Reviews & Essays
The 2009 Williamsburg Art & Historical Society Group Show: Part 1
On Sunday, March 15, 2-5 PM the Williamsburg Art & Historical Society hosts a panel discussion on a continually nagging problem: why, though women are prominent as art collectors, curators, museum directors and gallerists, are women so underrepresented in public collections? Panelists addressing the situation include Dorian Bergen (ACA Galleries), Katherine Griefen (A.I.R. Gallery), Dena Muller (Art Table), art critic and writer Andrzel Lawn, artist Lili Bita, and some others. The WAH Center quotes a recent New York Magazine article, and the statistics are far worse than a devotee of the arts would assume: women artists only make up 5% of the collection at MoMa, still only 15% at the supposedly cutting-edge Whitney, and a shocking 1% (that's right, one percent) at the Frick. If these numbers are really accurate, they're stunning, because what's onsale, at least in New York, seems to reach far closer to gender parity. Even here at Lucid Culture, with a mission of giving equal time to women artists and musicians, we're still running about 60/40 male. Other than the obvious, long-running problems, what gives?

It's not that the WAH Center isn't holding up their end. Essentially, this year's group show is divided into two parts: the current one representing the generation of women born before 1950 is up through April 12; the second, featuring younger women artists opens April 25. Predictably, there are many highlights.

Regina Granne undoubtedly had no intent to steal the show but she does, with a selection of intensely impactful, war-themed oil pastels from her show Shadowed World, Shattered World. Missiles are represented by paper airplanes folded out of some nameless map, honing in on the terrain below, blank white silhouettes of soldiers with their weapons at hand posed like toy soldiers. Another large work intersperses religious images from some shattered stained-glass window among black-and-white portrayals of grief, anguish and terror, parents, widows and civilians looking straight out of a Frontline documentary on Gaza. The most powerful of all of these are two smaller paintings, the background of each done in an awkward, childlike style. The first is a scrawled child's self-portrait being blown up by one of those paper airplanes; the second has the paper airplane (a CIA drone, maybe?) zooming in on a comfortable, cozily innocent 2-D rendering of a childhood home. Polemical? Absolutely. Subtle? No, but Art Lite never stopped a war. Remember, innocent Iraqis, Palestinians, and Afghanis along with American troops are still being killed as you read this.