Artékritik's First Pick
Transition Suite 4 Diane Hansen
by Artéwôrldé Artékritik David Arthur Walters
Resident artists of ArtCenter/South Florida, an art colony located on Miami Beach's Lincoln Road Mall, recently competed for prizes in a contest entitled art and the city. The competition was sponsored by the developers of Artécity, a $100 million luxury condominium complex located behind Collins Park in South Beach's Art District.
Artécity triumvirate Alessandro Ferretti, Piero Salussolia, and Maurizio Cavelleri hope to revitalize their real estate business and turn a handsome profit for all speculators concerned, by associating their real estate project with Miami Beach's traditional artistic institutions, targeting the affluent market instead of the masses. The purchase of an Artécity condominium will include membership in several cultural institutions via an artécitycard. ArtCenter/South Florida is one of those institutions.
Artécity propaganda professes an underlying ideology, associated with the artéindustrial complex, which its artélogues call "Artistic Urbanism." Although the publicity does little to elucidate its ideological lineage, it is not too difficult to discern its primary objectives: private profit and capital gain. The arté will hopefully add the traditional sizzle to the steak. The art-patronage of the developers will perchance gain them added prestige as benevolent civic leaders. That prestige will of course depend on their good judgement of art, something that has been historically lacking among civic leaders notwithstanding the most brilliant exception to bourgeoise vulgarity, the Medicis.
Artécity managing developer Alessandro Ferretti and Miami Art Museum director Suzanne Delehanty sat as the honorable judges of the art and the city competition. The theme of the competition upon which the submissions were invited was the presence of art in the city. The prize-winning art objects will become part of the permanent collection to be exhibited at the Artécity condominium complex. In effect, Artécity is publicizing its real estate project by sponsoring the ArtCenter/South Florida contest, and is, at the same time, buying the winning art: First Prize, $10,000; Second Prize, $5,000; Third Prize, $2,500.
I examined the contest entries some time before the winners were announced. In my personal judgment, Diane Hanson's Transition Suite 4 should have won First Prize. My judgment was based, first of all, on transcendental and sensory intution, and then on the unity of multiple art principles roundly ignored by Miami's commercial art experts, who tend to base their judgments on estimated return on contemporary art investment, now said to exceed twelve-percent per annum compounded. In keeping with the practice of those judges, I shall not render a formal opinion justifying my judgment. Since the principle of contemporary art is that there are no universal principles or objective standards for judging art, my opinion would only add to the confusion.
Mind you that I am not an art critic, art juror, or art judge: I serve Artéwôrldé as its Artékritik for the express purpose of rendering my honest lay opinions on certain subjects that are, according to a written statement issued by an Artécity spokesperson, beyond the critical abilities of such a person as myself, whose art is, "from the beginning, insulting."
I regret to say that I have no prize money for Ms. Hanson. And she will received not a penny of the official prize money. Her submission did not place, although her composition did get an 'Honorable Mention.'
Transition Suite 4 at first glance gave me the impression of a medieval tryptych with two narrow addendums or wings added to the viewer's right. By the way, I am fond of the tryptychs at the Metropolitan Museum and at the Walters Museum of Art. Transition may not be folded up like a tryptych, but its five canvasses can be taken down and stacked up for transition to another exhibition. The five canvasses are puzzled together to form an irregular or offset horizontal array, over which the different upright scenes, connected by a vertical object such as a lamp or palm overlapping the borders, are painted side by side. The composition viewed from a distance presents the pleasant appearance of an irregular tapestry of subdued tones - brighter lighting, however, brings out the reds. A closer inspection reveals the scenes. If the viewer were not familiar with South Miami Beach, she would think they were impressions of an attractive Mediterranean city or village known for the art of causal living if not the artful life, in pleasant contrast to artistic urbanism. However, the scenes are impressions of South Beach: witness the Boardwalk, Ocean Drive, Lincoln Mall. Thus are the possibilities of living an artful and urbane life in South Beach expressed.
"Perfect!" I said to myself after examing Transition. "This is a fine, innovative but conservative work of art, quite fitting to the theme, would be a credit the lobby of any luxury condominium. What more could Artécity ask for?"
But it did not place. In the absence of an Opinion from the two judges, one can only compare Transitions with the winners and speculate on their relative merits - that sort of speculation is considered reprehensible by Miami's political and cultural winners.
First Prize went to Karim Ghidinelli's huge thumbprint scrawling, next to which I shall soon present my Konstructive Kriticism. Second Prize was won by Babette Hershberger's fascinating indigo abstract, something worthy of my abstractions as soon as possible. Third Prize was won by Patricio Cuello's row of seven pigment-selection sticks, pasted at the bottom of a blank canvass set within a box-frame - a demographic cross-section of skin colors "through NW 62nd Ave. (Martin Luther King)."
Despite my subjective differences with the judges, I must say that they honorably mentioned other works I had favored. In conclusion, and pursuant to the notion that opinions on art and its judges are merely subjective and are better left unsaid, I must say Ferretti and Delehante were the honorable artéjudges of the artécity competition, and point out that they did not give a prize to my First Pick.