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November 09, 1990 - Image 80

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-11-09

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80

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 1990

QOUTHWIE
OBORDER.

volved in conducting tours
and training docents.
She finds something uni-
que, something personal, in
every show she is connected
with. But the Precious
Legacy was different from all
the others.
"I had the feeling that this
was the first time in my life
that I had been through an
exhibition in a museum
where I felt that I belonged,
that this was mine. All art is
mine. All art is ours. It can
touch us in many ways. But
this one touched some strings
that were constantly
reverberating in me. It was
quite a revelation.
"There is the feeling that if
you're English and you go
through the English gal-
leries, well, this is my
heritage. If you're Italian
Catholic, and you go through
the Italian religious paint-
ing, this is your heritage. I
had never felt that. I didn't
know I hadn't felt it, until I
felt it in 'Precious Legacy.' "
Robert Burgoyne, who
teaches film studies in the
English Department at
Wayne State, has worked
with Ms. Jones on many pro-
jects over the years. He has
praise for her intelligence,
her wide-ranging interests.
"Her command of cultural
material is really quite im-
pressive," he says. "She's very
creative, that's one aspect of
her work that's not cited very
often, but she essentially con-
cocts ideas that she believes
are going to have wide public
appeal. Every one of these
events that she's been
associated with has been an
enormous success. She seems
to have her finger on the
pulse of the public, without
pandering to the public
taste."
What she is concocting now
is a program celebrating the
anniversary of Columbus'
voyage. It will be a month-
long series, starting with a
two day conference of four-
teen major scholars and
writers. The focus will be on
Latin America, "not just the
arts, but humanities in
general."
Because of the Rivera
murals, which are the center-
piece of the DIA, there is go-
ing to be a small exhibition of
folk art in Rivera Court, an
"ofrenda" — 'offering — to
celebrate the Mexican Day of
the Dead which is a very an-
cient, pre-conquest tradition.
Ms. Jones is curating he
art exhibit that will be part of
the program. This is a coup
because education curators

don't usually get the chance
to be art curators. "Just
because you have a certain job
title doesn't mean that you
have to succumb to the limita-
tions implied by the title. You
can expand them as far as you
can stretch them," she says,
"and that's what I'm doing."
She's also trying to come up
with $50,000. "It doesn't
seem like a lot of money .. .
or it does seem like a lot of
money. I don't have perspec-
tive on it anymore."
She and local filmmaker
Joel Silvers were funded by
the DIA to make a small
documentary of installation
art by Patrick Ireland. Mr.

lot of the work that comes out
of this genre is dry and in-
tellectual, Ms. Jones says, Mr.
Ireland's is "extremely
evocative and visceral. It is
very beautiful."
People who have seen the
rough film are enthusiastic.
The film is beautifully shot.
Mr. Ireland is very photo-
genic, very graceful, ex-
tremely articulate, with an
incredibly beautiful, melliflu-
ous voice. His presence alone
is tremendously appealing.
Patrick Ireland is the name
that artist Brian O'Doherty
gave himself in the early
1970s after 13 people in Nor-
thern Ireland were killed

"She's very creative, that's one aspect of
her work that's not cited very often, but
she essentially concocts ideas that she
believes are going to have wide public
appeal."
Robert Burgoyne



Ireland was to create two
works for the show. Ms. Jones
and Mr. Silver were to film
the process.
The first project was a
failure. Ms. Jones and Mr.
Silver found themselves film-
ing Mr. Ireland's gradual
realization that the piece was
not coming together and
would not be part of the show.
They filmed his growing
despair.
Mr. Ireland came back the
next week to do a second
piece. "It was just glorious. It
was named Petra, after an ar-
cheological site in modern
day Syria." Then Mr. Ireland,
still shaken by the first
failure, came back for a third
time.
They had to scramble for a
crew and money for the final
filming. Mr. Ireland's final
work, Women of Algiers, was
magnificent. They had cap-
tured the sequence of three
installations, of which two
remained.
"Now Joel and I are in a
situation where we've got a
story," Ms. Jones says. "This
is not just, 'here's this guy
putting up ropes,' but there
was a real dramatic story of
failure, resilience and
ultimate success, and we
thought we had a really
fabulous film going."
Installation art touches on
areas important to Ms. Jones.
It grew out of the 1960s and
'70s. It is not permanent art,
not for the marketplace, nor
a commodity. "When the
pieces come down, they're
gone. Goodbye. It's art in a
very pure sense." Although a

by British soldiers. He is
keeping the name until Irish
citizens have full civil rights
and British troops are out of
Northern Ireland.
Mr. Ireland is also the
head of funding for the Na-
tional Endowment for the
Arts and his agency provides
funds for this type of project.
But in this case, there would
be a conflict of interest.
Mr. O'Doherty/Ireland "is
very scrupulous about this,"
Ms. Jones says. He won't use
"his influence to try to get
grant money. He has a tre-
mendous amount of integrity.
He's one of the good guys. One
would wish we would have
more of that in government."
So the completion of the film
remains maddeningly just
out of reach.



Ms. Jones is a consultant to
the Chicago Institute of Arts
and the Michigan Council of
the Arts. As her reputation
has grown, so have her oppor-
tunities. She has recently
declined attractive job offers
from other major art
institutions.
"Detroit's my home," she
says. "My friends are here. I
have relationships since
before I was born. My parents
were active in many different
circles. My friends are
children of my parents'
friends. My grandparents
knew their grandparents.
"There are roots in common
Jewish immigrant society
here in Detroit that I'm just
not willing to give up. Not for
a job. They're just too impor-
tant." ❑

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