Monster Mash: Breaking arts news and headlines

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The MacArthur Foundation today announced its ‘genius’ grants of $500,000 to 25 individuals. Among this year’s recipients are violinist Leila Josefowicz (at left), sculptor Tara Donovan, fiber artist Mary Jackson and New Yorker music critic Alex Ross.

Nominees for the Ovations, L.A.'s biggest theater awards, were announced Monday evening. Leading the pack was the revival of ‘Miss Saigon’ at Civic Light Opera of South Bay Cities.


Architect Renzo Piano is set to open his new building for the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco this week. The $488-million structure replaces the previous building damaged in a 1989 earthquake. Piano worked with Stantec Architecture and the London-based engineering firm Arup on the 410,000-square-foot building.

The official ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Museum of Arts and Design in New York takes place today. The museum hired architect Brad Cloepfil to alter the much-loathed 1964 Edward Durrell Stone building in Columbus Circle. It opens to the public Saturday.

Congress got mixed grades on Monday from Americans for the Arts, a Washington-based advocacy group that just released its Congressional Arts Report Card. Among the report’s findings: funding for the National Endowment for the Arts rose by $20 million for fiscal 2008, its largest one-year increase in almost 30 years. But the report added that the current NEA budget of $144.7 million has half the purchasing power of its previous high in 1992.

Frank Gehry has competition in Bilbao. A new building by Spanish architects Juan Coll-Barreu and Daniel Gutierrez Zarza is set to rival Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum as the city’s main tourist attraction.

To the already crowded field of classical music festivals, Lorin Maazel intends to add another. The conductor and his wife will inaugurate a new annual music festival in July 2009 on their 550-acre property in Rappahannock County, Va.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art has named Peter D. Barberie as curator of photographs. This represents the museum’s first curatorial hire since the death of its longtime director, Anne d’Harnoncourt, in June.

Garbage in, art out? San Francisco has a program that gives artists access to city landfills for the purpose of creating works of art out of trash.

— David Ng