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Monday 07.09.12

« Friday links | Main | Let's Get Physical: a kinesthetic aesthetic at Place »

Museum and Civic Links

tacoma_art_museum101.jpg
TAM's building by noted architect Antoine Predock, the new wing will compliment it.

The big news this weekend was that the Tacoma Art Museum will be expanding with a 15,000 Sq ft. new wing devoted to Western American art. TAM is already the most focused of the area's larger museums (special focus on Northwest Art) so this addition of the Haub collection dovetails nicely with their current mission. I think it is particularly important to think of everything west of the Mississippi as "The West" so it isn't just California, Santa Fe and Texas centric. There is a Northern, big tree-d aspect as well that includes Alaska and Canada as well. I support including Mexico to compliment the international flavor of this vast region's history as well and TAM has always taken this tack. The problem with regionalism is it usually is so narrow, with a touch of inferiority and bitterness. It doesn't have to be as projects like Pacific Standard have shown. I think it is fine that it is just one collection for the wing... it becomes a coherent anchor, similar to the Greenberg collection at PAM did. Nice that much of the Haub's collection is comprised of living artists. (*Note the Haubs are not the only German Billionaires doing high profile things in the Northwest...)

Tomorrow on KBOO tradio catch Bobby Abrahamson, Julia Dolan of PAM and Myles Haselhorst talk about North Portland Polaroids, which encompasses 2 exhibitions and a book. There are two exhibitions, one at Blue Sky and Ampersand Vintage. Portland is getting better at telling its own stories and these shows are just part of a groundswell in self awareness and a new valuation of our civic worth.

And in the downward spiral that is the discussion of MOCA of late the LA Times has another analysis of how the ouster of one of the world's finest curators is not a good thing when considering the long term health of museums. Eli Broad, whom many want to see as the villain... but I see as more of an over-correcting uncle (an accountant is going to react this way to MOCA's fiscal woes) wrote this not so helpful op-ed. The problem isn't Broad... it is the fact that everything seems to start and end with him. LA needs a few more major players involved to give balance. Then again when your top cultural patron is constantly vilified it doesn't encourage others to join the fray does it? Regardless Schimmel is one of the great living curators and it is more of an indictment of LA's funding climate that they weren't able to support him at MOCA longer. The fact that they did for so long is an indication of important things as well.

Deitch himself must be feeling some incredible pressure as too... LA is a hard place to be a museum director... expectations are incredibly high but culturally Hollywood dominates the scene making museums seem like the backdrop to quaint often self-important dinner parties. Overall, on the West Coast distractions and comparative youth make patronage priorities difficult to negotiate. At the same time the institutional chaos is good for artists who are coming up.

*Update: Edward Winkleman follows a similar line to my thinking on this subject in his post today. It is possible that Broad and Deitch are simply "over-correcting" a bad financial situation in a city where cultural flash IS more highly valued than scholarship (at least funding wise). It is possible that this dumping of one of the world's finest curatorial programs is both a loss for the world but a right sizing moment for MOCA... Neither Deitch nor Broad are masters of finesse but they aren't the simplistic villains that people are making them out to be either. I'd like to see this situation normalize and suspect that within 5 years time Deitch will be out (because it is VERY hard to be a museum director in LA). A new director will be able to install a new good faith situation with a somewhat revitalized curatorial department too. Till then we have to watch a very painful dismantling of what was the strongest curatorial program for a contemporary art museum in the country.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 09, 2012 at 11:39 | Comments (0)


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