Previous: Design and redesign (28)

Next: We interrupt this roundup (10)

The last thing I'm ever going to write about the Miami Art Museum

Post #978 • March 29, 2007, 3:22 PM • 46 Comments

Until last May I lived in Miami, where I worked as an artist, art critic, and art teacher. Each of those roles brought me into contact with the Miami Art Museum during the time since its conversion from a kunsthalle to a collecting insititution in 1996. It would have benefited my art career if I had succeeded in interesting any of their curators in my work, but I did not. (I didn't take it personally. Neither MAM nor MoCA has ever exhibited a painting by a Dorsch Gallery artist.) I found enough to write about there, both positively and negatively, but as time went on the quantity of the latter exceeded the former by a noticiable margin. I would have liked to take some undergraduate painting students to see traditional painting skills in a show dedicated to the subject, but the opportunity never presented itself in eleven years of teaching. So my frustrations with MAM were numerous, but they were especially acute regarding my art. With three galleries representing my paintings and some significant grants under my belt, I was only missing, as far as my career was concerned, institutional recognition for my work.

What to do? Curators at MAM saw my paintings. Maybe all of them did. My professional career began two years before MAM started collecting, and I figured, with nothing much to go on except optimism, that someone would include something of mine eventually. But twelve years went by without that ever happening. I had to decide: do I stick around Miami for a thirteenth? A fourteenth? Maybe they informally slated me for a solo exhibition on the whole top floor in mid-2009 and I blew it by moving to Boston. Oh well. I could only look at their track record, which clearly demonstrates that they're not thinking about painting very much.

This is not merely my sour opinion. By my recollection, MAM has only ever had two painting shows, by which I mean shows of painting unmixed with photo, installation, video, or sculpture. By unmixed, I mean that these other perfectly legitimate modalities are not present either in the room or incorporated into the work. (Since you're wondering, the shows were Brice Marden in 1999 and Carlos Alfonso in, I think, 1997.) Why split it up this way? Because when it has a photo show, such as its current Charles Cowles Collection, or a video show, such as its current shows of Jesper Just and Andy Warhol, the museum doesn't feel equivalent pressure to fill them out with the inclusion of other media. Odili Donald Odita? Better throw in an installation. Rosenquist? Better put in one of his hapless painting/assemblage hybrids. Rauschenberg? Wangechi Mutu? Fabian Marcaccio? They're safe; they incorporate photo.

I live in Boston now, and I wouldn't be thinking about this except for a press release I got about MAM's upcoming Collector's Council show.

Established to expand Miami Art Museum's permanent collection only two years ago, MAM's Collectors Council has already donated a rich group of high-quality, cutting-edge artworks to the museum's collection. Collectors Council Acquisitions, on view April 13-July 1 in MAM's New Work Gallery, provides audiences with the perfect opportunity to see firsthand the distinguished works that the Council has added to MAM's collection. ...

According to exhibition curator René Morales, the works on view are a testament to the quality of the group's vision. They include a wide variety of media, from painting and photography to video and installation, and together convey a number of important, general themes in contemporary art, including identity, nature and abstraction.

Upon request, MAM kindly supplied me with a list of works in the exhibition. (I have removed fractional measurements for the sake of layout.)

Cory Arcangel, Colors 2005, Video; edition of 5, Running time: 33 days

Shimon Attie, From the series The Writing on the Wall 1991-1993; Mulackstrasse 37: Former Jewish residents, ca. 1932, 1992, Ektacolor photograph, 20 x 25 inches, Edition of 25; Mulackstrasse 37: Former kosher butcher shop and laundry, 1930, 1992, Ektacolor Photograph, 20 x 25 inches, Edition of 25; From the series Between Dreams and History 1998, "I remember when..." 1998, Ektacolor photograph, 24 x 72 inches; From the series The History of Another 2002-2003, Looking onto the Temple of Apollo 2003, Lambda photograph, 40 x 50 inches, Edition 3 of 3

Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons, Replenishing 2001, 7 Polaroid photographs, 20 x 24 inches each; 72 x 60 inches overall

Nathan Carter, Calling all Marine Craft - NOAA is Reporting Further Discrepancies in Florida, 2005, Plywood, acrylic, enamel paint, 47 x 32 inches

