Local artist, curator, director, founder, activist, general bad-ass, Ms Julia Fenton has taken on quite a campaign against the tailspin that The Contemporary is caught in. After many shove-offs from board members, she has taken the matter to a higher level: the press. Cathy Fox will be doing a story on the institutions current changing of the guard. If you would like to comment or provide your opinion for this story either on or off the record, please make sure to do so before the 14th of August when Cathy leaves for China. If you are interested and do not have her information already, please leave me a comment and I will get you her information.
Below you can read a snip of the much lengthier letter sent by Julia Fenton to the Contemporary.
As I see it, The Contemporary has pretty much reduced its programming to exhibitions, and a minimal number of education programs. I feel the concensus of people I talk to here in Atlanta is that the exhibitions are marginally aceeptable, generally neither current nor cutting edge, composed of the smallest possible number of Atlanta participants and more often than not of out of town artists represented by Stuart’s fairly small circle of gallery friends. I see no evidence of sound research in putting together exhibitions, no evidence of any long range plans on the part of the gallery, no evidence of any coherent exhibition design. It has been my experience that successful programming of the kind that not just I but a number of The Contemporary’s former Gallery Directors put together took full time research, lots of legwork, and broad involvement in Atlanta’s and other major arts communities. It is not possible to run a successful, exciting, stimulating gallery schedule on a part-time basis...
Artists on the whole are rather astute about their profession, and there is a very large number of well respected artists in this community and beyond who are offended by their treatment at the Contemporary. Most professionally run non-profit galleries schedule their programming at least two years in advance. Last minute invitations to exhibit are on the whole professionally offensive. And, unfortunately, the word I hear most often used to describe Stuart is arrogant; the second most frequent comment is that the Contemporary is haphazard at best, if not sloppy, in its programming content. I believe the community also has a vague, unsettling sense now of having been used rather than served. Many of the artists in the last Biennial were embarrassed both by the look of their work in its installation and in the general content of the show. These are comments I am now also hearing from some of the Portland arts community.