College Art Association

CAA News Today

The CAA Board of Directors comprises professionals in the visual arts who are elected annually by the membership to serve four-year terms. Please read the CAA By-laws on Nominations, Elections, and Appointments for more information on the process.

Meet the Candidates

The 2017–18 Nominating Committee has selected a slate of six candidates for election to the CAA Board of Directors for the 2018–22 term. Click the names of the candidates below to read their statements and resumes before casting your vote. The candidates are:

About the Board

The Board of Directors is charged with CAA’s long-term financial stability and strategic direction; it is also the Association’s governing body. The board sets policy regarding all aspects of CAA’s activities, including publishing, the Annual Conference, awards and fellowships, advocacy, and committee procedures.

HOW TO VOTE

CAA members may vote for up to four (4) candidates, including one write-in candidate (who must be a CAA member). The four candidates receiving the most votes will be elected to the board. CAA members may cast their votes and submit their proxies online beginning in early January 2018; no paper ballots will be mailed. Please have your CAA user/member ID# and password handy when you are ready to vote. Voting begins in early January 2018.

The results of the 2018 Board of Directors election will be announced at CAA’s Annual Business Meeting from 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. on Friday, February 23, at the 2018 Annual Conference in Los Angeles.

Questions? Contact Vanessa Jalet, executive liaison, at (212) 392-4434 or vjalet@collegeart.org

Filed under: Board of Directors, Governance — Tags:

In June 2017, Scaffold, a sculpture by the artist Sam Durant, ignited protests among Dakota Sioux activists in Minneapolis where it was being installed at the Walker Art Center. After meeting with tribal elders, Durant and the Walker announced that the piece would be dismantled and burned in a Dakota ceremony. Announced recently, the Walker’s executive director Olga Viso will be stepping down at the end of 2017. Photo: Minneapolis Star Tribune/Zuma Press

As artists, designers, scholars, and other arts professionals, CAA members encompass an enormous range of voices and perspectives. Each of us has found an outlet for our intellectual and creative energies in a passionate commitment to a particular subfield or mode of cultural production.

We would like to open up a conversation about the relation between these two things: our diverse individual and collective positionalities and the subjects and questions we address in scholarly and artistic practices.

We find ourselves at a moment in which the individual and collective stakes of writers, artists, and curators are central to conversations, debates, and judgments about scholarly expertise and responsibility.

This call for dialogue and discussion emerges from conversations that began in CAA’s Publications committee and the editorial board of Art Journal; we are spurred in part by our observation that for some in the CAA community, these polarizations are having a chilling and possibly stunting, effect on the research and creative directions one might choose to engage. The ways this ripples out into the field in the years to come can be imagined, but has yet to be realized in full.

CAA is committed to the open exchange of ideas and to nurturing and supporting scholars and artists in all fields, regardless of their individual ethnic, gendered, sexual, class-based, religious, or regional and national identification. We also acknowledge the deep asymmetries within societies in North America and around the world, and seek to work actively and incisively to challenge the hierarchies that still characterize our disciplines, our scholarly practices, and our lives as artists.

  • What active and activist strategies and interventions might we pursue in the current polarized climate?
  • Are there limits to what topics scholars and artists should address given their specific positionalities?
  • Are there best practices to guide individuals in navigating these difficult waters with grace and attentiveness?
  • How can CAA support scholars and artists whose work might come under attack because their positionality differs from the parameters of their subject matter?

We invite your thoughts, input, experiences, and wisdom: we are initiating this conversation so we can think or rethink our practices with the benefit of as much input as possible.

Filed under: Advocacy, Surveys — Tags:

Refining Hiring Standards for Part-Time Faculty

posted by November 02, 2017

Students and faculty protest at Ithaca College, 2016. Image courtesy Tompkins County Workers’ Center.

CAA is committed to supporting all professionals in the field.  This especially pertains to those who are applying for and working as part-time faculty members.  For more than twenty years, CAA has been setting standards for hiring part-time faculty.

CAA’s current guidelines are published here and copied below. We want to hear from members about how these might be updated and strengthened.

Hunter O’Hanian
College Art Association
Executive  Director and Chief Executive Officer

CAA Guidelines for Part-Time Professional Employment

Part-time employees play a critical role within the art world, specifically in academia, museums, galleries, and other arts institutions. They help meet curricular demands, offer expertise in specialized areas, and/or provide leadership in institutional programming.

Part-time faculty may be referred to with the following terms: adjunct, temporary, lecturer, graduate assistant, and teaching assistant. The terminology and its implications may vary from institution to institution, with the designation “part-time” or “temporary” serving as the most general and therefore consistent names. While this standard is primarily concerned with addressing the conditions of fully credentialed and professionalized part-time or short-term employees who are not simultaneously graduate students, this guideline may be relevant to those employed in conjunction with their graduate studies.

