Somehow, while digging through Tweets, trying to find information about the impending hurricane, a NY Times obit popped up on my screen and took me by surprise. I’m so sad to hear about Jeanette Ingberman passing; I certainly didn’t know her well or anything like that, but she’s someone I’ve had a lot of respect and admiration for since I was a college student, first going to Exit Art to see the show Fever. (That show had an unbelievable impact on me, and I still have a promotional poster – ripped from on a building in Soho – in our apartment, one of the few things that’s traveled with me through the years.)
She was one of those people who makes a true, lifetime commitment to being in and supporting the arts. A lot of people can picture artists doing this, but running of a space like this – which necessarily involves being a curator, fundraiser, educator, administrator, diplomat, all at once – is something else. It’s a frustration of mine that many people are dismissive of those who work behind the scenes, because it can take as much dedication, sacrifice, and belief in a cause as being an artist. I’ve met many people (mostly outside of the art world) who assume that artists intentions are somehow “pure” while gallery/museum/dealer/administrator’s intentions are inherently something else entirely. That view is beyond naive or cynical; it shows a deep misunderstanding as to how things work. The art world depends upon our people working behind the scenes to be visionary and take risks in curation, exhibition planning, the support of artists, and so forth. Without this core of people who are willing to do this, there is no art world.
Anyway. I’m very sad to hear of this. She was always super nice to me when I’d show up at Exit Art with a class of 30 people without giving the gallery a heads up (which was really crappy of me to do, and yet, I did it many times), and always very quick with a greeting and a smile. She will be missed.