Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Diasporal Rhythms

 Lowell Thompson

I'd never heard of a "collectors' collective" before,
though I suppose that's what you could call
all American art museums,
which are private corporations
run by  boards of wealthy collectors
who regularly use "public" museums
to showcase their own private collections.

Diasporal Rhythms
is a collective of African American collectors
who don't have deep enough pockets
to become trustees of the AIC or the MCA.

And they might not belong
in a mainstream American art institution anyway,
since they don't seem all that interested
in the familiar tropes of the contemporary artworld.

Judging from this exhibit,
what they want to see most
is  positive depictions of people,
especially human faces,
a predilection which they share with
most of art history from around the world.

And if a painting doesn't catch their eye,
a jargon filled explanation will probably not improve it for them.

You might call them unsophisticated -
while noting how frequently sophistication is celebrated
for its absence (i.e. "outsider artists").

So it's not completely surprising
 that their 10-year-anniversary exhibition
is being held in the new
Logan Center for the Arts,
a severe, neo-medieval tower built
for the propagation of high-end conceptual art
on the campus of the University of Chicago.

Lowell Thompson was
my favorite artist in their show.

He's quite a creative, outspoken character, as his
blogspot and his page on Huffington Post might attest,
though I do wish he would focus more on visual art,
 he's so talented at it.

With these feel-good scenes of American life,
perhaps you could call him a soulful Norman Rockwell.

But I like him more than Rockwell.

He swings!

There's a visual sensuality
that trumps the lucid display
of the message that he's selling.

Julian Williams

Here's the other artist that I liked,
an expressive portrait painter
in the tradition of Van Gogh or Kokoschka.

This guy also belongs in an art museum
though it might take a while.

I didn't really care for the rest of the show,
but I also had some difficulty finding
more than two pieces to really like
in several of the ancient and medieval galleries
 at the Met last weekend.

So, hats off to these collectors!

They have done an end run
around the local art galleries and museums
that don't show the kind of contemporary art they like.

I wish that other collectors
would do likewise
with whatever kind of art they love.


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