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November 25, 2009

Koons' 'Train' is off track

When the Los Angeles County Museum of Art announced plans in 2007 to build Jeff Koons' massive, multimillion-dollar "Train," the news polarized the art community. Some said it would be a monumental and important work of art for L.A. Others decried it as a potential eyesore and a money pit.

Nearly three years later, "Train" appears to be nowhere near completion -- or even a start date for construction. LACMA officials told The Times that the project is still somewhere between the feasibility and design phases and that the public won't see the finished art work until 2014.

"Train" was initially scheduled to be completed in 2011 or 2012. Designs for the quasi-sculpture call for an approximately 70-foot replica of a 1943 Baldwin 2900-series steam locomotive, suspended vertically from a 161-foot-tall construction crane.

-- David Ng Works by the Wyeths for sale

Three generations of Wyeth artworks will be auctioned next month, including 14 original oil canvases by N.C. Wyeth that were used to lavishly illustrate the classic adventure tale of "Robinson Crusoe."

The Dec. 2 sale at Christie's also includes works by N.C. Wyeth's son Andrew and grandson Jamie.

Andrew Wyeth's "Above the Narrows" is for sale for the first time since 1961, the year the late mutual-fund pioneer Jack J. Dreyfus bought it from the artist for his home. The tempera work was completed a year earlier and shows the artist's teenage son Nicky standing on a bluff overlooking the St. George River in Maine.

Previously exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art, "Above the Narrows" is expected to bring $3 million to $5 million.

The "Robinson Crusoe" oils are being sold by the Wilmington Institute Library in Wilmington, Del., to raise money. They were purchased from N.C. Wyeth in 1922. The auction house estimates they could bring $3.8 million.

-- associated press Perry donates big to NAACP

Filmmaker Tyler Perry has donated $1 million to the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the civil rights organization.

The NAACP said the gift is the largest donation from an individual in the organization's history. It will be distributed over four years.

In a statement, Perry said the perseverance of thousands within the NAACP helped pave the way for his success in the film industry.

-- associated press Google images Iraq museum

Google is documenting Iraq's national museum and will post photographs of its ancient treasures on the Internet early next year, Google chief Eric Schmidt announced Tuesday.

The Baghdad museum was ransacked in the chaotic aftermath of Saddam Hussein's ouster in April 2003 and only reopened to visitors early this year. Schmidt toured the museum with U.S. Ambassador Christopher Hill on Tuesday.

"I can think of no better use of our time and our resources than to make the images and ideas from your civilization, from the very beginnings of time, available to billions of people worldwide," he told Iraqi officials.

Schmidt said Google has taken some 14,000 photographs of the museum and its artifacts.

-- associated press 'Carol' cancels Chicago dates

The producer of a stage version of "A Christmas Carol" that drew fire at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood last year has canceled a Midwest tour of the show.

After complaints surfaced last year that producer Kevin von Feldt had not paid all the bills connected with the Kodak production, which starred John Goodman, Christopher Lloyd and Jane Leeves, he told The Times that he hoped to pay everyone off with money he made by staging the show again this winter in the Midwest.

But this week, Von Feldt pulled the plug on a Dec. 22-27 engagement at the Chicago Civic Opera House, telling the Chicago Tribune that four other legs of the tour had fallen through and that it had "proved to be too difficult to do the show just in Chicago."

His exit refrain sounded familiar.

"We're going to come back," said Von Feldt, comparing himself to Max Bialystock in "The Producers" and insisting that he won't rest until he has his "Christmas Carol" up in Chicago. "Next year."

-- Lee Margulies

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