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Reply to "Art Enthusiast:"

Originally posted by The Old Man:
As some of you may have heard Jeffrey Deitch is out as director of MOCA. He was formerly a major art dealer in New York and an early proponent of graffiti as art. He has had a very bad time during his three years here. There has been much internal strife and much criticism of some of the shows. He will be returning to NY to open a gallery.

I am hoping that we will see the return of MOCA as one of the top tier art museums in the US.

Ah, curious timing, Old Man.

I met a gallery owner ( one of our very favorites) here in Santa Fe for espresso this week, and this very subject was one of our many topics.

My thoughts...

First, the trustees need to look towards the Board in my opinion. Now that said, I think the Board was thinking out of the box with their hiring of Deitch. I serve on four Boards and do have empathy with their thinking and problems. The hire just did not work.

Deitch took over a nearly broke museum in poor shape and did not have the skill set required for the massive undertaking. Jeffery is a true rock star in the gallery art world and also has a MBA from Harvard, so I'm guessing there was thinking this might be the fix. I see two glaring problems. First, his job requires great admin skills to manage a large staff, unlimited volunteers, ( never easy) fundraising, education and unlimited full-time political ass kissing with both the Board and trustees like Eli Broad and Soros. None of those skill sets were heavily required in his past business successes. Secondly, there is an abyss between the art gallery world and the museum art world. The museum art world is too often the safe and tidy place for masses to view what others have deemed important and even pre-approved art, if you will. The serious gallery world is far FAR more avant garde, forward thinking and confident in their opinions about art, and even help define what will be displayed in museums decades from now.

Think about the great 291 gallery in NYC in 1905 - forward. Their truly avant garde art was nowhere to be found in the museum world in the early 20th century, but now every modern museum in the world has the artist they displayed and first introduced to the masses. The gallery world is where Deitch has proven himself, not the foolproof museum world. You mention street art. Street art is real, serious and will stand the test of time, yet museums will only start to expose it as serious art as their masses start to think it is safe and even pre-approved by their neighbors.

The next hire for MOCA is critical as they have a near decade of decline now. With the woes of the European art museums, perhaps a hire from the other side of the pond may be in order, but the board must give Deitch's replacement far more money. Deitch barely had enough to buy anyone lunch.

I wish them well.