Johannesburg, Volume 20 Number 3 July 2009

Editor’s Note: To save space and aid in speed of downloading this page, photos originally included in this issue are available on our “The Artworld Selects” page.

Johannesburg

In this issue, our friend and intrepid adventurer, Janet Moore, shares the secrets of her frequent travels to South Africa and, most particularly here, to Johannesburg. We love her insights and enthusiasm and are happy to welcome her once again to ARTExpress.

Built on the wealth of the gold beneath its streets, the remarkable city of Johannesburg mushroomed into a modern metropolis in just over a century. In 1886, prospector George Harrison stumbled upon the richest gold reef in the world, and within three years, drab grassland had grown into the third largest city in South Africa, and soon the largest city south of Cairo. Too long a victim of images of poverty and violence, it’s time we took a fresh look at this cosmopolitan place. “Joburg” is the beating heart of African life, an energetic town where cultures mix and old prejudices are fading fast. There are wonderful museums and galleries, fascinating township tours, superb hotels and restaurants, fantastic shopping opportunities, and the chance of exciting excursions.

Any visit to Johannesburg should start downtown in the city center. Just to get into the feel of the city, go straight to the head office of Standard Bank — the oldest bank in Johannesburg. Few tourists know this, but in 1986, when the new head office was being built, contractors discovered an access tunnel (or “stope”) leading to old mining works three levels below ground. Investigation proved that it had been the site of one of Johannesburg’s first sub-surface mines. In view of its historic importance, Standard Bank decided to preserve the stope as a museum depicting the gold mining of practices the 1880s and 1890s. There is no entrance fee, and we can almost guarantee you that you will be the only one there![pay]

Right around the corner is the Standard Bank Art Gallery. Since it opened in 1990, it has become one of the city’s foremost fine art venues. Operating as a not-for-profit venture, the gallery offers a dynamic exhibition program in keeping with its aim of promoting South African art. One of its most popular events is the annual exhibition by the winner of the Standard Bank Young Artist of the Year Award, whose jury doesn’t shy away from controversial work. Past winners include: William Kentridge, Jane Alexander, Sam Nhlengethwa, Pippa Skotnes, Tommy Motswai, Andries Botha, and Bonnie Ntshalintshali with Fee Halstead-Berning; all of whom achieved international acclaim.

Another great place to stop is the Absa Gallery. Managed by the Absa Bank and located in the city center, it houses up to 20,000 works, and is believed to be the largest corporate art collection in the world. Like Standard Bank, Absa showcases the talent of emerging and established South African artists. They also sponsor one of the longest running national arts competitions, the Absa Atelier, for young artists between the ages of 21 and 35.

Next, find the Johannesburg Art Gallery in nearby Joubert Park. The building was designed by the renowned late-19th/early-twentieth century British architect Sir Edward Lutyens and consists of 15 exhibition halls, plus sculpture gardens. It houses collections of 17th-century Dutch paintings, 18th- and 19th-century British and European art, and 19th-century South African works. Despite ignoring black talent during the apartheid years, the gallery now has a respectable selection of South Africa’s most notable artists. Stop for lunch at Moyo; there are several locations of this busy chain, but the one near the gallery in the Market Theater oozes African charm and offers up a wide range of contemporary African eats.

Before you leave this area, stop at the inner-city venture of Obert Contemporary, launched in April 2006. The stunning 300-square-meter exhibition space, designed by Tonic of Rosebank, is located on the sixth floor at 155 Smit Street in Braamfontein, overlooking the Nelson Mandela Bridge and downtown Johannesburg. This alternative space now hosts Obert Contemporary’s exclusive previews and larger exhibitions, including installations, video work and sculpture. The sister property to Obert Contemporary Gallery opened in Melrose Arch in 2003. Both galleries are the vision of Michael Obert. Educated in the United States (Yale), Michael taught at the University of Natal, and is now committed to the careers of a select group of contemporary African artists. If you can track Michael down at the Melrose Arch location, he will be happy to chat about his artists, schedule permitting.

To get a look at the work of the young local architects, see what is now known as Constitution Hill which was, in fact, the nucleus of four ignominious institutions — the former Fort of Johannesburg, the so-called Native’s Jail or Number 4, the Women’s Gaol and the Awaiting Trial Block — which collectively represented the sheer inhumanity of apartheid. In 1997, the go-ahead for an international architectural competition to generate a design for Constitution Hill was approved, with the object of creating a building rooted in the South African landscape, physically and culturally, without overemphasizing the symbols of any section of the South African population, or making a pastiche of them all. The building was to have a court chamber, public areas, a library, public reading space and rooms for 11 judges, researchers and administrative staff. An international panel of judges led by Charles Correa, the distinguished Sri Lankan architect, chose a South African entry. The young architects responsible for the winning submission—which was based on the concept of “justice under a tree”—were Janina Masojada and Andrew Makin from Durban, and Paul Wygers from Johannesburg. A partnership between their firms, Urban Solutions and OMM Design Workshop, produced a design that was fragmented rather than monolithic, and comprised a series of pavilions subtly linked by pathways and plazas. The new Constitutional Court, South Africa’s first major post-apartheid government building, is an architectural masterpiece designed to embody the openness and transparency called for by the Constitution itself. It is open to the public as a way of educating and providing perspective, and should be a must-visit on your list. As you walk through the extensive public areas, admire the art collection, which includes extraordinary pieces by artists such as Norman Catherine, William Kentridge, Deborah Bell and Kim Berman, to name but a few. The collection was made possible by one of the judges of the Court, Justice Albie Sachs, and the entire collection was donated by various artists, gallery owners and arts patrons.

