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Contemporary art, museums and mirrors

American Monument by lauren wood was set to open this past Sunday at the University Art Museum at California State University, Long Beach. It was pulled just prior to opening by the artist. If the museum did not already know, it received an urgent reminder of the role of a contemporary art museum.  It is an active and engaged role and not for the faint of heart.

The monument (so-called at woods’ insistence) includes 25 record players on podia with collected audio files (911 cell phone calls from distraught witnesses, etc.) about several killings of African-Americans by police officers.

The scheduled opening ceremony was uproarious – and not in a fun way. Kimberly Meyer, the museum’s director, had been fired six days earlier. Woods was an exhibitor by invitation of Meyer and woods considered Meyer a primary collaborator in producing American Monument. Dean of the art school, Cyrus Parker-Jeannette, was sharply questioned by the attendees when she tried to give her opening remarks.

Hyperallergic reports:

Following introductory remarks, woods opened by describing her initial enthusiasm for the project. “I saw the potential for a unique collaboration in creating the monument in proximity to young people who are actively discovering and staking out their place in the world, young people who are trying to understand what power and authority is.” She then played the record containing audio from the cell phone video taken by Diamond Reynolds as her boyfriend Philando Castile sat bleeding to death next to her on July 6, 2016, after being shot by Minnesota police officer Jeronimo Yanez. Several attendees wept as Reynolds’s words echoed through the stark space.

Woods then concluded, “Monument can only resume its co-creative process when restored, which can only happen with Kimberli Meyer retained as director of UAM. .. And so with great disappointment and profound sadness, I hereby declare the process to continue building American Monument paused.”  With that, she shut down the monument.

Meyer was fired without comment or explanation. That was ill-advised and the administration will find that they will have to back-pedal furiously from that stone-faced position.

Art historical exhibits in museums are rightly perceived as placid galleries – mostly – where we can examine portraits and snapshots of who we are and how we became that way. A contemporary art gallery is a potential powder keg.  The gallery is holding up a mirror.  Often enough, we will want to shoot the messenger. This role of simultaneous interpreter is not a matter of choice – it comes with the territory.

Of course this will not stand. The University Art Museum will take a more active role in its involvement with American Monument. The administrators have no choice. As it stands, the only view we can have of the museum’s position is one of spineless pusillanimity.

lauren woods american monument

 

 

The Library supports local musicians

Ya gotta love libraries.  My daughter taught music in the Madras, Oregon (pop. 6700) public schools through a rural outreach program. She became Band Director of the Madras Library Band (Jefferson County Library District).  The library put on a parade in the dead of winter (Christmas?).  The temp was sub-zero.  It was so cold many of the instruments didn’t work.  The parade was enthusiastically supported by the community and the participants had a blast.

The Multnomah County Library of Portland, Oregon, is producing the Library Music Project:

Submit to Library Music Project!  We are looking for the next group of artists to join the Library Music Project collection! Have you produced an EP or full length album in any genre? Do you live and regularly perform in the Portland region? We definitely want you to submit! The submission period is open from September 12 to September 30, 2018.

mixer

 

Call for Submissions – Issue 6

Event Horizon is a home for literary and graphic arts and this is a call for submissions:

Event Horizon is seeking poetry, fiction, and non-fiction of many varieties.

Event Horizon is calling for graphic arts suitable for a 2D publication:  illustration of any variety, photography and photography of craft work, pictures with stories comprising manga, graphic novels, comics and cartoons.

There is no fee for submitting nor is there payment upon acceptance. Event Horizon is published bi-monthly. The best place to start for any questions is the website and glimpses at back issues.  Target publication date for Issue 6 is November 1.

The website and free pdf downloads can be found at eventhorizonmagazine.com .

All submissions and inquiries should be directed to eventhorizonmagazine@gmail.com .

issue 5 logo

“Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?”

As usual, Hyperallergic opens many doors for me. For example, sycophantic fan though I may be, I didn’t know about some ugly personal peccadilloes of Picasso, i.e. that he was a raving misogynist.  Nor did I know about the movie, Surviving Picasso, (1996) where some of this is explored with mixed success.  In her Hyperallergic article, Ksenia M. Soboleva describes the differential and cynical promotion of simultaneous exhibitions at the Tate Modern – of Picasso and Joan Jonas.  I’ll let her speak for herself on that – see article.

