Monday, February 21, 2011

CAC Dusts Off Street Art Swag

With the opening of Keith Haring: 1978-1982, the CAC will again be host to a party for local hipsters and others who support art parties. This show, like last year's Shepard Fairey show, will also give the CAC an opportunity to organize another summer public mural project.

The CAC claims major exhibitions and programs like these serve their mission to make contemporary art more accessible to a larger audience. It is true artists like Keith Haring worked to reach a larger audience by painting in public spaces. But this goal to engage larger audiences is not particular to street artists. All artists work to be part of a larger discussion.

And it is a discussion, not a spectacle for entertaining the masses.

Last summer's whitewashing of a couple of Shepard Fairey's murals I argued was the result of the CAC's refusal to lead any discussion on important issues surrounding Fairey's work. Large murals of child soldiers painted just outside a school was an opportunity for an important the CAC refused to lead.

Like last year, there is yet no indication the CAC has the courage to discuss those issues that find a place in Haring's work. Some of the fundamental topics found in many of his whimsical paintings and drawings include power and threat, death and deliverance, religion, sexuality, heaven and hell. The show is opening this week, though the CAC includes no indication these topics will be discussed.

Failing to engage these tough topics, opting instead for parties, Raphaela Platow's commitment to expanding audiences and making art accessible is a false one.