Niche Market

Despite the bleak gallery scene, up-and-coming artists make a home for themselves at ASU

"There was heavy reaction to [Haddock's work] the day after the bombings because we didn't have any information about it up," the show's curator says. "It caught me off guard. We took the piece out of the gallery for a bit so we could think about it. It made my stomach churn all day thinking about pulling Haddock's work."

The museum quickly came to the conclusion that "if we pulled it, we were censoring it, and the bombing was all about people opposed to our democratic way of life, including freedom of expression." The piece stayed in, Spiak reports. "And I grew as a curator that day."

Even more poignant is Ryan McNamara's Island Life.Co-owner of Phoenix's now defunct Barlow and Straker Gallery, McNamara had recently moved to New York to pursue a career as an artist. His proposed piece, an ongoing performance/installation work that would change every week, was to home in on McNamara's new experiences in the Big Apple as a replanted Arizona artist via objects accompanied by narrative text. His first installation, to be displayed in a Plexiglas vitrine, was to be about job hunting in New York City.

Imitating art: Except for a few cautious hours after the terrorist attacks, John Haddock's Neri Dressed as a Policeman Kills Barzini has been on display in one of the museum's stairwells.
Kathleen Vanesian
Imitating art: Except for a few cautious hours after the terrorist attacks, John Haddock's Neri Dressed as a Policeman Kills Barzini has been on display in one of the museum's stairwells.

Details

On view through January 2, 2002. Call 480-965-2787.
ASU Art Museum, 10th Street and Mill in Tempe.

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"The morning of the bombing, two hours after the first plane hit, Ryan sent me an e-mail, asking to withdraw his piece because he had just seen thousands of lives lost," Spiak relates. "His e-mail made the piece into something amazingly poetic about the U.S.' now-lost sense of isolation and immunity to attack from without. I asked for permission to post his e-mail as an explanation of why he was withdrawing from the show. He agreed, but asked that the vitrine that would have been used for displaying his work be left empty."

Though "Nooks and Crannies" arguably has done more for the Valley's artist community than any other exhibition within recent memory (word of ASU's impending show found its way to Larry Rinder, high-profile curator at New York's Whitney Museum of American Art, who detoured to Phoenix for studio visits with some of the exhibition's artists), the idea for this show ends up being more appealing to me than the actual art in it. That may be a function of artificially creating art to fit a pre-set theme or selected space, rather than finding a space to fit an existing work created because the artist was psychically compelled to create it. Or perhaps it's because the museum's concurrent show, "Cops and Robbers: Drawings by Lucio Muniain," with its cartoony but bone-chilling depictions of violence in Mexico City, so utterly overpowers it on any number of levels.

No matter. "Nooks and Crannies" is definitely worth the Easter egg hunt. And after the hunt, you begin to realize that, thankfully, someone in Arizona is not only thinking outside the box, but coloring outside the lines as well. "Nooks and Crannies"

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