Everyone wants to be a curator. Hey, it’s the rage online – what else is Pinterest? But it generally remains a real honor to be chosen by a reputable institution to share your impeccable taste with the world. Art museums—where exhibitions should enlighten but must also draw a crowd—invite guest curators based on their expertise, sure, but also their celebrity. This spring, the MOCA Pacific Design Center in Los Angeles curiously chose Cameron Silver, the owner of Decades (a high-end vintage boutique specializing in couture from the 60s and 70s) to “guest curate” an exhibition featuring the work of fashion designer Rudi Gernreich (1922-1985). Gernreich was best known for his famous topless swimsuit of 1964. Culture biz gatekeepers cried foul, saying the curatorship came across as one big advertisement for Decades. But none of the gatekeepers has Silver’s mailing list. Besides, the dust-up made great fodder for a national press—which might otherwise have no use for a photography show about 50-year-old swimsuits.
On the opposite coast a mysterious collective called The Street Museum of Art (SMoA) in New York wants to draw more attention to (usually anonymous) street art. They “curate” what they like by placing self-adhesive labels—white title plaques like those at museums—that read This Is Art, with space for anyone to write in a “title.” It’s a tame guerrilla-type effort to tag the street art movement, which thrives outside white gallery walls. The Street Museum of Art’s first exhibition, “In Plain Sight” can be seen at 11 different locations throughout Brooklyn. For one title, somebody has written: Memories of Gernreich.