Friday, March 24, 2006

MOCAD lecture - what you need to know

MOCAD is finally coming...and it hopefully looks a little bit better than before.

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I think that I just went though the entire 12 step program with feeling towards mocad! At first I was in denial that it was actually happening and that I was attending an actual lecture for the museum! Then as the curator continued to speak I got more and more frustrated by the artists showing and then preceding the talk the questions by the audience only fueled me more! How could the second question be "where is the museum going to be located". Why wouldn't we know this already? Why were so few informed about the lecture? Why are there no Detroit artists scheduled thus far for the first show? Before I get ahead of myself I want to clarify that in the end I was finally calm and accepting of the proposal of the first opening at mocad. Now let me explain my thoughts.


I really feel that for the first attempt to publicly speak about mocad, they should not have thrown the out-of-state curator, who doesn't know much about Detroit, in with a pack of wolves. I feel that we need Marsha Miro to stand up and state mocad's intent and focus in the city. The crowd attending were mainly mocad supporters, backers, ccs students and teachers and a core group of Detroit artists that already have heard the rumblings of mocad. Why not publicize the heck out of the event?


Klaus Kertess began stating that he changed the first show from a strictly painting show to an installation - mixed media show. His speech was mainly about introducing the few selected artists in the inaugural show. These artists are not no-namers; they are pretty well known contemporary artists, all in their mid 40's in age. Definitely not young fresh talent. My opinion is that they are being safe like the DIA and only putting new artists that have already been tested and approved. No real chances here! The artists all have something in common: Detroit sensibility. Key themes and media focuses on graffiti art, recycling and reusing, decay, and race. Pretty obvious Detroit themes if you ask me. But not one of them are Detroit artists portraying these themes. One of the slides was a graffiti artist Barry McGee that looked like a combination of urban graffiti and Clint and Scott's Relics piece but painted on a wall! Other artists include Kara Walker who is known for her black figurative shadow cut-outs and Whitney biennial artist Mark Bradford. Roxie Paine and Nari Ward are other artists mentioned that will have installations set up in the space as well as an artist from Japan, that an audience member questioned, "why Japan?" In Kertess's answer, he pointed out that this exhibit is "not about Detroit". (What?) Then he proceeded to talk his way out of his answer to say that he is not an expert on the Detroit scene and doesn't know enough about the city's art to have the show be about Detroit. (Pretty sad-why not find a curator that knows Detroit?)


Now at that point I was getting upset but it was in talking to others afterward that I understand mocad's intent. They are trying to make a name for themselves and like with everything new business, money makes some of the decisions. Having a show that draws attention across the country puts more attention on the city and draws more supporters (money) to the museum. Why can't the DIA host this show? It is definitely safe enough. But getting attention for a new museum in the end is a wonderful thing. If the eyes of the art world can be on Detroit for one moment then something good has been accomplished!




- pronounced MOE-cad

- all mixed media - installation based

- no painting

- San Francisco artist Barry McGee to paint facade of building

- building is on Woodward at Garfield

- apparent themes - recycled objects, decay, race....

- 5 artists named at lecture: Kara Walker, Barry McGee, Nari Ward, Mark Bradford, Roxie Paine, and a Japanese artist.

-  all artists 40 yr. old mid career

- asked one Detroit artist, he/she turned him down

-  Kertess quoted, "not about Detroit"

- an unnamed video artist

- other curators will follow, hopefully featuring some Detroit artists in the future


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you comparing Scott and Clint to Barry Mcgee in suggesting that they should have been included instead? Because Barry Mcgee has been at it far longer and is far more deserving. Besides, they will both continue to get shows at Hillberry, be happy with that.

10:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

there won't be any spotlight on detroit because of this show. it isn't ground-breaking (pun intended) in any sense.

these artists have been around the block and the space itself won't drum up excitement elsewhere - unlike the new contemporary bulilding in cincinnati.

it'll be an overgrown hilberry show. for the rich collectors involved.

indianapolis and denver have new contemporaries. you're not reading about them in the dailies. and they're showing the same pool of artists.

so what's the next show? and the next? and who's to be the director. where's their website? and what is their longterm vision?

11:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

who does everyone think is the detroit artist who turned down the mocad show?

tyree guyton?

hey anonymous - what is your problem? you sound like an ass in every post. ann's obviously not saying that clint and scott should have been included instead - try reading, not just seeing a couple words near one another and then assuming the rest.

11:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

God forbid that Detroit show international artists from outside Detroit. Whatever would we do with real exposure to comtemporary art that has nothing to do with this place.. hmm maybe have a chance at an actual thriving art community.

