Behind the scenes
Curator Peter Vangioni and I have been in New York City since last Wednesday, selecting a gift of works on paper from New Zealand artist Max Gimblett, who has been resident in New York for some 35 years.
It's been an extraordinary and rewarding task; the first day of reviewing a few works from each 'pile' will stay with me for some time.
Max is making his work available to several selected public art galleries (Queensland Art Gallery and Auckland Art Gallery have preceded us), because of the great attraction and importance he placed as a young person on visiting museums and seeing collections. For him, the collections of the Auckland Institute & Museum stand out.
He has many thousands of works in his studio and we were grateful for some pre-selection as well as the offer to delve further if we wished. We've looked at a vast range of work, from his earliest years through to the present, seen the impact of American abstract art on his own development – and the very striking impact of Zen Buddhist art on his oeuvre.
Peter has done more hours than I and we've made good progress – we've been decisive and are probably a bit ahead of where we expected. The final review of the gift will happen early next week. Peter has bought a tape recorder and will interview Max as we review for our archives (and I guess to place here on our new website too).
I've also caught up with former colleague and long-standing friend, Geri Thomas, and briefly met Glenn Lowry, director of New York's Museum of Modern Art, again (I heard his inaugural lecture in honour of Ann Lewis at the MCA in Sydney, 'Museums for the 21st century', some five weeks ago).
We're staying in a hotel just off Bowery, about six blocks from Max's studio, which is very convenient. This part of the city has really changed since the virtual skid row I recall it being when I first visited in the late 1980s. We're on the border between little Italy and the Chinese quarter, so there are plenty of places to eat –The Spotted Pig in West Greenwich is my new 'find' as far as restaurants go.