Monday, July 29, 2013

Top Artists of 2013

                                             Complex Magazine article cover.

As an artist, and art librarian I have a vested interest in reading the various articles, blogs, and other information sources related to art and art making. So there I was trolling the Internet looking for new topics of discussion when I found what I thought might be a good one. Earlier this month Complex Magazine released an article describing the most influential artists of 2013. I had never heard of this publication, so the first thing I did was try to find out more about it. Apparently it is a magazine Founded by Marc Eko  in 2002.  It is a men's magazine that targets males 18-30ish in metropolitan /cosmopolitan areas. With this in mind, as I read the article I was pretty skeptical of their list. And it seems I'm not the only one based on the comments.

The article was well written and did a nice job of describing the various artists listed, where their major exhibitions were occurring, and why their work was significant. However, after reading it I was struck by the number of women artists (or lack thereof) included in the list. As I was reading through the names I made a note to myself to count the number of female artists listed when I was finished. It turns out I didn't need to do that as only 3 of the 26 were women. In addition, readers posted in the comments that very few minority artists were represented.

Given the target audience of this publication I should not be surprised. But when an article is published with the title "The Most Important Artists of 2013," I sort of expected it to be more inclusive and complete. That said, I was very pleased to see that Marina Abramovic was included in the list. She is a performance artist, and has some interesting ideas going.  I dislike most performance art and I have only recently begun to follow her work, but I have been impressed with what I have seen so far.

What do you think about the artists on this list? Who would you have included?


Monday, July 22, 2013

Art Melt 2013

      Art Melt 2013 has come (and gone). It was quite an event, and was very well attended. I dunno, but I think it says something about a community when they will come out on  sweltering, steamy, mid-July evening to see and experience some art.    

   Like last year's event, there were a variety of works from all over the state of Louisiana. The event was held on the grounds of the state capitol, with the art being exhibited in the State Museum. My personal picks did not receive any recognition (too bad I was not one of the Jurors), but at least they got in to the exhibition. And, if you know me, that's what I think is more important: getting your work out and seen.

   I have pictures of my favorite pieces, however the lighting wasn't great for photography. Therefore, the following pictures are not very good.  

Favorite Piece:

   My favorite piece (the one I would have given "Best in Show" was an example of book art. You might think this an obvious choice since I am a librarian in addition to an artist, but generally speaking I don't like most book arts pieces. There is a heavy print component to the book arts, and printmaking is a medium I have a love/hate relationship with. Anyway, this book was hand made and was opened from end to end. It was as if two open books were pasted together by their back covers and then left open. It was titled "A Rabbit Runs in a Circle,"  it features hand drawn rabbits on both "covers," text that wraps throughout the piece, and is just a delight to examine. It was by artist Frank Hamrick.   

Favorite Painting:

    I would have given this painting "First Place." The colors are very relaxing, and they play well on an image that I find soothing. I like the contrast of the figures in the foreground, I like the use of space within the picture plane, and I just feel drawn in and warm when looking at this painting. It is by artist Connie Kittok.

Mixed Media:

  These last two images aren't really favorites, they probably fall in to the "Honorable Mention" category. This image by David Humphreys combines photography and collage. I wouldn't have thought to combine these two media in the way Humphreys has, and the results are very good. This image looks like a painting, but when you look at it up close you can see that it is much more intricate in how it was created.     


    This  painting, titled "Unrefined IX" reminds me of the work I have done with pipes. Living in Baton Rouge, one is never very far from the reminder of refineries, and it is interesting to see these pipes, stacks, behemoths of industrialization depicted as something elegant. This painting is by Ian Chrystal.

   The evening wasn't just about visual art. There were street performers, belly dancers and bands as well. The band I most liked was Minos the Saint. They played a fun type of Cajun/pop that got people dancing and was a lot of fun to listen to. I'll close with a picture of their performance.


Monday, July 15, 2013

The state of art

                                          Screen Shot from

Greetings all! This post is about an article that ran in the Scotsman newspaper over the weekend. In it  acclaimed Scottish artist Ken Currie discussed the current state of artists, and his thoughts on the academicazation of the art world. This is a topic that I have given a lot of thought too, and have even posted about it here in the past (here and here.).

Currie is an artist who studied at the Glasgow School of Art and was a member of "The New Glasgow Boys" movement. He went on to win the Turner Prize for painting in 2005. He has remained an active artist and has a new exhibition planned to open soon. 

In this article Currie stated that he thought too many art students have neglected traditional art media for the likes of New Media, installation, and conceptual art. He added that this was happening because of the belief that this would put them on the fast track to being a recognized artist. He furthered by stating that this has adversely affected what was happening at the Glasgow School of Art. He said that the school was overcrowded and that students weren't really learning anything about art or art making, and were instead caught in a situation where New Media, installation, and conceptual art were churned out by professors increasingly focused on academic advancement over the development of future art and artists.  

He went on to describe a career path where he likened art school to kindergarten, and the following 20-30 years as developing a voice before achieving a level of success recognized universally . He said it takes many years of hard work to become an established and recognized artist, and said that many contemporary artists just don't have the drive or energy for the long haul.

I agree with Mr. Currie that art schools have been given over to academia, and I also agree that there is far too much New Media, installation, and conceptual art as a result. However, I'm not so sure I agree with his statements about developing artists. One thing that it is important to keep in mind is that we live in an entirely different world than the 1980's in which Mr. Currie was in art school. Ideas, art, and ways of communicating them develop at a much faster pace than they ever have in the history of human development. Access to technology and New Media is also more freely available. I think that these ideas combined with the drive to create and be the first to express a new concept are as much an impact on these new artists as the issues Currie spoke to. Art is communication, and we are living in a world filled with a cornucopia of communication methods. It is how we integrate the new with the old and move forward that is the more important issue.

That's my take. Please leave your thoughts in the comments, and perhaps we can have a discussion on this issue.  One final thing before I go: The 2013 Art Melt is this Friday.  I will be discussing this exhibition next week, but if you are in or around Baton Rouge you should plan on attending!   

McGinty, S. (2013) New Artists Neglect Hard Graft, Says Ken Currie. The Scotsman 7/14/13