Getting to know AMOA's new adjunct curator
What happens when a Boston U. Ph.D. comes to Austin to be adjunct curator for the Austin Museum of Art? Well, for one thing, we all start getting excited about AMOA's next "22 to Watch" exhibit, slated for June 2005. That's one of several projects that Dr. James Housefield has been working on since joining the museum staff in June. More things you should know about Dana Friis-Hansen's new hire: He's interested in Andy Warhol, which should help him relate to Austin's poster-art culture. He's a widely published art historian who enjoys French Modernism. He's energetic, outgoing, and he seems to be enjoying working in Austin. Here are some more things he told the Chronicle.
Austin Chronicle: Is the next exhibition going to be titled "18 to Watch"? Or "20 Under 40"? Is the show about young artists or underrepresented artists?
James Housefield: I'm impressed by how interesting and effective the loose organizing principles of the original "22 to Watch" were. We're using it as the model, since it is a flexible and useful goal to show approximately 20 emerging artists. This type of show isn't necessarily about age, as Jerry Saltz knows he included someone born in the 1930s in the 19th "New American Talent" show at Arthouse. Our goal is to bring attention to artists who are emergent and underrepresented, including those who have yet to have a major solo exhibition.
AC: What kind of work are you considering for shows? Are you more of a color/technique guy or concept/cleverness guy?
JH: In my own criteria, the quality of a work of art depends on surface and depth, on technique and content, although the balance may vary. I'm looking for artworks and artists that engage a viewer's mind and senses in ways that open lines of communication. Details count; the first "22 to Watch" set the precedent for the next 22 to meet and exceed.
As an art historian, I spend much of my time thinking about far-flung places and epochs. This year is going to be an exciting time for me to increase my own understanding of what's happening here and now in art. I'm looking forward to meeting local artists at their openings, in their studios, and at our programs. AC: What do you like about the Austin artists you've seen so far?
JH: One of the great aspects of the Austin art community is that it really seems to be a constellation of many different groups. I came to AMOA in the belief that the museum should play a major role as a place where these groups come together, a place where they can intersect with the other communities that make Austin an invigorating place to live. Across the spectrum, the exciting groups of artists I have seen all show a strong sense of creative energy and an eagerness to work in a variety of media. I'd like to see some of the adventurous qualities and diversity of new art in Austin communicated in "22 to Watch."