Walker alumni were tapped last week to fill key museum posts on both coasts. In L.A., Douglas Fogle has joined the Hammer Museum as its chief curator and deputy director of exhibitions and public programs. Fogle got his start here as a curatorial fellow in 1994 and went on to work as a staff curator until 2005, when he moved on to the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh; you probably remember many of the Walker shows Fogle curated, including exhibitions with Catherine Opie and Julie Mehretu, as well as Andy Warhol/Supernova: Stars, Deaths, and Disasters, 1962-1964 (2005) and The Last Picture Show: Artists Using Photography 1960-1982 (2003) (which traveled to the Hammer). (Fogle’s new home and the Walker’s 1970 building also share an architect: Edward Larrabee Barnes.)
And as Fogle arrives in SoCal, veteran curator/director Richard Koshalek is leaving the area for Washington, D.C., where he will fill the director’s post at the Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden that was left vacant more than a year ago when Olga Viso joined us here. Wisconsin native Koshalek also began his career at the Walker, working here from 1967 to 1972 after graduating from the University of Minnesota. More recently he was director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles for nearly 20 years (before its recent troubles), and then president of the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. The Washington Post’s story has a more detailed overview of Koshalek’s career, as well as noting his bid “to reposition the Hirshhorn as an international leader in its field because the new administration has acknowledged the role of arts and culture.”
Modern Art Notes’ Tyler Green gives a nice shout-out to the Hirschhorn’s choice of Koshalek in his post today, and brings up a couple of other interesting points with a particular relevance to the Walker. Listing a number of new bosses that have set up in the past year at American contemporary art institutions, he speculates that “This will mean something for those museums and how the public interacts with and experiences contemporary art.”
Green didn’t include Viso’s arrival here last January (granted, it’s been a tad more than a year), but I’d add that between Viso and chief curator Darsie Alexander’s arrival last fall, the Walker is indeed well-positioned to offer some fresh thinking in our galleries and public spaces – and not least, with our public and our permanent collection. Just one sign of that is the major re-installation of our collection coming this November, something that many on our staff are excited about.
That leads me to item #2 from Green’s list of “Five things I think I think.” To wit: “When art museums use their collections and their curatorial staffs to intelligently engage with the present, they do something extra-important: They reach beyond the art ghetto to new audiences, they make the case for why art matters, for why art isn’t just a feature story.” Exactly!