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The Curator Is In, May 5, 2011

Posted on by Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Jennifer Olivarez: Hi, everyone! We’re ready for your questions!

James V.: As you begin to add video works to the permament collection, why don’t you consider dedicating a small gallery to video projection? It would be so much nicer to watch in a darkened room than just on the wall someplace (like the Bill Viola, which is in an unfortunate spot, in my opinion).

David Little: We are working on it. At the same time a lot of video today seeks to avoid the black box experience, and we want new works to engage the historic collection.

Patty W.: Are you going to exhibit Margaret Wall-Romana’s wonderful work again? Do you know if she is exhibiting in our area?

Christopher Atkins: Thanks for your question about Margaret Wall-Romana’s paintings. We’ve been very happy with the response to her work, everyone really enjoyed the show. Since the show came down only last month there aren’t any plans to show her work again so soon. She is quite prolific though so I’m sure you’re going to be hearing (and seeing!) more from her. Make sure to follow her website:

David E:  What is the total worth of the whole MIA collection? (ballpark)

Christopher Atkins: The MIA collection is priceless. You can’t put a value on so many objects from so many cultures created over thousands of years.

Patrick Noon: More than a ballpark.

Kate B.: What has been one of the most challenging exhibitions to install and why?

Christopher Atkins: Speaking for MAEP, “Foot in the Door 4” was the most challenging for us. By far. We had 4800 2-d and 3-d works hung and placed through 3 full galleries. Here’s a great time-lapse video showing the process.

Liz Armstrong: “In the Spirit of Fluxus” (which was a while ago) still rates as one of the most challenging exhibitions I ever worked on (we had to find fresh elephant dung among many other unusual endeavors), but I think our upcoming “More Real?“ exhibition (2012) will present us with lots of new opportunities to install hyperreal objects and environments….

David Little: The Sports Show” that I am working on right now. There is just so much material to choose from and, unlike most subjects that curators work on, there are a lot of sports experts in general public who will be visiting the show!

Dennis Michael Jon: As a graphics specialist, books are my biggest installation challenge, since they rarely lay flat when opened and often require custom mounts and page strapping.

Jennifer Olivarez:  Kate, I’ve enjoyed working with the textiles, but they can have their own challenges in not wanting to be completely smooth and flat. A lot different from placing chairs!

Jan-Lodewijk Grootaers: This comes from Sudan. Any idea what it is?

Jennifer S.: Wow. Well now I have the visual. Thank you. I get what you mean by tricky. As for mounting, I think that is a decision for a curator:) Or you could just include this photograph on a label.

Jennifer S.: What’s the most challenging part of your job?

Christian Peterson: Applying nail polish to my toenails when they’re underwater. Do you have any advice?

Jennifer S.: Yes. Take your toenails out of the water.

Jennifer Olivarez: Trying to decide what objects to put into an exhibition…the editing process is grueling!

Liz Armstrong: Finding the time to get into artists’ studios and seeing new work while also researching objects, writing for exhibitions, advising on acquisitions, working with donors, raising money… you get the idea.

Jennifer S.: What was the most fulfilling project you worked on?

David Little: Any project that involves the registrar.

Jennifer S.: Ha ha.

Joe Horse Capture: They are a great bunch of people!

Patrick Noon: This year Titian.

Carissa G.: The books in the last room at Titian were very fun to look at. Well-chosen.

Dennis Michael Jon: “Pop on Paper” exhibition of a few years back, because of the MIA’s strong collection of Pop graphics.

Jennifer S.: I should have added, “and why?”

Jennifer S.:  That was for you, Patrick.

Joe Horse Capture: For me, it was “From Our Ancestors: Art of the White Clay People.”

Jan-Lodewijk Grootaers: Working with the Interactive Media colleagues on the “iAfrica” exhibition, which involved developing an African thumb piano application for the iTouch.

Patrick Noon: Because it demonstrated resoundingly that old master paintings shows are a draw in our community.

Bruce R.: I was surprised last time to find out the MIA does not have an extensive collection of Scandinavian art, at least not on display but it was nice to find out you have some. So this being Minnesota with its Scandinavian heritage I was wondering why Scandinavian art does not have a larger presence in the MIA collection or on display? Just curious.

Christopher Atkins: Hi Bruce. I’m sitting next to Prints curator Tom Rassieur. And he wants you to know that you are welcome to come to the Print Study Room to explore our collection of Anders Zorn prints plus we’ve got some pretty fine Munchs too. Call 612-870-3105 to make an appointment.

Jennifer Olivarez: Hi Bruce, I am currently doing research on Finnish design for an exhibition for 2014. There will be a special exhibition next week in New York as a part of the Helsinki World Design Capital 2012 which is very exciting! Keep your eyes peeled… for more on this. In the meantime, we will be featuring several examples of Scandinavian design from 1945 to the present in the exhibition “The Experiment Continues,” which opens in our Cargill Gallery on May 19.

Joe Horse Capture: And we have this rare work in the collection.

Jennifer Olivarez: Bruce, we also have some Finnish printed textiles in the current exhibition “Magnifying Nature: 1960s Printed Textiles“!

