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Post #412 • November 19, 2004, 9:24 AM • 9 Comments

Daniel Chang for the Miami Herald: Premier art fair to stay in S. Florida.

Anne Tschida for the Miami Herald: Exposing the urban landscape.

Kirk Neilsen for the Miami New Times: Vote for Culture: What exactly does that mean? Today we know it means that two museums will receive hundreds of millions of dollars to build hulking structures in a waterfront park. But on November 2, most people had no clue.

Alfredo Triff for the Miami New Times: Art and Harmony: Charo Oquet on the power of community and friendship.

Miami New Times: art listings.

Michael Mills for the Broward/Palm Beach New Times: Through a Fractured Lens: FAU's Schmidt Gallery takes self-portraiture to another dimension.

Michael Mills for the Broward/Palm Beach New Times: Artbeat.

Gary Schwan for the Palm Beach Post: Boca Raton Museum of Art lauds an American visionary.




November 19, 2004, 6:02 PM

Beyond Geometry opened at MAM last night; it's a very good show!



November 19, 2004, 10:13 PM

The de Pena photos look interesting but it doesn't say where the gallery is.

If you go to see the Burchfield show at the Boca Museum you are in for a treat. He is a wonderful artist who is seriously underrated & little known.



November 20, 2004, 1:44 AM

The New Times cover story about Bond Issue #8 does not really surprise me, but it's still quite disgusting. Welcome to politics.

Well, Franklin, but of course MAM did not respond to Artblog's request for straight talk before the vote. They could easily get away with it, and they weren't likely to take any chance of jeopardizing their carefully calculated operation. I knew the business smelled fishy, but even I didn't suspect it was as bad as it turns out to have been according to the New Times story (which, needless to say, should have appeared before the vote, when it might have made a difference).

Obviously, the public officials implicated in this disgrace are at least as objectionable as the Museum Park people, or rather more so, since they are duty-bound to function as transparent public servants and paid to do so. As a member of the public, I can tell them I don't want them in any job that affects me or is funded with my tax money (and please don't ever expect my vote or support). The classic politician's reply offered by county manager George Burgess as to why there was no mention of museums in the wording on the ballot, even though over half the money was for them, and even though Head Start was curiously mentioned despite getting much less money, is both beneath comment and beneath contempt, in my opinion.

As for the Museum Park crowd, the best and only thing I can say in their defense is that they clearly seem to have felt the end justified the means. That may possibly do when one is up against fanatical and extremely dangerous terrorists, but it is absolutely unacceptable when one is dealing with the unsuspecting, uninformed, and vulnerable general public, who also happens to be footing the bill. People who get what they want on such a basis deserve to have it blow up in their face.

I expected Bond Issue #8 to pass, but I'm glad I voted against it, as the NT piece fully validates. Sadly, despite some possible brief discomfort due to the NT piece, the responsible parties will probably just dig in their heels, go into spin mode, and wait for the whole thing to blow over. Then it should be business as usual, or let the fun begin. Practically all of the members of the local artistic community will figure it's in their best interest to go with the flow and get what they can from MAM. Most of the public, even those aware of what's happened, will figure it's no use crying over spilt milk, and that they might as well partake of what Museum Park may have to offer (assuming they have any interest in the museums, which many people don't, and those people got screwed to the tune of mucho millions). After all, if the completely inexcusable PAC debacle has been rationalized and more or less brushed aside, why should this be much different?

IF it were up to me, short of recalling the money based on the failure to make sure the public knew exactly what it was buying (which violated the public's rights), there would be a public boycott of the museums until the key players fingered by NT severed their ties to those museums or were severed from them. Based on the NT story, to my mind the money was ill-gotten, the responsible parties are tainted, and as long as they're connected to the museums, the museums are also tainted (and should be seen and treated as such). The fact that that won't happen doesn't change anything in principle for me.