Anna Gaskell, Erasers, 2005, 35mm black-and-white film, transferred to DVD, Duration: 10 minute film loop, Projection dimensions variable, AP 1 from edition of 4

Mark Handforth, Western Sun 2004, Fluorescent lights, fixtures, Dimensions variable

Arturo Herrera, When Alone Again III, 2001, Latex paint on wall, Dimensions site specific - work includes signed certificate, working plan and color samples

Sarah Morris, Cinerama [Los Angeles], 2005, Household gloss paint on canvas, 113 x 113 inches

Wangechi Mutu, You tried so hard to make us away, 2005, Ink, acrylic, glitter, fur, contact paper and collage on Mylar, 88 x 51 inches

Rivane Neuenschwander, Quarta-Feira de Cinzas/Epilogue (Ash Wednesday/Epilogue), 2006, HD-DVD projection, Edition of 8, 2 artist's proofs

Damian Ortega, Int/Ext, 2006, C-print, 4 x 51 cm each (Poliptych of 5), Edition 1/5

Gavin Perry, Untitled (Escape Plan) 2006, Vinyl tape, resin on board, 82 x 121 inches

Raymond Pettibon, Sunday Night and Saturday Morning, 2005, DVD animation, edition of 10 + 2 APs, 16:45 minutes

Lorna Simpson, ID, 1990, 2 gelatin silver prints, 2 plastic plaques, Edition of 4 with 2 APs, Overall dimensions: 48 x 82 inches

I count two paintings, the Perry and the Morris.

I don't say any of this out of anger. MAM hardly owes me attention and I'm perfectly happy to fault my own artistic shortcomings to explain their disinterest. I say it to note that the museum's behavior raises questions, as the postmodernists like to say: By what metrics can a museum be said to fairly support, or fail to fairly support, local artists? If it needs my humble endorsement (as MAM might have at one time regarding its Museum Park plans), should I give it, knowing that it might only result in a bigger museum to not put my work in? Should I support a museum that doesn't support me in particular, my colleagues in general, and my artistic concerns on the whole? What constitutes a diverse museological program? How do we know when a public institution is being steered by private interests to an unacceptable degree? What, exactly, is a contemporary museum supposed to do in the first place?

I never came up with a good answer to any of these questions, except one, and I gave it with my feet.

Comment

1.

Sparkles

March 29, 2007, 3:16 PM

What makes you think that just because you live in the same city as a museum, the museum is obliged to include you in their exhibitions or collection?!

It seems as if you think too highly of yourself and your work.

I paint in Miami, and I too have that running dialogue while I'm painting about "how wonderful, great and important" my work is, but then I snap out the daydream and simply enjoy painting. I give away my paintings as gifts and occasionally sell them....I don't disparage the local museums for not collecting my work or giving me entire galleries to display my work.

Who cares is MAM recently aquired a Gavin Perry and a Sarah Morris "Painting"....you can teach a monkey how make paintings like them.

wake up!

2.

Franklin

March 29, 2007, 3:32 PM

What makes you think that just because you live in the same city as a museum, the museum is obliged to include you in their exhibitions or collection?!

Point out where I said this, and I'll answer it.

It seems as if you think too highly of yourself and your work.

I said, MAM hardly owes me attention and I'm perfectly happy to fault my own artisitc shortcomings to explain their disinterest.

Would anyone like to have a grownup conversation about this?

3.

Franklin

March 29, 2007, 3:33 PM

Oh, and I'm not going to stand for that crack about Gavin. I don't like everything he does but he's serious about what he's doing.

4.

Sparkles

March 29, 2007, 4:18 PM

Franklin stated...."I was only missing, as far as my career was concerned, institutional recognition of my work"

Answer this: Why does your work belong in a museum? in Miami, or Boston?

It 's funny that you would want an institution you DO NOT respect to recognize your work!?

Do you see your "paintings" hanging in the same gallery as Frank Stella?

Oh and I'm serious about my morning bowel movement but I don't expect it to hang in a museum.

MAM never has had very interesting programming; they blame their poor attendance figures on their location. A Phillip Johnson fortress.

