Helen Molesworth Appointed as MOCA’s new Chief Curator


The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles announced on Friday that Helen Molesworth has been selected as their new Chief Curator. Her appointment will begin on September 1st 2014.

Molesworth comes to Los Angeles from the Institute of Contemporary Arts / Boston where she had served as the Barbara Lee Chief Curator since 2010. Before that, she helmed the department of modern and contemporary art at the Harvard Art Museum, and served as the museum’s Houghton Curator of Contemporary Art. Prior to her role at Harvard, Molesworth was chief curator of exhibitions at the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, OH.

The announcement comes shortly after MOCA’s appointment of Philippe Vergne as director in March. The museum’s previous director, the divisive former dealer Jeffrey Deitch, resigned last July after a turbulent three-year stint that saw the resignation of all four artists on MOCA’s board as well as the ouster of long-time Chief Curator Paul Schimmel. These two recent appointments, as well as the raising of MOCA’s endowment to $100 million in January, may signal a comeback for the museum after recent financial setbacks and crises in leadership.

Molesworth has been responsible for a number of well-received exhibitions including This Will Have Been: Art, Love & Politics in the 1980s, a re-appraisal of visual arts in the US during that period. She has also organized and contributed to monographic shows on Catherine Opie, Zoe Leonard, Amy Sillman, and Luc Tuymans among others. A Kerry James Marshall retrospective she guest-curated for the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago will travel to MOCA in 2017, according to the Los Angeles Times.

“She curates transversally; meaning that she does not follow beaten, fashionable paths but knows how to open new roads, diverse roads with integrity and rigor,” remarked new MOCA director Vergne. “She is a marvelous scholar and writer and knows how to listen, work and dialogue with artists.”

Molesworth’s recent Artforum review of the Whitney Biennial may give some indication of the curatorial vision she will be bringing to MOCA.

New Director to take on OCMA

Incoming OCMA director Todd DeSheilds SmithTodd DeShields Smith has been named to head the Orange County Museum of Art, ending six months for the institution without a director. Smith joins OCMA from the Tampa Museum of Art, where his experience getting the new $32 million building finished there was undoubtedly a plus on his CV for OCMA, whose attempts to move to a new space at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa have foundered. [via LATimes]

Broad Primes the Pump with Famous Artist Talks

fischl-martinIn anticipation of its opening in 2015, The Broad is hosting a series of talks this year called The Un-Private Collection. Although the series is described as “exploring contemporary and controversial themes,” (which usually is code for “themes that were controversial 50 years ago”), we have to admit: they look interesting. Each talk pairs an artist from the Broad collection with a sort-of related person (one of whom is Steve Martin, but that talk, with Eric Fischl, is already sold out). The three remaining conversations, including Takashi Murakami, John Currin, and Kara Walker, will delve into issues facing African-American artists, contemporary Japanese culture, and, uh, the depravity of rococo painting. Or something. Look out world, here comes the Broad!

Al’s Grand Hotel Returns to Frieze


Four years after graduating from the Chouinard Art Institute (now California Institute of the Arts), a young Allen Ruppersberg took over a house on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood and converted it into a hotel. Al’s Grand Hotel only lasted for six weeks, but maintains a mythic quality in LA’s art history, as an early example of social sculpture inspired by consumerism and entrepreneurial marketing (and, of course, as a fantastic hangout). The rooms for rent in the “hotel” included The Ultra Violet Room, The Jesus Room and The Bridal Suite.

Now Ruppersberg is collaborating with Public Fiction to re-stage Al’s Grand Hotel at Frieze Projects in New York this week. Ruppersberg will be present, in character as hotel manager, to “handoff” the project to a new generation.

