Saturday, April 29, 2006

mocad in the news

In case you missed it...the detroit news also has a brief story on mocad.
Also, in metro times, rebecca has written up a story on mocad. As much as I am a huge supporter of mocad...it still feels a like those involved are like the mafia or the cool kids in high school that don't want you to question anything and if you do then they seem to give you weird glances or label you as a "problem". It just feels that they want to keep only those in the small "in" crowd involved.

57 Comments:

Anonymous Flip Henderson said...

There is an art mafia in Detroit. It's run by a few dons (Manoogian, Schwartz, Taubman etc.). And art decisions are made by these few with the help of their art consiglieres and capos.

This entire family had to give the nod before MoCAD could move ahead. Most of them were reluctant to start this new "business". They see it as a conflict, and a dangerous alternative to the DIA. They believe that money for the main business will be siphoned off by this newer untried effort and weaken the family.

There were a few who have been greased, had to have their arms twisted (Hudson, Schwartz) before the museum could go public. It's not sure even now whether they have totally agreed.

One of the capos, an important don named Gil Silverman who has his own small family of associates and soldiers within this borgata may or may not have given his nod to MoCAD. Silverman thinks of himself as the Capo di tutti capi (the boss of all bosses), and often works outside of this central borgata. He can be a maverick, but his status as a collector keeps him from being bumped.

Nobody wants to hit the mattresses, to engage in an art world feud for public display.

In private and even in recent press, he has gone against the family, or, as some believe, has played that role for those others who agree there shouldn't be a contemporary museum here.

Word on the street is that some of them didn't

11:42 AM  
Anonymous Dagmar said...

ARTIST EXHIBITS CONFLICT OF INTEREST:

As MOCAD's only paid staff member and curator, I want to believe Mitch Cope has only good intentions. Yet these intentions can only be read in devious, self-serving ways as revelealed in Rebecca Mazzei's current article on this museum effort.

It can only appear unethical: that the museum's paid curator, not only selecting the work, has selected his own. And twice at that. For the first two shows.

Not only including his artwork in the second MoCAD exhibition, but also for a book to be published and art directed/edited by Cope for MOCAD's first exhibit.

Moral ethics are a touchy subject. But Cope has both hands deep into it, up to his elbows with conflicts of interest and ethics. (Aaron Timlin lost his job at DAM for less.)

All the other volunteer work involved is done for the success and achievement of MOCAD and the community.

As the hired hand, Cope only opens himself up all the more, most especially to accusations of simply promoting himself.

In the end, he even co-opts Mazzei from the MOCAD story and becomes the final focus of her article.

11:49 AM  
Anonymous scorpion said...

Is this really any surprise to anyone?

4:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

dagmar--good comments. Although I think all should support this museum project fully, you're comments need to be taken seriously. Nothing sinks a new venture like lack of confidence. While I like Mitch Cope, I would hope this project could be put off and start involving others first.

4:51 PM  
Anonymous scorpion said...

Anon,

What perspective in your eyes should we support? There certainly appears to be a conflict amongst the bloggers that visit this site regarding MOCAD. Do we trust blindly that the powers that be are guiding us all in the right direction? Or are they self-seving? Are we to believe that the museum is a panacea; a savior of our fledgling artistic community that will finally put Detroit on the map for contemporary art? I for one am skeptical.

5:40 PM  
Anonymous jef said...

i think most every group that starts a project is self-serving to some degree. it is something the group wants for themselves first, and the community second -- believing that what they want will also benefit the region.

how much the community will support the effort depends on the best balance of these two desires, the group's and the community's.

i fully support a contemporary museum in detroit. that's a given, having worked at one downtown.

i cannot support such a project however that is too self-serving, while neglecting the needs of the region. mitch seems to have put himself in that position, and so jeopardizes this effort's success.

his involvement, by curating himself into these first shows, undercuts the museum's effectiveness by abusing the appropriate set of standards for professional conduct. quite the oppostite, it promotes the museum as unprofessional.

1:25 AM  
Blogger craigpaulnowak said...

I admit, I too am having difficulty finding reason to have faith in this endeavor. After meeting with Marsha Miro and the crew that she brought on to help MoCAD begin moving, I wondered if there weren't better hands to trust this "museum" in. Not only did they feel inexperienced, but they also felt as though they lacked the confidence necessary to pull everything together. With this in mind, I brought my concern to Klaus, while expressing to him my sincere confidence in what he has been doing for MoCAD, I simultaeniously dropped the bomb on him. I asked him if he thought they could do it, if he felt as though this endeavor was going to be a success.

Without a second's hesitation, he said yes. My question to you is, if Klaus Kertess, the man who is bringing names such as Kara Walker, Nari Ward, and Barry Mcgee to Detroit, one of which (Barry Mcgee) I have already witnessed the presence of through a small sticker bearing the well known name Twist that was placed upon the mail box in front of DAM. Feel free to look for yourself.

What this shows me is that they have been here. They are looking around. They are watching us while they are in turn watching Detroit, and what does showing them our uncanny ability to be pessimistic do to help?

