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Collector's Catalogue: Vol. 2 Issue 2
by ArtSlant Team

Overlapping Histories: Curatorial Practices in San Francisco

Christina Catherine Martinez talks with Margaretta Lovell and Andrew McClintock

Yes, thanks to the Philistines of Cyberspace the word CURATOR is being stretched to the very limits of semantic significance, but rather than join the chorus of affronted cultural elites pointing fingers at every blogger or boutique-owner who dares to don that hallowed mantle, I thought it might be more productive to speak with two persons right here in the Bay Area who hold inarguable rights to the title yet work in vastly different contexts. Even when confined to the concerns of the art world, the role of the curator involves a wide range of responsibilities, often working at cross-purposes. Not surprisingly, neither one of them seem to be concerned with what the delusioned aggregators of the information superhighway are up to...

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Susanne Ghez, Executive Director of the Renaissance Society, will step down in January after a prestigious career shepherding this Chicago institution known for its impeccable programming in contemporary art. Ms. Ghez took the helm of the Ren, as it’s affectionately called, in 1974 with a meager budget of $25,000 and built one of the country’s premier, non-collecting institutions with a current yearly budget of $1.7 million. For her final exhibition with the Renaissance Society, she has selected the enigmatic postmodernist painter, R.H. Quaytman. A choice, Ms. Ghez tells us, that presented this veteran curator with challenges new and old as well as, we hope, “a new perspective.” ArtSlant Chicago editor Joel Kuennen recently talked with Ghez about her curatorial career and her final exhibition at the Ren, featuring the painter R.H. Quaytman:

JK: Your curatorial style has been celebrated for the amount of freedom you give artists in the installation of their exhibitions. How would you define your role as a curator? As an administrator? How do these two roles work together in your practice?

SG: I am very aware of the reciprocity between my roles as chief curator and executive director of the museum. Having the dual-role has given me a great deal of freedom to work with artists to produce ambitious exhibitions. I have often told artists, “Dream the dream, and we will find a way to make it happen.”

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Anthony Huberman is the director of The Artist's Institute in New York, a peculiar little space on Eldridge Street on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Entering this below-street-level gallery, it's not uncommon to see only one work of art on the wall at any given time. Run as a project of Hunter College, The Artist's Institute, rather than running on the typical gallery schedule of an-exhibition-a-month, is on the semester system: focusing on one artist per season. Focus might be the wrong word; rather, The Artist's Institute "thinks about" one artist per season, and the show evolves gradually, one work at a time, sometimes with other works on show, or with performances, special events, and lectures. Huberman previously worked as chief curator of the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, curator of the Palais de Tokyo, Paris, and curator of SculptureCenter, New York, as well as organizing a wide variety of independent projects around the world. I met Huberman as a student in his curatorial methods class at Hunter a few years ago, and here we talk about the curatorial concept of The Artist's Institute, spending time with artists and artwork, and "cats in art."

NH: Was The Artist’s Institute program developed as a sort of antidote to any certain tendency you saw in the art world?

AH: To a certain degree, yes. In New York, I think the "conveyor-belt" problem is particularly intense, with every gallery and museum always eager to move on to the next big thing and the next newly discovered artist...

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ArtSlant's Collector's Catalogue is a special edition publication focused on bringing new artists and new work to the attention of our worldwide audience of seasoned buyers, committed art lovers, and first-time purchasers. The artists included in our November 2012 Collector's Catalogue can be contacted directly or through their galleries. ArtSlant is pleased to present them for your consideration.

Posted by ArtSlant Team on 12/3/12

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