By Ellen Maidman-Tanner
I recently ‘attended’ a Zoom lecture by art critic and professor John Albert Seed and artist Gage Opdenbrouw on the movement and book entitled “Disrupted Realism”. With that book, Seed established an art movement he had been witnessing over the last 20 years or so, of representational artists whose work reflects the chaos and social media frenzy of our times. Opdenbrouw is one of the artists featured in the book.
These two incredibly erudite and affable men discussed the broad range of artists to whom this designation applies, and the part of the talk that made my heart sing was the number of women artists included, highlighted, in the talk. While many I had heard of, like Alyssa Monks and Zoey Frank, there were a number I had not heard of like Stephanie Pierce and Catherine Kehoe. In fact, women make up about 30% of the artists featured in the book. It is both a sorry commentary but a hopeful one too that this seeming leveling of the playing field had occurred, but it was also noteworthy that I noticed it. Too often women are still not included. Case in point are articles that still appear about Willem de Kooning (and the AbEx movement in general) that still do not mention the impact of the wildly talented female artists in his circle.
‘Signal’ by artist Stephanie Pierce
And while there is one male artist of color in the book, the terrific Jerome Lagarrigue, there are no women of color. Given what I know of John and Gage (I have met both), I expect this is due to the fact that ‘disrupted-realism-women-of-color artists’ (Baltimore’s Zoe Charlton comes to mind) have not yet had the opportunity to be seen extensively. In other words, it is here that playing catch up is most pronounced. Female artists of color still need far broader promotion throughout the gallery venues where their work can be seen, noted, researched and celebrated.
Zoë Charlton with “Companion, Constant” at the Baltimore Museum of Art
photo by Justin Tsucalas
An end of year tip for our Readers:
There is no question that this year has been like no other in recent memory. Living as an artist or art curator, collector, or educator did not get any easier. However, year end is a wonderful time to do the following: Go back through your efforts this past year and pull out the works, the essays and/or the purchases that made you feel good, that made you forget the pandemic and revel in your own accomplishment. Even if you can count them on one hand, be proud. You kept going, kept creating and sharing. Ask yourself, “Why did these make me happy?”, and then spend some time thinking about how you can do even better in the year ahead. Artists, more so than the general public, do tend to be self-isolating under the best of times. Make sure to give yourself some praise for doing these things in this most challenging of years.