Is MOCA’s Board the Better for the Return of the Big 3 Artists?



As reported in Artnet, artists John Baldessari, Barbara Kruger, and Catherine Opie have rejoined the MOCA board after resigning in protest during the troubled tenure of former director Jeffrey Deitch. The artists left the board ultimately over Deitch’s firing of longtime MOCA curator Paul Schimmel.

While the return of well-known artists will arguably create goodwill for MOCA, they (along with three other non-artists who have also rejoined) were at the helm during the worst crisis in the history of the institution, and one wonders about the strength of leadership they will bring (back).

There is an argument to be made that, however much a disaster Jeffrey Deitch was (and he was certainly a disaster), he was hired to make changes, not keep things the same. Did the board members who resigned in protest never ask the hard questions of Deitch during the hiring process? Did nobody say, “What do you think about Paul?” Rather than running to fetch their smelling salts en masse, the departed board members should have looked in the mirror. The job of a board is to hire and fire the director, and Deitch’s tenure, and his decisions, lay at everyone’s feet — even the members who’s last names weren’t Broad.



Welcome to the arts. You will be significantly poorer than your parents.

Planet Money recently did a study of various professions, which revealed something that will surprise nobody who works as an artist or arts professional: of all career paths (if you want to call being an artist a career path), these have the worst downward mobility; i.e. artists, curators and other creative types will be the most poor relative to their parents than anybody else. Take note, aspiring MFAs!

Will cheap Hollywood rents outweigh collector’s fear of driving?

Walead Beshty’s Selected Bodies of Work is on view at Regen Projects through April 5, 2014.

As reported in Artnet, more and more galleries are crossing the La Cienega divide and heading for Hollywood in pursuit of better spaces for cheaper rents. Led by Regen Projects, no fewer than five galleries are moving east, with more on the way.

Get unexcited at LACMA’s “The Least Important Things”

Fear Of Missing Out should impel you to Emily Mast’s performance March 27-29 at LACMA. It’s titled The Least Important Things — and we’re fired up to be bored! . . . Oh wait: we’re taking the title at face value. Seems like it might actually be interesting:

For The Least Important Things, Mast selected a diverse range of works by Joan Brossa (1919–1998) that were written with the intention of being staged. Brossa was a Catalan poet, playwright, graphic designer, and visual artist who made work about the limitations of language and its material nature. His “stage poetry” embraced incoherence, the everyday, and popular forms of entertainment such as magic, cabaret, and comedy routines. – LACMA website

Gunshots! Gore! Gams! Rare photos from the LAPD archive to debut at Paris Photo LA

If vintage crime scene photographs are your thing, don’t miss Paris Photo LA, coming April 25. This year they’re featuring UNEDITED!, a selection of “carefully curated” photos from the LAPD archive. Billed as “the most famous police agency on earth” (which Interpol, Scotland Yard and NYPD would have nothing to say about, surely), LAPD has a juicy, cinematic trove of photographic goodies that document crime scenes straight out of Chinatown. Gosh.

You know it’s bad when Chris Burden thinks driving in LA is stressful

In a new video about Metropolis II, Chris Burden’s mini-city toy car piece which has been on view at LACMA for a couple of years, the artist bemoans the stressful stop-and-go of LA traffic: “I love hearing that the cars are going 230 miles an hour,” he said. “That’s about the speed they should be running, not 23.4 miles an hour which is what my BMW says I average driving around LA.”


Metropolis II (The Movie) from Supermarché: Henry & Rel on Vimeo.

Study Reveals Gender Gap in Museum Directors

marcia tucker

New Museum founder and long-time director Marcia Tucker (second from left) with dealer Marian Goodman, curator Simon Watson and curator France Morin. Courtesy the New Museum Archives.

A joint study by the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) and SMU’s National Center for Arts Research (NCAR), released yesterday, finds that museum directors that are female make lower salaries than those that are male. The study’s research considered two main questions: “What is the current state of women in art museum directorships?” and “What are some factors that may drive the gender gap?”

