2020 was a tough Covid 19-year for the art world with museums opening and closing like clam shells. Major institutions began broadcasting ‘Zoom’ talks.  Attending an exhibition in situ meant going online for a ticket, often than not, discovering the museum once again had shut its doors. Artists hunkered in tiny apartments, searching for online employment or producing webinars for YouTube, hoping fans would pay. Print-art magazines, those that didn’t fail, went bi-monthly and even tri-monthly, or relied on subscriber email sites, as did art organizations worldwide. Screen Actors Guild (SAG) reduced employees because few movies were being made; even the entertainment industry had to practice social distancing with masks. Classic movies, TV serials, and pre-recorded plays/concerts were needed household sounds. Bread making became the favorite hobby, ice cream eaten out of cardboard containers was the go-to comfort food, and take-out dining ranged from pizza to elaborate gourmet courses for charity events. Art biographies and exhibition catalogs actually got read to snuggling pets elevated to besties. Writing art commentary was a challenge, as I listened to copious webinars, and even dug back into college textbooks for material. Here’s a look back at Anchorage Press Sleuth’s 2020-Top 10 essays, reflecting artists who contextualized Climate Change and showcased social and political themes.

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Sleuth 1. (January 13, 2020): ‘Artist, Chiura Obata, a Joy in a Season of Impeachment and Megxit’: viewing Obata’s watercolors at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, DC, one of only two art trips I took in 2020. Obata, 1885-1975, taught at Berkeley when Pearl Harbor got attacked. His ability to teach at internment camps was a testament to his fortitude.  Obata returned to Berkeley after the war, and in spite of America’s mistreatment of Asians, became a US citizen in 1954. Down the hall at the National Portrait Gallery tourists were paying homage to Amy Sherald’s ‘First Lady Michelle Obama’ portrait and Kehinde Wiley’s ‘President Barack Obama’ representation; both paintings acted as beacons of hope against the shenanigans happening at the White House blocks away—and  sadly continuing.  

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