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Frank Gehry's Winton Guest House to be auctioned May 19 in Chicago

Posted by: Mary Abbe Updated: March 2, 2015 - 2:10 PM

Frank Gehry guest house in Owatonna, 2011 photo by Mike Ekern for University of St. Thomas

After being moved from Lake Minnetonka to Owatonna, the famous $4.5 million guest house Frank Gehry designed for Mike and Penny Winton will be auctioned May 19 in Chicago.

The University of St. Thomas, which now owns the unusual structure, plans to have Wright, a Chicago-based auction house that specializes in modern and contemporary design, handle the sale.

The house was given to St. Thomas by real estate developer Kirt Woodhouse who had purchased it  from the Wintons in 2001. St. Thomas had the 2,300 square foot house cut into eight pieces and moved 110 miles south to Owatonna where it was reassembled and repurposed as part of a conference center. The move took 18 months and cost an undisclosed sum estimated to be in the high six-figures.

When it reopened in 2011, Gehry attended the ceremony and declared the relocated structure to be "93.6 percent right."

In February 2014, the University announced plans to sell the Daniel C. Gainey Conference Center because it was unable to operate it "in a financially sustainable manner." Last summer the University sold the Owatonna property to Meridian Behavioral Health Services, a New Brighton-based company that has converted it into an addiction treatment center.

The University retained titled to the Winton house, however, and promised to move it by August 2016. It considered various options for the structure including disassembling and storing it, turning it over to an arts or cultural organization, or moving it back to the Twin Cities where St. Thomas has a business school in downtown Minneapolis and a main campus in St. Paul.

Ultimately those options proved unfeasible. St. Thomas rejected the building "because we are beginning a campus master planning process and could not commit to a specific site," said architecture professor Victoria Young, who chaired the relocation committee.

In late February the St. Thomas board of directors voted to sell the house. Details of its contract with the auction firm were not available, and Wright officials conld not be reached Monday.

Originally the guest house was part of an 11 acre parcel overlooking Lake Minnetonka that included a classic brick-and-glass house designed in 1952 by modernist master Philip Johnson. Prominent Twin Cities art patrons, the Wintons commissioned  the guest house from Los Angeles architect Frank Gehry in 1987. His design was a novelty at the time -- a cluster of sculptural shapes that nestle together like a little village consisting of a tall metal-covered cone, a limestone clad block, a brick cube, a garage made of Finnish plywood, and an aluminum-covered cube. Each contained a room that served a special function including three-small bedrooms and a "living tower."

In many ways the guest house was the more famous of the two structures as it was a pioneering design whose eccentric shapes were acclaimed as break-throughs in living patterns. It won House and Garden magazine's design award for 1987. Coming hard on the heels of a popular 1986 traveling  retrospective of Gehry's work organized by Walker Art Center, the house helped propel the Los Angeles-based architect to international fame.

Five international design honchos to speak at Walker Art Center

Posted by: Mary Abbe Updated: February 27, 2015 - 1:23 PM

Andrew Blauvelt, Walker Art Center design curator. Star Tribune photo by Tom Wallace

Walker Art Center's "Insights 2015 Design Lecture Series" will feature talks by top talent from Minneapolis, Los Angeles, New York, Amsterdam and Liverpool, running March 3 through March 31. The opening talk March 3, by the Walker's own design guru Andrew Blauvelt, is sold out but will be available for viewing as an archived webcast on the Walker Channel. Later talks will also be available on the Walker Channel.

Cosponsored by AIGA Minnesota, the series is augmented with an exhibition"MGDA/AIGA Minnesota: A History Exhibit about the history of the AIGA Minnesota chapter on the occasion of the AIGA's centennial.

Lectures 7 p.m. Tuesdays, March 3, 10, 17, 24, 31. Tickets for individual lectures are $24; a series ticket providing admission to all five talks is $100. Walker Art Center, 1750 Hennepin Av., Minneapolis.  For ticket information call 612-375-7600 or go to www.walkerart.org.

Lectures and events will showcase:

March 3: "Minnesota Design: A Celebration" :  Andrew Blauvelt, Senior Curator of Design, Research, and Publishing at Walker Art Center will discuss the history of innovative design in Minnesota which ranges from the Honeycrisp apple to the sticky note and the Prince logo. Blauvelt will introduce the Walker's new web-based virtual Minnesota design collection.

