Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Everyone likes shiny things

The Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago is always a pleasure to visit.  One of the most memorable exhibits up now is an installation by artist Zhan Wang.  Urban landscape 2003 is made of hundreds of stainless steel pots and pans.  The landscape is quite an optical illusion.  At first the shiny metal covered room seems to go on forever...then you look closer and think the room is tiny.  In the end you find the installation is somewhere in-between.  This exhibit is fun and frustrating at the same time! The only way I could tell where mirror began and metal stopped was by following the lighting track on the ceiling.  Wang creates many eye tricks by placing mirror images of objects to give suggestion of a mirror where no mirror actually is.  For example he would line up a silver spoon and place one behind it in its reflection.  This spoon would then by accompanied by other objects to further fool the eye.  The mountainous forms of lava-like silver broke up the small kitchen objects and created large shiny forms in the never ending landscape. This exhibit brought to mind contemporary artist Yayoi Kusama, who used hundreds of strings of light in a mirrored room.  The exhibit in the Whitney Biennial had the same effect of never ending space and was even pushed more by being locked in the dark room of lights for 30 seconds!

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Here are some statements about Zhan Wang's work by Wu Hong.

   Gradually the focus of his experiments shifted from the relationship between stainless-steel rocks and their models to the relationship between these stainless-steel rocks and their environment. From the beginning, his making of these rocks was connected with his critique of Beijing's urban planning and construction. Beginning in the eighties and especially during the nineties, the many high-rises built in Beijing have rapidly transformed the appearance of this ancient city. Mostly adapting Western modern or postmodern styles, these structures also have incorporated certain native elements to make themselves look Chinese. Such "incorporation," however, is often superficial and stereotypical; the two most frequently used formulas are topping a building with a Chinese tile roof or adding some traditional ornamental rocks in the yard. Zhan Wang disagrees with the opinion that Beijing should be kept in its old form, but he is also dissatisfied with the random and undigested borrowing of Western or traditional forms. He hopes to create art forms that can genuinely reflect changes in a traditional Chinese city- works for "today's fast-paced and competitive society," in which "insatiable lust for material wealth takes the place of the detached leisure and comforts favored by intellectuals who adhere to their traditional heritage."
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Sunday, May 29, 2005

How to talk to artists

So you are not an artist. Maybe you are a collector or just someone interested in art. But the problem is that you don't know what to say to an artist. You like their work but how do you start a conversation. Here are some bad and good questions to ask an artist....ARTnews does it's research for you!

First, a few examples of what not to say:

Are you a contemporary artist? All living artists are contemporary.

What movement did you join? Movements are art-historical labels, usually applied in retrospect to artists long departed from the scene. And don’t worry about being able to place an artist in a specific category. “People want to define you and say what you are and what you do,” says Faith Ringgold, who works in a range of media, from quilting to painting to illustrated children’s books. “That’s why I like being an artist—because I get to define who I am and what I do.”

You’re an artist? Oils or acrylic? There are many forms of expression that fall outside the traditional categories of easel painting. A simple “Tell me about your work” is preferable.

Do you own your own gallery? Artists usually do not own galleries; they work in studios. The two are very different.

Do you have any extra pictures you don’t want? Do you ask bankers if they have any extra money they don’t want?

Your work is exactly like so-and-sos. “Do you mean I’m not original? I’m derivative?” worries the artist.

It must be fun to play all the time. When do you actually work? Ouch! This question is universally loathed. Artists understand very well that they’re not coal miners, schoolteachers, or insurance adjusters. But they work very hard—and consider their work to be work, not play.

And the corollary: What do you do for a living? The goal of almost all artists is to make their art pay for itself, though many have to supplement their income in other ways. But making art is what they do for a living.

Do you work at home? Artists hear this question as a kind of test: answer yes and you’re a hobbyist. The places artists work shouldn’t define the quality of their work.

Is this finished? Just assume a work is finished—unless told otherwise. (Remember how you felt as a teenager when your mother would ask, “Is that what you’re wearing tonight?”) Similarly, inquiring about how a piece is displayed can be dangerous. “Is this supposed to be on the floor?” a viewer once asked Polly Apfelbaum, an artist renowned for complex floor installations she calls fallen paintings.

In an informal survey of artists, certain questions were big winners:
Can I see more?
Would we be able to acquire this piece for the Museum of Modern Art?
I love your work. Can I help sponsor and organize a big show for you?
Is this for sale? (Or its variant: Can I pay in cash?)
Can I be your patron (for life)?

top 10 most faked

In the recent ARTnews survey of art forgery, experts were asked, Who are the ten most faked artists in history?

in alphabetical order:

Giorgio de Chirico (1888–1978)
Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (1796–1875)
Salvador Dalí (1904–89)
Honoré Daumier (1808–79)
Vincent van Gogh (1853–90)
Kazimir Malevich (1878–1935)
Amedeo Modigliani (1884–1920)
Frederic Remington (1861–1909)
Auguste Rodin (1840–1917)
Maurice Utrillo (1883–1955)

While in Chicago....

