Contributed by Sharon Butler / The semester is over and I’m finally catching up on the news. Here are links to some of the stories that caught my eye: Ceramic Christmas trees, NYTimes critics pick their favorite art books of 2018, John Yau ODs on Mark Grotjahn, Sept Rodney on “Soul of a Nation,” the $200,000 Don Tyson Prize winner, Berthe Morisot (last chance), tiny house designs, a Bomb interview with Caitlin Cherry…and more.
News from our sponsors: The University of Arkansas has a fully-funded three year MFA program. The program includes a tuition waiver and $15,000 stipend for each student. Woot. Check it out here. // My alma mater, The University of Connecticut, is accepting applications for a tenure-track painting and drawing position. Great community. Click here for more information.
In the NYTimes Frank DeCaro reminds us about the joy (and kitsch) of ceramic Christmas trees: “For a fragile piece of kitschy clay, the light-up ceramic Christmas tree is a remarkably durable piece of holiday nostalgia. A D.I.Y. crafts-class staple in the 1970s, this old-style decoration (a perforated pine tree-shaped shell with a single bulb at its core, stuck with glowing Lite Brite-style plastic pegs) is having a glimmering moment again after years in the attic. These new ones are mass-produced, but they still shine….” Read more.
Best of: NYTimes art critics Roberta Smith, Holland Cotter and Jason Farago have compiled lists of their favorite 2018 art books. Read more.
Must see: At Hyperallergic, Seph Rodney reports that “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power,” organized by the Tate and on view at The Brooklyn Museum through February 3, is both smart and a necessary. “It shows the interwoven and complex character of Black artistic production which incorporated distinct regions, artistic movements, schools of practice, political philosophies, and medium-specific concerns during those years between the late ’60s and mid ’80s when Black political consciousness began to cohere and realize its powers….[but] I want to suggest that this socially and politically fractured nation state doesn’t really have a soul. That’s too ephemeral a metaphor. One might say this nation has a heart — a beating, pulsating, hammering organ of culture that circulates life-giving blood to other, core, vital organs (civic institutions, economic industry) and distal appendages (local community organizations). This might be a better analogy for the narrative that is articulated here and might more clearly explain why any truthful account made of artistic development in the United States during the latter half of the 20th century must include these artists. They concretize in objects those abstract notions of risk and of freedom — because they have long had skin in the game.” Read more.
From ArtNews: Pittsburgh-based sculptor, painter, writer, activist, performer, and poet Vanessa German has been awarded the biannual Don Tyson Prize, by the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. “German is the founder of Art House, a space in Pittsburgh’s Homewood neighborhood where women, children, and families can create art. A selection of her sculptures of African-American ‘power figures,’ which she builds with found objects, figured in the 2014 exhibition ‘State of the Art: Discovering American Art Now’ at Crystal Bridges.” She is represented by Pavel Zoubok in New York. Read more.
Sad news: ArtNews reports that the Half King, the beer hub on 23rd Street in Chelsea, is closing. “’We have had 18 wonderful years in this neighborhood but times have changed and we can no longer avoid financial reality,’ a letter on the Half King’s website reads. ‘Please visit us in our final weeks—either Scott or Sebastian or Nanette will be here most evenings in January. It is with very heavy hearts that we bid you all goodbye.’” Read more.
Tiny houses and the homeless crisis: The LA times reports that design schools in LA have been asked to come up with ideas to help address homelessness in the city, and some of the results from the ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena are on display. Read more.
Last chance: “Berthe Morisot: Woman Impressionist” is only on view at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia through January 14. Back in October New Yorker art critic Peter Schjeldahl called Morisot the most interesting artist of her generation, and suggested she “has been not so much underrated in standard art history as not rated at all.” Read more.
Ouch: At Hyperallergic, John Yau says enough is enough. “One or two of the paintings in Mark Grotjahn’s latest show at Gagosian might be interesting to look at, but a giant gallery space full of them becomes overbearing and tedious….Having moved on from the Faces, the problem with the New Capris, Capris, Free Capris is that they come across as formulaic, even tepid. Nothing about the placement of the diagonal and vertical lines of paint seemed crucial. Each time I went through the different rooms of the gallery, I got the sense that Grotjahn is coolly checking off all the boxes of what to do in an abstract painting: apply paint with brush and palette knife, and squeeze from the tube. Use Palette knife to make splatters. Be gestural and expressionist and also have a grid. Paint on cardboard (look gritty) but mount on linen (be Arty).” Read more.
At Bomb, Zoe Dubno talked to Caitlin Cherry on the occasion of “A Wild Ass Beyond: ApocalypseRN,” her recent collaborative installation with Nora N. Khan, American Artist, and Sondra Perry at Performance Space New York. “Deskilling can operate here as a way to productively reveal one’s personal politics and self-worth. Many people will never have access to the rigors or excess of a formal art education. So let’s call it, ‘Deploying a strategic mediocrity and leaving space for budding artists to figure how to learn on their own.’ Art is a lifelong process of both learning and unlearning ideas that extends past one’s institutional education. Letting go from mastery is not failure but an opportunity to diversify one’s skill set in other media within or outside of art so that they can become a functioning member of society.” Read more.
Saving for later: ArtFCity’s latest edition of the Explain Me podcast, featuring the Whitney tear gas controversy and more.