I'll tell you what. What I heard was that they are looking for all the help that they can get, and I heard that from Marsha and Klaus themselves. This means that you all have the ability to do more than just criticize their efforts. So, what will you do? If you want to be a part of this, or at least let them know that you're with them instead of acting as the opposite yet equal to flip's interpretation of Gil Silverman, then let me know. If anyone is interested, I will give you Marsha's number myself. Just let me know-

craigpaulnowak@hotmail.com

9:28 AM  
Blogger ann said...

hey craig,
just a question: how did you meet with marsha and klaus? was it the night of the lecture?

11:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

to scorpion: By support I mean promote its success in at least being a viable venture. I certainly think Mitch Cope should be criticized; don't want this to have reputation as a "vanity" museum.
As jef said, any venture will have some self interest, but a musueum expecting public support-money and otherwise-should try to be more scrupulous.

4:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, one more thing. I'm sick of this whole Dettoit in ruins aesthetic. Seems rather indulgent or worse, condescending. One problem with Metro Detroit is its provincialism. Is life just about what we see our our windows?
The whole Detroit in Ruins show and photo album are backward, regressive looking. Not at all advocation sentimental optimism, but getting off the "look at what someone spray painted on the building." Who cares. And who are those folks for first show? Seen them before, not bad, but kind of boring. Typical institutional artists they have no influence beyond musuem curators and select collectors.

5:00 PM  
Blogger no-where-man said...

Isn't any Art institution a good thing?

8:39 PM  
Anonymous scorpion said...

Hey anon,

I agree with you on your last comment regarding the ruins of Detroit aesthetic. Perhaps our ruins have become far too precious.
How many time sover can you beat the dead horse?

8:53 PM  
Blogger craigpaulnowak said...

Hi Ann,

Michelle Perron invited myself and a few people from senior studio to attend a personal tour and discussion of the MoCAD building with Klaus and Marsha. It was the same day as the lecture, but it was in the morning.

Anon,

To some extent, I agree with the Detroit ruins comment, but you can't get around its honesty. It's used because it's there, right? And do you really think that those artists reach is merely limited to influencing museum curators and select collectors alone. Elaborate if you will, and in doing so, who would you bring to Detroit. I'm personally geeked. I'm so excited that I was considering taking a break from travel in October to come back and see how Detroit reacts to all aspects of this endeavor, the "museum", the artists (Kara Walker and her racial commentary, Barry Mcgee and his ties to graffiti in a city that does not take kindly to graffiti, even permission graffiti), the idea, anything, you name it. I think it's great. These artists are risky (because of the about named focusses).

As far as Mitch Cope, we should call him and let him know how we feel (maturely). Does anyone have his number? If not, I can find a way to get it, and then we can get the real scoop behind this problem. I know, after running a gallery for the first time, that when it comes to deadlines and space, sometimes the people aren't there to participate or just aren't interested. And before you say, why would someone not be interested, consider the Detroiter who already turned down the oportunity to be in the first show. Anyway, you can always be a fall back, but this does not mean that I am advocating Mitch's actions. Not once while running the gallery did I have to fall back on my own work. I wonder what his reasoning is.

Ann,

I was reading your article on the lecture (which I regret to say that I was unable to attend) and in the end, you were content in knowing that the reason behind the choice of artists was merely a business matter. But I still believe that you want a Detroiter in there, and I don't blame you. But, who in Detroit, do you suggest we place on a platform with artists of this magnitude?

11:59 PM  
Blogger craigpaulnowak said...

Scorpion,

I think you hit it on the nose. They're precious.

I've been in Detroit for just over four years, and in that time, I don't consider myself a Detroiter, not because I don't want to be, but because I don't yet feel welcome to label myself as such. Anyway, In that time I've noticed somewhat of a unifying quality between most of Detroit that could be the cause for its struggle, both within the arts communit and outside of it.

Essentially, what you said about the ruins, the aged and delapidated areas and attitudes of Detroit, is that they are being valued, and that's it. But, is it not true too that we hate them. They're dangerous, they're eyesores (especially after they're painted neon orange), and they remind us of what we like least about this city.

Detroit is playing tug-a-war with itself. You name it. Any situation that we're havng trouble with bears the unifying trait of duality, two things, both equal yet opposite, and we don't want to give up either one.

We want Detroit's art community to grow, but we aren't willing to only show those who will cause growth as aposed to those who will give us a sense of pride, but whose reach generally only limited to this region, and why should we not want to participate, it's our museum, right? Let us represent! We want to be able to get around easier, but the idea of a metro has long ago been vitoed and soon, the big three will even lose interest. What if they abandon us? Also, race is a big one, andnot for the life of me, will I ever understand this one. I guess it has a lot to do with history. We want Detroit to thrive, but we don't want to change the balance of races. I can't tell you how many times I've heard people say that they don't like all these new condos being built because it's going to cause upper-class white suburbanites to begin moving into the city. Personally, I don't know. I'm indifferent. I just want Detroit's art community and community in general to continue to grow in as many positive directions as possible...

What do you think? Do we just have to let go of one side of the rope? Bring in the Detroiters, right? Maybe they are interlaced and we can do both, just tie the ropes together and cease the struggle. Ha!

