On Tuesday, I posted a blog referencing a post on CityLab.com that called recent Indianapolis Museum of Art/Newfields actions “the greatest travesty in the art world in 2017. … It is arguably not a museum any more. Or, at least, it no longer wants to be.”
In search of evidence of what the IMA itself had planned for actual art exhibitions, I couldn't find much.
Eventually, Newfields representatives got back to me and scheduled a conversation with its Director and CEO Charles Venable, who insisted that art exhibitions were still a high priority in spite of attention being focused on such other recent Newfields events as mini-golf and the Winterlights show.
(Side note: Venable said that, even before its closing date January 7, Winterlights has sold nearly 70,000 tickets–twice the projected number–with eleven sold out evenings and nearly 50% of the audience comprised of people who hadn't been to Newfields in the previous year.)
Here's Venable's evidence that art exhibitions haven't taken a backseat at Newfields:
"Bes-Ben: The Mad Hatter of Chicago." This IMA curated show, opening April 20, features the work of hat designer Benjamin B. Green-Field (1898-1988), whose pieces were popular with the likes of Elizabeth Taylor and Judy Garland. Lots of examples can be found here.
"Collecting Contemporaries: Recent Acquisitions from the Koch and Wolf Collections. Opening in May, this guest curated show features contemporary works on paper that have been gifted to the IMA by supporters Kay Koch, and Joan and Walter Wolf. Included will be works by Andy Warhol, John Cage, and Claes Oldenburg.
"Summer Wonderland: Spectacular Creatures." Venable promises a "colorful" sculpture show that begins in the IMA and then extends out into the grounds. The work is by the collective Cracking Art, which has populated outdoor spaces with similar shows in Cleveland, Milan (Italy, not Indiana), and elsewhere. See some of the work here.
"Natural Abstraction: Brett Weston and His Contemporaries." This black-and-white photography show opening in June features 20 works from the artist and those in his orbit, including Ansel Adams.
In addition, the Design Gallery will be reinstalled and re-opening in June with new interactive activities including a virtual reality experience of the Columbus architectural landmark, the Miller House. An 800-square-foot design lab will be added.
And, for long-term planners, "700 Years of Japanese painting at the IMA will open in later 2019 anchoring a year of programs inspired by Japan. Also in 2019 comes "Clowes Portraits," featuring works from the Dr. George H.A. Clowes collection, including an early Rembrandt. The Clowes Pavilion will also experience its first major renovation since 1972.
Plus, two curatorial hires will be announced in the next few months.