loved by generations of Star Trek fans as the pointy-eared, purely logical science officer Mr. Spock, has died.

Nimoy died Friday of end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease at his Los Angeles home, with family at his side, said his son, Adam Nimoy. He was 83.

Although Nimoy followed his 1966-69 Star Trek run with a notable career as both an actor and director, in the public's mind he would always be Spock. His half-human, half-Vulcan character was the calm counterpoint to William Shatner's often-emotional Captain James Kirk on one of TV and film's most revered cult series.

"He affected the lives of many," Adam Nimoy said. "He was also a great guy and my best friend."

Asked if his father chafed at his fans' close identification of him with his character, Adam Nimoy said, "Not in the least. He loved Spock."

His death drew immediate reaction on Earth and in space.

"I loved him like a brother. We will all miss his humor, his talent and his capacity to love," Shatner said.

"Live Long and Prosper, Mr. (hash)Spock!" tweeted Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, aboard the International Space Station.

Nimoy displayed ambivalence to the famous role in the titles of his two autobiographies: I Am Not Spock (1975) and I Am Spock (1995).

After Star Trek ended, the actor immediately joined the hit adventure series Mission Impossible as Paris, the mission team's master of disguises.

From 1976 to 1982, he hosted the syndicated TV series In Search of ... , which attempted to probe such mysteries as the legend of the Loch Ness Monster and the disappearance of aviator Amelia Earhart.

He played Israeli leader Golda Meir's husband opposite Ingrid Bergman in the TV drama A Woman Called Golda and Vincent van Gogh in Vincent, a one-man stage show on the life of the troubled painter. He continued to work well into his 70s, playing gazillionaire genius William Bell in the Fox series Fringe.

He also directed several films, including the hit comedy Three Men and a Baby and appeared in such plays as A Streetcar Named Desire, Cat on a Hot Tim Roof, Fiddler on the Roof, The King and I, My Fair Lady and Equus. He also published books of poems, children's stories and his own photographs.

But he could never really escape the role that took him overnight from bit-part actor status to TV star, and in a 1995 interview he sought to analyze the popularity of Spock, the green-blooded space traveler who aspired to live a life based on pure logic.

People identified with Spock because they "recognize in themselves this wish that they could be logical and avoid the pain of anger and confrontation," Nimoy concluded.

"How many times have we come away from an argument wishing we had said and done something different?" he asked.

In the years immediately after Star Trek left television, Nimoy tried to shun the role, but he eventually came to embrace it, lampooning himself on such TV shows as Futurama, Duckman and The Simpsons and in commercials.

He became Spock after Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry was impressed by his work in guest appearances on the TV shows The Lieutenant and Dr. Kildare.

The space adventure set in the 23rd century had an unimpressive debut on NBC on Sept. 8, 1966, and it struggled during its three seasons to find an audience other than teenage boys. It seemed headed for oblivion after it was canceled in 1969, but its dedicated legion of fans, who called themselves Trekkies, kept its memory alive with conventions and fan clubs and constant demands that the cast be reassembled for a movie or another TV show.

Trekkies were particularly fond of Spock, often greeting one another with the Vulcan salute and the Vulcan motto, "Live Long and Prosper," both of which Nimoy was credited with bringing to the character. He pointed out, however, that the hand gesture was actually derived from one used by rabbis during Hebraic benedictions.

When the cast finally was reassembled for Star Trek - The Motion Picture, in 1979, the film was a huge hit and five sequels followed. Nimoy appeared in all of them and directed two. He also guest starred as an older version of himself in some of the episodes of the show's spinoff TV series, Star Trek: The Next Generation.

"Of course the role changed my career – or rather, gave me one," he once said. "It made me wealthy by most standards and opened up vast opportunities. It also affected me personally, socially, psychologically, emotionally. ... What started out as a welcome job to a hungry actor has become a constant and ongoing influence in my thinking and lifestyle."

In 2009, he was back in a new big-screen version of Star Trek, this time playing an older Spock who meets his younger self, played by Zachary Quinto. Critic Roger Ebert called the older Spock "the most human character in the film."

Upon the movie's debut, Nimoy told The Associated Press that in his late 70s he was probably closer than ever to being as comfortable with himself as the logical Spock always appeared to be.

