Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Top 10 of 2014

I love "year end lists" and "best of" lists, and I read them all the time. At the end of every year, that is. My favorite lists are Pitchfork's and Tiny Mix Tapes' Top 50 Albums of the Year lists. These lists allow me to get ahold of all of the music I missed over the past year, and also feel a strange sense of accomplishment when an album I really liked ends up on the list. In addition to these lists I recently read a list from the Journal Sentinel on the top Wisconsin artists of 2014 that placed my two favorite people John Shimon and Julie Lindemann at the top, and a list in the Shepherd Express on the Best of Milwaukee 2014.

You could say I'm a bit list-crazy recently, and this is true. But instead of sitting back and allowing everyone else to make the lists, I decided I would make a list of my own covering some art stuff from 2014.

Obviously making a list for art is a bit more difficult than making a list of the best albums of the year, because there is no way I could have seen all of the art that was shown all over the whole entire world over the past year. So mine is a list of the top ten things that I personally managed to see this year in 2014.

The Top Ten Art Things I Saw In 2014
(starting at 10)

10. "Preservatif" at Stockholm in the Fortress Building, Milwaukee, WI
Although nobody I talked to was as impressed as I, I maintain my opinion that this exhibition was very important for Milwaukee, a city which has a bit of trouble talking about taboo topics.

9. The Museum of Wisconsin Art, West Bend, WI
This museum in little ol' West Bend is a perfect day trip from Milwaukee. Don't be put off by its small town stature. It often has shows that rival those at MAM. Not to mention a shiny new building!

8. "Missing You" by Kristina Rolander at Usable Space, Milwaukee, WI
I immediately liked Usable Space as a gallery space, but Rolander's floating letters solidified this visit as one of my most pleasant gallery experiences on a muggy June night in Bay View shortly after I moved to Milwaukee.

7. An accidental painting I discovered in my grandma's old instructional painting binder
When my grandma died she left behind all sorts of paint, paintings, and other supplies. She also left behind a binder that I never really looked through until recently, revealing the magnificent eagle painting above. This study was slightly out of her realm of expertise and subject matter, which usually consisted of small, garden birds and regional flowers. 

6. "Ray Yoshida's Museum of Extraordinary Values" at JMKAC, Sheboygan, WI 
[source: jmkac.org]
This was an exhibition of Chicago Imagist Ray Yoshida's personal collection. I spent many of my lunch breaks wandering around looking at the objects until the exhibition was deinstalled midway through my internship at JMKAC. It was in this exhibition where I discovered tramp art for the first time, which I wrote about in this post from January.

I discovered Rifle Paper Co.'s whimsical postcards, greeting cards, and other fanciful paper products while working at Broadway Paper. This husband and wife team started out small in Winter Park, FL putting simple floral patterns on postcards. Now they are rich and famous and sell their products at stores like Anthropologie. Despite the fact that they sold out just a little bit, I like the idea of Rifle Paper Co. because it proves that simplicity and handmade products are still valued in society.

4. Dabl's African Bead Gallery, Detroit, MI
Although the name indicates that the bead gallery was the main attraction, it turned out that the real draw was an outdoor art installation located behind the gallery/ store created by Detroit artist Olayami Dabls. The best part was getting to meet Dabls himself and chat with him before and after viewing the installation.

Not only was this museum awesome, but the staff was super friendly, and their amazing day-long workshop allowed me to learn a new artistic process that would otherwise be difficult to access. 

I spent two and a half hours wandering this museum, and it was not just because it was raining heavily outside. The Ogden has a fascinating collection of art from artists who live(d) or work(ed) in the south (states including Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, North Carolina, and South Carolina). Shown above is a painting by Howard Finster of Georgia, one of my favorite artists. Although Milwaukee has a large collection of his art, I had never seen anything of his outside of MAM's collection before, and was excited to see these pieces in the Ogden's collection.

1. The Heidelberg Project, Detroit, MI 
Perhaps it's not fair to include the Heidelberg Project on this list, because it was not only my favorite art viewing experience of 2014, but also of my life up to this point. The Heidelberg Project is one of those things that sticks with you forever if you realize how profound it actually is. Created by Detroit artist Tyree Guyton, the Heidelberg Project's sole mission is to breathe life into an otherwise decaying, impoverished neighborhood through art. This was the only time I have actually been to a true "ghetto," a burned and abandoned city street where a gigantic art installation was neighbor to a man growing corn in his side yard. I wish that all art was like the Heidelberg Project. In an ideal world, art would always be a vehicle to bring the community together to strengthen and repair. HP makes me believe in art like nothing else. It will certainly be hard to top this in upcoming years!

2014 was so good. 

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