For all you art buffs, I’ve got news: Gary Garrels is no longer the senior curator of painting and sculpture at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
Apparently, the guy’s a white supremacist.
At first glance, Gary might’ve seemed liberal enough to stay afloat in a liberal industry — he’d auctioned off a Mark Roghtko painting for $50.1 million in order to fund, in the words of The Daily Wire, “female artists, artists of color, and LGBTQ+ artists.”
But at a meeting — as reported by ArtNet News — “one of the most prominent curators in the country” got called out for a colorful comment:
[G]arrels was confronted by an employee at an all-staff Zoom meeting about previous comments he had made regarding the museum’s collecting priorities. (In a widely shared Instagram post on the account @changethemuseum, an employee recounted that the senior curator, who is white, ended a presentation about new acquisitions by artists of color by saying, “Don’t worry, we will definitely still continue to collect white artists.”)
At the meeting, Garrels said that the museum could not avoid collecting the work of white men, which would amount to “reverse discrimination.” Soon afterward, a group of former employees who have been advocating for change at the museum created a petition calling for his resignation…
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At the SFMOMA staff meeting this week, Senior Curator Gary Garrels was asked to respond to his documented earlier comments about collecting white male artists. His response included violent language claiming “reverse racism.” Gary must be removed from his job, effective immediately. @SFMOMA, Gary’s words are in direct conflict with your stated mission. If you are committed to anti-racist work, the choice is clear. Link to sign a letter in support of Gary’s removal in our bio.
The Change.org initiative insisted, “Gary’s removal from SFMOMA is non-negotiable.”
He’d worked at SFMOMA from ’93 to 2000 and returned in 2008. So authors of the petition wondered how long he’d been stinkin’ up the joint with all that KKK stuff:
“Considering his lengthy tenure at this institution, we ask just how long have his toxic white supremacist beliefs regarding race and equity directed his position curating the content of the museum?”
As per the petition — and you may not have realized this ’til now — “reverse racism” is a white supremacist term:
Amongst SFMOMA staff as well as in public view, Gary has used and continued to use white supremacist and racist language such as “reverse racism.” This has been documented.
Vitriolic terms like these are damaging and counter-productive to bringing the attention and compassion needed in SFMOMA and the Bay Area’s most vulnerable communities. Beliefs and actions like this continue to stain our immediate communities and have recently become more pronounced and executed with a false sense of impunity, such as here. There must be accountability for this type of behavior.
At present time, the petition’s racked up only 285 signatures.
But it doesn’t matter — Gary’s already stepped down.
He also clarified: “[I] do not believe I have ever said that it is important to collect the art of white men. I have said that it is important that we do not exclude consideration of the art of white men.”
Gary proposed that “true diversity and the fight for real equality is the important battle of our time,” and he committed to contribute “in any way that [he] can to reach that goal.”
“I realize in the current climate, I can no longer effectively work at SFMOMA.”
At this point, what does the term “diversity” mean? Or “racism”? Or “white supremacy”?
Evidently, Gary Garrels couldn’t get it all figured out in time.
But don’t think his firing’s the most incredible part of this story. Here’s the $50 million painting:
— FraPropertyMag (@FRAProperty) May 16, 2019
Purely for contrast, I present to you ecstasy unsurpassed:
It's what you need… pic.twitter.com/ZeBPDT9JXt
— Alex Parker (@alexparker1984) July 15, 2020
Double-Double Combo = $6.70
It’s all about perspective, ya Nazis.
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