"I know where I'm going, and I know where I've been," he said. He reprised the role in the 2013 sequel Star Trek Into Darkness.

Born in Boston to Jewish immigrants from Russia, Nimoy was raised in an Italian section of the city where, although he counted many Italian-Americans as his friends, he said he also felt the sting of anti-Semitism growing up.

At age 17 he was cast in a local production of Clifford Odets' Awake and Sing as the son in a Jewish family.

"This role, the young man surrounded by a hostile and repressive environment, so touched a responsive chord that I decided to make a career of acting," he said later.

He won a drama scholarship to Boston College but eventually dropped out, moved to California and took acting lessons at the Pasadena Playhouse.

Soon he had lost his "Boston dead-end" accent, hired an agent and began getting small roles in TV series and movies. He played a baseball player in Rhubarb and an Indian in Old Overland Trail.

After service in the Army, he returned to Hollywood, working as taxi driver, vacuum cleaner salesman, movie theater usher and other jobs while looking for acting roles.

In 1954 he married Sandra Zober, a fellow student at the Pasadena Playhouse, and they had two children, Julie and Adam. The couple divorced, and in 1988 he married Susan Bay, a film production executive.

Besides his wife, son and daughter, Nimoy is survived by his stepson, Aaron Bay Schuck. Services will be private, Adam Nimoy said.

AP Television writer Frazier Moore in New York and AP Aerospace writer Marcia Dunn in Cape Canaveral, Florida, contributed to this report. This story contains biographical material compiled by late AP Entertainment Writer Bob Thomas.

Copyright 2015 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Leonard Nimoy (Spock) at the Las Vegas Star Trek Convention 2011. Image by Beth Madison. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. 'Star Trek' stars William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, autographed photo. Image courtesy of archive and The Written Word Autographs.
Last Updated on Friday, 27 February 2015 14:53

Prof. Thomas Crow presents A.W. Mellon Lectures beginning March 15

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Written by Museum PR   
Monday, 23 February 2015 17:27
Thomas Crow. Image courtesy of National Gallery of Art

WASHINGTON – Thomas Crow, professor of Modern Art at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, will give the 64th annual A.W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts in a series titled “Restoration as Event and Idea: Art in Europe, 1814-1820.”

All lectures will take place on Sunday afternoons at 2 p.m. Eastern and are free and open to the public. Because of the East Building renovation, the lectures will be presented in the West Building Lecture Hall, which has limited capacity. Entry passes (one per person) will be required for admission and will be distributed starting at 1 p.m. on a first-come, first-served basis on the day of each lecture in the East Building Concourse.

Crow will consider the period 1814-1820, following the fall of Napoleon. During this time, artists throughout Europe were left uncertain and adrift, with old certainties and boundaries dissolved. How did they then set new courses for themselves? Crow's lectures will answer that question by offering both a wide view of art centers across the continent – Rome, Paris, London, Madrid, Brussels – and a close-up focus on individual actors –Francisco Goya (1746–1828), Jacques-Louis David (1748–1825), Antonio Canova (1757–1822), Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769–1830), Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780–1867) and Théodore Géricault (1791–1824). Whether directly or indirectly, these artists were linked in a new international network with changed artistic priorities and new creative possibilities emerging from the wreckage of the old.

March 15: "Moscow Burns/The Pope Comes Home, 1812–1814: David, Gros, and Ingres Test Empire's Facade"

March 22: "At the Service of Kings, Madrid and Paris, 1814: Aging Goya and Upstart Géricault Face Their Restorations"

March 29: "Cut Loose, 1815–1817: Napoleon Returns, David Crosses Borders, and Géricault Wanders Outcast Rome"

April 12: "The Religion of Ancient Art from London to Paris to Rome, 1815–1819: Canova and Lawrence Replenish Papal Splendor"

April 19: "The Laboratory of Brussels, 1816–1819: The Apprentice Navez and the Master David Redraw the Language of Art"

April 26: "Redemption in Rome and Paris, 1818–1820: Ingres Revives the Chivalric while Géricault Recovers the Dispossessed"

Since 1949, the A.W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts have presented the best in contemporary thought and scholarship on the subject of the fine arts to the people of the United States. The program itself is named for Andrew W. Mellon, founder of the National Gallery of Art, who gave the nation his art collection and funds to build the West Building, which opened to the public in 1941.