They are moving to one of the last bits of open space on Biscayne Bay, if they don't put together interesting shows it will not matter where they are located. They are hoping that MAC programming at MAM will save them, lord knows MAM programming at MAM was a snooze a thon.

5.

George

March 29, 2007, 4:23 PM

… I was only missing, as far as my career was concerned, institutional recognition for my work.

What to do? Curators at MAM saw my paintings. Maybe all of them did….

and I figured, … that someone [MAM] would include something of mine eventually.

But twelve years went by without that ever happening. I had to decide: do I stick around Miami for a thirteenth? A fourteenth?

Maybe they informally slated me for a solo exhibition on the whole top floor in mid-2009 and I blew it by moving to Boston.

6.

chrisingallsmindfreak

March 29, 2007, 4:56 PM

franklin: in a side note, the Deland Museum of Art has changed it's name to the Musuem of Florida Art. awkward much? infact students at Stetson are running a survey to better determine what artists would like to see in art museum.

i'm just happy that paintings are included in any show. however any museum, be it in miami or the sticks should have at minimum exhibitions that reflect the local artist community (can we come up with a better description than local artist?) as well as collecting from the region. i think it's sad to visit the Harn in gainesville and be faced with another roy lichtenstein; it's like a starbucks opening up within a banana republic.

7.

Franklin

March 29, 2007, 4:56 PM

Answer this: Why does your work belong in a museum? in Miami, or Boston?

Maybe it doesn't. It has been in the Frost and the Gulf Coast Museum, but maybe it shouldn't have been. But how would we know, one way or the other? If I'm showing regularly and landing a grant periodically, galleries and funding entities can tolerate my work. Do museums use such utterly different metrics that I shouldn't consider the possibility that my work might belong in one? At any rate, I owe it to my professional development to figure that it does, even if I'm wrong, and keep working on it, as I have. Ultimately I make the fool things for me.

Do you see your "paintings" hanging in the same gallery as Frank Stella?

Which period? I'm just kidding. But why are you scare-quoting "paintings"? Are they not? Prove it.

George, I'm not sure what the point of the quotes was.

8.

jm

March 29, 2007, 4:58 PM

I recall Mr Ulman pointing out that there is nothing for him at the MAM worthwhile taking a group of students to see. What was pointed out as well is that the Ft. Lauderdale Museum had about one-hundred and forty thousand vs the MAM's twenty-five thousand attendees anually. As I recall it was a conversation which took place during a visit to MIU by Cheryl Hartup. This is partially due to more "blockbuster" shows at the Ft. Lauderdale Museum, thus leaving the MAM in a situation that could possably support exibitions by local artists - and there a greater amount of painters in Miami than there are in Ft. Lauderdale!

9.

Franklin

March 29, 2007, 5:11 PM

... the Deland Museum of Art has changed it's name to the Musuem of Florida Art.

Oy.

infact students at Stetson are running a survey to better determine what artists would like to see in art museum.

I'd like to see the results.

i think it's sad to visit the Harn in gainesville and be faced with another roy lichtenstein; it's like a starbucks opening up within a banana republic.

Quoted for truth.

What was pointed out as well is that the Ft. Lauderdale Museum had about one-hundred and forty thousand vs the MAM's twenty-five thousand attendees anually.

FTL is better about getting a mix of programming into the building. Right now they have ancient Israel, Glackens, Chicano art, and the Highwaymen. True, the King Tut show went there, but normally they're more interesting.

10.

Sparkles

March 29, 2007, 5:26 PM

There are museum "paintings" and coconut grove art festival "paintings".
I think yours fall into the art festival group.

11.

Franklin

March 29, 2007, 5:40 PM

Ah, that's what you meant. Well, you could be right. On the other hand, maybe Victor Barrenechea is. In any case, I'm always open to suggestions if you think you know how to improve them.

12.

opie

March 29, 2007, 5:52 PM

When museums began several hundred years ago there was a world of wonderful objects falling to ruin and destruction as they went out of fashion or were badly cared for. Museums arose to protect artifacts of culture that represent our civilization.

Today wonderful (and less wonderful) objects are very valuable and collected and museums by the thousands fight to get them. It is no longer a matter of protecting the objects but of obtaining the objects to further the reputation of the museum.

There are two determinants underlying the quandry of our museums in Miami.

