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The Curator Is In, March 1, 2012

Posted on by Minneapolis Institute of Arts

 

MIA: Our curators are online & feeling MN nice. They’ll be sharing their favorite MN-based art & hope you will share yours. Feel free to ask the curators questions as usual too.

Christopher Atkins: We’re here!

Joe Horse Capture: Roll call?

Jennifer Olivarez: Are we out there?

Carissa G.: Not sure what to ask on the topic. Waiting to hear from others.

Jennifer Olivarez: Carissa, are you a patron of MN artists? Collect at the Art-a-Whirl or MCAD art sale? Those are great places to see a wide range of affordable MN art.

Carissa G.: Hi, Jennifer, I live in Grand Forks, and only get to the Cities once or twice a year. But friends rave about these events. Maybe I’ll make a move . . .

Gail Marie K.: There is a piece in the Japanese galley that I love by Mishima Kimiyo featuring a red teapot, will it be joining the MIA collection?

Jennifer Olivarez: Gail, do you mean the tromp l’oeil piece of the cardboard box in ceramic? Those are part of a great selection of Japanese contemporary art loans. I can’t speak to whether those pieces will come to us, since they are not in our department…

Merrick M.: Is this piece on loan to the Irish Museum of Modern Art at the moment? I’m In Dublin this week and I’m convinced I saw this photo today when I visited IMMA.

Jennifer Olivarez: Hey Dec Arts fans, we have some Minnesota ceramic art on view now. Warren MacKenzie, Susan Warner, and Amy Sabrina are all featured in the current exhibition “Craft and the Hand: From Visible to Integral.” All have different approaches to the medium, which is one of the things I like about the ceramics scene here–a great tradition but many variations. Any favorites out there?

Jennifer Olivarez: Joe, who’s your favorite MN artist or artists? How ’bout that All My Relations Gallery?
Joe Horse Capture: JKO, All My Relations Arts gallery is the first Native American owned and operated gallery in Minnesota. They do great work there, and good peeps! What are other fav galleries?

Jennifer Olivarez: OK, here’s another Minnesota topic. Architects William Purcell and George Elmslie were not originally from Minnesota, but they were the most prolific architects in the Prairie School style in the Upper Midwest (as Frank Lloyd Wright was in the Chicago area). We have the largest collection of their work anywhere, including some great furniture, and our Purcell-Cutts House. How does their style feel to you? They really tried to design for place and use, and even strategically incorporated windows to get the most light from our Minnesota winters!

Carissa G.: It’s amazing how all that hard-edged geometry still feels warm and inviting.

Eike Schmidt: And the house’s birthday is coming up soon, isn’t it?

Jennifer Olivarez: We are indeed celebrating the centenary of the house next year! Look our for more details on an exhibition featuring the design work of George Elmslie! Carissa, I think a lot of it has to do with the warm vocabulary of wood that makes up much of the Purcell-Cutts House…it’s immediately appealing in an organic way. No chrome here!

Liz Armstrong: I totally agree — and I did an exhibition based on the freshness of mid-century modernism a few years ago titled “Birth of the Cool.” Part of the appeal, of course, is in its copacetic serenity, especially in the context of the contemporary din of hyperlinks and mash-up media.

Christopher Atkins: MN artists, where do I begin? Besides our current MAEP shows the cities are literally crawling with lots of great things to see. One of them, which isn’t up anymore, was Miranda Trimmier “thick sleep.” It was an elaborate installation in her home basement. She then invited people to see it between 10pm-4am. I loved the whole creepy trespassing feeling of it and her hand-made invitations were artworks themselves.

Megan W.D.: Are there any great art-related (or non-art related!) books that we should be reading???

Eike Schmidt: My favourite art-related book is Feuchtwanger’s Goya. He wrote it in Malibu, and it’s still possible to find the original 1950s edition once in a while.

Joe Horse Capture: Not art-related, but I am reading David Treuer’s “Rez Life” now. It’s very enjoyable.

Roger L.: Who’s idea was it too start this wonderful museum ? And when did this dream of theirs come to life?

Dylan N.: Roger L. asks the right questions. So???

Jennifer Olivarez: Roger, what might be called the “city fathers” or a group of philanthropically-minded citizens established the Minneapolis Society of Fine Arts in 1883. It was really to bring a cultural focus to our relatively new city, which was very important to them. They pooled their resources at a fund-raising dinner in 1911 that resulted in funds to build our McKim, Mead and White building. It was really a selfless moment in Minnesota cultural history. They had a huge model built, but we could afford the central part only at that time. The model will hopefully be back out soon, and shown as part of the centennial of the MIA in 2015! Here’s more history.

Roger L.: neato, such a history. I think these “city fathers” sound interesting. I think I’ll look them up and see what other things they did! Thank you Jennifer!

Jennifer Olivarez: That is also the original impetus for us to collect period rooms–to bring European art and interiors to Minnesota, and to prove their cultural sophistication. We have continued that tradition in the late 20th century, including 2 Minnesota period rooms: one from the Francis Little House by Frank Lloyd Wright and the other from the Prindle House in Duluth by John S. Bradstreet.

Minnesota Historical Society: We found this cool old postcard of the MIA from about 1915!

Jennifer Olivarez: Thanks MHS! This is a great early view of our building…made possible by the original funding dinner!

Christina M.B.: Art History major at the U of M question: which languages and to what proficiency level have the MIA curatorial staff studied? What about the conservationists?

Jennifer Olivarez: Christina, when I was studying, we needed basic knowledge of German, Italian, or French to graduate. I don’t know if those are the current requirements, as the interest and scholarship in non-western art has exploded. I know our staff has widely varying language skills among the curators, and for many, English is a second language. Many fluently speak the languages related to their cultural collections, or at least are familiar with them. I think if you are interested in a particular cultural area, learning that language well is advised, though for some countries (like Finland, where I am doing current research) the international language of design and architecture is English.

