State of the Art Scene: Introduction


We can all agree that it has not only been quite a year but quite a decade. Granted, all decades are noteworthy, but it is difficult to deny that the 2010s have been marked by a heightened sense of fear, anxiety, and antagonism, to an extent that many of us feel has been unmatched in our lifetimes. But with this set of challenges comes a more urgent need for reflection, critical engagement, and a passionate pursuit of the greater truths that unite us. That is why we have devoted this issue to looking at the present state of the art scene through ten reviews from seven art centers, large and small.

Art has always been a bastion for truth. Yet it is by no means any kind of a gold standard by which we measure what is purported to be true. Quite the opposite. Art is a bastion in which we can push and prod and the boundaries of truth in order to understand the malleability of our intellect, our identities, of our very nature.

This privilege comes with a great amount of risk. It is why art as a practice and as a discourse is relegated to context of the exhibition, the critique, the theoretical. Much like a friendly board game, art exists in a kind of magic circle in which social rules are not applied the way they are in everyday life. Yet art is not without controversy. Nor is it without the risk of causing harm. When we push at boundaries, they are bound to push back. It is in those moments that we discover and learn, even when it sometimes hurts to do so.

Art is volatile, which is why it is contained in its own institutions. It is one of the facets by which we observe our humanity and reflect upon who and what we are. It is essential that we step back and do this from time to time. In fact, we should do this as often as we can.

As we step into this next decade, we invite you to join us in our little corner of the art world. We have compiled reviews that cover a wide range of the spectrum of contemporary American art, from artists at the height of their careers like William Pope.L to emerging artists like Nashville's spirit animal taxidermist Merrilee Challiss. We are lucky to have contributions not only from New York and our fair city of Chicago but also from Art Basel Miami Beach, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Nashville, and St. Louis.

As always, we are grateful for your readership and support of our publication. We hope that you continue to explore and grow with us into the new year and the new decade. Here’s to 2020!


The Editors



SUBSCRIBE to the print version of the New Art Examiner via PayPal