Culture Monster
All arts, all the time
Legal fight over California's unique art-sales law nears climax

Past and future paydays for American artists were at stake in a Pasadena courtroom Tuesday as a group of them tried to salvage a special privilege that only California confers: the right to pocket a 5% royalty whenever a California collector or gallery sells their work on the secondary market.

Lawsuits brought in 2011 by several prominent artists or their heirs aimed to force Sotheby’s and Christie’s, two leading international art auction houses, and EBay to collect the 5% royalty.

But a federal judge in Los Angeles dismissed the case in 2012, finding that the California Legislature exceeded its authority when it passed the Resale Royalty Act in 1976. The judge ruled that the royalty requirement improperly butts into matters of interstate commerce that California had no right to regulate.

Over time, some California sellers have abided by the law and others have not.

Payments are supposed to be made to any artist who is an American citizen or who is a California resident  -- if his or...

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Gloria Molina donates her papers to Huntington Library

With no room left on Mt. Rushmore, Gloria Molina has found another way to achieve lasting proximity to some of the Untied States’ greatest politicians: She capped her 23 years on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors by donating her papers to the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens in San Marino.

Curators at the Huntington will decide just where the Molina archive — at least 250 boxes' worth — eventually will be shelved. It's conceivable her records could wind up close to papers of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson. In any case, she joins them in a collection that also includes documents from Mark Twain, Jack London and Charles Bukowski.

The reams of correspondence, reports, photographs and email printouts document Molina's years as the first woman and first Latina elected to the Board of Supervisors, and some go back to the 1980s, when she became the first Latina elected to the California Legislature and to the Los Angeles City Council...

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Getty hires new top fundraiser after early efforts show modest results

The J. Paul Getty Trust is plugging a fresh executive into what's perhaps the art world's most counterintuitive job: getting rich folks, corporations and charitable foundations to make big cash donations to an organization that already sits on a pile of investments more than $6 billion high.

The Getty announced this week that Janet Feldstein McKillop, head fundraiser for St. Matthew's Parish School, a K-8 Episcopalian parochial school in Pacific Palisades, will step into a job whose only previous occupant did not gain a lot of discernible traction.

McKillop, who'll start in February, also has been a fundraising executive for bigger institutions -- Stanford and Harvard. She has a bachelor's degree in art history and a master's degree in business administration, both from Stanford.

"I look forward to building on the support the Getty has developed over the years and generating new sources of funding and partnership," McKillop said in the Getty's written announcement of her hiring.


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'Culture' named word of the year by Merriam-Webster

Time magazine has its person of the year (it was the Ebola health workers for 2014 ), and likewise, Merriam-Webster, the company behind the trusted English dictionary, has its word of the year, which for 2014 was the word "culture" in all of its definitions.

Merriam-Webster said in its announcement earlier this month that "culture" is a "big word at back-to-school time each year, but this year lookups extended beyond the academic calendar." The company chooses its word of the year based on a set of criteria that includes the number of online searches for a particular word and how much those searches rose from the previous year.

It said that in 2014, the word has moved beyond its academic or classroom usage to "the conversation at large, appearing in headlines and analyses across a wide swath of topics."

Merriam-Webster's primary definition of "culture" is the "beliefs, customs, arts, etc., of a particular society, group, place, or time." Other definitions include "a particular society...

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George W. Bush on making art: 'Never paint your wife or your mother'

Since leaving the White House, George W. Bush has devoted a significant amount of his post-presidential time to pursuing his hobby of painting. On Sunday, the 43rd U.S. president shared one of the key creative insights he's gleaned in his relatively young career as an artist: Never paint your wife or your mother.

Bush gave a rare interview to CNN's "State of the Union," in which he talked about his new book, "41: A Portrait of My Father," which recounts the life of George H.W. Bush. In the interview with Candy Crowley, the younger Bush spoke about his father's military service, marriage and post-White House years.

When asked about his amateur painting career, George W. Bush replied, "I'm driven to be as good as I can be. I'm a task-oriented person and every painting is a task in a sense."

At first, he said, "I was trying to be like a Polaroid camera. I'm learning ... how to work colors, to get a different feel. I don't know what I'd be doing -- I don't drink anymore. I guess if I were...

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George Lucas, Elton John to be honored at Geffen Playhouse gala

The Geffen Playhouse will honor George Lucas and his wife, Mellody Hobson, as well as Sir Elton John and his partner, David Furnish, at its annual fundraising gala that is set to take place March 22. 

"Backstage at the Geffen" is intended to raise money for several of the playhouse's endeavors, including new play development, commissions and community outreach. The company said last year's event raised more than $1.4 million.

David Geffen will serve as honorary chair of the event while Gil Cates Jr., who serves as vice chair of the board, will produce the gala.

Lucas and Hobson will receive the theater's Distinction in Service Award for their philanthropic giving throughout the country. The couple has given extensively to schools and universities through his foundations. 

The "Star Wars" filmmaker is involved with the creation of a new museum, the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, in Chicago. The new institution, which is expected to open in 2018, will be devoted to the art of...

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