Part-time/temporary faculty and other part-time/temporary employees may be understood to be of several types: Part-time/temporary employees who would prefer full-time positions, part-time/temporary employees with no other employment, part-time employees who teach/work in addition to other full-time employment, and part-time/temporary employees who are retirees. Additionally, some institutions have paid, professional visitors that are not ongoing, full-time employees and also are not recurring, part-time employees. With this in mind, it is acknowledged that there is no singular reason one seeks part-time employment, and while each person may have individual reasons and needs, CAA encourages institutions to chart a path of continual improvements and aspire to provide the best possible working conditions for all part-time/temporary professionals, especially given the increasing reliance on such professionals.

Among key areas of concern are: equitable compensation; employment stability; access to employee benefits, including health care; access to professional development; and safe and adequate working conditions.

Within academia, these areas of concern may be assessed and addressed by comparing part-time faculty roles against full-time tenured/tenure-track faculty roles. Where similar work is performed and similar institutional expectations are held, equitable compensation and resources should exist. Where the treatment of employees in full- and part-time categories is dissimilar, the differences in expectations/compensation and the reasons for those differences should be articulated to both groups.

Institutions that regularly have visiting or guest faculty or curators should define how such roles are similar and different from other full-time and part-time employee roles. If the visiting appointment has responsibilities most similar to a comparable full-time position, the compensation should resemble such a full-time position.

Certain rights and responsibilities should be consistent regardless of one’s employment category. For example, academic freedom should provide the same protections for all. So too should workers’ compensation and other applicable laws that offer employee safeguards.

Working Conditions for Part-Time Employees

Given the great range of mission and expectations in institutions, it is essential that institutions define the roles of part-time employees and provide them with this information as well as information on their workplaces.

  1. The following written information should be provided by the institution at the time of employment.
    • Institutions with a significant number of part-time employees may wish to create and use a part-time employee handbook.
    • Statement on the institutional/departmental mission or philosophy
    • A full description of the part-time position, including a definition of the role and duties (in the case of faculty, this would include class title, description, size, contact hours, advising responsibilities, and any other responsibilities)
    • Description of teaching facilities, office facilities, and support services
    • In the case of art and design faculty, description of and access to studio facilities or teaching and for personal, professional development
    • Description of financial support and resources available for performing the work and for personal, professional development
    • Information on evaluation and promotion procedures
    • Information on employment security
    • Information on institutional governance and opportunities to participate in it
    • Information on any and all institutional expectations
  2. A written contract for part-time employment should explicitly state the following:
    • Compensation including salary, benefits, and any other compensation
    • Duties and responsibilities
    • Duration of employment
    • Process and timing of evaluation
    • Availability and timing of contract renewal
  1. For part-time/temporary faculty:The standards of excellence defined by visual arts programs should be founded upon realistic criteria
    • Generally, part-time/temporary faculty do not have research/creative activity duties; if such expectations exist they should be stated in the contract and the faculty member compensated for them
    • Part-time/temporary faculty may or may not have service obligations; if service duties are assigned, the faculty member should be compensated for them
    • Institutional expectations should take into consideration changes in academia, the commercial
      marketplace, and the discipline in question
    • Whenever possible, faculty should be included in the design of the course taught
    • If a course is to be canceled due to under-enrollment or another issue, the faculty member should be notified in a timely manner; if it is canceled at the last minute, the faculty member should be compensated, either in full or on a pro-rated basis for course preparation
    • Part-time faculty should have access to private (or shared with the expectation
      of privacy when needed) office space for student/teacher meetings
    • If a part-time faculty member’s institutional contribution is equivalent to that of a full-time faculty member, the part-time faculty member should be equitably compensated in comparison to such a full-time faculty member. If there is no expectation for research or service, differential compensation may be significant. This should be clearly stated in contractual materials.
  2. For all part-time employees:
    • Personal and environmental safety should be a major concern with adequate protection provided by the employer
    • OSHA, EPA, and other relevant standards should be followed
    • Institutional practices for ensuring safety should be clearly communicated
    • Opportunities for advancement in rank, salary, and responsibilities should be given to recurring, part-time employees.
    • Adequate administrative support should be provided: mailbox; office space; telephone and computer access; clerical support; library facilities; and teaching/research support such as assistants and/or graders, when warranted
    • When additional duties are offered or assigned, and such duties are ones often performed by full-time employees and go beyond the regular scope of part-time employment, the part-time employee should be offered additional and adequate compensation, such as a stipend

The 2013 ad-hoc committee for revision was co-chaired by Thomas Berding, Michigan State University and John Richardson, Wayne State University. The committee included Janet Casey, Skidmore College; Zoe Darling, Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design; Jim Hopfensperger, Western Michigan University; David LaPalombara, Ohio University; Dennis Nawrocki, Wayne State University; and Kate Wagle, University of Oregon.

Click here for more information.

