In this week's Dallas Observer we profile 30 of the metro area's most interesting characters, with new portraits of each from local photographer Stanton Stephens. See the entire Dallas Observer People Issue here
Born into the lushly creative coupling of an Academy Award-winning filmmaker father and a theater critic/author mother, Jeremy Strick spent his Los Angeles upbringing immersed in artistic projects. Now the director of the Nasher Sculpture Center is dipping into all aspects of his past to push the museum forward, through local engagement and international collaboration alike.
Under his governance, the museum's permanent collection has come thrillingly alive, accentuated by frequent exhibitions featuring contemporary artists. And now he's taking the 10-year-old institution even further, beyond its walls and into the streets. Nasher Xchange, a multi-million dollar public art initiative that opens in October, is a commission of 10 site-specific works by living artists for hand-selected corners of Dallas.
You can see his excitement build as he talks about it, even if his voice and gaze remain focused downward, floating through thought.
"One thing that I'm very interested to see would be the response to Nasher Xchange," he says, with cautious elation. "It's struck me as one of the most interesting things in sculpture art for the public realm."
It is. The project unites some of the globe's most innovative working artists, allowing them to engage, educate or rebuild Dallas. Xchange is so massive, expensive and daring that it usurps all other public art projects issued by any museum, anywhere.
Could a battle plan of this scale been imagined when Strick, after a stint leading Los Angeles' Museum of Contemporary Art, took over directorship of the Nasher in 2009? Unlikely. Back then, the museum was still in discussion stages about the Jaume Plensa exhibition, which went on to be the Nasher's first show featuring a living artist. Now, under Strick's direction, international collaboration among artists, curators and museum staff is an institutional cornerstone. The liveliness that's sprung from that is, Strick believes, invaluable, both for the audience's viewing experience and a better understanding of the masterworks in the permanent archives, which the Nasher family spent a lifetime amassing.
"Contemporary art provides a series of lenses that are ever-shifting, that allows you to rediscover the collection," he says. Moving the Nasher ahead, Strick sees those filters serving another vital role: context for the frequently evolving question: "What is sculpture?"
"It doesn't have a single answer," Strick says, now looking up and forward. "We'll be led by the artists."