One is that they cannot be museums, not in the traditional sense. It is too late to assemble collections that can be serious and inclusive enough to represent an urban area as large and wealthy as Miami. Putting up a building and hoping that there will be something to put in it is hardly the answer.

Two is that there is no institutional will to recognize that the art world has changed not only in size but in character. Collecting haphazardly in a time of huge overproduction of "art" and of relativistic disregard for the notion of artistic quality and integrity can only lead to the acquisition of gimcracks and trinkets of the sort represented in Franklin's list, above.

This can only be rectified by literally going back to the drawing board. Someone, somehow, has to sit down and devise a complete rethinking of the whole idea of "museums" in a time when no one has a very good idea of what a 21st C. museum should and can be, and then sell it to the community.

This would be the equivalent of all the labors of Hercules, but it is the only way to face the problem.

13.

jm

March 29, 2007, 8:24 PM

Sysiphean perhapes ?

14.

Franklin

March 29, 2007, 9:12 PM

Someone, somehow, has to sit down and devise a complete rethinking of the whole idea of "museums" in a time when no one has a very good idea of what a 21st C. museum should and can be, and then sell it to the community.

Like I asked above, what is a contemporary museum supposed to do in the first place? Maybe the question would be easier to answer in the negative: How would one know if a contemporary art museum wasn't doing its job?

15.

RL

March 29, 2007, 9:19 PM

You are so right Opie
it is time for a “rethinking”
I like the word “haphazardly” I agree.

you reminded me of what someone told me that when he drove through Florida for the first time he decided to stop at several Art museums he found that they all had the same kind of collection. He said they want “Gucci Shoes” on the walls ( they only wanted to collect expensive “important” NY artist) one Stella, one Warhol, one this and one that and all all the collections were mediocre.
He was hoping to see what the the museums had to offer that made them unique to the area but none of them had collections made the different or represented the local culture.

That was told to me over fifteen years ago and unfortunately I think it is still true today.

It is time for rethinking
Now who is going to do it ??
Hello????
Anyone there???

16.

Rene Barge

March 29, 2007, 9:44 PM

Q. How would one know if a contemporary art museum wasn't doing its job?

A. You might have me visiting it. Or, you would have more to look at and less to read. They would exhibit paintings without words in it, the paintings would have secondary and/or intermediate colors, there might even be value and intensity in it too. And, maybe, a brand wouldn't be attached to it. Oh, and the age of the artist would not be an issue.

17.

catfish

March 29, 2007, 9:44 PM

Right now the present art system is at its all time glory. I don't believe there will be a "rethinking" until it crashes.

18.

maria m-c

March 29, 2007, 9:46 PM

' ... that courting approval, even that of peers, puts a dangerous amount of power in the hands of the audience. Worse yet, the audience is seldom in a position to grant (or withhold) approval on the one issue that really counts - namely, whether or not you are making progress in your work. They're in a good position to comment on how they are moved (or challenge or entertained) by the finished product, but have little knowledge or interest in your process. Audience comes later. The only pure communication is between you and your work.' from Art & Fear: Observations On The Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking.

I think artists spend too much time thinking about the things we can't control - and not on the things we have control of which is to work on our work. The need for approval is a dangerous thing. I recommend the book above - it does wonders in help reminding us the real reason for doing our work. It is not for the museums, collectors, or taste of the day; is because we have an immense necessity to express ourselves. Those that want and expect validation in order to make their work are in the wrong business. Support and visit the museums of your choice - it is a free country - with a lot of diversity to choose from. The rest is just taking to much space in your head.

19.

Rene Barge

March 29, 2007, 9:47 PM

Oh, one more thing, the art may show signs of timelessness!

20.

jm

March 29, 2007, 10:39 PM

"Timelessness" seems to be ambiguous. The URL above points to a website that consists of two-dimensional pictures that I would conclude are meant to adorn walls and promote a pleasant environment.
Are they timeless? Does "timelessness" not mean thought inducing as well ? Not much thought has gone in and very little has been learned. Great art is didactic. Good art is decoration.

21.

timeless

March 29, 2007, 10:56 PM

Classical Beauty ? But is there not a distiction between this and sublime?

