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RE: The Last Dinosaur Book/Show

Tom Mitchell wrote:

>Dear George and Jeff:  I agree that an exhibition of paleoart that would
>combine scientific illustration with popular culture and the more "serious"
>artists (Dion, McCollum, Smithson) would be terrific.  

Well, since you're the one that "curated" that fine book, you can take 
the credit for how terrific it certainly would be. 
An exhibition with
>the first two components is going up at the Wyoming Art Museum in Laramie
>this summer ("From Como Bluff to Cultural Icon") and I will be giving a
>lecture there in early September as part of this event.  Can anybody on the
>list suggest other museums that might be interested in the broader concept?
>Tom Mitchell

     By "broader concept" I take it you mean art museums.  My guess is 
any of them, particularly if you start in LA or San Francisco. We're 
opening a museum a year out here and there's a shortage of "product" as 
we say in the movie business. In view of Allan Edels' and Dan Varner's 
recent posts I think we should continue having this discussion online, 
and hear what the paleoartists themselves have to say. (And their 
friends, like Allan.)  You're plugged into a whole community here that 
would be positively affected by such a show.

     Tom, I don't even think it's a tough sell-- easier than natural 
history museums. Paleoart in the dinosaur museum is fun, it's overdue... 
and that's that. Paleoart in a major High Art Museum is like Warhol's 
Brillo Boxes in the Stable Gallery in 1964-- not only fun but a scandal, 
the death of the canon, the Barbarians at the gates-- Newsweek, Time, 
Charlie Rose. They'd love it. 

     But also, museum people, university presses, libraries, everybody 
has pressure to pull their weight now, show some profit. My guess is, the 
curators at the Getty and LACMA and Balboa Park and SFMOMA stood in the 
doorway sighing, watching the crowds go into the Natural history museum 
for Universal's touring dinosaurs (hot discussion of its impact on 
museums on the list 2 months ago, roughly), wishing they could get a 
piece of that action. And also: they're almost all progressive people, 
and they saw those busloads of inner city elementary schoolers, all 
having their horizons broadened AND having the time of their lives. 
Dinosaurs are the incomparable outreach for the sciences. 

     But the fine arts have never been able to tap into them. 

     Your book gives the theoretical justification for what the museums 
always want to do now anyway: stage a surefire blockbuster show, and 
bring into the art museum the people that High Art Museums have 
historically done a very poor job of reaching. You're not asking them to 
do what they don't want to do. Who WOULDN'T want a nationally 
controversial show that brought in tons of people and entire new 
communities nobody reached before? Everybody wins. 

     I know who would know what to do, if you did want to start on the 
West Coast: David and Ellie Antin. David has spoken well of you, and I 
could ask him. (He's down with flu right now, though.) In a few weeks 
Eleanor is being given a Lifetime Retrospective by LACMA (the big LA 
museum next to the La brea tar pits museum) and they gave her more space 
than the lot most California houses are on. David and Eleanor know the 
West Coast.  

     Stanford just re-opened their museum, and they've dumped most of the 
permanent collection to refocus as a gallery for traveling shows. But 
you'd need more parking for a  Dinosaur Show than Stanford has. You need 
a major museum. At the brand-new SF MOMA, downtown, just opened two years 
ago, I recently saw there an exhibition of 1950s streamlined trailers. 
They're game for anything. I think they'd grab the Last Dinosaur Show. 

     But all these schemes are more fun than writing my damn novel, and 
I'm afraid I'm giving in to a subtle form of Writer's Block. Back to 
work! If you ever decide to go this route, Tom, you know my email, and 
I'd be happy to make an inquiry for you. 

new web site: HTTP://www.dinosaurextinction.com

George J. Leonard, Ph.D. 
Professor of Interdisciplinary Humanities
San Francisco State University
530 Humanities Hall
1600 Holloway Avenue
San Francisco, California, 94132
Ph: (415) 338-7428
FAX: (650) 366-5045
Website: http://www.dinosaurextinction.com