Friday, January 30, 2009

Nasher Sculpture Center Appoints New Director

Obama Ain't Got Nothin' on the Nasher Sculpture Center

As a rule, I try my best not to report arts-related conjecture, unless it is substantiated by relevant and related facts, which would point me to come to a solid and well-informed conclusion. However, I feel that I should, at the very least, comment on the MoCA situation, especially given the fact that the short-term financial side has been resolved and I can finally make sense of the facts, rather than just speculating on an outcome.

Recent History 101

Many Americans, including myself, believe that Timothy F. Geithner was a poor selection, as President Obama's pick for Secretary of the U.S. Treasury. The mere idea of appointing a tax evader to run and oversea the Internal Revenue Service is like calling 911 because your house is on fire, only to have the arsonist sent to the site instead of an actual firefighter. Sure, Geitner made "an honest mistake" by not forking over almost $34,000 in owed taxes to the Federal government, but at least he was forced to pay the government back every penny. Given the present state of the economy, that's just the kind of leadership we need to run the IRS, right? I'll let you be the judge of that.

Well, in an all too similar move, the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas, Texas announced today that they have hired former MoCA director Jeremy Strick as
the Center's new director -- yes, no joke! Given what we now know about MoCA and his stewardship of that institution over the past nine years or so, one would surmise that Mr. Strick's executive headhunter would have had a difficult time placing him anywhere? I guess I was wrong.

So, as a resident (and avid museum goer) of Los Angeles, how should I feel after hearing such news? Disgusted? Angry? Hurt? Or, perhaps, all of the above? Yes, I'd probably select all of the above. It seems so unfair that unchecked power and outright failure should be rewarded with a six-figure salary and directorship at another museum. The job losses, which were announce almost in lockstep with Strick's appointment to the Nasher Sculpture Center, compounded with the measly $6 million MoCA endowment will, indeed, seal Mr. Strick's legacy. I think that many good, competent employees will now have a very difficult time finding employment in this malnourished economy, as a direct result of his financial incompetence and lack of concern for the institution he led. For me, it seems like 2009 will, undeniably, be quite a year in politics and the art world. It's turning out to be a year where greed and poor leadership continues to flourish and be rewarded. And loyalty, hard work and dedication, continues get the shaft. I don't know how the vetting process for the director of the Nasher was conducted, but I can tell you that after reading about Mr. Strick in the L.A. and N.Y. Times, he would have not been at the top of my list.