The ebullient, always welcoming William Griswold is a ubiquitous presence at the Cleveland Museum of Art, where he assumed the directorship in May. After hearing him introduce two scholarly lectures related to the museum’s exhibition program…
…I kept seeing Bill popping up around the premises, engaging with visitors and staff at every turn. During the time that he set aside for me, which included a wide-ranging conversation over lunch at a corner table of the museum’s public restaurant, he made it a point to address a complaint in my previous post:
The cavernous Rafael Viñoly-designed atrium still remains unappealingly barren, save for a little bamboo grove at one end…
…but Griswold has ambitious (although still amorphous) proposals for this vast expanse: art hanging from the ceiling (shades of Xu Bing‘s “Phoenix,” as installed at MASS MoCA), a performance series, or possibly an architectural intervention, in the manner of the Metropolitan Museum’s Temple of Dendur. (He mentioned a Frank Lloyd Wright house as an appealing option—shades of Crystal Bridges?)
Whatever the eventual enhancements, most of the floor space will need to remain available for functions like this:
Because of my focus on mainstream-media commitments, I only managed to issue a few tweets about my free-time wanderings among the museum’s world-class holdings:
— Lee Rosenbaum (@CultureGrrl) February 22, 2015
The last sculpture and two fragments, which have been the subject of provenance-related controversies, were off view for lab testing and study when I visited last October. The museum’s conservators determined that the body and the detached hand and reptile (now identified by Cleveland as a python, not a lizard) were all part of the same ancient sculpture, attributed to Praxiteles. The base, however, may have been added much later, as “a recasting or a repurposed part of the larger, original sculptural assemblage,” according to the label.
But let’s return now to the atrium, to see the popular touch for which Griswold became (in)famous at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, where I had caught in him the act of flipping pancakes at the institution’s community breakfast during his directorship there (before his move to the Morgan Library and Museum):
Bill’s Midwest community-outreach efforts, for which I had dubbed him “Griddle Griswold,” have now assumed a new twist in Cleveland, where his outreach has become much more literal. See him “reaching out” with his long arms and legs, shamelessly out-maneuvering his shorter competitors in a game of Museum Twister on Family Game Night:
I feel compelled to give Bill a new name. From henceforth: Twister Griswold.