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Nothing beats public sculpture that makes you chuckle!!  This eye catching installation sits outside the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago.  The piece attracts crowds and proves for a great photo opportunity to pose underneath the sculpture.  Art like this works because it stands out and anyone can enjoy it, even without an extensive art background.  I would love to see more public art like this in Detroit....maybe we could exchange the "trolley car" in front of the DIA?  Yoko won't mind?

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Another Q&A: Talking with collectors

Here is another Q&A from artnet.com that I found to be useful for emerging artists.

Dear Mark,
I am about to have my first show in a serious gallery. Can you give me some advice on how to talk to collectors at my opening? Do collectors of famous artists expect a different discourse than collectors of emerging artists? I'm concerned about saying the right things.
Artist on the Verge

Dear AOTV,
Whether a collector is talking with an emerging or famous artist, he or she basically wants to feel good about him- or herself, the artist and the art they're considering buying. While I was an emerging artist, I was not consciously concerned about "saying the right things" to collectors. I was more focused on selling myself to dealers and assumed that they would take care of the collectors, which is pretty much what happened.

I just used common sense during the relatively few times that I met my collectors. I tried to be nice and appreciative. In retrospect I can see how it would have been even better to think the way you're thinking now -- to consider every possible angle to help sell the work, which I now do. Even though I became extra famous (or maybe notorious) for jokingly insulting my collectors in the media, I am now an expert (relative to most artists) in dealing with collectors. I feel I can sell my work to anyone, if not in five minutes, then six. Even though my attitude might seem manipulative, the most important thing is to be 100 percent sincere. I really believe in my work and in no way think I'm taking advantage of anyone. I feel generous when selling my art.

The important thing is to have tremendous confidence while being simultaneously pleasant and flexible. Collectors are usually thrilled to have a five-minute conversation with an artist they admire. One of my standard, sincere lines is "What's your favorite painting in the show?" followed up by "Why?" This usually leads to interesting, mutually beneficial conversation. Every picture has a story, and if you can tell a short, memorable one about a painting, it usually helps sell the work.

I often ask, "Where are you from?" and after they've agreed to buy a painting I'll usually ask, "Where will this painting be hung?" and "What other artists do you collect?" I often ask the collector(s) (they often come as a couple) if they'd like me to write a dedication to them on the back of the painting. Usually they're thrilled and say yes and I'll unpocket my China marker and write on the back of the canvas, "For Mario and Teresa, Mark Kostabi," and add the date and name of city where the show is. Often someone has a camera nearby and I always agree to pose with the clients for a photo, either holding or standing near their acquisition.

The most important thing is simply to be nice and appreciative and at the same time give them the hint that you're a winner so they believe they've made a good investment. It's simple common sense but you wouldn't believe the amount of artists that botch everything and ruin sales by saying all the wrong things to potential clients. The worst thing you can do is to have an arrogant, know-it-all attitude or say things with the demeanor of "I don't need to explain my work -- it speaks for itself." Best is to share your enthusiasm with the collector's enthusiasm for the work, and discover things together.

For all you emerging artists......set your prices!

I was reading one of my favorite art info sites....and came across this Q&A. I think this is great for all you emerging artists to read.

Ask Mark Kostabi
by Mark Kostabi

Dear Mark,
Despite all the wild money flying around the art world right now, with collectors and dealers aggressively raiding the art schools looking for the next big thing and with so many new artists casually joining the million-dollar-per-painting club at auction, there are still lots and lots of artists who are not invited to the party. What are they doing wrong and what are the winners doing right?
Art World Observer

Dear AWO,
One very common mistake that emerging artists make is overpricing their work. While it is true that some emerging artists can successfully command five-figure prices at their debut shows, especially if they're in hot trendy galleries with lots of buzz, this tends to be exception, not the rule. Sometimes to make millions you might have to sell works for as low as $100 each at the beginning -- just to get a real business going.

Some emerging artists see John Currin paintings go for a million and figure, "Hey, I'm just as good -- I should get at least $20,000 for mine," and then they get depressed when nothing sells at their debut show, except the one small painting in the back room that Uncle John mercifully bought for $2,500.