Past speakers have included Sir Kenneth Clark, T.J. Clark, E.H. Gombrich, Michael Fried, Mary Miller, Helen Vendler and Irene Winter.

Thomas Crow is the Rosalie Solow Professor of Modern Art at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. He holds an M.A. and a Ph.D. in art history from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a B.A. from Pomona College. His interests center on the entwined aesthetic and social dynamics in the production of art and the role of art in modern society.

Crow's most recent book, The Long March of Pop: Art, Design, and Music, 1930–1995, was published by Yale University Press in January 2015. He is also the author of Emulation: Making Artists for Revolutionary France (1995, 2006); The Rise of the Sixties: American and European Art in the Era of Dissent (1996, 2005); The Intelligence of Art (1999); Modern Art in the Common Culture (1996); Painters and Public Life in Eighteenth-Century Paris (1985); and articles including "The Practice of Art History in America," Daedalus 135 (spring 2006) and "Marx to Sharks: The Art-Historical '80s," Artforum 41 (2003). He is a contributing editor of Artforum. A selection of Crow's books will be available for purchase in the Gallery Shops and online at

Crow has received numerous honors throughout his career, including the Eric Mitchell Prize for the best first book in the history of art (1986), the Charles Rufus Morey Prize of the College Art Association (1987), and a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship (1988–1989). He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is currently the recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation fellowship (2014–2015) and spent the fall of 2014 as a Michael Holly Fellow at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute.

Before his appointment at the Institute of Fine Arts, Crow was director of the Getty Research Institute, professor of art history at the University of Southern California, the Robert Lehman Professor of the History of Art at Yale University, and professor and chair in the history of art at the University of Sussex.

Thomas Crow. Image courtesy of National Gallery of Art
Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 February 2015 09:48

Annette Schlagenhauff earns promotion at Indianapolis museum

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Written by Museum PR   
Thursday, 19 February 2015 13:23

Annette D. Schlagenhauff. Indianapolis Museum of Art image

INDIANAPOLIS – The Indianapolis Museum of Art has announced that Dr. Annette D. Schlagenhauff, the IMA’s associate curator for research, has been promoted to a newly created position indicative of the museum’s commitment to exhibitions and projects focused on disseminating new findings based on research of the permanent collection.

In her new role as curator of special projects, Schlagenhauff will give the IMA an enhanced capability to share this research with the public by coordinating cross-disciplinary projects across multiple departments and curatorial areas.

“I had the pleasure to work with Dr. Schlagenhauff early in my career and have always been impressed by her intellectual prowess and research capabilities,” said Charles L. Venable, the IMA’s director and CEO. “During her years here in Indianapolis she has done exceptional work, and I am confident that her new full-curatorial role will enhance her ability to positively impact our research and public programming activities.”

In her new role, Schlagenhauff will continue to conduct in-depth research of the museum’s permanent collection, including the history of the Clowes Collection of Old Masters at the museum. Reflective of the position’s strong focus on collaboration, she will serve as co-curator for the IMA’s Indiana Bicentennial exhibition in 2016, which will include works from many different areas of the museum’s permanent collection. Schlagenhauff is also curating the upcoming exhibition, “Revved Up: Cars in Art,” opening April 30. The exhibition will showcase automobile inspired artworks from the IMA’s collection and will be on display in conjunction with “Dream Cars: Innovative Design, Visionary Ideas”, which opens at the museum on May 3.

Schlagenhauff will also continue to oversee the IMA’s WWII-era provenance research project. She was the first staff member in IMA history whose role specialized in systematic research of this area. Her work in this field is reflected in the Museum’s current exhibition, “Continuing the Work of the Monuments Men.”

Schlagenhauff joined the IMA in 2003 as the assistant curator of European paintings and sculpture 1800-1945. In 2005, she was appointed to assistant curator of prints, drawings and photographs, and was promoted to associate curator in 2006. In 2009, she became associate curator for research. During her time at the IMA, Schlagenhauff has worked on a wide variety of exhibitions and installations including “The Other Side of the Mirror: Stanley William Hayter’s Atelier 17” (2006), “German Expressionist Era Prints” (2007), “Gifts of the Gamboliers” (2008), and “The Viewing Project” (2008-2011). She was actively involved in researching the archival holdings that accompanied the Miller House and Garden in Columbus, Indiana, when the IMA acquired the historic estate in 2009.

