Mere moments after enthusiastically adding Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art to my cultural to-do list, I came across an article in Boston Magazine that drained the majority of my anticipation. In The ICA: Exhibitionists?, Rachel Levitt Slade critiques everything from the museum’s unapproachable exterior to the shows themselves, which she says lack substance and long-term staying power.

Image from ICA's official site.

Levitt Slade writes: “The ICA is stuck in a field of chainlink-bordered parking lots, and that’s just the beginning of its isolation. With its new high-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.”

Yet if I’m not mistaken, the Tao Art Gallery I visited in Provincetown, MA in November ’10 had artists showing at the ICA, and a lot of their work was excellent: original, meaningful, with poignant social commentary. So I have a very deep and sincere hope that at least some of Levitt Slade’s disappointment is unfounded. A few more weeks until I can see it for myself.

Then I can honestly assess whether “the ass of a shiny new building spread across several parking lots and rising self-importantly from its asphalt field much like an Applebee’s” is, unlike Applebee’s, something worth entering and tasting for oneself.

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