Are there two ICAs? Boston Magazine’s “Best Of New England” listing states that “you’ll love” the Institute of Contemporary Art before praising the art as “well paced and accessible, and hits every medium,” etc. etc. Rachel Levitt Slade, the magazine’s home design editor, apparently didn’t write that entry.
In an essay headlined as “The Exhibitionists” – hey, that’s my title! - in its February issue, Slade slags on everything from the ICA’s gift shop to its building (“rising self-importantly from its asphalt field much like an Applebee’s”) to its Dr Lakra and Shepard Fairey exhibitions.
“The ICA is stuck in a field of chainlink-bordered parking lots, and that’s just the beginning of its isolation,” Slade writes. “With its new concept space and infusion of cash, the museum could have ushered in Boston’s next art renaissance. It simply hasn’t. And whether we blame the business-minded board; the curators who have gone after attention-grabbing but lightweight shows; or Boston’s inclination to settle for safe art, the result is painfully clear: The ICA has not done nearly enough to push new concepts onto our intellectual map.”
Guess who doesn’t agree? That would be the ICA.
“We believe presenting artists such as Anish Kapoor, Tara Donovan, Charles LeDray, Bill T. Jones, Gabriel Kuri, Krystof Wodiczko - and yes, Rebecca Myers and Dr Lakra - offer exciting and diverse ways of experiencing the art of today,” a spokesperson said. “But don't take our word for it - or Boston magazine’s - ask the 1 million people who have been to the ICA in the last four years.”