Over the weekend an envelope from Nasher Museum of Art director Kim Rorschach was delivered in our roadside mailbox in quasi-rural Chatham County. Her kind note mentioned that 37,000 people had attended the JLP show during the recently-closed run at her museum. I’m not experienced with local museum traffic but that number struck me as enormous. I was born in Chapel Hill and have lived within three hours of here since then (more or less). It wasn’t all that long ago when Duke’s former art museum was housed in essentially a dormitory building and Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill were connected by unlit, two-lane country roads.
Okay, that’s a bit melodramatic. But, in the early days of JLP (back before cell phones, seriously), when my work trips to NYC counted in single digits (of 137), this may not have seemed like the right home for a project like this. A few grant proposals may have failed because of it. It was an accident of history that JLP was a New York project with materials in Arizona and a home base in North Carolina. But as I mentioned in last week’s Independent piece, the Center for Documentary Studies was the uncanny, perfect place for JLP. As the project grew, the Nasher was conceived, designed by Rafael Vinoly, ground-broken, and built a half mile down the street from CDS, and 37,000 people showed up for the JLP exhibition. (Kim’s note was handwritten so I confirmed the number with her by email this morning, to be sure I was reading her hand accurately).
What an asset to this area the Nasher has become in a short time. Many kudos and much gratitude are due Kim and her staff.
p.s. (The ridiculous heat and, moreover, drought have me in a wistful mood perhaps).