Dr. Timothy Potts' first try at a new acquisition for the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth since becoming its director a little more than a year ago has failed -- to which, of course, Potts reportedly says, "You've got to be gracious in defeat." Potts had his eye on a resplendent late-15th-century Botticelli painting, Virgin Adoring the Christ Child, which became available on the international market as part of the British Earl of Wemyss' estate. If ever an Aussie had an inside track to acquiring British-owned art treasures, it should have been Potts. A native of Sydney and former director of the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, Potts taught ancient art at London's Oxford University early in his career and was affiliated with the British Academy in archaeological research projects. Potts had engineered the Botticelli deal down to the wire, museum insiders say, with only one last legal hurdle before acquiring the painting. The United Kingdom's strict export laws require that British museums get a shot at matching bids when foreign countries are trying to buy art masterpieces. The National Gallery of Scotland matched the Kimbell's reported $24 million offer. However stiff his upper lip appears to remain in the face of this disappointment, Potts has to be hurting. The Australian press and his former museum colleagues said the Kimbell's acquisition budget, estimated at $8 million annually, was a big part of Potts' decision to leave NGV, where only $2 million (U.S.) was available for acquisitions each year.
Step back in time
The Dallas Gallery District Association's Eva Valdez has a week-old, stinky turkey leg of a bone to pick with the local arts press. She's tired of the lack of attention Dallas media give to the group of uptown Fairmount-Routh streets art galleries, whose specialties fall somewhere between what you can see in a local museum and what's hot at contemporary art galleries on the Dallas art scene. "Since most of these galleries specialize in early-19th-century art," Valdez says, "their work seldom gets press coverage. Critics tend to focus on contemporary and modern art." Plus, she says, many of these uptown galleries are open by appointment only, so if people did happen to stop by, they could very likely find the doors locked. "So, for Christmas and for a little fun, we want to change all that," Valdez says. She and her cohorts at DGDA -- including Elliott Yeary Gallery, McKinney Avenue Antiques, Riddell Rare Maps and Fine Prints, and David Dike Fine Art, among 20 others -- will open for a holiday gallery walk from noon to 4 p.m. on December 4.
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Annabelle Massey Helber