what you get here

This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Friday, March 16, 2012

setting priorities in municipal services

Razgrad's Ivan Petrov Gallery proved worth the wait. Housed in a superb, modernised and specially-designed building (with EC funding) in the heart of the town right next to the well-kept mosque, it has an enthusiastic Director, Todor Todorov, who personally showed us round the collection on display. This included about 6 Danail Dechevs, a Tanev, a Boris Denev, several Vladimir Dimitrovs and two painters so far unknown to me - Maxim Tsankov (1877-1965) and Kosta Petrov (1894-1973).
Unfortunately Vodaphone here in Romania does not give me the capacity to upload a photo from my camera - that will have to await my return to Bulgaria (on Sunday we go to a workshop at Balcik on the Black Sea for a couple of days. The art gallery there is also well worth a visit - as befits an area which has  attracted so many painters.)  In the meantime I post another example of Dechev's work which has smaller capacity.
Razgrad's permanent exhibition also includes an excellent graphics collection.
The gallery’s catalogue is the best I have seen – with coloured reproductions and English as well as Bulgarian notes on the paintings and painters. It also has a website – although still, clearly, in the process of construction.
Razgrad's gallery, therefore, must go to the top of my unofficial list of best housed, managed and documented regional galleries in Bulgaria - with Stara Zagora a close second. Russe is the worst. Of course, these are not necessarily the best criteria - for example the poorly-housed Targovishte Gallery was abuzz with a group of school-kids - and the unheated Skitnik gallery in Sliven sponsors an annual Plein Air summer school. Such local acess and use should clearly be the core of the mission of any art gallery.

I find these differences an interesting example of the effects and importance of local government - although I've made the point here before that the proper maintenance of older paintings which are part of a country's national patrimony has national significance. The lack of heating which threatens so many paintings in Bulgaria's regional art galleries is a disgrace - but perhaps it is too easy to put this down to lack of municipal funding. I found it curious that one of the galleries I visited had  7 staff.  Of course I never like to recommend job-shedding but, in this case, perhaps lack of heating simplyshows a poor sense of budgetary priorities!

The Razgrad Gallery is the only one I have seen which has used Regional Funds to make such a major refurbishment - which shows both official initiative and political support. I still have to visit Balcik, Burgas, Dobrich, Veliko Tarnovo and Pleven Galleries - and pay homage at Svishtosh to Nikola Tanev. I doubt, however, whether I will find a better gallery!

A Year Ago;
I offered a very useful annotated bibliography on the economic aspects of social change.

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