Great new look at the High Museum of Art's new curator, Michael Rooks in the AJC
"The Illinois native wasted no time getting started in Atlanta. He met with art consultant Mary Stanley his first day in the office, and soon thereafter spoke to a youngish cross-section of collectors, artists and arts advocates at a meeting of her Young Collectors Club.
“He stayed until midnight talking to a group of artists,” Stanley reports. “It’s not just that he shows up; he really listens.”
She watched him work a different crowd at the High’s Collectors’ Evening in January. The guests paid $500 a pop to attend and vote to select acquisitions proposed by the curators.
Rooks, who pitched a portrait by Kehinde Wiley, was articulate and professional during his presentation, she says, but punctured the seriousness by having the words “buy this” flash on the screen like a subliminal sales ploy. (The piece was acquired.)
Relaxing after work in his still sparely furnished Midtown apartment, the wiry curator looks younger than his 44 years. Dressed in Keds and casual clothes and sporting fashionable stubble, he looks more like an art handler than a museum curator and, according to Paul Klein, a former gallery owner who knew him when Rooks was curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, he behaves out of character, too.
“A lot of curators get in their ivory towers, ostentatiously separate from [the lay audience]," says Klein, now a curator and art consultant. “He likes to do exhibitions that normal people can relate to.”