The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts has announced California Institute of the Arts Visiting Professor Matt Connolly as one of its spring 2022 grantees.
As a curatorial scholar, Connolly will receive a $50,000 grant to support new scholarship in contemporary art practice, with a particular focus on the experimental and under-recognized.
Connolly, co-founder of Equitable Showcases, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit that organizes exhibitions and educational programs, most recently at REDCAT and Rudolf Schindler’s Fitzpatrick-Leland House, will use the funds to expand his work exploring the compelling, but little-known artistic agenda of the 1980s at First Bank System, a Minneapolis-based regional bank.
This same project was the subject of the graduate seminar Connolly and her partner and co-founder of Equitable Showcases Ellie Lee conducted at CalArts in the spring semester, entitled “Pseudo-Events, First Bank System”.
When Sharon Lockhart, co-director of the Photography and Media program at the School of Art, invited the duo to teach at CalArts, she encouraged them to develop programs that would convey the essence of Equitable Showcases.
“Since its inception, Equitable Vitrines has facilitated and analyzed encounters between contemporary artists and non-practitioners with the belief that such encounters can reveal the true social utility of art in our time,” said Connolly.
While researching to develop the course, Connolly came across information about curator Lynne Sowder and the $5 million, 3,000-piece art collection she began assembling for First Bank System in 1980. Exhibited in office buildings and bank branches housing 8,600 employees, the collection was formally and conceptually challenging, including works by Barbara Kruger, Cindy Sherman, Andy Warhol and more. And yet, in 1986, an internal survey revealed that 69% of staff disliked the bank’s collection. In response, Sowder designed several initiatives and opportunities for workers to engage with art, offer their opinions, influence acquisition, and design in-house exhibits.
With very little information about the First Bank System visual arts program available to the public, likely due to its disbandment in 1990, and viewing it as both an insightful case study and an event of historical significance from art, Connolly will seek to research and interview those involved in the program and assemble a material dossier as part of his Warhol Fellowship.
“Like so many things in the art world, there are important connections between CalArts and the history of FBS,” Connolly said. “So far, much of my research would not have been possible without the guidance of Dorit Cypis, a CalArts-trained artist who lived in Minneapolis in the 1980s and participated in the First Bank program. Ellie and I were happy to be able to invite Dorit to visit our classroom and I like to think that we are facilitating an intergenerational exchange that has affirmed our students’ sense of belonging within a historically significant lineage. art.
The Warhol Foundation’s June 29 announcement detailed a total of $3.9 million in grants awarded to 50 organizations in 18 states and the District of Columbia to support visual arts programs, exhibitions and research projects. curatorial research “that contribute to the artistic development throughout the country.
Visit the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts for more information on the Spring 2022 Fellows.