Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Jose Luis Blondet is leaving BCA

Jose Luis Blondet will leave his post as curator of the Mills Gallery at the Boston Center for the Arts on June 1 to become curator of special initiatives at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Blondet tells The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research. Asked what the new job will entail, Blondet says half-seriously, half-joking: “I don’t know. Something really special. If it’s not special I won’t do it.”

Blondet joined the BCA (pictured above) in September 2007, arriving from Dia: Beacon, where he led the museum’s education and outreach programming. At the LA County Museum of Art, Blondet says he’ll be working in a newly created position under director Michael Govan, who had lead Dia when Blondet worked there.

Since Blondet is departing, we asked him for his take on the Boston art scene and how it might be improved.

“Contrary to what I expected and what people told me, people were extremely receptive and welcoming [in Boston] … and I felt that from the beginning,” Blondet says.

“I’m still amazed by the work of the fantastic artists in Boston and I had no idea of their work and they deserve huge recognition,” Blondet says. In particular, he singled out Taylor Davis for praise: “every time I look at one of her works, I’m truly in awe.”

“One of my dreams here at the BCA, but I understand why it was not possible at the time, is to have more traveling exhibitions that originate at small nonprofits here like the BCA,” Blondet says. Traveling locally-organized shows would help “project” the work of local artists outside of town, he says. Artadia, he notes, is planning something like this next year, when it aims to present exhibitions of Atlanta art in Boston (at the BCA, Blondet says) and Boston art in Atlanta.

He called for greater critical and academic attention to individual local artists: “We don’t take artists so seriously. No one would think about lecturing about Matt Rich’s work or Taylor. I think they are doing interesting work. There is a big division between the academic world and the art world.”

“I think that many good things come the way of Boston. Like Helen Molesworth at the ICA is fantastic. Jen Mergel at the MFA, wow! We have deluxe people working here and we will see the results of that,” Blondet says.

The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research noted that neither Mergel, who grew up in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood and has spent most of her career around Boston, nor Molesworth have shown much interest in locally-made art in the exhibits they organize.

“Even if they don’t work with Boston artists, the quality of their shows, the originality of their vision will no doubt be highly beneficial to the local community,” Blondet says. “…A more cosmopolitan, a more international art scene will benefit Boston artists.”

Nov. 3, 2007: Our report on Jose Luis Blondet's arrival at the BCA.
Dec. 28, 2009: Yokelist Manifesto 6 in which we proposed local artist roundup exhibitions "be swapped across New England, and then also swapped with regional art roundups from, say, Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, Chicago, Philadelphia."


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