March 10: "Technology and Art": Los Angeles-based April Greiman will address "2-D thinking in a 3-D world." A pioneer in desk-top publishing and design, artist-designer Greiman has a long association with the Walker starting with her production of a 1986 issue of the center's influential "Design Quarterly." Known for her early embrace of digital technology, she was art director with Jayme Odgers of Wet Magazine, and brought postmodernist sass to a stripped-down sans-serif world.

March 17: "K-HOLE": A five-member New York based collective, K-HOLE seems to be all-things to all design-savvy people. A shape-shifting entity, it does consulting and web development, makes art, turns out a publication, has a hand in fashion, dabbles in advertising or mock advertising, and appropriates the lingo of trend-forecasting. It's been credited with the invention of such terms as "Youth Mode," "Brand Anxiety Matrix," and "Normcore." Plus the K-HOLE crowd has consulted for private equity and generated its own line of deodorant. Why not?

March 24: Bart de Baets, Amsterdam: Described as a "fierce formalist" and "unrelenting experimenter," this Netherlandish talent works in art, music, performance and film including clubs, fanzines, posters and political statements. Plus he teaches graphic design at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy, Amsterdam, and the Royal Academy of Arts, the Hague.

March 31: "Design Fiction" : Liverpool designer James Langdon will go back to basics and focus on the storytelling and emotional pull that are essential to the success of design.

20 facts Oscar doesn't want you to know

Posted by: Colin Covert Updated: February 19, 2015 - 3:26 PM
Cate Blanchett at the red carpet in the 2014 Oscar gown that cost -- HOW MUCH???!!! Photo: Associated Press

Cate Blanchett at the red carpet in the 2014 Oscar gown that cost -- HOW MUCH???!!! Photo: Associated Press

The Academy Awards are a battle royal not only amid performers and filmmakers, but between sources desperate for attention and insiders wanting privacy. Many a question about the competition receives a routine “Mind your own business.” Thanks to the efforts of several publications digging into movie data and statistics, however, it’s become harder for Oscar to keep all his secrets. Here are 20 behind the scenes insights to carry you through Sunday’s mêlée. (Special thanks to Stephen Follows, creator of the movie data site stephenfollows.com, and sources Variety; Los Angeles Times; The Guardian; Huffington Post; awards-tracking website goldderby.com and boxofficemojo.com.)

1) Oscar voters are 94% white, 77% male with a median age of 62. 

2) In recent years November or December releases account for 56% of best picture nominees. Most winners tend to be released in October and November. In the Oscars’ 86 year history only 22 best picture winners have been released between January and July. July has never produced a best picture-winning film. 

3) The cost of a best picture winning Oscar campaign is around $10 million in elaborate packaging, publicists, and parties.

4) Half the money spent on Oscar campaigns goes to advertising.

5) A Page One ad in the L.A.-based entertainment magazine The Hollywood Reporter during Oscar season costs $72,000.

6) "Crash," 2005's surprise best picture winner spent $250,000 distributing DVD screeners to the entire membership of the Screen Actors Guild.

7) Average price of a DVD mailer: $3. 

8) It costs an average of $3,500 to prepare a Hollywood actress for the red carpet. Cate Blanchett’s Armani Prive ensemble with diamond jewels cost approximately $18 million.

9) Oscar nominated films earn an average of $12.7 million more than films not nominated

10) A best picture Oscar (occurring at the end of a film’s theater release cycle) is worth $3 million in increased box office gross.

11) A Golden Globe (occurring earlier) is worth $14.2 million.

12) The non-financial benefits to studios of an Oscar best picture are worth $7 million.

13) Best actor winners can expect a $3.9 million salary increase.

14) Best actress winner salaries receive an extra $500,000. 

15) Just four movies have won the best picture Oscar without also receiving a best director nomination:  "Wings" (1928), "Grand Hotel" (1932), "Driving Miss Daisy" (1989) and "Argo" (2013). 

