If you're going to be in Portland, do it.


Just What Is It That Makes Today’s Institutions So Different, So Appealing?
Iwona Blazwick, director of Whitechapel Gallery, London
Sunday, April 18, 2 p.m., Whitsell Auditorium

In 1909, F.T. Marinetti’s Futurist Manifesto denounced museums as “cemeteries … absurd abattoirs of painters and sculptors ferociously slaughtering each other … cemeteries of crucified dreams, registries of aborted beginnings.” Yet, 100 years later, arts institutions have never been more popular. How and why have museums been transformed from mausoleums to destinations? Why do artists want to exhibit in them? What role do they play in today’s society?

Iwona Blazwick is director of Whitechapel Gallery in London. Founded in 1901 to bring great art to the working class people of east London, Whitechapel Gallery is internationally acclaimed for its exhibitions of modern and contemporary art, in addition to its pioneering education and public programs. In 2009, Whitechapel Gallery reopened after a two-year, £13.5 million renovation that doubled the museum’s space by expanding into an adjacent former library. Before coming to Whitechapel, Blazwick was head of exhibitions and displays at Tate Modern. She has also published extensively on artists and tendencies in contemporary art; and on institutions, collections and the role of the curator. For this Critical Voices lecture, Blazwick will use Whitechapel Gallery, and other museums and galleries from around the world, to map the public and artists’ love/hate relationship with these institutions and to explore their potential for the 21st century.

Tickets are $5 members, $12 non-members; available online or at the box office
Whitsell Auditorium at Portland Art Museum, 1219 SW Park Avenue

It's part of PAM's "Critical Voices" series, devoted to bringing in thinkers—in the spirit of Clement Greenberg, the towering modernist critic whose collection the museum acquired (sort of awesomely—Portland, Oregon?) in 2000. SAM could really use a series like this.

The next one, if you can't make this one, is also a great subject:

Color Embodied In Space
Mari Carmen Ramírez, Curator of Latin American Art & Director of the International Center for the Arts of the Americas, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Sunday, June 6, 2 p.m., Whitsell Auditorium
Mari Carmen Ramírez will explore the radical approach to color in the work of Latin American art of the last fifty years, focusing especially on Venezuelan artist Carlos Cruz-Diez and the late Brazilian artist Hélio Oiticica.

In a note at the bottom of the press release, I see: "The Critical Voices lecture series is made possible in part by a generous grant from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation." Now I really want to know why SAM doesn't have a series like this!