06 December 2005

Talk about art!

(Remembering back to late November, just before Thanksgiving...)

Not only was our cabin at Mohawk Trail State Forest a complete dream, our whole time up there was near perfect: live on the mountain, hike the mountain (okay, just little Thumper "Mountain"), and then come down from the mountain to see art. Who could ask for more?! Actually, the art part was a little disappointing, but maybe just because I had set my expectations too high. Revelation it wasn't, but still thought provoking, I suppose. I'm speaking specifically of Mass MoCA. Didn't make it to the Rockwell Museum, but did get to see Winslow Homer at the Clark Institute (not that I'm necessarily equating Homer with Rockwell)--always nice to see solid painting .

The big draw for me at Mass MoCA was the exhibition "Becoming Animal," curated by someone whose name I forget. For obvious reasons, I was very curious about the show and what the work was like. After looking at it, though, I don't think I could tell you the point. Some individual pieces were visually curious (Mark Dion, Motohiko Odani), and others (Ann-Sofi Siden) seemed conceptually complex but not engaging enough for me to bother. All in all, not a waste of time, but I don't feel better off for having seen it.

Neo Rauch (in a show on the "New Leipzig School"), on the other hand, was extremely satisfying. Granted, I always want to look at painting, and even better when a painter's work validates the practice. I was also struck by how Rauch's work fits my current thinking about painting as indelibly and inescapably nostalgic, an expression of sentimentality. Better yet, Rauch's paintings fit my criteria with actual sincerity (ie, non-ironic) and avoidance of the saccharine. The question remains: can sentimentality be subversive?

On a related note, I also enjoyed the work of Paul Shambroom, part of a little show in one of the side galleries. Kind of funny, deadpan stuff. What I really liked was the quality of his photographs printed on canvas to look like way uptight realist painting. Too funny, too cool.

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