Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Beal's angry

Looks like Mr. Beal is angry about what Chris Hill wrote (Lowering the Barre) in this Metro Times article about the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA). That story even sparked a lot of debate on the blog! Now Beal has written a letter to Metro Times in the DIA's defense voicing his opinion of Hill's take on the changes happening at the museum. Beal mentions this in his rebuttal:
"...Responding to my statement that much of our research militates against the primacy of 'quiet contemplative places for ... the self-confident visitor,' Ms. Hill jumps to the conclusion that 'Beal's new DIA will be a noisy place, nonconducive to thinking.' Well, actually, no. While there will very definitely be different kinds of interactive stations to engage our visitors, they will, by and large, not impinge unduly on those who wish to maintain a more self-contained experience. For those, like Ms. Hill, who recoil with horror at such calculated disregard for their sensibilities, I ask that they remember we are attempting to engage a nonspecialist audience in a process that will increase appreciation of some of the most extraordinary objects made in the history of the world — objects that make the DIA one of a handful of truly great art museums in the United States..."
On another note, I wondering how much the world of "art bloggers" has influenced art criticism and stories being published. Blogs are less formal and are opinion based that don't usually get source quotes. But now even art publication are leaving out source comments (see Metro Times and even this recent Art in America story) which makes for angry readers, like in Beal's case. Beal remarks:
"...Finally, a personal note. I responded to Christina Hill's e-mail because I knew her to be a DIA member, a teacher and, indirectly, a personal acquaintance. My correspondence with her is technically and legally hers to do with what she will, but to take an ostensibly professional and personal exchange that is over a year old and use it as the basis of a piece of journalism without seeking additional comment strikes me as more than a little questionable."

14 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beal makes a good point in that last quote, but in general guys who wear bow ties creep me out.

6:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Although I appreciate Chris' take on the DIA's new efforts to "reach out," I'd have to agree with Beale's last remark in your post. It's only fair that Chris should have given him a chance to update his remarks since his comments were made a year or so ago.Her article would have benefited from offering some potential alternatives or compelling questions regarding how do we as museum directors, curators, artists, gallery owners broaden our audience, reach out, without dumbing down the experience or the art? Suggesting that the DIA become the next hipster hot spot is fine but isn't it really just replacing one barre with another (bar)? Sure NY and LA do it, but don't such events really serve more as a mating/dating club environment for the trendy upper crust, many of whom have already been initiated into the the world of art and museums? One of the DIA's biggest mistakes was to eliminate their programs that incorporated Michigan contemporary artists into the their exhibitions and educational programs (I am not talking about Friday night artist demos or workshops). Contemporary artists have some of the more innovative approaches to reaching non-traditional audiences through their art, and yes, (god forbid) sometimes it is interactive or related directly to the community and its environment, its people, its concerns, so the non-traditional audience ends up relating to art and the creative process, and hopefully becomes more curious as a result. Anything has to be better and more inspiring than watching the o-so-boring Beale on Channel 56 drone on about the great masters when we coud read a much better version in Gardner's or Jansen's History of Art. Give us something alive, a new perspective. How does this 15th century master's or 19th century Nigerian artist's work relate to something in our lives today? Art is not made in a vaccum. Great art made 100s or 1000s of years ago, lives and breathes still today. Believe it, take a chance Mr. Beale. The DIA is stodgy and needs to liven things up, and at least they know they have to change and are trying, but unfortunately many of their recent efforts have been misguided and as Chris points out, rather lame. I was not one of the those who detested the themed shows that the DIA presented during the renovations. I was with non-art people who really responded to these installations and started looking closer and thinking about the art when it was presented this way. They need more constructive input from the art community. Too bad the DIA relies on surveys and studies of audience behavior, rather than asking and listening and inviting ideas from the wealth of creative input available right in front of them.

6:45 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

Beal sez:
My correspondence with her is technically and legally hers to do with what she will....

