Roundup: Drought shaming, Gehry's Facebook campus, an art flame war

Roundup: Drought shaming, Gehry's Facebook campus, an art flame war
Old trees are revealed as the reservoir level at Camanche Reservoir continues to drop in California. The drought, says one writer, doesn't just affect California, but the countless people all over the world that consume the state's agricultural production. (Michael Nelson / EPA)

Museum patrons who don't pay up, an art critical flame war, learning from the Björk debacle and inhabiting Frank Gehry's new Facebook campus. Plus: missing works of art, the growing L.A. gallery scene, architecture that filters water, and the story behind one very large flag. And, of course, there's the drought — and the stories it has wrought. Here's the Roundup:

"The truth is California doesn't have a water problem. We all do." Steven Johnson has a thoughtful piece analyzing media coverage of the drought — and reminds us that California uses a whole bunch of its water feeding other parts of the country. Also, interestingly, we grow alfalfa so that others may eat beef. And for a demonstration of how much water it takes to put food on your plate, my colleagues in the L.A. Times graphics department have put food on an interactive plate.


— Noting the water used by the state's agriculture business doesn't mean we can't drought-shame local over-waterers: a tiny community in Orange County is using the most water in the Southland.

— Canada's Globe and Mail has an epic investigation of all the museum patrons who had pledged major donations toward a new building for the Royal Ontario Museum a decade ago — but who have yet to fully pay up. A fascinating intersection (once again) of money, museums and "starchitecture." The building was designed by Daniel Libeskind.

— Yale's powerful art dean Robert Storr recently started a flame war with a pack of brand-name art critics on the university's radio station. C'mon people, be mature about it. Take the battle to Twitter where it belongs.

— Museum of Modern Art director Glenn Lowry tells the Wall Street Journal that his institution hopes to learn from the heavy-duty criticism of its Björk show. Good thing, because the museum is about to open a show devoted to Yoko Ono. (Though it can console itself with the fact that Iceland is interested in taking the Björk show.)

— Speaking of which, critic Kriston Capps over at Citylab is totally over museum spectacle.

— More than 50 galleries opened or will open in Los Angeles between late 2013 and 2015. LA Weekly's Catherine Wagley sums up the scene — one defined by its lack of a center.

— To go with that, a little context: Times critic Christopher Knight has a report on "Out of Sight: The Los Angeles Art Scene of the Sixties," a book that tracks a key moment in L.A.'s artistic development.

— Plus, Knight appears to have tracked down a long lost sculpture that once greeted visitors to the L.A. County Museum of Art. It seems to be in Germany. But William Poundstone raises another mystery: Whatever happened to the museum's priceless Goya?

— An artist helps humanize ebola suits. (Art F City)

— The troubled Cooper Union in New York has offered to let the college's president go as part of a deal with the state's attorney general. The attorney general's office has been looking into administration of the school's financial dealings, namely the financial decisions that led the historically free institution to begin charging tuition (including the construction of a pricey building by L.A.'s Thom Mayne).

Rebecca Mead has a thoughtful essay in the New Yorker about two works of art by women that take on the bed — and female sexuality — as potent symbols.

— And Tyler Green has a terrific interview with William Pope.L, the artist behind the behemoth flag installation "Trinket" at the Museum of Contemporary Art, on the Modern Art Notes podcast. Lots of interesting background about how the piece came to be. (It started with a bike ride by a tattered flag at night.)

— The Guardian tells the story of overpopulation in pictures. Sorry, people, no amount of green diapers and organic baby food will save us now.

— Facebook staffers have begun moving into their Frank Gehry-designed campus in Menlo Park — and their snaps are popping up on Instagram. There's some sexy staircase porn, a snapshot of a Barry McGee installation going up, and some good candidates for "Unhappy Hipsters." (The Architects' Journal)


— Every year, MoMA PS1 in New York puts up a temporary architectural pavilion. This year, the piece will also serve as a prototype for a water filtration system. It is designed by Spanish architect Andrés Jaque, who once created an interesting series of installations inspired by unique aspects of L.A. urbanism at REDCAT.

— Architect-designed houses can be a challenge to live in and sell. But a sympathetic addition to an important house by Steven Holl in Dallas reveals the ways in which a new owner can make an architectural icon their own — without razing it the ground and rebuilding.


— Lots of David Chipperfield news this week: the architect's design for a new home for the Nobel Foundation in Stockholm faces opposition from politicians and others for being too big and a "shiny box." (The Architects' Journal has the renderings.) Plus, Chipperfield is disowning a Milan museum he designed over the materials used to make the floors. And he's totally over the architectural press, which is driving a wedge "between the profession and society."

— Speaking of which: an architectural coloring book for adults. Coveting.

— And last but not least, a video game that lets you navigate the surreal landscapes of Giorgio de Chirico.

Find me on the Twitters @cmonstah.