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Another Side of Museum Story

September 04, 1988

The recent piece on the Santa Monica Museum of Art (Times, Aug. 21), although most welcome, contains several errors which need clarification. I am writing this letter on behalf of the Board of Trustees and the many volunteers and members of the community who are dedicating time and resources to assure the success of this project.

Some unnamed detractors suggest the museum has "little grass-roots support from artists and the community." Nothing could be further from the truth. Although the museum interior has not been renovated, we are presenting a series of installations utilizing the raw building space. These events will run through November. The initial installation by David Bunn received rave reviews in the press, including The Times. The projects for this "Preview" series were selected by a panel consisting of artists Michael Asher and John Baldessari; Steven Durland, editor, High Performance Magazine; Nora Halpern, curator, the Frederick R. Weisman collection, and Franz van Rossum, dean, Cal Arts school of music.

The museum has an active group of 25 volunteers from the local area, plus several interns who devote many hours each week to membership development and to manning the museum's exhibitions. This group is growing by the day. An opening reception, attended by more than 1,000 people, was supported by local restaurants, institutions and companies, which donated food, transportation, printing and other services. These included the California Institute for the Arts, city of Santa Monica, Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, Santa Monica College, the Long Beach Museum of Art and others. During the search, which led to the selection of our fine director, Tom Rhoads, we were assisted by representatives of many organizations including the Getty Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art. Surely this speaks to our "grass-roots" support.

The Board of Trustees understands the problems, which exist due to the fact that the Santa Monica Museum of Art is located within a commercial development. This, we believe, will prove to be the genesis of our success. The Edgemar Project has already attracted widespread interest and publicity due to its unique design by internationally acclaimed architect Frank Gehry. Both the shops and restaurants and the museum will attract people to the site, and all will benefit. Abby Sher, the developer, has contributed a substantial sum of money in addition to countless hours over the past several years to assure the success of the museum. Her efforts and generosity are the main reason for our existence and for that, we are most grateful. If, however, a conflict arises between the interests of the museum and the development, the Board of Trustees will only act in the best of interests of the museum.

The Santa Monica Museum of Art will succeed. It fills an important void in the Westside of Los Angeles County for a major arts center. Its eclectic program will be exciting and stimulating and will be a leader on the local arts scene. We invite all who are interested in the arts to join the museum and participate in its growth.


President, Board of Trustees

Santa Monica Museum of Art

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