Friday, March 17, 2006


I've been talking with a DC gallerist about the apparent divide between DC museums and DC galleries. This affects artists directly. Less interaction means there exists a disconnect that stops the DC arts scene from growth and recognition. I remember reading an excellent review of Mary Early's show at Hemphill. The title made me squirm though: When is a Gallery Visit of Value? Mike O'Sullivan's words speak to the general attitude of DC's established curators and news writers.

Take this list of non-DC curators vs DC curators who visited this sources gallery:

MOMA (several times)
MFA Boston (several times)
UVA (several times)
Mint Museum
LA County
Museum of the City of New York
Dallas Museum of Art
Old Dominion University
Brooklyn Museum
MFA Houston
also many times from Sotheby's and Christie's

In that same timeframe, as far as I know:

- Several visits from Jonathan Binstock (Corcoran) - 3 or so
- One visit from Stacey Schmidt (just left Corcoran -
- One visit from Philip Brookman
- Several from Eric Denker
- Zero visits from J.Serwer (just left Corcoran)
- Zero visits from Binstock's predecessor (Terry Sultan)
- None that I know of from Paul Roth

- One visit from photography curator at National Portrait Gallery a few years ago to see a big NY-based artist
- Zero

- One visit from Stephen Bennett Phillips

- Two visits from Olga Viso
- One visit from Kristen Hileman
- One visit from Phyllis Rosenzweig
- Zero visits from Kerry Brougher
- Zero visits from Anne Ellegood
- None from any of the other Hirshhorn curators

This is in a 150 show time period. My jaw doth drop.

But with the interaction between arts blog and art print resolving (however slowly), the next breach to target is the museum/gallery divide, one that if even partially attacked could result in big gains for artists in a city with incredible, mostly-free museums. Looking at the way museum curators have yet to bat an eye at Warren's massive Postsecret, how big a success does an artist or gallery exhibit have to be to get a nod from museums?

TO THE ARTISTS READING: Prove me wrong. Mention any studio visits by museum curators here. Gallerists, do the same.


Blogger igotmoxie said...

wow, that's good. i wish i had something to add.
as someone who just curated a big show at the warehouse, i had a ridiculous time trying to get bigwigs to come out to see the show.
i sent special notes to galleries like the 'america oh yes!' gallery because it would have been right up their alley. i don't think they came.

3:25 PM, March 20, 2006  
Anonymous Paul R said...

Hi Adrian, what gallery is this? I can tell you if I've been. I can also tell you why or why not. If you don't want to say who in your blog, just send to my work email...

8:07 PM, March 20, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rather than having Paul R reveal your sources, he should tell your readers what DC galleries he has been to in the last five years and why... could be interesting!!!

11:12 PM, March 20, 2006  
Anonymous Paul R said...

Hi, in answer to the appropriately named "anonymous," I've been to several galleries locally but I don't get to any as often as I'd like. Some of the DC ones I have visited in the last year or so are, in approx. order of frequency: the late Fusebox, Hemphill, G Fine Art, Irvine, Conner Contemp., Numark, Ewing Gallery, Touchstone; my favorite non-profits and small spaces are Transformer, DCAC, National Academy of Sciences (wish I had been to Curator's Office which seems great, but I haven't I'm embarrassed to admit). I wish I could go more, as I imagine any curator would. But for the most part these visits are on my own time on the weekends and for various reasons I spend more time in the local museums and at the cinema because that's what feeds my intellect and my work for the most part. I don't want to single out what I like and don't like about galleries, there are many reasons for why I go or don't go. The shows on tap, the weather, what else I have to do in my life, what I'm doing at work, what interests I have at the time, what chance I have of doing anything with what's on the walls, etc. There's a common misconception that all curators should visit all shows. This is of course impossible. I would like to know more about what's happening in town -- there have been some developments locally (artist collectives etc.) I have only been peripherally involved with/aware of, to my regret. Nevertheless I have worked on many solo shows of local artists, both here at the Corcoran and elsewhere, as a writer and curator. Included many local artists in group shows. Have acquired many works by local photographers for our collection (not that we have money for acquisitions). Have spoken to artists groups, and juried local shows, and interacted in any number of other ways both formally and informally with artists at all stages of their careers. A list of these actions would be easy to assemble. But the truth is that as far as local artists and dealers are concerned, curators can never do enough for the local scene. I don't blame anyone for having the perception we should do more, that's just the way it is.

10:53 AM, March 21, 2006  
Anonymous Heather R said...

Irvine Contemporary has had visits by Olga Viso, several Hirshhorn curators, Paul Roth & Jonathan Binstock, VMFA curator John Ravenal in the last 6 months alone, all for different shows and artists.

6:50 PM, March 21, 2006  

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