Introducing CAA News Monday

posted by October 26, 2017

Protest wall at CAA 105th Annual Conference New York, 2017. Photo: Ben Fractenberg

We’re excited to introduce you to CAA News Monday, a new weekly newsletter that takes a different approach to the start of your week. The Monday newsletter will embrace advocacy as its raison d’être, with a lead story each week and a round up of advocacy-related stories and news. Along with hot topics from the art, higher education, and advocacy worlds, we’ll be highlighting noteworthy jobs and opportunities from CAA’s network, and spotlighting a new weekly podcast as part of the CAA Conversations series. The weekly CAA Conversations Podcast seeks to continue the vibrant discussions initiated at our Annual Conference. Listen in each week as educators explore arts and pedagogy, tackling everything from the day-to-day grind to the big, universal questions of the field. The CAA Conversations Podcast will also be posted each Monday to the CAA website.

If you already receive CAA News on Wednesday you will automatically receive CAA News Monday. You don’t need to do a thing.

If you don’t get our Wednesday newsletter, sign up below for both.

SIGN UP FOR CAA NEWS

Filed under: Advocacy, CAA News — Tags:

Indigenous Futures in Art Journal

posted by October 23, 2017

Postcommodity, Repellent Fence, 2015, installation view (artwork © Postcommodity; photograph by Michael Lundgren provided by Postcommodity)

Recent years have seen a boom in the creation of new art by Indigenous artists across North America—and a concomitant surge in scholarship about this art. The recently published issue of Art Journal is devoted to both the art and the research. In addressing the theme “Indigenous Futures,” editor-in-chief Rebecca M. Brown turned to the scholars Kate Morris and Bill Anthes as guest editors.

Works by dozens of Indigenous artists are featured in the issue, among them Kay WalkingStick, Kent Monkman, Shan Goshorn, Rebecca Belmore, Cheryl L’Hirondelle, Will Wilson, and Edgar Heap of Birds. The artist collective Postcommodity created a project for the issue that includes the covers. Two artists wrote substantial texts: Jolene Rickard explores the theme of sovereignty in Indigenous art, while Marie Watt enjoys a frank chat with Joseph Beuys’s Coyote—who is amazingly au courant about today’s art.

In addition to Morris and Anthes, the scholars Jessica L. Horton, Dylan Robinson, and Sherry Farrell Racette provide insights into bodies of work by specific artists. A strong curatorial thread runs through the issue as well, with essays by Candice Hopkins and Heather Igloliorte; a magisterial essay by the curators Kathleen Ash-Milby and Ruth B. Phillips traces the history of critical exhibitions in North American museums and galleries since 1992, the year of the controversial “celebration” of the Columbus quincentennial.

The Reviews section of the issue features a 2015 book by W. J. T. Mitchell (reviewed by Caroline A. Jones), a substantial anthology on the postwar avant-garde in Scandinavia (by Karen Kurczynski), the exhibition and catalogue of Hélio Oiticica: To Organize Delirium (by Camila Maroja), a multiauthor and -artist volume on the Indian city of Chandigarh (by Tracy Bonfitto), and the exhibition and catalogue of Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933–1957 (by Erica DiBenedetto).

CAA sends print copies of Art Journal to all institutional members and to those individuals who choose to receive the journal as a benefit of membership. The digital version at Taylor & Francis Online is currently available to all CAA individual members regardless of their print subscription choice.

Filed under: Art Journal — Tags:

Lynda.com Membership for $99 (70% off)

posted by October 10, 2017

We recently announced new membership levels and new benefits for our CAA members, and we wanted to pull out one new benefit for highlighting because we think it’s really helpful, and kind of a big deal.

All CAA members can now get a one-year membership to Lynda.com for $99 (standard price $360). To purchase Lynda.com, log into your CAA account.

Lynda.com is the largest online learning platform, with over 6,000 courses ranging from Teacher Tools to Educational Technology to Content Marketing and Computer Programming.

Lynda.com purchases are nonrefundable and limited to one per CAA member. Please allow up to two business days to receive confirmation email from Lynda.com for access.

Last week, I had a chance to participate in a conference call with Jon Parrish Peede, the new acting chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). He assumes the role after the resignation of William D. Adams in May of 2017, who stepped down concurrent with the release of the White House FY2018 budget that called for eliminating the NEH. The call with Peede was organized by the National Humanities Alliance (NHA), and included leaders of other humanities organizations.

Peede, who was appointed by President Trump in late July, is the brother of a senior member of Vice President Mike Pence’s staff.

During the call, Peede talked about his closeness to Dana Gioia, the George W. Bush-appointed head of the NEA, and proudly referred to himself “a product of rural America,” stressing the need for having people from all 50 states on NEH panels.

When asked about his vision for the NEH, he mentioned that humanities could be funded and supported by other organizations, such as colleges, foundations, and individuals. He offered support for grant selection being “grounded in rigor” and wanted grantees to talk about “outcomes and not activities.”

Peede was asked why the public should care about the NEH and stated that the agency’s role is to preserve records and to place them in context, an important position for a federal agency, but one which does not necessarily address the larger idea of the impact of humanities in society. He did state, “a life in the humanities is a life well lived.” In response to a question about what he would do if the NEH received an increase in funds, Peede was not sure, but opined that he might not offer more grants as it may “dilute the value” of other grants.

