Don't know if I have a "Best List" in me, but I definitely have a "Worst List". Lots of overlap, sorry.
The New York Academy in Rome here
The New York Book Award here
The Ongoing Consolidation of Political and Cultural Power - James Wagner has a post up now about some great gallerist that left Chicago for New York and states that "Chicago's loss is our gain". No, ultimately it isn't. You can't celebrate all the progressive-minded, talented, and creative people feeling they have to move to NYC and bitch about national politics.
The MFA Ranking System - The university ranking system has contributed to many schools making the choice to gut actual programs in favor of the marketing of those programs, and some university administrators will do almost anything to raise and maintain their rankings. Are the rise in importance of a school's ranking and the artworld's concurrent adulation of youth unrelated phenomena? I don't think so! Think "rental". More on this at a later date - anonymous tips from disgruntled gallery/university staff very welcome.
Richard Roth, Program Director of the VCU Painting Department - Why do I even say program director? He's the publicist, or P.R. guy, cog in the above system, or whatever - and very good at it. There is no program(or wasn't last year anyway), there is a collection of fifteen graduate students, a few of whom get Richard's complete attention - meaning contacts, financial support, and perks - and the rest are on their own. If you are thinking about attending VCU, and feel you had a positive meeting with Richard and will find support, I hope you got that in writing (hint: if you paint, he probably didn't like it - according to Richard, "all that painting wants to be" is not a painting). The goal is to get as many applicants as possible, and then to promote a couple of them as much as possible. Last year the student he sent to be interviewed on the program by NASAD's accrediting body was the one student who had just returned from studying abroad most of the year and least knowledgeable of the program - not only that, but he tried to keep it secret. Way to pressure the students, Richard! Smooth!
PhD as new MFA - How many of you are aware of this new effort afoot by universities? The MFA is a big enough scam, but schools have realized that there is even more money to be made. Coming soon to your university!
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts undergoing a $108 Million Dollar expansion instead of just focusing on improving the collection. School of Hals, Circle of Rembrandt. Great. More on this at a later date.