I'm sorry, I know this sort of strays from the thread, but I just wanted to agree with your statement about the precious ruins. :-)

12:33 AM  
Blogger mike jones said...

mike jones who?
make it and they will come....

1:51 AM  
Anonymous lotsa love said...

To flip:
I would think GIl Silverman has given his "capo di tutti capi" nod to mOCAD since McGhee is slated to paint the outside of the building. Silverman is a big collector of graffitti art and has always been on the lookout for ways to promote it and in turn enhance the value of his own collection.

2:36 AM  
Anonymous Flip said...

Instead of being independent, Silverman argues, "MoCAD should be part of the DIA."

I know Gil on this, and he's dead against it.

3:24 AM  
Anonymous Jef said...

There are plenty of Detroit artists who can stand beside any other artist from any other city.

A group of us gave Marsha Miro a list of 5 such artists.

We'll see if she acts on it, or on her own list. Or not at all.

All that aside, I am as excited at MoCAD's real possibilities as anyone.

3:34 AM  
Anonymous scorpion said...

CPN,

There is no doubt that beauty can be found in the ruins of Detroit. But its become a cliche because its been used and recycled by each following generation since the heyday of Cass Corridor artists. Nothing new has been said. That's a thirtyfive year old plus dead horse. Its only waxing nostalgia.
Its as if each generation of artists has attempted to revive this time of being Detroit's glory days for producing art. This is what I meant when I said the ruins have become far too precious.

7:54 AM  
Anonymous scorpion said...

Jef,

Your group could only come up with five possible artists?

7:56 AM  
Anonymous pacopez said...

Hands down the self-promotion involved here sucks. When I learned about all of this I literally felt the door shut on a large portion of this Art community which has not been well represented. It truely brings home the reality that I must go other places to show and sell my work.

A good example was when I went to the Tangent one evening a few years back for what was supposed to be an evening of shared verbal Detroit history. Yet ended up being stories and film by the usual artists and their parents, then time ran out.

MONA had a great thing happening when they did Aperto and invited any Artist to come in and hang their work for 45 minutes. They photo documented everyone with a fun poetic sense. What a great time! Something like this experiment could have been
expanded upon for the Contemporary.

The museum's idea for a up late coffee house on site is a great idea and I hope they hold on to that.

8:50 AM  
Anonymous Les Ismore said...

jef,
do you think it would be helpful to list the 5 artitsts your group suggested and who makes up the mona group making this suggestion? Not to open up your choices for criticism, but more to open up a discussion regarding who exactly people on this blog think merits a place in the inaugural exhibit. A lot of people are complaining that there are no detroit artists in the first exhibit but no one is championing anyone specifically for the hypothetical detroit artist at mocad slot. Just a suggestion to open up a much needed debate.

9:47 AM  
Anonymous mitch said...

Dear blood thirsty bloggers,

Okdoky, here goes. In general I am not a fan of the blogging medium, but jeez this is..... I have never in my life seen such negativity, paranoia and pessimism that is based on misinformation. This is a very small town and it doesn't take much to get involved in any project going on and provide positive input and to be of constructive help. But it even takes less effort and forethought to stand by and list all the reasons something is not being done right or how it is unethical or bad or all being controlled by the so-called art mafia that rules this town or whatever else can be dug up. It's amazing that so much speculation and negative attitudes surround this thing that doesn't even exist yet. If it is crap then I expect the flood gates to open, I am fine with that. But until then lets just enjoy life.

That said, now lets get into the good stuff.

Wow I didn't know I was in the first two shows. Someone didn't tell me. SOunds to me like it is the Mitch Cope show!!? Just what I have always wanted since I can remember.

As far as the book goes it started way before I was asked to be the curator of MOCAD. I am simply the person collecting the photos, contacting the artists, assembling and cataloging the work, not the final editor. This is a lot of work and not something that is just being thrown together for the fun of it or for the glorious self promotion that it will lead to, one can only imagine. And yes I am one of the photographers out of 10plus, not because I love myself so much, but because others involved in the book like my work and feel it contributes to the complexity of what we are trying to do.

MOCAD: I have no intention of using this as a personal pulpit. I never did this at Tangent and am offended by the conversation that all of this is self promotion. You guys have watched one too many super hero cartoons..."he he he, take over the Detroit art scene and then the world is mine, whoa ha ha!!!!" Give me a break. Of course I enjoy working with art and artists. Call me selfish for wanting to do fun projects, but ultimately I am interested in seeing the best work of other artists I can see and spend time with it, lots of time. Why would I want to do that with my own work. I can do that in my studio.

That said however it is not uncommon for artist/curators to put their own work in shows, usually large group shows. This is done often all around the world. The deciding factor is the work. If it sucks then everyone loses, but if it all adds to the show then it makes for a good show.

As far as the second show at MOCAD, which is also at Cranbrook, The Shrinking Cities Project, I was ONE curator out of 12 and was asked to put in ONE piece out of over 60 different pieces/projects. Every curator did work on the show as it is quite normal in Europe to do. But this is besides the point. The show is an extremely important show especially for Detroiter's to see and is now about ruins if that's where that subject came from.