Unfortunately, he was not asked how he felt about the President’s desire to zero out funding for the NEH or NEA, and what he was planning to do about it. For many in the arts and humanities, this is the pressing issue. Currently, the NEH is approved by the House Appropriations Committee for $145 million in funding for FY 2018, a $4.8 million drop from FY 2017. But the funding is not secure and certain. Hopefully on our next call, Peede will be able to address this important question.

Hunter O’Hanian
Executive Director

Filed under: CAA News — Tags:

Back in 2014, CAA set aside our old income-based membership system, replacing it with a new system based on the amount of benefits members wanted.

The program was a success, but we discovered that some of the language caused confusion. Starting this fall, we are launching the final refinement of the membership program that will eliminate confusion about the membership levels.

In addition, we will begin rolling out new membership benefits for our 10,000 individual and institutional members.

Understanding that many members face shrinking departmental budgets, for the fourth consecutive year, membership rates will not increase (in fact, we are reducing the student rate). We do this while at the same time planning for one of the largest Annual Conferences ever.

In February 2018 in Los Angeles (February 21-24), we have already scheduled more than 300 sessions and meetings, involving over 1,400 CAA members who will serve as discussants, presenters, and chairs. Additionally, we have secured a seemingly endless schedule of events for CAA members at LA-based cultural and educational institutions, including The Getty Center, The Broad, LACMA, The Skirball Cultural Center, Norton Simon Museum, The Huntington, UCLA, USC, Otis College of Art and Design, Santa Monica College, 18th Street Arts Center, and many, many others.

Registration for the 2018 CAA Annual Conference will open in early October.

 

New Membership Levels

Starting on October 1, 2017 you will see three individual membership levels on the CAA website membership page and in our membership materials. You can choose a membership level based on where you are in your career and whether you expect to go to the Annual Conference.

Tier One Membership
$195 annually/$380 two years (formerly Premium Membership)

This level is designed for working professionals in the myriad visual arts fields that support the association and expect to attend CAA’s Annual Conference. You will receive a 55% discount on your early Annual Conference registration. You will still receive one of the two flagship CAA publications (Art Journal or The Art Bulletin), along with all other benefits.

Tier Two Membership
$125 annually/$245 two years (formerly Basic Membership)

This level is designed for professionals for whom the Annual Conference is not a priority. Tier Two members get a 20% discount to the Annual Conference and receive one of the two flagship CAA publications (Art Journal or The Art Bulletin), along with all other benefits.

Tier Three Membership
$80 annually/$155 two years (formerly part-time, independent, retired)

Tier Three Student
$50 students annually/$95 students two years

Both Tier Three levels are designed for independent artists, student, designers, scholars, art historians, part time faculty, retired and others working independently, without full-time employment. It has all the same benefits of Tier One Membership, including the 55% early Annual Conference discount. Students will be charged only $50.

You don’t need to do anything right now! Upon joining or renewing you will be asked to choose one of the new levels. All of the Donor Circle membership levels (Sustaining, Patron, and Life) will remain the same.

 

New Benefits

In case you hadn’t noticed, we’ve tried every way we can to discover what you need from your professional association. We know you want to advance your career, access to exceptional scholarship, networking opportunities and advocacy. Without a doubt, finances remain an issue for many members.

We are happy to announce that starting October 1, 2017 we are able to offer CAA members the following new benefits. Sign into your CAA member account after October 1 to make purchases or view discount codes.

  • Lynda.com – The largest online learning network with more than 3,000 courses in design, photography, web development, marketing, and business is now available to CAA members at a significant discount. Members will have access to the full online premium program for $99 annually (regularly $360 annually).
  • Legal Services – We have secured the services of a major Maryland/DC law firm, Whiteford, Taylor, and Preston, which works with other Learned Societies, to assist CAA members at a reduced rate ($275/hour). Whether you need help reviewing a book contract, employment agreement, gallery agreement, or fair use legal opinion, as a CAA member, you can now call on a law firm that knows the field.
  • Making Fair Use Real – CAA is a leader in the field of fair use of visual images in education and visual arts publishing. We have worked to educate the field and publishers about the permissions that may not be needed for copy written images to support your academic writing. Teaming up with the Whiteford, Taylor, and Preston law firm, we have secured a New York-based insurance agency, C & S Int’l Insurance Brokers Inc., to issue Errors and Omissions insurance policies to protect you and your publisher. It can save you thousands of dollars in permissions for your academic publications.
  • Humanities Commons – More than a year ago, we partnered with the MLA (Modern Language Association) to create web-based discussion and resource hubs known as Humanities Commons (public) and CAA Commons (CAA members only). The platforms offer our members the chance to easily share research and resources with scholars in their field and in other fields.
  • More Publisher Discounts –It seems we just can’t get away from owning books. We have heard from members that they would like more book discounts. Several publishers/distributers have come forward to offer discounts to CAA members. University of Chicago Press is now offering 20%, Artbook|D.A.P. is offering 25% off online sales, and MIT Press will offer 25% off to members. Sign into your CAA member account on October 1 to view discount codes. More publishers will be announced soon.
  • CAA’s Cultural and Academic Network – We know that you rely on the Annual Conference to promote your programs, network in the field, and attract new faculty and program participants. Starting this year at the Los Angeles Annual Conference (February 21–24, 2018), we will completely revamp CAA’s Candidate Center and offer your college or university a better opportunity to promote programs, connect with alumni and colleagues, and to interview prospective faculty members, all at a very affordable price. Say goodbye to the “hotel room” interview!
  • An Office in New York City – Many members have told us that when they travel to NYC on business, either to see exhibitions or to conduct interviews, they would like a place to conduct an interview, catch up on email or make a few phones calls. We now have an office for out-of-town members to use at the CAA offices at 50 Broadway.