Museum Africa is housed in a magnificent Victorian building, once the city’s fruit and vegetable market. It now displays important early Africana collections. The key galleries here include the Treason Trial display (1956-1960) during which Nelson Mandela and 155 others were imprisoned at the Johannesburg Fort; the excellent presentation covering the 20 years that Gandhi spent in South Africa; and a recreation of some of South Africa’s most magnificent San rock art.

No visit to Johannesburg would be complete without a morning or afternoon at the Apartheid Museum. This stark but stunning building occupies approximately 6,000 square meters on a seven-hectare site consisting of natural and recreated veldt and indigenous bush habitat, along with a lake and adjacent paths. Your journey here traces history from the early peoples of South Africa to the birth of their democracy, with cages containing enlarged copies of early identity cards, identity books and the hated passbooks and racially tagged identity cards. Allow time to explore the bleak interiors with their concrete and red brick walls and grey concrete floors, plus the numerous monitors recording continuous replays of apartheid scenes.

A few miles away and just as important to our image of Johannesburg is the township of Soweto, the most populous black urban residential area in the country, with the last census putting its population at 896,995. From its genesis, Soweto was a product of segregationist planning created to house mainly black laborers, who worked in mines and other industries in the city, away from the city center. The inner city was later to be reserved for white occupation as the policy of segregation took root. But it was not until 1963 that the acronym, Soweto, was adopted as the official name for the South Western Townships. The area has spawned numerous historic uprisings, and, of course, those individuals we now know as political, sporting and social luminaries, including Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu, the two Nobel Peace Prize Laureates who both once lived on the now famous Vilakazi Street in Orlando West.

But cast aside your preconceived notions of squalor — while there are certainly large pockets of poverty, there are also the numerous BMW’s of the well-to-do, seen as you drive through Johannesburg’s more affluent suburbs — Soweto is as diverse as it is vast. As an outsider, it’s preferable to come here with a guide. We recommend Sthembiso, a former documents courier turned entrepreneur, who will pick you up and return you to your hotel. A larger company that arranges tours is Jimmy’s Face to Face Tours. For lunch, everyone goes to Wandies — but try somewhere new — like Soweto’s first woman-owned restaurant, Chez Alina, where Alina Kosimlotshwa will greet you. (Here’s hoping enough people patronize Alina so she can give Wandies some competition!)

In addition to the afore-mentioned Obert Contemporary, there are other not-to-be-missed art galleries in Johannesburg, with many located in the Parkwood area. Perhaps the most well-known is the Goodman Gallery, established thirty-nine years ago by Linda Givon with the goal of encouraging South African artists to exhibit despite apartheid. She is still the queen of gallery owners in Johannesburg, and continues to present exciting monthly exhibitions by the stars of contemporary and international South African art, including Norman Catherine, William Kentridge, and Deborah Bell.

A short walk away is David Krut Publishing, David Krut Art Resource and David Krut Print Workshop. David Krut has played a key role in the renewed interest in South African printmaking, establishing The Print Workshop in 2002 to enable local artists to collaborate with master printers and to create a professional printmaking studio. In addition, a gallery space here offers an ever-changing opportunity to view the work of selected South African artists.

Nearby is Gallery MOMO, which is located in Parktown North. Gallery MOMO, owned by Monno Mokoena, presents local contemporary work that often explores new media. Gallery MOMO opened its doors in mid-2003 with a sell-out debut show by Democratic Republic of Congo artist, Roger Botembe. Originally a residential house built in 1912, the building was transformed by Mokoena into an open, airy gallery with a minimalist façade of full-size wall-windows that bring the outside in, allowing a spacious atmosphere for the works on display.

A must-stop for spectacular jewelry is Frankliwild, where Kevin Friedman displays his stunning collection of jewelry in one half of the store (note the jewelry portion of the web site). An award-winning designer, Friedman grew up and trained in a London family involved in the jewelry industry and received his first award at age 15 as runner-up in an international competition. Kevin was the designer of the setting for the Ponahalo diamond found in a Venetia mine in 2005. Weighing 316.58 carats, it was the largest diamond to be recovered since the inception of Venetia, and is valued at $16m. He drew upon the heritage of the Venda, a South African cultural group, in designing a necklace for the diamond.

Another great place to browse for everything from antiques to Afro-chic housewares is Amoeba. The Amoeba range includes: lighting, furniture, ceramics, jewelry, leatherwork, textiles and printing. Prices are reasonable and taste is high!

The best mall in the city is called the Zone @ Rosebank, an urban center with a decidedly creative style. Be sure to stop at Sun Godd’ess which creates some of the best clothing in South Africa. Inspired by traditional design, they make clothes for the whole family, with each piece beautifully sewn and hand-beaded. Another must-stop is the Space, a boutique stocked entirely with pieces by young designers, their witty names reflecting African empowerment. One such designer, Craig Native, recently made an entire wardrobe for Lenny Kravitz. Themba Mngomezulu recycles vintage and African fabrics into punky street wear.

