Monday, April 16, 2007

mocad's next show

From latest MOCAD press release:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

DETROIT, Michigan, April 12, 2007 - The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit is proud to present STUFF: International Contemporary Art from the Collection of Burt Aaron. Featuring over 140 works by more than 75 artists, this show brings rarely seen work from a private collection to the public eye ...

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From MOCAD's website:

MOCAD Staff:
Steering Committee: Burt Aaron, Lynn Crawford, Marsha Miro, Cate Strumbos
Founding Board of Directors: Burt Aaron, Maggie Allesee, Ruth Carter ... more on website

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I have seen Aaron's collection and, yes, it is well worth seeing! He has an eye for contemporary collecting and has put a lot of thought, research and self-taught art knowledge and curiosity into his collection. It was definitely strange for me to see some works that I thought maybe hadn't caught on to everyone in the collecting community yet like Elizabeth Neel, who I love. I don't have a beef with Aaron (I consider him a friend) or his collection (which I will say again that Detroiters will be lucky to experience), but why do there seem to be so many insider decisions when it comes to MOCAD? They received a lot of comments about the last show, which featured work by then-curator (and mocad's only paid staff member at the time), mitch cope, and also, links have been pointed out that the museum's acts tend to sprout from the same group of contributors. Should they have an exhibition that shows one of their steering committee member's/founding director's work? I don't know if there are any rules, or at least a political correctness, on this sort of thing, either. Won't it benefit Aaron to show his collection in a museum setting? I can only assume that MOCAD would have thought about this and wouldn't have agreed to show the works had they believed there would be any conflict ...

23 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe MOCAD was struggling to line up a 3rd show and this was convenient? Could the finances of MOCAD limit their ability to curate or draw exhibitions from outside of their steering committee? Did they spend all their money on the first 2 shows?

Just speculation.

There are certainly benefits to having ones personal collection displayed in a museum. His credibility as a collector will rise and the value of some of the work in his collection could increase in value with a museum exhibition pedigree attached to it, even though it is just MOCAD.

I'm sure the collection is great, or at least I hope it is, but this is once again looking awfully lame. MOCAD projects itself as a cutting edge space, or it at least has the potential, but this is the kind of show you would expect from the DIA. Is the well dry already?

Before this place opened and there was only 2 exhibitions scheduled I knew the 3rd was going to be very telling. Will see what happens I suppose.

P.S. Does this guy buy art from Hillberry? Also, there is a craigslist posting by MOCAD that just went up. Their looking for a 16mm projector.

7:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to say, after thinking this site was great for it's committment to keeping up with a wide art world--I am now greatly disappointed to find provincialism raising it's ugly head.
It might be time to re-examine yourself, Ann. Would a "friend" posit negative and incendiary positions, rather than allowing the audience to make judgements first? If you know a collection is good--why bias the audience? Let them make their own judgements, rather than always fanning the flames of Detroit defensiveness. You cannot argue "in the name of journalism" either--because you qualified that you were a "friend"...
Some criticism can wait until after the fact, and endless judgements and intrigue-baiting has grown very, very tiresome and disappointing...And on a day like today--after a sobering tragedy, it's all the more petty... Try SUPPORT and allow the general public to make some un-biased judgements? Let the art talk.
Truly, an artist and art professor

9:27 AM  
Anonymous Bosco said...

There are plenty of galleries that are set up to promote the wok of specific artists, either alone or as collectives. Maybe MOCAD is just taking it to the next level. They could have been more straightforward about what they were doing, but it's nothing new.

9:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Anon-- Truly, an artist and art professor who must live in a terminally insulated world of privilege to be so ignorant as to not see the relevance of a public institution whose mission is to serve the community of Detroit but rather seems to serve the commercial and careerist interests of its insiders. Let the art speak for itself? As if art has *ever* spoken for *itself*. Let me guess, if you're not doing anything wrong, you've got nothing to worry about, right? Or how about, curatorial decisions are based on quality and have nothing to do with gender, pedigree or privilege, so only the *best* art of the highest aesthetic *quality* is exhibited, right? You sure as hell sound like "part of the problem" and I pity the young people your conservative elitist status quo ignorance is poisoning.

10:06 AM  
Anonymous aaron said...

ann isn't forming a bias against this collection - quite the opposite. she describes it as superb.

she is pointing out an ongoing pattern of nepotism however, that can only continue to hurt this new institution. and yes, all mocad roads lead back to hilberry.
in 1982 Saatchi bought out a show of Schnabel's at Mary Boone's and, since he was on the board, displayed it at the TATE: "one of the greatest young artists working today."

there was a lot of controversy: one, that this show made Schnabel's career; two, that as a board member at the Tate Saatchi has abused his position there.

so there is an unhealthy precedence for this sort of self-promoting. and from the best at it, Saatchi. bravo, backwater Burt!

10:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The anger from Anonymous, Dear Anon is palpable --and very likely from a defensive artist who is overly simplistic in assuming that commercial success is ill-gotten(when it is just as often a measure that the work is pertinent, strong and reaches a wide audience)... A museum serves everyone beyond a community too--does MOMA serve NY?? No--it serves whoever comes through the city and whoever sees it's publications or website, as should MOCAD. A community is served by having art to look at, and in this case for free, like a library.
"Conservative elitist" and in a"terminally insulated world of privelege"????? I lean to left, and am an underpaid faculty member who values exchange, not didactics, like you... And you are a conservative reactionary! Calm down and try flexibilty.

10:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Be flexible, defend nepotism, it's good for art and artists. Don't be so polemical. Critique of institutions will get us nowhere. The people in charge know what's best for everyone and deserve our support.

10:47 AM  
Anonymous username said...

i thought this place was supposed to be a museaum, not just another gallery with rotating "shows"

10:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It will benefit the artist's whose work he has collected.

11:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Art critics and gallery owners can make or break a career . . . collectors will look to many of these critics for advice in building a collection. Once one buys, others want to "get in on it" and will buy a piece from the same artist and thus - fame and sometimes fortune for the artist being promoted.

And this is new????

11:15 AM  
Anonymous the lion sleeps said...

"The people in charge know what's best for everyone and deserve our support."

I've heard this crap my whole life. Isnt that how we ended up in Iraq?!

The MOCAD people don't have a clue. That's why Mitch jumped ship. And why they're floundering -with such cheap show-n-tells by board members.

And MOMA isn't free like a library. What is it now, $25 to get in?

12:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm interested to see how many women will be in Burt's collection. I'm guessing not many (1 in 5 would be a shock) since white men make the best work of the highest aesthetic quality and it just so happens to be that white men's art is also often the most pertinent, strong, and capable of reaching the widest audience.

12:19 PM  
Anonymous m. said...

"I can only assume that MOCAD would have thought about this and wouldn't have agreed to show the works had they believed there would be any conflict ..."

Do you really, honestly, think they care in their little insular bubble reality? I think they've adequately illustrated by now that they don't give a hoot what people think. They have their own money, after all. MOCAD is their little "come pat me on the back" project. So much like the Cranbrook Writers' Guild.

1:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

With Maggie on the board they could have easily found their way to Brown's 05 community projects while an "Allesee Fellow." If they wanted something challenging.

6:09 PM  
Anonymous jef said...

Although this may be a big step backward, I am hopeful they'll still have Matthew Higgs do his show -- next.

7:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Convenience shouldn't drive choices at a time when MOCAD should be establishing themselves as an institution deserving respect.

I was sincerely hopeful that MOCAD would make it. This decision, however, floors me. Conflict of interest? For a collector to be promoting their own collection and, therefore, potentially increasing the value of his holdings? ENORMOUS CONFLICT OF INTEREST. This would never happen in any other museum, anywhere. When are they going to wake up and realize they will never get support if they continue to make decisions such as these. I have written checks to MOCAD. I will not write any more.

9:54 AM  
Anonymous m. said...

I think it's too late for them to turn it around, now. it's like the first 10 minutes of a movie: either you have the audience or you don't.

it will at least take a gargantuan effort to undo the damage. I feel bad for people who wrote them checks... it.feels.almost.like.a.scam...? no?

1:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

LA MOCA/Geffen showed Blake BYrne's collection--also involved w/ the musem, MOMA and the Whitney show Gund and Lauder works, the New Museum relies on loans from major collections of big donors to their museum, DIA shows works donated from private collections of board members, the Walker relies on donors and board members to loan major works, the Pompidou shows collections of museum board members--the generosity and vision of committted board members has always been a key part of any museum! Whether it helps anyone's collection value is never as important as how good the work is for an audience to get to see! Not everything is BAD BAD BAD, as Detroiters seem to want to stew in the negative... People may have a chance to see a lot of good work in one place, or not---look at it that way too....

10:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

looks like some anonymous clown from MOCAD has done a little homework, as if "everybody's doin it" were a just defense of nepotism which *is* bad bad bad. just because it's the status quo doesn't make it good. mr. mocad, why not seek a higher standard, do a little work, make mocad into something above par. but hey, we all seek our own level, don't we?

12:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I heard they're showing Marsha Miro's collection next...

12:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is this Detroiters stewing BAD BAD BAD deal?

If this board was so generous MOCAD would be moving beyond its current dilapidated state and wouldn't have to be posting on craigslist for equipment.

When you're new kid on the block you have to operate above the sleeze--prove yourselves--let everyone believe, at least for a little while, you understand how things should be done.

6:18 PM  
Anonymous m. said...

that's not dilapidated, that was they're big architech's vision, remember? to be very hip, lame graffiti and all. the look was suposedly intentional.

12:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm just glad I'm going to be able to see artwork that I've not seen before - I don't give a shit about conflict of interest. I want to have an art experience...how it got to the space means nothing to me. Everything in this world is about who you know and where you are standing. I will write more checks to MOCAD.

5:39 PM  

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