RISD's hope-less situation

Outrage over the Alswang 'Resignation.' Plus, too many sad passings
By PHILLIPE & JORGE  |  August 12, 2009

p and j main

AT ODDS Maeda and Alswang.


On August 3 it was announced by the Rhode Island School of Design that Hope Alswang had resigned as the director of the RISD Museum. Those who have followed the coverage of this story may be somewhat confused by the revelation that absolutely everyone acknowledged that Alswang was a superlative museum director and that absolutely no one involved in the arts scene at RISD or in the state of Vo Dilun thinks that she voluntarily "resigned." It was said that she loved the job, and the vague announcement that Alswang left to "pursue other opportunities" sounds as suspicious as elected officials dropping out of election campaigns to "spend more time with their families."

The part about the Alswang saga that is bubbling under the surface, however, is not that people in the arts community aren't mystified as much as they are steamed. And we mean really steamed. They are particularly upset with the new poobah at RISD, John Maeda. We've checked out some of the conversation about the Alswang departure on the RISD discussion blog and what stands out is the incredibly bland and empty responses from Maeda. Mr. Creativity seems to be either running on empty or covering up.

What ultimately will be the response of RISD's prolific donor community? That's the big story that has yet to unfold, and P&J suspect that the abrupt and maddening departure of Hope Alswang from the RISD Museum is not the end of this matter. Stay tuned.


HEROES FOR US ALL

This is yet another of those weeks where we lost some fine people and the Casa Diablo alternative obituary machine has had to be cranked up once again. State Representative Tom Slater, one of the few truly heroic figures in the General Assembly, passed away on Monday. Perhaps best known for leading the battle to legalize medical marijuana in the state, Tom was a tireless spokesman not just for those struggling with debilitating diseases, but a champion for working people and the poor. His district was a working-class enclave and he never forgot where he came from.

P&J were fortunate to have known Tom, a true "salt of the earth" guy, and we mourn his passing as do all advocates for those who struggle in life.

In Massachusetts, Ray Ross also passed away Monday. He was a Boston native but well-known in peace and justice circles in the Biggest Little. Ray was a full-time activist; he was, at various times, an outreach worker for Amos House and worked with autistic and developmentally disabled people at agencies from Woonsocket to East Providence to Jamestown.

He was also one of the regulars at the Friday afternoon demonstrations outside the Federal Building at Kennedy Plaza, speaking out against American foreign policy in Latin America. In recent years, Ray had moved back to the Boston area, working with the Somerville Homeless Coalition and the First Church Shelter at the Pine Street Inn in Boston.

Ray Ross was bright and soulful and lived a life dedicated to peace and justice. He truly walked the walk.


ANOTHER SPECIAL PERSON

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Related: Limits of non-traditional leadership, Creative loafing, RISD takes to the streets to show 'What We Do', More more >
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