We are also presently working to secure affordable dental, vision, and health care for our members who presently do not have coverage. We see how difficult the healthcare market is for employees, for employers, and for just about anyone, and we want to do our share to help our members with this challenge. In addition, we are talking to other professional organizations about joint memberships at reduced prices. We hope to have more information to announce later this fall.

All of the other CAA membership benefits remain intact. You will continue to have access to our insightful scholarly publications, such as The Art Bulletin, Art Journal, Art Journal Open, and caareviews. You will still get access to JSTOR, CAA’s online jobs portal, and additional Taylor & Francis publications. Your discounts to art fairs and art magazines and your corporate discounts (car rental, convention hotels, and airfare) will all continue without change. In a new agreement, the International Fine Print Dealers Association will offer our members half-off admission tickets to their Fine Art Print Fair every year. Shortly, newsletter subscribers will also find a new Monday newsletter dropping into their inbox that focuses more on advocacy, jobs, and opportunities. CAA Conversations, our video interview series, will soon grow to include podcasts focusing on issues in the field of visual arts and teaching. Outside of member benefits, the CAA/Getty International Program thrives, as do our Distinguished Awards, publishing grants, and the Professional-Development Fellowship Program. We are, as is often the case, grateful to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for the continued support of RAAMP – the program to provide resources to academic art museums. Additionally, we continue to bring the Code of Fair Use in the Visual Arts to academic communities throughout the US and abroad.

We will continue to advocate for the field on the local, national, and international level, never afraid to take a stand on tough issues. We see the budget battle for federal funding for the NEA, NEH, IMLS, and all agencies that support the arts and humanities as a critical to our members. The content in the Annual Conference and in our publications remains exceptionally high. We are at the beginning stages of a rebranding process, which we plan to unveil at the 2018 Annual Conference in Los Angeles. We are working on new standards and guidelines which aid art historians, artists, and designers. We have been doing all of this while we have worked to streamline the administrative staff and keep the association as nimble as possible to meet the needs of the members.

It goes without saying:  Your input is important—Keep it coming!

Sincerely,

Hunter O’Hanian,
Executive Director

Filed under: Membership — Tags:

Artist Mimi Gross is the daughter of sculptor Chaim Gross and serves as the president of the Renee & Chaim Gross Foundation, based in Greenwich Village in New York City. Mimi Gross’s work has been part of many international exhibitions, including work at the Salander O’ Reilly Galleries, and the Ruth Siegel Gallery, New York City, the Inax Gallery, in Ginza, Tokyo, and Galerie Lara Vincey, in Paris. She has also shown work at the Municipal Art Society and at the Port Authority Bus Terminal. Her anatomically-themed art-work is on permanent display, courtesy the New York City Parks Department, at the Robert Venable Park in East New York.

The Renee & Chaim Gross Foundation houses an extensive collection of over 10,000 objects that includes Gross’s sculptures, drawings, and prints; a photographic archive; and Gross’s large personal collection of African, Oceanic, Pre-Columbian, American, and European art that remains installed in the townhouse as Gross had it during his lifetime. The Foundation is open to the public and tours are available through the website. 

