Friday, February 24, 2012

US Bank Celebration of the Arts @ Kentucky Museum, WKU

This is an open show. Despite the listing on the exhibition material, my task, to be clear, was to select the awards only. This was still rather tricky - many awards, across 14 categories and with various stipulations. I would like to thank Mrs. Staebell, Registrar and Collections Curator at the museum, for her organizational skills that helped me move through the work with ease and clarity.

All the same, the work was just as wide ranging, and as expected, produced by ambitions and intentionalities that were either abundantly clear, convoluted, or better still, a total mystery. If in doubt, I trusted the work, and that only. I assumed that the decisions were deliberate and did not allow myself to dismiss them to hastiness, chance or convenience. If I had missed it, consider me fooled: I looked for what is actually there, instead of what the artists may think the work is doing. This was essential in selecting the best of show and the best photo, for example, wherein the summation of decision-making presented something uplifting while at the same time not at all having any pretense at that. I felt a lift from these particular works for their belief in that there is still something left unexplored and that we should not yet close the book on their respective genres or attitudes. I have also subscribed to their alternative ideal of presentation: Yes, an image or an observation could be presented in this way, too. These are obviously only but a few examples amidst many engaging awardees, diametrically well-established techniques, craftiness and finish. I wish I could give due feedback to all 40+ of these award winners as well as many other earnest participants, for I was oftmade feel as if each artist or craftsperson in some way or other was speaking to me, directly.

I think that the viewers of the exhibition may walk away with similar feelings. It will be a heavy dose of diverging, if contradictory, pleasures. If you are experiencing the exhibition for the first time, however, I would recommend not to go by my selection alone, nor by the organizers categories, but to consider the various and just as exciting ways of cross-sectioning an open exhibition of this kind. Try, for example, singling out various guilds, formal or informal groupings with similar interests. I would especially highlight all the WKU art students in the exhibition to this end. I was very much receptive toward their work. I had spent time doing studio visits the day earlier talking to this highly promising group. You should look for the works by Maggie Reed, Ebony Marshman, Conor Lewis, Wesley Miller, and Chasen Igleheart (to name but a few), as they offer a counterpoint to those seasoned pros with long-term regional studios in-or-around town. And yet, they are very much in tune of what each group is doing. It is very informative, engaging and really something to celebrate. If any precedent were there to be set, I would hope it is this openness to what rolls ahead.

Enjoy the reception tonight! and more on the show see here.

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