Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Show and tell

It’s not that often that the people who run our art museums reveal their personal take on art. Some of them even take this reticence to the extreme of deciding not to collect art for themselves fearing it might conflict with their public responsibilities. That was then. Now social media is ripping open the silos between public and private in many spheres and the visual arts are not excluded. The personal preferences and thinking of the people who are shaping public institutions are turning out to be of interest to audiences. In NZ this possibility is in its infancy and marketing departments are still firmly in control of the public interface, but personality does attract audiences and everyone likes to get behind the scenes. How else did reality TV conquer mainstream media?
The new Director of the Dowse Art Museum Courtney Johnston has certainly chosen to live her life with the curtains open. As a radio commentator (Nine to Noon), regular blogger and passionate tweeter her followers have a good fix on the art she finds engaging, what works she has personally acquired and what she is curious about. You want to see what sort of art attracts her eye from the nineties for example? All you have to do is go to her nineties set on Digital New Zealand. She has also made single artist sets with commentary on people like Peter Peryer, Colin McCahon, Ann Noble and more surprisingly Richard Sharell. Sure some of these selections are bound by the availability of online images but at the very least they give you a taste of the way one of our art museum directors puts her ideas together.
At the moment you can’t search Digital NZ on Johnston so here is a sample selection of links to her sets. Fiona Pardington, Peter Peryer, Kobi Bosshard, Julian Dashper, Richard Sharell,
--> The Australians, Fine lines and McCahon: light and waterfalls