Tuesday, August 16, 2011

And The GGPID curator of the year award goes to ...

by Dean Liscum

If you don't "do art" and you're not blowing up your dictionary app every time you come across a word you kinda know, you probably have an idea of what a curator does but you're vague on the details. Essentially, a curator is a creative director and a manager for an art show. The curator decides what to show and brings that what together at a certain time in a finite space. Voila! The art exhibit.

Simple enough...Yeah, like herding cats... cats that just happened to be very focused creative types who don't always play well with others or take one for the team (or even know that there is a team or that there are others). Needless to say, it's a job. As with any other task, some do it well and others not so very. In order to recognize those that excel in this endeavor, I created an award...like spontaneously...like just this second...like pulled it out my ass (and thus a picture of the award will not be available for download). The GGPID Curator of the Year Award is also called the "Gilded Goat" because if you took gold spray paint to what I extracted from ass and it sort of resembles a golden goat.

In the future, we'll have a call for nominees, an impartial judging panel, a lavish ceremony, and a ginormous party at the MFA Beck building with lots of glitter and jello shots and house music. For now, you've got me, jello-less shots, lots of glitter (I thought I'd make it festive), and tears (glitter in your eyes has got to be a Guantanamo interrogation technique).

And the winner of the Great God Pan is Dead award for curator of the year is...

Paul Middendorf
I know what you're wondering...

Well, it's not for his "they call me peewee" bow tie or his cowboy boots or his curatorial selections (well kinda), but rather for his artistic principles.

Let me explain. For his show, SOUTHERN/PACIFIC, at Lawndale, Middendorf (say that three times fast and then click your heels) did his curatorial due diligence. He devised an organizational principle, found artists whose work satisfied its criteria, and then invited them to participate. They all accepted the invitation and then asked about details such as timeframes, logistics, and shipping expenses, etc. Now Lawndale is big for a non-profit art space. However, it doesn't have a shipping budget, which I learned in a very unscientific survey, is fairly typical for local\regional non-profits.

So a couple of the artists asked, "Can you come and get it?"

At this point in the conversation, I (and presumably all the other curators who failed to win this prestigious award) would have restated the request for clarity and emphasis. "I can include your piece in my show if I drive hundreds of miles in the Texas heat, pick it up and drop it off after the exhibition, and promise to cherish love and obey it while it's in my possession?...Uh huh." I'd have taken a long pause before I replied in a voice shaky from incredulity. "I cannot in good conscience deny the feral dogs of Luckenbach of that artistic experience." Then I would have called the next artist on my list. Only I'd have begun that conversation with my best Ed McMahon intoned greeting, "you MAY be a winner."

Actually, I'm not giving him the award for his principles because...
  • He's poisoned the well for ever other sane curator, "What do you mean you won't drive 8 hours in the Texas Heat to pick up MY work? Middendorf would do it"
  • You know there will be bracelets - WWPD (What Would Paul Do) or (Middendorf for Me! I'm an artist!)
  • Gallery's will work "Middendorf" clauses into their curatorial contracts - You want it here. You Middendorf here.
  • Some even worse, unforeseen consequence will arise from this, I can almost foresee it.
If this award was endowed, we could provide security to the winner. But it's not so he's totally on his own. Albeit, the threat-level is not real high. We are in fact talking about artists and lovers of art, a.k.a. curators. (What are they going to do. Spatter his thrift-shop threads with acrylic paint. Have you priced acrylic paint lately?)

Ultimately, I bestow this completely fictional and totally worthless (financially, professionally, psychologically) award on him because that kind of irrational, financially and personally irresponsible action is kind of endearing while remaining completely asinine.

Oh. And did I mention he's gonna return the art work to the artist only to later travel back at a later date, pick up the artwork, and transport it to Portland, Oregan for the northwest debut of the show? Details are sketchy but his friends and loved ONE (he's got one, but that was at the time this was published) insist that there will be an intervention.

If doesn't work, I'm sure I could pull another award out of my...


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