Look who showed up in the New York Times, Portland’s old Appendix gang is going to be moving American Medium to Chelsea. Congrats, we singled them out a very long time ago as ones to watch in this article from 2009 (they had a 5 year run in Portland as an incubator). As for terms like “Post Internet”, like other terrible terms see; Minimalism, Postmodernism, Modernism, Cubism, Fauvism and Expressionism etc… its a very weak description of what is going on. More accurately it is the way geek cultures have flourished since the computer age made sharing sometimes obscure interests easier but it predates the internet and is more wholly related to the collateral effects of the computer/information age. Lots of luck as a Chelsea gallery is a very difficult thing to pull off these days if you aren’t selling blue chip work. That said its what the art world needs to do.
Then there is the whole mess with the Metropolitan Museum’s ouster of its Director. Everyone, everywhere during my travels wanted to talk about this and Vanity Fair did a decent job of unpacking it. Really what happened was the way the Director bled out institutional experience in favor of updating agendas… and there was inter office blowback. It has nothing to do with deficits which the Met routinely runs (its a typical non profit shell game). The thing is the Met was a supreme repository of institutional knowledge (much of it arcane)… yet was moving too fast into new digital interfaces and educational mandates. With encyclopedic museums there is a danger there… to undervalue what it already does well and many such institutions have had similar problems. Basically it is disrespect for one’s core competencies and I see it as a moment where the war on expertise (in the guise of edutainment) had an interesting little big horn moment. The problem is further exacerbated as many digitally savvy Gen X and Millenials just don’t feel like museums are speaking to them anymore as a front for the 1%. That is a big problem, but I dont think losing core competencies is the right way to go. Charging tourists isnt the right way either… go open source. Simply put, museum’s need to be a very physical manifestation of the rich making riches available to all.
Last but not least the Portland Art Museum’s Rothko Pavilion plan is causing some friction and Bike Portland covers it. I’m a big proponent of the Rothko Pavilion… it was my idea before PAM ever thought it even possible. Still, I believe this is a good thing. I believe that PAM was making a very understated architectural footprint to avoid stirring these sentiments up but what they needed was a bit more architectural temerity (this isnt a 1% grab of public space since the pavilion would be open to foot traffic). OK tough questions… can Vinci Hamp do a redesign that goes beyond just the basic “museum” dictates and creates something that becomes an amenity for the Park Blocks and casual passers by? Perhaps a more adventurous architect is required? Privately, I have always indicated to PAM’s director that this needs to bring the museum and park blocks together as a mixing zone rather than present PAM as a bunker. I just think this site is more complicated than the current design contends with. Yes, adressing these issues will cost more $$$ but I believe the added complexity will help both PAM and the South Park blocks area become something more than what hey are… islands. What is more I’m not certain this needs to be a cyclist’s super highway through the museum… that isn’t a realistic or sober goal. The current space has some foot traffic and almost no bike traffic… a redesign could be more inviting… perhaps to a rooftop sculpture garden open for free 9AM-PM as a kind of Highline? My best advice is PAM needs to be more like a park and less like a museum. That is something very difficult for most museums and boards to understand. I could also bring some Rothko lore into this take as well. Basically… I believe there is a solution and it will make both the passer by and museum experiences better. Right now as it is the street and museum experiences are bit of a mixed bag and I hope all sides see this as an opportunity.
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