Curators in Transition: Tonight at Vermillion
by Jen Graves
on Tue, Apr 17, 2012 at 10:57 AM
For art people, I heartily recommend tonight's discussion at 7 pm at Vermillion (admission is free). Let's come together around the fact of change.
This description from the organizer, John Boylan:
Seattle has been blessed with a good number of talented arts curators. Some, such as SAM’s Chiyo Ishikawa and Pam McClusky, or the ever-amazing Beth Sellars at Suyama Space, continue to mount excellent exhibits at established venues across the city. Others, like Jesse Van Nostrand with her Project Room, Klara Glosova at NEPO House, Sierra Stinson at Vignettes, and Vanessa deWolf at Studio Current, have carved out small new spaces for experimentation and then filled them with artists and art.
Seattle’s artists have an interesting relationship with their curators, especially at the major institutions. The best curators are well respected, of course, and occasionally take on a bit of a rock star status. Their arrivals and departures are often accompanied by a flurry of questions and concerns, a miniature version of the faithful waiting for the puff of white smoke from the Vatican chimney. And some artists will ask the questions: What will this curator do for me? Can I get a show? Will this curator focus on Northwest artists?
In a way, those questions are understandable. Traditionally, a curator at a major institution has been in a position to marshal significant resources to put art before the public. But the questions also suggest a certain powerlessness, and perhaps a misunderstanding of what curators do.
This year has seen a number of curators leaving long-time posts, and it occurred to me that it would be a great thing to get them into a room and have a conversation with them about the nature of the work that they do, about what they’ve done and expect to do, and about art, any art. Elizabeth Brown, long-time Chief Curator at the Henry Art Gallery, and Robin Held, formerly Deputy Director of Exhibitions and Collections at the Frye Art Museum, were both naturals. They’ve both played an impressive role in the life of this city, over the past decade or so. Then the aforementioned Beth Sellars suggested adding Jake Seniuk to the mix. Jake has been an artist in the region for many years, and since 1989 has been director and curator at the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center, a position he will soon be leaving. He’ll add a valuable perspective to the mix.
One note: I have a feeling that this conversation will be well attended. I suggest that you get there early, have a drink and something to eat, and wait for the words to start. And remember that finding parking in the neighborhood can sometimes take awhile. But do come: this one will be very good.