16) Oscar nominees tend not to dominate ticket sales. The nine films up for 2014 best picture ranked 6th to 117th in the 2013 U.S. box office chart.
6th – “Gravity” (total gross: $274 million)
17th – “American Hustle” ($150 million)
29th – “The Wolf of Wall Street” ($116 million)
32nd – “Captain Phillips” ($107 million)
65th – “12 Years a Slave” (best picture winner, $56 million)
80th – “Philomena” ($37 million)
94th – “Dallas Buyers Club” ($27 million)
98th – “Her” ($25 million)
117th – “Nebraska,” ($17 million)

17) Dramas are most likely to be nominated and to win, though in the last decade the genre has seen a decline. Romance, the most popular when the Oscars began in the late 1920s, now receives fewer nominations, despite a brief revival in the 1990s with “The English Patient” (1996), “Titanic” (1997) and the part love story “Forrest Gump” (1994). 

18) Public relations consultants for film studios earn from $10,000 to $15,000, with bonuses of $20,000 for each nomination or win.

19) Hollywood spends approximately $150 million dollars annually to win an Oscar. 

20 ) Cost  to manufacture an Oscar:  $400. 

Museum extends holiday hours for "Italian Style" fashion show

Posted by: Mary Abbe Updated: December 9, 2014 - 11:02 AM

Give your holiday date a weekend of la dolce vita at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. The museum is extending the weekend hours of its popular show "Italian Style: Fashion Since 1945." The exhibit will remain open until 9 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 26 and Saturday, Dec. 27 and again the following weekend, Friday, Jan. 2 and Sat. Jan. 3. The show closes Sunday, Jan. 4.

For ticket information: artsmia.org

In the aftermath of W.W.II, with its cities in ruins and industries struggling, Italy turned to fashion and design to help revive its economy. Exhibitions of sleek, efficient and stylish modern Italian housewares toured the United States, offering Americans a glimpse of Eurostyle that helped bring good design to the masses. Fashion, too, was enlisted in the revitalization program with designers in Florence, Rome and Milan turning out glorious evening wear and chic sports ensembles that brought casual glamor to Middle America.

Organized by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, "Italian Style" features about 100 ensembles from the V&A collection. Spanning more than 70 years, it includes gowns worn on screen by film stars (Audrey Hepburn, et al) plus pieces from such prominent fashion houses as Valentino, Armani, Gucci, Fendi, Pucci, Prada, Missoni, Dolce and Gabbana and trend setters young and old. The show will travel to the Portland Art Museum in Portland, OR and the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville, following its Minneapolis presentation.

Life of design curator Mildred "Mickey" Friedman celebrated in NYC

Posted by: Mary Abbe Updated: November 19, 2014 - 5:32 PM

Star Tribune file photos of Mildred "Mickey" Friedman

Mildred "Mickey" Friedman, the influential Walker Art Center design curator who died in September at 85, was remembered this week in New York City for her samba, her style, her curiosity, and her quiet grace. About 100 A-list artists (Chuck Close, Claes Oldenburg, Christo, Judith Shea), architects (Hugh Hardy, Billie Tsien, Frank Gehry), museum directors (Sam Sachs, Frick emeritus; Adam Weinberg, Whitney; Olga Viso, Walker) and past and present Walker friends gathered at the Century Association on a rainy Monday evening.

Former Walker curator Dean Swanson recalled dancing the samba with her on a "glamorous dance floor in Rio" in 1963 when they were helping Friedman's husband Martin, then the Walker's director, prepare a show of American art that took grand prize at that year's Sao Paulo biennial. With a nod to the Friedmans' long marriage (she died on their 65th birthday), Tsien compared "smart, tough, rational" Mickey to the character Rosalind Russell played opposite mischievous, fast-talking Cary Grant (Martin) in the classic 1940 film "His Girl Friday."

Recalling the "quiet grace and gentle beauty of a loving friend," Gehry took a jib at a Manhattan institution when he credited her with always "searching for uncharted water, unlike MOMA." Lise Friedman, eldest of the couple's three daughters, observed that one of their mom's "most important lessons was always to make an extra place at the table when someone unexpectedly comes."

After Hardy led toasts to the Friedmans, the crowd munched hors d'oeuvres, including a high-style version of  that old Midwestern standard, "pigs-in-a-blanket" (puff pastry, no cheese, Dijon mustard).

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