Catherine Opie, Barbara Kruger join the exits from MOCA

moca-gala-loadin.jpgThe board of the Museum of Contemporary Art lost two more prominent artists. In a joint resignation letter sent Friday, Catherine Opie and Barbara Kruger said "perhaps we're just not the appropriate artists to represent this current version of MOCA." They joined John Baldessari in citing recent changes in direction at the Bunker Hill museum, the most notable of which has been the forced departure of chief curator Paul Schimmel.

"We want the best for MOCA. We want it to remain the globally respected institution it has become," the artists said in their letter, posted on the LA Times website. "We want it to continue its intellectually ambitious and visually compelling exhibition program. We have voiced these concerns at meeting after meeting. Perhaps we have been heard. Perhaps we've been heard but hardly heeded.

"Museums display the preferences of their leadership. Leaderships change. Things change. We've stuck around because MOCA is important to us. We had hoped that our stake in MOCA's history and our hopes for its future were evident to the Board of Trustees and the various powers that be."

Their departure leaves Ed Ruscha as the last artist on the museum's board of trustees. He is out of the country and hasn't commented on the recent turmoil, the Times said.

Opie, who is known for her photographic portraits, told the LAT's Jori Finkel that she's been concern that under MOCA director Jeffrey Deitch, the museum has been "embracing more celebrity and fashion."

Opie said that she did not attend the board meeting last month in which the dismissals of Schimmel, education program manager Aandrea Stang and several curatorial assistants were announced because she was out of town, but that she would have liked to have been consulted or at least informed.

"The fact that there was no phone call to us — no heads-up about Paul and all of the other people let go — is troubling," she said.

Opie also said that she was not a fan of MOCA's shift to flashier exhibitions.

"I love and respect MOCA," she said. "But the museum is taking such a different direction now. I believe that MOCA's strengths have always been in relationship to the outstanding scholarly curatorial practice it had established.

Baldessari resigned last week after 12 years on the MOCA board.

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