11:34 AM  
Blogger art blogs are fun said...

anon - I don't think clint/scott's resume is quite up to par with mcgee...I was only comparing the imagry of a slide I saw with their relics piece

11:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think there is a pretty clear consensus around here:

we want and need exposure to contemporary art from outside of detroit. BUT, we also want and need exposure for contemporary art made in detroit. it's a matter of mix and balance.

few people (if any) think that mocad should show all or nearly all detroit artists. that is clearly pointless if the goal is a world-class contemporary art museum. but, I think what most want is an effort from mocad to incorporate the detroit art community into its shows, decision making process and operations. we're not entitled to it - no one but the backing money is entitled to anything - but we would like it and think it would be the most beneficial to all involved.

if there are 9 artists in mocaDETROIT's inagural show, 2 should be detroiters. and there should be a plan in place for regular involvent of the detroit art community in the space (like, say, the 12x12 gallery at mca-chicago).

11:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you'll never have a thriving art community simply by bringing in outside art.

you will have a thriving art community (no exodus/disapora)if moca-d stuck to their original ratio of 6/2, outside to detroiter artists.

the outside world has to be made aware of what art is happening in detroit. that's when a cont museum becomes a real bridge. and we thrive here as well. the 6/2 standard would force these ny curators to spend a day looking at detroit artists.

and that's the only bonus in this for detroit artists. we would become familiar to outside curators, who may actually like what they see here and take that information back with them. and maybe even share it with other curators, collectors, galleries.

that happened to me as an artist, who's never left detroit. a visiting curator saw my work in passing through, but remembered it when a nyc show was being organized.

11:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the invited artist was gordie newton. give me a break. there's robbing the cradle, then there's grave-robbing!
and this is supposed to be a contemporary museum?!
same old players. same old bullshit. and detroit always comes up the loser.
simply bringing in outside artists, of any caliber, isn't going to help the detroit art community. it only allows wealthy collectors to drink more cocktails and toast ny and each other.
without detroit art as a quotient in detroit museums we are only humiliated the more.

1:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"simply bringing in outside artists, of any caliber, isn't going to help the detroit art community." ... so not true... part of the problem with Detroit's art community is well let's just face it, really bad art. There I said. Not to say that it's all bad, but there is a lot of it. A lot of these young artist have no real exposure to international art, just the same old crap that's been shown time and time again here. The point of a contemporary museum is not to make another clubhouse or co-op, which has mostly already been proven not to work, and certainly not to force (NY) curators to look at Detroit artists. If their work is good enough they will make the effort to have NY contacts like people from all the other people that live in cities that are not NYC. I don't know why you people always feel like others are obligated to give you something. Detroiters need to quick looking for a handout already.

9:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

to all the anons in the blog world without the balls to use their own names:

this is our city. this is our museum. it includes detroit in the title. it isn't a hand-out. if you were literate on current art you would know that every other city's museums extend the same courtesy to their artists. from toledo to nyc. ps 1 in collaboration with moma recently did a fantastic exhibit showcasing young ny artists.

most the artists leaving ccs, cranbrook, wayne and uofm etc are over-loaded with the work of these "outside" artists. they aren't deficient in understanding what's going on elsewhere. give them some credit.

and if you think an artist just waltzes into nyc and gets a show, or even a glance at a portfolio, you're living in a fool's world.

it's all about contacts and networking, and yes good art. and all that starts at home. newton got picked by kertess cause he visited his studio, not because newton was the king of ny.

and you should go wash your mouth out saying detroit has no good artists.

that's plain stupid. i'm sick of that crap. and if you want to look at ny art only, go to ny and their 100 some museums.

10:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't agree more about networking. One of the strengths of the Metropolitan Detroit arts community is its wealth of artists groups, artists who band together to support one another with whatever artistic or organizational talents they have to share.

I belong to one group that regularily instigates projects that gets works seen. As a result of one of these projects my work traveled in a group show in exhibition spaces around the rim of Africa. One of my works purchased from this exhibition found its way into a national book, ANOTHER exhibition, and a presence on an educational website. Another Detroit group a number of years ago scheduled exchange exhibitions with sister groups in England and Mexico.

I made the decision not to leave the D for NY; steady teaching jobs, family, and the ability to show my work steadily convinced me to do so. Not to mention the affordable rents for studio spaces. This Detroit platform has supported me, fueled by a dynamic scene and personal aggressiveness.

Detroit artists are not looking for a mere "handout". It IS important to see the work within the context of the country.

11:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A story for the anons of the world (and they are legion):

A few years ago, when the Museum of New Art (MONA) was still located in downtown Detroit, a gallery director and one of his upcoming artists (from some place like NYC) visited the museum and its then current show of a Detroit artist. The two had just visited another Detroit artist's studio, and both concurred that said artist could never show his work outside of Detroit. It would be laughed off the walls in any other city. They said that all Detroit artists were a bad and horrid lot. For lack of a better word, Detroit artists were the shits.

Within a week, an important French collector (his Fluxus collection rivals Gil Silverman's, and the remainder of it far surpasses most with contemporary pieces) visited MONA and bought not just one work by the Detroit artist exhibiting in our 10,000 sq foot space, but her entire exhibition.

So I think of this story whenever I hear such blanket statements about Detroit art and its artists. And how their work could not stand up to national or international standards.

And I also laugh, because the Detroit artist that the two visitors were slamming not only went on to show in NYC but will soon be given a solo show at the premiere Michigan gallery.

- Jef

11:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please stop whining. I believe if artists commit themselves to their work and can achieve something significant within their direction, the work can begin to develop a voice that can not be argued with. I disagree with previous "anons" about Detroit art being all bad, but I do agree that more Detroit artists should push their work outside of Detroit. You can't be a hometown hero in your hometown. If Detroit artists went out into the broader art world and remained loyal to their home city it wouldn't hurt anyone involved. I do not agree with constantly complaining about problems, take action. I salute Ann who started this blog, Andrew for opening Synergy, and I am sorry but I think MoCAD is a great idea in any form. Yes MCA Chicago supports its local artists. THankfully I am
"literate" enough on the art world to know each month they provide the 12x12 show to young Chicago talent. Part of the goal of the museum should be to support the local community and artists but why can't the main goal be to bring Great international artists to Detroit? True most Detroiters know the work of these artists but how many have seen them in person? Not to mention the undergraduates who can be exposed to them for the first time without needing a slide projector. Continue to pressure the MoCAD for support of Detroit artists. But be more reasonable about how and what you choose to fight, because as previous post suggest, it comes off the wrong way to be so angry and defensive when someone tries to present an opposite view of the situation.

12:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know, there will be some very interesting talks if not fireworks when this show opens in October. Wasnt Kara Walker supposed to do a show at the DIA but it got turned down?

Walker's work is controversial to say the least. The chance to see it in the flesh [no pun intended] will be exhilarating. Can't wait.

6:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

look, anon, i don't think anyone is remotely suggesting that mocad not bring in international/national artists but simply include one or two detroiters in the mix now and then. don't get your knickers in a bunch.

6:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wasnt Kara Walker supposed to do a show at the DIA but it got turned down? - birdie

The DIA actually owns one of her works which was part of a Spring show in 1999. A few days before the show was to open the Walker piece was pulled at the request of the African-American Friends of the DIA.

You only get fireworks when someone or some group lights the fuse. Kara's presence should go fine at this location.

6:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

please let this blog not be the face of detroit art. stop - i beg of you - it is killing me to read this blubber. when you do a google search on MOCAd detroit and this bullshit comes up >> it == tightens my spine. seriously - get a hold on.

i use anonymous because i am embarrassed to write in here.

make some sort of movement and quit dwelling on your deformity through a fucking blog for gods sake.

stinky poo

10:29 PM  
Blogger detart said...

Gotta know--what's "the premiere Michigan gallery"?

5:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, as I have read down every single comment here, I am struck by this huge sense of resentment. There are so many of you who sound bitter about Mocad. Well let me ask you this: Would you rather Detroit remain as it is? A space devoid of culture, a place with one real museum, a museum I might add as many of you have that only caters to shows that are "safe." Yes, I'm sure for many of you Detroit feels like a very creative place, there are many artists, there is a wonderful, and sheltered community for art here, and we are fortunate to have that. But are you all so selfish to believe that MOCAD was created solely for that small, and whether or not you want to believe it elite community? Well, it wasn't, it was created to bring this artistic and cultural community to the rest of the area, yes, to the wealthy patrons of the suburbs, but also for the teenagers who grow up in this area with their most eye opening experience being a fieldtrip to the rodin/claudel show at the DIA which they slept through, and for Detroit, all of detroit, for the people who have never even been to a museum. MOCAD is not just created to help Detroit artists get on the map, which as the other "anonymous" pointed out is no ones job but their own, it was created to put detroit on the map, and it is doing so by bringing in the best, if that means outside talent, then it means outside talent, and maybe with the help of mocad someday the best will be located in detroit. But for now we need to face the reality that Detroit is not New York, and if we ever want a chance at having some real culture here, for everyone, not just the art community, then we have to support MOCAD and stop feeling bitter. Appreciate what is about to happen to Detroit, it's going to change a lot for the better, but it also requires support, and understanding.

8:55 PM  

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