Schlagenhauff received her master’s degree from Columbia University in New York, and her doctorate from Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London. Previously, she worked at Busch-Reisinger Museum at Harvard University, and in a research capacity at the National Gallery of Art and the Dallas Museum of Art.


Annette D. Schlagenhauff. Indianapolis Museum of Art image 

Last Updated on Thursday, 19 February 2015 13:48

India Prime Minister Modi's suit auctioned for charity

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Written by Associated Press   
Thursday, 19 February 2015 10:43
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Image courtesy NEW DELHI (AP) – Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's dark suit with its unique monogram pinstripes went up for auction Wednesday in his home state of Gujarat, officials said.

The money raised in the three-day auction of the suit and hundreds of other gifts received by Modi will be used to clean up the heavily polluted Ganges River.

Modi wore the suit when President Barack Obama visited India last month. Photographs of the suit showing Modi's name monogrammed in dull gold stripes went viral on social media.

Opposition leaders attacked Modi for his extravagance in wearing a suit that was estimated to cost more than 1 million rupees ($16,000).

Ajay Maken, a leader from the opposition Congress Party, said the decision to auction the suit was a “damage-control exercise” after Modi was criticized for wearing such expensive clothing.

During the recent campaign for elections in Delhi, the Aam Aadmi Party, or Common Man's Party, highlighted Modi's exorbitant tastes to campaign against his Bharatiya Janata Party, accusing the prime minister of having lost touch with millions of poor people in India. The Common Man's Party won with an overwhelming majority.

By Wednesday afternoon, the highest bid received for the suit was more than 12 million rupees ($193,000), officials said. The auction is scheduled to conclude on Friday.

Gujarat official Milind Toravane said the suit and other items were gifts received by Modi after he became prime minister in May. The gifts include decorative pieces in silver and brass, among other items.

During Modi's 2001-2014 stint as chief minister of Gujarat, the gifts he received were regularly auctioned off and the money collected used to fund programs for the education of girls in the state.

No base price had been set for the suit, Toravane said.

Copyright 2015 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-02-18-15 1348GMT




Last Updated on Thursday, 19 February 2015 11:14

In Memoriam: artist Tomie Ohtake, 101

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Written by AFP wire service   
Friday, 13 February 2015 11:45
Photograph of Tomie Ohtake holding the Brazilian Order of Cultural Merit awarded her in 2006. Copyright Palácio do Planalto SAO PAULO (AFP) – Japanese-born, naturalized Brazilian artist Tomie Ohtake died Thursday aged 101, a week after being hospitalized with pneumonia, her eponymous institute in Sao Paulo told AFP.

Ohtake's trademark geometric abstractions made her one of her adopted homeland's most famed artists, and her 100th birthday last year saw several major retrospectives.

She was admitted last week to a Sao Paulo hospital. On Tuesday, she went into cardiac arrest and wound up in intensive care, where she remained on life support until her death, media reports said.

Born in 1913 in Kyoto, Ohtake came to Brazil in 1936 to visit her brother who lived in Sao Paulo.

She stayed, married and had two children as she settled down in Brazil, home to the biggest ethnic Japanese population outside Japan.

Prevented from returning to Japan after the outbreak of World War II, she did not visit her own country again until 1951.

Ohtake returned to Brazil and produced her first paintings at 39 following a visit to the gallery of fellow Japanese painter Keisuke Sugano.

By 1957, her works were being exhibited at major venues, including the Sao Paulo Museum of Modern Art.

Ohtake, who joined U.S. contemporary painter Mark Rothko in rejecting the classification of "abstract expressionism," took Brazilian citizenship in 1968, becoming the country's "grande dame" of plastic arts."

In 1988, Brazil bestowed the Order of Rio Branco honor on Ohtake as the country commemorated the 80th anniversary of Japanese immigration to Sao Paulo state. She received Brazil's Order of Cultural Merit in 2006.

One of her sons, architect Ruy Ohtake, is feted in his own right for projects such as Sao Paulo's half moon-shaped Hotel Unique. He also designed the complex housing his mother's works.

As she turned 100, Ohtake told Brazilian television: "I don't feel my age. I stay here (working) until it's time to go to bed."

