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Week in Review: Seattle Art Workers Picket After Layoffs; Nonprofits Report Devastating Losses

Also, Bonhams London is hosting a not-for-profit online sale to benefit the National Health Service (NHS) Charities COVID-19 Urgent Appeal, and more.

Workers at the Frye Museum of Art in Seattle holding a “socially distant picket” outside the museum on April 10 (all images courtesy of the Art Workers Union)

Week in Review is a weekly collection of news, developments, and stirrings in the art world. Subscribe to receive these posts as a weekly newsletter.

A survey by Americans for the Arts points to devastating losses for arts organizations during the pandemic, estimating nearly $5 billion in losses across the US’s 120,492 arts nonprofits.

The COVID-19 pandemic may be an opportunity to look transparently at museum endowments and their limitations, and consider the need for alternative sources of support in the months to come. This explainer breaks down why museums can’t always fall back on endowments.

Workers at the Frye Art Museum in Seattle held a “socially distant picket” outside the institution on Friday, April 10, to protest the termination of one-third of the museum’s workforce. They say the layoffs unjustly targeted two union representatives.

The Guggenheim Museum projects a revenue shortfall of $10 million due to the ongoing pandemic, and announced 92 staff would be furloughed.

The experiential exhibition company Meow Wolf, a major employer in the Santa Fe arts scene and subject of a number of lawsuits for its workplace conditions, laid off over half of its staff due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cheryl Dunn, “Cupcake Bike” (photo courtesy the artist)

A photography Fundraiser, Pictures for Elmhurst, is offering $150 prints to benefit Elmhurst Hospital.

Artists across the internet are making tributes to Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Zoom sessions hosted by Art World Conference seek to economically guide artists and independent cultural workers during the months to come. Next Tuesday, April 21, artist and Sunlight Tax founder Hannah Cole will lead a 90-minute session called “Taxes for Artists, Freelancers & Creative Businesses.”

Twitter was flooded with spot-on parodies of Trump’s “Council to Re-open America” after Fox News speculated that the task force’s members will include Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, and Steve Mnuchin. The memes likened Trump’s “Council to Re-open America” to Scrooge McDuck, Skeletor, and other pop culture villains.

A man in New York City was arrested for threatening to bomb Central Park’s Alice in Wonderland sculpture.

Transactions 

An Anthony Gormley work on paper available through Bonham’s charity auction (image courtesy Bonhams)

Commemorating five decades since the band’s split, Julien’s Auctions held an “All Beatles” sale featuring over 250 pieces of assorted Beatles memorabilia including guitars and rare vinyl. Pre-pandemic, the online-only auction was to be held both online and live at the Hard Rock Cafe in New York’s Times Square. Leading the sale were the lyrics to the Beatles’ 1968 hit “Hey Jude,” handwritten by Paul McCartney for a recording at Trident Studios in London that summer. The lyrics garnered $910,000, soaring past an estimate of $160,00–180,000. Other notable items include a Bagism drawing by John Lennon and Yoko Ono, a pair of corduroy bellbottoms worn by Lennon on the Magical Mystery Tour, and Ringo Starr’s brass ashtray.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office’s lengthy investigation into Christie’s over the auction house’s failure to collect New York sales tax has come to a close, with Christie’s agreeing to a settlement of $16.7 million to the state of New York. From 2013 to 2017, Christie’s robust private sales department neglected to charge New York state and local sales tax on $189 million worth of art that was sold out of London but delivered to customers in New York. The Art Newspaper notes that this news comes on the heels of Christie’s having to furlough 40% of its employees in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa due to coronavirus.

Bonhams London will hold a not-for-profit online sale to benefit the National Health Service (NHS) Charities COVID-19 Urgent Appeal, which has a target of £100 million (or about $125 million). 100% of the funds from the sale will go toward the health and wellbeing of NHS staff and volunteers caring for COVID-19 patients. Among the donations are two etchings by Anish Kapoor, a lenticular inkjet piece by Julian Opie, and a work on paper by Antony Gormley. There are also non-art offerings such as a behind-the-scenes drink with musician Jools Holland, lunch at Claridge’s with actress Dame Joan Collins, and participation in the filming of the 10th series of the BBC series Call the Midwife.

This Week in the Art World

Tomm El-Saieh, “Battery” (2019), Acrylic on canvas, 96 x 144 inches (243.8 x 365.8 cm) (© Tomm El-Saieh; courtesy of the artist, CENTRAL FINE, Miami, and Luhring Augustine, New York)

The 2020 Guggenheim Fellowships were awarded to 175 talented individuals including Sanford Biggers, Moyra Davey, Zoe Leonard, and A.L. Steiner. | Guggenheim

Abstract painter Tomm El-Saieh has joined Luhring Augustine. | via email announcement

The Julia Stoschek Collection in Düsseldorf and Berlin appointed Lisa Long as curator. | Artdaily

The 2020 BMW Art Journey announced its shortlist, which includes Leelee Chan, Jes Fan, and duo Amy Lien & Enzo Camacho. | BMW

Mark A. White was made executive director of the New Mexico Museum of Art in Santa Fe. | Artforum

Interdisciplinary artist Math Bass is the latest addition to the roster at Vielmetter Los Angeles. | via email announcement

The World Photography Organisation bestowed the 2020 Sony World Photography Awards upon ten recipients including Rosaria Sabrina Pantano, Craig McGowan, and Santiago Mesa. | WPO

Figurative painter Wangari Mathenge is now represented by Roberts Projects. | Roberts Projects

The Columbus Museum of Art and Greater Columbus Arts Council named Johnathan Payne the inaugural Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson Resident. | Columbus Museum

The 2020 FRONTLINE /FIRELIGHT Investigative Journalism Fellowship awardees are Assia Boundaoui, Andres Caballero, Jacqueline Olive, and PJ Raval. | PBS

Intersect Art and Design appointed Becca Hoffman as Managing Director. | ArtfixDaily

In Memoriam

Bruna Aickelin (1927–2020), Italian gallerist | Artforum 

Bruce Baillie (1931–2020), West Coast experimental filmmaker | New York Times

Rifat Chadirji (1926–2020), Iraqi architect | The National

Sam Clayton Jr. (1961–2020), Jamaican sound engineer and bobsledder | USA Today

John Driscoll (1949­–2020), New York City gallerist | artnet News

Andy González (1951–2020), Latin jazz bassist | NPR

Milena Jelinek (1935–2020), Czech-American New Wave screenwriter | Radio Prague International

Louis Johnson (1930 ­­–2020), choreographer and dancer | New York Times

Phyllis Lyon (1924–2020), lesbian activist | CNN

Floris Neusüss (1937–2020), German photographer | ARTnews

Victor Skrebneski (1929–2020), fashion photographer | W Magazine

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