Monday, August 31, 2009

CMA Asks to Dip into Endowment for Construction

The Plain Dealer has reported that The Cleveland Museum of Art wants to fill a gap in funding for its $350 million expansion and renovation by dipping into one of the deepest pockets in town -- its own.

On Tuesday, the museum petitioned Cuyahoga County Probate Court for permission to tap up to $75 million in income over 10 years from two funds in its endowment and two outside trusts normally restricted to the purchase of art.

The money could help the museum finish construction by 2013 and help with financing that could stretch beyond the completion date.

The Plain Dealer goes on to explain:

The museum's request means getting the court to grant approval to "deviate" temporarily from the wills of wealthy donors who stipulated that their endowment bequests and trusts could be used only to buy art. (my italics).

You can read the complete story on

Friday, August 28, 2009

Toledo Museum of Art Board Names Rod Bigelow as Interim Executive Director; Carolyn Putney to Serve as Deputy Director

Toledo Museum of Art Board Chair Betsy Brady announced today that Rod Bigelow,
TMA’s chief operating officer since February 2008, would serve as interim executive director of the Museum while a national search is conducted. Carolyn Putney, director of collections and curator of Asian art, was named interim deputy director. Both appointments are effective Oct. 1.

Don Bacigalupi, TMA president, director and CEO since 2003 announced last week that he has accepted the directorship of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Ark.
“The Board has full confidence in the leadership team of the Museum to move forward and continue to connect with the community in meaningful ways during this transition,” Brady said.

Bigelow holds a master of business administration degree from Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Wash., and has more than 14 years experience in financial and executive management, most recently as the director of administrative and financial services at The Art Institute of Seattle and previously as chief financial officer at the Tacoma Art Museum. While in Tacoma he served as interim executive director while that institution searched for a new director.
Bigelow currently oversees several areas of the Museum’s operations, including finance, human resources, information technology, facilities, maintenance and protective services.

Putney has been with the Toledo Museum of Art in various capacities for 31 years. She holds an undergraduate degree in art history from Florida State University and completed graduate work in Asian art at the same institution. She has taught at the University of Toledo since 1979. Her duties include budgeting and oversight of all aspects of the curatorial department including exhibitions, conservation, registrars, archives, research and publications, the library and the Visual Resources Collection.

TMA's news releases can be found here.

Monday, August 24, 2009

New Blog Feature: An Exhibition Calendar

The design of this blog has always rested on one principle: to function as a resource for regional art organization, artists, and of course patrons. Resources I would find useful include the banner, to which I return almost daily. This banner includes links of galleries and museums in and around Cincinnati and I work to update it as I hear of others.

Another resource I've always wanted is a consolidated calendar of exhibitions. This was pretty tedious to put together and I realize for it to be useful to all of us, I need to be sure to manage it in a timely manner. This calendar includes only exhibitions and their descriptions as pulled from the respective websites. For any additional programming (talks, tours, classes, etc) , you will have to go directly to the gallery or museum website. The exhibitions are consolidated from those institutions appearing on the banner above.

If you think there is another gallery or museum I should include, please let me know. Keep in mind however that while I may periodically blog about shows in private galleries, I choose not to link to private arts organizations on my banner.

I do hope you find the calendar a helpful resource as well. Browse around. The new art season includes some very interesting exhibitions you will want to include on your own calendar.

2010 Governor’s Awards for the Arts in Ohio Online Nominations Open

The Ohio Arts Council is now accepting nominations for the 2010 Governor’s Awards for the Arts in Ohio. The annual awards are given to Ohio individuals and organizations in recognition of outstanding contributions to the arts statewide, regionally and nationally. Awards are given for Arts Administration, Arts Education, Arts Patron, Business Support of the Arts, Community Development and Participation and Individual Artist. The deadline for nominations is Wednesday, September 23, 2009 at 5 p.m. and the deadline for support letters is Wednesday, September 30, 2009 at 5 p.m.

Nominations will be accepted only online. A complete explanation of the nomination process is available on the 2010 Governor’s Awards for the Arts in Ohio and Arts Day Luncheon Web site at For more information about the Governor’s Awards nomination process contact Jaclyn Reynolds at the Ohio Arts Council; phone 614/995-4125; e-mail

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Contemporary Art for Parents

Today's NY Times includes a complaint by a parent after bringing his 7 year old twins to P.S.1 to see contemporary art and was met with a piece I agree is not appropriate for children. The writer's complaint was not about the inclusion of the artwork in this gallery, but the parent was upset to find the wall label warning of graphic content was much too small to notice. As a parent, I certainly understand the uncomfortable nature of this situation. Yet, parents are generally hardwired to avoid such situations because it is in our nature to protect our children or at least protect ourselves from embarrassment. If P.S 1 truly is one of Fred Bernstein's favorite places to see contemporary art, heck, if visiting contemporary art galleries is one of his favorite past times, he should have known prior to bringing his two boys to the gallery not only what to expect, but exactly what was showing in this particular exhibition.

