jmmeyer2 | Arkansas news, politics, opinion, restaurants, music, movies and art

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Re: “WSJ on 'State of the Art': Kept soft for the naive among us: UPDATE

My issues with Mr. Plagens' remarks stem from the fact that he seems to grossly overestimate the general public's approval or understanding of contemporary art. Crystal Bridges is still a new museum and although they have a world class collection, the public that visits may not be used to the "extreme" or as Mr. Plagen states the type of art that the Whitney (an established American art museum with a strong reputation for showing art that is more aggressive) will gladly be "laden with." Unfortunately, for Arkansas, we are in the South and the general public has a strong tendency to have a extreme moralistic and conservative religious beliefs. To be a successful show, the director and curator of CB had to take into account that the public traveling to Bentonville, may or may not be as exposed to more aggressive and "theory laden" works of art as say New York, Chicago, and LA museum exhibitions. That being said, it is by no means that I assume that every visitor of CB is ignorant of general art standards or even a good understanding of art history, but as an art educator myself on both at the college level and a adult education level, the general public I have encountered in this state, woefully lack a good art education, something that several institutions in this state are trying desperately to correct. My comment would be that shock and "the gritty side of things" are only one small part of the current art scene, and while the pieces selected by the director and curator do not fit Mr. Plagens' personal definition of good contemporary art, one must assume that the artists select and the pieces chosen met the museum's definition. Let us not forget that CB is still a developing museum and as of right now has a strong representation in art that is not too aggressive and boundary pushing, unlike MOMA or the Whitney whose reputations were made on being coarse and avant-garde. This is CB's first venture into this genre of art, if this exhibition is successful, hopefully others will follow that may be more to Mr. Plagens liking.

My next issue with his remarks is his comment of "world's largest faculty show." Even if the statement is true, exactly what the hell is wrong with a strong representation of art educators? We don't live in age of patronage as we use to, artists must be successful and profitable to survive and if that means teaching others, I don't see a reason why Mr. Plagens should be so snobbish about a good income. If he had significant issue with the art not being assertive enough for a good shock value, he should have addressed his remarks to that effect and not attack the artist for being an educator who is trying to broaden the arts.

My last issue is his remark of Jamie Adam's "Niagaradown," if Mr. Plagens had a better developed art history background, maybe he would have observed that the Adam's piece harkens back to Bronzino more than Ingres. Which clearly shows the artist is more in-tune with the intellectual tension with-in the work, using the distortion of the human anatomy and smooth creamy tones of skin as a central focus of the work while at the same time having a more surrealistic environment and atmosphere, leaving the viewer to question the general subject of the painting. I have yet to see the show but I have been looking forward to it for sometime. I will be venturing to CB very soon to see the show despite what one critic writes about it being lack-luster

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Posted by jmmeyer2 on 09/23/2014 at 10:41 AM


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