New President Appointed to ADAA Foundation, Six U.S. Museums Receive Foundation Grants

  • NEW YORK, New York
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  • December 09, 2021

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Ming Smith, America Seen Through Stars and Stripes, New York City, 1976. Image courtesy of the artist and Contemporary Arts Museum Houston.

Six museums across the country have been selected to receive 2021 Art Dealers Association of America Foundation (ADAA Foundation) grants in support of exhibitions, community engagement programs, and curatorial research that advances art historical scholarship. Funded by members of the Art Dealers Association of America (ADAA), the nation's nonprofit organization of leading art dealers, the grants are awarded annually to small and mid-sized museums, archives, and art institutions across the United States. The 2021 recipients-Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art (Boulder, CO), Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (Houston, TX), the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (Brooklyn, NY), the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia (Atlanta, GA), the National Museum of Mexican Art (Chicago, IL), and the Weisman Art Museum at the University of Minnesota (Minneapolis, MN)-are receiving grants to support projects ranging from major exhibitions that broaden the art historical narrative, to engagement initiatives that expand art-making in underserved communities.

James Cohan

In tandem with the close of the 2021 grant cycle, James Cohan, Founder and Partner of James Cohan, has been appointed ADAA Foundation President, overseeing the Foundation's mission and grant-making program. Cohan has served on the ADAA Foundation Board for over five years and has been a member of the ADAA since 2006. He also served on the ADAA Board from 2008-2011. Cohan succeeds Michael Findlay, Director of Acquavella Galleries, who served as ADAA Foundation President from 2019 to 2021. Under Findlay's leadership, the Foundation expanded its mission and the scope of its grant-making beyond exhibitions and research to include digital initiatives and museum outreach and education programs, particularly to support museums through the challenges posed by COVID-19 lockdowns.

Established in 1970, the ADAA Foundation is a distinct yet connected entity of the ADAA that aims to meaningfully contribute to the field of art and art history through its support of vital scholarship and curatorial research initiatives. Every year, art museums with an annual operating budget of under five million dollars are invited by the ADAA Foundation to apply for grants of $10,000 to $15,000 to support the development of new exhibitions, research, and programs.

To ensure that the grants have a significant impact, invitations are made to small- and mid-sized museums, for which funds for exhibitions and research initiatives are often difficult to obtain. Overseen in 2021 by Findlay, the grant selection process is conducted by the ADAA Foundation board: James Cohan (Founder and Partner, James Cohan); Dianne Dec (Partner and COO/CFO of Hosfelt Gallery); Debra Force (President of Debra Force Fine Art, Inc.); Alexander Gray (Owner and Principal of Alexander Gray Associates); Miles McEnery (Principal of Miles McEnery Gallery); Jill Newhouse (Founder of Jill Newhouse Gallery).

"The ADAA Foundation is supported entirely by ADAA members as a means of recognizing and further contributing to the broader arts community. After the successful expansion of the grant's scope last year to include digital initiatives and community engagement programs, we are pleased to support such a wide array of projects in 2021-from social impact activities to landmark exhibitions-that engage the public with art in innovative and critical ways," said Findlay.

"The ADAA Foundation is an important representation of art dealers' roles in the cultural landscape and their dedication to advancing art historical scholarship and appreciation. I am thrilled to lead the Foundation into its next chapter, following the incredible work that Michael has done over the past four years to maximize and expand its impact," said Cohan.

From outreach programming to landmark exhibitions, the 2021 grant recipients encompass a diverse range of perspectives and programs that advance art historical scholarship, museum accessibility, and increase engagement with local communities:

Boulder Heritage Apple Tree

Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art

September 2021 – May 2022

Boulder Heritage Apple Tree (BHAT) featuring artist Sam Van Aken celebrates Colorado's history as one of the top apple-growing states in the United States in the late 1800s and Boulder farmers' significant role in this history. In partnership with scientists, historians, and researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder, Van Aken will combine the limbs of multiple heritage apple trees from the Boulder region onto a single trunk through the horticultural process known as grafting. Through this process, he will create hybrid apple trees that will be on view in the exhibition along with elements of his process, botanical illustrations, and drawings. BMoCA will facilitate free public programs inviting members of the community to participate in the process of grafting over 100 trees with Van Aken, deepening the community's relationship with the land. BHAT is one part of Hearing the Call: Art, Farming and the Land, a multi-venue exhibition at BMoCA, the Longmont Museum, and several local farms, guest curated by Jaime Kopke and opening in summer 2023.

