Post #238 • March 17, 2004, 6:51 AM • 1 Comment
An actual letter to Artblog.net (with salutation added and real name withheld):
Well, I've joined the MoCA family, or some such nonsense, as a MoCA "Shaker" (I know, it sounds ridiculous). Mind you, I don't think MoCA is any great shakes. I only did it to have access to special events for collectors only open to certain levels of membership, starting with the Shaker level. I keep telling myself that I've done nothing wrong, yet why do I feel vaguely like a prostitute?
All Shook Up
Feelings like yours are common among people who become members of museums that they're a little less than gung-ho about. And who could blame you? Right now MoCA's showing young, hyped, photogenic Laura Owens mere weeks after an exhibition of young, hyped, photogenic Inka Essenhigh. Despite the fact that curator Paul Schimmel called Owens one of the most important artists to come out of Los Angeles in the last decade, a walk through her exhibition reveals her to be an underwhelming, lightweight painter. One untitled canvas after another shows that she's at her best when aping other artists: a little Alex Katz here, a little Elizabeth Peyton there, a dash of indeterminate Chinese ink painter, a sprinkle of Cy Twombly, and so on. She makes Essenhigh look downright formidable. Perhaps not since the 1980s has a reputation so outstripped a talent.
You feel that your high standards have been compromised by supporting a museum whose values are quite different from yours, even if you gain entry into members-only events in return. I forgive you, ASU, and you should try to forgive yourself. MoCA is the only game in town for this sort of thing, if you don't count MAM, and often you can't. MoCA director and curator Bonnie Clearwater is a force to be reckoned with, and usually she's the one putting up the exciting shows down here. Or if not exciting, at least they float into town on a big enough mass of hot air that you can pretend they're exciting. In Miami, sometimes that's the most you can ask for.
Befuddled by an art world gone mad? Send your letters to Dear Franklin at Artblog.net.