Returning stolen art. Sort of.

Dominique de Menil’s last project has got to be one of the stranger stories in the world of museums, and it’s taking another turn now.
In the 1980s thieves chopped the dome and apse frescoes out of a tiny 13th century Byzantine chapel in the Turkish controlled part of Cyprus. When they showed up for sale Dominique de Menil bought them, fully knowing and acknowledging that they were stolen. She did it to save them. She poured a lot of money into restoration and then had her son build a very sophisticated little building to house them (be sure to look at the pictures of the setting in the various links).
I never realized that their agreement with the archbishopric of Cyprus had a term, but evidently that term expires in February and the Cypriots want them back. But they can’t put them back in their original chapel yet — and that’s when the nationalism-and-art angle gets uncomfortable. Read this statement in the Houston Chronicle article about the agreement to return the frescoes:

“(The frescoes) are living monuments and symbols of our faith,” Costas Katsaros, head of the archbishopric’s legal department, said in an email. “Those treasures of our religion and cultural heritage are of invaluable merit for Cypriot people, who were long waiting for their return in their homeland.”
Katsaros said the church will work with the Cypriot Department of Antiquities to place the frescoes “in a proper environment in the free part of Cyprus” with the goal of eventually returning them to the original chapel “in their holy sacred land on the day of its liberation.”

You know, I’m sure the Cypriot people have bigger and more interesting symbols of their faith, but they’ll get this one back. Where they will house it is unclear.

Would you WANT to work for this board of trustees?

. . . Hocking College president Ron Erickson resigned in June after a battle with trustees over governance and communication. Since then, several board members have been replaced. The new mix of trustees voted 5-4 on Tuesday to bring Erickson back.
New board Chairman Mike Brooks has said he thinks it would be a mistake to spend money searching for a new president. He also says the college needs consistency after having five interim or permanent presidents within three years. Brooks says that shuffling has wasted a lot of money.

Five presidents in three years? They drive him out in June, and then a bare majority vote to bring him back? Run away!

From each according to his ability – to each according to his need.

Or her need and ability. After all, her husband is the only self-identified democratic socialist in Congress.
I guess President Sanders NEEDED a sabbatical after her resignation . . . otherwise a good Socialist would not have requested it as part of her severance package from Burlington College.

Last week, after a story described the challenges facing the school, the agenda for a special Board of Trustees meeting, held at the Sheraton Hotel on Monday, was leaked. The agenda revealed that the trustees would be discussing the “removal of the president.” Lawyers for Sanders and the college have since reached a settlement that includes her resignation effective in three weeks, the title of President Emeritus and a year-long-paid sabbatical.

I find it amusing that she is accused of creating a hostile work environment (see the link — accusations of spying and verbal abuse come up). What a surprise in a socialist-run workplace. Was the next step a new re-education campus for regime opponents? Whatever happened to the feminist ideal that a woman-run workplace would be a better workplace?

Members of the Democratic Party who are over democracy

Peter Orszag. Just let the technocrats ru(i)in everything.
Democratic governor of North Carolina thinks that leaving the current Congress in place for a few extra years would help. Otherwise known as suspending elections. Hmmm.
I remember when colleagues of mine had posters on their doors about how Bush-the-Fascist was going to suspend elections — and he wasn’t even joking about it.

