Jerry Saltz Electrifies at the Art and Culture Center
On December 10, the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood presented Jerry Saltz as the third speaker in its John S. and James L. Knight Foundation-funded “Hot Topics” lecture series. Saltz, the Senior Art Critic for New York Magazine and a judge on the Bravo television show Work of Art, gave a rousing talk to a sold-out crowd in the Center’s Main Gallery. A three-time Pulitzer Prize finalist and 2006 honoree as “Best Art Critic” by Time Out New York for his work at the Village Voice, Saltz is perhaps the most renowned and accessible art critic of our day, a quality which has made him very popular among artists, art lovers, and everyday people who wish to better understand contemporary art.
Saltz began the evening by mingling with scores of people during a pre-lecture reception. He also took time to admire and critique the work of South Florida artists Giannina Coppiano Dwin and Freddy Jouwayed, each of whom have solo shows up in the Center’s other main floor galleries. Saltz was generous in his praise of the main gallery exhibition Artist Unknown/The Free World. The U.S. premiere of this first-of-its-kind exhibition features thousands of images of vernacular photography found online by artists Oliver Wasow and John D. Monteith. From the bizarre to the sublime, these anonymously sourced amateur photographs provide a fascinating view of American culture through the new frontier of social media. Both artists were in attendance (Wasow from New York and Monteith from South Carolina).
In his talk, Saltz proclaimed the exhibition as adventurous, bold and important. He said it is so impactful that it could be expanded and should travel to major museums, so that more of the public can see it. He gave kudos to the Center and its’ curator and staff, for presenting so bold an exhibition in a location that is outside the realm of a major art capital such as New York.
Saltz’s talk was lively and upbeat, encouraging artists, collectors, curators, and gallerists to think outside the box and be prepared to make mistakes. He stated clearly that the artist does not own the message of his or her work. In discussing the trajectory of art history, he referred to the timeless potency of early cave paintings and Andy Warhol’s homage to banal everyday objects, thus covering the vast spectrum of what we consider “art.” Echoing the words of Marvin Heiferman, who also gave a Hot Topics lecture the opening weekend of Artist Unknown/The Free World (Oct. 29), Saltz suggested that this important exhibition and its accompanying 260-page book of the same name may be considered as an updated version of Edward Steichen’s revelatory MoMA photo exhibition The Family of Man, which traveled the globe during the 1950s.
The Hot Topics talks by Saltz and Heiferman were extremely well attended. The attendees included Dennis and Debra Scholl, Francie Bishop Good and David Horvitz, Martin Z. Margulies and Catherine Hinds, collectors Paul and Estelle Berg, Hot Topics sponsors Lou Anne and Mike Colodny, Norton Museum of Art Assistant Director Charles Stainback and his wife Kitty Bowe Hearty (an independent curator), and Drazia Rubenstein, President of FAB! (Funding Arts Broward). FAB! awarded the Center a $50,000 FAB! Knight New Work Award to fund the Artist Unknown/Free World exhibition and book. There were many artists, as well as VIPs, in attendance for both talks, which made for lively and fun exchanges. At the close of the lectures, the respective guest speaker and artists Monteith and Wasow signed copies of the book, which the Center co-published in collaboration with artist Gean Moreno’s [NAME] Publications. With hundreds of images selected by the artists, the book includes text by Saltz, Heiferman, the Center’s Curator of Exhibitions Jane Hart, as well as Monteith and Wasow.
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