Photograph of Tomie Ohtake holding the Brazilian Order of Cultural Merit awarded her in 2006. Copyright Palácio do Planalto
Last Updated on Friday, 13 February 2015 13:09

Composer Yehudi Wyner elected president of arts academy

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Written by Associated Press   
Friday, 13 February 2015 11:03
 Yehudi Wyner. Image courtesy of NEW YORK (AP) – Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Yehudi Wyner has been elected president of the American Academy of Art Letters.

The academy announced Wednesday that Wyner will succeed architect Henry S. Cobb and will serve a three-year term. The academy has a core membership of 250 writers, musicians and artists and administers a wide range of prizes. The honor society was founded in 1898.

The 85-year-old Wyner was elected to the academy in 1999. He won the Pulitzer in 2006 for the piano concerto Chiavi in Mano.

Academy members include Toni Morrison, Stephen Sondheim and Philip Glass.

Copyright 2015 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-02-11-15 2005GMT

 Yehudi Wyner. Image courtesy of
Last Updated on Friday, 13 February 2015 11:15

In Memoriam: Walter Liedtke, Metropolitan Museum curator

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Written by Associated Press   
Friday, 06 February 2015 10:15
Walter Liedtke. Metropolitan Museum of Art image NEW YORK (AP) – A Metropolitan Museum of Art curator was among the six people killed when a commuter train hit an SUV stopped on the tracks at a suburban rail crossing Tuesday evening.

During his 35 years as a curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Walter Liedtke gave millions of visitors a window on legends.

He organized dozens of major exhibitions that featured the works of Rembrandt, Vermeer, Hals and other renowned artists, and wrote dozens of articles and books, from 1982's Architectural Painting in Delft to 2008's Vermeer: The Complete Paintings.

“He will long be remembered for his vast knowledge, his wit and a passion for art that inspired all who came in contact with him,” the museum said in a statement.

With a master's degree from Brown University and a doctorate from the University of London's Courtauld Institute, Liedtke taught at Ohio State University for four years in the 1970s before getting a fellowship and then a job at the Met, according to a 2009 interview on the Dutch and Flemish art site Codart. He relished working among its large, specialized curatorial staff – and its collection.

“When asked what my favorite painting in the Met might be, I sometimes explain that historians don't think that way,” he said, “and then answer frankly that it depends on my frame of mind.”

Liedtke was 69.

Copyright 2015 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-02-05-15 1426GMT

Walter Liedtke. Metropolitan Museum of Art image
Last Updated on Friday, 06 February 2015 10:31

Author Stephen King visits Florida to support libraries

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Written by Associated Press   
Monday, 02 February 2015 10:32
Stephen King. Image by Michael Femia. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license. BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) –Author Stephen King came to southwest Florida to support local libraries.

The Library Foundation supporting the Manatee County Public Library System asked King to speak Thursday at an annual author event. The Bradenton Herald reports that $200 tickets for King's talk sold out, and the foundation met its $10,000 fundraising goal. The money will help fund a new library computer system.

King told the crowd at the Manatee Performing Arts Center about his childhood in Maine, where there was no library nearby. He said he developed a hunger for books while waiting for the bookmobile to make its rounds with more novels.

The bestselling horror writer said he's often uncomfortable with his public persona. He said that at some point in his career, he became “America's best-loved bogey man.”


Information from: The Bradenton (Fla.) Herald,

Copyright 2015 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-01-30-15 1227GMT



Last Updated on Monday, 02 February 2015 10:51

Egypt’s Indiana Jones-style antiquities showman resurfaces

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Written by CHRISTOPHER TORCHIA, Associated Press   
Monday, 02 February 2015 09:26
Zahi Hawass. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. SOUTH AFRICA (AP) – Egypt's best-known archaeologist is a passionate showman with an explorer's fedora who joined the last, doomed cabinet of President Hosni Mubarak, then resigned in a swirl of corruption allegations after the 2011 revolution ousted his patron. Admired or reviled, he is once again a frontman for Egypt, exhorting international audiences to see the heritage of a country where unrest has hit tourism hard.