If you fancy a stop at a traditional marketplace, Rosebank African Craft Market offers a fine selection of quality African arts & crafts, including wooden masks and carvings, indigenous beadwork, dolls, and baskets at very reasonable prices. The adjacent Rosebank Rooftop Market also has lots of fashionable clothing, quality ceramics, antiques, second-hand books and other collectibles.

And for those who want a truly ethnic experience, visit the Mai Mai Market, which sells many Zulu items, such as thousands of variations of the pata-pata sandal — the traditional thong sandals with a strap that forms a loop around the big toe. They also sell Zulu attire, clothes made from animal skins and feathers, walking sticks, knobkerries, shields, sandals, beaded items and more. The market is located on the eastern side of the city in a rebuilt mine-workers’ hostel. In addition to Zulu items, the market is known for its traditional herbs and healers.

And finally, in 2010, South Africa will host the FIFA World Cup — and we are bound to be hearing a great deal more about Johannesburg — where many of the soccer matches will take place. With crime no longer the problem it was, all can enjoy this cosmopolitan capital with its rich socio-political history, diverse melting pot of cultures and its pulsating energy!

-Janet Moore

Focus Johannesburg

HOTELS
Ten Bompas, 10 Bompas Road, Dunkeld West, Tel. (27) 11-341-0282. Originally a private home, design hotel Ten Bompas was converted into an exclusive city hotel with 10 suites, a contemporary restaurant, Sides, and a magnificent wine cellar overlooking the swimming pool; an appealing collection of African art forms a perfect flow through the public spaces.  Each suite has been individually conceived by a different interior designer; our favorite is “African Colours‚” reflecting the local landscapes in yellow and ochre tones, sisal flooring and terracotta.

Melrose Arch, 1 Melrose Square, Melrose Arch, Tel: (27) 11-214-6666.  Africa’s first truly HIP 5-Star hotel! Through innovative architecture and outstanding design, the Arch has become an international destination in its own right.  (If funkiness is not what you’re after, just come for a drink!)

The Michaelangelo Hotel, Nelson Mandela Square, West Street, Sandton, Tel: (27) 11-282-7000. This elegant hotel has captured the spirit of a bygone era, while occupying the heart of the vibrant corporate capital of Africa, Sandton Square. The hotel offers unsurpassed attention to detail, and service. Beautiful Renaissance-inspired décor.

The Westcliff, 67 Jan Smuts Avenue, Westcliff, Tel: (27) 11-481-6000. Situated in Johannesburg’s most exclusive residential suburb, The Westcliff’s hillside-setting with cascading, sculpted gardens and opulent accommodations evoke an era of leisure and refinement in one of the world’s most cosmopolitan cities. It’s a beautiful property, but very expansive, and a long walk to breakfast is part of the experience. (The hotel will take you around in their golf-carts, but it adds a layer of complexity.) We don’t mind the remote location, but be warned that shops and restaurants are not close at hand.

Kruger National Wildlife Park, Tel. (27) 21 422 3111.  It’s not very often that we get to recommend an exotic safari lodge, so we must do it here.  Need we say the views are spectacular?   The “Jock Safari Lodge” affords the best, as its located at the confluence of two rivers.  (It’s also private and .)  Although Kruger is not an “arts” destination, per se (unless you count the “old portraits of animals who have stayed here” — which is a hoot), we still highly recommend it for the more adventurous.

RESTAURANTS
The Bell Pepper, 176 Queen Street, Kensington, Tel. (27) 11-615-7531. Bell Pepper’s food has been described by critics as a cross-cultural combination of flavors.  Winner of many awards, and considered one of the best of its kind in Johannesburg. Wonderful seafood and African lamb.

Bistro 277 on Main, 277 Main Road, Bryanston, Tel. (27) 11-706-2837. Casual, modern and relaxed atmosphere offering a cross-cultural cuisine, where the French classics such as duck dishes, bouillabaisse, cassoulet and soufflés go hand-in-hand with South African dishes. There is also a variety of seafood from the coast, and an imaginative vegetarian menu. Includes some of the best South African and French wines.

The Butcher Shop & Grill, #30, Nelson Mandela Square, Tel. (27) 11-784-8676. Best South African beef available from the Karan Beef feedlot, plus an impressive selection of seafood, cheeses, wines and beers. Considered a landmark among South Africans.  The Grill’s dishes strongly reflect the heritage cuisine of South Africa, but the menu also shows a contemporary European influence. Spacious and lovely outdoor as well as indoor dining areas.

Chez Alina, 3373 Masemola Street, Soweto, Tel. (27) 11988-5297. Kilimanjaro, 17 High Street, Melrose Arch, Tel. (27) 11-214 4300. The décor speaks of modern luxury in African tones and the restaurant has an elegance both in its setting and diverse selection of exotic delicacies in an African-fusion style. It has a restaurant, bars on two levels, plus a stage where jazz, kwaito, and other local acts perform weekends.

La Campagnola, #9/10, Hobart Center, Bryanston, Tel. (27) 11-463-4199. The menu at this award-winning (i.e. American Express and Diner Club Platinum Awards) restaurant comprises a wonderful mix of contemporary and traditional Italian dishes, with an outstanding selection of both Italian and South African wines. Pleasing interior in warm, earthy tones, with a terrace surrounded by shrubs and trees. Reservations are suggested.

