NYC – uninspiring?…..Never! 📣

Last weekend I went to NYC, my usual, regular pilgrimage that makes all right with the world, and saw my usual varieties of art and for the first time in a while felt a little blah about it all. Nothing was inspiring me. “Really, nothing?”, I asked myself. I’m in NY for freaks sake, there must be SOMETHING here to inspire me!

art, animated video, memories, death, life

Moléculas, Juan Antonio Olivares

Then, on Sunday, I went to the Whitney (thank you Kath!) and was blown away by all three of the shows I saw there – and amazingly – it was the very last day for each of them.

The first, was an animated video by Juan Antonio Olivares called Molécules in which Olivares tells a story of a highly personal nature that is partly true and partly fantasy, through an old teddy bear with one arm torn off. It’s terribly sad as the bear talks about memories of his mother with whom he had a dysfunctional relationship. A melancholy and moving piece that reminds us how delicate and easily damaged we all are, especially by poignant memories and people who are important to us.

American Gothic, kitsch, heartland art

Corn Cob Chandelier, Grant Wood

Next, I walked right around the corner and into the Grant Wood show which was just a few rooms but really packed a punch. I knew nothing really of this painter of the mega famous American Gothic. I, as a lot of artists I know, have just written it off as “refrigerator art” or kitsch but this show was so revealing

Grant Wood began as an Arts & Crafts style functional artist working in the Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles with a little midwestern kitsch thrown in. His early work is absolutely gorgeous and interestingly odd – i.e.: an amazingly ornate chandelier with corn cobs vertically holding the bulbs (which I was also thinking could be called American Gothic).

As he moved on to painting his work begins to hold a certain type of anxiety. The people all look miserable and repressed and at the same time there is a surreal pristine fantasy portrayal of the landscape and the place everyone has in it. This, I learned, came from his repressed life as a gay man in the rural midwest of the 1930’s and 40’s where his interpretations of life were strewn with either idyllic representations of his memories of being a boy or his experiences of life being so austere and difficult as an adult hiding who he truly was.

politics, art, relevant, brilliant, test of time

I Want a Dyke for President, Zoe Leonard

Lastly, and what an oh so wonderful surprise, was a survey (I think the same thing as a retrospective except that the person may be a bit young for that title) of Zoe Leonard who I had previously never heard of. Her work is so poignant and did just what I want an artist to do for me, slightly change my perspective or just show me a slightly different one.

The piece to the right here, I Want a Dyke for President, is 25 years old, if you can believe that, and is more relevant now than it was then. It’s brilliant, inspiring, perceptive and made me see the point in a way I hadn’t thought of before.

I kept thinking, “yes! yes!” I want a president who has been through something, not someone who has been pampered their whole life. I want empathy and passion for the issues that affect our most vulnerable not political nonsense. Where are they? And most importantly, have they been there all along but all of us are playing into the game of keeping them out of the realm where we could really use them?

What are your thoughts on this? As always, I want to know!

 

2 comments to NYC – uninspiring?…..Never! 📣

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