“Egypt is safe,” Zahi Hawass declared last week at a South African casino complex where schoolchildren roamed an exhibition of replicas of King Tutankhamun's treasures. Egyptian hotels and antiquities sites are secure, said Hawass, who planned to welcome a tour group of 120 Americans to Egypt at the end of January.

Tourism is resurfacing, but it is a hard sell. The uprising that toppled Mubarak, the 2013 military ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, and sporadic violence have slammed the key Egyptian industry. On Thursday, militants killed 31 security force members in the restive Sinai Peninsula. On Jan. 24, a female activist was shot dead by police during a peaceful rally near Tahrir Square in Cairo, according to witnesses.

The Egyptian Museum, home to King Tut's gold mask, lies near Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the 2011 protests. Hawass was then antiquities minister, assuring journalists that Egypt's heritage was mostly intact despite some looting and damage. A stalwart of the old regime, he soon left his post and was besieged by allegations that he abused his position for personal gain.

“The devils came out of the sewage. They hurt me a lot,” Hawass said of his detractors in an interview with The Associated Press. He said it took two years to clear his name.

In his heyday, 67-year-old Hawass was a domineering charlatan to some and, to others, an animated Egyptologist whose antics and ebullience enlivened the staid world of archaeology for a global audience. He once starred in a TV show about his exploits and still wears a wide-brimmed hat, Indiana Jones style, to desert digs.

Now on the lecture circuit, the silver-haired archaeologist was greeted at a Johannesburg airport by a model in mock ancient Egyptian attire, miniskirt included. He told enthralled children he was a “mummy hunter” and gave two rollicking lectures at Silverstar Casino in Krugersdorp, near Johannesburg.

“When you discover a mummy, the media will run after you,” Hawass said to laughter while displaying an image of him inspecting a sarcophagus, surrounded by cameras.

In the AP interview, Hawass questioned the Egyptian Museum's recent use of epoxy, which can be hard to remove, to glue back a blue and gold braided beard that had been detached from Tutankhamun's burial mask. The beard was accidentally knocked off last August during work on the relic's lighting, according to a German expert summoned to Cairo to examine it.

A thin piece of wood can be inserted into a hole in the beard and used to connect the mask parts without the need for other “material,” Hawass said. He added that he “called the people in Egypt” and urged them to inform the public about the case.

Few dispute that Hawass can be a grandstander with a pyramid-sized ego, but many scholarly peers respect what he has done for Egyptian archaeology, which is severely underfunded and under threat from illegal excavations by looters.

Hawass' resignation as antiquities minister made no difference to his productivity as an archaeologist, and he now has time to publish his findings, said Salima Ikram, professor of Egyptology at the American University in Cairo. As to whether Hawass can return to his old job, Ikram said: “One never knows.”

Dr. Robert Littman, a trustee of the Archaeological Institute of America, said Hawass popularized Egyptian antiquities and helped give Egyptians a sense of pride in their past.

“He was able to raise money to help get the new museum built out at Giza,” Littman said. The Grand Egyptian Museum, under construction near the Giza pyramids, is scheduled to open in 2018 and will eventually house the treasures of King Tut's tomb. The foundation stone was laid in 2002.

Hawass' career reflects Egypt's shifting political fortunes. He harshly criticized the Muslim Brotherhood, the target of a crackdown after Morsi's overthrow, and praised President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, the former military chief elected last year.

“Egypt always needs a military man, since 4,000 years ago,” Hawass said. “An army leader is needed now to bring stability to the streets of Egypt.”

The archaeologist, soon to tour the United States, said dismissively that his successors in government have done ``nothing'' for the national heritage since his departure.

“You can't hide me,” Hawass said. “I put Egypt at the top of the whole world.”

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Zahi Hawass. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
Last Updated on Thursday, 05 February 2015 10:44

Secretary Kerry to award 2014 U.S. State Dept. Medal of Arts

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Written by Outside Media Source   
Wednesday, 21 January 2015 11:23

US Secretary of State John Forbes Kerry. Image courtesy of US Department of State

WASHINGTON - Secretary of State John Kerry will award the second U.S. Department of State Medal of Arts during a luncheon ceremony at 12:15 p.m. on January 21, 2015, in the Department's Benjamin Franklin Room.

The Department of State's office of Art in Embassies (AIE) confirmed that the distinguished recipients are Xu Bing, Mark Bradford, Sam Gilliam, Maya Lin, Julie Mehretu, Pedro Reyes, and Kehinde Wiley.