Don’t miss your opportunity to make a reservation! Rooms are still available by calling 646-578-8471. Overnight guests are promised “a special selection of movies and videos,” and during the day the hotel will be open to all visitors for “just hanging out.”ruppersberghotel3



Gavlak Going Hollywood

Sarah Gavlak at her apartment gallery in 2009 [via NYT]

Sarah Gavlak at her apartment gallery in 2009 [via NYT]


Onetime Angeleno Sarah Gavlak is returning to LA to open an outpost of her eponymous Palm Beach gallery this June. The second Gavlak will be 5,000 square feet, at 1034 North Highland Avenue and neighboring Hannah Hoffman, Michael Kohn, and Regen Projects. The gallery’s press release is careful to note that they will be working with artists “who do not have representation in LA”, although Liz Craft, Lecia Dole-Recio, and Vincent Szarek have all been invited to participate in the inaugural group exhibition, opening on June 26.


Mid-City Just Got a Little Artier


Richard Jackson, The Little Girl’s Room, 2011, mixed media. Credit: Frederik Nilson/David Kordansky Gallery. [via LAT]

It may be premature to call Mid-City a new art destination, but the September arrival of the new David Kordansky space (joining existing S. La Brea gallery Kayne Griffin Corcoran) will make it a little more official.

Kordansky is moving on up: the new 20,000 square foot space will triple the gallery’s current footprint. The architecture firm wHY has been seleted to build out the new space, always an indicator that grandeur is the goal (although let’s hope Kordansky doesn’t go the way of previous wHY clients Perry Rubenstein and L&M Arts).  Kordansky’s current location, at 3143 S. La Cienega Blvd, has never been very easy to get to and never felt like part of the Culver City row, so the new digs should be a big improvement. Catch the last show in the current space, new works by Mary Weatherford, running May 19 -31.

SoCal Does the Dallas Art Fair

timthumb.phpThis week a bevy of Southern California galleries are headed to Texas for the sixth Dallas Art Fair. The exhibitors include longtime visitors Thomas Solomon and Charlie James, as well as newcomers M+B, OHWOW, and Luis De Jesus, among others.

“Tom Solomon got the ball rolling, because he was out here first,” says Charlie James. “LA dealers see Dallas is deep with potential new collectors who are turned on by the passion of collecting, and they’re getting to know it now. And we see there’s wealth here, and it’s fun, and people want to come check it out.” James reports that the fair had “a significant positive impact on our 2012.”

The fair is generally acknowledged to have dramatically improved over the years, with this year’s exhibitor list being the strongest yet (although how many of those will be showing slick abstract paintings remains to be seen).

“We plan on coming back to Dallas every year,” says James.  “It’s a lot more gusher than duster, to put it in Texas terms.”


Baldessari’s Camel is Awesome

John Baldessari, Camel Contemplating a Needle, 2013

John Baldessari, Camel Contemplating a Needle, 2013


In a post worthy of Fox News, Buzzfeed has worked itself into a lather about a John Baldessari sculpture of a camel contemplating a needle. The sculpture was purchased by the State Department for a cut rate of $400,000, and is earmarked for the US embassy in Islamabad, where, Buzzfeed righteously reports, the  “average yearly income in impoverished Pakistan is about $1,250 per year.”

Ah yes: there are poor people in the world, therefore US embassies shouldn’t have any art. The Art Newspaper reports that the Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz called the camel “a questionable use of taxpayer resources” in a letter to the Secretary of State John Kerry on 1 April. Apparently Chaffetz, who chairs the Oversight Subcommittee on National Security, wants all documents related to embassy art purchases since 2010. Because it matters for National Security.

OK, whatever: it’s another fabricated uproar on a slow news day. Buried in all this is the charming fact that the STATE DEPARTMENT wants this sculpture, a wonderfully deadpan reference to the famous observation (found in both the New Testament and the Qur’an) about rich people getting into heaven. Forget all the noise about the art program for embassies (which comprises 0.5% of their construction budgets for new projects, the horror!) Let’s celebrate the fact that somewhere, deep in the bowels of State, there’s a functionary with an eye for great American art who wants to share it with the world.