Lekgotla, 5 Nelson Mandela Square, Tel. (27) 11-884-9555.  Wide selection of exquisitely prepared African food, and a unique opportunity to experience a fusion of exotic flavors from across the African continent. Rhythmic drumming draws the crowds to two gotlas‚ or huts, and inguni hides pave the way past Moroccan style walls and stone ruins creating a chic African setting, along with three jeweled private dining rooms. Reservations highly recommended.

The Meat Company, 6 Melrose Square, Melrose Arch, Tel. (27) 11-511-0235. Considered one of the best steakhouses in Johannesburg, with the perfect atmosphere (which includes the occasional fire juggler and an accordion player wandering by the tables!) The outside seating is actually inside the huge building complex,  with trees, birds and sky all around. An extensive menu of beef, seafood, poultry and vegetarian dishes, with an equally extensive wine selection. Reservations are a must.

Moyo, numerous locations throughout the city including Melrose Arch and the Market Theater. At each location be charmed by the washi-washi woman, the great African musicians, the wonderful decor — not to mention the great food from North Africa. Although it’s a chain of restaurants, each Moyo offers an entirely indigenous experience, with unique, locally crafted decor on every floor. Reservations are suggested.

Orient, 4 The High Street, Melrose Arch, Tel. (27) 11-684-1616. With its rich décor in colors of silver, purple and copper, Orient is all glitz and glamour with glass crystals dangling from the ceiling.  Offering beautifully presented contemporary Asian cuisine, Orient has been graded as one of South Africa’s 5-star venues.

Pigalle Restaurant, Michelangelo Rowers, 4th Floor, Tel. (27) 11-884-9536.  One of Johannesburg’s newest urban-chic ventures. Silk drapes, glass balustrades, mahogany tables and Spanish-imported chandeliers create an elegant ambiance, while the eclectic menu offers everything from grilled ostrich fillet in red wine to lobster thermidor. Reservations are suggested.

Primi Piatti, The Zone @ Rosebank, 177 Oxford Road, Rosebank, Shop FF20A, Tel: (27) 11-447 5216. (Note: Although Pimi Piatti has numerous locations throughout the city, the one at the Zone is the nicest.) This bustling restaurant and its staff are masters in creating a total dining experience around their robust items, crafted from traditional Italian recipes in an espresso-style cooking method.

Sides, Ten Bompas Hotel, 10 Bompas Road, Dunkeld West, Tel. (27) 11-341-0282. Fresh, innovative cuisine.  Open to outside diners as well as hotel guests.  Excellent wine collection, stored in ideal conditions in their environment-controlled wine cellar. One of our favorite spots to eat!

MUSEUMS & MONUMENTS
Absa Gallery, 160 Main Street, Absa Towers North, Tel. (27) 11-350-5139.

The Apartheid Museum
, Northern Parkway and Gold Reef Road, Ormonde, Tel. (27) 11-309-4700.

Constitution Hill, Queens Street and Hospital Street, Hilbrow, Tel. (27) 11-381-3100.

Gold Reef City
, Ormonde, 5km south of the city centre. Off the Xavier Street exit of the N12 or the Boise’s exit of the M2 West (well signposted), Tel. (27) 11-248-6800.

Johannesburg Gallery of Art
, Joubert Park, Tel. (27) 11-725-3130.

Museum Africa, 121 Bree Street, Tel. (27) 11-833-5624.

Origins Centre, corner of Yale & Enoch Sontonga, Wits University, Braamfontein, Tel. (27) 11-717-4700.

Standard Bank Art Gallery, corner of Simmonds and Frederick Street, Tel. (27) 11-631-1889.

Soweto: For a private tour, contact Sthembiso via e-mail: cthabethe@worldonline.co.za; or: Jimmy’s Face to Face Tours, Tel. 011-(27) 11-331-6109.

SHOPPING
Frankliwild, Tel. 011 483 2620.  Playful use of materials (including everything from lucite necklaces to bangles created from woven telephone wire and diamonds) distinguishes these fun jewelry finds.

Amoeba, Tel. 27 11 447 5025.  A treasure trove of local artists and designers working in everything from lighting to leatherwork.  (Find Amoeba at the B&B Market — see below.)

Rosebank African Craft Market/B&B Market, Corner of Cradock Avenue and Baker Street, Rosebank, Tel. 011 880 2906.  Handcrafted designer housewares, plus African masks, clothing, ceramics,  jewelery and more. Open 9 AM-6 PM.

Mai Mai Market, Corner of Anderson and Berea streets in the City Centre.   The oldest market in Joburg, mostly dedicated to “the healing arts.”

News

Who would’ve guessed that an instant architecture museum would rise this year on the Strip in Las Vegas? The 67-acre City Center development by MGM Mirage features two, 37-story residential buildings by Helmut Jahn; the Residences at Mandarin Oriental by Kohn Pedersen Fox; a 57-story tower called Vdara designed by Rafael Viñoly; Aria — the 61-story hotel/casino — by Cesar Pelli’s firm; a sixth tower by Sir Norman Foster, expected to be a 400-room hotel; and the highly visible, direct-strip-front shopping/restaurant/ entertainment complex called Crystals (set to open December 3) by Daniel Libeskind, with interiors by David Rockwell. Crystals — under construction — is already a show stopper, and no doubt Libeskind’s most provocative building since his Berlin museum. Sheathed in concrete and jagged glass, it is a major visual presence on the strip.

