Stella Cretek

Gripe list

By - Sep 8th, 2008 02:52 pm
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I visited the Milwaukee Art Museum today, specifically to re-see Unmasked & Anonymous in the Koss Gallery. As I passed the Gilbert & George show, it was in the process of being taken down. While roaming the galleries I decided to make a mental list of the irritating stuff that is cluttering the glorious Calatrava addition.

Note: The September 2, 2008 issue of the New Yorker has a big spread on Santiago Calatrava, a portion of which is devoted to interviews with Russell Bowman (former executive director) and Daniel Keegan (current executive director). The article includes great Robert Polidori photographs of Windhover Hall. In the same issue is a blurb about local filmmaker Chris Smith (American Movie) and Mark Borchardt. The AM film screened recently at the Museum of Modern Art.

So anyway: THE LIST. Yes, the current desks in the reception area are dumb, but dumber still are the banners hung hither and yon, as if visitors didn’t have the good sense to figure out what was going on. Flashing television screens belong in the Sensory Overload exhibit, not in the reception hall. On the day I visited, the messy kiosk-like arrangement at the entry to the “old” museum was gone, but probably only temporarily, though I hope otherwise. A clutch of black leather chairs have been clustered at the end of the east wing, but they face a blank wall. Bring back the sculptures that once graced that area, please.

Beneath the Laura Owens’ paintings in the contemporary area of the old museum, a barrier of sorts was in place, and I guess it is there to keep children from rushing forth to touch the doggies depicted in Ms. Owens’ works. The former room where Peg Bradley once entertained special guests is still lovely (except for the thick layer of dust on a buffet in her formerly “private” dining room), but as you move nearer to the east facing bank of windows (splashed with the doo-doo of gulls), you’re treated to a big flapping ugly exterior banner touting the coming of the ACT/REACT (interactive art) extravaganza opening October 4. I’ll zip my lips until it opens, but my idea of visiting a museum to view art does not include waving my arms about to “interact.”

Before exiting, I passed the lone lady (with a bucket of white paint) whose job it is to forever and ever keep the paint looking spiff.

In all of this stuff, there is some good news. MAM is now publishing its Insider series on a quarterly basis. The first issue’s format looks slick and has expanded to include informative articles, interviews, features, etc. Their spin is “by switching to a quarterly print schedule, we have reduced the amount of paper used to produce it.” If the museum really wants to cut costs and be environmentally responsible, they should cease heating and air-conditioning the garage below the addition. The savings would be astronomical. I’m only guessing.

Categories: Dem Bones

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