Actually, his correspondence with her is not legally hers, at least not in the United States. Beal retains copyright.

9:09 PM  
Anonymous m. said...

she did have a legal right to quote the correspondance as long as she cited the source, which she did. she can do this with or without the authors permission, they author implied their permission when they sent the correspondance. unless there was express or implied confidentiality, she did nothing illegal. It is what would fall into the grey area of journalistic morality though, and it's a topic that's often debated heavily in freshman journalism courses. All those love letters my Ex wrote me: I can publish those if I wanted to with or without his current permission (unless confidentiality was implied) as long as I credit the source. I wouldn't, of course.

this just reaffirms some increasinly glaring points highlighted in other recent posts: artists are NOT inherently journalists. Far, far, far, far from it.

take a journalism class. before attempting to write and publish journalistic articles, at least.

9:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is pretty low, taking a personal correspondence between friends or acquaintances and turning it into a statement to a reporter, but I wouldn't expect any more than that from a MetroTimes writer. She has to do what she has to do to make that byline and collect a check.

11:22 PM  
Anonymous Jef said...

Look, anything in journalism is useable. Right or wrong, we all have become aware of that. Even when we say "off the record."

She approached the guy cause she was upset by the barre. They communicated about it through email and in person.

Beal of all people knows how to distort the truth -- especially for the press. To side-track the real issues with personal attacks.

In this case Ms. Hill did not stoop to such levels, she used the correspondence as the basis for his/Beal's defense of the barre system -- which he hasn't changed one iota so what's the big deal!

What's tacky is for him to attack her personally, and not simply defend the museum and his system.

He likes to make things personal when they're not. As one seasoned Detroit art critic once described him -- he's a weasel! Now that's personal.

1:31 AM  
Anonymous chris said...

the beale has proven himself out of sync with detroit since he got here. whatever happened to the millions to set up the african-american gallery -- and the curator theyve paid for the last five years to do nothing. better spent at the wright museum to bring in our black culture in the proper venue not to some cracker museum. a lot of mumbo jumbo about mirrors and smoke and little about the actual art. hanging the work by emotions etc rather than logically is more of "look aren't we modern and fresh" crap!
the man's contract should be up right about now and the dia should be moving on into the new millennium with a true visionary. not some hack who gets pushed from institution to institution and whose last position at la county museum was even done away with completely on his departure for detroit. speaks volumes about him there.

1:45 AM  
Anonymous m. said...

"...and whose last position at la county museum was even done away with completely on his departure for detroit. speaks volumes about him there."

Chris: what, precisely, does that say about HIM? lol. you're all so cute when you grasp at straws to defend your opinions. Just say you don't like him because you don't like him. the fact that LA County Museum did away with a position when it had the opportunity speaks more to American downsizing and the cruch of non-profits than Beale's job proficiency. In fact, it says the OPPOSITE about him than I think you wanted to imply...

12:09 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

m. sez:
she did have a legal right to quote the correspondance as long as she cited the source, which she did. she can do this with or without the authors permission, they author implied their permission when they sent the correspondance.

She had the right to quote the letter the same way she'd have the write to quote any copyrighted work. However, she did not and does not have the right to do whatever she wants with the letter; she cannot, for example, publish the letter in its entirety. The author retains copyright of a letter, even if sent to someone else.

So, actually, no, you couldn't publish your ex's love letters. The copyright belongs to your ex, even if you happen to own the only copy.

But this is off topic. It's also low and wrong to use personal correspondence that way.

2:10 PM  
Anonymous m. said...

So, I just walked down the hall to the legal department, popped my head in their door, and asked them if I could publish my Ex's letters in their entirity if cited properly. They said 'yes'. I love working for a major book publisher. (actually, they said: 'yes, technically, but look what happened to Regan...") Furthermore, if Samual Clemen's estate/heirs/publisher failed to renew his Copyright when it expired (it's either 80 years or 98 years, I forget) I could publish "Huckleberry Finn", too. Completely, legally, becuase copyright it not an indefinite protection. This is an extreme example, but it has been done with more obscure manuscripts and there are people who sit around waiting for copyrights to elapse for just this purpose.

