Two Californian figures have come out in support of the Rene and Veronica di Rosa Foundation’s decision to sell off a large portion of its 1,600-work holdings, in what has become the latest chapter in an ongoing controversy surrounding the financial state of the non-collecting institution, which is based in Napa, California.
The foundation has claimed that it needs to sell works from its collection in order to keep itself afloat. But artists, curators, and dealers from the Bay Area and beyond have opposed the decision, saying last week in an open letter that the di Rosa Foundation needs to find a proper home for the works instead of simply selling them. The foundation’s executive director, Robert Sain, said last week that the institution has “not found enough donors” to hold on to the works.
On Wednesday, ARTnews received two more open letters—one from Gloria Marchant, the widow of di Rosa collection artist Roy De Forest, and another from Tim Kelly, a Bay Area artist who previously served on the foundation’s board. Both missives argue that the deaccessioning should occur and that it is in keeping with the museum’s legacy.
Marchant wrote in her letter that she was “shocked” at first by the plans to sell works from the di Rosa collection, though the deaccessioning may be in line with the spirit of Rene di Rosa, one of the foundation’s founders. “There are many works of Roy’s in this collection, but not often on display,” Marchant writes. “If some were sold to help continue the di Rosa, it would be like Roy giving back the generosity and support Rene gave him. It is the time for artists whose lives were touched by him, as Roy’s life was, to step up too.”
In his letter, Kelly, who served on the foundation’s board between 2012 and 2018, said that the museum’s board should be required to uphold Rene di Rosa’s vision, adding, “My sincere hope is that the decision to move forward with deaccessioning a portion of the collection will be a positive step forward that addresses the concerns of the artists in the collection as well as other stakeholders in the di Rosa community who are already benefiting from our new direction.”