The age of the museum director who can also be an active curator is pretty much over, at least in larger institutions. Today directors days are devoted to management and administration as they work with boards of trustees on governance issues, fundraise, collaborate with staff and generally represent their museums in a wide range of public and private capacities. Substantive curatorial work takes place sparingly and usually through intermediaries.
This summer, Steven H. Miller, executive director of the Morris Museum
, Morristown, NJ, has returned to his curatorial roots and created a temporary exhibition drawn from the museums abstract art. For fifteen years Mr. Miller honed his curators skills when he was Senior Curator and responsible for the extensive picture and history collections of the Museum of the City of New York. He acquired thousands of images and objects, conducted extensive research, and organized about sixty exhibitions. His personal background as a sculptor resulted in a special affinity for contemporary art. Throughout his career he has fostered the work of living artists reflecting a wide range of aesthetic perspectives.
Abstract Art from the Permanent Collection contains 21 paintings and prints by 18 artists. They date from the last several decades and include a mix of New Jersey and other artists. The exhibition celebrates the continuing vitality, excitement and meaning of a pictorial approach that was once considered revolutionary and even downright abhorrent. Indeed, it is still not unusual for people to puzzle over or even be repulsed by non-representational art, though it has been a dominate canon in mainstream Western art circles for a hundred years.
Speaking of his opportunity to curate Abstract Art from the Permanent Collection Steven Miller noted: I have long admired the quality of the abstract art in the museums collections. The idea of doing an exhibition has been on my mind for the eight years I have been director. This summer offered an ideal opportunity to put my thoughts into action. Happily, we have an excellent collection staff who were able to install the show and critique my selections beforehand. These talented individuals include Deborah Farrar Starker, VP for Programs and Molly Gibbons, Collections Manager. For our audiences, this summer is an ideal time to appreciate pictures that dont always get on our walls because of a very intense and diverse changing exhibition schedule.
Abstract Art from the Permanent Collection is on view in the Morris Museums Bush-Compton and Bickford Galleries through September. Artists represented include Carl Berger, Roy Crosse, Antonio Carreno, Serena Bocchino, Betty Parsons, Robert Goodnough, and K. Walking Stick, among others.