September 28, 2012

Why We’re Involved

The Junior Associates visit Washington, D.C., in October 2011. Photo by Jenna Moss

For those that don’t know about MoMA’s best-kept secret, keep reading. The world’s greatest museum of modern art also has the most exciting young patrons’ group in New York City. This dynamic collection of young art lovers and professionals is given access to the art world in ways that only MoMA can make happen. From curatorial walkthroughs to the renowned Party in the Garden to studio visits and art trips, The Junior Associates joins the best of what New York has to offer with must-visit national and international art destinations. The diverse programming is not only cool; it’s educational, eye-opening, and a fun way to meet like-minded New Yorkers who share a passion for, you guessed it, ART!

To celebrate the launch of the new JA website, a recent weekend trip to Washington, D.C., and a day trip to Greenwich, CT, Jordan and Susi got together to recap and give readers a real taste of what it means to be a member of The Junior Associates of The Museum of Modern Art.

Jordan Sanders: I have been interested in art for most of my life. My grandparents were collectors and they inspired my mother, who then inspired me. When my grandparents passed away in 2009, I wanted to really involve myself in the art world not only as a personal gesture to their passion for art, but also to feel a deeper connection to them. As I learned more and more about their involvement in art, my own interests grew and ultimately led to my becoming involved with MoMA and The Junior Associates. I have enjoyed all of my experiences with the group and can now have more intellectual and personal conversations regarding art with people in the industry and those interested.

Susi Kenna: How long have you been a member?

JS: I joined the JAs in 2009, a year after I graduated from college. Being a part of the Museum has been an unbelievable experience and something that I cherish. My grandmother was a Trustee and my mother is an active member of the Painting and Sculpture Committee.  Their love of art has inspired me and I am very proud to be able to carry on the legacy and I hope it remains a part of my family for many generations.

SK: The Junior Associates just recently went on a day trip to Greenwich to visit your family’s collection, along with others nearby. What was that like?

JS: That was a really amazing experience for me. To have a group of roughly 40 people listening to my mom speak about something that she is so passionate about and to hear the extent of her knowledge about art was a very enjoyable trip. I had never really been home when art groups would visit our house so it was a new experience for me and I loved it! One of my sisters, Remy, who is also a Junior Associate, as well as my father, Art, were there as well. It was fun to share with them and the Junior Associates who attended.

SK: Tell us about the Washington, D.C., trip.

JS: The Washington, D.C., trip was my first overnight trip with the JAs. These trips are an incredible experience outside of the regular schedule. You aren’t expected to attend everything that is scheduled but in this case I am glad I took advantage as we visited the most amazing collectors and curators D.C. has to offer. Overall, I was very happy I took the time to go to this trip and would recommend to all the JAs to attend one weekend or overnight trip if possible.

SK: What was the best part of the trip?

JS: It is tough to pick from such a great lineup of collections, curatorial walkthrougths, museum visits, etc., but I would have to say the highlight of the trip for me would be our visit to Glenstone, a private museum in Potomac, Maryland. The combination of art, architecture, and landscape spread out over such a vast area was something truly remarkable and spectacular. I had heard about Glenstone and asked people about it before we visited, but it was above and beyond what I had expected. The compound is truly a “must-see” private museum.

SK: How has being a JA enhanced your overall MoMA membership experience? Are your drawn to any one kind of event in particular?

JS: Being a Junior Associate has given me access to parts of the Museum and the art community that I would not be able to experience otherwise. To be able to visit some of the best private collections in the city and have the collectors themselves describe to us the art they choose to hang and how they got into buying art is something that not everyone has the ability to witness. Furthermore, the group itself is filled with fascinating, intellectual people who I have enjoyed getting to know and have learned from as the group consists of people from all professions who come from all parts of the world.

I particularly enjoy the events that take an interdisciplinary approach. One of the first JA events I went to was at the restaurant Gotham Bar and Grill, where we heard about their NYC-inspired art collection and ate delicious food. We walked around the restaurant with the owner and his art adviser, then got a peak inside the kitchen of one of the top restaurants in the city while tasting amazing hors d’oeuvres and drinking champagne. Sounds amazing? It was. 