22.

ahab

March 29, 2007, 11:34 PM

What's worse, a museum that won't touch local artists, or a museum that has a collection of them it won't show?

23.

I was there

March 30, 2007, 7:12 AM

MOCA at Goldman Warehouse is currently showing a great group exhibition with several local artists and many painters from their permanent collection:

Even a Jules Olitski.

The exhibition includes:

Painting
Sculpture
Photography
Video
Installation
Sound
&
Light

Works by
Local Artists
International Artists
Not too many words, but just enough
Primary and Secondary colours.

I cannot not find ANY fault with this.

24.

I was there

March 30, 2007, 7:27 AM

Additionally

The exhibition includes many Young, Old and Dead artists.
with lots of
Value and intensity.
[Which by the way is a great name for an exhibition]

25.

ec

March 30, 2007, 11:05 AM

I've been pondering regionalism and internationalism in my travels over the last few years. No matter where, a fast track, international circuit with work that explores ideas exists in tandem with a slower track of work that is regionally engaged with folk or local tradiitons. What propels work to international significance? The show of ex-artist-dealers in Zach Feuer's window exhibition space signals a regional sensibiliy, in an international city... and will examine aesthetics through lineage, in relationship to personalities and programming. For portability, it may be easier to move and discuss post-formal, conceptual work--like Julia Roberts, so open any projection will fit.
Anyway.
It would be so great if a Miami museum programmed area artists in tandem with the collection and international / national artists. Some possibilities might include a project room that offers solo shows and a catalogue, paid opportunities for artists to reconsider and rehang the collections, or curate shows of their favorite artists in context with their own work, collaborative projects amongst artists whose work is new to each other. The NY dealers' show could apply, why not, it would open conversation. The museum would have to be catholic in their choices, pulling from all aspects of the art world in Miami, for the sake of dialogue and exposure. After several years an aesthetic or conceptual direction would automatically form, I imagine, and would be forged out of exchange with all levels of the Miami art community.
It can be argued Locust Projects might offer similar programming and they do; but, a museum could apply a larger ambition to programming and create new relationships and conversations about the work they put on view.
Everyone would have a stake, love or hate, and it would be a museum, with funding and support, and would integrate regional and international interests. Nothing worse than a solipsistic region but a self-hating one.

26.

grapeade

March 30, 2007, 11:25 AM

take no ofense. if i was a curator i would not have you on a show. you're art is derivative.

27.

pereiradasilva

March 30, 2007, 11:48 AM

Superb article. Thanks for sharing and creating such a wonderful piece.
It is a wonderful journey to visit this web site and to view some good ideas.
"He who makes me see under a different light what I see everyday makes me immensely richer.” – Paul Valéry

28.

Marc Country

March 30, 2007, 8:19 PM

If i wuz a kurator I woood tri knot too prezent my self like a buffoon...

29.

Elizabeth

March 30, 2007, 9:37 PM

Marc, dont yah know that kurator is spelt quuraitor...duh! :)

30.

Elizabeth

March 30, 2007, 9:38 PM

kurator is the american spelling:):)

31.

Jack

March 30, 2007, 10:59 PM

Well, I suppose I should say something on a MAM thread, but I can't work myself up to it, not even for the sake of upholding my nasty reputation. It's just not worth the bother.

32.

Sparkles

March 31, 2007, 8:10 AM

So typical that Mr. Franklin would not address the comments but he would change topics .....

lameness abounds

and I'm sure your very very proud of the "review" in the Biscayne Blvd Times....that's quite a feather in your cap!

33.

opie

March 31, 2007, 8:29 AM

Your "kurator" response was appropriate, Marc. Better than what I thought of & did not say.

Sparkles you needn't like Franklin's paintings but the "art festival" comment and the "derivative" comment by Grapeade" are unsipportable. It is better to criticize than just throw insults.

34.

Marc Country

March 31, 2007, 11:03 AM

Cheers, OP. Sparkles got one right, though: Lameness does abound.

35.

ec

March 31, 2007, 11:06 AM

What nasty comments in the face of genuine disclosure! I'm glad this blog grapples with issues from an artist's point of view openly and intelligently. One may not agree, but the thinking is substantive, and consideration of support for one's work is a real concern.
As to the purpose of museums in the 21st century using MAM as a vehicle I'd be interested in hearing more how people visit museums and what they want from them--if anyone would talk about it outside of the immediate experience of MAM if that's not interesting.

