2/26/24: The Face of the Old Glory Exhibit

Valeria R -

During my second week at PhxArt, I began to tackle the grand task of organizing all of the Old Glory exhibit files. I started with one box full of vaguely organized files and an empty spreadsheet where I began inputting the general categories of items. Every time a news article written about the protests against Old Glory came up, I’d enter ‘news clipping,’ or ‘photo’ any time an artist mailed curator David Rubin examples of their artwork with the American flag. The goal of this was to build a general idea of what each folder contained in order to start reorganizing next week.

My biggest takeaway from week two was that David Rubin was a busy man in the 90s. This singular box contained countless back-and-forth letters and fax cover sheets between him and museums around the country to obtain pieces for the exhibit, Arizona government officials discussing the exhibit’s controversy, and friends praising his work.

Also stored in the files were purchase orders of exhibit catalogues, instructions for museum staff to interact with visitor opposition toward the exhibit, a timeline of Old Glory’s journey through different museums, meeting agendas for the Old Glory Advisory Committee, and a Playbill brochure that credited Rubin for contributing research to “Seconding the First” which featured actors like Robin Williams and Natalie Portman.

The play brochure, part of the cast, and the shoutout to Rubin and PhxArt.
Instructions in case anyone became too upset with the exhibit.

I was interested not only to observe a sliver of what considerations and responsibilities are taken by a curator when planning a museum exhibit, but also forms of communication foreign to me in the 90s before Gmail came to be. My site advisor Aspen is trying to arrange for us to have a conversation with Rubin himself in the coming weeks, and I’ve already begun compiling a list of questions for him in case it happens!

Also, here are some more visitor comments I read this past week.

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    How many files are there?
    Adam Engle
    Wow, to be able to have a meeting with Rubin would be so exciting and insightful. Perhaps he will be able to give you further insight on peoples' reactions to the exhibit. Rubin, himself is most likely an artist too. It would be interesting to see if the art he helped to curate inspired him in his own artwork. And, if what Rubin says helps inspire you in your artwork or final S.P. in some meaningful way. Your S.P. is coming along nicely, keep up the strong work! I'm proud of the progress you're making thus far.
    I love the different opinions on the exhibit -- how some people are more considerate and others are very short tempered. I also like how there's different procedures for unruly visitors... I wonder if those are written in blood.

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