Sean S.: Yes. Don’t they feel it exclusionary to sell tickets for talks with artists and presenters? It seems to cater to high-end subscribers who (by subsidizing) get them for free. A fifteen dollar(!) charge for a one hour lecture from a mid-career artist does both the artist and the public a disservice, austerity measures aside…

Liz Armstrong: Hi Sean, There are a couple of ways to respond to this. First and foremost, since we are committed to keeping the museum open free of charge, it is necessary to charge for many of our public programs. Secondly, ticket prices are cheaper for members, which is also a great way to support the museum and help us do a diverse range of exhibitions and programs. And third, there are many talks for which there are no charges — for instance all the wonderful MAEP talks and dialogues are free, as are public lectures by the Friends of the MIA.

Christopher Atkins: Another suggestion is for people to follow the Rural American Contemporary Art group. They’re all. over. Facebook, especially Brian Frink :) They’re doing lots to promote and showcase artists who are living outside the main metro areas. Check them out.

Camille J. G.: thanks for this, Chris.

Brian F.: Good busy times! Thanks Chris!

Barb S.: Did the MIA get any of the Herb and Dorthey Vogal modern art collections? I understand each state was to get part of it.

Liz Armstrong: In Minnesota, a portion of the Vogel collection went to the Weisman Museum.

Jean E. H. J.: Please share a bit about ‘a day in the life of an MIA curator. What’s your favorite task? What is your educational background? How might someone with a BFA begin working in a curatorial role with you? It seems most positions require a master degree… ?

Joe Horse Capture: My favorite aspect is working with objects, carefully examining then and working on different ways to present them in the galleries.

Jean E. H. J.: do you do historical research on the objects, or does someone else do that task?

Joe Horse Capture: For the most part, I do my own research.

Jennifer Olivarez: Jean, just to address your last part, we do offer opportunities for internships at the MIA. In our department, we have had a mixture of B.A. students and M.A. students, mostly art history or material culture, but not having a master’s doesn’t preclude us considering others for internships. Here’s the link.
Jennifer Olivarez: We unfortunately don’t offer many paid opportunities for work in the curatorial departments on a casual or part-time basis. If you are interested in curatorial work, an internship might be a good way to find out more. As far as a day in the life, we spend more time on the computer than you might think, though we do have more “object-intensive” days where we are choosing possible objects for exhibitions from the collection, discussing new objects to be proposed for the collection, or even evaluating objects to be removed from the collection because they are redundant or not of the quality we need nowadays (called deaccessioning). All these are curatorial duties. Right now I am spending a lot of time emailing designers and others in Finland, with regard to an exhibition I’m organizing for 2014 and for an Affinity Group trip coming up in April.

Liz Armstrong: Research on the objects in the collection as well as on those we are borrowing or hoping to acquire, is a critical aspect of curatorial work (and one of my favorite parts). And as times change, so does the context for and our understanding of a variety of historical works, meaning that this research and discovery are in a constant state of evolution.

Jean E. H. J.: Thank you Joe, Jennifer, and Elizabeth! I appreciate all your comments and thoughts. And thank you MIA for providing this forum! Awesome.

Scott S.: What are some exciting movements or trends you see in the local art community right now?

Liz Armstrong: I don’t think they’re very different than the trends one finds across the country and, to a large extent, globally. Marcus Young’s residency in the MIA galleries as part of MAEP this past fall was a classic example of the interest in social and behavioral art. Art with political commentary and critique and new explorations of digital media are alive and well here and abroad.

Christopher Atkins: I’m seeing tape. Lots and lots of tape.

Scott S.: Chris… Hard edged taped painting or tape as an object?

Christina M. B.: Art History major at the U of M question: which languages and to what proficiency level have the MIA curatorial staff studied? What about the conservationists?
Jennifer Olivarez: Christina, when I was studying, we needed basic knowledge of German, Italian, or French to graduate. I don’t know if those are the current requirements, as the interest and scholarship in non-western art has exploded. I know our staff has widely varying language skills among the curators, and for many, English is a second language. Many fluently speak the languages related to their cultural collections, or at least are familiar with them. I think if you are interested in a particular cultural area, learning that language well is advised, though for some countries (like Finland, where I am doing current research) the international language of design and architecture is English.

Sarah W. O.: I love reading Minnesota authors because I find we often share a world view. What Minnesota visual artists would you all say demonstrate our culture/world view?
Christopher Atkins: SO: since it would be hard to argue for any sort of unified cultural or MN world view, I think it would be easier to answer that question with a few writers who are writing/living in Minnesota. One of my favorites is David Treuer’s “Translation of Dr. Apelles.” A fantastic story across hundreds of years of history. . And it’s published by our very own Graywolf Press.

Sarah W. O.:  Thanks!

Gregory F.: Charlie Beck’s laconic and reserved woodblock prints capture the space and stoicism of rural MN culture without indulging it as a mumbling, passive aggressive cliche. I find them hard not to love.
Christopher Atkins: And I’d be silly for not mentioning our friends at ARThouse as well. Andrew Nordin & Lisa Bergh are doing great things out in New London, MN.

MIA: Thanks for all the questions. Our curators will be back again on April 5, 1-2 p.m.

One Response to The Curator Is In, March 1, 2012

text to speech says: May 16, 2012 at 11:20 pm

Wonderful site. Lots of useful information here. I’m sending it to a few friends ans also sharing in delicious. And certainly, thank you in your sweat!



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