Longtime curator David S. Rubin explains why all museums should be committed to local art communities and to increasing their visibility. Rubin also details his own approach to connecting the general public with contemporary art.
“My favorite part of being a curator, obviously, is spending time with artists and doing studio visits and things like that. But I would say my approach to curating is narrative. I want to tell a story, I’m very committed to educating and enlightening the general audience. There’s nothing more exciting than when the light bulb goes on and someone really gets the art for the first time.”
David S. Rubin in an independent curator, art writer, and speaker who has worked for thirty-five years at a number of institutions, including, most recently, the San Antonio Museum of Art. Rubin was born in Los Angeles and raised in the San Fernando Valley. While studying for a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from the University of California, Los Angeles, Rubin also took art history classes. A professor recognized his natural talent after Rubin was the only one of his classmates to recognize a forgery of an ancient Chinese painting. Rubin enrolled in Harvard University for a Master’s degree in Art History with the intention of studying Japanese art, but there he discovered his love of twentieth century and contemporary art. After graduating in 1977, Rubin became an Assistant Professor of Art History at Scripps College and the Assistant Director of Galleries of the Claremont Colleges. Since then Rubin has held such positions as Adjunct Curator, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Director of Exhibitions, San Francisco Art Institute; Director, Freedman Gallery, Albright College; Associate Director/Chief Curator, Cleveland Center for Contemporary Art (now MOCA Cleveland); Curator of 20th Century Art, Phoenix Art Museum; Curator of Visual Arts, Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans; and The Brown Foundation Curator of Contemporary Art, San Antonio Museum of Art. In 1996 Rubin served as U.S. Commissioner of Painting for the Cuenca International Biennial in Ecuador, and from 2001-2007 as an international juror for the Florence Biennale. Some of Rubin’s most notable exhibitions include Old Glory: The American Flag (1994); It’s Only Rock and Roll: Rock and Roll Currents in Contemporary Art (1995); Birdspace: A Post- Audubon Artists Aviary (2004); and Psychedelic: Optical and Visionary Art since the 1960s (2010).