Once Again, the Whitney Biennial Has Not Heard of the Northwestern Part of the United States
by Jen Graves
on Wed, Dec 21, 2011 at 2:06 PM
The leaked list of artists for the 2012 Whitney Biennial is tedious. It includes Werner Herzog and Vincent Gallo, it's dudecentric, and it doesn't even make an attempt to include the Northwest. (The last attempt involved a single, weak Portland artist.)
The Whitney Biennial's list is always a thud of an announcement. The show, which happens every two years and is supposedly a survey of contemporary American art, is usually instead a survey of already-minted art-world darlings from New York with a handful from LA, and occasionally a bone thrown to San Francisco and Portland. This year, I believe SF has three artists included. Portland, zero. Oscar Tuazon is originally from Indianola, on the Kitsap Peninsula, and he lived for a time in Tacoma (after which his daughter is named), but even during his Seattle coming-out party, he was stationed mostly in Paris.
It's a drag, really, because nobody is doing a contemporary American survey. Also, WhiBi curators make a big noise out of traveling all over the country—"I still remember the I still remember the buzz (shock?) when Shamim [Momin] waltzed into @stephenplatform gallery years ago," William Powhida Tweeted today, about the WhiBi curator's stop in Seattle's Pioneer Square a few years back (she still didn't pick a Seattle artist)—but then pick what you'd have expected them to pick if they hadn't gotten up from their New York desks, as Kriston Capps in D.C., another chronically underrepresented area, points out this morning.
The state of surveys in the Northwest took a blow this summer: The Portland Art Museum's Contemporary Northwest Art Awards this year were freaky-bad.
At least Tacoma Art Museum's Northwest Biennial is coming up; it looks promising. The artist list is decently well-rounded, from Gray & Paulsen and Wynne Greenwood to Matt McCormick, Harrell Fletcher, Paul Pauper, and Matika Wilbur. It opens a month from today.