Books copyrighted in the US before 1923 are now in the public domain; their copyrights have expired and it is legal to copy such works. (in their entirity). Books initially copyrighted in the US from 1923 through 1963 are still protected by copyright law if the initial copyright was renewed. The initial copyright term was 28 years and the renewal was 67 more years (formerly only 47 years). For example, a book initially copyrighted in 1923, and renewed, will pass into the public domain in 2019 (i.e., 1923+28+67+1)

So, there, now you've learned something new today. (I admit that I can be "schooled" on the art-stuff on this blog but publication is my area of specialty, silly). She was well within her legal right (even Beale nods to this) but practicing what one would deem "sensationalist" or "yellow journalism", which real journalists would frown on. Of course, it was also labelled an Opinions peice and so there is more flexibility there. As for low or wrong: there are many instances where publishing ones personal correspondances are lauded and valuable (politicians and monarchs, for one, aren't we all fascinated by Queen Elizabeth's private letters?) My great aunt was a famous novellist of the 30's and in settling her estate we found that she had numerous correspondances from other famous novellists of the same era: those personal, private (and intimate) correspondances are now available to the public.

But this goes back to my original point that: hey, just because you have an art history degree doesn't mean you are inherently a journalist/writer (copyright lawyer) and we should respect eachothers' crafts more and dabble haphazardly less.

To get back on track: Is Beale good at manipulating the media, as Jef suggested? Maybe, but he did make Chris Hill look like a bitter petty brat before that (completely uneccessary) nasty personal dig in the final paragraph. That obvious undermining really turned me off of his stance.

3:35 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

I'd reply to M directly but I can't find an address, so I'm going to quickly hijack a bit more and then go away again:

I don't have an art degree of any kind. I have a degree in Computer Science and was trained as an engineer, actually. So I'm completely out of my field here.

But the copyright details you bring up, I know already. Nothing new there. Did you follow my link to the Straight Dope? The expert there on the topic of copyright went into great detail regarding a lot of copyright law, including who owns the copyright on correspondence. U.S. law states that copyright is owned and retained by the creator of any copyrightable work upon creation. So this comment is © Chris Rywalt, 2007. The original post is copyright the author, even if they publish it on a blog. And letters -- or e-mail messages -- are copyright the writer.

If your legal department doesn't know this, either you were talking to the administrative assistant or I'd start looking for work elsewhere.

I don't mean to be so picky. No, wait, I do. And I probably look like an annoying jerk. I'm really not. I'm just addicted to arguing. I need rehab.

7:16 PM  
Anonymous chris m. said...

m: the fact that LA County Museum did away with a position when it had the opportunity speaks more to American downsizing and the cruch of non-profits than Beale's job proficiency. In fact, it says the OPPOSITE about him than I think you wanted to imply...

it says his job was dispensible. as was he. no implications intended, opposite or not. just the facts. and a lot of it had to do with residual animosity towards the beale.

11:26 PM  
Anonymous m. said...

chris r-- gee, you must be right. I mean, information procurred from the internet: that couldn't be wrong. I shall have to consult wikipedia before commenting further. How can I argue with "SDStaff Gfactor and guest contributor acsenray", the experts bylined in your link?

Bored now.

chris m-- if he was dispensible (i think you mean expendable) they wouldn't have waited until he voluntarily left. I'm just playing the devil's advocate here.

10:50 AM  
Anonymous Jef said...

In the end, Beal's character defects aren't the issue.

What is - will be his legacy to the DIA and Detroit?

And we won't be able to truly begin to judge that until it re-opens this fall.

I'm hopeful.

11:27 AM  

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