A year ago, today, a few weeks into the first lock down in March 2020, I found my voice. It had been 2.5 years since I left my position as a museum curator and 2.5 years of mourning said career. I’ve said it before: I never wanted anything else but to be a curator. Certainly it is a career choice that has its flaws, not the least of which is the dismal remuneration. I can’t think of a more highly educated and underpaid group of people than those working in the museum sector. It’s appalling, really.
So, after 2.5 years of depression, it took a world-wide pandemic to get me off my ass. The truth is, I was terrified that if I were taken out by Covid-19, which in those early days seemed entirely possible (recognizing my privilege here in my ability to work from home), there were a few things I wanted to have said out loud. I wanted to leave some trace of my legacy in the field, some record that my kids could refer to later and say, hey, my mom did a thing.
The plan was to share stories about the many objects I acquired for the museum’s collection, which, by the way, are the things I miss the most. They all feel personal to me: I found them, researched them, prepared a convincing pitch, and got them through the system. I even got some of them hung on the museum’s walls—no easy feat. I miss being able to look at them at will and I miss sharing them with visitors. But, in truth, these posts are sort of equivalent to sharing objects in the studyroom. Nothing will ever replace seeing a work in person, of course, but this is something I can do to share my passions with you.
Back in March 2020, I started with a short entry on Jim Dine’s Raven on Lebanese Border, 2000. Second, I dropped way back to 1807 to talk about a British watercolor by Robert Hills. In these first two selections you can sense how all over the place I am. And that is what I love about working with prints, drawings, and photographs. You can be deep in Rembrandt one day, pop up to Elizabeth Catlett the next day, divert to Edouard Manet for a bit, skate by Robert Blackburn, and end up at Ann Hamilton. Perfect for a curious person with a mild case of ADD.
I intended to write about every acquisition I made for the museum, one per day, and keep them short and pithy, but I couldn’t keep up that pace. Besides, there are many other objects and topics about which I want to write. Since I started a year ago, I’ve written eighty-plus entries. To tell you the truth, the writing is the easy part. Gathering the images and all the tombstone information takes the most time. But the enterprise gives me great satisfaction. I am always excited to share a cool print or beautiful drawing with people I know will appreciate it. I hope you keep reading, learning, and enjoying these posts.
Jim Dine (American, born 1935). Published by Pace Editions, Inc., New York; printed by Julia D'Amario. Raven on Lebanese Border, 2000. Sheet: 781 × 864 mm. (30 3/4 × 34 in.); plate: 676 × 768 mm. (26 5/8 × 30 1/4 in.). Soft ground etching and woodcut with white paint (hand coloring). Baltimore Museum of Art: Purchased as the gift of the Print, Drawing & Photograph Society, BMA 2007.224.
Ann's art blog
A small corner of the interwebs to share thoughts on objects I acquired for the Baltimore Museum of Art's collection, research I've done on Stanley William Hayter and Atelier 17, experiments in intaglio printmaking, and the Baltimore Contemporary Print Fair.