These seven artists will be honored for their outstanding commitment and contributions to the AIE program and international cultural exchange.

Art in Embassies was initiated by the Museum of Modern Art in 1953, and formalized as part of the Department of State by the Kennedy Administration in 1963. One of the United States' premier arts organizations, AIE's public-private partnership has engaged over 20,000 individual and institutional participants in over 200 venues in 190 countries worldwide.

Over the past 52 years, AIE has played a leading role in U.S. public diplomacy by promoting cross-cultural dialogue through the visual arts, and by sponsoring dynamic artist exchanges worldwide. In 2012 AIE initiated the biennial U.S. Department of State Medal of Arts award to formally acknowledge artists who have played an instrumental role in promoting creativity, collaboration and understanding in support of American diplomacy.

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US Secretary of State John Forbes Kerry. Image courtesy of US Department of State

Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 January 2015 11:32

Guggenheim names Sara Raza for curatorial residency

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Written by Museum PR   
Tuesday, 20 January 2015 13:22

Sara Raza. Guggenheim image.

NEW YORK – London-based curator, critic and editor Sara Raza has been selected for the third curatorial residency of the Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative. In her role as the future Guggenheim UBS MAP Curator, Middle East and North Africa, Raza will join June Yap (South and Southeast Asia), Pablo León de la Barra (Latin America) and Guggenheim staff in realizing this multiyear program, which supports contemporary art, artists, education and professional exchange in three of the world’s most diverse and dynamic regions.

Raza will be the third regional curator to accept a two-year residency with the Guggenheim Museum. She will work closely with the Guggenheim’s curatorial staff to research, identify, and acquire recent artworks by artists of Middle Eastern and North African origin that represent the most salient artistic and cultural practices of the region. Artworks chosen by Raza will enter the permanent collection and form the basis of an exhibition that will open at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, in 2016, and subsequently travel to the region. She will also work closely with education staff at the Guggenheim and each collaborating venue to program talks, workshops, and events related to the exhibition, and will be instrumental in extending the reach of the MAP initiative through related digital content on the project’s website.

Raza is an independent curator, writer, editor and educator who works on projects in the Middle East, Asia and Europe. She is the desk editor for West and Central Asia of ArtAsiaPacific magazine, and head of education and public programs and curator of the upcoming 2015 Public Art Festival, organized by Yarat Contemporary Art Space, to coincide with the 1st European Games in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Over the past 10 years Raza has organized numerous exhibitions at institutions including the Maraya Art Center in Sharjah, where she was adjunct associate curator from 2012 through 2014, and worked with such artists as Adel Abidin, Wafaa Bilal and Mohammend Kazem, and launched the Maraya Art Park and international residencies program for Emirati and international artists (2012-14).

A former curator of public programs at Tate Modern (2006–08),  Raza chaired, taught and programmed one third of the education events at the museum, including symposia, artist talks, and artist workshops.

Raza holds a masters in Art History and Theory (20th Century) from Goldsmiths College, University of London, and is currently a doctoral candidate, researching post-Soviet Orientalism, at the Royal College of Art. She is currently editing a book derived from her research titled Punk Orientalism.


 Sara Raza. Guggenheim image.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 20 January 2015 13:36

NY Met Museum's spokesman Harold Holzer to retire

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Written by Associated Press   
Thursday, 15 January 2015 11:06
Harold Holzer. Image by Don Pollard, courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art NEW YORK (AP) – Harold Holzer, the Metropolitan Museum of Art's longtime chief spokesman, plans to retire this summer to focus on his work as a historian and writer.

Holzer has been at the institution for 23 years, most recently as senior vice president for public affairs.

His wide-ranging responsibilities included advertising, marketing, market research, tourism and attendance.

His duties were expanded in 2005 to include visitor services and multicultural audience development.

Holzer is a leading authority on Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War. He has authored, co-authored and edited 46 books on the subjects.

The Met says it will miss his “quick wit, wry humor, felicitous prose and savvy advice.”

Holzer says he looks forward to starting a new chapter.

