MCA Appoints Michael Darling as New Chief Curator

April 29, 2010 · Print This Article

The MCA Chicago announced today that Michael Darling, modern and contemporary curator at the Seattle Art Museum, will be its new James W. Alsdorf Chief Curator. Darling will leave the Seattle Art Museum, where he’s worked since 2006, in July. Before that Darling worked at L.A.’s Museum of Contemporary Art. Here’s an excerpt from the MCA’s press release:

Madeleine Grynsztejn, Pritzker Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), Chicago, announced today that Michael Darling has been appointed the new James W. Alsdorf Chief Curator, concluding a comprehensive international search. Darling is currently the Jon and Mary Shirley Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) and plans to assume his new responsibilities at the MCA on July 12, 2010.

“Michael Darling is the perfect creative leader to evolve the MCA as a preeminent contemporary art destination in terms of reputation, influence, relevance, and visibility,” said Grynsztejn. “I am looking forward to joining with Michael to realize a compelling new vision for the MCA. We share the same goal to forge an artist-activated platform that engages audiences by producing art, ideas, community, and conversation around the creative process. His exhibitions and acquisitions are always innovative and relevant, yet grounded in a larger art historical framework, and fueled by his distinctive passion, knowledge and integrity.”

Darling said, “I am honored to lead the MCA’s curatorial team and to build on the museum’s momentum. I look forward to actively participating in the cultural community of Chicago — a world-class city with a long-standing appreciation for the vanguard — and balancing a local perspective with a global outlook. I am excited to advance the MCA’s tradition of groundbreaking exhibitions and programming into a 21st-century multidisciplinary museum model.”

And so on, blahbity blahbity press release so on. Although I think this is a fairly boring, business-as-usual kind of pick on the MCA’s part, my view was ameliorated somewhat by reading the glowing praise that respected arts writer Jen Graves of The Stranger has for Darling. She writes:

What distinguished Darling from the others was his genuine commitment to exploring and revealing the connections between here and abroad. He was seemingly at every opening, and his exhibitions and acquisitions reflect that he did not simply live and work here, he thought here.

Grave’s assessment strongly suggests that Darling will not be another “Chicago curator” in name only who dials it in from elsewhere. I’m sure he’ll be good at his job (what constitutes ‘failure’ when it comes to museum curation anyway?), but I find myself caring less and less about who holds what position at big institutions lately. In the three years that I’ve been living in Chicago, I’ve become way more interested in the curatorial programs of Chicago’s college and university spaces and nonprofit art centers, and in the plans and activities of the (relatively) unsung curators and administrators who work there. There’s just more room for interesting failures and fresh insights in those spaces (although they, like any organization, require increased funding, donations, membership and public support to keep doing good work). Maybe it’s just the mood I’m in but…my whole take on the “big news” of today is one big meh.

Michael Darling. Photo by Julian Calder.




Wednesday Clips 7/29/2009

July 29, 2009 · Print This Article

from the Feral Houses series by James D. Griffioen

from the Feral Houses series by James D. Griffioen

Morning Glories ‘aint so f-cking Glorious when they’re crawling all over your backyard, swallowing everything else up in their huge pink maws. Part of this afternoon’s checklist of things to do involves going into my backyard and peeling those tenacious pieces of shite off of all the other plants that are trying to gain a tiny foothold on our postage-stamp sized plot of land. On a related note, check out an incredible photo series by James D. Griffioen titled Feral Houses (via things magazine). Here’s what else I’ve been reading about this week (with a bit leftover from last week).

*A chair inspired by obesity, designed by Charlotte Kingsnorth. Whoah. And, ick. (Dezeen).

*Louvre to open online database in English (NYT via Curated).

*Art Institute of Chicago now adding content to ArtBabble (New Curator).

*Cindy Sherman poses for Vogue’s “Age Issue” (via AO Art Observed), numerous pics of Sherman’s home are featured too. Somehow I always imagined her place would be messier.

*Most Unfortunate Headline Ever (but interesting article nonetheless): Stroke of Genius: 10 artists with abilities borne of brain damage.

*An Art Escort Service. This is a seriously good idea. Someone in Chicago should start up a company that tours out-of-town art lovers through our “underground” apartment gallery scene. Kissing on the lips verboten, of course. (via C-monster).

*“Invisible Books” aka books hidden within other books (NYT Book Review). Also, check out the archive devoted to this idea, compiled by the author of the Times’ piece, here.

*Jen Graves discusses the overweening vulva that is “The Dinner Party.”

*Cloud-seeding as art (we make money not art).

*Is the University of Chicago a secret portal to Harry Potter’s Hogwarts? Oh, if only it were so! (Culture Monster).

*What it was like to grow up in Pierre Koenig’s Case Study House.

*Props to my industrious little hometown: Valley Porn (boing boing).