It is that time of the year again and everyone is doing their best of 2015 lists (PORT waits till just before or after January 1st to really dig into things
and make it more than a list). Still, The New York Times
and The Guardian
are already making their lists. Jerry Saltz too
. To my eyes, early 2015 seemed like a year where an impulse of "kill the King" reigned... where every major art impresario from Klaus Biesenbach
to Jerry Saltz & Roberta Smith were thought of as passe. By the end of the year that sentiment had waned and yes it is good to be king... but it is even more important to recognize what gives certain people staying power as cultural voices. The great ones do get complaints, partly because they are great... even Great enough to make mistakes occasionally and STILL matter.
Check out this Canadian seesaw and light based urban art installation
. It is a little trite in some of the ways it is executed but I could see something far more substantial and serious in Portland one day.
Trolling the art world is a thing
and some of this has little basis, some of this is hilariously valid.
Jerry Saltz makes up with MoMA
... kinda. It is true that most museums are experiencing a tremendous identity crisis these days trying to balance popular and serious pursuits but the real issue is how well thought out the new MoMA expansion plan will be. MoMA has deservedly received massive blowback for losing their edge and seriousness recently but the new building configuration will cement or correct those errors
. Everyone is watching this (Jerry does not sound enthused after seeing the latest designs). This is all the more important since the Whitney and Metropolitan are both poised to usurp MoMA's place in NYC
(and the world's) in the hierarchy of relevance. The thing is other museum's tend to follow their lead but I'm not convinced any of them are on the right track. Museums are in a difficult position as they occupy that difficult place between patronage, populism and relevance, the last seems to consistently get the short straw because the quality of and institutional trust in curatorial expertise has been slipping.
OPB did an exit interview with Tom Manley
but it doesn't tell us much other than he did not seek out Antioch, they invited him to apply. PORT broke the story locally (even before PNCA) but it was strangely quiet when it was announced he was leaving the city
. It was also incredibly wrong because Tom was the single most influential leader in Portland over the past 12 years. That's not art leadership... that is leadership period. My reasoning is that he caught the wave of new Portland like no other institutional leader and he listened and collaborated with most everyone... even me (he did well despite that). The 511 building project was complete
so I expected Tom would leave but the butthurt of silence the rest of the local media exhibited was embarrassing. Fact, Portland needs to improve how it treats leadership. Good people are hard to find and they will go elsewhere... we were lucky to have Tom as long as we did. Are there problems with all higher ed... yes. Hint, it isnt just buildings that they need... it is endowed programs, scholarships and teaching positions as physical plant alone is just one leg of the 4 legged table. Once again, if Portland wants to keep its best and brightest it needs to reward talent first and foremost or it will leave.... other cities/institutions are actively pursuing Portland's best in all categories. PNCA should pick a replacement who doubles down on capital "T" Talent and knows how to fund the best and brightest as a function of sustaining excellence. That is the new era Portland must address.