"MANIFEST EQUALITY" SHOW FOR LGBT RIGHTS
Even as all the art-world oxygen is being sucked up by New York’s Armory Week, tomorrow in Los Angeles sees the debut of Manifest Equality, Mar. 3-7, 2010, a pop-up exhibition featuring an expansive selection of visual arts dedicated to the cause of gay rights. Described as a "visual call-to-action," the show takes place at 1341 Vine Street, with more than 150 artists contributing works organized around six themes: "Equality," "Justice," "Respect," "Unity," "Civil Rights" and "Love." Among the participating artists are Tim Biskup, Robbie Conal, Lisa Eisner, Ron English, Shepard Fairey, Tierney Gearon, Chris Johanson, Karen Kimmel, Barry McGee, Harvey Pekar, Clare Rojas, Alix Smith and Swoon.
If the title of this initiative seems to ring a bell, perchance that is because it echoes Manifest Hope, a travelling show of Obama-themed art that appeared opposite the Democratic National Convention in Denver in 2008, before traveling to Washington, D.C. for last year’s presidential inauguration. In fact, one of the people behind Manifest Equality is Yosi Sergant, who helped organize Manifest Hope, and later went on to work for the Obama administration’s National Endowment for the Arts as communications director. Sergant was dismissed from that post last year amid ludicrously exaggerated accusations that he was using his job to politicize NEA grant-making [see "The New Culture Wars," Sept. 28, 2009]. Apparently, Sergant remains unbowed by his encounter with right-wing wrath, and has returned to progressive advocacy through art. More power to him.
In passing, it is worth noting that the organizers of Manifest Equality have managed to attract a great deal of celebrity to this political art initiative. In addition to the impressive list of artists contributing work, Manifest Equality also featured an online art contest, inviting contributions from interested artists. Five winners are to be selected to show at the Manifest Equality exhibition by a team of judges which includes L.A. mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa, Hammer Museum head Ann Philbin, Vogue editor Lisa Love, LACMA curator Franklin Sirmans, art critic David Pagel, political consultant Rick Jacobs, and artists Edgar Arceneaux, Shepard Fairey, Lari Pittman and Ed Ruscha.
WHITNEY MOUNTS A NONFEMINIST BIENNIAL: JEZEBEL
The Whitney Museum of American Art’s current biennial exhibition, "2010," may include more than 50 percent women, but that hardly makes it "feminist." Or so says Jezebel, the popular female-oriented gossip website that is perhaps more celebrated for its hilarious weekly celebrity-mag roundup than it is for its art criticism. As has been widely publicized, the Whitney exhibition includes only 55 artists, and more than half are women. But, as Jezebel reports, "praise for the show" -- in the New York Times T Magazine but also in a nasty Boston Globe review -- "has centered around the lack of overt feminism."
Women in the biennial seem blasé about their success, and feel "entitled to the occasional appearance in a fashion spread, where the glamour quotient is highest," in T Magazine’s words. Even artist Aurel Schmidt, whose image of a Minotaur made from cigarettes, condoms and beer cans has gotten a lot of attention, says she’s no "man-hater," noting that "it’s interesting to explore what is masculine and make it look sexual and positive."
NYC GETS READY FOR "RED"
The art world is about to take up residence on Broadway again. Red, a play about Mark Rothko starring Alfred Molina and penned by San Diego-born screenwriter John Logan (The Aviator, The Last Samurai, Sweeny Todd), is due to begin previews at the Golden Theater in Midtown on Mar. 11, 2010, with a 15-week run slated to begin on Apr. 1. The play, which focuses on Rothko’s 1958 commission for the Four Seasons restaurant in the Seagram Building -- a fraught moment for Rothko, to be sure, since he withdrew from the job -- had its debut in London in late 2009. The two-man show also features Eddie Redmayne, who originated the role as Rothko’s young assistant in the earlier show, and is directed by Michael Grandage, who helmed the London production.
POP ART BY WOMEN IN PHILADELPHIA
Time is growing short to catch "Seductive Subversion: Women Pop Artists, 1958-1968," Jan. 22-Mar. 15, 2010, at the Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. The exhibition, organized by gallery director Sid Sachs, expands the definition of Pop beyond the traditional group of male artists, enlarging the canon to reflect more accurately the role of women in the international Pop Art movement. Among the artists in the show are Pauline Boty, Chryssa, Vija Celmins, Niki de Saint Phalle, Rosalyn Drexler, Dorothy Grebenak, Kay Kurt, Yayoi Kusama, Marisol, Mara McAfee, Barbro Östlihn, Faith Ringgold, Martha Rosler, Marjorie Strider, Alina Szapocznikow, Idelle Weber and Joyce Wieland.
PEGGY GUGGENHEIM INTERNS SOCIETY LAUNCHED
The Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, and taking the occasion to establish a new group for its interns. Since 1980, the PGC has invited young people to work as interns at the museum, and now operates a competitive international program of internships -- about 150 students from as many as 40 countries each year. Former PGC interns are urged to touch base with the Peggy Guggenheim Collection: Interns Past and Present group on Facebook.
MCCARTHY, FUTURISM, MORE IN "ART CRITICISM"
The new number of Art Criticism, the digest-sized, twice-yearly journal founded 24 years ago by critics Lawrence Alloway and Donald Kuspit (and now edited by Kuspit), has been published by the art department at SUNY Stony Brook. Among the articles is a "short review" by Rutgers U. prof Matthew Baigell of contemporary art by Jewish artists dealing with the Holocaust, and a study by artist and psychologist Lillian K. Cartwright of the role Alfred Stieglitz played in promoting Modernism in the U.S. Robert R. Shane contributes an essay titled "Paul McCarthy’s Painter (1995) as Self-Portrait and Self Loathing." Kuspit includes his own essay on "Aesthetic Transcendence and Transformation," as well as a text by San Francisco Art Institute painting prof Mark Van Proyen that argues that "Futurist ethics" -- "where narcissistic motives run amok in a circus-like environment" -- underlie much contemporary art, from Pop to Matthew Barney. Copies can be acquired for $10 from the Department of Art, SUNY Stony Brook, Stony Brook, N.Y. 11794.