Perhaps part of the problem is that the museum doesn't have an office right now as the building is being worked on, so it is hard to talk to just walk in and to talk to us in person, but I am around and you can call me, email me, stop me on the street if you have questions, concerns whatever, but I am not of course putting out my personal info on the blog, it's not so hard to find.

love,
Mitch

11:08 AM  
Blogger mitch said...

P.S. I meant to say NOT ABOUT RUINS, the Shrinking Cities show is really about PEOPLE and how they deal with the situation and how it compares to all the data, statistics and research done about the phenomenon world wide.

11:11 AM  
Anonymous jef said...

Scorpion,

Actually we had to shave the list way down to five artists so as not to overwhelm MoCAD ("too many items on the menu, i don't know what to order").

We also took into account that Kertess had gone from a straight-out painting show to an installation one dealing with "rust and decay."

Yeah, that infuriating cliche again and again. Establishing that well-traveled, oversized footprint -- for our contemporary museum's first two steps onto the global stage?! What an enormous misstep! See you next fall (october 27)! (drum roll)

And it is our museum. It's a 501(c)(3) public entity. And it will be looking for our dollars. And dollars that could be going to the DIA. And dollars that could be going to other worthy cultural projects. And it will be representing Detroit, if not its art, to the world.

And so we do have a voice in its success. And we don't want to say "a museum, right or wrong!" We want to see it fulfill its potential and truly succeed on the world stage. We're better than that.

None of this is pessimism, quite the opposite. It's becoming involved, participating in something about which we feel deeply and can stand behind with real conviction.

I'm not going to give the specific artists names from our list here because there easily could've been five others, and then five more. And so on. None of the artists on the list are even aware they were on it -- for this reason. The true number is legion.

The list was a simple attempt to get MoCAD thinking on those lines. Of a true inclusion of Detroit artists. At the same time, we are well aware that they have their own favorites and agenda.

And I'm well aware how this blog can become a shredding machine for name-dropping. So I won't go there.

Just to say, we all have our lists of strong, active artists living here. Our group doesn't hold the market for who should or shouldn't be showing at MoCAD.

So, if you want a voice in this project, send your own Detroit artist lists to the MoCAD director, Marsha Miro at: daisytulip@aol.com
and/or
MMiro@cranbrook.edu

11:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yea, leave Mitch alone. The rest of you cry babies can take it up to him when he posts the coffee house wait staff work schedules. Be nice 'cause he'll probably make all you sucks work weekends.

11:14 AM  
Anonymous jef said...

Hi Jef,
I appreciated your letter. But I have to ask you: Have you considered other contemp art museums as a model? How often do they show homegrown art? And in what context? We have Detroit Artists Market, CAID, MoNA and more. What we don't have is out-of-towners. You can be focused on showing Detroiters, maybe set aside a smaller room to do it consistantly, like the 12 x 12 monthly showcase at the MCA in Chicago, but be weary that you will hear about it if you do it to the exclusivity of what we really need, which is more contemporary art from outsiders. I agree Detroits art community has always been underrecognized, but that's because of arts education and appreciation in the metro region, not because everyone has judged Detroit art and thinks it isn't worth it. Education comes when you get the tourists into an attraction. --the Metro Times


Dear Metro,

Nearly every other contempor art museum shows regional artists side-by-side with out-of-towners. Segregating such work never promotes parity. Quite the opposite.

The new Chicago MCA has allowed the 12x12 only from pressure by Chicago artists. Yet I don't think that's the answer, local art shown separately. I think the art needs to hang alongside what comes in. I think ours too is good enough to stand that test.

We're not asking for exclusivity at all, but inclusion. When the MCA opened in 1967 they included some new young untested Chicago artists, including Jim Nutt. Jan van der Marck was the founding director and has said that he believed there was no good reason not to include them.

New York artists have created their own "style" and presence in the art world through the support of its museums and papers. Similarly, in LA -- where the museums have presented local artists, untested at the time, and included them in their shows. These artists have helped to secure an identity and status for LA artists as well.

The old MCA was key to establishing the Hairy Who and the Imagists. Even the Indianapolis Contemporary and Cincinnati's contemps are including local artists in their full exhibits -- and again, when asked about MoCAD, Jan van der Marck reiterated that there's no good reason not to include our own.

The only way to truly entice out-of-town visitors to MoCAD is to include regional artists. The out-of-towners can view these other "outside" artists in their own hometown contemporaries as it is. Kara Walker, for one, has shown at even the most "obsure" contemporaries I've noted already (include Cleveland's to the list, and UofM's small museum).

The best enticement is to see new Detroit art as well. To view and compare, and discover our "new" visions of creating. That's what will draw art visitors here, neither excluvisity of one or the other, but an interplay and engagement of both.

The only way to give true legitimacy to Detroit artists is through institutional approval.

The last time a group of artists made a real mark in Detroit and beyond was through the support of a museum: the Kick Out the Jams. It made careers and has thrown a long rusty shadow over everything here since.

