Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Toledo Museum of Art Announces New Director

The Toledo Museum of Art announced today that Brian P. Kennedy, director of the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College, has accepted the position as the Museum's ninth director with a start date of September 1. Board Chair Betsy Brady and George Chapman, head of the search committee, made the announcement this morning at the Museum.

"The Museum conducted an international search for its next director. We were pleased to have an exemplary group of candidates presented to the committee," said George Chapman. "This was a very positive process that affirmed both the Museum's standing in the art world and the desire of many talented people to work with our collections, our staff and our community."

Kennedy has been at the Hood Museum of Art since 2005. Previously, he served as director of the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra (1997-2004) and assistant director of the National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin (1989-1997). "Brian is well recognized internationally as an exciting young director," said Betsy Brady, chair of the Board of Directors. "He has a warm, friendly personality, a desire for both excellence and diversity, creative energy, and a love of active community engagement that make him a great fit for Toledo."

"I am delighted to be coming to Northwest Ohio to lead the Toledo Museum of Art," said Kennedy. "Its staff, collections and facilities are of the highest quality. I look forward to building on its achievement and becoming closely involved with the Toledo community, renowned for its warmth of manner, and support for its distinguished art museum."

With 70,000 objects, the Hood Museum of Art boasts one of the largest and finest collections at any American institution of higher learning. Kennedy promoted a global art focus at Dartmouth, as evidenced by the broad array of large and small-scale exhibitions and corresponding publications mounted during his directorship. Significant acquisitions were made by gift or purchase, including important collections of Native American and Australian Aboriginal art, Indonesian textiles, and modern art; and a new series of public contemporary art projects featuring artists from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds was launched.

While in Australia, he made many notable acquisitions, including works by Luca Giordano, Pierre Bonnard, David Hockney, Lucian Freud, Gerhard Richter, Xhang Xiaogang, Frank Stella, Karen Lamonte, obtained generous private funding from donors and collected widely across various media for the national art collections. He increased access to the collections by implementing a free admission policy and expanding the museum's traveling exhibitions and loans program throughout the country.

Kennedy received his bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees from University College, Dublin, where he received highest honors for his studies in the history of art and history. He is a prolific author and editor, with numerous books and articles to his credit, most recently a 2008 publication on Irish-born artist Sean Scully and a forthcoming book on American painter and printmaker Frank Stella. He holds a faculty appointment as an adjunct professor in the art history department at Dartmouth, the first Hood director to be offered such an appointment since 1991.

Kennedy is a member of the Association of Art Museum Directors, American Association of Museums, and the International Association of Art Critics. He was chair of the Irish Association of Art Historians from 1996-1997 and the Council of Australian Art Museum Directors, 2001-2003. In 2003, the Australian Federal Government awarded Kennedy a Centenary of Federation medal for Service to Australian Society and its Art.

Kennedy, his wife Mary, and teenage son Eamon will be relocating to the Toledo area. His daughter, Anne, is a student at the University of New Hampshire.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Cincinnati's bad rap? Don't believe the local PR.

I've never heard or read anything bad about Greater Cincinnati...until I moved here.

Okay, perhaps this is because I grew up just outside of Cleveland, but even when I left Ohio, Cincinnati never had a bad rap. In fact, the opposite was always true.

Despite living near Cedar Point, King's Island was often the wished for family destination when I was growing up. I didn't make it here until I was in college and this was my personal intro to the city ( I know now the park isn't in Cincinnati, but it was to me then.) Reading Huck Finn oh so many times in college reintroduced me to the city on the Ohio River as a beacon of hope. And shopping for graduate programs always placed the University of Cincinnati near the top. In fact, UC was always the only Ohio school on my wish list. Instead I attended the U of C, for which few can blame me.

When I did move to Cincinnati, I fell in love with it almost immediately. Quickly, I attached myself to the arts community. There is truly so much to see and do here for everyone no matter the age. In fact, what prompted me to launch my own art tours is the seemingly over-abundance of things to see.

So why do I hear from so many that Cincinnati needs to elevate itself, to be forward-thinking, to reject being left behind? Perhaps the better question to ask is, who is making this claim? I've concluded these questions are posed almost exclusively by local pr and marketing professionals. In the past couple of years I've heard this song and dance repeated so often that it has become the premise of nearly every event, building, mission statement I've read or development I've witnessed.

