Activist art

What are your thoughts on activist art--that is, politically-themed, social-justice-oriented, and/or resistance art? 

This is a tough category for me. On the one hand, when it's done well, I'm really into it. I love art that tells a story and makes you think, and this genre definitely does that. I've always felt strongly about several social justice issues, even more so over the past year. And I've seen many of those themes beautifully or strikingly depicted in art. On the other hand, when it comes to actually buying art, it's hard for me to imagine hanging these pieces in my home. I know I'm lucky to have been born into a privileged life in so many ways, and absolutely do not want to ignore the sad realities that others must face on a daily basis: racism, xenophobia, war, human trafficking, prejudice, poverty, abuse, the list goes on and on. I want to be reminded of the inequities in my country and the world, so I can fight them--but actually hanging those reminders on my walls feels like a step to far for me. (And in terms of resistance art, no matter what I think about the quality of the piece or its commentary, I cannot fathom having the likeness of 45 on my walls. No way, no how.)

All that being said, there are some artists who do amazing things in this genre. Here are a handful that have stood out to me:

Joel Innovinci Ulmer  Untitled VI  [Price on Request]

Joel Innovinci Ulmer Untitled VI [Price on Request]

Natalia Anciso  Migra  [$850]

Natalia Anciso Migra [$850]

Ben Tankard  Art of the Deal  [$1500AU]

Ben Tankard Art of the Deal [$1500AU]

Michael Fischer Keller  Lift Them Up  diptych [$15,000]

Michael Fischer Keller Lift Them Up diptych [$15,000]

Marni Manning  Stand for Something  [$250]

Marni Manning Stand for Something [$250]

Beverly Ryan  Dante's Drones  [$5000]

Beverly Ryan Dante's Drones [$5000]

Any of you have activist art in your homes? Where do you display it? What do you look for in those pieces? Do you have other activist artists you recommend?  

Too much typography?

I love words. I love witty quotes and clever writing and powerful literary passages and smart lyrics and funny pop culture phrases. I love them so much that sometimes I'm embarrassed by how easily attracted I am to art with words. 

There's nothing inherently wrong with art that features words, but I think it's often considered "less than" other art--tiered lower on the unofficial hierarchy of media and subject matters. Maybe because it's so straightforward? "Higher" art leaves more up to the viewers interpretation? Or maybe because it's perceived as involving less skill? Or maybe because, for whatever reason, when a piece of word art gets popular, it gets really popular? (See the ubiquitous "For Like Ever" and "Keep Calm and Carry On" posters from a few years back.)

Right now we have several pieces that fit into the typography / word art / quote art genre. We have a "Don't give up the ship" flag prominently on display, in honor of my dad who passed away last year. It's the first thing you see when you walk in the house. Not far from it, we have a funky wire hand sculpture, labeled "High Five," the last thing you see as you leave. In our downstairs bathroom, we have a cheeky tea towel framed. In the playroom, we have a sweet little motivational watercolor.  In Timmy's nursery, we have a framed handwritten excerpt from a Taylor Mali poem from a dear friend I don't see enough of. I even have a vintage piece that's just a bunch of calligraphed C's--it's not even words, just a letter repeated over and over. 

They're spread pretty well throughout the house, but even so, I wonder whether it's too much. That twinge of embarrassment doesn't stop me from wanting more though.

If you haven't reached your quota for art with words, here are a few options in various styles, all under $100:

1. Nicole Cohen Blanche print [starting at $60]  2. Rachel Kerwin Speak 5 print [starting at $40]
3. Sarah Reiss T is for Taking Care of Business print [$24]
4. Carson Ellis Onward print [$40] 5. Anthony Burrill I Like It letterpress poster [£50] 
6. Bisco Smith Methods screen print [$75]

If you're willing to spend a bit more, here are some more good ones:

7. Ben Eine RIOT screen print [$600]  8. Jennifer Ament It's Not You print [$225]
9. Rachel Castle All the Peoples screen print [$310]
10. Peter Blake Dazzle Alphabet B silkscreen [£575/letter]
11. Yee Wong Disco in the Jungle: Life Is Beautiful print [starting at $150]
12. Alanna Cavanagh The Intelligent Woman's Guide silkscreen [$795 CAD]

Collectors, do you have any typography or word art on your walls? What do you look for or avoid with this kind of art?

Stripes & dots: Energizing

I'm back with more of these simple motifs, this time in palettes that liven up a space:

1. Ann Marie Coolick Confetti Polka Daubs [sold] 2. Gina Julian Prep School [sold]
3. Jonathan Lewis Sweethearts print [starting at $24]

4. Ruth Adler Pink Center Circle print [starting at $325] 5. Milton Shinberg India Monk on Steps print [$95]

6. Taylor Cox Beach Palette [sold]  7. Martina Nehrling Spellbound [$1,400]
8. Erin Clark Cali no. 6 [$400]  9. Kristi Kohut Dots 5 #2 print [starting at $15]

Collectors, what other simple motifs do you like?

Stripes & dots: Calming

There's something appealing about some of the simplest motifs out there--the simple stripe and the unassuming dot. Here are a few that caught my eye if you're looking for something calming and neutral. 

1. Deborah Newman Draped [$1,500]  2. Nicole Cohen Diving Board print [starting at $60]

3. Louise van Terheijden Blue Bubbles [$148] 4. Laura Hendricks Gold Moon print [$60]
5. Erin Clark Maybe the Islands [$950]

6. Alan Jackson Clouds Pass, Rain Falls [$3,000]  7. Hannah Perrine Landmarks print [$150]

Ah, so relaxing! I'll follow up with some the same general motifs in livelier color schemes for a very different effect in the next few weeks.

Collectors, who are your favorite artists who use these motifs?

Art for the guys

When I first told my in-laws that I was going to start this blog, my father-in-law told me about how, years ago, he'd seen paintings of car hood ornaments that he regretted not buying. "Make sure you include some things like that," he said. I laughed, because it was such a specific request. But then I realized he just meant that I should include art that men like too. I assured him that I would--that I didn't intend for this blog to be limited to any particular aesthetic. 

Now, I don't believe that there's art "for men" or "for women" but in honor of my father-in-law, I've rounded up a handful of pieces that remind me of some of the guys in my life:

1. Heather Blanton Blue Cyclists Peleton [$1870]     2. Michael Fitts Paper Airplane [$1600]    
3. Jeremy Miranda Searching print [$75]     4. Stephanie Henderson Lost and Found No. 7 [$1800]

5. Pete McCutchen Stimsonite #2 [$900]     6. Sallie Robbins Fly V [$89]
7. Kathy Beynette Superheroes [price on request]     8. Jane McElvany Coonce Crab Feast [$225]

9. Robert Gilbert Great Falls Tributary [$550]     10. Eliza Southwood Rowers print [£150]
11. Maggie O'Neill Nationals Fan print [starting at $180] 

Collectors, can you think of an artist whose work reminds you of a special guy in your life?