Not too far away, at West Bonneville and South Grand Central Parkway, is arguably the centerpiece of starchitecture in Las Vegas: the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health by Frank Gehry. Scheduled for completion in the late fall, the facility for Alzheimer’s disease research is expected to also become a focus of cultural tourism. The $100-million building is the anchor of a proposed 61-acre mixed-use downtown development known as Union Park. The structure, a seemingly jumbled pile of children’s blocks blanketed by an undulating grid of stainless steel creating an open-weave pattern on a commanding scale, is yet another gorgeous manifestation of Gehry’s genius. All in all, it’s hard to imagine that by the end of the year, we’ll all be trekking to Vegas to see new work by Richard Rogers, Helmut Jahn, Daniel Libeskind, Frank Gehry … and more.

Meanwhile, if you’re thinking about art with your steak, drop into Botero at Steve Wynn’s Encore. Named after the Colombian artist Fernando Botero, the sleek, elegantly designed steakhouse features Botero’s work, beginning with the monumental bronze, Seated Woman (The Seated Lady), and a second sculpture outdoors, facing the pool, plus works on paper and canvas, as well, on the surrounding interior walls. While not an art restaurant on the level of those Wynn hosted at the Bellagio (think Picasso), it is nevertheless a pleasure to see REAL art in this land of faux. Chef Mark LoRusso divides his cuisine into categories, including “farms and fields” and “childhood redux,” but he covers the gamut with delectable dishes. First, try a wild mushroom tart; then follow it with one of the signature steaks or a seafood selection, accompanied by divine truffle macaroni and cheese; and save room for a whimsical dessert!

Los Angeles museums may well be suffering out of all proportion to the rest of the world, but there is some good news on the scene. The Lynda and Stewart Resnick Exhibition Pavilion by Renzo Piano — designed as a single-story glass and stone complement to his BCAM structure — continues to rise just to the rear of the Broad building and should reemphasize its best feature — the sawtooth roof designed to flood the entire space with light. Although construction has been a bit delayed, the first contemporary exhibition in the Pavilion is scheduled for April-July, 2011 — a ground-breaking look at one of the greatest American sculptors of the 20th century, David Smith.

Across Wilshire, L.A.’s A+D Museum (architecture and design) is finally going to have a permanent home at 6032 Wilshire, facing the Broad Contemporary Art Museum. Its new location in Miracle Mile has been donated by developer Wayne Ratkovich. It is on the street floor of a mid-century office building and will have large storefront windows and visible pizazz for those who have had trouble locating it in its various incarnations. Richard Meier & Partners and Gensler are doing the redesign of the space — just shy of 5,000 square feet—and, although the first exhibition is not yet scheduled, Director Tibbie Dunbar says they’ll be hosting the Society of Design Administration’s 2009 canstruction event and exhibition in October.

In May, the Virginia Steele Scott Gallery of American Art, which housed the British painting and sculpture during the restoration of the Huntington mansion — reopened at the Huntington Library, Art Galleries and Botanical Gardens in San Marino. ARTExpress thought “Pinkie” and “Blue Boy” and “Sarah Siddons” looked quite at home in Fred Fisher’s classically minimalist pavilion — one of the best gallery spaces in all of Los Angeles — but, at last, it’s time for American art from 1700-1980 to shine there. Curator Jessica Todd Smith has installed the galleries both beautifully and inventively, and it’s wonderful to see the decorative arts collection given such a prominent and intelligent role alongside the burgeoning painting and sculpture collection.

Coincidentally, Descanso Gardens, in nearby La Canada-Flintridge, has announced plans for a Frederick Fisher-designed gallery. Named after Heather Sturt Haaga and Paul Haaga, the Sturt Haaga Gallery of Art is expected to open next March. Intentions have been announced to bring recognized artists to the gardens and some have quietly hoped it might present an opportunity to develop a program similar to that of Wave Hill in New York. Meanwhile, we all look forward to another Fred Fisher gallery!

In L.A.’s Century City there’s a brand new cultural destination: The Annenberg Space for Photography. Billed by the Annenberg Foundation as a “free community center” featuring “both digital and print photography” inside, it looks more like a cousin to the Starship Enterprise than an exhibitions gallery.

The first exhibition, L85Ang3les, featured works by Angelenos John Baldessari, Catherine Opie, Greg Gorman, Douglas Kirkland, Tim Street-Porter, Julius Shulman, Lauren Greenfield and Carolyn Cole — an exciting and unusual mix of photographers, from the master of architectural interpretation to a Pulitzer Prize-winning news reporter — selected by Anne Tucker of the MFA Houston. The facility’s digital capabilities are spectacular and certainly present riveting exhibition opportunities. From mid-July through October 2009, the center will present Pictures of the Year International, and on July 30th, Pulitzer Prize honoree and two-time recipient of the Robert Capa Award for Courage in Photojournalism, Carolyn Cole, will present her first high-profile Los Angeles lecture. If you’re in the city, be there!

In New York, one of the best experiences of the season (through October) is Roxy Paine on the Roof: Maelstrom at the Met’s Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden. The 130-foot-long, 45-foot-wide tangle of tree root-like forms forged in glittering stainless steel has become the favorite gathering place for sunny-day lounging, chatting, lunching, just hanging out high above Central Park. The “please touch” environment — one of Paine’s Dendroid series — is simply magical!