When you think about it, there is an amazing consortium now of artists’ foundations, artist/family foundations. That is a source of continuity.
—Mimi Gross
Hunter O’Hanian: Hi. I’m Hunter O’Hanian. I’m the director of the College Art Association, and I’m very fortunate to be here today with Mimi Gross. Hello, Mimi.
Mimi Gross: Hi.
Hunter O’Hanian: Thank you.
Mimi Gross: Glad to be together.
Hunter O’Hanian: Thank you, yes. And it’s been nice to catch up about our time in Provincetown together.
Mimi Gross: Yeah.
Hunter O’Hanian: We have spent a lot of time there.
Mimi Gross: We do.
Hunter O’Hanian: But thank you very much for inviting us into the home of the Foundation, the foundation that was set up by your parents. And it’s really amazing, and we’re going to get to talk about lots of that stuff.
Mimi Gross: Right.
Hunter O’Hanian: But so our viewers actually see what’s going on, can we talk a little bit about the pieces of artwork over my head here?
Mimi Gross: Oh, of course. Very happily.
Hunter O’Hanian: Yep.
Mimi Gross: So we start, this is by Mane-Katz.
Hunter O’Hanian: Yep.
Mimi Gross: Who was a great, shall we say, French-Israeli-American painter, and it’s a Purim Boy. It’s a Milton Avery above it, Woman in Blue. Next to it, this is by Orozco, Mexican master. This is by Louise Nevelson when she was very young, and she was my father’s student. This is by Marsden Hartley.
Hunter O’Hanian: You said I could take this one home, right?
Mimi Gross: Well, you might try. We might catch you at the door.
Hunter O’Hanian: I saw you had good security here, so …
Mimi Gross: Yeah, we do.

Above it is Francis Crisp. He was a great painter. The two dark men, that surreal painting is by Federico Castellón, a Spanish American painter. Below it is by John Metzinger, a great friend of Leger and strangely, post-modern today. Above is by Raphael Sawyer. I don’t know how far you go, but next to it is Louis Guglielmi. He was a Great Depression painter.

Hunter O’Hanian: Where in the house did your parents … Your dad worked, right?
Mimi Gross: Yes.
Hunter O’Hanian: Tell us a little bit about your father’s career.
Mimi Gross: His career?
Hunter O’Hanian: Yeah.
Mimi Gross: He was a carver. That was his prime interest in his artwork. He came to America as a teenager at age 17 and went to the Education Alliance and studied there and then taught there. He studied with Elie Nadelman. He studied with Robert Laurent. Before that, he started as a painter and John Sloan was his teacher and saw his drawings were very dimensional and said, “Why don’t you try studying sculpture?” He took to it immediately, and that was his love …
Mimi Gross: Which continued throughout his life.
Hunter O’Hanian: The building that we’re in now on La Guardia Place, how long did your parents have this building?
Mimi Gross: They got it in ‘62, ‘63 when they moved in, and they were looking for a place that would be a permanent home for his work and for his collection. I grew up in Harlem at my home had all these things in it, but not this building. He always had a studio in the village. That was his territory.
Hunter O’Hanian: Was your mom a maker as well, too?
Mimi Gross: She took care of everyone.
Hunter O’Hanian: Did she? Good for her. She was probably one of the busiest people in the household.
Mimi Gross: She was very busy.
Hunter O’Hanian: You said you grew up in Harlem. Tell us a little bit about your education.
Mimi Gross: School of hard knocks. I went to high school music and art and then to Bard College. After two years I went to Europe and spent several years there. That was a major part of my education.
Hunter O’Hanian: What was that like growing up with an artist family? Who was coming around the house in those days? Who were your parents chumming around with?
Mimi Gross: My other father was Raphael Sawyer, and I posed for him a lot and got to know him very close. Milton Avery who also came to Provincetown and knew him in the summertime.
Hunter O’Hanian: Right. You spent summers in Provincetown?
Mimi Gross: Since I was a little girl.
Mimi Gross: And still do.
Hunter O’Hanian: One of the reasons why we’re here is to talk about this Spring/Summer issue of the Art Journal, which really talks about artist legacies. You have a great piece in here on page 129, which really talks about the legacy of your parents and the Gross Foundation here, and so we’ll get into some of that, but what brought your family to Provincetown?
Mimi Gross: That’s actually a sensitive subject.
Hunter O’Hanian: Oh.
Mimi Gross: First of all, it’s a artist colony as it’s known, they had spent several summers in Rockport on Cape Ann, which also is an artist colony.
Hunter O’Hanian: In Massachusetts?
Mimi Gross: In Massachusetts came that period before World War II started. World War II started and anti-Semitism was very wide-spread in New England. They heard that Provincetown was liberal, which it still is, or it’s maybe not as liberal as it once was. It was a Portuguese fishing village. It was unlike general New England, so they migrated there and loved it, stayed.
Hunter O’Hanian: Your family ended up having a house there, and that’s how you ended up being able to go every summer?
Mimi Gross: Yep.
Hunter O’Hanian: You were trained as an artist yourself. There’s the lovely picture of you at the beach making a painting. Tell us a little bit about your artistic career.
Mimi Gross: My career itself?
Hunter O’Hanian: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Mimi Gross: It’s what we’d call the bumpy road to somewhere. I’ve had several, you could call it emerging moments, where there was a notoriety of a sort, but I’ve been working since I’m a teenager very seriously as a painter. I’ve worked with many materials, mainly to paint them. That’s been my quest in life. I’m a figurative painter, but I’ve tried many different things. I’ve done a lot of costumes and sets for dance, in particular, Douglas Dunn. When I was married, we did a lot of movies with animation. That was a lot of artwork as well.
Hunter O’Hanian: You were married-
Mimi Gross: My career in terms of gallery life, I showed with several different galleries which closed, so right now I don’t have any gallery, though I had two shows very recently, this spring.
Hunter O’Hanian: Right, and you were married to Red Grooms, as you said?
Mimi Gross: Yes.
Hunter O’Hanian: Yes, and you had several children with Red?
Mimi Gross: One daughter, Saskia.
Hunter O’Hanian: Yeah, wonderful. Great.
Mimi Gross: And two granddaughters.
Hunter O’Hanian: You and Red made films together?
Mimi Gross: We did. Many films.
Hunter O’Hanian: You collaborated on other projects, too?
Mimi Gross: Yes, we collaborated on very large, walk-through installations that he called pictosculptoramas. They were gigantically room-sized.
Hunter O’Hanian: Right. Your parents over the year…. Certainly your father was incredibly prolific, and you have been very prolific as an artist. Through your relationships you’ve gathered a lot of work, traded it with other artists. I read that there was possibly 10,000 objects that you have at this point.
Mimi Gross: In this house.
Hunter O’Hanian: In this house.
Mimi Gross: I don’t have that many objects.
Hunter O’Hanian: No, no, but I mean in-
Mimi Gross: But my parents were, they were serious collectors. The African art collection is, in itself, multiple objects.
Hunter O’Hanian: The question always comes up then about, for people who are art makers or collectors, what happens to that work? And what is-
Mimi Gross: Good luck.
Hunter O’Hanian: Yeah. Good luck, right, an artist’s legacy going forward. What do you say about that?
Mimi Gross: When I was asked to write this article, at first I said, “Oh, sure,” thinking that it was not a difficult answer, knowing that we made this foundation, but when I really thought about it, I realized that my own life and work was something that I had not particularly addressed, as well as the works I did with Red when we collaborated and we both own. It was complicated and difficult to actually freely write it.

