Saturday, June 9, 2012

Traina collection press preview at the de Young.

Garry Winogrand. Albuquerque, New Mexico, 1957. Gelatin silver print
8 5/8 x 13 in. (21.8 x 33.1 cm). © Garry Winogrand, courtesy of Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

Most of the time I enjoy being a "member of the press," however lowly my real position is. But last week's photography show opening at the De Young was an exception.

 I hadn't realized that Trevor Traina was Wilsey's son but she made sure that we knew that. She mounted the podium and bragged that she offered to buy him a house but he preferred money for his photography collection.

It's the supreme example of a ...totally worthless individual whose biggest problem in life is that his monthly dividends – which would house, clothe, and feed all of us both extremely well until this time next year (at least) – sometimes aren't quite enough to buy another print from a negative.

And he has to say, "No." Oh, the sorrow. Oh, the disappointment.

Oh gag me with a spoon.

Installing your son's collection at an institution you head, is a step too far. Can you imagine Neal (SFMOMA) announcing a show featuring his son or daughter's collection?Or, for that matter, any other museum head?

Wilsey forced the issue by taking the stage at the press deal. She made herself and her son the story.

I do want to say something - witless rude arrogance like that should not go unchallenged - but I also don't want to get kicked off the press list. Yet, I am still so angry and disgusted that I can't even remember what I saw.

Steven Winn at the Chron delicately skirted the issue, showing that even a journalist with his reputation has to walk carefully in this minefield of power and nepotism.  But the comments at SF Gate nail it:

Eventually, I will try to separate the bizarre press preview from an objective assessment of the collection. But I'm not ready yet.

The museums whose shows we cover need a reminder that the press' obligation is to be honest, both to myself and to those who read this blog or what I post at the But I see from the articles in the mainstream press that such honesty will probably be relegated to blogs such as mine.

To add insult to injury, the press did not get any usable images and the "catalogue" which was given to us in thumbnail format has "copyright" in huge letters blazoned across each page.

I had observed that all the PR people that I normally dealt with were no longer at the museum. Now, I find out from an anonymous source that all the PR and marketing people have left, mostly because they disagree with what she is doing.

I wonder what John Buchanan would have thought.


namastenancy said...

Spelling corrected.

sfmike said...

Dear Nancy: Grazie. And a friend with a Fine Arts membership is going to take me to the deYoung in the next month so we can glory in The Trevor Traina Fingerpainting Collection, as one mean commenter (not me) at SFGate put it.

By the way, check out the fifth floor of SFMOMA. They've just pulled out all kinds of treasures from their permanent collection we haven't seen in years, and there's not even a stupid theme other than Permanent Collection 1960-Present. And the Robert Arneson bust of Moscone is way better in person than in the photographs I've seen over the years. Very, very cool and aging brilliantly.

namastenancy said...

I saw that comment and LOL! For once, I agree with the comments (or most of them) but then, I really am not a huge fan of photography. Thanks for the heads up with the stuff at SFMOMA; I've been meaning to get over there. BTW, I have memberships to the the Asian, FAMSF and a press pass to SFMOMA -if you are ever in the mood, I'd be more than glad to take you.