Texas to NY to Texas to Columbus, OH

When I first knew I’d go to grad school, I wasn’t sure what for. I just knew that my brand new BA in Art History from a state school that most people outside the state have never heard of wasn’t going to get me far.

A few years after finishing undergrad working at a doctor’s office, I was feeling a little antsy and got an idea. I wanted to start a community arts center. To me museums were (and are) like church. Spiritual, contemplative places that are technically open to everyone but lots of people who may appreciate art do not feel at home there. I wanted to bridge the gap between the Art Institution and the person who could benefit from making or being around art (ahem, everyone). I started to explore graduate programs. To get into communities, to connect with people, you go through the kids. My plan was to have after school art classes, maybe in a building where there are studios behind and common areas in front. Give artists discounts or free rent for teaching art classes to the kids.

So I looked at art education programs – I would learn all about arts education, while also looking into nonprofit management on my own. Then, to my surprise & joy, The Ohio State University’s huge, excellent Art Education Department contained a program called “Arts Administration.” This is a thing! I found others and applied to 4 Art Administration programs (NYU, Ohio State, Indiana, and Oregon) and University of Texas’s Art Ed program.

I talked to friends and family about the idea, they all had input about what sorts of arts would need to be in a proper community arts center. ALL of them! Continue reading

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Day After Reading: Around the USA

Through a fun grapevine of New York professionals &  friends, I got connected with a graphic artist named Luodvic Balland to help with publicity for his project Day After Reading. Balland is traveling with a team of journalists, historians and supporters to interview people about the news. What is your earliest memory of the news? How do you get your news? etc. They started in New York City, went to Philadelphia, Detroit, Chicago, Nashville, Memphis, St. Louis (where they got to be on the Washington University (aka WUSTL) campus during the debate that was also held there.

Now, I am helping to arrange interviews around the country, an exciting, fast-paced job for someone in a small town. I’ve gotten to speak to folks all around the country to see if they or a colleague or friend could be interviewed. Julie from Robert’s in Nashville is THE best! Jesse Lee Jones has a great story to tell, and I bet Julie does too.

The following city, in Memphis they were interviewed for a post on The Atlantic’s CityLab.

Today we interview the Mayor of Dallas, Mike Rawlings, then go to the Texas State Fair! What do you recommend we eat while there, fellow Texans?

Afterward, they will head west to go to Marfa and Fort Davis to visit the Chinati foundation and McDonald Observatory, respectively. I would love to go out west with them, but I will stay in Waco for about 5 days, then go off to Columbus, Ohio for a community leaders initiative of NeighborWorks America.

They will then go on to New Orleans, Miami, and DC for the election. More to come!

Image: Claire Sexton, Dr. Tiffany Anthony, abdominal transplant surgeon, during her interview 10/12/16 at Baylor Medical Center Dallas.

Permanent Collection Re-Hang at the Fort Worth Modern

Visiting the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth was a pleasant rediscovery, since I’d been in New York for the majority of the time the Modern has been open in its Tadao Ando-designed building in museum district. Full disclosure: I may be biased, I have such warm fuzzy feelings for that area of Cowtown. I went to high school in nearby Arlington and spent many hours on the Kimbell Museum’s lawn in high school and during college breaks. I only went to the Modern once before they opened the Ando building in 2002, and didn’t have the faintest idea how strong their collection was.  

In a new installation of permanent collection works the curators have given us fresh eyes to see the undersung collection. In the smaller of the second floor gallery spaces, usually reserved for director-favorite Sean Scully, is a Robert Motherwell survey  of 70+ works, all from the museum’s extensive holdings. For some reason I did not have it in my head that Motherwell was making his Elegies to the Spanish Republic until as late as 1990. Schooled! That is one long-running series, as he began making them in 1948.

Not an Elegy: Robert Motherwell, “The Garden Window (Open No. 110),” 1969. 

The first floor galleries give a fresh look at items in the collection that have spent some time in storage, as over half of the 60+ pieces currently on view were not in the previous permanent collection installation. Also new is that the works are not arranged strictly by chronology, but in a more narrative theme of movements. Beginning with the figurative, led by heavy hitters like Picasso, Francis Bacon, and Milton Avery,  and followed by an entire gallery of Philip Guston, the viewer is led through abstract works, pop art, then into the minimal. Some of my favorites included Ben Shahn’s “Allegory,” several Morris Louis canvases that do not disappoint, and “Male Head IV” by new-to-me artist David Bates.  

The museum has a strong showing of permanent installations, most notably works with spaces designed around them: Martin Puryear’s ever-so-tall “Ladder for Booker T. Washington,” and Anselm Kiefer’s “Book with Wings” in its unusual round gallery. I am as impressed by that round gallery as I am by the artwork itself (which is to say, I don’t love the sculpture but I do love the oval-shaped home). Two other permanent highlights of a visit to the museum are Richard Serra’s “Vortex” in the front of the building and Roxy Paine’s “Conjoined” on the back lawn. Visible from many angles within the museum and cafe, “Conjoined” gleams silver in the sunlight, set off by the green lawn across the reflecting pool, a welcome bit of shiny irregularity against the careful vertical and horizontal lines of the building itself. Interesting note: when looking up the Paine trees on The Modern’s site and in a Google image search, I found that I disliked many of the images. Nearly all are taken from the vantage point of the back wall of the sculpture garden, with the building in the background. Truly, the building is lovely, but those shots don’t do the sculpture much justice. A fresh reminder of how important it is to see art in person whenever possible, eh?

Straight lines and reflections: #museumselfie with a Jenny Holzer in the background.

Once I’ve seen the full exhibition of Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic (through Jan. 10, 2016) I’ll share here, and there is a Frank Stella retrospective in the pipes, to open April 17, 2016.