Even if everyone's conduct in this matter had been ethically beyond question, and the public had been fully aware of all the details and understood them, and the majority had approved the Museum Park concept, that would not have been optimal (though it would have been one hell of a lot better). There still remained the very relevant issue of whether or not the existing MAM hierarchy deserved to be entrusted with the job and the huge amount of money, given MAM's track record. That issue should have been debated in depth and at length (yes, I know, and world peace would be nice, too). I've already stated my position on that score, and it's NO.

Finally, if a pro-sports faction had used exactly the same tactics to get the money and acreage in question here, and had thus left the museums out in the cold, I fully expect the museum people would be screaming bloody stinking murder--and so would I. The point is that regardless of what the money and land went to, the tactics employed to get them, as detailed by NT, are simply unacceptable, at least to me. Do I expect the involved public officials and museum people to give a damn about how I or people like me feel? Certainly not. That's part of the problem.



November 21, 2004, 2:35 AM

I have to agree with Kathleen, LACMA curator Lynn Zelevansky did an amazing job on the Geometry of the best MAM's seen in a while...and certainly dozens of times better than its predecessor (the South Florida Cultural Consortium show). Lorie Mertes must've struggled greatly in putting that one together...yeeps.



November 21, 2004, 7:33 PM

Looks like outrage is in short supply and pragmatism reigns, but so it goes. Maybe what went on according to New Times with Bond Issue #8 is standard practice whenever big money and prime real estate are at stake, but it still reeks, and so do the responsible parties. I'm afraid the county government, which totally dropped the ball yet again, may be hopeless. I trust there are some good museum people who had no significant hand in this, and I hope they or other fresh blood will eventually replace those who did.

To the victors in this disgraceful business go the spoils, but not my respect, support, or so much as a penny of the money I control. I know they don't care, because they can do without me and I'm no threat to them--for which they should count themselves lucky. In case it's not overwhelmingly clear, I am very disgusted.



November 21, 2004, 9:31 PM

OK... i just read the NT article; not sure anything in it was particularly new or surprising. I'm glad they named (Burgess) the person in charge of the ballot wording. "Beneath contempt" is about right for his attitude about the wording. He should be fired.

I just don't feel the same way about the MAM people. As a former member of the MAM, I remember getting the letter urging me to take part in those public planning forums. Can't see anything wrong with that. Some of the other scheming in the background is a bit unsavory, yes. But even i have lived long enough to see that that's just how you get things done. Anyone who's ever seen a Sunday morning talk show knows that this situation smells like roses compared to "procedural" stuff that happens in the US Senate and House every day. There's a quote somewhere about this system being the worst there is, except any other... but i don't feel like looking it up.

Broken record portion: The Urban Environment League, and anyone else who has a problem with 8, 16, or whatever number of acres of the park going to museums, have had 25 years to do something with the park. They haven't done shit. Now at least something is going to be done with it. Great for everyone, says I.

Speaking of the 8 vs. 16 acre issue, it will be interesting to see if the sculpture garden and the Science Museum's interactive outdoor thingamajig will be part of the park that can be accessed for free, or behind some fence you only get through by paying their admission. If it turns out to be the latter, then i would agree that they've broken a promise.

One last thing - the county is NOT giving anybody $275 million. The money will be used to build buildings for these organizations, but the building will be done by the county, and the buildings (i presume) will be owned by the county. Nobody is cutting Suzanne Delehanty a check.



November 21, 2004, 9:33 PM

I'm off to the MAM to see the New Art thing and the Geometry thing.

For free, I might add.



November 21, 2004, 9:42 PM

Alesh" Winston Churchill is the source of the quote about democracy, to the effect that democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.



November 22, 2004, 12:27 AM

Yes, Alesh, MAM is free on Sundays, though not the rest of the week. That's why, if there's a show there I deem extremely promising, and if I decide to go, it will only be on a Sunday. They can keep all openings, with or without entrance fee. I'm not an official MAM member, otherwise I'd cancel that. As for the relevant public officials, they have ceased to exist as political options, as far as my vote is concerned. None of this may make any real difference, but it makes a difference to me.



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