Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Black Art

Months ago it drove me crazy when Washington Post writer Jacqueline Trescott described Jacob Lawrence a great "African American" artist and now it drives me even crazier when her Washington Post's colleague and that paper's chief art critic writes (in reviewing current shows by American artists Aaron Douglas and Jacob Lawrence in the nation's capital) that:

The surprise isn't that Douglas couldn't overcome all the obstacles there were to making the first fully convincing black art. It's that the young Lawrence, in his "Migration of the Negro," did.
"Black Art"????? Is there really such a genre? If there is, then haven't Africans been making "Black Art" for milennia?

And yes, I do know that there are commercial art fairs that are focused to attract collectors of art about African American subjects, just like there are art fairs focused on Latin American artists, European artists, Australian artists, Asian, etc. They all create art, and their race and ethnicities are part of the processes and cultural contributions to the end commodity, but in the end, it is art.

But Gopnik really means "African-American art," doesn't he?

It's just American art; it happens to depict African American subjects and history, and its talented creators were African American, but the end result is no more "black art" than Andy Warhol's art is "white art" and Morris Louis' art is "Jewish Art" and so on.

It's just "American Art."

Makes my head hurt.

10 Great Towns for Working Artists

10. Oil City, Pennsylvania

What makes it special: The birthplace of the oil industry and former headquarters of Standard Oil, Quaker State and Pennzoil, this northwestern Pennsylvania town is reinventing itself into a lively, committed arts community. With affordable Victorian homes and mixed-use properties (many under $50,000), theater, music, a branch campus of Clarion University, easy accessibility to art markets from Cleveland to Buffalo, and dozens of artists who have already claimed this small town as home, Oil City is one of the best deals on the market.

What it offers: 100 percent fixed-rate financing up to $150,000 on live-work space (when using First National Bank). This includes rehab costs, and mortgage insurance is waived. $7,500 toward down payment and closing costs on a residence through Venango County Affordable Housing (income guidelines apply). Plus there are opportunities for facade grants and loans, tax abatements for commercial properties and tax breaks for certain properties in the Historic District. Downtown studio space is available at $0.49 per square foot, with the first three months rent free.
Read this excellent article by Kim Hall to discover the other nine cities here.