"Will Work for Art" takes you behind the scenes to meet the people who make the Fine Arts Museums work. This week we meet museum educator and "Mr. Friday Night," Gregory Stock. Originally from Saint Louis, Missouri, Gregory just celebrated his one-year anniversary as a full-time employee at the Museums.
What do you do here at the Museums?
I am a member of the public programs team. My responsibilities include coordinating Friday Nights at the de Young, academic symposia for special exhibitions, and other public programs that take place at both the de Young and the Legion of Honor.
How did you become involved with the Museums?
My first experience in the arts field was an internship with the Saint Louis Regional Arts Commission during my undergraduate studies, which heavily influenced my career path. After moving to San Francisco, I decided I wanted to pursue a career in the arts, so I started applying to art-related jobs and internships. The de Young was one of four internships that I undertook, and it eventually led to my current position.
What is your favorite artwork or gallery in the museums and why?
This is such a difficult question, because I think our permanent collection has so much depth and diversity. But I have to go with the two George Caleb Bingham oil paintings on display in Gallery 23 at the de Young.
These paintings take me home to Missouri and remind me to be proud of where I grew up as well as where I currently live. I think art can act as a bridge throughout your life. Growing up, I remember visiting the gallery of large Bingham paintings at the Saint Louis Art Museum and being overwhelmed by his Jolly Flatboatmen. His paintings are so full of life and joy, even though they usually portray hard work on the river. He captured the potential of Americans, especially if we put our best selves forward.
And because I can’t leave out the Legion, I must also recommend El Greco’s Saint John the Baptist. This portrayal of John the Baptist is one of my favorite saint depictions because of its stark realism.
What do you do when you’re not at work?
I am always seeking inspiration for Friday Nights or other activities at the Museums. I am out and about in the city on my bike keeping up on galleries, other museums, live music, spoken word, and other happenings. You will also find me cycling on the roads of Marin or swimming in the Bay training for my first half-Ironman triathlon in May.
What are you working on right now?
Friday Nights are on hiatus until March 30 and will return with the opening of The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier. (March 24–August 19, 2012 at the de Young). Currently, I am immersed in the radical world of the Victorian avant-garde, preparing for The Cult of Beauty (February 18–June 17, 2012 at the Legion of Honor). Our opening Saturday will include a hands-on art making project based on some very fantastic wallpaper. There are going to be a lot of fun experiences to be had at the Legion that will encourage everyone to interact with the Aesthetic Movement firsthand.
Do you remember the first time you visited the museums?
I remember coming to the de Young for Warhol Live. While moving through the exhibition, I realized it highlighted everything I love about Warhol's work. The exhibition was really about the people he surrounded himself with in his Factory. I think I see the museum functioning in a similar way—I am surrounded by amazing people whose hard work influences and inspires me. During my first visit to the Legion of Honor, I was struck by the juxtaposition of Mark di Suvero's Pax Jerusalemme and the Golden Gate Bridge. Both of our museums are such a beautiful reflection of the city and they inspire me every day.