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We are calling for the resignation of SFMOMA Senior Curator Gary Garrels

This petition had 304 supporters


After hearing of events that occurred at an All-Staff Meeting on Tuesday, July 7, 2020 we call for Gary Garrels to resign or be removed from his position as Senior Curator of Painting and Sculpture at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. As Senior Curator, he represents the museum in tone and content. Through actions and words, Gary has been obtuse (at best) to the point of offense or deliberately racist (at worst) in his retorts to criticism. When pressed on the museum’s collecting policies he has repeatedly said some variation of “don’t worry, we will continue to collect white male artists.” Amongst SFMOMA staff as well as in public view, Gary has used and continued to use white supremacist and racist language such as “reverse discrimination.” This has been documented.

Vitriolic terms like these are damaging and counter-productive to bringing the attention and compassion needed in SFMOMA and the Bay Area’s most vulnerable communities. Beliefs and actions like this continue to stain our immediate communities and have recently become more pronounced and executed with a false sense of impunity, such as here. There must be accountability for this type of behavior.

Gary signed the Strategic Plan, accepting his position as one of the individuals in the institution who would have a role in “making art of our time matter.” His use of dog whistle terms and divisive language is the antithesis of the spirit of SFMOMA’s Strategic Plan. As exemplified by his words and actions, he is clearly ill-equipped to further SFMOMA’s agenda of inclusion and equity outlined in the plan and is failing to “ensure that all people— including but not limited to those who have been historically underrepresented… are represented in the development of arts policy; the support of artists; the nurturing of accessible, thriving venues for expression; and the fair distribution of programmatic, financial, and informational resources.”

Gary’s removal from SFMOMA is non-negotiable. Considering his lengthy tenure at this institution, we ask just how long have his toxic white supremacist beliefs regarding race and equity directed his position curating the content of the museum? Furthermore, is any more evidence required to prove that these viewpoints are cavalierly wielded by staff members in the most extreme positions of leadership and power and setback long-term progress towards a more inclusive institution? In light of the above, the most appropriate path toward the change SFMOMA has committed itself to is for Gary Garrels to no longer be part of the institution.



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