Brooklyn Museum Taps Creative Time President as Its New Director

20 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Anne Pasternak Named Director of the Brooklyn Museum.

The Brooklyn Museum announced on Tuesday that its next director would be Anne Pasternak, who has spent the last two decades as president and artistic director of Creative Time, a prominent arts organization that stages free projects, exhibitions and events at public sites throughout New York. Pasternak, 50 years old, will succeed outgoing director Arnold Lehman, who is retiring this year after nearly two decades of leadership, during which he expanded the museum’s audience and significantly grew its endowment.

Sackler Center for Feminist Art and Creative Time (photo ) This evening the revealed that Anne Pasternak will succeed Arnold Lehman as the institution’s director. She also extended the organization’s reach beyond New York with projects like Paul Chan’s Waiting for Godot, which was staged as part of the 2007 Prospect.1 biennial in New Orleans. Creative Time is a well-respected public arts non-profit perhaps best known for the spectacular Tribute in Light, an artwork created by Julian Laverdiere and Paul Myoda that uses dozens of searchlights to recreate the World Trade Center twin towers in beams on light of the anniversary of 9/11. During her 19-year tenure at Creative Time, she organised ambitious public art projects in each of New York’s five boroughs and developed a reputation for socially engaged programming that attracted diverse audiences.

She’s a dynamo who puts off “I love this” energy, is always first in the trenches, sees everything, has always remained close to artists, is able to raise money, take meetings, and isn’t averse to staying up late and dancing in public, sometimes with her daughter. The kind of renegade, anything is possible, let’s just do it attitude has become much more difficult to maintain.” As the Brooklyn Museum’s announcement of Pasternak’s selection eagerly points out, she joins an all-female leadership team at the institution.

She also grew the organisation from a staff of one (Pasternak herself) to a staff of 25 and increased its annual budget exponentially, from $350,000 to around $5m, according to the New York Times. “Anne brings to us her broad and deep experience working with world-class artists and in collaboration with cultural and government institutions throughout the city,” says Barbara Manfrey Vogelstein, the search committee co-chair, in a statement. Pasternak oversaw during her two decades at the high-profile organization include Kara Walker’s monumental sugar sphinx sculpture, A Subtlety, at the Domino Sugar Factory, and Doug Aitken’s large-scale film projection Sleepwalkers on the side of the Museum of Modern Art, among many others. “Anne is one of the most dynamic and creative forces in the art world today. Under Lehman, the museum proved that it could be experimental and political while also doing worthy shows; In the last three seasons, the museum has presented solos of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Kehinde Wiley, Swoon, Wangechi Mutu, LaToya Ruby Frazier, and Mickalene Thomas. The Pasternak fit as Lehman’s successor is so perfect that the day I heard last September that Lehman was stepping down, I was at an opening in Bushwick.

The appointment comes after a long and contentious search that had involved Thelma Golden, director of the Studio Museum of Harlem, who is believed to have been offered the position. Pasternak, 50, who takes over the post on Sept. 1, will be the first woman to lead one of New York City’s two big, encyclopedic art museums. (The other is the Metropolitan Museum of Art.) She will oversee the second largest art museum in the city, with a collection of more than a million works and a full-time staff of 308, including 20 curators and departments from ancient Egyptian to contemporary and feminist art. After a brief period working for a commercial art gallery, her career has unfolded entirely within the nonprofit world of up-by-your-bootstraps alternative spaces and nomadic arts groups.

Lehman grew its audience with expanded educational programs and Target First Saturdays, monthly events with music and lectures where museum admission is waived after 5 p.m. She’s commissioned art works in every borough, outdoors, indoors, at Grand Central’s Vanderbilt Hall, inside the Brooklyn Anchorage, on Governors Island, on streets and storefronts. Pasternak’s lack of museum experience would not be a hindrance, citing her experience in board and staff development. “You can’t have expertise in every area in an encyclopedic museum,” he said. “Mainly you have to be a good evaluator and a good attractor of talent, and Anne is both those things.” In a telephone interview, Ms.

In addition to sponsoring talks, lectures, and “summits” about art and politics, billboards by Felix González-Torres, David Byrne’s mad-player in an abandoned downtown ferry building, huge installations in a now-razed Delancey Street building, and numerous other projects on the Times Square Jumbotron, she sponsored the 2006 show Strange Powers curated by Laura Hoptman and Peter Eleey, both of whom are now MoMA curators. A number of our contributors championed a female director, particularly one who would be able to incorporate Brooklyn’s incredibly diverse and rapidly growing community into programming with the museum’s world-class collection. Most of them said the museum needed a “visionary.” Turns out, Salon 94 owner and art dealer Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn may have a sixth sense for these things and correctly predicted Ms.

Many galleries are arranged willy-nilly, crammed into divided over-designed spaces, accompanied sometimes by piped-in music, installed on crazily colored walls, organized by themes, or in other bewildering ways. All of this generally dumbs down this great encyclopedic collection to near incomprehensibility and makes visiting these wings and arrangements depressing. One of Creative Time’s most popular and symbolically rich events recently was “A Subtlety, or the Marvelous Sugar Baby,” conceived by the artist Kara Walker for a former Domino Sugar warehouse on the Brooklyn edge of the East River.

None of this is a mark against Lehman, who succeeded on so many levels, including bringing down the average age of Brooklyn Museum goers from 58 to 35. The work was dominated by an enormous sugar-covered sphinx with the head of a black woman, on a site where sugar cane harvested by slave labor once arrived by boat from the Caribbean. Sites for other projects have included city stoops, parks and heavily trafficked landmarks like Grand Central Terminal, whose Vanderbilt Hall was used as a stage for dancers fantastically costumed as horses in Nick Cave’s “Heard NY” in 2013. After majoring in arts administration at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, she worked as a curator for Real Art Ways, an alternative space in Hartford, and was director and co-founder of BRAT, a small nonprofit organization in SoHo that focused on emerging artists.

But during his last years the museum became very nimble at organizing impressive shows of contemporary artists — including Mickalene Thomas, Wangechi Mutu, Swoon and Ai Weiwei — that also reflected Brooklyn’s diversity.

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