Basquiat and Warhol both sold their work at extremely low prices at the early stages of their careers. One of the artists in "Greater New York," who was featured in New York Magazine as one of the ten artists most likely to succeed, sold a painting a few years ago to a friend of a friend of mine for $100.

I, Mark Kostabi, am a famous artist. I make millions. But I frequently see debut shows of unknown artists with prices that are double of mine. With a lot of effort they might even sell some work. But what they're really doing is barely getting by and helping me sell 1,000 paintings a year effortlessly, because they make my paintings look like such a bargain. Thank you to all the egotistical art students!

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

whitney expansion picture

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The Whitney NY proposed shrinking its planned 32-foot-wide entrance, left, to 16 feet, right, to save a brownstone facade and gain approval.

Kwame Komedy

I think that Detroit's comic major Kwame also has a thing for violence. The last quote, "...I can't wait to hit someone!" was in regards to his mishaps with his city charge card.
In today's Free Press it is reported that Kwame's budget cuts aren't enough.
But Kilpatrick said he believes his proposed budget would not cut as deeply as the council's.
Kwame responds:
"This is different," he said. "They're saying, 'We're just taking an ax and slashing everything.' ... I do not believe you cut anything with an ax, you cut with a scalpel."

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

whitney expansion?

Apparently the Whitney Museum of Contemporary Art is looking to add on, but some problems have been raised. New York is a city where if a business out grows it's space it makes for an interesting dilemma. How will expansion happen in a city where the only way to expand is to buy out the building beside you or add on sky high?

"The Whitney Museum of American Art, heading into a Landmarks Preservation Commission hearing today, will be armed with an alternative design for its proposed addition by Renzo Piano that would not involve the controversial demolition of a brownstone, museum officials confirmed yesterday.
One of those brownstones, 941 Madison Avenue, is considered a "contributing" building - one that is deemed to have artistic, cultural or historic value in a designated historic district. The other, 943 Madison, is not. If the commission were to approval the Whitney plan, it would be the first time that the commission had allowed the demolition of a contributing brownstone in a historic district." NYtimes

Monday, May 23, 2005


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Cakes, candies, and anything sweet was the subject matter of Thiebaud (1920-). I am sure everyone has seen at least one of his "sweet" images at some point. (hahahhhha!) Anyways, I wonder if Thiebaud has a unhealthy obsession with food to have it be his muse for so long.  How many years could one look at cakes, muffins and wonderful breakfasts without either craving and disgusting it?  Some critics say that he makes food unappetizing but I beg to differ.  Maybe it is my unhealthy food obsession but I think the way he uses light and frosting like brushstrokes to be quite scrumptious!
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jasper johns new work

Jasper Johns has a new work! 
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"Catenary" is sexually explicit, with lots of penises erecting and unerecting (in the three paintings on the north wall, featuring three descending arcs) and men fondling their butts while ogling others (in the gouaches on the west wall), but there is no joy of sex in Jasper's vision, just a slow, controlling torture. The back left gallery at Marks is perhaps the most beautiful, integrated series Johns has ever produced, every pink and yellow pastel wash like the songs of a troubadour lost in the forest. Johns' steady theme, like an ebbing stream, echoes Bob Dylan: "Life is sad, life is a bust, all you can do is do what you must, and you do it well." (artnet, Finch)
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Saturday, May 21, 2005

color, design, and fashion at the MDC

MDC, short for the Michigan Design Center, hosted an event called Finish 2 Fashion: an evening in Paris.  The 2nd annual event, even with lack of advertising, catered to huge crowds.  After the cocktails stopped flowing the event began with a short presentation by Solutia who is in charge of forecasting color palettes a year ahead of time.  They then work with architecture firms, manufacturers, car companies and other design firms to present upcoming colors.  The colors inspired by art, nature, culture and architecture were assigned to a manufacture who donated materials to the groups.  The inspiration of these 4 sub-categories was explained with power point pictures from a recent trip to Paris.  Selecting the colors came from a watchful eye that was able to translate color found in museums, plants, people, shopping, buildings, and light. The materials ranged from tile pieces, carpet, plastic, laminate swatches and just about anything that the students and design teams could turn into wearable fashion. 
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Architecture inspired: Aerial View, Stucco, French Baroque, Modernism
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Culture inspired: Couture, Masquerade, Fifi
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Nature inspired: Gardens, Promenade, Droplet
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Art inspired: Antiquity, Ballerina, Japanese Bridge, Torso

4731 gallery tonight

Saturday, May 21, 6p.m. to...
4731 Gallery presents New Work by Jerome Ferretti, Dave Krieger and Tom
Free and open to the public
4731 Gallery, 4731 Grand River, Detroit

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Maniscalco Gallery closing party

"After eight amazing years working to bring Detroit artists into the light, The Maniscalco Gallery will be closing its doors for good on May 20, 2005, 6-9 pm. . . "

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

DIA and CCS: a new relationship?

