This fall, The Ringling will open its first permanent galleries devoted to modern and contemporary art. This strategic commitment, which comes on the heels of the Art of Our Time initiative’s five-year anniversary, will make The Ringling’s growing 20th- and 21st-century collections more visible, and will bolster its stature as a major commissioner of contemporary interdisciplinary art. Modern and contemporary art have enjoyed an important presence at The Ringling since its first director, A. Everett (“Chick”) Austin, Jr., envisioned modern and contemporary art as a critical part of the institution’s offerings. In 2011 The Ringling revitalized this commitment with the installation of James Turrell’s meditative skyspace Joseph’s Coat, and the hiring of Dr. Matthew McLendon, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art. “In the last five years, our exhibitions and programs have built a considerable following and support base throughout the region,” said McLendon. “Our objective with these new spaces is to advance the discourse of leading international modern and contemporary artists through our permanent collection and special exhibitions.”
The Keith D. and Linda L. Monda Gallery in the Museum of Art’s Ulla R. and Arthur F. Searing Wing have been permanently reassigned to showcase The Ringling’s modern and contemporary collection. A new, flexible installation space, underwritten by Keith and Linda Monda, will open in November. In addition, The Ringling’s American and European studio glass holdings are set to be unveiled in the Kotler-Coville Glass Pavilion next fall. All of this reflects The Ringling’s enhanced engagement with the signature artistic traditions and new voices of our time. The Ringling has acquired key works of art from each of its modern and contemporary special exhibitions over the years, but has not had dedicated space for exhibitions. The momentum continues to build with the support of our generous donors dedicated to the acquisition of modern and contemporary art. In the last nine months alone, three significant contributions have resulted in the acquisition of works by emerging new media artists, contemporary photographers, and noted modern masters.“Being able to showcase noteworthy selections from The Ringling’s modern and contemporary collection represents a celebration of all that the institution has been able to accomplish due to the generous support of friends and donors,” said Christopher Jones, Associate Curator of Photography and Exhibitions. “I believe our visitors will be surprised by and greatly appreciate the works added recently to our collection.”
The Keith D. and Linda L. Monda Gallery of Contemporary Art in the west wing of the Museum of Art will be a more experimental and adaptable environment, particularly suited to video, new media, installation, innovative contemporary photography, performance, and project-based work. Focused on living artists in single and small group shows, it provides a much-needed site for grappling with some of the most complex and provocative issues of our time. The Monda Gallery will open with an immersive, multisensory installation by American artist Anne Patterson in which the gallery experience will depend upon each visitor’s unique path through the space. “I am thrilled to be partnering with an institution as responsive to, and nurturing of, contemporary practices as The Ringling,” said Patterson.
“The expansion of the modern and contemporary footprint across The Ringing campus has been a long-term strategic plan, and its vital realization is a testament to the incredibly talented and hardworking curatorial teams we have been fortunate to have in place over the last several years,” said Executive Director Steven High. “With the support of The John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art Foundation’s Board, our donors, and members, The Ringling has been able to capitalize on its past involvement in the contemporary arena by committing additional resources to artist and audience development.”