Thursday, April 22, 2004

Changing of the guard


Although Le Devoir makes it extremely difficult to read the interesting bits on their web site, sometimes calling home is good thing. Or in other words because my mom is a subscriber to Le Devoir, she was able to send me an electronic version of the article where Stephane Baillargeon attempts to explain what might happen when Marcel Brisebois finally steps down as head honcho of the Musee d'Art Contemporain here in town. (thanks mom!)

M. Baillargeon lists a rather long list that purports to be a short list of who might replace M. Brisebois at the end of May. Or as they say at the hippodrome "Et Voici, Here they are!" (some of you out-of-towners are going to have to make it here at some point. In NYC they have Aqueduct, in LA there's the Hollywood Park, in Louisville there's Churchill Downs, here in Montreal we have the Hippodrome! Then, if that wasn't bad enough, at the end of the race they announce the results with the aforementioned "Et Voici, Here they are!" Some people just don't get it, and you wonder why they are contemplating blowing up the race track)

But back to the task at hand the short (long) list of people being considered for the position of Director of the MAC:

Pierre Arpin via the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria.
Jessica Bradley, also out of gig it seems.
Jean Gagnon, via the Daniel Langlois Foundation.
France Gascon, via the Musee de Joliette.
Claude Gosselin, via CIAC (or the Montreal Biennale).
Francine P�rinet, via the Oakville Galleries.
Chantal Pontbriand, now looking for a full-time gig.

Now I only know two of the people being considered, M. Gosselin and Ms. Pontbriand, and I don't know them well at all. M. Gosselin stepped foot in this here gallery once, did not acknowledge my presence (I think he assumed that I was something like a guard, or he was so completely taken aback that I wasn't a 21-year old gallery attendant in a skin tight black mini skirt, that he was struck dumb). And if you've been reading this here blog for a while you know much too much about my history with Ms. Pontbriand. For those of you who are recent arrivals, click here, or here. Or if you're too tired to do that suffice it to say that whatever she does, I summarily think is wrong, bad, boneheaded, silly, not particularly swift, nor helpful, interesting, or engaging. Heck, she ain't even funny, either!

But the thing that strikes me as most interesting, is how the folk on the search committee are continuing to hobble the museum and are doing their darndest to keep it a "C" level museum or on a par with The National Museum of American Jewish Military History, in Washington DC. Recently the OSM lost what I had heard was a dictator. now despite any conductor's lack of social skills, it is the "big boss" who sets the tone. The folk designated to replace M. Dutoit, did their homework and found, flirted with, and landed a serious "A" list conductor who will keep the OSM in the top 5 of orchestras for a long time.

Now the people charged with finding a new director for the MAC, have amassed what strikes me as a sort of complete list of minor players on the local stage. Ms. Pontbriand couldn't convince the government that a dance festival was worth $600K, so she's out of a job. M. Gosselin hasn't been able to do anything significant with his Biennale for 20 years. M. Arpin has curated (according to the website of the AGGV) shows by Paul Drury (who?) and "Decades � Part IV: Art of the 1970s." Sounds like cutting edge stuff to me. The others are similar in that they have run local (or for the more polite company among you regional institutions) and haven't done anything significant that they blip on anybody's radar outside of Canada. (caveat, there is one exception, can YOU spot it?)

For kicks, Googling them gives this up:
Pierre Arpin = 1,100
Jessica Bradley = 2,020
Jean Gagnon = 3,850
France Gascon = 546
Claude Gosselin = 815
Francine P�rinet = 56 (Yowsuh! I don't think I've ever seen such pathetic results when Googling somebody)
Chantal Pontbriand = 570

And then for comparison purposes some other folk:
Marcel Brisebois, the outgoing director of the MAC = 470
Kathy Halbreich, Director, Walker Art Center = 955 (hmm, maybe running a seriously good joint doesn't get you whacks of hits)
Neal Benezra, Director, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art = 2,180 (ok, I'm starting to feel better)
Michael Govan, the Dia Dude = 17,400 (now that's more like it!)
Charles Desmarais, semi retired Director of the Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center = 18,600
Robert Storr, senior curator of painting and sculpture at The Museum of Modern Art (although I'm not certain that he still has the gig) = 25,800

Now Montreal is way better than Minneapolis, on par with San Francisco (which means you'd have to throw some serious cash at Mr. Benezra, and less at Ms. Halbreich) and head, hands and shoulder above Cincinnati. So it would only be a matter of persuasion (read cash, country homes and free plane tickets) of getting somebody serious. I wouldn't hold my breath that Mr. Storr would even contemplate the job, but sometimes you gotta aim high

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