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Harold Holzer. Image by Don Pollard, courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Last Updated on Thursday, 15 January 2015 13:52

Film director Peter Jackson helping to open WWI museum

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Written by NICK PERRY, Associated Press   
Thursday, 15 January 2015 09:49
Peter Jackson at the 2014 San Diego Comic Con International. Image by Gage Skidmore. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license. WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) – Director Peter Jackson said Wednesday he's putting his energy into helping launch a museum to commemorate World War I after finishing his Hobbit movie trilogy.

If he has any plans for future blockbusters, he's not saying.

Jackson was speaking at his New Zealand postproduction facility where he was helping host an event to promote the local film industry. Directors Jane Campion and James Cameron also attended.

Jackson is a World War I history buff who owns a number of planes from the era.

He said the plan for the Wellington museum was to open during April to mark the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli battle.

He said more galleries would be opened over the coming four years to mark other battles in which New Zealanders fought.

The New Zealand Herald newspaper reported earlier that Jackson had been recruited by the government to curate the museum, and he was expected to gather aircraft, tanks and other artifacts from private and public collections.

“That's where most of my time is now, which is good,” Jackson said Wednesday. “It's fun. And it's free. The exhibits will be very, very interesting, and I'm enjoying it.”

Jackson said he was also enjoying getting some rest after finishing the Hobbit – although he wasn't entirely done, because he was still working on an extended version for DVD release.

But he said he was happy to take a break from new film projects for a while.

“It's the first time in five years that I haven't woken up in the morning and had deadlines” he said. “... no phones ringing, screaming ‘When are we going to see this? When are we going to do that?’ And I'd forgotten what that's like. So I'll let that last for a little bit longer before I destroy it.”

The trilogy finale, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, has earned $545.3 million globally after opening in most places in mid-December.


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Peter Jackson at the 2014 San Diego Comic Con International. Image by Gage Skidmore. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license.
Last Updated on Thursday, 15 January 2015 09:59

Museum director who helped protect Detroit's art to retire

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Written by DAVID RUNK, Associated Press   
Friday, 09 January 2015 11:46

Graham Beal. Detroit Institute of Arts image

DETROIT (AP) – The director of the Detroit Institute of Arts, who helped to protect the museum's collection from possible sale during the city's bankruptcy and spearheaded a $158 million overhaul of the cultural attraction, on Thursday announced his plan to retire.

Graham Beal plans to step aside June 30 after nearly 16 years as director, president and CEO. In a statement, he offered thanks to those whose talents and passion for the museum helped bring what he described as artistic, scholarly, political and legal success.

“It has certainly been quite a ride with some amazing highs far outweighing the other kind,” said Beal, 67.

Beal's tenure included 2001 to 2007 renovation and reinstallation of the museum's collection as well as approval of a 10-year property tax in 2012 from residents of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties to support the museum. The city's financial turmoil, however, threatened to put the museum's future in doubt.

The museum was the focus of debate over whether city-owned art should be sold to ease the blow of Detroit's bankruptcy. An $800 million promise from foundations, major corporations and the state, called the “Grand Bargain,” helped protect the collection.

“Graham has also led the museum through extremely challenging economic times, developed international stature and respect for the DIA, strengthened the collection and initiated a culture change that resulted in the museum becoming more accessible to all,” said Eugene Gargaro Jr., the DIA's board chairman.

Instead of the more traditional museum model of grouping objects by time period or style, the museum used techniques honed in the presentation of temporary or traveling exhibits to showcase its permanent collection. It also boosted community outreach, putting up ornately framed reproductions of some of its most significant paintings on the streets of Michigan communities as part of its “Inside/Out” series.

Gargaro is putting together a committee and will hire a firm to find a new director, the museum said.

Beal, whose bow ties were a notable fixture of his attire, is a native of Great Britain with degrees in English and art history from the University of Manchester and the Courtauld Institute of Art. He served as director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art from 1996 to 1999.

Under Beal's leadership, the institute hosted “Van Gogh: Face to Face” in 2000 and “Magnificenza! The Medici, Michelangelo and the Art of Late Renaissance Florence” in 2003 among its popular exhibitions. It also organized “Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo in Detroit,” which opens March 15.

“It has been 10 years since I conceived of the idea for this exhibition and I draw no small pleasure that it will mark my exit as director,” Beal said.




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Graham Beal. Detroit Institute of Arts image 

Last Updated on Friday, 09 January 2015 13:08
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