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Artists feel excluded from
Meadows Museum show

December 2004

Story + Photographs by J R Compton

Michael Tracy - The Disappeareds

 Michael Tracy - Tríptico, para los desaparecidos:
For the Disappeared, 1982
acrylic on wood with iron knives, hair, glass, oil paint
(and other materials the museum did not wish to list)
34 x 28 x 30 inches

 

Of the 112 artists listed on the invitation to the opening of Texas Vision — The Barrett Collection at the Meadows Museum (See the DARts calendar for more info), 48 (partial list below.) were not in the show, 30 attended the opening expecting to see their work. At least 6 drove up from Houston.

These numbers are according to 1 disappointed Dallas artist who had invited friends and collectors to come see his work in the vaunted collection of Texas and Swiss art.

Meadows Director Ted Pillsbury says only 9 artists whose work is not in the show RSVPed to the opening, and only 1 came from Houston.

Lee N Smith - Games with the Night

 Lee N Smith III - Games with the Night, 1988
oil on canvas - 38 x 51 inches

"Put my name on a museum or gallery invitation, and I expect my work to be in the exhibition," said Dallas artist Martin Delabano, who is in the collection and on the invitation but not in the show at SMU's Meadows Museum.

"This is standard museum and gallery protocol. In twenty five years of showing art now, this has never happened to me before, nor has it happened to any artist that I've spoken to." Delabano said.

At least two other artists have contributed to our discussion forum, below.. See Feedback below.

"It was a huge embarrassment to me. I went ... thinking that I'd see my work, only to find out at the opening that there, "wasn't room for everything from the collection," even though they found a spot for 8 huge David Bates, 3 huge Bill Komodores, 3 large Vernon Fishers and a few other select group of artists from the Peters and Dunn stables who had multiple pieces in the show."

Vernon Fisher - Model

 Vernon Fisher - Model Citizen, 1997
oil, acrylic on canvas with cast epoxy
84 x 89inches

Although the big room those works are in is beautifully designed, colorful and impressive, this editor was embarrassed by the excess of high-selling artists.

When I toured the show in the minutes before the press opening, Director Ted Pillsbury agreed these were "the money artists."

"If the Whitney had put the artist's name on the Whitney
invitation and then they didn't exhibit that artist, do you think the artist would be mad or consulting lawyers? Pillsbury is trying to make it like it's just sour grapes on the artist's part," Delabano said.

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According Dr. Ted Pillsbury,

The invitation listed by design the names of all the Texas artists (living or dead) whose work is currently owned by the Barretts, which comes to 112. Both the catalogue and the reception served to celebrate each and every one of them. ...

The invitation went to press weeks before the works that the curators were going to display had been determined.

Obviously, no offense was intended. To the contrary, we intended to honor all those patronized by the Barretts — the true purpose of the event.

If our intentions have been misunderstood, we offer our heartfelt apology. We think the show, albeit smaller than some would like, looks good in the Hamon galleries.

 

It's a stunning collection of Texas art, with breadth and depth and scope. The Barretts' collection has helped stock major and minor museums across the state. It's an amazing amassment that combines historic and contemporary, tradition and cutting edge — over many decades.

 

Yellow Wall in the big room at the Barrett Collection

The Money Artists Room: David Bates - The Cleaning Table peeking around yellow wall on left; Bill Komodore paintings on right: Homage ot a Painter, 1990, oil on canvas, 78 x 86 inches; Infinite Mercy, then Marsyas. Sculpture in foreground: Joe Havel - Friendly Atom, 1992, bronze, 60 x 60.5 x 26 inches; Harry Geffert - Mantime, 1995 - bronze - 88 x 55 x 92 inches Joe Havel - Drought, 1990 - bronze - 100 x 76 x 42 inches

 

The room many artists complain about, packed with big art by big name artists, is awesome. Smaller work dots the collection down halls and into other spaces, but this is the memorable space, the carefully crafted place intended to impress with size and status.

There was never any possibility all the work would go into this one show, and the exhibition designers knew that all along. What they have selected is significant and stunning. What they left out is a disappointment, exacerbated by a stumbling, unspecific invitation.

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47 of the artists listed on the invitation but not in the show

David Baker, Jan McCommas Bates, Ellen Berman, Lydia Bodnar-Balahurtrak, Denise Brown (letter below), Michael Collins, Chong-Keun Chu, Steve Dennie, Martin Delabano, William Farr, John Fleming, Dixie Friend Gay, David Gibson, Linnea Glatt, Lloyd Goff, George Green, Al Harris, Rachel Hecker, John Hernandez, David Hiscock, Gregory Horndeski, Terrell James, Luis Jimenez, Norman Kary (letter below), Kelli Scott Kelley, Patrick Kelly, Ted Kincaid, Annette Lawrence, Joe Mancuso, Norma McManaway, Michael Miller, Augie Kuyowa N'Kele, Kermit Oliver, Eleanor Onderdonk, Susie Phillips, Tom Pribyl, Gary Richardson, Jill Sablosky, Gary Schafter, Isaac Smith, Al Souza, Bob “Daddy-O" Wade, Mac Whitney, Danny Williams, Roger Winter, Judy Youngblood and Xoapze Xie

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If you have a pro or con opinion to share, send it.

FEEDBACK

 

I'm sending you a letter that I sent to Ted Pillsbury.

There really is no reasonable explanation for the dismissal of so many artists from the exhibition but hopefully this event will serve to open a dialogue between the galleries, museums, collectors, critics and artists.

I sincerely don't believe that the Barrett's had much to do with the curatorial process and perhaps for the most part the process itself was rather fluid. Often as you know, a curatorial view develops as the show is assembled. Still I believe that the manner that this show was handled was poor and insensitive at best.

What a mess.

Oddly though, I think the show itself is quite nice, actually. I believe that if the intent of the exhibition was to show selected work from the Barrett Collection, and the invitation had read as that, this conflict just wouldn't exist. And I don't think there's anyone actually that has issue over the selection of the artists or over Nona and Richard's good will.

It's just that this was a serious breech of promise to artists and audience by advertising twice as many artists on the invitation as being featured in this show. We, all 47 artists dismissed, were completely embarrassed and humiliated.

What a shame for everyone, J.R. And Thanks for helping to create this forum.

Denise Brown

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Like many of the other artists in this collection and NOT in this show,  I was very disappointed by the selected Big Names.

There was More than enough room in this show to have all the artists in the collection shown. There were 7 or more artists that had more than one work with Bates taking up most of the space, and the blame has to be placed on the person that has the last word on how the show will look.

I happen to know one of the installers and he said one of my pieces was taken to the museum and they decided there was not room.

I can only think it's a political game as to who gets chosen and who doesn't. It's nice to have this venue to vent the frustration this show has caused.

Delabano was right. If you're going to include the artists names on the invitation you should  be SHOWING those artists. That's something you learn in Gallery Etiquette 101.

Norman Kary

 

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