2009: Year in Review

Ah, 2009, when the bold slogans of “Hope” and “Change” morphed into sighs of “Disappointment” and “Business as Usual.” Now is the time to cast away political illusions and resume the work of creating new realities! What better place to start than a “Year in Review” presentation?

On a brief personal note, I have been working on a large body of new paintings and drawings, most of which have not been shown to anyone, and if everything works out a major showing should be in the offing by mid 2010.

This past year two of my oil paintings were featured at the Bakersfield Museum of Art during the museum’s Dia de los Muertos exhibition (September-November). I also had successful showings of my works at the Chicana/Chicano Biennial at the MACLA gallery in San Jose, California (June-August); at the Brand Library Art Gallery & Art Center in Glendale, California, during the gallery’s Man’s Inhumanity to Man exhibit (April-May); and at Avenue 50 Studio’s 365 & Counting exhibit (November-December). Also of note, in June of this year my web log was re-launched in WordPress, which has proved a boon to creativity.

I’d like to offer readers best wishes for the holiday season. I’ll resume my regular writing schedule come the new year.

(January 3) Waltz with Bashir – This was the very first post of the new year, a review of the brilliant animated film from Israel, Waltz with Bashir. “Based on Israeli director Ari Folman’s real life experiences as a soldier in the Israeli army when it invaded Lebanon in June ‘82, Waltz with Bashir is only the second animated feature film to be produced in Israeli cinematic history.” (January 10) A New WPA Arts Program? – During the first month of the Obama administration I contrasted the Depression era arts programs of the WPA to the present, posing the question; “Will the Obama administration offer even a substantially scaled-down WPA-like arts program for today, let alone provide any significant budget increases for already existing arts programs?”

(February 3) Charles White: Let The Light Enter – In praise of the great African American artist, Charles White (1918-1979). “What I always found so impressive about White was that he never abandoned his artistic vision in order to follow the dictates of what was fashionable. Despite the ascendancy and near total dominance of abstract art in the 1950s, followed by the successions of Pop, Minimalism, and all the vacuities of Postmodernism – White remained true to his style of figurative social realism.” (February 11) My Take on Things – My dialog with an art student from Western Kentucky University, and the subject of “Art as Activism.” (February 17) Spencer Jon Helfen: California Modernist Painting – My review of an important exhibition of American Modernist paintings at Spencer Jon Helfen Fine Arts in Beverly Hills, California. The review focuses on two giants of the 1930s California Modernist movement, Victor Arnautoff and Francis De Erdely. (February 23) Edward Biberman Revisited – Now almost forgotten save for aficionados of the California Modernist school, Biberman was the subject of a fascinating retrospective at the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery in Barnsdall Park.

(March 3) Zombie Banks, Art Museums, & War – Wall Street crashes, Obama bails out the banks, museums close while arts organizations layoff 10% of their work force, all the while war funding increases. (March 31) Man’s Inhumanity to Man – I exhibited a suite of four black and white drawings at the Brand Library Art Gallery & Art Center in Glendale, California, part of a group show that examined human rights violations from the 1915 Armenian genocide to the present.

(June 12) The Death of Franklin Rosemont – My eulogy for the American surrealist artist, historian, author, poet, and activist, Franklin Rosemont. (June 22) The Death of Motor City – Reflections on the demise of Detroit and the great tradition of American social realism. (June 25) Artist’s Responses to Homelessness – My review of Hobos To Street People: Artist’s Responses to Homelessness from the New Deal to the Present – a traveling group exhibit on the subject of homelessness.

(July 5) Mexican Prints at University of Notre Dame – My review of the exhibit, Para la Gente: Art, Politics, and Cultural Identity of the Taller de Gráfica, with a special focus on the Mexican artists of the 1930s Popular Graphic Arts Workshop. (July 14) Art Hate Week! – For purposes of giving UK bourgeois art institutions “a necessary kicking.”

(September 2) Guayasamín: Rage & Redemption – My in-depth examination of Latin American master, Oswaldo Guayasamín, and his retrospective at the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach, California.

(November 25) The Mona Lisa Curse – My review of The Mona Lisa Curse, a documentary film by art critic Robert Hughes that offers a devastating critique of contemporary art and it’s over commercialization.

(December 1) LBJ, Obama & Afghanistan – In this article I announce the publication of “Hey, Hey, LBJ…“, a web exhibition I curated on the subject of posters from the 1960s that protested the Vietnam war and the policies of President Lyndon Baines Johnson. My article was published the day President Obama announced he was sending an additional 30,000 combat troops to Afghanistan.

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