Year in Review 2013: Visual Art
Dzine at Public Functionary, photo by Ben Ragsdale
This year was an awesome one for visual art in the Twin Cities. Almost every weekend brought a new event highlighting our wonderful local artists, or bringing in the best visual art from all over the world. While there were many more amazing things that happened beyond this list, here's just a sample of the art we just couldn't live without.
Year in Review 2013: Literature
Zoe Beloff's model of Albert Grass's proposed Dreamland amusement park re-vamp
Inspired by Stephen Colbert's concept of "truthiness," which is defined as things that feel true even if they aren't, Minneapolis Institute of Arts' contemporary art curator Elizabeth Armstrong assembled an impressive line-up of artists exploring the line between fact and fiction. Some of the most powerful work in the show was the most political, such as Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle's Phantom Truck, which explored the so-called weapons of mass destruction that led the U.S. to seek war with Iraq, or Ai WeiWei's Colored Vases, where the Chinese artist dipped supposedly Neolithic clay vases in buckets of house paint. The exhibition was often funny and thought-provoking, and was a wonderful first big show for Armstrong, giving us hope that MIA will continue to invest in contemporary art.
Claes Oldenburg, Two Cheeseburgers, with Everything (Dual Hamburgers), 1962
The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Philip Johnson Fund, 1962 ©Claes Oldenburg
Norman Akers, Distant Calling
Tony Tiger, director of art at Bacone College in Muskogee, Oklahoma, became the first guest curator at All My Relations Gallery this year. He chose to showcase a number of Oklahoma-based Native artists exploring Native identity and survival. Home to 39 federally recognized tribes, many of which were forced to re-locate to the area, Oklahoma has a brutal history that the artists in the show grapple with while also navigating what it means to be Native in the contemporary world. Taking on modern-day conflicts that stem from a violent history, the artwork in the show was powerful and reflective.
Dzine, Club Gallistico
Dzine's "Victory" at Public Functionary
Public Functionary, a new gallery in northeast Minneapolis headed up by director Tricia Khutoretsky, made a splash this year with its first show featuring the work of Chicago-based artist Dzine (a.k.a. Carlos Rolon). The sparkly exhibition, complete with a gaudy chandelier made of cheap estate jewelry, trophy displays, and homages to cockfighting and custom-made cars, was completely over the top and awesome.
George Shea and Gordon Locksley, Andy Warhol
Minneapolis got a real treat this year when Aria hosted an exhibition and sale of photographs, paintings, prints, and works on paper by Andy Warhol presented by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and Christie's. The week-long event, which included more than 50 pieces, featured a number of works that were originally shown here in Minneapolis at the Locksley Shea Gallery.
This year, Minneapolis saw the opening of the Somali Artifact and Cultural Museum, headed up by Somali entrepreneur Osman Ali, whose passion for preserving Somali and East African heritage brought him to open the small storefront in the basement of the Plaza Verde building in south Minneapolis. Beautiful rugs, jewelry, weapons, and musical instruments filled the various rooms in what hopefully will grow into a thriving institution for both the Somali community and the city as a whole.
One of the coolest shows at SooVAC this year was the very strange body of work by Adam Hamilton, who presented a time machine made out of a bunch of random objects, such as clocks, a magnifying glass, a birdcage, and so forth. Accompanying the machine was a mysterious letter that gives some of the fictional backstory of how it came to be. Hamilton also included several paintings that thematically connected with the whole exhibit. An imaginative and clever show, "Fluctuating Capacity" was a delight.
Untitled by Xavier Tavera
Cowboys and beauty queens populated Xavier Tavera's solo show, "Calle Lake," at Augsburg College. Filled with bright colors and a keen eye for detail, Tavera's work told stories with his photographs, giving a sense of character to the assortment of people he featured from the immigrant community. Offering just a glimpse of his subjects -- posing in front of graffiti, showing off a tattoo or a hat -- we get to know just enough to wish we knew more of their story.
Rupture by Elaine Rutherford
This year, Elaine Rutherford and Elizabeth Krinke joined up for a show at Rosalux that was both challenging and rewarding. In the exhibit, Rutherford's mixed-media works explored a sense of place and time, hovering between different worlds in some rather haunting pieces. Krinke's sculptural pieces, meanwhile, explored the subconscious and the idea of memory, with black-bound notebooks trapped in old cabinets, guarded by a kind of mermaid creature. The two artists share a dark, surrealistic quality, and the show ended up being a journey of both the senses and the mind.
Northern Spark, the great Minnesota art-together, was a big hit once again this year, couched in the newly dubbed top hipster zip code: Lowertown. Between the giant, bicycle-powered bat that hovered in the air; cool projections displayed on old buildings; awesome sculptural installations from the likes of Randy Walker, Liz Miller, and Andréa Stanislav; fashion shows; shovel dancers; water rituals; and a paper house that burned to the ground, it was a "nuit blanche" to remember.
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