DFW curators in the crosshairs

The Council for Artists Rights, an advocacy group based in Chicago led by John Viramontes, has launched a campaign to censure the Dallas Museum of Art and the Ft. Worth Modern Art Museum for "letting its employees spend significant amounts of their time [managing] the Dallas Cowboys Art Program." Curators Michael Auping and Charles Wylie, along with collectors Howard Rachofsky and Gayle Stoffel, were involved in suggesting artists for massive projects in the new Dallas Cowboys Stadium. In an email to Glasstire, Viramontes claims to have sent an open letter on March 30 to the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram asking the question, "Is it not the purview of art dealers, independent curators and artists to earn their bread and butter from commercial ventures like the DCAP?" and further opining that "if Auping and Wylie do not have enough work to keep them occupied at the museum, perhaps the museums’ board of trustees needs to take a hard look at those positions and consider making them part-time jobs with the commensurate reduction in salary and employee benefits." Stay tuned to see if the hothead ignites any fireworks!

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2 responses to “DFW curators in the crosshairs”

  1. March 31, 2010

    William Davenport
    News Editor, Glasstire.com
    Houston, Texas

    Re: “DFW Curators in the Crosshairs”
    Dear Mr. Davenport:
    Thank you for clarifying Glasstire.com’s position. However, as Glasstire.com is a nonprofit entity itself, we believe that you would better serve your readership if you would post the entire text of the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram/DFW.com reporter Gaile Robinson’s article “Cowboys Stadium calls for artwork on a grand scale and team deliver,” along with my open letter in its entirety and let your readership decide for itself if all Texas visual artists got a fair curatorial shake out of the Dallas Cowboys Art Program or not.
    As for the “Curator’s Crosshairs” title of your post, I would suggest that if anyone has a bull’s-eye on their back, it is surely not any museum curator, rather, it is all of the Texas visual artists who got targeted because their work was not looked at by the curators.
    Mr. Davenport, I was surprised that you initiated a simultaneous conversation with me–via email–on this very subject this morning. Because your email expresses very strong views, could you post that entire email on this thread – Glasstire.com as a courtesy to its readership? Not revealing it would leave the public in the dark about your full editorial perspective.

  2. Here is the text of my email to Mr. Viramontes:

    Mr. Viramontes:

    I received a copy of your letter to the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram regarding your feeling that it was improper for Michael Auping and Charles Wylie to advise the Dallas Cowboys Art Program through Mary Zlot. Perhaps you are not aware, but it IS EXACTLY what they are supposed to be doing. Senior curators at major museums are like college presidents- one of their main jobs is maintaining good relations with the donors whose support is vital to their institutions’ success. The art they were involved in selecting is on PUBLIC view at a major sports arena. The art program is not a “commercial venture”, but an educational one, a generous gesture on the part of wealthy businesspeople who want to give back something to the local community (and incidentally a large slice of commission money to local artists!) Perhaps they will get some favorable press out of the deal, but I doubt if they will sell one additional ticket because of the art. Every hour the two curators spent helping Gene and Jerry Jones pick art for their new stadium is an investment that will likely come back to their home instututions ten- or a hundredfold in the years to come. The results: the public sees good art in a novel venue, goodwill is cemented between museums and wealthy donors, local artists get paid. You should be congratulating them for their good work!

    Bill Davenport,
    News Editor, Glasstire.com

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