Without such an institutional stamp of validity, past and future artists have and will be doomed to a lost Detroit cultural history. There is no real ongoing archive of Detroit art without such participation

I cannot understand the rationale against the non-inclusion of local artists in this new institution, because there is none that stands up to true reason or scrutiny.

Such an involvement creates an opportunity that allows everyone to consider Detroit art: out-of-towners, local collectors (who refuse to and fly to NYC or beyond looking for that something "new" and trendy), and the general public.

Kertess originally planned on two Detroit artists in his exhibition: what's wrong with that? He picked Gordie Newton. He had visited Newton's studio with Sam Wagstaff decades ago. And he remembered him from that visit, first and foremost. Inclusion (I never suggested excluvisity) would allow other curators coming to town to look at today's artists in Detroit. They would leave with this new awareness. And perhaps include these artists in shows outside of Detroit.

My first museum experience,at Boston's ICA, happened exactly through such happenstance. Just because Newton declined, doesn't mean Kertess shouldn't move ahead with his original plan and choose two others.

He said he wanted to show the newest, hottest young artists of NY. Why not do the same here and include 2 such artists from Detroit? What's the big deal! Why the opposition!

You asked for a paradigm: Houston. The CAM is probably the best such model in recent times. It's founding director was James Harithas, former director of the Corcoran and the Everson Museum in Syracuse. His philosophy was exactly that, an inclusion of Houston artists to a fault: bringing in out-of-town artists to fit the Houston art sensibility, not the other way around.

London artist Stella Vine recently contacted MONA, and she is anxious to show here. She is aware of the music scene here, and is excited now to experience and exhibit beside Detroit artists -- "of whom the world is entirely ignorant."

How thrilling a thing to reveal this final art frontier to a broader public!

There's no comparing what MoCAD hopes to become with CAID, DAM, or even MONA. None of these latter are a true platform upon which to build real and solid careers as artists and still remain in Detroit -- as such.

- Jef

Finally, as long as we're on the topic of drawing out-of-towners, - if Gil Silverman unlocked his Fluxus museum to a public -- what a cultural gem to draw even more people into Detroit. There's no good reason not to.

Gil has made his fortune (moderate or not) here in Michigan and to lock this treasure away from its people is a great misfortune and a miserly thanks. Especially with the knowledge that someday, perhaps soon, it will be lost to Detroit forever and installed in some other more "art-friendly" city.

11:30 AM  
Anonymous dennis jones said...

Mitch,

I hope that you realize that the reason so many are blood thirsty is because they are feeling or actually being excluded from what is to be an incredible opportunity. If you're on Jef's recommended list it's down to five, then to be narrowed further to two or one. Perhaps there will not be an artist from Detroit included in the inaugural. I certainly would like to have my work seriously considered, as I'm sure there are several dozens more out there. I don't think it possible at this late date but why not have an open call for submittals. Limit the number of slides and have a jury select the artist to participate.

1:50 PM  
Anonymous Rebecca Mazzei said...

You guys are complaining there's no work by Detroit artists scheduled at MoCAD. You're also complaining about the Shrinking Cities project being at the museum. Why doesn't anyone remember that at least one Detroit artist IS to be featured at MoCAD, in the second exhibition? It's Slim Thompson.

3:59 PM  
Anonymous mitch said...

There are if I remember correctly at least 15 artists from Detroit in the Shrinking Cities exhibit and one Lawyer (Tyree Guyton's lawyer that helped put together a piece about Heidelberg). I'm still confused why there is such outrage that there are no Detroit artists in the first show when in all actuality he has not completed it yet and it is one persons vision for a few months of exhibition time. One person I might add that has a long, long experienced and impressive past in art and who really knows his stuff. The museum is not about local or non-local, it is about showing the best and most interesting work wherever that may come from. We will have many quest curators and hopefully soon a visiting artists/exchange program so that Detroit artists can meet and work with artists from around the globe as well as work at other arts institutions. I appreciate the excitement and the criticism, this is a huge undertaking and mistakes will be made, feelings will be hurt, but our intention is really to provide a place that makes the city more livable and more exciting for everyone. That's why I think the discussion about local artists is a bit self serving and short sighted. There is a much larger picture here that we are attempting to paint, if you will, and it will not be over in October, the canvas will barely be stretched by then. Much will evolve, change, grow and shift over the months and years to come, so please bare with us.

And please stop dwelling on the doings of the rich, it's like so 1980's. As a wise man once said, "The rich are people too."

4:44 PM  
Anonymous Mitch2 said...

mitch said...
There are if I remember correctly at least 15 artists from Detroit in the Shrinking Cities exhibit and one Lawyer (Tyree Guyton's lawyer that helped put together a piece about Heidelberg). I'm still confused why there is such outrage that there are no Detroit artists in the first show when in all actuality he has not completed it yet and it is one persons vision for a few months of exhibition time. One person I might add that has a long, long experienced and impressive past in art and who really knows his stuff. The museum is not about local or non-local, it is about showing the best and most interesting work wherever that may come from. We will have many quest curators and hopefully soon a visiting artists/exchange program so that Detroit artists can meet and work with artists from around the globe as well as work at other arts institutions. I appreciate the excitement and the criticism, this is a huge undertaking and mistakes will be made, feelings will be hurt, but our intention is really to provide a place that makes the city more livable and more exciting for everyone. That's why I think the discussion about local artists is a bit self serving and short sighted. There is a much larger picture here that we are attempting to paint, if you will, and it will not be over in October, the canvas will barely be stretched by then. Much will evolve, change, grow and shift over the months and years to come, so please bare with us.

