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The Curator Is In, August 4, 2011

Posted on by sbernhardt

MIA: Our curators are now online. Bring on the questions!

Canupa W.W.E.: When will u be having another Native American exhibit?

Joe Horse Capture: @Canupa: We are installing our next Native American exhibition now, and will open next Saturday. Here’s the link for more info:​ex.php?section_id=2&exh_id​=4218 and here’s what we did this morning! (btw, that’s not me in the pic . . . )

Diane M.: When are you going to exhibit MY art? (Hey, it’s worth a shot!) In all seriousness, I would love to see a George Morrison exhibit!

Joe Horse Capture: @Diane M.: The Minnesota Museum of Art is working on a major George Morrision exhibition that will open in the next couple of years.

Diane M.: FANTASTIC! It made me so sad that I didn’t discover him until just before he died, and he lived near the area where I live. I love his work so much.

Poetry In Motion Dance Company: We’d love to see a dance exhibit were local dance companies perform a specific gallery theme in several different galleries throughout a specified time period. We would love to work with you on something like this. Have you ever done something like this before?

Liz Armstrong: Most of our work with dance companies has been in the context of special events related to exhibitions and openings. But we have talked about this recently when we were work shopping a future exhibition idea. I think there may be some other opportunities, too, so thanks for expressing your interest.

Poetry In Motion Dance Company: Liz, Thanks for answering our question. We are in LA performing this week, but will be back soon. We’d love to talk more. You can always reach us at Thanks again.

Janet W.: What ever happened to William Bouguereau’s “Bohemian?” I loved that painting so much.

Patrick Noon: It is in a lovely house in Florida

Janet W.: To Patrick – Well, that’s one house I wish to visit.

Michelle M.G.: Are there plans to expand the Greco-Roman art halls, or change out some of the pieces? There is so much that influences/gives rise to other areas of the museum, I’d love to dig deeply into that era of art history.

Corine Wegener: Our ancient collection is fairly small for a museum of our size. It would be great to expand in that area but very difficult to find great pieces with a clear history of ownership.

Michelle M.G.: also–I loved the Mourners exhibit when that came through MIA. I didn’t expect such a variegated experience

Erika Holmquist-Wall: @Michelle: Thank you! That was such a great installation to work on, and our partnership with the Rose Ensemble (for the music) really added to the gallery experience.

Roshelle M.: Do you still have Rembrant’s Lucretia? I loved that collection!

Erika Holmquist-Wall: @Roshelle: Yes, the Lucretia hangs in gallery 311. Come visit us!

Natasha T.: How does a museum like the MIA go about building a contemporary art collection? Do you try to predict an artist/object’s value to future generations, do you collect what you like, or do you try to select a broad range of works that represent something of the time?

Liz Armstrong: At the MIA, we are building our contemporary collection on the strengths of our historical holdings, which reflect a broad representation of the world’s cultures and histories. We’re therefore collecting contemporary art from around the world. A recent selection of these new acquisitions will be on view starting next month in an exhibition called “World Beats: Contemporary Global Art” that will included major works by Kehinde Wiley, Yinka Shonibare, Willie Cole, Mona Hatoum, and many others.
P.S. Another key element in our selection of new works is how well they represent critical ideas of our time, in balance with their aesthetic innovation and power. In short, the answer to your question is complicated and can’t easily be reduced to 2 or 3 qualities.

Natasha T.: I’ve been thinking about contemporary art and its relationship to an encyclopedic museum. You must face very different challenges than a museum like the Walker. World Beats sounds exciting!

Pamela G.: Could you tell us about finding new Islamic art acquisitions, and/or if you’re planning an exhibition to bring in more of those works?

Jan-Lodewijk Grootaers: The African galleries will be completely re-installed in 2012, and one of the sections will display an ensemble of Islam-related objects from the various parts of Africa. Down the line, we intend to organize a big survey exhibition on Islamic art and architecture in Africa, which would include contemporary works.
There are two galleries on the second floor devoted to Islamic art, mainly from the Near East and Western Asia. Opposite the Islamic galleries are the African Galleries. Here too we have a few Islamic pieces, since Islam has an important history in Northern, Eastern, and Western Africa. The presence of Islamic art in the African galleries will be developed in the coming months, with more pieces form Somalia and other countries with important communities in the Twin Cities.

Christian Peterson: Hi Pam, Christian here. Would you like me to tell you about finding new “Christian” art acquisitions? Best to Frankie.

Megan D.: What, if any, research projects are you all working on and what do those projects mean for the museum?

Erika Holmquist-Wall: Hi, Megan! We’re always doing collections research, of course, and most of the special exhibitions that we have planned require a great deal of background research. I have a couple of exhibition proposals that I am working on, as well as an “online dossier show” focused on our portrait of Princess Charlotte by Jean Clouet. Stay tuned!

Christopher Atkins: Hi Megan, this isn’t technically research but I’m working on an online MAEP application. It’ll be possible for artists to submit their images, resume, artist statement, and proposal in a really easy to use interface. We hope this will be a big time saver for artists, as well as cut down on waste, and save everyone some postage. Stay tuned for it in the next few months!