As a parent and an arts advocate in Cincinnati, I've found myself pulled in opposing directions especially in regards to the Contemporary Art Center. Aware of its historical place in art censorship, I look forward to challenges any exhibition may present and encourage friends to visit regularly. Though as a parent of young children, many social circles in which I find myself result in planning parent/child play dates that include the Cincinnati Zoo, The Museum Center, or simply one of the city parks. The pull comes when a parent asks me what I think about taking their kids to the Contemporary Art Center. I have no problem encouraging these parents to take their children to the CAC UnMuseum where some of the best and most fun children's art education events take place. But I quickly warn them to simply take the elevator directly up to the sixth floor, by-passing all exhibition spaces for fear my friend will see something they do not want their children to see. This directing people away from art galleries goes against everything I am...even a parent of a 5 and 11 yr old.

To try correct this internal conflict, I encourage parents to visit the CAC exhibitions to preview the shows before attending with their children. But to parents whose schedule, both work and play, revolve around their children, this is a tough sell. The CAC perhaps like all contemporary art museums would be thrilled to have every parent visit at least once, two visits per exhibition is just unimaginable. Further, if the one visit means heading straight to the UnMuseum (an interesting problem for further contemplation), the CAC is pleased to oblige.

Still this does not solve my internal conflicted guilt over possibly contributing to the censorship of the CAC and yet working to be a powerful advocate for the local arts. As our children return to school, I invite any parent who would like to join me or their friends to visit the exhibitions at the CAC this year for an adult-only preview. You may find that you would like to share the exhibition with your own children during a second visit.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Tara Donovan to Exhibit at Neighboring IMA

With the overwhelming awe of Tara Donovan's recent exhibition at the Contemporary Art Center, local art lovers will be excited to learn she will return to the Midwest with an exhibition at nearby Indianapolis Museum of Art. This exhibition will present both drawings and sculptures by the American artist. And the best part, the IMA will offer free admission to the exhibition.

Tara Donovan: Untitled will open at the IMA April 4, 2010 and be on view through August 1, 2010

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Toledo Museum of Art Director Don Bacigalupi Leaves for Crystal Bridges

The Toledo Blade reported that Don Bacigalupi, director, president, and chief executive officer of the Toledo Museum of Art since 2003, will leave Toledo in October to lead a new museum being built in Arkansas by Alice Walton, the youngest child of the founder of Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

A few years away from opening, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is being built on the edge of and over a natural spring on 100 wooded acres a quarter mile from downtown Bentonville, in northwest Arkansas.

Time's Art and Architectural Critic, Richard LaLacayo recently spoke with Bacigalupi about his move.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Should Greater Cincinnati Art Organizations Better Strive for Diverse Hiring?

Bay Area curator, Anuradha Vikram presents a discussion about the hiring and management of art organizations. She offers links to a few different articles that explore a lack of diverse hiring practices in the arts and its effect on funding. This is not a debate about race, but about the role of art organizations to serve their communities. If administrative hiring does not reflect the diversity of their regions, attracting patrons of the community in which the organizations reside results in an otherwise unnecessary battle for funds and ultimately isolation.

As Vikram shows, one way to address this isolation is a proposal to abandon degree certifications like those of Art History and Museum Studies as hiring criteria. The argument suggests these degree programs are not diverse enough to be part of a hiring pool. As an art historian (of Latino decent), I strongly disagree. I'm part a a very large pool of ethnically diverse art historians. Vikram too disagrees though presents a much more nuanced argument that seems to focus more on the defined roles of these institutions in their communities rather than their administrators.

How can Cincinnati, with its large number and variety of art organizations, apply this debate for increased patronage. Will understanding the role each plays in the community result in more diverse hiring practices thus less isolation? Further, do local arts funding practices discourage defining these roles and does this make our own arts organizations inferior in their competition for state or national grants?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Greater Cincinnati Exhibition Opportunities

The Weston Art Gallery has put together the Greater Cincinnati Exhibition Opportunities Guide 2009 –an encyclopedia of venues and contact information for artists seeking a first show or continuing an established exhibition record. With nearly 200 listings, the Guide is not only a directory of places to show work locally and regionally, it's also the source for Cincinnati's vibrant arts scene. So don't miss out on your opportunities–get to it and participate!

While this comprehensive listing galleries is described as a resource for Cincinnati-area artists, a number of the galleries listed exhibit works from all over the world.

Access or download the complete guide here.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Art Academy Opens Academic Year with Big Changes, Questions.

The Art Academy of Cincinnati last week announced the departures of two top leaders, President Gregory Allgire Smith and Academic Dean Keith Kutch. While Kutch left on his own accord to accept a position at Stevenson University outside of Baltimore, the circumstances surrounding Smith’s departure are still unclear.

You can find the story at City Beat.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Can We Make Art Museums More Like Home?

As art museums continue to work towards engaging their community and growing their patronage, we see a number of innovative programs develop. Many of the events often involve creating a temporary space for entertainment as a way to welcome new visitors.

A letter in the Daily Dayton News in response to the 90th anniversary of the Dayton Art Institute recalls in 1943 when a banner hung across the front of the building read, "Dayton's Living Room."

A rather simple idea that not only engages the surrounding community, but evokes the comfort of permanency and most important it makes the museum inviting.

It is so easy to envision The Cincinnati Wing of the CAM and the Taft Museum of Art adopting similar invitations to come in and relax.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Review of Emil Robinson's "Axis Mundi"

The Taft Museum of Art is now exhibiting Axis Mundi, a solo show by Cincinnati artist Emil Robinson. As noted in my interview with the artist, my review of the show is now available to read in AEQAI.

In the review I explore how this realist painter celebrates his ties to abstraction.