Posts filed under ‘Angela Ellsworth’

Curator John D. Spiak Leaving ASU Art Museum for Position in Santa Ana, Calif.

Arizona State University Art Museum announces that John D. Spiak, Curator, will be leaving the Museum in August for the opportunity to lead an institution’s vision as Director/Chief Curator of California State University, Fullerton’s, Grand Central Art Center in Santa Ana, Calif.

Spiak joined the ASU Art Museum as Curatorial Assistant in 1994, and served as Curator from 1997 until August 2011. In his almost 17 years with the Museum, he has been responsible for leading such initiatives as Moving Targets (video), Social Studies (social practice) and Night Moves (dance). In 1997 he founded the annual ASU Art Museum Short Film and Video Festival, which he continued to direct, presenting the 15th annual festival  this past April. He’s been involved in strategic planning and fundraising efforts and has curated over 50 exhibitions, including solo projects with artists Pipilotti Rist, Josh Greene, Shirin Neshat, Jon Haddock, Angela Ellsworth, Nadia Hironaka and the recent project It’s not just black and white with artist Gregory Sale.

“It is bittersweet that I depart the ASU Art Museum and the Arizona arts community,” Spiak said. “This has been my home for 17 amazing years and the place where I was afforded the opportunity to develop my curatorial voice. This would not have been possible without the incredible support and guidance of Marilyn Zeitlin, Heather Lineberry and Gordon Knox. I have found inspiration throughout this community, from artists, gallerists, collectors, supporters and colleagues. I look forward to continuing these collaborations toward mutually beneficial projects, as well as retaining the many friendships that have developed for me and my family.”

 “John is as amazing a colleague as he is a curator,” said ASU Art Museum Director Gordon Knox. “From our internet presence to the Social Studies series to the video festival, John has pioneered the Museum’s current position. We will miss him among us on a daily basis. Although we are sad about his departure, this is a great move for him, and we are much better off for his contributions over the years. And to our continuing institutional collaborators at the Grand Central Art Center, I say, ‘Good on you! You have a wonderful and exciting ride ahead!’”

July 19, 2011 at 1:10 am

February: A small package full of good things

February went by in a flash, but there was a lot of stuff packed in those 28 days, starting with two “Re-Thinking the Museum” events: a group panel Feb. 1 (see the post “Thinking About Re-Thinking“) and a presentation by Ian Berry Feb. 8 that was as inspiring as it was entertaining.

In case you missed the Feb. 8 event, Berry is associate director for curatorial affairs and curator at The Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College (and, the audience learned from him that evening, was Ellsworth Kelly’s studio assistant for almost 4 years). We took a lot away from his talk, especially this:

“When (curators)  lose sight of regional strengths, of local opportunities, of artists that are not in vogue at the moment, we lose out on something big.”

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On the 18th we hosted a season opening reception for four terrific exhibitions, which included a performance by Angela Ellsworth and the “sister wives.” Our tireless volunteer Stu took some photos of the event (in the slideshow at the top of this post), and there are more photos of festive reception-goers online at Mr. FunBooth.

And on Feb. 22 we co-sponsored an appearance at Changing Hands Bookstore by underground comic legend Joyce Farmer, whose recent graphic memoir Special Exits made R. Crumb cry (in a good way — he said it was up there with Art Spiegelman’s Maus). In an informal conversation, Joyce touched on everything from the inadequacies of our elder-care system to hanging with Crumb and Terry Zweigoff back in the 1970s to the difficulties and rewards of writing about your own family members.

Here’s a picture of me, Deborah Sussman, and Joyce at Changing Hands after the presentation. I’ll treasure this one.

And now for March: Among other things, we’re looking forward to the international Resilience Conference , which is being held at ASU this year: On March 15,from 2:00 to 3:30, a panel here at the Museum (in Gregory Sale’s Social Studies Project gallery) will feature our own Gordon Knox, along with Museum Studies’ Richard Toon, The School of Sustainability’s Sander van der Leeuw and Iraqi artist Adel Azzam Alwash, speaking on “Art’s Role in Resilience Science and Other Innovations in Thinking.”

