April 14, 2021 354 PM
I am writing in regards to the recent letter published protesting Rob Weiner’s dismissal from Chinati. As a Chinati artist-in-residence alum, I felt the need to sign the letter in recognition of Rob’s legacy and contribution, his knowledge, commitment and passion for both Chianti and art, as well as his idiosyncratic ways of bringing artists together. In this sense, I share many of the sentiments other artists have expressed in these pages, and to a large extent, agreed to sign in solidarity with them.
The letter also expressed discontents with leadership, and accusations of poor management of the foundation. These are very serious and complex matters that demand closer examination. In truth, I was in no position to judge from the outside. No detailed information had been provided of what had taken place. Signing the letter was a very difficult decision I was asked to make in a matter of hours, one that I remain uncomfortable with.
In signing the letter, I soon came to realize that I could very well hurt people I highly respect and admire. I want to take this opportunity to reiterate my appreciation for Rob and his role at Chinati, and also express my support for its current leadership and team, based on my personal experience as an artist and part-time Marfa resident. Since 2012, I have had a good relationship with the foundation. Jenny, more recently Ingrid, and all the staff at Chinati have supported me and my family in many different ways: opening themselves up to requests and suggestions, including us in educational and other activities, making the facilities available on various occasions, and generally engaging us in productive and meaningful dialog –– something that has highly contributed to making our lives in Marfa much richer and more interesting. For that I am deeply grateful.
I only wish that in critical moments like these, there was more time and space for genuine and inclusive conversation, where opinions, however legitimate and passionately expressed, were articulated more as questions. As the letter states, “Chinati changed our lives.” We are all indebted and are beneficiaries of Donald Judd’s singular achievement. Such privilege requires the difficult but necessary practice of community and care in its fullest sense. It should be an opportunity for learning and growth, rather than division.
Former Chinati Artist-in-Residence
part-time Marfa resident
I was dismayed to see the letters last week criticizing a personnel decision of the Chinati Foundation. I’m skeptical when you read about an issue, mostly one-sided, attempting to garner support in the public court and frankly, I’m very skeptical of group letters – especially those pressuring peers, in a short time, to “sign” or “don’t sign.” I don’t think any of us, other than the parties involved, are in a position to fully understand the complexities of the situation, and legally, likely will never know. Although I’m not a “former” employee, associate or board member of Chinati as some of the signatories were of the group letter, before I go on, it’s fair to disclose that I consider the director to be a friend and have always been friendly with Rob Weiner (and hopefully still will be after this shared opinion).
Chinati has made great strides in recent years to connect to Marfa, and in particular, their education program provides amazing opportunities for anyone and everyone in Marfa to connect with art. The student art shows in the Arena with the MISD Ballet Folklorico are fond Chinati memories. Regarding the Marfa public school, Jenny Moore is the first executive director to get involved personally, starting the “Read Marfa” program and volunteering as president of the nonprofit Marfa Education Foundation that provided over $50,000 in teacher/school grants this past year alone to the public school. She has a lot of vision and more importantly, drive and competency to get things done. I hope their much appreciated involvement with the community and current trajectory continues, because their enrichment of students’ and the citizens’ lives, in a time when schools and communities lack funds for the arts, is greatly needed. As for Rob’s community involvement, I have been to most of his well-rehearsed play productions and have thoroughly enjoyed them as well.
About the private personnel issue, I hope they both find an amicable path forward.
Katie Price Fowlkes