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Art lesson
From the Isthmus archives, July 15, 1988

Credit:Brent Nicastro

Contributing editor James Rhem credits the Madison Art Center's new director, David Berreth, for his sincerity. "When it comes to choosing work for exhibitions," Berreth says, "I am drawn to works with content, whether it be social or political. I do like artists who have something to say about the times we live in because I think that's a way to reach people that words often can't accomplish." Rhem is skeptical, however, wondering whether Berreth has "anything to teach us about art. I'm a little worried on that score. Berreth talks of devoting a whole year to a series of shows exploring a particular period of art history or a particular esthetic. Remembering that he's spent almost all of his professional life working in an academic setting [as the Elvehjem's assistant director from 1976 to 1979, and at Ohio's Miami University], one begins to hear the jungle drums of docent mentality beating in these plans. The year becomes a syllabus, the exhibition a lesson." Berreth resigns in late 1990 to become director of Virginia's Gari Melchers Home and Studio, a national historic landmark operated by the University of Mary Washington, and remains in that post today. Rhem is publisher of The National Teaching & Learning Forum. He is also a photographer and arts writer.

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