The Henry Art Gallery announced the hiring of a new chief curator to replace the departed Sheryl Conkelton. She's another import from New York by way of California, this time from UC Santa Barbara's University Art Museum. Elizabeth Brown has curated shows on Kenji Yanobe (whom you'll remember from a great CoCA show), Kiki Smith, and California painter Lari Pittman. Her doctoral thesis at Columbia was on Constantin Brancusi's photographs, and before coming to Santa Barbara, she worked at the National Museum of Art in D.C., and then at Oberlin College's Allan Museum.

What's she going to do when she gets here in September? Let's ask her: "I've never been to Seattle before. I know it second- or third-hand. First, I want to get to know the city, the art community, the collections, the galleries, as well as get to know what's in the Henry. I like projects to spring from where I am. I don't have a core group of artists or a theoretical approach that I always follow."

The Henry's been very interested in the intersection between technology and art lately. Are you interested in that?

"I'm a historian by training, though my field is modern art. I like to compare it to 140 years ago, when photography was just coming on the scene, [along with] the furor over whether photography was art. Whatever's going on becomes incorporated into the art; it's just the substance of the thing that matters. I agree that tech is an enormous force changing the way artists think and the way artists work."

But, just to take one example, the Internet portion of the last Whitney Biennial was terrible.

"But you know, a lot of stuff is really terrible. Ninety percent of art is terrible. The 'terrible' sometimes helps you understand what's really going on."


Until Oracle's Larry Ellison steps up to his rightful role as the most quotable asshole-mogul in America, we as a city are stuck with housing the two most embarrassing first-team obnoxious leaders in the business world. I haven't followed Bill Gates' latest whinefests, so Exhibit A for this week is Amazon chief Jeff Bezos, who shucked off the pain of having his stock price drop over 50 percent this year to attend the American Booksellers Association's annual convention in Chicago. Formerly Public Enemy #1, this year Bezos was the keynote speaker, where he placated an angry mob of independent booksellers by stressing the importance of customer service--independent stores' selling point--and telling the crowd that the Internet will get only some 15 percent of all retailing dollars over the next decade. He then stepped off-stage and changed his tune for the ensuing press conference, where he asserted that "I have a hard time imagining how independent booksellers will survive" the pending arrival of e-books as a mass-market category, which he sees as being a couple of decades away.

Obviously, if books become mere software, there's no advantage to getting them in stores rather than downloading them off the Net. But if Bezos thinks that revolution is decades away, how does he imagine his company is going to last long enough to benefit? Independent booksellers survive by selling books for more than the cost of the books, plus the cost of running their stores--something about 4,000 independent bookstores are close enough to doing to stay open, even as 3,000 more have closed in the last five years. Bezos, meanwhile, can't support his business with his sales, and is thus presiding over a company with no profits, over two billion dollars in debt, and an explosive cash burn rate that's reached some $100 million a month so far this year (all figures according to New York Observer writer Christopher Byron). So who do you wanna bet will still be around in 2020: Bailey/Coy Books or If you feel lucky, I'm in for five bucks.