James Wagner
11 November 2009

The recent New York Times articles about the New Museum have helped
publicize the issues that James Wagner blogged about six weeks ago at
jameswagner.com. A few weeks after his initial
post  the editorial staff at the Brooklyn Rail emailed me after
they saw it. Having read it myself earlier and twittering about the
absurdity of it all I was pleased to see the Rail responding to the
post as well. When I got back from LA I met with James and Barry and
we had a great discussion about the ethical issues and the changing
direction of the museum. I interviewed Tyler Green and Paddy Johnson
so I understood their positions and concerns.
With consideration to their critical voices I made my drawing as
sensational and outrageous as I could because that’s how it appeared
considering the museum’s history and commitment to a non-mainstream
program. What the Times seems to have overlooked amid the reporting is
James’ early, provocative, and justified criticism. I feel he really
started this critical inquiry from a passionate concern over the
overtly commercial transformation of yet another alternative
non-profit space. This trend doesn’t bode well for unknown and
emerging artists without representation, especially as the gallery
system contracts.
While the interest in my particular take on the imaginary museum
series has been strong I want to make sure that it’s known that this
drawing was a collaboration with the support of people who don’t just
accept the status quo. Particularly James, Barry, Tyler, Paddy, Phong
Bui, and the Brooklyn Rail.  [Note: I will be meeting with the Rail editorial staff next week to discuss an ongoing series of editorial cartoons for the Rail.  Maybe I could call them the imaginary drawing series.]


William Powhida

Scroll →