Friderike Heuer

 

Art on the Road: Kollwitz in L.A.

At the Fortress on the Hill that is the Getty, an expansive overview exhibit gets to the grit of the great German modernist's life and work


STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY FRIDERIKE HEUER


Husband: “You really are drawn to dark art, aren’t you? Who is she?”
Me: “What do you mean? We have a print of hers hanging on your side of the bed.”
Husband: “Print? What print? ”

Thus I offer you a slice of typical conversation overheard in our household, while dragging my beloved to a striking exhibition of works by Käthe Kollwitz (1867–1945), one of the icons of German modern art, at The Getty in Los Angeles.

Entry to the Exhibition with an enlarged excerpt from Charge (between 1902 and 1903).

While he was muttering about the absence of visual memory, my brain was frantically searching for a translation of an untranslatable German term that is often – and mistakenly, oh so mistakenly – cited in connection with Kollwitz’ art: Betroffenheitskitsch. Betroffenheit can be translated as shock, dismay, consternation, sadness. But in this context it is probably meant to describe too much empathy verging into kitschiness.

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A soldier’s journey

Charles Burt charts a course from military life to an art academy. How the two meet and meld and reflect each other.


STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY FRIDERIKE HEUER


“It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world and moral courage so rare.”
– Mark Twain; “Mark Twain in Eruption: Hitherto Unpublished Pages About Men and Events.” Edited with an introduction by Bernard DeVoto, 1940

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IF YOU ARE CURIOUS about the world, have the privilege of meeting a lot of different artists, and risk tackling things that are not exactly central to your own expertise, you’ll expand your horizon. When I set out to portray people with my camera and my writing, the encounters are as varied as the artists I meet. Some evolve into friendships; others are puzzling. Some demand hard thinking; many provide nothing but pleasure. The last year alone introduced me to classically trained musicians turned Ukrainian girl-band, puppeteers from Chile, choreographers in wheelchairs, Mexican political theater activists, female conductors of sacred music, and numerous printmakers from around the nation. All offered glimpses into worlds different from my own, and in one way or another challenged the way how I view art or the process of creating art.

This has never been more true than for my most recent conversation with a man who has lived in worlds so distant from mine that they might as well exist in a different universe. I met him by chance in a museum cafe. He had come to Maryhill Museum of Art to pick up paintings that had been on display in a group exhibition of, among others, student work of the Seattle-based Gage Academy of Art, his included. I was there because of my interest in the Exquisite Gorge Project that was in progress across the summer months. We started to talk and agreed to a studio visit, something I finally managed to set up last week.

Charles Burt, artist

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Art on the Road: Transparency in Tacoma

An LGBTQ+ glass art exhibition at the Museum of Glass is a celebration, a memorial, and an unveiling


STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY FRIDERIKE HEUER


“One can resist [oppression] only in terms of the identity that is under attack.” – Hannah Arendt Men in Dark Times, 1968.

The title alone made me curious. Was Transparency a less than original descriptor of works made of glass? Was it an absolutely clever pointer redressing the invisibility of members of the LGBTQ+ community, who were the sole artistic contributors to the current exhibition of that name at the Museum of Glass (MOG) in Tacoma? Was it an invitation to shine the light on preoccupations and concerns of this particular community, only to reveal that these are often shared by us all, no matter what community we identify with? Was it a play on the fact that transparency is successfully used for purposes of camouflage in nature, as exquisitely demonstrated by jellyfish, South American glass frogs and clear wing butterflies?

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The Inside Show

An innovative collaboration among Portland artists and prison inmates gives lively, often funny voice to the view from inside the walls


STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY FRIDERIKE HEUER


It is in collectivities that we find reservoirs of hope and optimism.”
Angela Y. DavisFreedom is a Constant Struggle – Ferguson, Palestine and the Foundations of Movements.

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The first time I set foot into an American jail happened in New York City in 1978, while accompanying lawyers from the Center for Constitutional Rights during a visit to a city jail with their clients. My familiarity with the German prison system had not prepared me for what I encountered on U.S. soil in that and later visits, starting with the physical factors of overcrowding and horrid sanitary conditions alone and amplified by reports of continual violence both among those who were incarcerated and from those who guarded them. The memory was triggered, for one, by the fact that the New York City Council voted this week to close the abominable Rikers Island Jail complex, and secondly, by a visit inside a prison, this time in Oregon, but for all intents and purposes on a different planet from Rikers.

View from the Parking Lot at Columbia River Correctional Institution.

Bureaucratic hurdles to enter the Northeast Portland minimum-security prison were surprisingly few. My pre-approved camera was checked both at entry and upon leaving, and the dress code requirements (no blues allowed, lest you couldn’t be differentiated from the inmates) were minimal. For this one-time visit I did not have to undergo volunteer training, thus being spared the instruction not to be open to manipulation from prisoners, an aspect that always struck me as sowing suspiciousness and bound to instill an us vs them attitude right from the start.

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Happy birthday, Street Roots

Portland's weekly newspaper celebrates 20 years as a beacon of advocacy for the city's homeless, and its crew of vendor poets


STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY FRIDERIKE HEUER


“THERE IS A LOT OF COURAGE OUT HERE,” Kaia Sand, executive director of Street Rootscommented recently when introducing women and men at a poetry reading at Gallery 114 ready to present their writing to the assembled guests. The poets were people who are living, fighting, and surviving houselessness. One should add grit, determination, persistence and talent to the notion of courage – both with regard to the presenting poets and the organization that endeavors to support them.

Symbols of the street: the right to speak out.

Many of us might be buying Street Roots on occasion or on a regular basis. The weekly newspaper is produced to provide income opportunities for people experiencing homelessness and poverty, and to act as a catalyst for individual and social change. Vendors pay 25 cents for every paper they sell for $1. For that, they stand days on end on street corners, in all weather, facing who knows how many people who avert their eyes for every one who glances at them, or engages in quick conversation while buying the paper. What stays invisible is the talent and perceptiveness of those vendors trying to connect. What stays hidden is our own timidity to face misery that contrasts with our privilege. Off we rush, having paid a token buck.

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Art on the Road: Whitney Biennial

The power of codes in the art of American black women: This year's adventurous Biennial talks smartly and deeply with art on the streets


STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY FRIDERIKE HEUER


Sometimes I wonder if I am actually visiting the same exhibits that I have read about in the mainstream reviews. Take the Whitney Biennial. Introduced by the Museum’s founder, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, in 1932, the Biennial is the longest-running exhibition in the country to chart the latest developments in American art. This year’s exhibit was reviewed as Young Art Cross-Stitched with Politics by Holland Cotter in the New York Times; explained by ArtNet’s Ben Davis as The 2019 Whitney Biennial Shows America’s Artists Turning Toward Coded Languages in Turbulent Times; and featured by the Wall Street Journal’s Peter Plagens as Still Protesting, but to What End? (with an entry paragraph that describes the exhibition as filled with work expressing political and social grievances, but feels like it may be preaching to the converted.)

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Art on the Road: Hudson Yards

An architectural enclave for the uber-wealthy rises in Manhattan, with a hollow folly in the middle. Also: Ceramic bunnies for the well-to-do.


STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY FRIDERIKE HEUER


NEW YORK – Hudson Yards, the twenty-five-billion-dollar, twenty-eight-acre new development in what used to be the Meat Packing district, is probably the most artificial site in all of New York City, an unadulterated celebration of excess and greed.

New high rises in and around Hudson Yard

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