Another not-to-be-missed summer NYC celebration is the Whitney’s rare trip to the hippest moments of the 60s with Claes Oldenburg (Claes Oldenburg: Early Sculpture, Drawings, and Happenings Films, with Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen: The Music Room, through September 6). Selected primarily from the museum’s own collection, along with that of the artist, the show finds old favorites like the Giant BLT and French Fries and Ketchup (both 1963) looking especially frisky. Don’t pass up the Film and Video Gallery either. Projected in loops are the legendary Happenings never seen by most — two (Foto Death, 1961, and Auto Bodys, 1963) have not been shown since their debut. What a kick these literally loopy romps are — featuring the beautiful young Lucas Samaras and serious Pat Oldenburg, not to mention Henry Geldzahler and Carolee Schneemann. Buy the DVD in the shop for your own collection: Claes Oldenburg “Happenings,Ray Gun Theater—1962, a film by Raymond Saroff.

If Mies van der Rohe’s Seagram Building and its legendary Four Seasons restaurant by Mies’ collaborator Philip Johnson have been at the top of your landmark list since the 1959 opening, you’ll be glad to hear that the Four Seasons is enjoying a 50th anniversary facelift. Co-owner and distinguished architect/founding director of the Canadian Center for Architecture Phyllis (Bronfman) Lambert, who oversaw Johnson’s original interiors, has invited New York-based architect Belmont Freeman to renovate the stellar design. From chipped paint, faux leather wall panels, cracked plaster, stained travertine, worn Saarinen “Tulip” chairs, and metal fatigue that has attacked the famous, rippling metal curtains, the “lady” is showing her age in spite of Landmark Preservation status. The renovation will go out of the way to preserve every original detail; 1959 fixtures will be re-manufactured, Fortuny is recreating the feather pattern fabric, Knoll will supply new “Tulip” chairs and there will be no jarring 2009 details. Plus, happily for New York’s most beloved dining room, the facility will remain open throughout the historic spit-and-polish. Happy Birthday to — arguably — the city’s signature design.

-Constance W. Glenn

Great Addresses

IN LAS VEGAS
CityCenter, 3780 Las Vegas Blvd. South, Tel. 866-722-7171; www.citycenter.com. CityCenter, in addition to debuting as an architecture showcase, will feature a $40-million art collection with works by Maya Lin, Jenny Holzer, Nancy Rubins, Claes Oldenburg… and more. It extends from the Bellagio to the Monte Carlo on the Strip and will open in late 2009 (the Harmon boutique hotel in 2010).

Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Brain Institute, 474 South Grand Central Parkway, Las Vegas. Scheduled to open later this year, Larry Ruvo’s memorial to his father Lou, an Alzheimer’s victim, occupies a stunning Frank Gehry facility designed to be both sensitive to patient needs and draw public attention to brain research. Works by internationally known artists “who want to hang their work in a Gehry building” will also be presented.

Botero, 3131 South Las Vegas Blvd, Tel. 702-770-7000. In Steve Wynn’s new Encore hotel, this high-design steakhouse presents original work by the Colombian artist.

IN LOS ANGELES
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Tel. 323-857-6000. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday 12-8; Friday 12-9; Saturday and Sunday 11-8; closed Wednesday. Parking in the new 6th Street garage just east of Fairfax: $7.

A+D Museum, 6032 Wilshire Blvd., Tel. 323-932-9393 (for information and reopening schedule).

Virginia Steel Scott Gallery of American Art, Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino, Tel. 626-405-2100. Summer hours 10:30-4:30 daily, except closed Tuesdays. Adult admission $15 weekdays; $20 weekends, Mondays and holidays.

The Annenberg Space for Photography, Century Plaza, 2000 Avenue of the Stars, #10, Tel. 213-403-3000. Hours: Wednesday-Sunday 11-6.

Hatfield’s will soon open in the space that was originally Michel Richard’s Citrus (most recently, Red Pearl) at the corner of Melrose and Citrus Avenues. Quinn and Karen Hatfield have been looking for a larger space and now they’ve found it, with a summer opening planned. If anyone can return this corner to its original Citrus standard, it’s sure to be Quinn and Karen.

A+R, 1121-1 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, Tel. 310-392-9128. Hours Tuesday-Sunday 1-7. Designers Andy + Rose closed their Silverlake store in January and opted for a larger venue in Venice, although a pop-up Christmas store is still in the works for Silverlake. Their curated selection of new design is the best with something in their list of “Cooking, Dining, Drinking, Furnishing, Gifting, Kidding, Lighting, Living, Playing, Reading, Sleeping, Styling, Traveling, Working” for everyone. Favorites include Tord Boontje’s “Charming Charms” on a cord, beginning at an accessible $22; a slinky wave of titanium in both bracelet and ring by Arik Levy for the Turkish collective Gaia & Gino ($115); and Christophe Voille’s table-top mini-garden for Haute Culture — it comes in clear, white, red and green, packaged and ready to grow ($72).

The Foundry on Melrose, 7463 Melrose Avenue, Tel. 323-651-0915. Dinner: Tuesday-Wednesday 6-10 PM, Thursday-Saturday 6-11, Sunday 5:30-10; Brunch: Sunday 10:30-3:30. Chef Eric Greenspan (of the original Patina) has pulled off a sophisticated bistro that is the talk of the town. Despite the revved-up atmosphere (read crowded and noisy), the food is first rate — great ingredients without attitude. Request the chef’s table smack in front of the kitchen, or in the summer months eat quietly on the patio.