And please stop dwelling on the doings of the rich, it's like so 1980's. As a wise man once said, "The rich are people too."

4:56 PM  
Anonymous jef said...

You guys are complaining there's no work by Detroit artists scheduled at MoCAD. You're also complaining about the Shrinking Cities project being at the museum. Why doesn't anyone remember that at least one Detroit artist IS to be featured at MoCAD, in the second exhibition? It's Slim Thompson. -Rebecca Mazzei


Rebecca,

We're not complaining, we're advocating -- there's a big difference. And this is long term, not just for the first two shows.

And we do have a Detroit artist in both/first shows, Mitch Cope. Problem is he's the museum's paid curator who decides which Detroit artists get in the show. A conflict there?

And this is good: MoCAD has gone from old rustbelt artist Gordie Newton to a dead Detroit artist: Slim and his bike that's already ridden its way through the DIA and beyond.

I don't see that as something to dance in the streets about. Dead don't dance!

Don't get started on SHRINKING CITIES, Mitch's baby (along with curators Dan Pitera and Kyong Park). MONA did a show with FLAK a few years ago (I wasn't involved, off on artcore) that covered the same territory, but with only Detroit as its focus. And it was more celebratory than a dry study of text and photos showing urban flight and blight and abandoned buildings, and, yes, maybe with the idea that this is good?!

Reminds me of when Bush said that "outsourcing is good for America." The same sort of misguided rationale.

And a show that really doesn't build on the energy of the first, since it's not about art but social tendencies.

Make it a presentation to the City Council, not an "art" exhibit.

"Detroit’s raunchy reputation fascinates Germans," says Philipp Oswalt, a German architect and writer, and organizer of the show.

“Germans in general have been obsessed with Detroit, mainly because they were afraid that certain towns in Germany were going to end up looking like Detroit,” says Cope. "The important thing is that to survive in Detroit you have to get out of Detroit."

- Jef

ps: just caught up on Mitch's attempt to excuse himself for being artistically in/involved in the first two shows.

"That said however it is not uncommon for artist/curators to put their own work in shows, usually large group shows. This is done often all around the world. The deciding factor is the work. If it sucks then everyone loses, but if it all adds to the show then it makes for a good show."

Point of fact, it is totally uncommon and non-professional for museum curators to put their own work in their own museum's shows.

It isn't about Mitch's work sucking, but ethics and conflict of (paid) interests. And sounds like he's already decided his work will make for "a good show."

5:20 PM  
Anonymous Lotsa Love said...

Jef is right. Curating the curator into the exhibit is a conflict of interest and weakens the credibility of the museum, something Detroit should really try to avoid if it wants ot be taken seriously in the greater art world. It is somewhat common for curators of shows at artist run spaces to curate themselves into the show, but this is defnitely not an artist run space, and shouldn't be run like one.

6:04 PM  
Blogger gina said...

i'm sorry but Jef, don't you REPEATEDLY show your own work at MONA? and Mitch Cope is NOT in the 1st show. the 1st show is curated by Klaus Kertess and until we've seen it i don't really know how we can be critical of it. it doesn't even exist yet...

6:23 PM  
Anonymous barbara said...

okay everybody...lets just all take a BIG DEEP BREATH and calm down. If there is a contemporary [not dead] Detroit artist that should be considered and who would DEFINITELY hold their own and be a great one to see within the context of the artists in the first show, that artist is Robert Sestok. His work is fresh, exciting, edgy, and growing. I hope Klaus Kertess considers him.

6:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the real Rebecca Mazzei? Anyway, if so (or not) you failed in your article to even raise the question of the curator having his book of photos(even as contributor) and being in the second show was a conflict of interest. Maybe not? But worth raising.

6:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And Rebecca Mazzei's article seemed somewhat naive about artists giving curators their slides. "I'm all about Detroit..." said one New York artist to Klaus Kertess.
Then Rebecca concluded that Detroit is so cool, even New Yorkers want in....no, artists just want in any and everywhere.

6:56 PM  
Anonymous birdie said...

yeah, right.....they dont give a shit about Detroit. This show could be on Mars for all they care; they just want to be seen and curated by Kertess.

7:30 PM  
Anonymous jef said...

gina,

i stopped showing at galleries 10 years ago when i opened the first contemporary museum here.

at the time, i was represented at galleries in nyc, chicago, michigan and california. i was part of shows in europe, new york, seattle, boston and museums in japan.

i believed then, as now, that it was a conflict of interest -- eventhough detroit's mca was still an artist's project.

