Though I respect Chris having a point of view, I think he's missing the mark. Repeatedly. And with clunky logic. I recently had the opportunity to see Word Up for myself, and I thought it succeeded on multiple levels. The interplay of text with a variety of visual mediums, messages, and points of view creates a tapestry of effect, wrapping the audience in words and commercials that have little or jumbled meaning from afar, but take on personal significance when viewed close up, surrounded by other bits of information that round out the picture. The show is a puzzle to be solved, a puzzle with more than one answer. It's a beautiful presentation not only of local art and artists (of which we need more!), but of this brand of art in general.
Based on Chris' last two reviews of Word Up, his beef seems to be two-fold. One, he's tired of exhibitions featuring text because no one seizes the reigns and does anything "original" in his mind - artist or curator. Great, Chris. No problem. Don't go to those shows. We'll miss you.
Two, and this is Chris' most vocal gripe, he can't seem to understand why NCMA would feature only male artists in Word Up, and so he throws up his hands and implies sexism at worst, or ignorance of women artists at best. Shame on you, Chris. Where were you when NCMA's attention-getting show Mirror Image featured all local women, or when 30 Americans included all African-American artists, or when most big exhibitions, at NCMA and every other major and mid-major museum (think Rembrandt, Norman Rockwell, etc.), feature all white men? Where's the hand wringing then? He undercuts his own argument in the same sentence by mentioning without similar grumbling that CAM will feature an all female slate in GirlTalk. It's a hollow complaint and one unfair to NCMA. Curating is decision making. This was the museum's decision, and for good reason, I would imagine.
When Chris is hired to curate shows at NCMA, I'm sure his selections will wow us all. Until then, perhaps he should consider lobbing fewer grenades from the sidelines (poor ones, at that), and soak in a few more good shows with the rest of us. We'd be happy to welcome you back to enjoying art for art's sake, Chris.
It's a shame you've forgotten how to do that.
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