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Sunday November 17th 2019

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Raise Your Voice: Changing horizons

By PETER MOLENAAR

Peter Molenaar

Those of us who have connected over the years with All My Relations Arts and Two Rivers Galleries were privileged to receive invitations to the recent opening receptions. These “Changing Horizons” events commemorated the 100th birthday of George Morrison, the Ojibwe artist who graduated from the local Minneapolis College of Art and Design, before viewing much of the world through the eyes of an abstract impressionist. To which I will add: Neighbors, these art openings offer a splendid opportunity to mingle with bright young faces who have significant lives awaiting. 

Some questions:

Did Morrison violate his heritage, as some have suggested, by immersing himself in the modernist art movement? (Conversely, did some “modernists” violate the past when they took inspiration from Navajo sand paintings?) Moreover, how does Marxism resolve the dialectical tension between ‘formalism’ and ‘realism’ in relation to aesthetics and the question of artistic freedom?

Regarding the first question, in principle, Native Americans have the absolute right to walk wherever the rosy cheek ones walk, because they are indigenous to the land. Conversely, do the rest of us have such absolute right? No, we do not. Special spaces are reserved for the first peoples.

As for the Marxist attitude, for example, in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, Marxism-Leninism persuaded the avant garde to embrace ‘realism’ for the purpose of elevating the masses, who, at the time, were largely illiterate. (Note: The patronage of capitalists had ceased.) Anyone doubting the beauty and purposefulness of this period should visit the Museum of Russian Art at the not so very far away 5500 Stevens Ave. location. However, historically, the “Reds” in our own country certainly upheld some relatively ‘formalistic’ expressions, which were part and parcel to the “Harlem Renaissance” of the 1930s. So, evidently, a liberal attitude towards formalistic expression eventually will prevail in this country, with some emphasis on meaningful content. Okay?

In the meantime, this community is asked to celebrate the artistic expressions of the historically oppressed peoples among us, who in their combination in the not so distant future, will assume majority status and leadership. We certainly will all do better when the day beyond the changing horizon arrives.

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