First is the announcement that "the Massachusetts House of Representatives as voted to recommend a state budget for the coming fiscal year that calls for $6.5 million for the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fundand a $400,000 budget increase for the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC).The House budget would increase MCC's appropriation by roughly $400,000 to nearly $12.7 million for fiscal year 2009." This is pretty surprising considering the deficit predicted for the state of Massachusetts.
Second: my lamentations yesterday on a event free Tuesday has prompted an invite to check out Mark Phelan's exhibition "These Things Take Time" at Herrell's Allston Cafe, 155 Brighton Ave in Allston.
The description of his mixed media work is a bit weighty (it purports to "comment on the spaces in between: between the way it feels to have the wind knocked out of you by a punch in the gut and the way frozen air fills your lungs on a winter day, between disappointment and regret, between memory and forgetfulness, between sin and redemption.") but the image looks interesting. Check it out. Then go home and watch "Hell's Kitchen."
In the Art-News front (my own Art-News front not the magazine of the same name) both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal have rather lengthy articles on the upcoming spring auctions and the trepidation surrounding the art market in light of the collapse of the credit market. There are two Bacon triptychs (one at Christies - est. $25-35 MM - and the other at Sotheby's - est. $70MM) and a Monet' "Le Pont du Cheminde Fer à Argenteuil," from 1873 that is estimated at $35MM. The articles admit that if there are bad times ahead for the art market it isn't going to happen with these works. It will happen with artists of lesser fame on the lower end of the market. "Seasoned dealers and collectors are guessing that market cracks will emerge first in sales of less expensive works, that this is the season of the great divide between the Best and the Rest" The interesting thing is that the money is still out there it just isn't coming from the usual (i.e. Western) sources. "Auction house executives are busy talking up the soaring numbers of Asian, Russian and Middle Eastern collectors, trophy hunting with cash to burn. They also cite the recent $600 million private sale of art from the estate of the dealer Ileana Sonnabend — proof, they say, that there is still enough money out there and that no price is too high." In this volatile era the auction houses are having to raise their guarantees to sellers at the expense of profits just to nail the commissions ahead of their competitors. Sounds like a recipe for disaster. Financially speaking of course.
According to the WSJ article, "there are reasons to believe the bubble might pop. A handful of art fairs have been canceled in recent weeks (Düsseldorf Contemporary, Fine Art Frankfurt, Photo London and the Flow Art Fair among them); a few galleries have closed or cut back their programs. Dealers, who would likely feel a softer market first, are complaining. Earlier this month, art dealer Kenny Schacter took a booth at Art Cologne, and when he failed to sell anything, famously posted photos of its empty aisles on Art World's Web site."
It will be interesting to see what happens.
Image above is Francis Bacon's "Three Studies for Self-Portrait" (1976) and below is one of Schacter's photos from Art Cologne.