EMV: Now that the McNay Art Museum has expanded, what will be your focus as the curator of art after 1945?
RB:The new Jane & Arthur Stieren Center for Exhibitions allows the McNay to present larger scale exhibitions than in the past. With our expanding collection of contemporary art, coupled with the contemporary architecture of the Stieren Center, greater emphasis will be placed on recent art. As before, and even more now, my focus will be on acquiring works for the permanent collection, organizing and installing exhibitions, creating programs and working with our contemporary art interest group, the McNay Contemporary Collectors Forum.
EMV: As part of your curatorial role at the McNay, you travel to ongoing art festivals and biennials. What do you bring back from these events as they become larger and oftentimes feature too much art for one to possibly consider [for example, Miami Basel]?
RB: Art fairs and thematic surveys, like biennials, give a good snapshot of the current state of things in the art world…established and new directions, recent trends, perhaps glimpses into the future. Seeing a lot of work in a short period of time can be both exhausting and exhilarating. These events help refine the eye, expand the imagination and reinforce networks. Keeping context in mind is important—art fairs are for sales and surveys often reflect a single or committee curatorial vision.
EMV: What will happen to the works from “American Art Since 1945: In a New Light” once you bring in the next exhibition?
RB: Unfortunately, much of the work recently on view in In a New Light will return to storage. A selection will be installed in the main collection galleries; there are designated galleries in the McNay for rotating presentations of works from the post-1945 holdings. As well, works go out on loan to exhibitions worldwide, expanding the McNay’s audience and reach far beyond San Antonio.
EMV: Summertime is inherently slow going in the art world. Do you think monthly themed events like FotoSeptiembre and the fractured Contemporary Art Month are important for San Antonio?
RB: Contemporary Art Month and FotoSeptiembre help raise awareness about the visual arts in the city, hopefully to audiences beyond those already engaged in contemporary art. The energy and anticipation around these events help propel the San Antonio arts community forward, and their open formats allow for representation by artists working on all levels.
EMV: Are there any upcoming exhibitions at the McNay or elsewhere that you are looking forward to as a curator?
RB: I always look forward to the spectacle of Miami in early December, as the city hosts Miami Basel and the numerous other art fairs, exhibitions and open collections. I’m very curious about Prospect.1 New Orleans, the international biennial which opens in that city in November. Closer to home, I’m working on a survey of Joseph Marioni’s lush, nearly monochromatic, light-filled paintings which opens on October 22nd.