Tag: contemporary art
At 26, many young adults are just starting to figure out what they want to do with their lives, or at least how the heck they’re going to support themselves. Then there’s Deana Haggag. In June of 2013, the 26-year-old was appointed director of the newly named and recently re-opened Contemporary. The former Contemporary Museum had suspended operations in May of 2012 after failing to raise funds for a new location. A newly minted graduate of MICA’s master’s degree program in curatorial studies, Haggag stepped up to head the museum, which is now nomadic. Sans a brick and mortar location, it will focus on presenting experiential art throughout the Baltimore community via collaborative programming with a variety of artists. In other words, it’s up to Haggag to steer this anchor-less ship in a fiscally responsible manner while delivering contemporary art experiences that will attract and energize audiences. Recently, I caught up with Haggag to find out how this bright, witty twenty-something plans to execute such a lofty plan.
You were an art history and philosophy major at Rutgers before pursuing your MFA at MICA in curatorial studies. Are you a practicing artist, a champion and appreciator of art, or both?
I am definitely not a practicing artist. I can barely write my name legibly. I happen to love the arts. I love defending the arts. When I applied to art school, I also applied to law school. Art school was a pipe dream. People told me lawyers aren’t getting jobs, there are too many lawyers, so you may as well do something you love.
As part of your master’s degree thesis, you worked with Gallery CA, a 90-unit artist residence in the Station North Arts and Entertainment District, to better define the mission of the gallery for its residents and the broader community. Elaborate on that a little, and explain how that experience prepared you for this position.
City Arts is the building where Gallery-CA lives; it’s one of the first models of subsidized housing for artists. When the gallery was built, it didn’t have a solid plan for how it would work. When I went to school at MICA to study curatorial arts, someone had pitched activating the space. I worked closely with the building’s owners, and the larger Baltimore arts community, toward this goal.
There are art galleries and then there are Art Galleries. And we’re not here to cast judgments on one versus the other. After all, so many of our now-revered masters died long before receiving serious recognition or seeing their works on the walls of Respectable Institutions. And besides, the whole point of art (sorry if we’re getting a bit heady for a Tuesday) has more to do with expression and beauty than it does with status and who’s who. As Picasso once said, “art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” And whether it’s on a museum wall or a refrigerator door, that’s what we’re looking for, right? In which case, it’s worth penciling in a visit to Renaissance Fine Art Gallery’s upcoming show—(more toward the museum wall end of the spectrum, to be sure).
The BMA’s newly renovated contemporary wing has been open for a while now. But unless you really keep up with these things or regularly walk/drive/skateboard past the giant banners hanging outside the museum declaring “NEW” and “CONTEMPORARY,” you might have missed all the hullaballoo. And it’s hull worth ballooing over, if that’s a thing. Sure, sure, the renovated contemporary wing features works from the 20th century artists you’d expect—Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Andy Warhol, Franz West, et al. But remember the Guerrilla Girls poster campaign that asked, “Do women have to be naked to get into the Metropolitan Museum of Art?” It cited the statistics that women represented less than five percent of the artists in the modern art wing, but more than three-fourths of the nudes. The last time they did this count was last year. Nothing has changed. So here’s another reason to love Baltimore: The newly renovated contemporary wing visibly includes works by women, artists of color, and artists whose work actually makes social statements that respond to today’s issues. Now that’s a contemporary art collection.
Some of the new acquisitions include work from 21st-century artists such as Guyton\Walker, Josephine Meckseper, Sarah Sze, and Rirkrit Tiravanija. One of the latest additions to the collection is a dramatic site-specific installation by award-winning artist Sarah Oppenheimer. There’s so much to take in at the the newly renovated BMA that we can’t possibly describe it all here. But find a day when the weather is lousy, walk right in (it’s free, after all) and soak it up.
For hours and information about specific exhibitions, visit www.artbma.org.
For far the past two years, Baltimore has had a void. While we’ve been able to enjoy a good landscape or religious portrait, or even the Kinetic Sculpture Race, we’ve been forced to travel to far-off museums in DC or Philly for a solidly curated contemporary collection. Come Sunday, the void will be filled.
The BaltimoreMuseum of Art (BMA) is reopening its contemporary wing this Sunday, November 18 after a two-year renovation project. The new wing has three new exhibitions, two interactive galleries, sound and moving image works, a black box gallery, and the new BMA Go Mobile interactive art guide app. The installations include a wide range of artists from masters such as Warhol and Rauschenberg, to newer emerging artists on the contemporary scene.
The Grand Opening takes place on Sunday from 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. and includes various performances and activities for the entire family. If you prefer something for a date night, consider coming Saturday night, November 17 to the BMA Late Night at 9:00 p.m. White Life and Tim Nohe will be providing music, there will be collaborative art-making projects designed by renowned sculptor Maren Hassinger, and discussions led by BMA staff to give you fresh perspectives on new exhibits. Light fare and a cash bar will be on the premises, so come celebrate in style this momentous occasion for the Baltimore arts scene.
The Baltimore Museum of Art
10 Art Museum Drive
Saturday, November 17, 2012
9:00pm – Midnight
Sunday, November 18, 2012
11:00am – 5:00pm
To celebrate contemporary art making a comeback in Baltimore!
Don’t get me wrong, I love my Matisses and Giacomettis, and who can’t stand in awe of El Greco or Rubens? Even the BMA’s Oceania exhibit is enough to put it on most art enthusiasts’ radars. (Those crazy little masks? You know you’ve always wanted to try one on.) But whenever I feel the urge to be there, it’s images of Rothko and DeKooning that pull me in. So it was an ugly surprise the last time I visited the Baltimore Museum of Art and found out that the Contemporary and Modern American sections have been closed for renovations.
The missing work is a gaping hole in Baltimore’s art-museum world. The BMA’s contemporary collection is the only one of its kind in Baltimore — we’ve now got to travel all the way to D.C. to find a Pollock or a Barnett Newman on view. That might raise some concerns about Baltimore’s proud position in the national art community, but I’m still basically just mad that I don’t get to lose myself in Rothko’s color washes.
Thankfully, though, Baltimore doesn’t have much longer to wait. The contemporary wing renovation, part of a larger renovation process set to finish in time for the BMA’s 100-year anniversary (2014), will re-open fall of this year.
A recent BMA newsletter announced the wing will open its doors on November 17, and feature a number of new additions, like architectural renovations by artist Sarah Oppenheimer, which will connect the BMA’s Modern and Contemporary collections “through meticulously crafted sculptural forms placed in the floor, ceiling, and walls.”
Other highlights the newsletter mentions are:
- An exhibition of eight large-scale color photographs by South African artist Zwelethu Mthethwa.
- An exhibition of drawings by artists including Lee Bontecou, Philip Guston, and James Rosenquist.
- A new site-specific work by acclaimed Baltimore street artist Gaia. (The guy responsible for Station North’s Open Walls program.)
All in all, the BMA is shelling out $24.5 million for the renovation. Let’s just hope they keep the Rothkos up.