Election Day!!

Chris Marte in Chinatown. Photo courtesy of martenyc.com

Chris Marte in Chinatown. Photo courtesy of martenyc.com

The District 1 race for New York City's local elections today has involved a unique amount of participation by the art community, and by art galleries in particular. Zoning and gentrification are key issues in the race for District 1, which encompasses the gallery-rich neighborhoods of Chinatown, the Lower East Side, Soho and Tribeca. Christopher Marte, now 28, grew up on Rivington Street in the Lower East Side.

Marte's support among the art crowd in the district took off after he participated in events held by the community group Art Against Displacement, which was founded by the owner of 47 Canal gallery. Marte has subsequently enjoyed the support of a number of art galleries located in the district, including Gavin Brown's Enterprise, James Fuentes, Bodega and Essex Street.

Regardless of the outcome, Marte's campaign has served as a case study of how art galleries can constructively participate in political affairs at the community level.

Trump Sketch Sells at Auction for $16,000

Trump's 1995 drawing of the Empire State Building via NYTimes

Trump's 1995 drawing of the Empire State Building via NYTimes

A drawing by Donald Trump of the Empire State Building sold at auction in Los Angeles for a hammer price of USD $16,000. Trump drew the 9" x 12" sketch in 1995 for a charity auction at his Mar-a-Lago estate. It initially sold for USD $100.

At the time that he produced the drawing, Trump was attempting to purchase the Empire State Building. The effort failed and he was ultimately forced to sell his stake in the landmark property.

In 2016, the median size of grants given by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) was less than USD $20,000. As president, Trump has proposed to eliminate the NEA entirely. The NEA is working out of a temporary office space at present, having been displaced from the building which was transformed into the Trump International Hotel - Washington.

Tensions Rise in Gentrifying Chinatown over Art Exhibit

The current exhibition by Omer Fast, "August," has caused a firestorm of debate. Mounted at James Cohan Gallery in the Lower East Side of New York, the centerpiece of the exhibition is an immersive installation that alludes to the gallery's Chinatown location.

Courtesy of ArtNet News: Installation view, “Omer Fast: August,” James Cohan, New York, 2017. Photo: Phoebe d’Heurle.

Courtesy of ArtNet News: Installation view, “Omer Fast: August,” James Cohan, New York, 2017. Photo: Phoebe d’Heurle.

A large protest headed by community groups including Art Against Displacement, Decolonize this Place and the Chinatown Art Brigade was mounted last weekend.

The Chinatown Art Brigade issued the following statement:

"The conception and installation of this show reifies racist narratives of uncleanliness, otherness and blight that have historically been projected onto Chinatown. Your appalling exhibition should be shut down.”

The artist, who immigrated from Israel to the US as a teenager, has issued a response:

"...The point of this work was never to insult or incite but to talk about identity and immigrant experience – my immigrant experience – warts and all, in its complexity and in its contradictions, pitting essence against appearance. For what it’s worth, I think this is what this work does..."

Exciting Obama Portraits to be Unveiled in Early 2018

Photo of Kehinde Wiley by Chad Batka for the New York Times. 

Photo of Kehinde Wiley by Chad Batka for the New York Times. 

Barack and Michelle Obama have announced their selections of artists to complete the former first couple's official portraits and are receiving plaudits for their art-historically savvy, thoughtful choices: Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald.

Roberta Smith of the NYT notes of the selections, which were made by the Obamas themselves from a shortlist compiled by the National Portrait Gallery curators:

"Their choices...reflect the Obamas’ instincts for balancing the expected and the surprising, and for being alert to painting’s pertinence to the moment."

The paintings by Mr. Wiley and Ms. Sherald will be unveiled at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in early 2018.

Trump Emphatically Believes in his Renoir Reproduction

Left, by Ron Galella/WireImage; Right, from Heritage Images, both via Vanity Fair

Left, by Ron Galella/WireImage; Right, from Heritage Images, both via Vanity Fair

Trump biographer Tim O'Brien, author of "Trump Nation: The Art of Being Donald," was featured on The Hive podcast and gave the backstory on Trump's supposed Renoir painting.

The painting, a copy of "Two Sisters (On the Terrace)" (1881), formerly resided on Trump's private plane and has since been relocated to his Trump Tower residence. The actual "Two Sisters" was purchased from the artist by pioneering Parisian dealer Paul Duran-Ruel and subsequently owned by Annie S. Coburn before being donated to the Art Institute of Chicago in 1933, where it remains on public view.

Trump's version of the painting is one of a number of known copies of the Renoir work. Despite all evidence to the contrary, Trump has reportedly insisted to visitors for years that the fake is "an original" Renoir.