Welcome to another edition of Pick 'N Mix, my collections of links and news relevant to curators.
- Let's start with the slightly strange: On Yahoo! HotJobs, an article with the headline "Starving Artist? Not with These Well-Paid Creative Jobs" rhymes off a list of jobs deemed appropriate for artists to do in order to remain "creative" but also put food on the table should earnings from their artwork be a bit scant. Listing "Museum Curator" as a job that could net you $48,300 USD per year, it also characterises the job as "...unlike personality-driven jobs like interior design or fashion design, this is an area where introverted types can really excel." Visual arts career coach Rod Berg backs this up by saying, "Your personality doesn't have to be as bubbly. You can be more studious." This article seemed to be attempting (and in my view, failing) to put a positive spin on the "curator as failed artist" cliche that I also noted was present in the interview with Francesco Bonami in the last Pick 'N Mix. While it isn't the case that curatorial careers are the only ones that end up becoming stereotyped, the stereotypes that do surface in connection with curatorial work are pretty tired and in line with grave misconceptions around the accessibility of contemporary art in general.
- Of course, the stereotype of the reclusive, eccentric and bookish museum curator is one side of the coin, and the brash, self-promoting, celebrity curator is the opposite end of the spectrum of stereotypes. Or, you can shortcut directly to the celebrity part of that equation. Basketball star Shaquille O'Neal was invited to curate an exhibit entitled "Size DOES Matter," on view at New York City's FLAG Art Foundation through until May 27. PBS has produced a short clip on the exhibition, "which explores the concept of size through art, [and] features pieces such as Ron Mueck's "Big Man" sculpture and tiny versions of O'Neal and the Obama family in the eye of a needle, conceived by artist Willard Wigan. Other artists represented include Chuck Close, Jeff Koons, Elizabeth Peyton, Corban Walker and Cindy Sherman." The bio on the FLAG Foundation website lists Shaq's many accomplishments, however, a passion for art is not among them. Which begs the question: if you are going to engage a celebrity with no art credentials to curate for you, was it not possible to find one who at least is publicly noted as being passionate about contemporary art?
- "Art fairs are becoming more curatorial and biennials more commercial." Fons Hof, Director Art Rotterdam.
- File under diplomacy in action: Julie Jacobson, the wife of U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Jacobson, has struck out on her own, and curated (the Globe and Mail says "put together") an exhibit combining Canadian and American landscape artists for the official residence. "The guidelines state that art in official residences must be works by U.S. citizens, either native or naturalized. Ms. Jacobson says she was interested in building on some of the political themes of President Barack Obama, seizing on his idea of "finding common ground with our neighbours." She asked for special dispensation from State Department officials â saying that the way to find common ground was to also display Canadian artists. They agreed. The result is a 17-piece collection â eight of which are paintings from Canadian artists â called Common Ground: American and Canadian Landscape Painting. Ms. Jacobson says she chose to focus on the period around the 1920s when Canadian and American artists were beginning to discover the beauty in their own backyards." I thought this was a sweet gesture on Ms Jacobson's part.