Sunday, March 11, 2007

Regionalism, Nationalism, and Globalism at the OK Coral

There's been a bit of a school yard fight brewing in the Seattle art world for the last couple weeks.

Jen Graves, cat-eyed art critic; a young hipster-ish, establishment questioning art writer started it. She asked a question about another critic's ethics; Matthew Kangas, who was previously protected from the stones of others by immensely thick glasses and 25 years of dependable critical chops. Jen raised some valid questions about critical ethics. Namely, should an established art citric dare to write about art that they hold in their personal collections?

The accusatory tone seeped from the Seattle media and threatened to overshadow the completely art-geek enthusiasm of the Tacoma Art Museum's speaker's forum last Saturday. I'd been looking forward to Saturday's program for about a month... it's such an interesting subject; where does the previously provincial Northwest fit into the art world at large. Having been gone for a while and then steeped in artiness for the last year, I was looking forward to obtaining some context.

First the curators spoke; Hushka actually spoke on the show at hand, dude from the Whitney told amusing (to him) anecdotes about how he (ha, ha) was the successful purchaser of this print or that print, and the Dudette from TX (don't mess with) misunderstood the assignment. She didn't realize that the listeners in Seattle weren't there to hear a regurgitated slide show of the book/collection she curated, but were expecting actual insight to the subject that was posed.

The art critics really stole the show. They maturely stayed reellllatively on topic, Graves sounding a bit flatulent by over questioning the mere existence of a biennial and suggesting instead that the museum offer smaller more focused in content shows twice a year and then reversing on herself and demanding that this one show be the "it" show for the northwest, the codifying one. Regina Hacket defied expectations, she stood and paced the room like a preacher, artfully expounding on art in the Northwest. She spouted apropos quotes and spoke with the cadence of a preacher. She outed the Northwest's true wish to just not pry into any one's business and pinned that cultural qwerk on the Midwestern (scandis) and Asians that comprised the majority of the immigrant culture here until the 80's.

I'll have more on this soon.

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