Souhad Rafey is retiring as curator at the American Academy of Arts and Letters at the end of this year after 23 years on the job. She has impeccably installed invitationals and prize exhibitions in each of those years, translating the nominations of academicians into actual pieces borrowed to fairly represent the artist while working in a ferociously complex hang and for those blessed with a purchase prize, steering works into appropriate museums around the country, each transaction a feat of good taste, common sense, logistics and no doubt uncommon diplomacy. In the course of this near quarter century she has thus associated herself professionally with countless creators as celebrated in the art world as the worthies who nominated them for exhibition or purchase. And yet, as her swan song on Audubon Terrace, the McKim Reed White-designed galleries have been graced by 46 artists who earn their keep as the art handlers, truckers, administrators and museum guards without whom Rafey evidently believes her own efforts would have been in vain. One seldom has reason to recall that the noun “curator” shares its etymology with the clerical term “curate”, but in this humble, self-effacing gesture, resulting incidentally in a raucously fun ensemble of talent, Rafey demonstrates that a curator actually cares for the soul of a community. DAVID COHEN
Pictured here: Colin Thomson, Tomb, 2019
The exhibition is open Fridays through Sundays, 1-5pm, through November 28 and thereafter by appointment through January 26, 2022
Enter on Audubon Terrace between 155 and 156 Streets on the west side of Broadway and walk to the end of the terrace.