March Arts News Roundup

This month has been chock full of art-world controversy, tragedy, and triumph. Here are the highlights from around the world and around the Bay.


Image by photographer Ren Hang.

National Notes

The Whitney Biennial opened this month in New York, and the survey of new American art and has stoked the usual crop of both critical pondering and controversy. In a show with multiple pieces focusing on the suffering of immigrants and minorities in America, painter Dana Schutzäó»s äóìOpen Casketäó has triggered a serious backlash.

The painting depicts the mutilated body of slain black teenager Emmett Till, who was killed in 1955 by two white men who were acquitted of the crime by an all-white jury. While on the surface an attempt to highlight racial injustice, critics have argued that Schutz is appropriating black pain and abstracting a very real life. Whether or not Schutzäó»s effort at empathy was misguided, some of the responses have been fairly extreme in their own right, with one artist calling for the paintingäó»s destruction, and another blocking access to the work.

In less complicated but still bleak news, the rising Chinese photography star Ren Hang took his own lifeξon February 24th. Only 29, Hang had produced a striking body of work, focused on surrealistic nudes, which while not explicitly political were certainly boundary-pushing in his homeland.

Also recently passed is King of Rock and Roll Chuck Berry, who lived to the ripe old age of 90. At the time of his death, he had nearly completed his first new albumŒæsince 1979. Itäó»s set to be released in June.


Local Happenings

A promising new gallery, Illsol Art Space, has opened in Tampaäó»s Seminole Heights neighborhood.

Anton Coppola, first maestro of Opera Tampa for nearly 20 years, celebrated his 100th birthday on Tuesday, March 21st. ξHe celebrated with a return performance.

Also making a third-act appearance in Tampa was painter Alex Katz, who dropped by a major exhibit of his work and mingled with visitors.

St. Pete has unveiled a series of painted dog statues which will be placed around the city. The program, which riffs on Chicago’s Cows on Parade project, benefits Southeastern Guide Dogs.

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