(It is somewhat common for curators of shows at artist run spaces to curate themselves into the show....)

in 2000, when a group of us took this project "legit" and moved this new, reinvented museum (mona) to downtown detroit: i quit creating my own art altogether.

four years later, shut out of detroit, mona reinvented itself as a hybrid of the two previous projects in pontiac - and continues to show national, international artists alongside detroit's.

our next show comes from italy. and the one after from london's stella vine.

with john cynar's partnership, we've started mia (michigan institute for the arts). a project to benefit michigan artists exclusively.

in the last ten years we've shown hundreds of detroit artists, at both the mca and mona.

and then i began to create my own art again, yes. as the means to keep the project alive.

having left behind the gallery system 10 years ago, i don't have a resource as i once did. so everything from lights to rent comes out of my empty pocket.

and mona carries on. and once every so often i sell a photograph to keep this do-it-yourself project going.

so, yeah, i've faced down the ethics issue. and feel i can voice an opinion when i see them violated so blatantly.

-jef

7:36 PM  
Anonymous MATT said...

I've read what everybody else's been saying, and found these words to ponder from the sources themselves:

In conjunction with the first exhibit, MoCAD is producing a full-color hardcover photo book on Detroit. Cope, who's art director for the publication says he wants to show "the good, the bad and the ugly in this city.
"I am the person collecting the photos, contacting the artists, assembling and cataloging the work.... And yes I am one of the photographers out of 10plus, not because I love myself so much, but because others involved in the book like my work.
"As far as the second show at MOCAD, I was ONE curator out of 12 and was asked to put in ONE piece."


Marsha Miro said New Yorker Klaus Kertess is working on an inaugural exhibit of installations featuring such nationally known artists as Kara Walker, Barry McGee and Nari Ward. "We want to bring in people from outside with independent voices," Miro said.

8:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i like the one with the boobies

10:26 PM  
Anonymous candace said...

As far as the photo book on Detroit goes, I wonder how the artists have been chosen. There is a very large community of documentary and artistic photographers here. Some of them have spent their careers documenting this city. Does Mitch Cope know who they are?

7:21 AM  
Anonymous vessel said...

I wonder too. I am relatively new as an observer to this art community, but it seems that there is a certain near-sightedness amongst the artists/curators around here. For example, this is a community that is largely African-American, Arabic, and Hispanic, but where are those artists featured either in this blog or in dialogue about the upcoming exhibition at the MOCAD?

7:47 AM  
Anonymous rebecca mazzei said...

This conversation seems really to be going in circles. I'm not judging either the book or the exhibits until I see them. Let's keep in mind there are only two exhibits planned. How can you decide whether or not MoCAD's doing its job yet?

11:17 AM  
Blogger pacopez said...

I believe it is time Detroit stands on its own without NY artists coming over and headlining an inaugural show.

It was the same issue with the Music at the Super Bowl. The Rolling Stones were great and they have learned and experienced SO MUCH from this area over the years it made sense. But Detroit Music should have been the Focus for the entire evening. Not just because the Super Bowl was in Detroit but because we DESERVE IT!

Provincialism aside, we deserve to
be out there doing what we do and given credit at the top.

This idea that Artists from NY are going to come and give the Contemporary legitimacy is wrong.
The show should include 3-5 NY artists and an EQUAL number of Detroit Artists. It all seems so condescending. These Artists are coming out and getting tours of the city and collecting materials that will further the cliche corner that we are getting backed into.

Sure shrinking cities is important but why the follow up show? Let the variety and intensity of Detroit Art stand! Let Detroit stand on Par to NY! Like the Rolling Stones, they will roll in take what they need and LEAVE.

Sorry if that sounds like pessimism George Bush.

11:40 AM  
Anonymous dennis jones said...

Rebecca,

It appears to me that although the dialogue may be circular it is necessary. I think Jef has made several valid points regarding the direction of the museum. I do not like the prospect of "let's wait and see". At the present time this blog site is the only vehicle for many to express their opinions. I much prefer the proactive stance that many have expressed here. I only hope the powers that be will hear it and use it.

11:44 AM  
Anonymous dennis jones said...

pocapez,

I second your opinion.

11:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

paco and dennis, while i love your passion, the powers that be are just not going to fund, support, develope, enhance, etc etc a contemporary arts exhibition site just to display the work of Detroit artists. This is the rust belt, always has been, and as such has been looked at as the poor relation to the big markets. Bringing those big name artists here would be a boost to the whole scene, and would get Detroit artists exposure.

Take it one step at a time.

Take what you can get. Or move to New York and see what kind of exposure you would get in that over inflated arts market. I know of New York artists who migrate back to the "heartland" to exhibit because they cant get a foot in the door in the big apple.....too much competition!

While here the artists can at least show their work with some regularity. The MOCAD is not perfect, nothing is. Stamping our feet and proclaiming our worth will not make the forces with the money run to our side and say, "there there we should have supported you like you deserve". Aint gonna happen.

I am going to sit and watch all of the festivities and see what happens.

Interesting.

5:22 PM  
Anonymous dennis jones said...

Anon,

I think you've misinterpreted my stance on the subject. I've never said that the museum should only show Detroit artists. I'm an advocate for pairing the well known, international group with Detroit artists. I think such an exhibition would be a great opportunity for the artists of this region. Let's put 'em up side by side. 4 or 5 locals with the 4 or 5 big guys. I don't think this is being provincial. I think it's a necessity!