Melograno. Talented chef Alberto Lazzarino has closed our favorite little Italian dining destination in Hollywood and says he has “unearthed a fabulous location” where we should look for an opening celebration soon. Until then, for private parties, events or information, email him at alberto@melogranohollywood.com.

La Bistecca, Rendezvous Court, Millennium Biltmore, 506 South Grand Avenue, Downtown, Tel. 213-612-1562. You wouldn’t have to feed me to get me into the gorgeous, three-story, elaborately detailed lobby of the historic Biltmore Hotel — one of L.A.’s most important landmarks — what could be wrong with enjoying a great steak there? The new steakhouse in this grand setting is La Bistecca, with reservations handled by the adjacent restaurant, Smeraldi’s.

IN NEW YORK
Roxy Paine on the Roof: Maelstrom, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 5th Avenue, at 82nd Street, Tel. 212-535-7170. April 28-October 25, 2009.

Whitney Museum of American Art, 945 Madison Avenue, at 75th Street, Tel. 212-570-3600.

Four Seasons, (Seagram Building), 99 East 52nd Street, Tel. 212-754-9494. Celebrate its 50th birthday this summer with a special $59 three course prix-fixe menu.

Our New York food patrol, Laurie Buckle, editor of Fine Cooking sends her list of a few hot spots to keep an eye on:
Corton, 239 West Broadway (between Walker and White Streets), Tel. 212-219-2777. This time, restaurant guru Drew Nieporent has partnered with chef Paul Liebrandt, whose modern French menu is as fresh as it is classic. The setting (the old, well-loved Montrachet space) is intimate and stylish: there is a three-course prix-fixe menu and the wine list is world class. (Note: the restaurant will be closed for the summer holiday July 3-8).

Bar Breton, 254 Fifth Avenue, Tel. 212-213-5539. Fleur de Sel brought award-winning chef Cyril Renaud to everyone’s attention and now he brings us divine galettes (buckwheat crepes plus the most imaginative fillings or toppings), which are the centerpiece of his Brittany-flavored menu.

DBGB, 299 Bowery (by East 1st Street), Tel. 212-933-5300. It’s hard to keep up with the indomitable Daniel Boulud, but, as we write, it’s DBGB on the ever-more trendy Bowery that is opening. Called a “sausage and beer” house, the restaurant’s own charcutier will be turning out the wurst and dogs. There will also be a classic ice cream cart and some 30-50 cataloged beers. How can this not be a ball?

On Laurie’s hunt is to find the Big Apple’s best burger, this week she tried the much-touted new Minetta Tavern, and the Burger Joint at Le Parker Meridien: Minetta Tavern, 113 Macdougal Street, at Minetta Lane, Tel. 212-475-3850. She says the $27 hamburger — a special grind from an artisanal butcher — just plain melted away in her mouth.

Burger Joint at Le Parker Meridien, 118 Wet 57th Street, Tel. 212-245-5000. Only the smell, the true burger fragrance, gives away the fact that in the slightly stuffy lobby of the hotel, secreted behind a brown floor-to-ceiling curtain, lies perhaps the best $4.50 burger anywhere! And every time you go to your room, you get that wonderful childhood whiff.

Locanda Verde, 379 Greenwich Street, at North Moore Street, Tel. 212-925-3797. Now, back off the burger trail to follow a talented chef. For all who loved A Voce, it’s a joy to find Andrew Carmellini ensconced in Robert DeNiro’s Greenwich Hotel. The entry is now a street-front café where the espresso is accompanied by Karen DeMasco’s exquisite cakes. And beyond Carmellini’s Italian cuisine is rustic — including a family-style presentation he’s testing — and affordable! Alla famiglia — hooray!

Saint-James Company, 1045 Madison Avenue, (between 79th and 80th), Tel. 800-681-2631. Bar Breton brought to mind our favorite Breton shop; The Saint James Company is the true French source for those great Normandy fisherman’s t-shirts. The nautical stripes come in various combinations — classically ecru and navy (or red) — and the 100% cotton styles range from $65-$115. Depending on your New York summer shopping tolerance, you’ll also have a hard time resisting “the genuine pure new knitted woolen Breton seaman’s sweater” (you’ll really want it in December)!

Travel Bookshelf: Johannesburg

Guides
Nadine Rubin and Nikki Temkin. Chic Jozi, the Jo’burg pocketbook, 2005.
Lizzy Williams. Johannesburg: The Bradt City Guide, May 2007.
National Geographic Destination Map Johannesburg
, December 2002.

Art & Architecture
Clive M. Chipkin. Johannesburg Transition: Architecture & Society 1950-2000, 2008.
Clive M. Chipkin Johannesburg Style, Architecture and Society 1880s-1960s, 1993.
Bronwyn Law-Viljoen. Light on the Hill, Building the Constitutional Court of South Africa, 2006.
Hannes Meiring. Early Johannesburg, Its Buildings and Its People, 1985.
Jurgen Schaderberg. Tales from Jozi: A Collection of Photographs, 2007.
Sello Duiker, et al. New Identities:Contemporary Art from South Africa, 2005.
Mark Rosenthal, et al. William Kentridge: Five Themes, 2009.
Sophie Perryer. Ten Years, 100 Artists: Art in A Democratic South Africa, 2005.

