MOCA ART WAR: THE BATTLE IS OVER BUT THE WAR CONTINUES

At MOCA North Miami, a Battle Not Over Race -- But Control.

MOCA is currently in the middle of a tug of war between the museum board and the city. At the center of the controversy are two directors, Babacar M'Bow and Alex Gartenfeld appointed to do the same job. The current situation at MOCA, is of profound interest because it will impact the Contemporary Art World in one way or the other -- why?  Because a man of color is standing his ground for control of the Directorship of the Museum of Contemporary Art.  This stance is forcing MOCA's Board of Trustees to answer for their actions.  What was once reserved for the Board's discretion will now have to be publicly debated. 

From the different articles we've read and the people we've talked with, this is what we can make out. The MOCA Board of Trustees claims that  . . .

  1. The Board wants to move from the current location in North Miami and merge with the Bass Museum, which is located on South Beach in Miami bringing the museum's 600 piece permanent collection with them because they claim sole jurisdiction over the collection. 
  2. They want to use the vacated space in North Miami as an outpost to do 'minority' programming of which they would have control over what programming is done there.
  3. The Board also dismissed the city of North Miami's appointment of Babacar M'Bow as Director for failure to participate in a standard background check that was requested by the board.  They only recognize the Directorship of Alex Gartenfeld, the Chief Curator who has been acting as an interim Director in place of Bonnie Clearwater who left to take the helm at the Ft. Lauderdale Museum of Art.  
  4. The MOCA BOARD of TRUSTEES assert they have the full right and authority to determine what is in the best interests of the Museum and not the City of North Miami.

To see the MOCA LAWSUIT IN FULL

BEFORE WE COULD PUBLISH THIS ARTICLE THERE WAS A breaking story from the MIAMI NEW TIMES

http://blogs.miaminewtimes.com/cultist/2014/06/moca_allegedly_reach...

MOCA Allegedly Reaches Agreement With North Miami: M'Bow Stays, Trustees to Leave With Artworks.

According to the Miami New Times article -- the heated legal dispute between the Board of Trustees of North Miami"s Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) and the City of North Miami over who controls the museum's collection and whether it will be relocated from its current home to Miami Beach's Bass Museum may have finally come to an end.

BABACAR M'BOW has been confirmed as the new Director of the MOCA

Speaking on condition of confidentiality, the source described the points allegedly agreed upon by MOCA board members and city officials. Among them is the confirmation of Babacar M'Bow as the museum director and the departure of 150 top works of art from MOCA's holdings along with its outgoing Board of Trustees.

THE DECISION WAS SWIFT AND ALL POINTS OF THE SETTLEMENT WERE IN THE FAVOR OF THE CITY OF NORTH MIAMI. 

But this is not reflected in the headline of the Miami New Times article: MOCA Allegedly Reaches Agreement With North Miami: M'Bow Stays, Trustees to Leave With Artworks.

According to the source these are the settlement points in the agreement,

  1. The artwork leaving the North Miami institution will be appraised by Sotheby's, and after a monetary value has been placed on the collection, both parties will pay half of that value to MOCA.
  2. MOCA will officially remain the name of the North Miami contemporary art museum.
  3. A new board will be constituted to carry on the duty of the departing trustees.
  4. Alex Gartenfeld, curator and interim director, will leave MOCA; Babacar M'Bow will fulfill the duties of Museum Director.

THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES FAILED TO DEFEND ANY OF THEIR ASSERTED CLAIMS.   It has been interesting witnessing how the mainstream news sources reported this conflict. In the light of fairness, they, for the most part, reported the story from a cautious, neutral position. But built into that cautious, neutral position, is the underlining assumption that the Board of Trustee's case was the more meritorious of the two.  The City of North Miami and Mr. Babacar M' Bow were assumed to be disenfranchised and somewhat radical. 

BLACK ART IN AMERICA attended the symposium, sponsored by the Florida Africana Studies Consortium, “What Happens When Politics of Class and Culture Collide,” at the embattled Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA). We were able to talk with BABACAR M' BOW before the decision was handed down.  The interview is very telling of the timber of the man, Mr. M'BOW.

 

MEET BABCAR M'BOW EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF MOCA

BLACK ART IN AMERICA has a candid interview with the embattled Director of MOCA and the Last Man Standing -- BABACAR M'BOW 

Views: 854

Tags: Alex, Babacar, Gartenfeld, M'Bow, Moca, and, art, bass, board, collection, More…contemporary, director, disputes, miami, moca, museum, new, news, north, of, times, trustees

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Comment by Alfred Conteh on August 6, 2014 at 11:52pm
“The Moore Building has a rich history of presenting cultural events and contemporary art, and our interim facility allows us to continue serving our audiences throughout Miami-Dade County and beyond as we plan for a permanent location.”

I have a pretty good idea where this collection will eventually go at the end of all of this.
Comment by Alfred Conteh on August 6, 2014 at 11:48pm
Here's the newest development in this battle. It's looking like power, wealth and influence is winning this battle.

http://news.artnet.com/art-world/moca-north-miami-closes-in-controv...
Comment by R~ on July 9, 2014 at 9:42am

Hi Alfred,

MOCA ART WAR: THE BATTLE IS OVER BUT,

Actually, the article below was the latest article of print, before we posted this blog.  Since then, there has been no definitive information giving closure to this issue.  I suspect that the Board of Trustees are conferring with their lawyers to see what options they have.  If human nature stays true, they will regroup and try again.

