The Art Gym names Ashley Stull Meyers as its new Director and curator. Good that she has a background in marginalized communities… but how is she on dissent? Portland is a city of dissonance but its arts institutions are mostly very safe… rewarding those who sit on panels but not work that causes an uproar or provoke discussion. It is a civic weakness that requires correcting rather than mutual congratulation societies. We wish her well and hope she has the full support of the university as these programs have come under increasing pressure. What’s more Portland is a notoriously tough place to fund raise and being new often means 5-10 years of proving yourself.
Artnet asks who the most influential curators were. That’s an interesting question, mostly because curators… particularly those at museums have been losing cache (going mostly to directors, most who act like curators but often arent… when they are both the split attention can be a blessing or curse). I wont make a silly top 10 list but here are my picks: My favorite was likely William Rubin (whose time at MoMA explored risk as cultural currency), other MoMA greats like Alfred Barr, Kirk Varnedoe and Robert Storr all matter. Im a fan of Lynne Cooke and I want to name Ann Philbin who is technically a director. Pontus Hulten, Okwui Enwezor, Hans Obrist, Paul Schimmel and the brilliant Walter Hopps come to mind as well. We just dont have that many brilliant curators at major museums any more… they typically act like investment portfolio managers managing risk rather than tastemakers who explore the currency of cultural risk. Hmmm, I could play this game for days… There should be more women (almost all the curators in Portland are women) and the lists are very white.
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