ARTnews in Brief: Baltimore Museum of Art Gets Mellon Foundation Grant for ‘Radical Change’—and More from September 13, 2021

Monday, September 13

Baltimore Museum of Art Gets Mellon Foundation Grant for ‘Radical Change’
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has given the Baltimore Museum of Art a $150,000 grant intended to achieve greater diversity and equity at the institution. To obtain this, members of the museum’s staff will think through the structures of Western institutions and attempt to overhaul them. “In 2018, the BMA committed to an honest evaluation of its own practices and, over the course of the past several years, we have made strides in shifting our presenting and collecting strategies, as well as the makeup of and investment in our staff, board, and audiences,” Baltimore Museum director Christopher Bedford said in a statement. “We recognize, though, we have not achieved the radical change that we know to be necessary. The Mellon Initiative is an exciting opportunity to further our vision by asking and exploring challenging questions in service to creating a better, equitable, and more thoughtful museum.”

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Park Avenue Armory Names Tavia Nyong’o as Curator
The Park Avenue Armory in New York has appointed Tavia Nyong’o as curator of public programming. Nyong’o is a leading scholar on performance art and is currently the chair and professor of theater and performance studies at Yale University, a position he will continue to hold. In addition to serving as editor-at-large for Duke University Press’s journal Social Text, he has published several books, including Afro-Fabulations: The Queer Drama of Black Life and The Amalgamation Waltz: Race, Performance, and the Ruses of Memory, and is a contributor to Artforum, Texte Zur Kunst, and the LA Review of Books. In a statement, Rebecca Robertson, the organization’s executive producer, said, “Tavia will be instrumental in furthering the Armory’s role as an adventurous, relevant, artist-driven organization where artists catalyze robust and often challenging encounters with the most important issues today.”

LACMA Receives 109-Work Promised Gift of Indigenous American Art
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art has received a promised gift of 109 artworks by Indigenous American artists, including Southwestern ceramics, Pomo feather baskets, and carvings from the Pacific Northwest. The works were promised to LACMA by the Reiter family. “In promising these works to LACMA, the Reiters wish to share with the wider public the powerful stories and artistic legacies of Indigenous American artists that so inspired them,” the museum wrote in a blog post.

Bonhams Appoints Molly Ott Ambler as Head of the Fine Art Division in U.S.
Molly Ott Ambler has been appointed head of Bonhams fine art division in the U.S. In her new position, Ambler will oversee the auction house’s post-war and contemporary art, Impressionist & modern art, and American art departments. She previously served as the house’s director of Impressionist and modern art, a role she assumed in 2019. In May 2021, she facilitated the $10.8 million sale of Picasso’s Femme au béret mauve (1937). “Having spearheaded teams that have consigned some of the most valuable paintings ever offered at Bonhams,” said the house’s CEO Bruno Vinciguerra in a statement, “Her track record since she has been at Bonhams speaks for itself.”

JOAN Executive Director to Step Down
The Los Angeles–based arts space JOAN announced that its cofounder Summer Guthery will step down from her role as executive director. She is leaving for a position at a New York City–based nonprofit, which will her hire later this fall. Hannah Spears, the organization’s assistant curator, will serve as interim director while JOAN searches for a permanent executive director. Guthery has been instrumental in transforming JOAN into one of L.A.’s most closely watched alternative spaces since its founding in 2015, mounting shows and performances by the likes of Ann Hirsch, Alison O’Daniel, Ajay Kurian, Aura Rosenberg, Clarissa Tossin, and more.

Janet Taylor Pickett Is Now Represented by Jennifer Baahng Gallery 
Jennifer Baahng Gallery in New York now represents artist Janet Taylor Pickett. Taylor Pickett focuses on telling stories about the role Black women played in the Underground Railroad and the Great Migration using painting and collage. Her work has been collected by Kamala Harris and currently hangs in the Vice President’s office in Washington, D.C. The artist will be presenting selected works from the 1980s to the present at a solo show at the Baahng Gallery opening on September 14.


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