four walls, no walls, you and me.

Hammer time
July 10, 2009, 1:52 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

One of the things that I love about LA are the museums. There are so many great museums and galleries it’s no wonder that LA is the new NYC.

Earlier this week I attended a lecture on Sister Corita Kent, a Catholic nun and prolific artist from the 60’s. The panel was supposed to address her work and it’s influence on contemporary art. This discussion was part of a longer lecture series, so I cannot comment on the whole as I only attended this one talk. However, I found I was quite disappointed.

One of the artists invited to speak was completely belligerent and elicited many groans and the kind of uncomfortable laughter that indicates that as an audience, we’ve had enough already. I kept wondering, if you don’t like the work of the artist and refuse to show her any sort of respect, then why accept the invitation??? I understand that critique and criticism is necessary but this devil’s advocate was walking the thin line between devil and advocate with a decisive lean toward the former. What a wreck. I think more than anything it was the self important artist persona he was sporting and I don’t give a shit swagger that got in the way of what could have been very interesting points.

Art History 101: As a viewer you should be able to say more than “I like it” or “I don’t like it”  That was the first lesson on my first day of my first art history class. So to hear an artist make blanket statements in a panel discussion curated by a major art institution in front of an educated audience is appalling.

Another disappointment was the lack of depth in relating Corita’s work with contemporary art. This was the main reason I went and aside from a few last minute comments at the very end relating her work to that of pop art and Warhol there was not much depth in relating her work to even that of the artists on the panel. Sure, Corita may have been an influence and they may love (or hate) her work but there was very little attention given to how her work influenced their work or art practice.

Perhaps I’m being harsh. There were some really great moments, namely a film by Aaron Rose on Sister Corita and some humorous comments on the price of her work and the nature of her collectors. Yet overall, there was a disconnect between what the lecture title promised and what it delivered.

A large part of the disconnect was that the topic was too ambitious, the title too misleading. If they had titled it “Three Contemporary Artists on Sister Corits Kent” I would have expected less and therefore been quite pleased with the night’s discussion and not so disappointed. But every experience is a learning experience and I did walk away with some good notes, a much better understanding of Sister Corita’s work and environment, and a few seeds for thoughts that still need some time to germinate.


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