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Other city's have animals...but Detroit has crazy concept cars. How long before these cars are a graffiti targets?
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I went downtown to take another look at the ccs student exhibit and was shocked to see the green lawn of the campus being ripped apart!  At first I thought, "Oh, no....now what are they destroying downtown?" But this construction has an upside.  The DIA is donating sculptures to CCS.  They are putting in brand new landscaping and a new sculpture park.  It is nice to see that all those tickets sold to attend the opening night went to something.  My source on this was a man sitting in a folding chair working the ccs student show so I could be a bit off but I felt his story was believable given the blueprint picture I later found.  The man told me that the sculptures were just sitting in the basement storage at the DIA so that's why they wanted to lend them to CCS. 
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I think that this is a great idea.  It will draw more attention to CCS and provide a better campus green for the students and art enthusiasts to frolic in.
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More Kwame Komedy

Oh, that Kwame! I am sure everyone has already heard the last report of the major's misuse of city credit card. He made out a personal check for $9,000 but apparently he is still short. The money did not include an $11,000 hotel bill for the last super bowl nor did it include another $4,000 in chauffeur service in Washington, a $836 New Orleans hotel charge for his sister, Ayanna Kilpatrick, and a $5,450-a-night luxury suite in a Vegas hotel, where Kilpatrick put up his family.

I will end with a great quote said by the komedian himself...maybe we shouldn't laugh?

"It's time for some offense," said Kilpatrick, a former college football player. "As an offensive tackle, I can't wait to hit someone." Free Press

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

CCS student show

Another fresh batch of optimistic artists have been released into the unforgiving art world.  Their blissful arrival began with the opening of the CCS student show, which runs till the end of May.  Despite the downpour of rain, the opening night reception proved to be well attended event bringing many downtown to get a first hand look at the new artists' works.  The exhibit displays all majors' works so if fine art isn't your forte then there is jewelry, ad design, photography, and car design. 

For me the real show is really about the fine art.  I noticed this year the senior students were allowed to paint their walls and use their spaces in a more creative way which defined each artist's work. The current collection of work this year shadowed the graduate show at Cranbrook: conceptual design, installations, and varied mediums.  Students pushed their ideas and created a coherent body of work.  All and all it was a good show.  My only criticism is that I would have like to see some painters stand out.  With the ever changing fine art department, painting is one area that has taken a back seat with the elimination of a painting teacher in the senior studio class.  (But my comments are biased seeing that I am a painter and ex-ccs student.)  Some of the up-and-coming fine artists are Miroslav Curovik, Benjamin Kiehl and Nolan Simon.  All had thought provoking exhibits that seemed gallery ready. And this may seem so because all have already had gallery shows prior to graduating.  Great job guys!

Attending the student show is a great way to see fresh art coming out of the Detroit community.  For some, the CCS show provides a starting  point to propel into an artistic career. All sale money goes straight to the artist and hopefully will provide encouragement to keep pursuing their talents.

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Miroslav Curovik was the fine arts selection's recipient.  This means he was "best in show" which wasn't surprising.  His
work is truly moving!  He is already represented by District Arts and has had some shows under his belt already.  He is someone to watch and now
collect before his prices go up.  Also check out his bio...he is an interesting fellow.
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I liked these crazy ring designs!
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Benjamin Kiel has a grouping of soft, yet precisely executed paintings and drawings.  From a distance the paper/canvas seems crumpled, but Ben has played a mean trick on you with his talents.  His photo realist style has finally come together in this mature collection.

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I liked this bundling of stuffed animals and fabric.  I think I like it better without the dress form....it reminds me of street light posts that are covered with stuffed animals when a child is killed at the spot.
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In a small dark room there is a projection of an organic-leaf-like picture.  Then on the dark wall are eye-sized cut outs that behind had the same image.  The room has a very specific feel....again this artists are experimenting in new directions.
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Red dots are always good!
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Nolan Simon was one of the students to use the wall as an advantage.  Drips of charcoal colored paint lined the wall with work that reflected deconstructed Kline-style subject matter.

architecture crazy

The Times once again makes for some great reading to check out.  The magazine is jam packed full of architectural coverage this week. 
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Monday, May 16, 2005

NY times on bloggin

I will bother you again with more blogging news.  After my post yesterday explaining the purpose of my blog I found in the NY times an article on a writer who was asked to guest blog for a week on a popular libertarian-conservative blog.