History
Jo Beall. Uniting a Divided City: Governance and Social Exclusion in Johannesburg, 2002.
Keith Beavon. Johannesburg (Imagined South Africa), 2005.
Robert Beauregard. Emerging Johannesburg: Perspectives on the Post Apartheid City, 2003.
Lindsay Bremner. Johannesburg: One City Colliding Worlds, 2004.
Constitution Hill Foundation. Number 4: The Making of Constitution Hill, 2006.
Goodhew, David. Respectability and Resistance: A History of Sophiatown, 2004.
Nigle Mandy. A City Divided: Johannesburg and Soweto, 1984.
Martin J. Murray. Taming the Disorderly City: The Spatial Landscape of Johannesburg After Apartheid, 2008.
L. E. Neame. City Built on Gold, 1960.
Sarah Nuttall. Johannesburg: The Elusive Metropolis, 2008.
Adam Roberts. Soweto Inside Out, 2005.
Ivan Vladislavic. Portrait with Keys: The City of Johannesburg Unlocked, 2009.

and… strictly for fun…

Mysteries
Richard Kunzmann. Bloody Harvests, 2006.
Richard Kunzmann. Salamander Cotton, 2008.
Roger Smith. Mixed Blood, 2009.

Calendar

Through Aug. 5 New Museum, New York The Generational: Younger Than Jesus
Through Aug. 9 J. P. Getty Museum, Los Angeles Paul Outerbridge
Through Aug. 9 J. P. Getty Museum, Los Angeles JoAnn Callis: Woman Twirling
Through Aug. 16 Met, New York Francis Bacon: A Centenary Retrospective
Through Aug. 16 MFA, Boston Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese
Through Aug. 23 Guggenheim Museum, New York Frank Lloyd Wright: From Within Outward
Through Aug. 23 High Museum, Atlanta Monet Waterlilies
Through Aug. 24 MOMA, New York Stage Pictures: Drawing for Performance
Through Aug. 30 Walker Art Center, Minneapolis Tomás Saraceno
Through Aug. 31 Reina Sofía, Madrid Juan Muñoz
Through Aug. 31 Musée de Lourvre, Paris The Louvre During the War
Through Sept. 6 Guggenheim Bilbao Cai guo Qiang: I Want to Believe

Through Sept. 6 Whitney Museum, Ny Oldenburg: Early Sculpture, Drawings, & Films

Through Sept. 6 Tate Britain, London Richard Long: Heaven & Earth
Through Sept. 6 Tate Modern, London Per Kirkeby
Through Sept. 6 Hammer Museum, Los Angeles Larry Johnson
Through Sept. 6 Haus der Kunst, Munich Thomas Schütte
Through Sept. 6 Museo del Prado, Madrid Joaquin Sorolla
Through Sept. 7 Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art, Las Vegas Lichtenstein, Warhol & Friends
Through Sept. 7 Met, New York Napolean III and Paris
Through Sept. 13 Serpentine Gallery, London Jeff Koons: Popeye Series
Through Sept. 13 Musée d’Orsay, Paris Max Ernst: A Week of Kindness
Through Sept. 13 Art Institute of Chicago Cy Twombly
Through Sept. 13 MCA, Chicago Take Your Time: Olafur Eliasson
Through Sept. 13 Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin Terry Winters
Through Sept. 13 Saatchi Gallery, London Abstract America
Through Sept. 13 National Gallesthalle, Vienna Thomas Ruff
Sept. 16 - Jan. 3 10th Biennale de Lyon, France
Sept. 18 - Sept. 22 KIAF/09 Korean Interantional Art Fair, Seoul
Through Sept. 20 Tate Modern, London Futurism
Through Sept. 20 LACMA, Los Angeles Your Bright Future: 12 Contemporary
Korean Artists
Through Sept. 20 National Gallery, London Corot to Monet
Through Sept. 20 Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Madrid Matisse 1917-1941

Through Sept. 20 Corcoran Gallery of Art, Wash. DC William Eggleston: Democratic Camera

Through Sept. 20 Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice Robert Rauschenberg: Gluts
Sept. 24 - Sept. 27 Art Forum Berlin, International Art Fair

Through Sept. 27 Galleria dell’Accademia, Florence Robert Mapplethorpe
Through Sept. 28 Huntington Lib., San Marino Photographs of Karen Halverson
Through Sept. 30 Dia Beacon Antoni Tapies: Works from the 1950s & 1960s
Through Oct. 2 Minneapolis Institute of Arts Modernism 20
Through Oct. 4 Prada Fondazione (Fondazione Cini), Venice John Wesley

Through Oct. 11 Whitney Museum, New York Dan Graham

Through Oct. 26 MOCA, Los Angeles Robert Frank’s The Americans

Through Nov. 8 Uffizi, Florence The 18th Century in Florence
Through Nov. 8 Scottish Nat. Gallery, Modern Art, Edinburgh Rooms: Hirst, Celmins, Warhol
Through Nov. 22 Venice Biennale, 53rd International Art Exhibition
Through Dec. 31 Whitney Museum, New York Photo Conceptualism 1966-1973
Through Jan. 3 SFMOMA, San Francisco Between Art & Life: The Contemporary Collection
Through Jan. 31 Hermitage, Amsterdam At the Russian Court
Through May 24 Centre Pompidou, Paris Women Artists in the Collection