“We’re not human without culture; art saves people”

For most artists, it’s a badge of honour to find that their work is as relevant and powerful decades after the initial unveiling. Such achievement is bittersweet for US artist Cauleen Smith, whose acclaimed film, Drylongso, is better understood now than it ever was while it was released in 1998 when she was still at film school.

The plot focuses on an art student who starts photographing Black men out of fear they may soon go extinct, a narrative that feels horribly apt in 2020 following the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

“I never expected it to be as relevant now as it was then,” Smith tells us in a Zoom video call from her LA home. “The film has grown in popularity and seems more useful to people now than when I made it – then, it was looked at as a sociological document. I was

Read More

At RISE Amherst, new mural meant to represent connection between cannabis culture and art

To Ben Sussman, the exterior walls of RISE Amherst were a blank canvas, presenting an opportunity to bring something special to Western Massachusetts.

A quest to find a muralist to add vibrance to the buildng became a passion project. That project is now complete, as artist Zaeos has spray-painted a mural around recreational and medical marijuana shop RISE, showcasing images of black-capped chickadees, the Massachusetts state bird, and a blue heron.

The artwork helps to present a connection between cannabis culture and art and honor both communities, said Sussman, the RISE Amherst community outreach coordinator.

“At a time in the country where everybody is so divided and there is so much strife in people’s lives with the virus and everything that’s going on, giving back to the community in kind of a different way and putting up a piece of public art that can really help people, just taking

Read More

Philip Guston and the Boundaries of Art Culture

Art people have been shocked by the postponement, possibly until 2024, of a major exhibition, “Philip Guston Now,” by the institutions that were scheduled to mount it: the National Gallery of Art, in Washington; the Tate Modern, in London; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. I shared the reaction until I thought about it. At issue are some darkly comic paintings by the great American artist which feature cartoonish Ku Klux Klan figures smoking cigars, tootling around in open cars, and generally making fools of themselves. The dark part consists of abject self-portraiture, the focus of works, including the Klan pictures, that dumbfounded the art world when first shown, in 1970. At fifty-seven, Guston had trashed his status as the most sensitive stylist of Abstract Expressionism and unclenched raucous pictorial confessions of fear and loathing. Stricken with such regrets as having, in 1935,

Read More

Six ways to get your SoCal art and culture in person

Tired of just streaming shows at home? Ready to lay your eyes on a real canvas, hear the patter of dancers’ feet in person, catch a concert in the company of a live audience? Here are a half-dozen SoCal shows following COVID-19 protocols for a safe, distanced, in-person experience.

“The Quest”
The L.A.-based site-specific dance company Heidi Duckler Dance celebrates its 35th anniversary with a 10-day series of walk-up and drive-up performances at different locations. The Thursday performances, at 7 and 7:45 p.m., are drive-up shows at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Studio City; Friday is another drive-up, at 7:30 and 8:30 p.m., at the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook in Culver City; and Saturday shows at 6:30, 7:15 and 8 p.m. are drive-in at North Figueroa Street in Mt. Washington. Shows run daily through Oct. 10. $35-$400.

“Driven: A Latinx Artist Celebration”
The Museum of Latin American Art in

Read More