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Art Scoping

Author: Maxwell L. Anderson

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Art Scoping is a podcast featuring protagonists in the fields of art, architecture, design, publishing, art law, public policy, and culture generally. We’ll skip the elevator speeches and find out how arts leaders are coping with change, what keeps them up at night, and what gets them out of bed.

88 Episodes
It's been a while since the last episode of Art Scoping--it will hereafter follow no set schedule, but episodes will pop up here and there.This episode is a recorded tribute to my late grandfather Maxwell Anderson--playwright, lyricist, author, and journalist. I delivered it on March 24, 2022 at an event on the campus of the University of North Dakota, marking the unveiling of the first literary landmark in the state.
A short episode in which you’ll hear about the basics of a new endeavor announced by Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley of Barbados. Called the ROAD Project (Reclaiming our Atlantic Destiny), it includes a massive digitization project, the creation of a memorial to enslaved people by Adjaye Associates, and the planning for a new heritage district to incorporate a museum and archives, performing arts venues, and associated amenities. Stay tuned to the Barbados Government Information Service to follow this compelling project.
A special episode recorded in Barbados with attorney, activist, and music producer Audu Maikori. Attending the island nation’s rebirth as a parliamentary republic, and assisting with ambitious plans to build a heritage district, we cover that momentous transition and his encounter this past week with another prince, the Prince of Wales, his roots as a member of the Ham royal family of the Nok people, the quest for restitution of its looted heritage, and the need for a suitable Museum to receive it. A social activist who was arrested for alleged incitement to violence, he prevailed in court and was awarded damages against the Governor of Kaduna State and the Nigerian police force. His work as a music producer has taken him in multiple directions, from discovering new talent and seeing artists reach millions of listeners globally, to combating piracy and helping develop copyright protections in Nigeria, to serving as a judge in the first season of Nigerian Idol. Erudite, generous, and philosophical, he opens the door to greater understanding of several issues facing one of the world’s most populous nations, brimming with possibilities.
Min Jung Kim took the helm of the Saint Louis Art Museum a few weeks ago, and we hear her first thoughts about her new city, post-pandemic audiences, economic impact studies, major exhibitions, the value of free general admission, the cultural district including the museum, and how she spent her first few days on the job getting to know the building and everyone from curators to art handlers and guards.
Architect Mark Cavagnero shares anecdotes about his formation working for Edward Larrabee Barnes, his personal experience with Marcel Breuer’s body of work, and insights about the competing issues facing architects designing and building cultural facilities. He touches on his designs for the Walker Art Center, the Oakland Museum of California, and his hopes for the downstream effects of the new infrastructure legislation signed into law by President Biden.
Denver’s Museum of Contemporary Art is led by Nora Burnett Abrams, who takes us through the situation on the ground in an oasis of free expression and adventure in the Western United States. We cover a lot of ground, including her recent leasing of a satellite space, the challenges and opportunities of being a non-collecting institution, her views on NFTs and their likely reshaping of the art world, a novel program allowing local residents to borrow works by artists from a free-standing collection, and how peer institutions share new ideas and best practices.
Travel! This week we speak with Jim Friedlander, President of The Museum Travel Alliance & Arrangements Abroad Inc. And learn about post-pandemic cultural experiences awaiting the (well-heeled) traveler. From air travel to seafaring to luxury trains, Jim shares developments with trips to places ranging from Cuba to Central Asia. Put your feet up and have a vicarious sampling of adventures abroad.
The next time you go to the theater, there may be no intermissions. That’s just one of the changes awaiting us in a post-pandemic world seeking to reassure audiences concerned about their health. Teresa Eyring is Executive Director and CEO of Theatre Communications Group (TCG) since 2007 and walks us through how the performing arts are adapting to this new world, including anemic ticket sales and shortages in working capital. Asking artists during the shutdown what they want to change yielded new ideas about collective leadership, holistic support, hybrids of live and virtual programming, and how to promote artists as problem solvers. We learn about the next in-person gatherings, TCG’s dedication to DEAI, recent transformative 7-figure grants, professional development opportunities, the surprising vitality of TCG’s publishing ventures, and many other facets of the world of theater.
Museum leaders in the U.S. are at an inflection point, with disgruntled staff, missteps in reaching DEAI, pandemic-related disruptions, and board disaffection. But in Australia, long accustomed to honoring indigenous peoples, we hear from an upbeat Tony Ellwood, director of the National Gallery of Victoria. Generous government support, public affection for his museum’s mission, collegiality with other leaders, the business community’s embrace, and all the sunny optimism we have come to expect from Australians.
Renowned art dealer Anthony Meier, who is currently president of the Art Dealers Association of America, is back from Basel, and gives us an insider’s view of the state of art fairs, the upcoming ADAA fair in New York, his San Francisco gallery’s adaptation to the pandemic, private sale competition with auction houses,  how he identifies new artists to represent, the museum and arts scene in the Bay Area, the uncertain future of major exhibitions, and his recent discussions with the Treasury Department about upcoming anti-money laundering legislation.
Candor is a precious commodity in the cultural world. So often it’s just easier to keep your true feelings to yourself so as not to foreclose opportunity or risk ostracism. Candor is not in short supply for Mark Lamster, the architecture critic of the Dallas Morning News, among other perches in the academy. In this episode he calls out some of the legitimate societal pressures facing architects and architecture today, projects and firms that warrant his accolades, the waning authority of the Pritzker Prize—the so-called Nobel Prize of architecture—the Nazi past of architect Philip Johnson and his quest for redemption, and several other facets of the field.