36.

Jack

March 31, 2007, 11:25 AM

It does indeed, Marc.

37.

ec

March 31, 2007, 12:40 PM

As does snideness.

38.

opie

March 31, 2007, 1:02 PM

"What nasty comments in the face of genuine disclosure!"

Good point EC. It's a character thing, I guess.

39.

Franklin

March 31, 2007, 1:13 PM

Sparkles, what comments would you like me to address? As for Mr. Barrenechea's remarks, I take them for what they're worth. They are worth more than your pseudonymous jabs.

Maria, as an art writer, I have more things taking space in my head than are strictly necessary to my life as an artist. But the whole blog might qualify as unnecessary by that metric. From that stanpoint it's kind of a hassle to enjoy writing and have some ability for it. But I do, and here were are. Your point is well taken all the same.

Ec, I'm glad you got it - this is about the larger picture, but my issues relate to the larger picture, and I think it would be disingenuous, impersonal, and uninteresting to talk about the big concerns without talking about why I care about them. But obviously the point is in the pentultimate paragraph, not my particular experience.

40.

maria m-c

March 31, 2007, 2:40 PM

'Maria, as an art writer, I have more things taking space in my head than are strictly necessary to my life as an artist. But the whole blog might qualify as unnecessary by that metric. From that stanpoint it's kind of a hassle to enjoy writing and have some ability for it. But I do, and here were are. Your point is well taken all the same.'

and i think you should continue writing...
as much as i have disagreed with a lot of things you said/wrote -specially the one making fun of my own work - i also believe in the right to have our own opinions and agreed to disagreed... the reason i keep reading your blog is because, once in a while, i find interesting things/subjects mentioned and discussed and because you show total devotion to it and it shows.

by the way, that was a compliment..

41.

Marc Country

March 31, 2007, 6:24 PM

I suppose it shouldn't need to be pointed out that Franklin didn't really 'make fun' of Maria's work. He just sited it as an example, but reserved judgement (other than perhaps to remark that it is not, in fact, painting).

That's my reading, anyway.

42.

Franklin

March 31, 2007, 10:12 PM

That it isn't painting, of course, is no judment at all. I'm a little confused by this, because as far as I know, I've never written about her in any capacity. Googling Artblog.net for her name turned up the posting of my students' essays, but that's it. Maria?

43.

Jack

March 31, 2007, 10:25 PM

Franklin, she's probably referring to a MOCA show of her collaboration with Frances Trombly, which was either reviewed or discussed on the blog, and the general opinion of it was rather low. It involved collecting dust from around around the MOCA building, or some such thing.

44.

Franklin

April 1, 2007, 6:28 AM

Oh, right. Trombley had work in another room - Maria M-C collaborated with an Alaskan artist on a project involving dust in the museum. In that case, I actually did make fun of it, or at least had some fun at its expense.

45.

Marc Country

April 1, 2007, 12:26 PM

Oh, well, in that case, I guess I'd be interested in how exactly Maria disagrees with any of that... I mean, is it not supposed to be absurd? It seems self-evidently so...

Why purposely do something ridiculous, and then be offended by ridicule?

46.

maria m-c

April 2, 2007, 9:56 AM

let me just say, that I was not offended by the making fun of the work. you are entitled to your opinion on the work, and after so many years of making and working as an artist very little offends me these days.. specially in relation to art. bothered? yes, I was, but because you were making fun of something you haven't even seeing.
In regards to marc's comments: you might find it ridiculous, I don't. The show received a lot of press here in Miami, in Alaska, and in Houston were it was exhibited at the FotoFest 2006 biennial and where the Museum of Fine Arts there bought one of the works for their permanent collection and two more were sold to a private collector. The entire Dustogram series is scheduled to be exhibit in Pennsylvani next year - so I guess some people do not find them so ridiculous after all...

I believe in the work and that's enough for me.

thanks for the comments.

Subscribe

Twitter @franklin_e

Instagram franklin.e

Offers

Other Projects

Legal

Design and content ©2003-2017 Franklin Einspruch except where otherwise noted