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David Greenberg found out that he wasn't cut out for blogging.  He began his blogging experience thinking, "How hard could blogging be? You roll out of bed, turn on your computer, scan the headlines, think up some clever analysis while brushing your teeth, type it onto your site and you're off."  David soon learned that more went into blogging to make it a "catchy" read.  He noted, "Serious bloggers, aggressively report a pet issue, updating their sites throughout the day."  I have also found this to be true. Just when you think you are done "bloggin" ...you stumble apon another headline to comment on.  And delivery is everything. No one likes dry reading that is all factual.  David also responds to this notion of having to be clever..."I now realized that I didn't need only new information.  I needed a gimmick - a motif or a running joke that would keep the blog rolling all week.  The best bloggers develop hobbyhorses, shticks and catchphrases that they put into wider circulation."  David found that by the end of the week his posts were shorter and his other deadlines of writing for Slate were calling.  I will end with a quote by David that hit home to me.  "You need a thick skin.  And you must put your life on hold to feed an electronic black hole."

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Can I win you over?

Have I captured your attention yet?  How about I throw in some fancy charts?
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Or crazy Japanese action figures?
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For all of you not hip yet to the blog craze, let me explain.  I am doubtful that blogs are a fad but they are something to be aware of.  Blogs have exploded on both coasts and sometimes it seems that every one with an opinion has one.  Now I will admit that I was a skeptic too.  I thought....do I really want to spend my time reading blogs when I could be out in the sunshine.  Then I remembered that I live in MI and there isn't a lot of sunshine, especially in those cold winter months.  So, I started to find that one could find just as much information on blogs (if you know which sites are credible) and it also was much more brief in getting to the facts.  If you find a blog you like, sit back because the "blogger" can provide you with the info you need already edited.

I like lists, so here is a list about my blog and what it contains.

1.  Upcoming gallery shows....opening receptions details.

2.  Photo reviews of exhibits....A sneak peak view of art.

3.  Detroit art scene information: including the inside scoop of starting a contemporary museum

4.  Current contemporary art news

5.  Fun facts of filthy rich artists

6.  Pleas to start "artists for tennis and detroit gossip" ...I am serious!

7.  Art auction house prices....It is fun to talk about art selling for millions of dollars.

8.  Other art links to galleries and artists.

9.  A place for Detroit artists, art viewers/collectors, and gallery directors to comment.

10.  Pure wholesome art goodness fit for all ages!

And remember.....I post almost daily so there is always new info to see!

CAID opening

What could be more exciting than a graffiti art exhibit?  How about break dancing to hip-hop beats?  Yes, I will say it, the break dancing was the highlight of the evening.  I know that CAID is trying to come around and become a "known" and talked about gallery, but so far the art exhibits there have been hip but only enough to disguise the fact of less than amazing artwork.  I think that now with Aaron Timlin's focus primarily on CAID, the gallery will be able to grow and prove itself to the neighborhood.  Also, with a little more promotion the gallery will draw more crowds.  This is a space to follow: CAID definitely has some great shows up its sleeve, including a catalogue show of local artists.  Now back to the break dancing....
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Never seeing live break dancing I was quite amazed!  The "dancers" started to feel the beat and then somehow flung themselves to the floor in a circular rhythm.  They did crazy moves that ranged from spinning on their heads, going into sideways handstands with the flip of the arm, and twirled in a circle like a gymnast on the pommel horse. 
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It was nice to see that some of the graffiti pieces did sell.  There is also something strange in seeing the graffiti art on a contained surface such as canvas, spray can  or toy train.  The art lost a little of its edge but for some it only clarified that graffiti is an art form. 
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Next time you catch yourself driving around and thinking graffiti is as an eyesore...stop and look at the quality. Detroit is home to many great graffiti artists. Graffiti is not an answer to cover up Detroit's decay but it is an underground art form that more people should recognize at least before all is lost to the crumbling buildings it uses as its canvas.
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Saturday, May 14, 2005

CAID opening

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The Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit....CAID hosts "Off Tha Walls".  An exhibit of graffiti artists featuring Sintex Loaf, Iges Pluto, Irate Dether.  Also featuring hip-hop djs, mcs and b-boys.

Opening Reception May 14, 6pm-midnight

Exhibition runs through July 16



Friday, May 13, 2005


Christie's contemporary art auction house in New York set a new record for contemporary art sales in one night.  The auction took place May 11 and doubled the total of Sotheby's sales the previous night.  So you ask why this is important?  It is important because it shows that the art economy is on an up turn and with the record sales in contemporary art, the market may be opening up to "newer artists". 

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Elizabeth Peyton $800,000
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Diebenkorn $3,376,000
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De Kooning $13,120,000