an blog | AJBlog Central | Contact me

Olga Viso, Walker Art Center’s Director, Named to National Council on the Arts (but will she serve?)

Olga Viso

President Obama (or whoever advises him on cultural appointments) must have a thing for female art museum directors with strong Washington connections.

Having last July nominated Dorothy Kosinski, the director of the Phillips Collection, Washington, for a spot on the National Council on the Humanities, he yesterday announced his intention to nominate Olga Viso, the executive director of the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, for a spot on the National Council on the Arts, the
advisory body for the National Endowment for the Arts.

Before moving to Minneapolis in 2008, Viso had held various positions at
the Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, starting as assistant curator in 1995
and becoming its director in 2005. She is also on the board of
directors of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts (which has been in the news lately).

James Ballinger, director of the Phoenix Art Museum, is currently listed as one of the NCA’s 19 members, even though his term had been scheduled to expire in 2010. Nevertheless, Viso was tapped to replace not her fellow art museum director but Frank Price, the film producer, whose term expired this year. Viso’s term would run until Sept. 3, 2018.

Now we just have to hope that the National Endowment for the Arts itself doesn’t expire next year. Members of the National Council get to serve out their terms no matter who is elected President, but all bets (and grants) are off if the NEA itself is scrapped.

We can only hope that the Republicans, if victorious, will reconsider their planned elimination of the federal government’s longstanding cultural support. If Obama, the NEA and Obama’s appointee as NEA chairman, Rocco Landesman, survive, Olga should get behind Rocco’s stated (but unimplemented) desire to reinstate individual artists’ grants. Maybe that would be easier to do under a second-term President who no longer has to worry quite so much about every single political football, no matter how relatively minor.

Speaking of support of worthy projects, that ad in CultureGrrl‘s upper righthand corner is due to expire tomorrow. Would anyone care to step up?

an ArtsJournal blog