Californian Museum Leaders on Expanding the Canon
In Other Words LivePublished 22 February 2019
Taking as a starting point the research published by In Other Words and artnet News, which examined the representation of African American artists in US museums and the international market, our panelists talk about the ways in which they are working to broaden the canon, and think specifically about local communities.
Click here for the transcript
Charlotte Burns: Hello and welcome to In Other Words, where we cover everything you ever wanted to know about the art world but didn’t know who to ask.
I’m your host, Charlotte Burns, and today we are coming to you live from Frieze Los Angeles, with a panel discussion entitled “Expanding the Canon”. Joining me for the discussion are a quartet of Californian museum leaders. Michael Govan, CEO and Wallis Annenberg Director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Naima Keith, who is the Deputy Director of the California African American Museum and also the co-artistic director of Prospect.5; Andrew Perchuk, the Deputy Director of the Getty Research Institute; and Megan Steinman, the Director of The Underground Museum.
Before we dive in, here’s a reminder to subscribe to our In Other Words newsletter at artagencypartners.com. And now, onto today’s show.
Thank you all very much for being here today and thank you to our audience, as well, for coming. I also wanted to introduce, briefly, our topic. When Frieze asked us if we wanted to think about partnering with them on a conversation, we were in the middle of an in-depth and unprecedented data survey looking at the representation of African American artists in US museums and the international market.
In the course of researching our data, it occurred to us—the report was co-published by In Other Words at Art Agency Partners and by artnet News—it occurred to us that the Californian institutions we were looking at the data of and speaking to for the subsequent month or so of interviews we did, were perhaps more nimble than their East Coast or European counterparts in rethinking what a museum could be and who a museum could be for.
CEO and Wallis Annenberg Director, Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Michael Govan joined the Los Angeles County Museum of Art as CEO and Wallis Annenberg Director in 2006. Since his arrival, Govan has transformed not only the museum’s collection but also the way it is experienced by its audience. Currently the museum is in the midst of replacing four aging museum buildings with a single new state of the art gallery building designed by architect Peter Zumthor.
Govan has facilitated new creative interactions between contemporary artists and architects and the museum’s historic collections, commissioning exhibition and gallery designs in collaboration with artists John Baldessari, Jorge Pardo and Franz West, and architects Frank O. Gehry, Fred Fisher, Michael Maltzan, Amy Murphy, Kulapat Yantrasast, and others.
Under Govan’s leadership, Lacma has begun a program to place its collections and exhibitions in underserved communities in Los Angeles County, the first adjacent to MacArthur Park in collaboration with Charles White Elementary School. Today, Lacma operates the largest in-school art education program of any art museum in the US.
From 1994 to 2006, Govan was president and director of Dia Art Foundation where he spearheaded the creation of the critically acclaimed Dia:Beacon in New York’s Hudson Valley. Prior to Dia Art Foundation, Govan served for six years as deputy director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.
deputy director of exhibitions and programs, California African American Museum
Naima Keith has been the deputy director of exhibitions and programs at the California African American Museum (Caam) since February 2016. She is being awarded with the High Museum of Art David C. Driskell prize in African American art and art history later this month.
Previously, Keith served as an associate curator at the Studio Museum in Harlem from 2011 to 2016, where she curated numerous art exhibitions including “Charles Gaines: Gridwork 1974-1989” in 2015. Between 2008 and 2011, Keith was the curatorial fellow at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles.
Currently on show at Caam is an exhibition Keith organized, “Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle: The Evanesced”, which addresses missing black women in America and the African diaspora (until 25 June).
deputy director, Getty Research Institute
Andrew Perchuk is deputy director of the Getty Research Institute. A specialist in modern and contemporary art, Perchuk holds a PhD in art history from Yale University. His publications include The Masculine Masquerade (1996); Allan Kaprow—Art as Life (2008); Harry Smith: The Avant-Garde in the American Vernacular (2009); Pacific Standard Time: Los Angeles Art, 1945–1980 (2011), which received the 2011 award for outstanding exhibition catalogue from the Association of Art Museum Curators (AAMC); and Voulkos: The Breakthrough Years (2016). He served as co-director of Pacific Standard Time, which comprised more than sixty museum exhibitions on postwar art in Los Angeles, for which he received a special award for AICA USA.
He recently co-lead a project on Jackson Pollock’s Mural, which was published as a special issue of the Getty Research Journal, and co-curated for Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA the exhibition Making Art Concrete: Works From Argentina and Brazil in the Collección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros with a publication and a related research project. As the acting director of the GRI in 2018, he initiated the Getty’s African American Art History Initiative and acquired the archive of Betye Saar.
director, The Underground Museum
Megan Steinman is an independent curator, writer, and producer with over 20 years of experience in the arts, entertainment and culture industries. She is currently the Director of The Underground Museum in Los Angeles. Megan has organized exhibitions, art installations and events at institutions around the world, including Dolby Gallery, Museo Pecci Milano, Sonos Studio Los Angeles, the Santa Monica Museum of Art, District Berlin, ICA Boston, the MAK Center for Art and Architecture, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE), and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). Her public programs include a live software-art workshop with Casey Reas and UCLA’s Design Media Arts department and “Transmission of Trio A” with Yvonne Rainer. She has written for several artist publications and exhibition catalogs, including Edges of the Experiment by Marie-Josè Jongerius (2014, Fw: Books Amsterdam) and Dance/Draw at ICA Boston (2011, Hatje Cantz). Her published thesis, “The Kinesthetic Citizen: Dance and Critical Art Practices” (2011), examines the kinesthetic experience of six contemporary dance-based art works through the lens of political and spatial theories in order to locate political empathy in everyday movement, social encounters and lived experiences.
Megan holds a Master of Public Art Studies from the University of Southern California Roski School of Fine Art. Prior to graduate school, she was the Creative Director for Capitol Records. From 2000-2004, Megan was the chief researcher, producer and artist liaison for photographer Annie Leibovitz’s book “American Music.”
executive editor of In Other Words
Charlotte Burns is the editor of In Other Words, our weekly newsletters and podcasts. She was previously the US news and market editor for The Art Newspaper, as well as a regular correspondent for publications such as the Guardian and Monocle. Previously, she worked with the London dealer Anthony d’Offay on special projects. For several years, she was a consultant at the cultural communications agency, Bolton & Quinn. She also worked at Hauser & Wirth in London.
Burns received a Masters degree (with Merit) from the Courtauld Institute in Art and Cultural Politics in Germany, 1890-1945, as well as a first-class B.A. honors degree in English and History of Art from Birmingham University. She moved to New York in 2010.