A wonderful Door #2 for me was to another Hyperallergic article, An Illustrated Guide to Linda Nochlin’s “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” by Tiernan Morgan & Lauren Purje.  Linda Nochlin was a feminist art historian who died last year at the age of 86.  I’ve read feminist and other academic essays on the oppression of various  marginalized communities. Deep … thoughtful, very academic essays. I was gratified for this succinct summary of  Nochlin’s  views.

Linda Nochlin’s “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” (1971) is generally considered the first major work of feminist art history. Maura Reilly, a curator, writer, and collaborator of Nochlin’s, described the work as “a dramatic feminist rallying cry.” “This canonical essay precipitated a paradigm shift within the discipline of art history,” Reilly states in her preface to Women Artists: The Linda Nochlin Reader (2015), “and as such her name became inseparable from the phrase, ‘feminist art,’ on a global scale.” 

from Nochlin:

Afterwards, Richard turned to me and said, “Linda, I would love to show women artists, but I can’t find any good ones. Why are there no great women artists?” He actually asked me that question. I went home and thought about this issue for days. It haunted me. It made me think, because, first of all, it implied that there were no great women artists. Second, because it assumed this was a natural condition. It just lit up my mind. [It] stimulated me to do a great deal of further research in a variety of fields in order to “answer” the question and its implications.

By stressing the institutional, rather than the individual, or private, preconditions for achievement or the lack of it in the arts, I have tried to provide a paradigm for the investigations of other areas in the field […] I have suggested that it was indeed institutionally made impossible for women to achieve artistic excellence, or success, on the same footing as men, no matter what the potency of their so-called talent, or genius.

There are no women equivalents for Michelangelo or Rembrandt, Delacroix or Cézanne, Picasso or Matisse, or even in very recent times, for de Kooning or Warhol, any more than there are black American equivalents for the same. If there actually were large numbers of “hidden” great women artists, or if there really should be different standards for women’s art as opposed to men’s — and one can’t have it both ways — then what are feminists fighting for? If women have in fact achieved the same status as men in the arts, then the status quo is fine as it is.

But in actuality, as we all know, things as they are and as they have been, in the arts as in a hundred other areas, are stultifying, oppressive, and discouraging to all those, women among them, who did not have the good fortune to be born white, preferably middle class and above all, male. The fault lies not in our stars, our hormones, our menstrual cycles, or our empty internal spaces, but in our institutions and our education.

Door #3, yet another painting prodigy.

Nochlin’s essay ends with an extended profile of Rosa Bonheur (1822–1899), “one of the most successful and accomplished women painters of all time.” Bonheur specialized in equine and bovine scenes and was awarded numerous accolades, including a first medal at the Paris Salon. 

Rosa_Bonheur_-_Muletiers_espagnols_traversent_les_Pyrénées_(1875)

1280px-Rosa_Bonheur_-_Ploughing_in_Nevers_-_Google_Art_Project

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Another 17th century painting prodigy

Never heard of her.  Michaelina Wautier (also Woutier, 1617-1689) was a Dutch painter – baroque, whose work was only recently attributed to herself rather than to other male artitsts, including her brother, Charles Wautier.  There is a retrospective of her work.  Michaelina: Baroque’s Leading Lady runs at the MAS (Hanzestedenplaats 1 2000 Antwerp, Belgium) until September 2.

Hyperallergic reports:

Only around thirty works have been attributed as autograph, a situation perhaps compounded by Wautier’s marked accomplishment across genres—what few female painters there were at this time were usually confined to decorative floral work—and stylistic similarity to her brother, so that until only very recently Wautier has remained largely unknown in art history.

Michaelina Wautier presents a most curious case of a criminally overlooked talent. Noting the consistent quality shown here, we cannot trace any sign of development or decline. There are no “duds” — even her study pieces are fully worked up to a high finish. With very little to work with, Stighelen and the MAS have drawn upon the mystery to create a compelling tourist attraction, stoking the hope that more works will someday come to light.

self portrait
self-portrait

Michaelina_wautier-triunfo_de_baco800px-Michaelina_Woutiers,_Blumengirlande_mit_Prachtlibelle,_1652Jacob_van_Oost_(I)_-_Two_boys_blowing_bubbles