I would say that in terms of how an artist who has objects, how they deal with it, it has a lot to do with their own reputation, their own finances and their own ambitions, and their support. All of these things make it work or not work.

My father would say things like, “Oh, I have a daughter that will take care of it,” so I think my granddaughters, maybe they’ll help. There’s no way of knowing, but the finances are gigantic issue, and even here where we have all of this work and a fantastic building, it still is the main issue is fundraising.

Hunter O’Hanian: Right. Again, we’re here at La Guardia Place in The Village in New York. People can actually come and see the work.
Mimi Gross: Oh, yes.
Hunter O’Hanian: They can contact the foundation to make an appointment and have a docent led tour.
Mimi Gross: It’s open to the public.
Hunter O’Hanian: Which is great.

When I was asked to write this article, at first I said, “Oh, sure,” thinking that it was not a difficult answer, knowing that we made this foundation, but when I really thought about it, I realized that my own life and work was something that I had not particularly addressed…. It was complicated and difficult to actually freely write it.
—Mimi Gross
Mimi Gross: We were well-situated here. I say “we” because I helped my parents get this together. Well-situated when Soho was extremely active as an art center, so people were visiting galleries, and then they knew my father or they heard about him and they would drop by and visit. That evolved that way, but today it’s not an art center, though there are several pockets of places here. There is a consortium with the various places that are still in the neighborhood, but because it’s still easily located near Washington Square and near the subways, people come by.

We have about 5,000 people come here a year. Then we’ve been part of Open House New York and in one weekend have over 1,000 people come. We’re part of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, so all of that’s part of this particular foundation.

Hunter O’Hanian: The foundation was set up by your father.
Mimi Gross: No, by his friends.
Hunter O’Hanian: By his friends? So-
Mimi Gross: They did it as a birthday present at one point.
Hunter O’Hanian: While he was still alive they set up the foundation?
Mimi Gross: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Hunter O’Hanian: Did he set the original mission for the foundation when they set it up or …
Mimi Gross: No, he actually … He was modest. It was done around him.
Hunter O’Hanian: Yeah. Yeah, so it was done around, it was his friends, basically, who got together who decided that …
Mimi Gross: Yeah.
Hunter O’Hanian: I think I read that he thought, oh, maybe it might last 10 years or so, or 20 years.
Mimi Gross: He went like this. Yeah.

We tried to make a gift to, of course, NYU, since they’re neighbors. They own the building next door, for example. We went to City College and Pace College, to the new school, to Yale University. There was quite a few genuine almosts, but he offered the building with everything in it, but without the millions of dollars that are needed to keep it going, and so in the end a friend said, “Why don’t you just make your own place?”

In Europe, it’s very, very common for a home and a studio to be that artist’s resting place for people to visit, so it was based on that.