Some of the study’s most notable findings show that, on average, women museum directors make $0.79 to every $1.00 of their male counterparts and $0.71 to every male dollar in the top tier museums whose annual budgets exceed $15 million. However, the study also found that in the lower tiered museums, that is, those with budgets less than $15 million, women directors made more than male directors. In this segment, women directors made an average of $1.02 compared to the $1.00 for male directors.

The AAMD/NCAR study also found that the gender gap could be accounted for by the salary disadvantage dealt to directors that achieve their positions through internal promotions from within an institution. The same disadvantage falls to both men and women; however, the percentage of women promoted to director internally is greater than men, accounting for some aspect of the salary differential between their male colleagues.

As reported by the New York Times in regards to the study, many professional arts training programs formed in recent years have helped facilitate the success of more female museum curators and professionals, landing many of them directorial positions in many mid-size museums. These have helped add more diversity to the professional museum pool, even if it was a man coming out of one of those programs (the Center for Curatorial Leadership) who landed the biggest job, at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, which boasts a $52 million budget.

The Report on Gender Gaps in Museum Directorships, spearheaded by New Museum Director Lisa Philips, AAMD’s Professional Issues Committee Chair, was released yesterday in time for International Women’s Day.

Bergamot Station to Become Relavent Again, Maybe

As reported in the Santa Monica Daily Press, the plans for an overhaul of Santa Monica’s Bergamot Station have finally been unveiled.  The gallery complex has gotten pretty snoozy (save for a handful of the better galleries there) since arguably being the heart of the LA gallery scene in the 90s. But crafty developers, perhaps responding to the nearby Hines mega-project Bergamot Transit Village, want to fluff the old Station with a “swanky” hotel, office space, and perhaps most importantly, a new 4-storey home for the Santa Monica Museum of Art.


Ernest Silva, 1948 – 2014

Image via the San Diego Union Tribune

San Diego artist and longtime UCSD professor Ernest Silva died suddenly last week at the age of 65. In a tribute posted to culturebuzz, Robert Pincus remembers Silva’s illustrative painting style that explored a dark side of suburban life. As a longtime supporter of the San Diego art scene, Silva’s influence was perhaps most felt through his work as a teacher. Tributes from Silva’s former students have been piling up on his Facebook page, where his humor and generosity of spirit are celebrated. A memorial service will be held in the Atkinson Pavilion of the Faculty Club on the UCSD campus on Tuesday, March 4 at 4 p.m.



Mike Parker, Godfather of Helvetica, 1929-2014

mikeparkerMike Russell Parker, legendary typographer, type designer and type historian, has died at the age of 85. Credited with the development of over 1,100 typefaces, Parker is perhaps best known for introducing Helvetica to the world.

As director of the Mergenthaler Linotype Company, Parker was a fan of the “rational” Swiss style of letter design, in which, he said, “you draw the counters and let the black fall where it will.” reports Fast Company. Parker and his team took the font Neue Haas Grotesk and reworked it for Linotype’s machines, The font eventually became known as Helvetica, one of the most popular fonts in the world (used by McDonald’s, Verizon, NYC subway signs, and NASA, to name a tiny fraction). In 2007, the year of the font’s 50th anniversary, it was celebrated and strangely debated in the critically acclaimed documentary Helvetica and was the subject of the Museum of Modern Art’s exhibition 50 Years of Helvetica.

Parker was born in London and originally planned to become a geologist like his father, but then decided to become a painter, but discovered he was colorblind. He graduated from Yale with an undergraduate degree in architecture and master’s in design. After working at Linotype, he co-founded Bitstream, the first company dedicated to producing digital fonts, according to He also founded Pages Software and served as historian for the Font Bureau. Parker died on Sunday, four days after suffering a stroke, after a long fight with Alzheimer’s. According to his caregiver and ex-wife, his ashes will be scattered at his family home in Massachusetts, without a tombstone.


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