Your Source For The Arts In Atlanta


Less than a year after her arrival at the High Museum of Art, Lily Siegel, assistant curator of modern and contemporary art, is leaving to become associate curator at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco.

Siegel joined the High staff last October. She previously had been a curatorial associate at the financially troubled Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. She will remain at the High nearly through the end of September and will take up her new post a mere three days later, on October 1.

Along with curator Michael Rooks, Siegel has been a welcome addition to the Atlanta art scene. The two have been making regular studio visits with local artists and forging crucial connections with the local art community. Rooks says he’s “sad to see her go but happy for her and proud. That’s a big promotion in only 10 months.”

“It was too good to pass up,” says Siegel of the San Francisco opportunity. “I know the director [Lori Starr] from L.A., and she asked me to apply for the position.” The move will also put Siegel closer to family in Los Angeles, where she is from.

Siegel has been organizing the High’s “Monster Drawing Rally,” which will take place September 21. She’s also been working on a small Ellsworth Kelly show from the museum’s collection, which Rooks will assume.

Siegel credits the High for helping her obtain a curatorial fellowship from the Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts to research the work of abstract painter Moira Dryer, who died in 1992 at age 34. The culminating exhibition will be mounted in San Francisco, though Siegel was involved in the acquisition of one of Dryer’s works for the High.

Robin Bernat of {Poem 88} describes Siegel’s move as a loss for the High and the community. Citing her abundance of enthusiasm, Bernat says, “She forged meaningful connections with artists, galleries and organizations, and her presence has been integral to the feeling that, just maybe, there can be a positive shift in Atlanta’s visual arts scene.”

Art consultant and Swan Coach House Gallery curator Marianne Lambert calls Siegel “so smart. She has the potential for greatness.”

Siegel’s departure from the High follows a number of others in recent months. Among them were Susan Crawley, former folk art curator; Kim Watson, former director of development; and Kristen Heflin, former manager of public relations. Watson is now senior director of development at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York.

The High functions more as a stopover for traveling exhibitions — some good, some not — than as an originating venue with scholarly rigor. Curatorial resignations from the museum have often been accompanied by rumors of staff discontent over a lack of curatorial opportunity and control.

On a brighter note, Rooks says he’s staying put and will begin looking for Siegel’s replacement.

The two are planning a “finale tour” of studio visits. “It’s important to me,” says Siegel. “I was just starting to get involved in the community, so I want to meet as many people as possible and take those relationships with me to San Francisco.”

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