8:11 PM  
Anonymous babe said...

[I shall be BABE instead of Anonymous for clarity's sake]

I understand and appreciate your point of view. I just think that we should let this show happen, however it is made up, letting the museum get started. We dont have to worry that local artists will be involved, this will ultimately happen, and it will happen sooner than later. I just dont think we need to let our desperation force us to start dictating percentages of artists in each show. This will have the effect of discouraging curators from getting involved.

You mention, I hope in jest, "Let's put 'em up side by side. 4 or 5 locals with the 4 or 5 big guys."

I'm sorry, but this sounds too much like a Wild West shoot-em-up where the last artist standing wins the title of biggest baddest. I dont know anyone who wants this. And what would it prove?

9:31 PM  
Anonymous dennis jones said...

hey babe,

I think this show is gonna happen no matter what is said on this blogsite. If on the slim chance that the powerful are reading perhaps my opinion and like minded others can affect a change in their direction. Wouldn't be an exciting opportunity and an alternative approach to have such an inaugural exhibition where local artists are paired with the stars? Wouldn't everyone involved benefit greatly? This is a direction that I could get behind wholeheartedly. I know there are others here that feel the same. There is no reason for it to be otherwise. I felt this immediately following Klaus's presentation.

6:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mocad is not about art its about vanity! Its about lies!Truly if is was not then they would have the brightest working to make it happen! Not pretty people!

9:31 AM  
Anonymous Candi!! said...

WHAT'S FUNNY is that everyone is infighting because, despite being one of the richest areas in the country, we are culturally poor, destitute even, ala our only identity IS Shrinking Cities BS.... no one in Pulty cookie-cutter homes buys art!!

No one who goes to great lakes crossing is thinking about their human environment, community, or regional future!!

The fact that Flip can name on one hand the major players is an indication that we are fucked, ESPECIALLY if we artists begin infighting.

I was asked recently why many of my patrons are gay...!?!? - as if straight suburbanites buy objects of exceptional potential anyway- This shows that people are looking for THAT ONE CINDARELLA SLIPPER to put their foot into...THAT ONE SILVER(MAN) BULLET.

Detroit has a posture of starvation....everyone has their hackles raised in defense....indeed as others have said, the city cannot even handle a provacateur without going into a tizzy about "who does she think she is"

Detroit needs a co-op of lower income, young buyers who can leverage against the 5 magic names in the city...help young artists, and put this sick dog to bed. maybe mocad Could have been that...but since it's already trying (tacitly atleast) to get in aweful things like Artforum by having a NY artists JO session...well....you have already illuminated the shame in that

I am sure Mitch is doing his best, as many are, and this may be his escape capsule, his glass slipper if you will....it's hard to blame him...he has paid some dues for sure.

Those that haven't already sucked off the power elite either don't care, have already been excluded, or have realized there are other games to play in this country and moved on....

The most financially successful artist I know under 27 is from Oakland Co and has only had 1 ONE gallery show in his life. He is a point to point communicator and his patrons are patrons for life....he'll get his due by not playing in the scenster kiddypool like everyone else.....

problem is, CCS, Cranbrook and yes Wayne are FAR BEYOND the city, even if you criticize the schools, you can hardly be strapped to understand why there is a glut of great (and really shitty) ART IN THE CITY.

Its as though three great bakeries were set up in Somalia....try selling your daily bread then!!

9:06 PM  
Anonymous basil said...

---"Detroit needs a co-op of lower income, young buyers who can leverage against the 5 magic names in the city...help young artists, and put this sick dog to bed"----

Wasn't that what the Founder's Junior Council was supposed to be?....a group of younger, new collectors to be who would discover the new worlds of emerging artists. Has anyone ever sold anything to any of them? As far as I see, all they do is have parties and pose for Hour Magazine.

I think we should forget about ALL of these folks. Just do your art, support it with your day [or night] job, share your work with your friends, and live a great life. All this other stuff is a waste of time and breath.

9:29 PM  
Anonymous basil said...

I am sick of all of this crap! All of this going back and forth b ack and forth

figured out a while ago that no one was going to pay atention to what I did with my art work, so why bother? Those 'art mafa' mentioned at the top of this thread will not give me the time of day, they have their faves.

the younger ones want to be wannabees. so they can start their own dynasties. but they dont have the substance. at least the older guys put their money where there mouth is

if i sound bitter its only because it is late and i ran out of brew

9:35 PM  
Anonymous CANDI said...

Basil,


i agree. to quote a long forgotten rapper..."FUCK THE WORLD DON'T ASK ME FO' SHIT! CUZ EVERYTHING YOU GET YOU GOT TO WORK HARD FOR IT!!!


keep on keepin' on basil.....and to all a good night

9:49 PM  
Anonymous basil said...

thanky candi

i feel better now

getting it off my chest is great.

wonder how i will be when the sun comes up and the strife begins again

at leastt I have enough paint, and a few days off from my job

11:00 PM  

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