SK: You’ve inspired a lot of your friends to join! What’s the motivating factor?

JS: The group really sells itself. People initially have the misconception that everyone involved either works in the industry or is a collector, or has some kind of leg up when it comes to understanding art. However, when I invite friends to events, they quickly realize that the group is extremely diverse and is made up of people from all walks of life. I love the fact that people involved with the JAs enjoy talking to one another about their backgrounds, their interests, their experiences in and out of art, and I have made new friends who have given me a broader view of New York City, particularly the art scene.  

QUESTIONS to Susi, from Jordan:

JS: Since you are so involved in art, what are your favorite aspects of MoMA and The Junior Associates?

SK: It’s hard to narrow it down, but…favorite things about MoMA are Party in the Garden, the film series, and the Contemporary Art Galleries. Favorite things about JAs are studio visits, exhibition previews, and the art trips.

JS: The Junior Associates recently went to D.C. for an amazing weekend visit with collectors and tours of museums. What were the highlights of the trip for you and what did you take away from the overall experience?

SK: The weekend was amazing thanks to the amazing Jenna Moss (who runs the program), who somehow fit a bit of everything into a single weekend. Highlights included: Glenstone, a curatorial walkthrough of Andy Warhol: Headlines at the National Gallery of Art and the private collection visits, all of which were so different and special in their own ways. What I took away is a combination of a closer bond with my fellow JAs, a new perspective on D.C. and the knowledge of new artists—emerging and established—that I learned about on the trip.

JS: The D.C. trip was not your first overnight Junior Associate event. What has been the highlight of these trips for you and what makes you want to keep going on them? 

SK: My first MoMA trip was to the Frieze Art Fair in London in 2009. Within one day of being in London I realized what an amazing job MoMA did at curating a special experience that included the fair, local galleries and happenings around town. I came home from that trip with a new piece, a taste of the London nightlife and new eyes for the international art scene. Since then I’ve traveled with MoMA back to London, and to Miami, Marfa, Dallas, and D.C.—all of which would have been far less exciting without the savvy planning and connections via the Museum.

JS: If you could do any trip with the Junior Associates, where would it be and why?

SK: Japan, India, or Russia. Because I can’t even begin to think through how to navigate any of those places or find my way around their art scene on my own. And I’ve been on enough MoMA adventures to know that if I want the ultimate art + travel experience, they always deliver on every level. And by that I mean: lodging, transportation, food, cultural experiences, local specialties, and great company.

JS: What parts of the group have you learned the most from?

SK: Being in the group definitely helps keep my commitment to the arts strong. Without the group there would be so many important events and experiences that I would be missing out on, especially the trips! The areas where I’ve learned the most are studio visits because you get the story about the art directly from the artist, as well as the collection visits because every collector does it so differently.

JS: What has been the highlight of your experience with The Junior Associates?  Do you feel like being a Junior Associate has enhanced your involvement with MoMA?

SK: The highlight of my experience with The Junior Associates is serving as the Co-Chair, which has been such a special experience. And yes, my involvement has definitely been enhanced with the Museum. Anyone that knows me can tell you, I’m a total MoMA loyalist and I love it more each year.

JS: New York is one of the largest art markets in the world. As a young collector yourself, what kind of lessons have you learned through The Junior Associates? What advice can you pass along to other young members who are starting a collection?

SK: This is a huge question, and you might not even want to get me started. But If I had to break it down to the most important lesson I’ve learned (which is also the best advice I can share), it’s that you don’t have to understand why you love it, you just have to trust that feeling you get when you know you love something, because that’s the only thing that really matters when you buy contemporary art.

JS: You are very involved in the art world and are someone whose passion for art I absolutely admire. What first got you interested in art and why did you join The Junior Associates among all the young museum groups?

SK: To be honest, back in 2006, a friend at the time suggested I join, so I did. But the reason I stayed with it is because I love how innovative the Museum is and how ahead of the curve they are with programming. The other reason I stay with the group is because I genuinely like MoMA more than any of the other museums. It’s so cool and beautiful and there are endless ways of experiencing what it has to offer.