Substantive disagreements

Well, the Department of Sweetness and Light had a meeting today at which a more than usually substantive disagreement arose — our position request and subsequently provost-office approved advertisement indicates that preliminary interviews will be conducted via Skype. Someone hadn’t noticed until it came up in the meeting. We ended up voting – and we don’t vote on much around Houghton House; consensus usually reigns.
Well, we’re doing Skype interviews.
I understand the drawbacks of video-interviews (you’re not in their physical presence, etc, etc), but I am with Tenured Radical on the withering away of the annual conference meat market. How many interviews are enough to make it worthwhile for a candidate to trek to an national conference? One interview is too few (I did that once myself and ate rice and beans for a month paying for a job for which I didn’t get a call-back). Two? Do you really think you’re that good that with two interviews you can afford a ticket to (this year) Los Angeles, at least one night in a hotel (shared with fellow seekers if you want to be driven really insane)? Three? Maybe that’s enough.
It’s early days yet, but so far there are 5 Early Modern jobs on the College Art Association list — 2 universities with Ph.D. programs, one big state university with a B.A. only, and 2 smaller places we’re really competing with. Only one of the 5 indicates that they will be interviewing at the conference. One of the SLACs set their deadline for September 30, evidently intending to bypass the usual art history job season and hire this semester for a fall 2012 start. The rest have phrases like “evaluation will begin December 1 and continue until the job is filled.” Sounds like Skype interviews to me.
So, I think we are positioning ourselves in the midstream of the discipline — we’re going to try to beat the conference interviews, but during the 2nd semester. We’re going to save our institution several thousand dollars by not sending 3 of us to the conference to sit in an interview room (if we’re extravagant) or a bedroom (if we’re not afraid of getting sued) for 2 days. Maybe they’ll let us bring an extra candidate or 2 to campus — which I think would be all to the good.

Academic Job Market looking up?

Well, raising its head from the mud, maybe.

According to a new report, the number of jobs listed with the MLA in 2010-11 rose by 8.2 percent in English and by 7.1 percent in foreign languages. Still, however, the number of jobs listed in 2010-11 remains below the peak in 2007-8.

Our department’s ad is up on our local website, is submitted to the College Art Association (I’m not sure how long it takes to show up on their website), and will appear in the Chronicle of Higher Education directly. We’ll get it on the Academic Jobs Wiki today.
If you know any Early Modern art folks — preference for specialty in painting or sculpture — send them this way!
further: it’s up at InsideHigherEd too! I realized why I’m so excited about this search: it’s our first nationally advertised art history search since 2000-01!

A story of overreach

The American Folk Art Museum may survive, but not because of its own efforts. And no one will say how much the rescue will cost. They borrowed a crazy amount of money to build a foolishly large and expensive building which they never succeeded in getting people to come to. So now they’ve sold their building to the art-monster MoMA and moved back into their old building (what, they never managed to sell that? not a good sign!). And what was a museum of Folk Art ever doing in New York City anyway? That’s a part i never understood.

Rome’s Final Frontier – the Antonine Wall

The Hunterian in Glasgow has opened a new gallery dedicated to the Antonine Wall — Rome’s northernmost frontier in Britain. The director says: “There are no interactives in this gallery. This is quite deliberate. The collections have the power to tell the narrative and must be given prominence.” That sounds almost defensive.
Here are some photographs. I like the distance slab (marking the completion of a stretch of wall).
Here’s Wikipedia, if you are interested in some specifics.

Crazy story about DISMANTLING an almost completed building

This is one of the oddest stories of the Crash of 2008 that I’ve read:

Seven years ago, Bernstein searched for an architect to design what was to be the headquarters of the Bernstein-Rein advertising agency. Top designers, including Zaha Hadid and I.M. Pei, were considered before Bernstein chose [Moshe] Safdie and his “hillside village” concept.
In December 2004, a beaming Bernstein joined Safdie in unveiling the model. A year later, construction started. But by early 2007, Bernstein and the builder, J.E. Dunn Construction Co., were embroiled in a dispute over rising costs.
“I tried to be an intermediary,” Safdie said. “I called them individually and tried to have a meeting of the three of us, but it never worked.”
Bernstein’s development company declared bankruptcy in 2009. The development was purchased last fall by VA West LLC. Last month it was announced that Polsinelli Shughart would be the tenant needed to complete the project, but at the cost of Safdie’s building.
The new developer said the building Safdie custom-designed for Bernstein was not adaptable to other tenants.