List of Monumental sculpture projects 2015
- 1 http://swannbb.blogspot.fr/2015/02/sunday-robot-play.html
- 2 http://shuengitswannjie.blogspot.fr/2015/02/interactive-reading-room-tea-house-2015.html
- 3 http://swannbb.blogspot.fr/2014/06/neo-ming-bed-luxembourg.html
- 4 http://swannbb.blogspot.fr/2013/02/yuzi-paradise-tell-moon.html
- 5 http://swannbb.blogspot.com/2011/09/12th-changchun-international-sculpture.html
- 6 http://www.saatchionline.com/Shuen-git
Thursday, 8 January 2015
Everybody’s an Art Curator
Updated Oct. 23, 2014 6:17 p.m. ET
This winter, the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History will feature an exhibit of works relating to the ocean, with paintings and sculptures by established artists alongside works by local residents. According to a call for submissions, that includes not just watercolors of Pacific sunsets, but “that awesome GoPro footage you took while surfing” and “your two-year-old’s drawing of the beach that’s been on the fridge for five months.”
Not an art expert? Not a problem. Museums are increasingly outsourcing the curation of their exhibits to the public—sometimes even asking the crowd to contribute art, too. The institutions produce quick and often inexpensive shows that boost ticket sales. As crowdsourcing initiatives go mainstream, the roles of the museum and the artist are getting rethought. It’s no longer only the highly trained professionals who decide what belongs on the gallery wall, but the audience, too.
At the Frye Art Museum in Seattle, the names or social-media handles of 4,259 “curators” appear on the title wall of “#SocialMedium,” a new show of 40 paintings chosen by public vote. In Chicago, the crowd went a step further, choosing the entire theme of a 2015 show at the Chicago History Museum, going with “Chicago Authors” over subjects like neighborhoods and architecture. In Athens, Ga., voters dipped into the Georgia Museum of Art’s collection, helping decide which canvases the institution would sell.
Museums increasingly turn their galleries over to the public and celebrities. WSJ's Ellen Gamerman reports on Lunch Break with Tanya Rivero. Photo: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
The trend is sparking a growing debate among artists, curators and other art-world professionals about everything from where to draw the line between amateurs and experts to what even constitutes a crowdsourced show. How far can museums go in delegating choices to the public? How tightly should they control the voting on exhibit content? And at what point does a museum start looking too much like a community center?
“I think there’s a general feeling that the terms of this sort of engagement with the public haven’t been carefully thought out,” said Peter Eleey, a curator at MoMA PS1, the contemporary art museum in New York. “Some of these projects may be difficult to sustain over the longer term without, in some way, dramatically changing the nature and even the missions of these institutions.”
In Santa Cruz, such outreach has helped save a museum at the brink of collapse. “We went from years in the red to doubling our budget and building up an operating reserve,” said museum director Nina Simon. “And we did it by opening up the doors for people to be involved.”
But the moves also have been controversial. “I don’t believe that everybody is a curator,” said Susan Leask, the Santa Cruz museum’s former curator of art who quit in protest last year amid planning for “Hack the Museum,” a show that invited a mix of outside professionals to live at the museum for 48 hours and build a new exhibit from the permanent collection. “Something about the power of art and the sanctity of the public trust had been compromised,” she said.
As crowdsourcing initiatives go mainstream, it’s no longer only the highly trained curators who decide what belongs on the gallery wall, but the audience, too. This year, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston decided to let the public vote on 30 artworks for its first crowdsourced show, ‘Boston Loves Impressionism.’ In first place: The Vincent van Gogh canvas, ‘Houses at Auvers.’ Bequest of John T. Spaulding/Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Some of the country’s most prestigious arts institutions are making their own peace with the amateur curator. This year, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston decided it was acceptable for the public to vote on 30 artworks for its first crowdsourced show, “Boston Loves Impressionism,” because a curator determined which 50 pieces would be in contention. “There’s nothing I wouldn’t be proud to hang,” said the show’s curator, Emily Beeny.