THE WAR CONTINUES  . . .

MOCA Allegedly Reaches Agreement With North Miami: M'Bow Stays, Trustees to Leave With Artworks 

http://blogs.miaminewtimes.com/cultist/2014/06/moca_allegedly_reach...

By Carlos Suarez De Jesus Wed., Jun. 18 2014 at 8:20 AM

moca_main.jpg
Photo by Ivon David Rojas

The heated legal dispute between the board of trustees of North Miami's Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) and the City of North Miami over who controls the museum's collection and whether it will be relocated from its current home to Miami Beach's Bass Museum may have finally come to an end.

A source with knowledge of the court-ordered mediation between the museum board and the city told New Times that an agreement was reached yesterday after 22 hours of deliberation extending over two days.

Speaking on condition of confidentiality, the source described the points allegedly agreed upon by MOCA board members and city officials. Among them is the confirmation of Babacar M'Bow as the museum director and the departure of 150 top works of art from MOCA's holdings along with its outgoing board of trustees.

See also: At MOCA North Miami, a Battle Over Race

Other points in the agreement, according to the source, include:

  • The artwork leaving the North Miami institution will be appraised by Sotheby's, and after a monetary value has been placed on the collection, both parties will pay half of that value to MOCA.
  • MOCA will officially remain the name of the North Miami museum.
  • A new board will be constituted to carry on the duty of the departing trustees.
  • Alex Gartenfeld, curator and interim director, will leave MOCA; Babacar M'Bow will fulfill the duties of museum director.

The agreement will be signed by the judge and both opposing parties within the next several weeks, the source reports.

See also: MOCA's High-Profile Donors May Reclaim Their Art From North Miami

The bad blood between museum honchos and city leaders began simmering in 2012 when taxpayers torpedoed a $15 million expansion bill in the cash-strapped working-class city.

It boiled over when MOCA's board filed a breach of contract suit against North Miami this past April and the quarrel between both parties turned into a cultural version of Tong warfare soon after that.

Since then, MOCA's board rejected Babacar M'Bow -- who was appointed by North Miami city officials as the museum's new director -- citing that M'Bow failed to comply with a background check even though he was vetted by North Miami and passed the city's drug and background checks.

After MOCA's trustees unceremoniously discarded M'Bow as a candidate, the museum board filed a motion in its lawsuit against the city the first week of June stating that art collectors who gave art to MOCA gifted those donations to the institution and not to North Miami. That filing was signed by auto tycoon Norman Braman and his wife, Irma Braman, who co-chairs MOCA's board.

Last month, MOCA suffered yet another blow to its credibility when the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation withdrew a $5 million grant endowed to the museum in 2007 in the wake of the acrimonious dispute.

As for the outgoing board's desire to merge with the Bass Museum of Art, it appears those plans have been dropped. New Times' source says members of the outgoing board have formed a new nonprofit they're calling "NOCI"; it remains unclear if that's an acronym and, if so, what it stands for. A Google search reveals only that noci is the Italian word for "walnut."

UPDATE: SquiresBenson, P.L., the law firm representing the City of North Miami in the dispute, contacted New Times with the following statement in response to our source's allegations:

The good news today is that, as a result of the Court-ordered Mediation, the parties have come together, and are diligently working to resolve the dispute. Everyone is sincerely looking forward to an amicable, mutually beneficial resolution; and looking forward to working jointly in the future.

Ms. [Olivia S.] Benson and Mr. [Gilbert K.] Squires, the attorneys who lead the Mediation team on behalf of the City of North Miami, indicate the terms of the settlement agreement as listed in the earlier blog do not reflect the parties' discussions. After consulting with counsel for the Plaintiff, they agreed to update New Times for everyone's benefit.

The Parties are earnestly working on the terms of an agreement, and will maintain the confidentiality of those discussions, and any agreement.

Representatives of SquiresBenson declined to elaborate on which of the terms of settlement described in this story its lawyers consider inaccurate.

Comment by Alfred Conteh on July 9, 2014 at 7:22am
Comment by Charles Edward Pickens on June 19, 2014 at 5:45pm

What you say is quite true Alfred but, the actions of the former board is also sending a very loud message to the entire world. That message says that the former board is incapable of being trusted with the responsibility of protecting the one thing that reflects the truth of our society in the form of its images.
That truth is the art that reflects the totality of a society by representing the total art of that society.
Every artist has the ability to contribute to society through their art simply because, no two artists will ever have an identical experience living in this country. So, the story every artist has to tell is essential to the overall story, the overall truth.

Comment by Alfred Conteh on June 19, 2014 at 5:10pm
After reading this in detail, it looks like the board of trustees won the battle because they have possession of the work and are relocating it yo a zip code and institution that will echo their interests with kittle to no resistance. Now, its up to the black donors, artists, writers, curators, gallerists and collectors to support Mr. M'bow in building MOCA into an institution that serves OUR interests.
Comment by Belina Wright on June 19, 2014 at 12:42pm
Kudos to Babcar M'Bow for standing up and speaking out! Our art has a voice too. Qualification is not based upon skin color.
Comment by Charles Edward Pickens on June 19, 2014 at 12:03pm

We are living in wonderful times as, black art pursue its rightful place in todays society.

Comment by Marica Jackson on June 19, 2014 at 12:02pm

Stand With BABCAR M'BOW , I look forward to see Our Footprints Laid and Our Voices and Talent Heard!

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