Patrick Noon: traditionally the focus had been Dutch, French and Italian paintings although recently we have been exhibiting and acquiring Scandinavian works with conviction.

Dennis Michael Jon: A few years ago, the MIA organized an exhibition of etchings by Anders Zorn, who is widely regarded as one of Sweden’s leading artists. All of the objects displayed were from the permanent collection.

Bruce R.: Thanks Everyone I will check out your recommendations! Thanks also for taking the time to do “The Curator Is In”

Thomas Rassieur: Thanks, Bruce. We hope to see you and your friends in the Study Room.

James L. S.: Well I guess you got your answer Bruce. Only in Minnesota! Just sayin’.. ;-)

Kate B.: Do curators ever collaborate with other groups or people in the community?

David Little: Yes, we do quite a bit of work with MCAD, especially when artists visit Minneapolis

Liz Armstrong: Right now some of our collaborations in the community include working with art professors at the U of M, teachers and students at Washburn H.S., MSP Film Festival, and Northern Lights on Northern Spark.

Christopher Atkins: This year, we started a brand new collaboration with Minneapolis College of Art and Design called “MCAD@MIA” where students submitted proposals for site-specific projects. This year Carla Alexandra Rodriguez and Ethan Holbrook’s “A Continued Presence” sound installation was installed in our 2nd floor rotunda and will be on display thru May 22. It was a great experience, we’re looking forward to doing it again next year!

Thomas Rassieur: Yes, Kate, I’m happy to say that we do. One very gratifying collaboration with members of the deaf community was a day of special sessions featuring objects by deaf artists.

Jennifer Olivarez: Kate, I’ve done exhibitions with the Walker, the Weisman, and borrowed from the American Swedish Institute and the Goldstein Museum of Design. I really enjoy sharing the riches of the community in different ways, as well as using the talents of other curators!

Eike Schmidt: We also work with members of the blind community (and I’m not referring to other curators here).

Jennifer Olivarez: Here’s a great new addition to our Prairie School collection. Any reactions?

Eike Schmidt: Well done, Jennifer!

Jennifer Olivarez: This suite was designed and made in Minnesota, but lived most of its life outside the state. It’s now back permanently. It was once thought of as a Frank Lloyd Wright design, but it is now rightly recognized as being by Purcell and Elmslie.

Thomas Rassieur: Thank goodness these beautiful pieces will remain in Minnesota!

Christian Peterson: Does this piece have a leaf and more chairs? It’s sort of a small “set” as it appears here.

Jennifer Olivarez: Why yes, Christian, there are four more chairs and two table leaves on their way to Minnesota to join this set. The leaves attach at the ends so the beautiful square table top doesn’t have a seam down the middle.

Megan W. D.:  Woo hoo! Congrats!

Christian Peterson: We recently bought an unusual photograph by Ansel Adams; it’s not a landscape. Take a look.

Thomas Rassieur: Christian, that’s cool. Should it be seen in landscape or portrait format?

Dennis Michael Jon: Great acquisition and fascinating image. Certainly not what first comes to mind when thinking about Adams’ work.

Christian Peterson: Actually, this photograph was presented both horizontally and vertically during Adams’s life. We have opted for vertical, believing it is more dramatic that way, but it shows up here the other way (by mistake).

Jennifer Olivarez: I love this photo! If it were earlier in date, I would have asked if I can include it in the exhibition “The Experiment Continues“! It’s photography and design.

Carol B.: Was the Paul Revere tea set made by Paul Revere who made the famous ride, or by his son?

Eike Schmidt: By the very guy! He was multi-talented. We are very proud to own this most complete set, something that all Bostonians are very jealous of.

Christian Peterson: So Eike, was he more accomplished as a horse rider or silversmith?

Carol B.: Thank you. I know his son, also named Paul Revere, was a silversmith, too. This is one of my favorite items.

Eike Schmidt: I’d argue that his training as a silversmith helped him handle the horses. And then he was a very successful engraver as well – also clearly thanks to his training as a silversmith.

Minneapolis Institute of Arts: If you could acquire an object from another department, what would you choose?

Joe Horse Capture: I would put this on the Doryphoros. He would look great!

Eike Schmidt: Sorry, wrong shirt size – he’d need an XXXL.

Jan-Lodewijk Grootaers: I would acquire Saint Benedict of Parlermo, recently added to the Department of Decorative Arts, Textiles, and Sculpture collection. He was the first African saint in the last 1,500 years. It is a beautiful sculpture.

Liz Armstrong: The Egon Schiele drawing in the Prints and Drawings department is exquisite. It’s in the Print Study Room right now if you want to make an appointment to see it up close. Schiele’s work still feels contemporary…and timeless.

Thomas Rassieur: It might well be the Ife head. Or, it could be Rembrandt’s Lucretia. Or, I tell you there are soooooooo many wonderful things here, it’s really hard to choose!

Elaine S.:  I would like the little Emil Carlsen still life, please.

Minneapolis Institute of Arts: Ta-ta for now!

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