Joe Horse Capture: @ Megan: I am working on an exhibition about the art of Native American courting.

Curt L.: @Joe, my family & I recently had the opportunity to follow a tour at the Heard focusing in part on courtship and marriage — was really illuminating. Very excited to see more on this theme here at home!

Christian Peterson: My next show, that opens in mid September, is of Panoramic Photographs. In addition to the typical horizontal landscapes, there will be some vertical pieces, plus a dental x-ray, an installation piece, and, get this, a coffee can with a reproduction of an image by Ansel Adams. Fun stuff.

Liz Armstrong: We’re organizing a new exhibition titled “More Real? Art in the Age of Truthiness” that looks at the slippage between fact and fiction (and other shifting realities) in contemporary culture as seen through the eyes of 25 international contemporary artists. It opens next year at SITE Santa Fe in July 2012 and at the MIA in March 2013. There’s more information on our website, and stay tuned…

Patrick Noon: I am organizing an exhibition on Delacroix and his legacy, with the National Gallery London

Emmalynn B.: Curators, all biases aside, what collection of the museum would you like to see expanded?

Erika Holmquist-Wall: Nordic art/design.
..and the medieval collection. 19th century American painting, Dada and Surrealism, and a few pieces of the Canadian Group of Seven. :) But I’m not biased, I promise!

David Little: contemporary and african and, of course, photography and new media!

Corine Wegener: Arms and armor! Unfortunately, complete armors from the 15th and 16th centuries are rare outside already existing museum collections. When they do come up they are really expensive!

Patrick Noon: British watercolors

Liz Armstrong: Since we’ve just started to focus on contemporary art (post-1960 to the present) over the past two years, this is definitely a priority for the museum. It’s even on the top of our current “Strategic Plan.”

James V.: Great!

Dennis Michael Jon: @Emmalynn: Would love to see more British modernist paintings and drawings, especially early Pop examples from the pioneers of the movement…Peter Blake, Richard Hamilton, Eduardo Paolozzi, etc.

James V.: And Lucian Frued and Francis Bacon.

Irena K.: I have 2 (1/2) questions!
1). What is the most stressful thing about being a curator?
2). If you could meet any artist, living or dead, who it would be and what one question would you ask of them?

Christopher Atkins: I can only speak for myself but “The Curator Is In” is definitely the most stressful part of my job!

Erika Holmquist-Wall: Probably the most stressful part of my job is the multitasking; we wear a lot of hats, and change them several times a day!

Christian Peterson: As a curator who periodically looks at work by living photographers, I have to say “no” to many who are hoping that the museum will either buy or exhibit their work. So that can be a little “stressful.” But maybe it’s not the most stressful element of the job.
I think I would ask every famous dead photographer the same thing: “Would you please give me your most valuable photograph.” Thanks, now I can retire.

David Little: 1. publication deadlines 2. Piero della Francesca, and I would ask if he could donate a few works to the MIA

Liz Armstrong: I wish I had met Marcel Duchamp, and I would have asked him if he discussed his last work (Etant Donne) with anyone while he was secretly working on.

Patrick Noon: William Blake, what were you thinking?

Corine Wegener: Most stressful is trying to narrow down the number of objects for an exhibition – also answering questions on Facebook…

Rachel McGarry: I would love to be seated between Peter Paul Rubens and Voltaire at a dinner party.
Most stressful aspect of the job would probably be finding money for all the things we want to accomplish…I would, for instance, like to re-glaze all of our pastels and watercolors with Optium Plexiglass, but it would cost $30,000 or so. Anyone interested in funding this endeavor?

Michael H.: What exhibit have you been the least passionate about and how did you grow to become passionate about it during it’s run or did that not happen?

Patrick Noon: In general we only take on projects that we are passionate about to begin with

Michael H.: So there’s not been heated discussions between all of you?

Erika Holmquist-Wall: Generally, no. We all have different areas of interest, occasionally collaborate, and ask for advice or opinions when we need it.

Set V.G.: Hello curators, What is the appropriate beverage for a curator to consume after acquiring the “perfect” piece of art? As a corollary, if a particularly coveted piece on the market were lost to another museum or collection, how might a curator be consoled?

Dennis Michael Jon: Mojita. Two mojitos.

Set V.G.: And then the bartender announces: “The curator is in!”

Corine Wegener: Bombay Sapphire martini, dirty.

David Little: Martini, shaken, not stirred? No drink.

Christopher Atkins: That’s a really good question…

Christian Peterson: Oh, that’s an easy one. One must use Seagram’s Gin, because it’s slogan is, truthfully, “The Perfect Gin.”

Set V.G.: Diet Coke for me. Guess that’s why I’m not a curator.