Hunter O’Hanian: We don’t see so much of that in the United States.
Mimi Gross: Famously, the Delacriox home and studio that people come to visit in Paris.
Hunter O’Hanian: Sure, sure. Some of the conversations that your family had with the institutions in the area, they were hopeful in the beginning, but then it didn’t resolve?
Mimi Gross: Exactly. It took a lot of time.
Hunter O’Hanian: What do you envision will happen to all this work 50 years or 100 years from now?
Mimi Gross: I don’t. It’s way beyond my envisioning.
Hunter O’Hanian: Really? Yeah.
Mimi Gross: I do believe some of it will remain. It’s just there’s no way of knowing what will happen to any of us in 50 or 100 years.
Hunter O’Hanian: Of course, of course.
Mimi Gross: It’s a very big question mark. First of all, we might be underwater.
Hunter O’Hanian: In this part of New York.
Mimi Gross: I hope not. Our future director, hopefully, will be a fundraising person. Hopefully, that will … He does believe in the sustainability. He does believe that we will continue, and with that in mind, hopefully, we’ll have classes, more visitation, and more of a educational outreach. I think that will help sustain here.
Hunter O’Hanian: If you were to give advice, now that you’ve spent so much time doing this, but if you were to give advice to artists in their 40’s, 50’s, or 60’s who are thinking about their legacy and what will happen to all that work, what kind of advice would you give them?
Mimi Gross: I think again it has a lot to do with their reputation in public, their finances, their affiliation with a professional gallery or whatever that way. When you think about it, there is an amazing consortium now of artists’ foundations, artist/family foundations. That is a source of continuity. It’s great. Charles Duncan from the Archives of American Art is the head of it. There has been several meetings. The Aspen Papers have been published on bylaws for a foundation. It’s not a totally easy thing to do, but it’s also not impossible. If you have the work and you want to preserve it, it’s one way to do that. Another is to make gifts to the many, many university museums, small museums all over the country that are eager to increase their collections.
Hunter O’Hanian: Do you work to try to place some of your father’s work in those museums and] collections?
Mimi Gross: I’ve started to. Yes.
Hunter O’Hanian: Yeah. Do you find that to be valuable?
Mimi Gross: Beyond valuable. There’s now a sculpture that I gave to the Metropolitan Museum that’s on display …
Hunter O’Hanian: Fabulous.
Mimi Gross: Between the Edward Hopper and Charles Demieux.
Hunter O’Hanian: Oh, my god. How wonderful is that?
Mimi Gross: Yeah, it was thrilling.
Hunter O’Hanian: Also, we were talking earlier, you have three staff people.
Mimi Gross: Correct.
Hunter O’Hanian: Or you will with your new director here, but just the idea of keeping track of all of this work and where it is, particularly with a prolific artist like your father, it must be a mind-boggling task.
Mimi Gross: Fortunately, we’ve had really great interns, really great work. Then we’re also, we’re pioneers if you compare us to other foundations that are much younger. Basically, everything here has been inventoried, although new things are always being found. Last week my granddaughter found a whole bunch of new things that were not discovered before.
Hunter O’Hanian: Wow. You would have thought by this time you would have opened up all the drawers in the …
Mimi Gross: Yeah, you’d think.
Hunter O’Hanian: That’s great. I hope we get to see you at a college art association conference. Maybe we can even bring some people who come to the conference here.
Mimi Gross: I would really urge you to bring guests here and be part of your organization.
Filed under: Artists, CAA Conversations — Tags:

Photography by Daniel Seth Kraus, 2016 Professional-Development Fellowship Awardee

October 2 (PhD candidates) and November 10 (MFA candidates) are the deadlines for the CAA Professional-Development Fellowships. The program supports promising artists, designers, craftspeople, historians, curators, and critics who are enrolled in MFA, PhD, and other terminal-degree programs nationwide.

Fellows are honored with $10,000 grants to support their work, whether it be for job-search expenses or purchasing materials for the studio.

“I remember sitting in my graduate school studio applying for the award. I was day-dreaming about how it could help me be a self-sustaining artist and maybe start my career in teaching. A few months later I received notification of the award and I’m happy to say the grant has helped me enormously with both of my day-dreams, artistic and academic. CAA’s Professional-Development Fellowship for Visual Artists has stabilized a shaky phase of my career and life, continuing an artistic practice after graduate school. The award funds helped me to kick-start my studio space, travel for photography research, and secure teaching positions right out of graduate school. CAA’s support of developing visual artists is certainly outstanding and to an even greater extent, appreciated. I’m happy to now be a CAA member and encourage others to apply for the fellowship without hesitation.” —Daniel Kraus, 2016 Professional-Development Fellowship Recipient

One award will be presented to a practitioner—an artist, designer, and/or craftsperson—and one award will be presented to an art, architecture, and/or design historian, curator, or critic. Fellows also receive a free one-year CAA membership and complimentary registration to the 2018 Annual Conference in Los Angeles, February 21-24. Honorable mentions, given at the discretion of the jury, also earn a free one-year CAA membership and complimentary conference registration.

CAA initiated its fellowship program in 1993 to help student artists and art historians bridge the gap between their graduate studies and professional careers.

Learn more about eligibility and the application process for CAA’s Professional-Development Fellowship.