The CAM’s Board of Trustees elected Bill Arning, currently a curator at MIT’s List Visual Art Center in Cambridge, MA, as the new director of Houston’s Contemporary Art Museum at today’s meeting. Mr. Arning, for ten years the director and chief curator of White Columns in NYC, curated the Houston Area show for the Blaffer Gallery in 2004, and was one of the collaborators on Chantal Akerman-Moving Through Space and Time at the Blaffer Gallery in 2008. He will start work on April 6.
Arning you going to get a new director?
by Bill Davenport January 26, 2009
Bill Arning, in today’s Houston Chronicle: â€œBoston is not unlike Houston in terms of the amount of contemporary-art institutions and what they do within the cityâ€
Mkay: except for MIT and the new ICA, there is NOTHING happening in Boston. There are maybe 2 contemporary galleries, and the newer arts district features a bunch of “galleries” that are basically furniture or craft stores. Whereas Houston has a bustling gallery / alternative space scene. On the museum side, we give the MFAH a hard time around here, but it runs circles around stodgy old MFA Boston. And that’s not even mentioning the Menil, Blaffer, Rice, cetra cetra cetra…
WELCOME TO A CONTEMPORARY ART SCENE THAT IS ACTUALLY SORT OF HAPPENING, BILL.
I really resent that, both as a native Houstonian and a current Bostonian. Let’s keep in mind that this is a man who is trying to build a bridge between the two cities. Shitting on that so early in the game–at mere mention of his appointment as the CAMH Director–doesn’t benefit anyone, least of all Houston or Glasstire.
And he has a point. Houston institutions (there is no mention of galleries in Bill’s statement) subsist on generous donations from patrons and foundations, just as Boston institutions do. Houston has DiverseWorks, Boston has the Mills. Houston has the CAMH, Boston has the ICA, which is hardly new (a new building, yes, but that’s as far as that claim can go… I will agree, however, that the MFAH runs circles around the MFA). However, the NUMBER of galleries in a city does not create a HIGH QUALITY scene…. it just creates A scene. Period.
Besides, if we are to truly accept the opinion above as relevant (“except for MIT… there is NOTHING happening”), aren’t we avoiding the fact that Bill himself is the curator there? If the MIT List Visual Arts Center is really where its at, let the man bring the party to Houston for fuck’s sake. Trivial statements like those don’t create any kind of important dialogue about either city’s scene.
Let’s also keep in mind that there are several people of significant caliber in the art world who consider Houston a joke. And that, like the post above, is not only a subjective opinion but more indicative of a lack of knowledge than a presence of it. -EJG