The exhibit netted 10,000 new email addresses in less than a month, a coup for the museum. “The top three slots, we were happy to say, were each taken by a different artist—it’s not that Monet swept all three,” said museum spokeswoman Dawn Griffin. In first place: The Vincent van Gogh canvas, “Houses at Auvers.” Claude Monet’s “Water Lilies” came in second, followed by an Edgar Degas sculpture, “Little Fourteen-Year-Old Dancer.”
To others, though, even a vote involving a preselected list of artworks cedes too much expertise. Helen Molesworth, the newly arrived chief curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, balked at the idea.
“You’re left with 10 paintings that may or may not make sense together, or may or may not be interesting together, or may or may not teach anything about the history of art—it’s not the stuff of knowledge or scholarship,” Ms. Molesworth said. When museum crowdsourcing is raised privately among curators, she said, the subject prompts a reaction of “silent dismay.”
Museums disagree on what really constitutes a “crowdsourced” exhibit and how it should be conducted.
For its show that opened earlier this month, “#SocialMedium,” the Frye Art Museum asked people to vote for their favorite works from its founding collection of 232 late 19th- and early 20th-century European paintings. Over two weeks, more than 17,000 votes were cast from 500 cities world-wide in the form of “likes” on social media. Certain works took off as participants watched the tallies climb in real time.
A painting beloved by longtime visitors to the Frye—a 1900 depiction of ducks by Alexander Max Koester (“I like big ducks and I cannot lie,” one voter wrote on Facebook, a la Sir Mix-a-Lot)—surprised museum staff when it didn’t win. Instead, the top slot went to an obscure 1907 portrait of a peacock by Julius Scheuerer. It received more than 3,000 votes after going viral on Tumblr. The ducks got 206.
The show is a hit. Museum director Jo-Anne Birnie Danzker said that even though the peacock is inferior to others based on technique, that’s somewhat beside the point. Visitors have been fascinated to see what the crowd thinks is good art as opposed to what curators do, she said. “I think this revitalizes even the museum staff’s interest in looking again at the material through someone else’s eyes,” she said.
The Frye’s voting method, which allowed participants to watch a seemingly random painting snowball in popularity, wouldn’t pass muster elsewhere.
The Brooklyn Museum, which began holding crowdsourced exhibits in 2008, doesn’t allow people to see the voting results until its polls close; doing otherwise encourages a bandwagon effect, where people cast ballots based on what others are doing, said Shelley Bernstein, the museum’s vice director of digital engagement and technology. The New York museum follows a model established with help from James Surowiecki, author of “The Wisdom of Crowds.”
As in politics, interest groups can also spring up. When the Chicago History Museum asked the public to choose an exhibit for next year, “Chicago Authors” won thanks partly to a campaign by the American Writers Museum Foundation, a Washington-based group that is raising money for a proposed national literary museum. The Chicago institution sent out a call for suggestions, which it then categorized into brackets, with the winner selected through several rounds of voting. “People sort of wondered, ‘What do you think about the idea of campaigning?’” said museum director Gary T. Johnson. “Our answer was, whenever you deal with social media, there’s always campaigning. That’s sort of the whole point.”
The public is helping buy and sell museum art, too. Last year, the Georgia Museum of Art asked visitors to vote on which of five paintings by 20th-century French artist Bernard Smol the institution should keep—a tough call, the museum said, because the canvases looked a lot alike. The exercise was part of an exhibit about how museums manage their collections. During the show, visitors put green and red stickers next to each painting to indicate whether they thought the canvas ought to stay or go. The public vote helped sway the staff to hang onto two pieces, including a crowd favorite that reminded people of zombies.
The art world has always struggled for new ways to attract a younger generation of visitors, staging everything from live Greco-Roman wrestling matches to dead-artist séances. In 2008, the Brooklyn Museum ditched traditional curating with “Click! A Crowd-Curated Exhibition,” a photography show determined by online voting. More experiments followed at museums in cities including Minneapolis, Washington and San Diego.
The next stage in that evolution may be found at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History, where Ms. Simon has invited visitors to participate in a range of activities, from helping artists build huge installations to writing their thoughts on a gallery wall. One early show exploring the impulse to collect—an event so popular she hopes to repeat it—featured contributions from residents that included an array of historic American flags and an assortment of dryer lint.
