Shang Yang. "Remaining Water No.6" (installation detail), 2015.

Dear Friends,

As 2019 draws to an end all of us at the Wallach Art Gallery are reflecting on the year's remarkable achievements and looking with anticipation to what lies ahead in 2020.

As I mentioned in my first message, our aim is to create platforms for the transmission of art’s communicative capacity, a responsibility that I take seriously as I embark on this new journey at the Gallery. Given our broad audience and growing prominence, a critical view towards the future is warranted now more than ever. My past few months have been a whirlwind of activity as we set our course for the next few years.

I fully expect that my entire tenure will be marked by how it has begun—listening to and learning from you. This has been an invaluable process in my first months at the Gallery and will remain my highest priority. I have had the opportunity to meet you in a variety of settings—the Gallery during After the End: Timing Socialism in Contemporary African Art,the opening of Waiting for Omar Gatlato: Contemporary Art from Algeria and its Diaspora and exhibitions at other cultural spaces throughout the city. Your thoughts and hopes for the Wallach have inspired me. You have been incredibly gracious with your time, ideas, and well wishes. 

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed visiting with staff from Columbia’s venerable collections—Rare Books & Manuscript Library and Art Properties. I envision wonderful opportunities for collaboration that will share these gems with our broader audience. Meeting the faculty and students of the Art History and Archaeology department also affirms that we will continue to partner to translate new scholarship into Wallach exhibitions.

Columbia’s “Year of Water” initiative demonstrates the university’s engagement with issues of global importance. The imperative of transnational, interdisciplinary thought aligns with my own research interests. This fall at the invitation of the Minsheng Art Museum I visited Beijing. While there I met with staff at Columbia’s Global Center and with artists in their studio. In November, I presented my recent scholarship at “Aliens: A Symposium on the Cultural Identity and Regionality of Contemporary Chinese Art.” I look forward to sharing my research at the Wallach conversation “Waterways in Contemporary Chinese Ecological Art” on Saturday, February 29.

Reconnecting and affirming my longstanding relationships after being away from the city for so long has been very special.  Getting back to New York, has reminded me of the dynamism, energy, and moments of magic that occur while living and working here.

I can’t wait to see the exhibitions we are undertaking for 2020. In the spring we will present two exhibitions in the MODA Curates series—Reframing the Passport Photoand A Bottomless Silence.  We will also mount, along with the School of the Arts, the First-Year MFA and MFA Thesis exhibitions. In the summer the second iteration of the Uptown triennial will honor thecentennial of the Harlem Renaissance by presenting works by contemporary artists alongside several historical works.

We appreciate the support that you have provided in the past and ask that you might again consider the Wallach in your end of year contributions (click here to give). It is my hope that this holiday season will be a time of joy, peace, and renewal for you and your families. As you may have some leisure time, I encourage you to visit our exhibition, Waiting for Omar Gatlato: Contemporary Art from Algeria and Its Diaspora.  The gallery will be open during our normal hours except for Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. It would be a great time for you to plan a visit with your friends and family. 

Best regards,

Betti-Sue Hertz
Director and Chief Curator
Wallach Art Gallery

Betti-Sue Hertz, Director and Chief Curator. Photo by Eileen Barroso.

Fall 2019