Ming Smith: Feeling the Future

Contemporary Art Museum Houston

Fall 2022

Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (CAMH) presents the first solo exhibition at a major institution for Ming Smith, exploring the artist's unparalleled career from the 1970s through the present. Co-curated by Janice Bond and James E. Azmi, Feeling the Future places Smith's seminal photographs from the 1970s in conversation with her most recent creations in film, mixed media, sculpture, and performance. The exhibition explores how Smith's photographs have amplified the heartbeat of Black life, and spans themes such as Afrofuturism, Black cultural expression, representation, and social examination. A robust schedule of educational and public programming will accompany the exhibition.

Ways & Means

Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts

May – August 2022

Ways & Means is a multidisciplinary group exhibition that explores the methods used to disseminate knowledge and stir calls to action within the Black community-charting a material history of community organizing and the liberation of Black people. Showcasing newspapers, protest posters, cartoons, and other forms of media made from the 1800s to the present, this exhibition builds upon the MoCADA's mission of deconstructing traditional museum models, amplifying Black voices through a diverse range of disciplines and mediums, including media. The exhibition will be supported by socially-charged arts programming, including creative workshops, talks, and panel discussions related to intersections of media and Black culture.

Working Artist Project (WAP)

Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia

Dedicated to artists of the state of Georgia, the Museum of Contemporary Art Georgia (MOCA GA) is expanding its Working Artist Project (WAP), a year-long fellowship supporting three premier Atlanta-based artists in advancing their practices through the development of museum-scale exhibitions. The expansion supports three WAP fellows who have completed their fellowship and nine-week exhibition and allows them to develop their own community engagement programs, thereby sharing their newly developed knowledge and expertise with communities in Atlanta. As each artist works with distinct communities through their projects, the MOCA GA in turn extends its own resources and knowledge, in order to better serve the greater Atlanta community.

Bridging Hidden Disabilities

National Museum of Mexican Art


In partnership with InfiniTeach, the National Museum of Mexican Art will launch a new bilingual mobile app in 2022 supporting families of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other intellectual developmental disabilities (IDD). Using evidence-based digital sources, the project, entitled Bridging Hidden Disabilities, mitigates the barriers imposed by the traditional museum setting and offers tailored educational content to meaningfully engage individuals with developmental disabilities. The technology and infrastructure developed can serve as a template for other arts and culture organizations, allowing small organizations to increase accessibility through technological interventions. Reflecting the National Museum of Mexican Art's commitment to offering high-quality arts education to all, Bridging Hidden Disabilities will enable individuals with intellectual developmental disabilities to feel welcomed, accepted, and supported in the museum.

On Site

Weisman Art Museum at the University of Minnesota

2021 – 2022

A continuation of the Weisman Art Museum (WAM)'s Target Studio for Creative Collaboration, "On Site" is a remote artist-in-residence project supporting incarcerated artists. Designed by artist and criminal justice activist Emily Baxter, the project connects artists residing in Stillwater prison with artists on the "outside" based on their shared creative and personal affinities. The diverse forms of artistic expression created through these collaborations will culminate in an exhibition at WAM, and will be accompanied by a web publication. Partnering with We Are All Criminals (WAAC) and Minnesota Prison Writing Workshop (MPWW), the project intends not to objectify or commodify prison art, but to include incarcerated artists in the creative arts landscape of Minnesota, expanding on WAM's mission to serve the broad Minnesota community.

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