Art Dealers Get Ethical
In the wake of news about improper business practices among certain local art dealers, the Chicago Art Dealers Association is forming an ethics committee. Notes Carl Hammer, president of the 34-member group: "I expect the ethics committee will look at what it means to be a professional in the art gallery business and help establish business standards for the membership of our trade association." The CADA executive board has appointed Robert Henry Adams, who runs a gallery at 1480 W. Webster, to head the new committee. Last week Adams said he was still in the process of selecting what will probably be three other members, from a list of about seven candidates.
Both Hammer and Adams downplayed any suggestion that the formation of the new committee is directly linked to recent media coverage of local art dealers Donald Austin and R.H. Love, neither of whom was ever a member of CADA. Austin was accused and found guilty of selling phony prints; Love is currently being sued both for selling fakes and for inflating prices. Adams, who has been a professional in various areas of the business for more than 15 years, has been campaigning for an ethics committee for some time and says he's glad the group has finally addressed the matter. "I only wish we had set up the new committee before the rush of publicity," he says.
Initially, Adams says, the committee will be concerned with screening potential new members to ensure that their business practices are reputable before they are admitted to the organization. He says there are more than 60 galleries in and around Chicago that could become CADA members, but the association traditionally has been cautious and extremely selective. Adams was at this juncture unsure whether his committee would also be scrutinizing the current membership. Rumors continue to circulate through the gallery district of at least one prominent, long-standing CADA member who has not been paying certain artists he represents for works that have sold. Adams did say that if CADA receives a specific complaint about a particular dealer it would be up to his committee to investigate and make recommendations to the executive board. But he says the committee will be as much a service to customers at local galleries as it will be to CADA itself. Adams believes that in the long run gallery owners will sell more if their customers feel more confident about the dealers they're doing business with.
Netsch Gets Rejected
Walter Netsch has struck out in his effort to place volunteers for his wife's gubernatorial campaign at the openings of a number of local art galleries on January 8. Netsch said he wanted volunteers to discreetly pass out an arty campaign button and a small informational card at that evening's openings; the card, he says, would have mentioned some of Dawn Clark Netsch's arts-related accomplishments, including initiating legislation for the state's One Percent for Art program and efforts to help the Museum of Contemporary Art obtain a choice site for its new building. Netsch initially contacted Chicago Art Dealers Association president Carl Hammer for a ruling on his plans. But the group ruled against the request, indicating that allowing volunteers at gallery openings might be incorrectly perceived as a CADA endorsement of Dawn Clark Netsch's candidacy. Netsch then independently contacted six galleries to ask their permission. Only two--Klein Art Works and Zolla-Lieberman Gallery--said yes. Not enough to encourage him to move forward. "A third of the vote doesn't win an election," he concluded.
What was intended to be a routine press screening a few weeks ago of director Steven Spielberg's Holocaust film Schindler's List turned into a painful embarrassment for its organizers. A group of Jewish religious leaders was invited to the screening, but as invited guests gathered in the screening room it quickly became evident that the 50-seat facility was not going to accommodate all of the guests. Universal representatives decided to politely ask the religious leaders to leave to make room for the media, but when not enough of them vacated the premises a Universal representative started reading names from a list, asking them to leave the screening room as their names were called. Sources report that as the disinvited guests departed, caustic comments were made about how closely the screening-room events mirrored the themes of Spielberg's dark film. A Universal spokeswoman said the situation resulted from an "unfortunate misunderstanding" in planning.
Little Voice Waits for an Answer
The Steppenwolf Theatre Company should know sometime this week whether its new production of playwright Jim Cartwright's The Rise and Fall of Little Voice will be Broadway-bound this spring. James Nederlander Sr., head of the New York-based Nederlander Organization and owner of the rights to Little Voice, was scheduled to see the Steppenwolf production Tuesday, December 21, and decide within a few days whether to move it intact to New York or start from scratch with a new Broadway company. Leonard Soloway, slated as the general manager for Nederlander's New York production of Little Voice, hopes his employer will decide to mount the Steppenwolf production; Soloway, who's already seen it, thinks it's superior to the original version, mounted by the Royal National Theatre in London in 1992. If Nederlander does move the Steppenwolf production, it would be the troupe's second show on Broadway within a year. Last season the company self-produced The Song of Jacob Zulu on Broadway, though it flopped in a commercial setting. Steppenwolf managing director Stephen Eich says the company will not invest its own money in any Broadway mounting of Little Voice.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Nathan Mandell.