Spotlight

Ben Mitchell's art legacy at the MAC

I wrote an update for Wednesday's paper about the MAC's layoffs, which you can read here.

I would like to expand on Ben Mitchell's legacy as art curator at the MAC. I do not consider myself an authority on visual art, but I am nevertheless convinced that Mitchell did an outstanding job of honoring our region's cultural life. He is responsible for giving Harold Balazs the serious, comprehensive retrospective he so richly deserved. He worked hard on this for years, because -- well, because our important artists must be given their due. 

He did the same for another local artist, Ruben Trejo, who was less well-known, but incredibly influential not just in the region but in the country.

And most recently, he introduced many of us to a Colfax artist, Timothy Ely, who was legendary among the cognoscenti, but had been relatively under-the-radar here.

And when Mitchell did exhibits like these, he went all the way. In the case of Balazs and Trejo, he even helped produce handsome coffee-table-sized art books which will enable their influence to continue to spread.

I do not blame the MAC for making the decision to lay him off. The MAC is stuck in an impossible financial position. The MAC was forced to make a decision it would never have made except under severe budget duress.

Yet I suspect that someday, and soon, we will look back on Mitchell's tenure as a remarkable age of art at the MAC, in which local artists got the shows, and the scholarly, intellectual respect, that they had earned.




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