Bass Museum's 50th Year Brings Public Art to the People
The Bass Museum of Art is celebrating its 50th Anniversary year and things are off to a strong start with a $75,000 Knight Arts Grant. This is exciting news for art lovers and for the museum's long-suffering Egyptian mummy, who will no longer need to earn his keep through public appearances at car dealerships and dermatological conventions.
Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art Iris van Herpen, Ensemble, fall/winter 2011-12.
Silvia Karman Cubiñá, the museum's executive director and chief curator, explains why the Bass is funneling this money into its public art initiatives:
"It's a matter of impact and accessibility. Having exhibitions outdoors reaches people who want to go in, who don't want to, who never would. It's a different population from our museum's visitors. There's a buzzword in the art world right now called 'creative placemaking,' but it's really the right term for this."
One of the previous creative places made by the Bass was a set of six cement benches by Teresa Margolles, positioned in the park outside the museum's entrance.
"They were kind of like chaise longues," Cubiñá says. "At 10 a.m., we had the dog walkers. At 3 p.m., we would have the high school kids, who'd hang out or have a snack. Then more dogs, then the homeless. It was a pattern every day. And there would be mixes, too. They would all congregate and it was beautiful."
There was more to the Margolles benches, of course. The water mixed into their cement had previously been used to wash murder victims' bodies in a Guadalajara morgue. The benches took the form of crumpled morgue slabs recast as monuments.
Courtesy of the artist and LABOR, Mexico City / Photo by Silvia Ros Teresa Margolles Untitled, 2010.
Many of the public gestures by the museum fall under the aegis of its Temporary Contemporary program. This is the same initiative that commissioned Agustina Woodgate's hopscotch court hundreds of squares long; Kevin Arrow's short film that connected the destruction of Gianni Versace's home to defunct Miami noise rock band Harry Pussy; and Jaume Plensa's internally-lit color-shifting resin gargoyles mounted atop steel pillars in Collins Park. One of the upcoming Temporary Contemporary installations will be a trio of site-specific outdoor chess tables designed and built by artist Jim Drain. Visitors will be able to leave their IDs or keys with museum in exchange for the matching chess pieces. Or, give the desk clerk your roommate's ID and keys, getting you some free art and a break from her snoring for once.
"It's an offering," according to Cubiñá. "It's an object you can interact with anyway you want."