The fortunes of this museum, nearly out of cash when Ms. Simon arrived in 2011, have since reversed. Grants soared from $39,000 in 2011 to more than $780,000 this year, according to figures provided by the institution. Annual attendance climbed from 17,000 to more than 44,000. Individual donations went from about $32,000 to nearly $150,000 annually.
Ms. Simon, a 33-year-old former engineer with corkscrew hair, a treehouse tattoo that matches her husband’s and a 14-month-old daughter named Rocket, had never been on staff at a visual arts museum before this job. After graduating from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts, she juggled simultaneous jobs as a NASA researcher and an education staffer at the former Capital Children’s Museum in Washington. Later, at the International Spy Museum in D.C., she helped develop an immersive experience where visitors pretend they’re secret agents in a fictional country called Khandar. She struck out on her own in 2007 as a consultant on subjects like audience engagement and exhibition design for art, science and history museums.
The Los Angeles native’s experiment in Santa Cruz has heightened her profile. She receives about three requests a week for speaking gigs, most of which she turns down. Rolling through her schedule recently, she listed requests from cities in Sweden, Russia and China.
The museum has rankled critics who feel that it no longer presents art in a serious way. Santa Cruz artist Lisa Hochstein, one of the first to exhibit work at the museum after Ms. Simon’s arrival, clashed with the director about the layout for her show. Her collage pieces were hung in a “Creativity Lounge” that featured couches and a jigsaw puzzle on a table. “It felt like a no-confidence vote that the art could really hold people’s attention,” said the 55-year-old artist.
Ms. Simon said Ms. Hochstein’s art fit into a larger creative endeavor, writing on her blog that she didn’t consider the exhibits “the be-all and end-all of the museum experience.”
“Art is still at the core—it’s just a different way of engaging with it,” said Michelle Williams, executive director of Arts Council Santa Cruz County, a nonprofit arts organization. “I’m willing to bet that because of Nina and what she’s done at the museum, thousands more people in Santa Cruz are engaging in art and benefiting from art than probably ever have.”
The museum’s former curator of art, Ms. Leask, said she was an early champion of Ms. Simon’s efforts, praising her as a smart and charismatic leader. But she grew discouraged after the director asked for more “spontaneous exhibitions” rather than shows that took deeper thought and up to a year to develop, she said. Shortly after a planning meeting for “Hack the Museum,” Ms. Leask quit. The show went on anyway. The exhibit included a work hanging upside-down from the ceiling and another boxed in a crate. “It really looked like a bunch of college kids had gotten drunk and decorated their dorm rooms,” said the 66-year-old Santa Cruz resident, who has worked as a curator for 25 years.
“‘Hack the Museum’ was an experiment in pushing the boundaries of how we design museum exhibits,” Ms. Simon said of the show, curated by staffers from other museums and outside professionals like architects and engineers. “We have to take risks to build the strongest museum we can.”
On a recent weekday afternoon, the director toured the quiet galleries with her newly hired curator of exhibitions, Justin Hoover, a 32-year-old San Francisco professional curator and artist who once had the word “howl” engraved into his chest in a performance. Before descending a staircase that played visitor-selected sounds with each step, Mr. Hoover entered the main gallery where the museum’s biggest crowdsourcing experiment is set to open this December. “Everybody’s Ocean” will include 10 preselected artworks by professionals and dozens of pieces provided through an open call to artists and the public. If professional artists complain about the placement of their work next to amateur pieces, Mr. Hoover knows what he’ll say. “In such a multifaceted world where there are so many viewpoints that all have their merit, I would wonder why it is that we should define their work as better than the work in question.”
They strolled into the museum’s main exhibit, “Making It: Chicano Artists from the Mexican Museum Collection.” On one wall were dozens of pegs holding cards filled out by unnamed visitors who described their ideas of success—from finding love to overcoming anorexia to moving to America.
Ms. Simon said visitors are interacting this way because of the art. “We actually feel like it’s a very traditional museum goal,” she said. “It’s about getting people to be more engaged with the art, to be introspective and to connect it to their own life.”
Write to Ellen Gamerman at firstname.lastname@example.org