Museum of Contemporary Art elects 4 new members to board of trustees

The rebounding Museum of Contemporary Art has elected 4 new members to its board of trustees

The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles has elected four new members to its board of trustees, the latest sign of growing confidence in the museum under new director Philippe Vergne.

Prominent L.A. artist Mark Bradford is among the additions, who also include legislative and public policy strategist Heather Podesta, entrepreneur and art collector Cathy Vedovi and banking executive and philanthropist Christopher Walker.

The additions announced Wednesday raise the number of board members to 50, which the museum said nearly restores the board to its largest size in the last decade. In 2008 and 2009, as the museum was on the verge of financial collapse, the number of trustees dropped below 40. The 2010 appointment of New York gallery director Jeffrey Deitch as the museum's director led to more high-profile resignations in 2012, most notably all four of the museum's artist trustees — John Baldessari, Barbara Kruger, Catherine Opie and Ed Ruscha.

Baldessari, Kruger and Opie returned this March, the same month Vergne arrived. The board additions of painter Mark Grotjahn in March and now Bradford signal that the museum is earning back the trust of the artists it serves, the director said.

"Yes, of course when the museum is having a difficult time, artists get anxious and trust might be challenged, but look where we are now," Vergne said Wednesday. "We have five extremely important artists on the board."

Vergne said that Bradford, whom he has known for years, is important because "he has a very strong voice in the community, and we need that on the board right now."

The museum said Wednesday that its endowment, which had fallen as low as $5 million, has grown to about $100 million.

Vergne said he wants the non-artist members of the board, who commit to raising or donating money to MOCA, to have strong voices internationally. He stressed that MOCA's future resides in its ability to become a "leading international institution in the field," explaining the additions of Podesta, who is based in Washington, D.C.; Vedovi, who splits her time between Paris and Los Angeles; and Walker, who has a home in London and travels extensively.

Podesta said she wants to connect people to the museum.

"I'm in the business of politics and networking and will probably bring some of those relationships and contacts to bear," she said.

For his part, Bradford said the museum is in a exciting period of transformation and that nobody quite knows what that transformation will look like just yet.

"I don't get the feeling that this is the new MOCA, and we don't want to talk about the old MOCA," he said. "It feels like we're here now, and we're moving forward, and we have a history."

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