Carl Abbott, Wendy Abramson, Neal Carter, D Delong, Henning Haupt, Carol McDonald, Ed McDonald,
Dori Pendergrass, Tony Reinemann, Javo, Lee Sido, Mara Torres, Elisabeth Trostli
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The volume and variation of submissions to this season’s kick off juried art exhibition, New Modernism, is testament to Art Center Sarasota’s vibrant and dynamic community. The wide array of mediums, materials, techniques and genres was not only impressive; it made my task of prioritizing some over others even more challenging. I did not take the responsibility lightly. While I believe Art Center Sarasota’s community is an inclusive one that invites a multiplicity of expression, for the cohesion of the exhibition and to allow for “breathing” room between the pieces.
The influence of the title, New Modernism, was undeniable when selecting works for the show. At first subconscious, then a bit irritating, and finally instructive- I finally came to the realization that the title gets to the heart of what it means to be relevant. Often when we value a work of art over another, we are really saying that it is more relevant. What criteria is this based on? The last major artistic movement, and according to some, America’s only contribution to art history, was modernism with its various sub-movements, abstract expressionism, pop art, and minimalism. Vestiges of these movements were evident in many of the submissions. There were drips and splatters with the use of industrial materials reminiscent of Jackson Pollock and geometric abstractions not too dissimilar from Frank Stella. There were also modernist tendencies that can be traced back to even earlier movements such as romanticism, cubism and impressionism throughout. I inevitably looked for works that contained an historical awareness and use of artistic strategies such as pop imagery, appropriation, chance production, color field abstraction, modular forms, internal logic and self-reflexivity, while somehow instilling within it a sense ofnewness.
New Modernism is being mindful of art historical movement’s contributions while still authentically responding to the urgency of today’s issues, as experienced through social media, the #metoo movement, the effects of global warming, etc… The works I found most relevant in this case achieved the poetic balance of knowing art history without being weighted down by it.