I spent a few minutes with Nicole Atzbach, who was recently promoted to the position of curator at the Meadows Museum on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. Atzbach was a curatorial assistant at the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth before becoming an assistant curator at the Meadows in March 2010.
As curator, Atzbach still defers to the director and associate director. The step up from assistant to full curator formalizes her position and increases her responsibilities.
I asked Atzbach if she was a closet artist like other directors and curators I have encountered. She admitted to dabbling in photography. Atzbach grew up doing ballet. She still enjoys ballroom dancing.
“I think most people who work in art institutions definitely have the passion for visual and other types of arts. If you don’t have that in your life and you are geared that way, then it’s just hard to feel fulfilled, because you are always searching for something interesting, something beautiful,” said Atzbach.
I asked Atzbach to compare the Meadows Museum and Kimbell Art Museum. She said the two institutions are both small museums compared to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The Meadows and Kimbell staff get to learn a lot of different tasks within the different departments. She said that both museums strive to emphasize the study of their permanent collections.
I then challenged Atzbach to Ten Questions.
Ten Questions is my way of having a little fun with people in the art world. There are no right or wrong answers, except for mine. Nicole Atzbach is the first person to play Ten Questions. Lets see how she did.
MR: Geography: In which U.S. city resides The Dali Museum?
NA: I should know this because you are wearing a Dali tie. I had an intern who worked there. Sarasota, Florida?
MR: Close. It is in St. Petersburg, Florida. That one is incorrect.
MR: What is your favorite work of art in the Meadows Museum collection?
NA: That’s hard. I like a lot of them. Right now I probably like Portrait of Richard Worsam Meade by Vicente López Portaña.
MR: Correct. I would have accepted anything except Grand Noir by Antoni Tàpies. I still don’t understand that piece.
MR: Georges Braque or Pablo Picasso?
MR: Incorrect. The correct answer was, of course, Georges Braque. There are far too many Picassos in the world.
MR: Jeopardy Question – This twentieth century fresco painter created a mural at Rockefeller Center that included a portrait of Vladimir Lenin in 1933.
NA: Who is Diego Rivera?
MR: Correct. And I didn’t need to hint that his wife was Frida Kahlo. Very good.
MR: Who is Sho?
NA: Sho is our little girl outside. She is the Chinese girl who Jaume Plensa sculpted that lives in Barcelona, Spain.
MR: Correct. I would also have accepted the really large head in front of the Meadows Museum main entry.
MR: What is the difference between etching and lithography?
NA: An etching is done on a metal plate with a metal tool. A lithograph is done on a stone.
MR: If you could purchase any work of art for the Meadows Museum, what would it be?
MR: What is your favorite color?
NA: My favorite color is green.
MR: Correct. Any color other than TCU purple would have been accepted.
MR: Have you ever met a Mayan?
NA: I don’t believe that I have.
MR: Correct. They went extinct long before their calendar ended.
MR: What will be your first exhibit as curator?
NA: My first exhibit will be on designer Mariano Fortuny in 2015. This exhibit will be co-curated, so I won’t be the only curator.
MR: Correct. I look forward to seeing it. Thank you for playing.
Not bad for an on the spot quiz. Atzbach got eight out of the Ten Questions. I’ll have to make harder questions for my next contestant.
I hope you will stop by the Meadows Museum to see some of Atzbach’s handiwork. Currently on view is Diego Velázquez: The Early Court Portraits. which coincidentally includes works form both the Meadows Museum and Kimbell Art Museum. The exhibit runs through January 13, 2013.