As an art historian, I know about (and may even be guilty of) killing something before analyzing it. But while I may joke that the only good artist is a dead one, I know it is not true. Selling the city by first tearing it down is not only dishonest, but leads to poor analyses and finally inferior products and services, i.e. fluff and filler.


Monday, June 21, 2010

As American as Quilts and Jazz Music

Liz Pemberton, So Jazzy! 2006

Perhaps more than any other art form, quilts and jazz are quintessentially American. Not only do they find their roots in our American history, but through intrinsically detailed forms, their artists tell our story. The Freedom Center is now hosting an exhibition that brings both together. Textural Rhythms: Constructing the Jazz Tradition inflicts a wonderful sense of pride in the beauty that is these two American traditions.

The show seeks to reveal the formal similarities between quiltmaking and jazz. Though these common elements become plainly evident as you enter the jazz-filled galleries of quilts. The music along with the imagery immediately speaks to our collective cultural history.

When we think of quilts, we may not imagine those like the ones in this exhibit and we may not be familiar with many of the jazz artists, but when you see this show, you will know these art traditions as woven into our own American identity.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Fine Arts Fund Breakdown of $$

The Fine Arts Fund just approved of the distribution of $10.3 million. The breakdown is here.


Monday, June 14, 2010

Summer in Cincinnati: Art Histories American Style

With three arts and cultural institutions in Cincinnati opening summer shows presenting American histories of art, the Queen City may be the best summer "staycation" destination in the country.

The Cincinnati Art Museum is devoting its summer to Americana with See America: 9 Views of America. The museum describes these special exhibitions as "a visual road trip through the human and natural landscapes of this great country." The summer is really packed with so much great programming for the whole family. I don't often visit an exhibit more than two times, but I've been there twice already and looking forward to bringing my children later this week.

This week, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center will open Textural Rhythms: Constructing the Jazz Tradition. This exhibition combines the the art traditions of quilting and jazz. I am excited to have been invited to the opening gala this evening and look forward to reviewing it soon.

And opening later this week, the Museum Center's America, I Am: The African American Imprint covers five centuries of African American history through rare artifacts from all over the world. I saw an webinar preview of this exhibit a little over a week ago and excited to see an exhibit that seeks to present a comprehensive African American history by employing so many arts and cultural elements we may otherwise ignore as integral to Americana. This exhibit too, I plan to review more fully in the coming weeks.


Friday, June 4, 2010

Seventeen New Antiquities Galleries at Cleveland Museum of Art Open June 26

After a five-year hiatus, the Cleveland Museum of Art’s collections from the ancient Near East, Greece, Rome, and Egypt, as well as works from late antiquity, the Byzantine Empire, the European Middle Ages, and Africa, will return to public view on June 26.

The new galleries, located in the first level of the 1916 building, follow the evolution of visual and cultural traditions at the roots of Western civilization. Visitors can discover the ritual, social, and historical contexts within which these works of art were produced and, at the same time, explore connections to art from other periods on view throughout the museum.

Approximately 900 works of art will return to display when the new galleries open. In addition, dedicated prints and drawings galleries will be inaugurated with Midwest Modern: The Color Woodcuts of Mabel Hewit, which features the work of a relatively unknown Cleveland artist.

Events all summer long will celebrate the new galleries and range from special lectures to hands-on family activities. The free Going Global Family Day on Sunday, June 27, will feature storytelling, art making, music, and dance from 12:30 to 4:00 p.m.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Cincinnati MuralWorks

Now this is what I'm talking about.

Thanks Soapbox


Updated Exhibition Calendar

In time for summer and well before the next season begins, I've updated the exhibition calendar you will on this blog. You'll see while summer may be considered a bit of a down time for art museums, there are a number of great shows and programs offered at Ohio museums this year. Particularly interesting to me in See America: 9 Views of America at the Cincinnati Art Museum.

Take a look at the schedule as you plan your summer. If there is a Greater Cincinnati or Ohio art museum or gallery with an exhibition schedule I have not included, please email the schedule to me.