Rachel McGarry: For consoling myself for the one that got away, I fix myself a cup of PG Tips tea and cozy up to a tall stack of auction catalogues

Thomas Rassieur: When THE ONE gets away, we are inconsolable. Fortunately, sometimes THE ONE reappears. There are works of art that I have tracked for years before they eventually came into the collection, such as Rembrandt’s etching St. Jerome Beside a Pollard Willow or John Linnell’s oil painting on paper Evening, Storm Clearing Off. Thank goodness they’re here. Come see the Rembrandt in the Jones Print Study Room and the Linnell in Gallery 321.

Paul W.: Do you have any joint projects planned with local museums/arts organizations? (Walker, History Center, Goldstein, Northern Clay, etc.) Is there any regional arts group that works to coordinate efforts for better synergy?

Dennis Michael Jon: A retrospective exhibition of Minneapolis-based Highpoint Editions opens at the MIA on September 24.

Curt L.: One could add Minnesota Center for Book Arts, Textile Center, and Highpoint to that list. All would no doubt be engaging and enthusiastic partners!

Christopher Atkins: Hi Paul, MAEP works with all variet of MN artists and organizations. Most recently we partnered with Minneapolis College of Art and Design on “MCAD@MIA” where current MCAD students propose a site-specific project to be installed in the museum. As for other groups that coordinate among others, you should “like” Works Progress. They do a great job of working with arts organizations as well as reaching out to communities all over the city.

David Little: Yes, we have collaborations coming up with UMN, MCAD, and other institutions to be named later!

Christian Peterson: In our current exhibition of portraits of photographers, we borrowed pictures from the Minnesota History Center, Minnesota Museum of American Art, and the Walker.

Liz Armstrong: We’re working on a partnership with the Minneapolis-St. Paul Film Society for a film series related to the upcoming exhibition “More Real? Art in the Age of Truthiness.”

Eike Schmidt: We have also just recently loaned an important textile by Helena Hernamrck to the Cargill Foundation.

Paul W.: Truthiness? Careful. I heard that everytime you use that word you have to send Stephen Colbert $.25 :)

Emmalynn B.: What are the curators reading these days–art related or otherwise?

Liu Yang: various books, believe or not, poetry…

Dennis Michael Jon: New biography of American abstract painter Joan Mitchell…highly recommended.

Joe Horse Capture: I am reading Chasing Aphrodite: The Hunt for Looted Antiquities at the World’s Richest Museum.

Corine Wegener: The Iliad – tough going, but lots of discussion about ancient arms and armor, something I’m researching for an upcoming project.

Christian Peterson: Every Sunday I read the New York Times, sometimes even the Art section. It’s the only day I get my hands dirty with newsprint ink.

Erika Holmquist-Wall: I just ordered the new Norton Simon biography/catalogue – I can’t wait to dive into it! And on summer weekends at the cabin, I’ve got my nose in the Kurt Wallander mystery series. I’m a big fan of Nordic noir. :)

Christopher Atkins: My latest vacation book was Richard Yates’s “Revolutionary Road.” And before that I read Teju Cole’s “Open City.” By the way, you can download both of them to your iPad!

Patrick Noon: The recently published 2 vol edited edition of Eugene Delacroix’s Journal – in French alas.

David Little: Gerald Early’s new book, A Level Playing Field, and Leni Riefenstahl’s Memoir in small doses

Rachel McGarry: I’m reading Jonathan Franzen’s “Freedom,” which is terrific, and also Eric Hebborn’s “Drawn to Trouble: Confessions of a Master Forger”

Thomas Rassieur: Just finished “Provenance: How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art,” a good summer read about an incredibly elaborate art fraud that took place in England but had repercussions all over the world.

Emmalynn B.: Curators, if your respective collections could have a soundtrack, what would be playing in the gallery?

Liz Armstrong: For our contemporary collections, the music would be remixes, of course!

Eike Schmidt: For the Mourners exhibition we actually had a very successful soundtrack of contemporary music, by the locally based but internationally renowned Rose Ensemble.

Liu Yang: ancient Chinese music pieces performed by bronze bells – there are a few outstanding examples on display at MIA’s Chinese gallery

Jan-Lodewijk Grootaers: African cultures are many and diverse, so there would be a melange of singing, hand-clapping, drumming (all kinds of), whistle-blowing, string-plucking, etc.!

Christian Peterson: About 5 years ago I did a show of photographs of many of the San Francisco psychedelic musicians. Of course we made available in the gallery, on headphones, music by the Dead, Airplane, Janis Joplin and others. Occasionally, you could find viewers in the gallery unconsciously singing along to the songs they were listening to.

Corine Wegener: Jazz for the Modernism Collection!

Rachel McGarry: I think it would be great to pipe in the first Vampire Weekend album into the “Drawings for the New Century” exhibition.

Thomas Rassieur: The Print Study Room needs a fully loaded iPod with music from the last seven hundred years right up to the present.

Erika Holmquist-Wall: Any more questions for us? We’re here for just a few more minutes!

Amelia B.: When will this (interacting with curators) be happening again next month?

MIA: “The Curator Is In” is held on the first Thursday of the month. The next one will take place Sept. 1, 1-2 p.m. Please join us.

Amelia B.: THANK YOU!

MIA: Thanks for all the great questions. See you next month!

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