March 1, 2011 at 7:34 pm

Blogging Down Under – From the 2010 Sydney Biennale

Bridging “The Beauty of Distance”: ASU’s Herberger Institute School of Art instigates critical writing dispatches from the 2010 Sydney Biennale

When this year’s artist selections for the 17th Biennale of Sydney were announced by curator David Elliot, I was thrilled as the new Director of the School of Art and recent transplant to the PHX region to see a faculty member, Angela Ellsworth, and alumnus, Claudio DiCochea, on the list. Another talented artist in the region, Enrique Chagoya was also listed, and the regional asociations continued to gain momentum as cultural agent Bruce Ferguson, director of F.A.R. @ASU (in transition to become Dean of Humanities and Social Science at the American University of Cairo) was invited to write a major essay for the biennial catalogue, and a number of young graduate student performers and artists from the Schools of Art and Dance at ASU were tapped to participate in Ellsworth’s performance contribution “Meanwhile, back at the ranch.”

As all of this was brewing, a series of meetings among those of us who care about arts writing in the region (organized by former senior curator of the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Claire Schneider and including curators, writers, educators and publishers across the metro region) were taking place. As an artist, I’m keenly aware of the important role strong critical  writing can play in strengthening the work of artists, and catalyzing interpretation and discussion amongst a cultural community. In light of this, I began offering classes this Spring term in Art and Design Criticism, and hired local arts writer Deborah Sussman Susser to teach them. Sussman Susser’s enthusiasm for stimulating thought and written communication are evident, but the issues that underlay each week’s course offering circled back to the question of the future of art criticism at a time when arts staff writers are few, and arts writers are paid exceptionally poorly, if at all. What are some new communication models that support critical engagement with artwork?

It is in this spirit of questioning, and from the vantage point of the School of Art’s mission to foster creativity beyond the walls of its studios and classrooms, that we have invited Sussman Susser to offer her critical viewpoints in on-the-spot twice daily (perhaps more!) blog entries from Sydney. Equipped with a laptop, digital still/video camera and a knowledge of art and the region, she is well-prepared to translate her observations and experiences into timely and relevant reading. Her blog is live now, as you read this, at and will continue through the first week of opening events of the Biennial (5-9 to 5/15), and will include offerings on the openings, performances, and panels that feature artists and envoys from our region.

Bookmark the page and revisit it throughout the next week – to read, comment, and be a part of this experiment in arts writing, and spotlight of another side of our regional culture in the weeks following passage of SB1070. In addition to Sussman Susser’s dispatches, local writer Tania Katan will also be blogging at, and Phoenix New Times’ new art and culture blog, Jackalope Ranch, will also be posting on the Bieniial activities.

Deborah Sussman Susser is a writer and editor living in Tempe, Arizona. The associate editor of Jewish News of Greater Phoenix, she teaches a course on writing art and design criticism at Arizona State University, and co-teaches the creative writing workshop “Mothers Who Write” through the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. Her reviews have been published in Art in America, ArtNews, the Washington Post, and The New York Times, as well as on

Thanks to our partners at the Herberger Institutute for Design and the Arts, and the ASU Art Museum for hosting and supporting this venture.

Relevant Sites:

Adriene Jenik

Professor and Director, School of Art

Katherine K. Herberger Endowed Chair in Fine Arts

Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts

Arizona State University

May 10, 2010 at 5:45 pm

Congratulations for some ASU Art Museum friends

Check out this article by Kathleen Vanesian in Phoenix New Times, about three artists from the Lisa Sette Gallery in Scottsdale who were hand-picked to show at the 17th Biennale of Sydney: ASU Herberger Institute’s own Angela Ellsworth, whose work was in ASU Art Museum not all that long ago, Claudio Dicochea, who earned his MFA from Arizona State University just last year, according to the article, and Enrique Chagoya, who has paintings included in ASU Art Museum’s collection.

Congratulations, all!


February 17, 2010 at 7:10 pm

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