Thursday, August 5, 2010

Morris Graves as Muse; I prefer Xanadu

Tonight, opening in 3 spaces in the Tashiro Kaplan Building- Rock DeMent, Angle and Corridor, is an exhibition called the Mystic Sons of Morris Graves, organized by the "secret society" of sorts of the same name, which started back in '91 by Charles Kraft and others.  According to the Rock DeMent statement the show features actual objects and work from Morris himself, and works by not only the PNW old guard artists (with respect) but many heavy hitters from the art world:

Chris Crites, Charles Krafft, Stephen Rock, Tony Bennet, Ries Niemi, George Condo, Kelly Lyles, Peter Santino, Matthew Barney, Stan Lee, David C, Kane, Susan Rothenberg, Eric Nelson, Mya Lin, Don Ed Hardy, John Ohanessian, Grace Slick, Matthew Kangas, Charlie Manson, Larry Reid...and more

Susan Rothenberg?  Mya Lin, George Condo?? and Matthew Barney?  Really?  Wait, Charlie Manson?  As in Charles Manson?  Looks like it.  What a coup! 

Also exhibiting are a host of emerging and professional local artists like Troy Gua, Kate Protage, Chris Sheridan, and many others.   

This show is getting a lot of attention; people are writing about this show (see Regina's post here because). Morris Graves is one of the few home-grown legends of any note from the 20th Century, and he deserves to be celebrated. I'm certainly curious to see the show and what sorts of works will be on display, especially from such an impressive list of artists...

My first impression upon hearing about the exhibition was that it was fostering the implication that all of us local emerging artists are "sons of Morris Graves" but once I learned a little more about it, I see it's really just a celebration of a mythic artist, for fun and to keep his legend alive.  

Let's take that for what it is, a big, rambling love fest for one of the few local 20th century artists to gain national attention.  

Never-the-less it got me thinking a little bit.  (dangerous I know!)  I feared this was another exhibition that centered around the idea that the NW school was the last big thing to happen to art around here (outside of Chihuly) and we'd never get past it, we'd never finally be looking strongly at all the amazing contemporary work happening out here.

I'm reminded of when I saw the writer Colsen Whitehead read, and he talked about how he the generation of writers/literary folks just above him were all still fixated on things like the Vietnam War, Woodstock , hippie culture,  summer of love and all the events of the late 60s and that it was hard to break up that whole scene-that it was time for new writers and new subjects to be more prominent.  But that older generation still had all the power.  When I hear about people loving and celebrating things like the old and mostly deceased Northwest school artists  I just keep thinking, when will they start paying attention to the new work out there?   When the new guard get a real shot?

But hey, I was making mountains out of molehills.   It is just a show and it will showcase a lot of emerging talent and maybe some folks will create some interesting takes on the subject.  Who knows...

If nothing else we might get an answer this burning question:

Is Morris Graves responsible for all the bird imagery in Northwest art?

 If Morris Graves as muse is not your thing, you can skate over to SOIL and check out the Xanadu show instead for  far more sexy musings. 


Amanda said...

It's interesting to consider Graves, since artists in Seattle seem often to be searching for that misplaced (er, nonexistent) local identity. Geographical isolation and the wacky mysticism of Morris Graves et al seems to be the two things such conversations boil down to, which are both pragmatically irrelevant to the contemporary culture here. (Oh, and glass too, which is relevant.)

(In my view, Seattle should be a place where artists experiment freely and stridently….since we're not exactly under a microscope.)

Maybe this Morris Graves exhibit should be something like an exorcism and less like a seance!

billyking said...

More dialogue and comments about the Mystic Sons of Morris Graves show than most..and that's a good thing.