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Houston Breakthrough 1979-06
Page 14
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Houston Breakthrough 1979-06 - Page 14. June 1979. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. September 23, 2014. http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/912/show/901.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

(June 1979). Houston Breakthrough 1979-06 - Page 14. Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/912/show/901

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

Houston Breakthrough 1979-06 - Page 14, June 1979, Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters, Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries, accessed September 23, 2014, http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/912/show/901.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

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Title Houston Breakthrough 1979-06
Publisher Breakthrough Publishing Co.
Date June 1979
Subject.Topical (LCSH)
  • Women--Texas--Periodicals
  • Feminism--United States--Periodicals
Subject.Geographic (TGN)
  • Houston, Texas
Genre (AAT)
  • periodicals
Language English
Physical Description 24 page periodical
Format (IMT)
  • image/jpeg
Original Item Location http://library.uh.edu/record=b2332724~S11
Digital Collection Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters
Digital Collection URL http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist
Repository Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
Repository URL http://info.lib.uh.edu/about/campus-libraries-collections/special-collections
Use and Reproduction Educational use only, no other permissions given. Copyright to this resource is held by the content creator, author, artist or other entity, and is provided here for educational purposes only. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without written permission of the copyright owner. For more information please see the UH Digital Library Fair Use policy on the “About” page of this website.
File name index.cpd
Item Description
Title Page 14
Subject.Topical (LCSH)
  • Women--Texas--Periodicals
  • Feminism--United States--Periodicals
Repository Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
Use and Reproduction Educational use only, no other permissions given. Copyright to this resource is held by the content creator, author, artist or other entity, and is provided here for educational purposes only. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without written permission of the copyright owner. For more information please see the UH Digital Library Fair Use policy on the “About” page of this website.
File name femin_201109_551m.jpg
Transcript Will Houston host The Dinner Party ? By Dian Brown The Houston Contemporary Arts Museum has turned its back on an important new artwork by nationally acclaimed artist Judy Chicago. But if a group of Houston women have their way, Houstonians may still have an opportunity to see The Dinner Party, called a "blockbuster" by the San Francisco Museum of Modern art, where the exhibit opened March 15. Despite the exhibit's popularity, the Houston Contemporary Arts Museum gave Chicago's work the cold shoulder. Acting Museum Director Betsy Knight says the CAM board "did not want to commit itself to an exhibit of this magnitude until the new director is named." (Buffalo, N.Y., curator Linda Cathcart comes on board September 1.) The museum couldn't "legally --Gharge an admission fee since they do not have a permanent collection." The museum was not in a financial position right now to sponsor The Dinner Party, said Knight. "Hogwash," said Mary Ross Taylor, head of Texas Arts & Cultural Organization (TACO), a group formed to bring The Dinner Party to Houston. "I've been going through this charade with the board for three months. In the beginning, I was willing to be a good sport and work through all the channels. But then we began to realize they were wasting our time. Avoiding, postponing, sending us around in circles. It's a form of contempt, really. Why couldn't they just come out and say they didn't want the show?" The CAM board has refused to meet with TACO representatives to discuss raising the money. "They even refused to acknowledge in writing that they wouldn't meet with us," said Taylor. "They never gave us anything in writing. It was very unprofessional. We can only conclude from their stonewalling, that they've denied The Dinner Party on its merits." The CAM was first approached about the exhibit back in April by San Francisco Museum Director Henry Hopkins, who was enthusiastically promoting the show. By the time the exhibit closed June 17, the museum's controller Sheldon St. John said it had brought in $10,000 a week for the institution, which upped its regular $1.25 admission fee to $2.00, and thereby increased its average $2,500 weekly income fourfold. "We've never seen anything bring in money like this has," St. John said. "There was a two-hour wait to get in every day. The response has been absolutely tremendous," they told Houston. The CAM wasn't interested. two board members were in favor of sponsoring the Chicago exhibit. (Jim Searls and Sissy Kempner were outspoken in their support. Some board members even offered to help raise the money.) But the problem, according to Taylor, was the lack of support for the exhibit on the CAM executive board. "This incident is an instant replay of what Houston artists have been going through with the museum for years. The Contemporary Arts Museum has used and bled the community and bled the artists. They're killing the arts in Houston. You can call around the coun- "I wanted to make a piece that was beyond judgment. For example, if you go and you see the Sistine Chapel you don't say, 'Oh, I don't like it.' If s irrelevant whether you like it or not. Whether it's good or bad is irrelevant, it simply stands as a testament to human achievement. When I was in Europe traveling around I went to the Leger Museum and the Matisse Chapel and Picasso's house. And I so longed to see that kind of achievement having been made by a woman." —Judy Chicago in Chrysalis "San Francisco can charge admission. We can't," said Knight. "At the time we were approached, we didn't have a director, and we couldn't have afforded it without an outside organization putting up at least $20,000. It's too late for October. But the door is never closed." "Don't get me wrong," said Taylor, "Betsy Knight is a very honest, professional woman who's been put in a terrible position. I don't think any door is open there at all. "They're certainly telling the truth when they say they can't afford it. But what's significant to me is they refused to meet with a group of Houstonians who are offering them a way to get the money. They're a public institution, funded by city funds, charged with offering a service to the public. But there is no accountability." In addition to appeals from TACO, Hopkins and others in the arts, at least try and hear horror stories about our reputation. "They're trying to keep a low profile. But their profile is so low it's going to render them no longer an institution of contemporary art. There is no way to have the judgement of history on the art of the present moment. The board doesn't realize that a museum of contemporary art is going to have to take some chances," said Taylor. Meanwhile, TACO has been shopping around Houston, looking for another institution to sponsor the exhibit. The Museum of Fine Arts is not interested. "We checked," said Taylor. "They can legitimately say it's the province of the Contemporary Arts Museum. So that lets them off the hook." Rice, the University of Houston, and St. Thomas have also been contacted. Ironically, the University of Houston, which has shown the most enthusiasm for The Dinner Party, doesn't have the space: the Blaffer Gallery is too small for the unusually shaped work. And the oblong gallery in the Rice Museum won't accomodate the square-shaped table either. TACO is still shopping, negotiating and looking for contributions. For more information, or to give donations, contact TACO at 4601 University Oaks, Houston, Tx. 77004. The problems confronting the showing of the Chicago exhibit aren't peculiar to Houston. The Seattle Art Museum where The Dinner Party was to go after San Francisco, shelved the idea "on grounds that the exhibition space it originally set aside has been pre-empted." And the Rochester, N.Y. Art Museum, which was to have shown the exhibit in October, is now waffling about whether to reschedule it in 1980. "They all say the piece is too big, or it isn't art, or they want us to raise the money to show it," Chicago explained. "Most of them see our approach as 'pressure,' and they feel it's incumbent on them to resist," the artist said in a New York Times interview in April. With the exhibit's closing June 17, Chicago and her non-profit corporation, Through the Flower, which owns the work, face the prospect of storing the exhibit at a cost of $1,000 per month, unless another sponsoring institution can be found. That prospect, combined with the unpaid bills leftover from the $250,000 initial costs of the project have put Chicago in the red. "The level of awareness of people attending the exhibit-even feminists- is extraordinarily naive," said Taylor. "Because they're so awed by what they see, they envision pots of money going directly to The Dinner Party. But they have no concept of what the exhibit cost to get together and no concept of the expense of transporting it, setting it up, insuring, promoting it." Unless Chicago and her organization can obtain more sponsoring institutions, the bil1" will continue to pile up, and the public will be denied access to an important tribute to womankind. Dian Brown is a working feminist. HOUSTON BREAKTHROUGH 14 JUNE 1979