Today’s arts philanthropy is being guided by new voices. Bahia Ramos shares her approach to funding, beginning with the fact that she collects art as a form of advocacy. A Brooklynite, she is director of arts at The Wallace Foundation, where she has sought to respond to the needs of artists and arts organizations of color during the pandemic. Part of a new $53 million grant initiative to develop the capacity of arts organizations of color is to develop a clear understanding of future needs. Before arriving at Wallace, Bahia served as program director of the arts for the Knight Foundation, where she led the organization’s strategy for a $35 million annual investment in arts funding across the country. She addresses the need for greater transparency in grantmaking, new alternatives to non-profit management, how the Biden administration has served the needs of arts organizations during the pandemic, and much else. 
Social activism and museum directing---ICA Boston director Jill Medvedow manages to leaven her professional responsibilities with a conscience, and teaches us much in the process. We delve into her stewardship of the 2022 US Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, featuring artist Simone Leigh--and we learn why and how she put the ICA Watershed together, her selection as the subject of an MIT case study about how she aligned stakeholders to realize the ICA Boston by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, her optimistic predictions about progressive values being embraced by museums, the pressures of the art market, ICA Boston’s emergence as a collecting institution, and forthcoming exhibitions this autumn.
Global in outlook and experience, Dr. Dorothy Kosinski has since 2008 directed the storied Phillips Collection in Washington, DC. We are treated to her insights into how radically the art museum field has changed over the last year and a half, her commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion years before it became the norm, her views on the kind of training and background required for directing museums today, and her prior experience as a curator at the Dallas Museum of Art, buoyed by the peerless generosity of trustee, collector, and patron Margaret McDermott. We learn a little about her interests after a planned exit from the Phillips at the end of 2022, and reminisce along the way.
Public art is as challenging and rewarding as it sounds. Subject to the opinions of all, from passersby to art critics, there is ample room for debate about each and every installation. In our first episode this fall, we turn to Brooke Kamin Rapaport, the Madison Square Park Conservancy’s Deputy Director and Martin Friedman Chief Curator since 2013. With a distinguished curatorial career in museums, she took on the exciting opportunity to commission works for one of New York City’s most prominent settings for creativity, and we cover lots of terrain in how that works.
The last word goes to Patricia Marx. A staff writer for The New Yorker, she’s the unofficial voice of New York City, and was apparently seconded briefly to the Montana State Tourism Board. We are rewarded with her colorful travelogue of a recent trip to a friend’s ranch in or near Yellowstone (wholly unclear which), and her deep and abiding gratitude for the lockdown’s inducement of uninterrupted reading. We hear tales of literary betrayals, creative uses of empty office towers, NYC’s resilience and hermetic worldview, her appreciation of noise and pollution, Governor Cuomo’s situation, the ‘stars’ of the Republican Party, the likely tenor of the upcoming Met Ball, her love of masks, the fate of theater, the virtues of getting to places early, her appreciation of just waiting for things, a brief jury duty experience, adventures with hoarding, and antidotes to writer’s block. It’s our last episode of the summer—we’ll return refreshed and presumably re-vaccinated after Labor Day.
The Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM) is the flagship museum for our nation’s art, and Stephanie Stebich, its Margaret and Terry Stent Director, has led it since 2017. We touch on the two new museums recently authorized by Congress that will join the Smithsonian’s other 19 museums, why SAAM successfully attracts a large number of repeat visitors, the importance of creating a sense of connection and community for museum visitors, balancing local audiences with those from far away, how governance works with the unique membership of the Smithsonian's Board of Regents, SAAM's deep collection of work by African American artists and a preview of two upcoming exhibitions drawn from this collection, changes to how museums do business as a result of the pandemic, how she has prepared for a new directorship, her views on deaccessioning, and much more.
John Rossant is a globe-trotting polymath, an evangelist for thoughtful urban and transportation design, and author with Stephen Baker of Hop, Skip, Go: How the Mobility Revolution Is Transforming Our Lives. As Executive Chairman of PublicisLive he produced, among other things, the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos (yielding an address book with mobile numbers of the privileged and of potentates in far-flung capitals). He reprises facets of a career spent evaluating and influencing our options in improving civic life, cities, and mobility, and sheds light on what to expect in innovative transportation solutions.
Episode 69: Jill Deupi

Episode 69: Jill Deupi


Museum directors rely on lawyers to help their institutions address sometimes thorny issues. What if your museum’s director is a lawyer herself? Listen to the thoughtful approach of Dr. Jill Deupi to her job as the Beaux Arts Director and Chief Curator of the University of Miami’s Lowe Art Museum. Her doctorate in art history and facility with several languages add up not just to an impressive résumé but also wide-ranging interests and insights. We cover the distinctive features of university museums, discuss issues of importance to the field as a whole, Miami’s appetite for culture, and much else.
#Nashville is hot. Much larger than Atlanta, its metro population is surging, and this vitality is reflected in multiple ways. In this episode we hear from Susan Edwards, the director of its Frist Art Museum since 2004, and learn about the institution’s origins in an Art Deco post office and its trajectory to become of the South’s most vital museums, along with the city’s philanthropic culture, its stubborn identity as a democratic stronghold in a reliably Republican state, the challenges it met and addressed throughout 2020 to today, and the arc of her career—up to and including recent certification in art crime training. Equipped with a doctorate in art history and a knighthood conferred by the French Republic, she has flourished in a cultural milieu best known for a sister organization called the Grand Old Opry—and brought diversity and distinction to Tennessee without a hint of pretension.
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