Art is a delicacy often prepared through a re-purposing of ingredients. It’s a meal best served on a silver platter to a room that boasts an exploratory palate with dietary restrictions. To conjure the flavors of any given taste takes time, patience, understanding, certainty, and presentation. As new flavors are introduced, some react with xenophobic taste buds while others embrace it and some just don’t care. Movements occur in a similar way in which ideas are developed and presented to existing institutions. Regardless of the point of reference, there is an established foundation at the root of both expanding the palate and invoking social change. Los Angeles recently experienced what can be described as the culmination of both metaphors, if applied to the world of contemporary art.
Last week Jeffrey Deitch resigned from his tenure as Director of the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA). Deitch came to Los Angeles in 2010 to save the museum from its financial crisis and breathe a new perspective into the institution. There is a natural resistance that occurs when established perspectives are challenged and that’s what happened in this story. Despite the criticism circulating his every move, Deitch understood the importance of expanding the experience of art and he dedicated his time in Los Angeles to building a new foundation. His tenure was short but impactful, contributing a lot more to the city than saving our museum. Deitch positioned Los Angeles in the right place for the next wave of artists, curators, gallerists, writers, and thinkers while introducing an institution to a taste of what’s to come. As we find ourselves in a transitional period between new school and old school thought, it’s important to nod to our ancestors, shake hands with the present, and celebrate the figures that are expanding the way we experience life. On behalf of Los Angeles and the next wave of thinkers, thank you Jeffrey. I look forward to your next adventure.
Video by filmmaker Jesse Dylan, released Monday 7/29 to honor Deitch’s perspective and contributions to both Los Angeles and the art world.