2021 continued to see museum closures and a drop in memberships. When the institutions opened, visitors were turned away when they forgot to download the online ticket office. Those who resisted masks or showed tapes of gunshots were trampled on when they were refused entry. Outdoor art venues have become popular – I visited the Storm King Art Center, New Windsor NY, and the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Print art journals are shrinking or disappearing. Others like ‘Anchorage Press’, ‘Hyperallergic.com’ and ‘The New Yorker’ have regularly covered the art world and aesthetic books, which were flying off the shelves online, as were the tomes. used. Following-Excerpts of 10-Art Sleuth Essays for 2021.
Detective 1. (February 9, 2021) – “Come to think of it – What is graffiti?” : With Covid’s intermittent closures, works of art have appeared on the sidewalk, exterior walls and protest signage. Extract : One of the definitions of graffiti is that the writer / painter wants to be noticed.Other definition of street art is that it is temporary. ‘Futura-isms’ ed. by Larry Warsh is about Leonard Hilton McGurr, aka Futura, a superstar graffiti artist. Although he encourages artists to paint anywhere, Futura does not tolerate the degradation of monuments and warns of no-go areas. “This is how the graffiti affair happened. I think we really wanted to express ourselves. We were prepared to break the law to do so.
Detective 2. (March 15, 2021) – ‘Amason and Eaton, two aesthetic gentlemen of Alaskan art ‘: Amason’s paintings and Eaton’s masks are canonical masterpieces; it is always a pleasure to visit their studios in Anchorage. Extract : They were particularly proud of the work appearing in the 2016, “Alaska Exhibition, Past / Present”at the Musée-Boulogne-Sur-Mer, marking the tenth anniversary of a unique Franco-Alaskan cultural exchange.History: In 1871-1872, Alphonse Pinart, French ethnographer, spent six months in Kodiak where he received Masks, which he then donated to the Musée-Boulogne-Sur-Mer. In 2008, after long negotiations, thirty-four old masks flew to Alaska for the show: “Giinaquq: Like a Face – Sugpiaq Masks of the Kodiak Archipelago”. Eaton says: “It was revolutionary from the point of view of European museums. No museum wants to lend artefacts to indigenous peoples because they fear that once they go to their original homes, they will never be returned. ”
Detective 3. (March 22, 2021) – “Shaking genres through Virgil Abloh’s” Abloh-isms “”: The art world was turned upside down last November with the death of Virgil Abloh, artistic director of Louis Vuitton. Extract : ‘Abloh-isms’ ed. by Larry Warsh describes the success story of Abloh. He remembers: “I gave an introduction to the history of art. It was then that the bulb went out…. Fashion was a vehicle for my ideas… .it was the easiest subway train to paint graffiti without a cop in sight…. When I launched my first brand, I bought hoodies on sale from Champion and Ralph Lauren, and put my logo on them… I see my practice as a modern form of graffiti. Abloh rose to stardom when he founded Off-White, which has become “one of the world’s most sought-after brands, combining ideas from streetwear, luxury, art, music and travel.” Abloh assumes, “I’m intrinsically linked to the time I was born, an era rooted in contemporary art and the hip-hop, skateboarding and graffiti subcultures…. It is important that I have the ability to design products that can affect change or feel like a good contribution to the world at large.
Sleuth 4. (April 6, 2021) – “Alaska Biennale 2020: Recycling and Climate Change with Covid”: This exhibit has unfortunately not traveled statewide. Extract : With a mask on my face and two blows to the arm, I was finally back, winding through the galleries. Color abounded, as was texture, not only of the painted tree bark and native flowers, but also of carved wood and metal birds and a crochet garden. The chosen art possessed narratives that exploded through often recycled materials, contextualizing climate change in the 49e State. Covid hasn’t stopped artists from using the one-year lockdown to reflect, create and express the need to be stewards of the Earth.
Detective 5. (May 17, 2021) –“Postwar racism? –Kristina Wilson’s “Mid-Century Modernism…”: This book examines racial prejudice through the emerging post-war consumerism. Extract : Mid-Century Modernism and the American Body, Race, Gender, and the Politics of Power in Design by Kristina Wilson reviews the 1950s through: books / magazines, home / furniture designs, fabricated kitsch, what consumers bought or coveted. It was a time of acceptable discrimination, but was the commodity steeped in whiteness, further promoting a segregated society? The post-World War II era was not the first age of American racism, but it was the first generation to own televisions, which blew up consumerism, but also inequality, in living rooms. Wilson suggests that “black culture seems to just emulate white culture, in other advertisements we see an effort to establish a black American upper middle class lifestyle and class identity on its own terms, outside the polarizing landscape of racial identity.
