If you are reading this, that means the Mayans were wrong. The world did not end, although, I kind of wish it would have. I would have very much enjoyed watching the apocalypse from my front porch, cigar and gin and tonic in hand, knowing that I saved around $70K in student loans I wouldn't have to pay back. Oh well.
So now post-no-apocalypse, it is that time of year to reflect on some of the highlights of the year. Usually, these articles have a tendency to lean heavily on events that occurred toward the end of the year. (We all have short-term memories now.) But it just so happens the most memorable events took place toward the end of 2012, mostly.
In no particular order ...
Margaret Munz-Losch's exhibition "Beauty and the Beast," at L Ross Gallery, was easily the best exhibition in Memphis this year. Someone needs to start an annual art awards ceremony similar to the Ostrander theater awards. The event could be held at the Cannon Center, and I could be the host. Munz-Losch and her paintings of fantastic beings would sweep every category. Seriously, I cannot stop thinking about this exhibition. It is like an obsession.
Other exhibitions shown in commercial galleries that are worth mentioning include Tad Lauritzen Wright's "Garden & Gun," at David Lusk in October, Carl Moore and Melissa Dunn's "I Can See Your House From the Highway," at L Ross in June, and the Larry Edwards mini-retrospective, "A Freaky World," at Gallery Fifty Six, also in June.
It has been a good year for alternative exhibition spaces in Memphis, as three recently opened: Beige, Southfork, and Tops Gallery. Material Art Space had several exhibitions of note this year, among them Adam Farmer's "Turn on the Delight," in January (somehow he was able to fit 200 paintings in this small venue on Broad), and Jordan Martins' "Recent Conglomerations" in November.
Marshall Arts, the longest-running alternative space, has stepped up its programming efforts recently with more exhibitions and events. Across the street, the Wrong Again Gallery finished its second season as the smallest art space in Memphis where nothing ever goes right. There is a rumor the space may close. If true, this is too bad. Kyle James Wingo and Ramona Sonin showed some great work at Wrong Again this year.
The college and university galleries and museums had a mixed bag of exhibitions. "The Art of Science" at the Memphis College of Art in September is proving to be an exciting recurring exhibition where local artists and scientists collaborate to create work that helps the community better understand the work being done at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Christopher Reyes' multimedia installation was one of the best pieces exhibited anywhere in Memphis this year.
The Art Museum at the University of Memphis exhibited work by internationally known artists. "New York South" in the Caseworks Project in April featured the work of Michael Scoggins, Jen Bandini, Katherine Duckworth, Alex Gingrow, and Joy Garnett. With "Hot, Cold, Cool," art stars Frank Stella, Mark di Suvero, Louise Nevelson, and Philip Guston had work exhibited this fall.
Crosstown Arts continued its rise in importance in the Memphis art scene this year. Their new exhibition space on Cleveland is nearly completed and will surely bring thought-provoking exhibitions and events in 2013. In 2012, they started the Memphis version of Pecha Kucha, where presenters show 20 images for 20 seconds each. Crosstown also unveiled the public sculpture Beacon, at the corner of Cleveland and Watkins, by artists Colin Kidder and Eli Gold.
To end this list, which needs to be about 10,000 words to give the slightest bit of justice to the Memphis art world, I want to mention Jill Wissmiller's "Roller Skating Disco Opera," which was a part of Park(ing) Day in September, where 20 metered parking spaces were transformed into temporary public art spaces. This event also featured a gigantic game of Tetris, a badminton net played with Claes Oldenburg-sized rackets, and, of course, planking. The Downtown Memphis Commission and Cat Peña have done an incredible job putting this event together. Just wait until you see my space next year!
Speaking of next year — tough luck, Mayans — go see some art.