Laid-Off Curator Hits Back

For Roger Brandenberg-Horn, the chance to save the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts' Sert Gallery is worth the inconvenience of having petitions and flyers amidst the alumni works now on display.

Brandenberg-Horn, the gallery's curator and an employee of the center for 23 years, has a lot at stake in the fate of the gallery. At the end of this month, the gallery is scheduled to be converted into studio space--and the curator will lose his job.

"I have been questioning this whole matter for 60 days," says Brandenberg-Horn. "I have 30 days left. I need to make some tough decisions for me personally."

The changes in the gallery will be initiated by a new director, senior lecturer on visual arts Robert G. Gardner, who takes office on July I. Gardner has remained steadfast in his decision to change the gallery and lay off Brandenberg-Horn.

But in recent weeks, the curator has stepped up his public campaign. He formed his own grassroots organization. Save The Exhibition Pro- gram, and altered the Sert Gallery's main sign to say, "Save the SERT GALLERY Exhibition Program."

An impromptu petition drive headquartered in the gallery had netted, by yesterday afternoon, more than 600 signatures. Many of the signees are Graduate School of Design students and undergraduates in the department of Visual and Environmental Studies. One prominent signature belongs to Robert Storrs, curator of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

Brandenberg-Horn says the public pressure is necessary if the gallery is to be saved. Morale at the center is low, according to three employees, and exhibitions coordinator Cynthia V. Hadzi has also learned that she will lose her job after one more year.

Brandenberg-Horn sees the conversion of the gallery as an unholy attempt by Gardner and VES department chair Alfred F. Guzzetti to use a public gallery exclusively for department purposes.

Gardner and Guzzetti say they want to change the space so artists may use it. They call the loss of Brandenberg-Horn a human tragedy, but are unmoved by the petition drive.

The curator, however, has more brought pressure to bear. Last month, he sent out letters to all VES faculty urging them to check off and return an anonymous statement of support. He says he's received 10 responses so far.

"Certain moves have been made," says Brandenberg-Horn. "I don't know how it will turn out just yet.