Detective 6. (July 5, 2021) – ‘Ron Senungetuk: A Retrospective, Now at the Anchorage Museum’: Senungetuk was an internationally renowned Native Alaskan artist who passed away in January 2020. Extract : Obtaining a Fulbright, Senungetuk studied at the National Academy of the Arts in Oslo. He also met his future wife Turid, a goldsmith, in Norway. Senungetuk surmised that some of Alaska’s best native work was done 5,000 years ago as utility goods. He may have been one of the first to realize that all generations of Indigenous aesthetics should move beyond the label of mere craftsmanship and move into the fine arts. Asked about his heritage, he insisted: design doesn’t care about heritage. Senungetuk was adamant that Aboriginal people should be allowed to merge genres from other cultures in their work.
Detective 7. (Aug 22, 2021) –SenERGY: “Hey, over sixty artists: Where are you on the Art Triangle?‘: Age discrimination is rampant in America. Many good artists are overlooked for younger ones with less talent and education. Extract : The art world is a big triangle with artists like Jenny Saville upstairs and aficionados like me who have home studios somewhere downstairs. Immerse yourself in art by taking a class. Art supply stores, universities and non-credit workshops offer a variety of education. Since Covid, more and more courses reside online. And it’s never too late for that art degree! Holidays at an art camp provide the opportunity to immerse yourself in a new art / craft without the pressure of perfection, while also sharing aesthetic experiences with other students. This art critic is a writer / painter over sixty who got hooked in high school.I have drawn and painted, sculpted, photographed, welded, sawed wood, sewn costumes, pounded bread, wrote reviews, volunteered and experimented with museums around the world. I took time off to have children and did some clerical work to pay for my children’s college. Art is an activity forever – go for it!
Detective 8. (September 6, 2021) – ‘Art Sleuth presents at Gangwon Triennale 2021: Critics interpret climate change through art ‘: It was an honor for this Art Sleuth to present an article at the Gangwon Triennale 2021, in South Korea, and to highlight artists who contextualize the climate. Extract : Art critics are at the forefront of the aesthetic world, camera and iPhone in hand, making instant observations, which will then be meditated on by art historians. Critics scrutinize exhibits in evolving colonial-style museums, wander the streets in search of graffiti, maneuver around site-specific artwork, and chat in lectures with artists and historians, all eager to convey the word that visually expressed climate change can drive change, thus spreading the museum and community involvement, as well as self-awareness to protect the local and global ‘place’.
Detective 9. (November 29, 2021) – “A loaf of bread, a jug of wine” and a gourmet gift, “The Hungry Eye”: On 2020, Covid-shutdown let people not only Zoom in, but cook. Extract : “The Hungry Eye, Eat, Drink and European Culture from Rome to Renaissance” by Leonard Barkan provides a historical culinary / feast narrative. He writes: “All people, regardless of their layer, have had in common: the experience of taste and the acquisition of food”. While painted epicurean delicacies often represent religious suppers, sexual double meanings, or status-seeking snobbery, sometimes it is simply an artist attempting to represent a piece of cheese or a slice of beef, representative. because “food is the very embodiment of truth. “We consider ourselves advanced with our mass production agriculture and our delivery of products to Costco, but it was the Romans who ‘revolutionized agriculture…. [not to mention] the grape, whose extraordinary range [continues to be] the basis of a fermented drink.
Sleuth 10. (December 13, 2021) – ‘Conchophilia’ – ‘Crying, Cockles, Moulsels, Alive, Alive, Oh’: The plundering of the planet and the prejudices of Western man on “the other” are not new. Extract : ‘Conchophilia, Shells, Art, and Curiosity in Early Modern Europe’ by Bass, Goldgar, Grootenboer and Swan is about the Dutch East and West Indian companies of the 17th century bringing seashells to Europe, thanks to the slavery of the indigenous populations , who perished in the procurement process. It is not surprising that “the early modern fervor for seashells as prized possessions of foreign lands was founded on a long history of trade and, ultimately, imperial and colonial exploitation. “. The story of the seashell is about the lust for natural beauty, which highlights man’s inhumanity and earthly abuse – something to consider in this season of “Peace on Earth”.
Mini Sleuth: Full essays are online (AnchoragePress.com, A&E). The books reviewed are on Amazon. Thanks, Jodi Price of Princeton University Press. Next time – Top 10 photos of Art Sleuth in 2021.
Jean Bundy is a writer / painter in Alaska. She is vice-president at AICA-Int. and exhibits his paintings at the Pictor Gallery, NYC.