Art director

The director of the Di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art defends his plan to sell his assets

Robert Sain, director of the di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art in Napa, Calif., Defends the institution’s plan to remove hundreds of works from its collection and reinvest the funds in the endowment of the center. On Wednesday, he responded to the more than 120 arts professionals who signed a petition denouncing the fate of the works: “The collection was born from the relationships that René and Veronica di Rosa had with artists and curators in the Bay Area”, read . “René di Rosa wanted the collection to be preserved as a whole above all other institutional concerns. “

While Sain acknowledged the importance of the collection of 1,600 works in a letter he addressed to the signatories, he also claimed that the patrons did not endow the foundation with sufficient funds and that despite the efforts of the center, it had not collected enough to continue operating and to safeguard its holdings. Sain wrote: “It is unfortunate that di Rosa has been underfunded since she opened, and that we finally had to face the math? which will remain in the collection, which has now, at great expense, been kept safely in a temperature-controlled warehouse? or close our doors forever. “

The centre’s board first announced its plan for the organization last month. In addition to raising funds through the sale of works, the organization will work with Graham WJ Beal to determine which pieces it will sell, the board said there will be a change in the lineup. According to Sain, the proceeds from the sale of the works will allow the center to honor the legacy of the Rosas by allowing it to continue supporting northern California artists through future exhibitions, commissions and other programs. He also said that “efforts have been made” to keep the removed works together in the custody of another institution.

Sain’s letter is published in full below:

August 21, 2019

Dear Sandy and signatories of the recent letter regarding the di Rosa collection:

Thank you for taking the time to share your opinion and perspective, and to everyone who signed your petition. I agree that the di Rosa collection provides a glimpse of a “historically significant period of artistic creation in the Bay Area (1960-2010)”. The Board of Directors, staff and all of us involved in di Rosa share your deep concern for the collection and for the legacy of René and Veronica. We wish that when René created the Foundation, he also provided enough funds to endow the di Rosa in perpetuity. Such an endowment would have ensured the care and maintenance of the grounds, buildings and even the collection, much of which was stored in barns on the property which lacked basic climate control during his lifetime and until I become executive director.

It would also have been wonderful if additional donors beyond our Board of Directors, members and strong supporter base had responded to our fundraising efforts with sufficient endowment contributions to support the organization. so that she can avoid this predicament. But, unfortunately, the simple reality is that the organization was never set up with sufficient funds to take good care of the collection and the physical plant for the long term let alone provide meaningful contributions to our community. . Despite our many efforts, we did not find enough donors to give major support to a museum that many thought was funded by René’s endowment.

It is unfortunate that di Rosa has been underfunded since opening its doors and we eventually had to face a toll – increasing staffing to provide a sustainable future for the organization, including proper care of the organization. art that will remain in the collection, which has now, at great expense, been safely stored in an air-conditioned warehouse ?? or close our doors forever.

We determined that René would like us to keep the doors open and continue to honor his legacy by showcasing Northern California artists – both those in the current collection as well as new commissionable works – to our community. During our in-depth review, a number of people who knew René personally stated that René spoke clearly and on several occasions during his life about the need to “carve” the collection.

Our plan, of course, calls for maintaining a heritage collection of several hundred works that will showcase the history of the time and René’s broad interests in northern California artists. It is important to stress that our decision to adopt this action plan was not taken easily or lightly, and it is the only viable solution that will allow the organization to continue to remain open and to serve. our community.

Regarding your suggestion to go to another institution, efforts have been made and will continue to be made to forge a partnership with another appropriate institution. And, of course, other museums will have the opportunity to purchase works during the transfer process. We are open to discussing the possibility of working with another institution to continue to fulfill our mission of serving our community with the unique strengths we possess. We also welcome financial support from groups or individuals to provide these essential funds to ensure the future of di Rosa.

Once again, the Board of Directors and I thank each of you for sharing your perspective.


Robert Sain


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