Debate Over Feminist Mural in Madrid, Brooklyn Monument Proposal Sparks Controversy, and More: Morning Links from January 26, 2021

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The Headlines

A PROPOSAL FOR A MONUMENT TO HONOR BROOKLYN ABOLITIONISTS by Kameelah Janan Rasheed has become the latest flashpoint in ongoing debates about who decides how people and events are memorialized. Zachary Small reports in the New York Times that longtime community members view Rasheed’s designs, for a series of engravings and placards in a Downtown park, as “too abstract at a time when women and people of color are fighting to see themselves figuratively represented in New York’s monuments.” A city official maintained that the process of working with all of the stakeholders on the project is just beginning. Meanwhile, the Biden Administration said it is undertaking efforts to speed the release of $20 notes with abolitionist Harriet Tubman on them, in place of President Andrew JacksonPresident Trump had called the planned redesign “pure political correctness” in 2016, CNN notes, and his Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, had said the bills would not be circulated until 2028 due to “technical issues.”

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THE FAR-RIGHT VOX PARTY IN SPAIN HAS BEEN PUSHING TO PAINT OVER a large government-commissioned mural on a Madrid sports facility that includes the faces of prominent women, including Frida Kahlo and Rosa Parks, and text that reads, “Your ability doesn’t depend on your gender,” the Guardian reports. Vox leaders have argued that sports imagery should appear on the wall, and won a vote to have a picture of Paralympians take its place. An online petition in support of the mural, which was installed by the Unlogic collective in 2018, has garnered more than 50,000 signatures. Jorge Nuño, an Unlogic member, told the paper that he was baffled by the politicians’ focus on a culture-war controversy amid the ongoing pandemic. “Art doesn’t create problems—petty thinking does,” he added. Speaking of public art and politics, Deutsche Welle has a story that looks at the role that street-art murals played in the Arab Spring protests in Egypt in 2011. “What was interesting about Cairo was that the walls were becoming more and more alive and you started to see the conversation that was happening in society being almost reflected on the walls,” the pseudonymous street artist Ganzeer said.

The Digest

Post-Minimalist sculptor Barry Le Va is dead at 79. His “visually seductive installations often involved subjecting his materials to unseen systems that resulted in their destruction,” Alex Greenberger writes. [ARTnews]

Artist Dimitri Grachis, who ran the storied Spatsa Gallery in San Francisco from 1957 to 1961, has died at 88. He showed key figures like Joan Brown, Manuel Neri, and Bruce Conner at Spatsa. [San Francisco Chronicle]

Christopher Pruyn Monkhouse, a “visionary scholar and an ebullient, tea-drinking storyteller” who was the founding curator of the Heinz Architectural Galleries at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, died. He was 73. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

Austrian artist Arik Brauer has died at 92. A survivor of the Holocaust, he forged a practice that spanned graphic design, painting, and music. [AFP]

Artist Edmund de Waal has donated 2,000 books that are part of his Library of Exile to the library of the University of Mosul in Iraq, whose collection was damaged by the Islamic State. [Belfast Telegraph]

In a wide-ranging interview, Roxana Velásquez, the director of the San Diego Museum of Art, discussed her career, what art can teach us, and how she approaches curatorial work. [Name Drop San Diego/The San Diego Union-Tribune]

Veteran museum director Maxwell Anderson asks if President Biden will repay the art world’s support for his candidacy. [Apollo]

Art dealer Nicola Vassell discussed her career, as she prepares to open her own New York gallery. First up there: photographs by Ming Smith, whose portraits of Vassell accompany the piece. [Cultured]

Flashback: Smith was recently profiled in ARTnews[ARTnews]

Fashion maven and writer Simon Doonan has a new book coming out about Keith Haring. [Page Six]

The Arkansas Arts Center in Little Rock has rechristened itself as the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts. It is currently raising $142 million to pay for a new building, which is under construction and slated to open next year. [KARK]

The American Folk Art Museum in New York is celebrating its 60th anniversary. [Forbes]

A children’s museum proposed for El Paso, Texas, has a design by Snøhetta, and now is asking the public to give it a name. [KTSM]

Here are ten museums and festivals that combine art and food, including the Chocolate Museum in Barcelona, Spain, which sports a depiction of a chariot made of that beautiful material. [Atlas Obscura]

In decidedly more trivial $20-bill news, one accidentally printed with a Del Monte banana sticker on it sold for almost $400,000 at Heritage Auctions. A college student originally spotted it in 2004 and auctioned it on eBay for $10,000. [Coin News]

The Kicker

New York magazine art critic Jerry Saltz became the subject of a Page Six item yesterday after declaring in a tweet, “A good critic always puts more into writing about art work than the artist put into making it.” Perhaps unsurprisingly, some on Twitter did not agree with this view and made their opinions known. Saltz later walked back the remark, writing , “I just made a galacticly bad error in judgement & word choice in a tweet on differences between making art & making criticism. I got thumped. Rightfully.” [Page Six]

Thank you for reading. We’ll see you tomorrow.

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