Where has American Art come from in the last century?

Can you only find great art in Manhattan?

I read a New York Times article last weekend about the Whitney Biennial. The article talked about where the largest concentration of artists live. What I found interesting is that since 1932 most of the artists in this invitational live close to New York City. There are other pockets around the country but not many.

West Michigan has an active art scene. You can find art, for sale, up and down our lakeshore. Excellent art. Mark Mehaffey, a C2C Gallery artist, has been included in many international exhibits; juried many international shows; and taught extensively. His paintings are held in both private and institutional collections.

Abstract painting by Mark Mehaffey“Ideas are Important” by Mark Mehaffey

“Ideas are Important” was hung in the Fabriano in Watercolour International Exhibition.  It’s an excellent example of Mark’s ability to use watercolor in an abstract manner with printmaking quality like features.

Plus, many artists live in the Lakeshore area. I think about 10 years ago (maybe more) 4 young adults arrived in Grand Haven. They had met in a NYC art school. One of them had grown up in Grand Haven. Over the last several years, they have brought interesting art into this market. At times, it challenges you to ask “Is this art and does it resonate with me?”

Artist location for Whitney Biennial

The Sunday NY Times, had an interactive map showing the artists who have exhibited in the Whitney Biennial Exhibit since the 1930’s. I am hoping that the interactive map works for you. (You will need an iPad or similar.) I thought it was interesting that to this day, most of the artists selected are from the East Coast. In different eras, there are an increased number of artists from Los Angeles, New Mexico, Chicago, and the South.

The Whitney Annual began in 1932. Its founder, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, was a collector and heiress, but also a serious sculptor. Artists chose what work they showed.

In 1973, the exhibition became a Biennial, and its history is the history of American modern and contemporary art. Or, at least one version of that history: one centered in New York City, one heavily white and male. That is no longer the case. This year, a majority of the show’s artists are women, and they are racially and ethnically diverse. New York, however, remains home to nearly half of them.

Map of artists located in the Manhattan area

The young adults that I mentioned earlier return often to New York City, splitting their time between Manhattan and our small Midwest town, makes a lot of sense. Especially after viewing this map.

Have fun with this map and do something creative today. Take care, C2.


Whitney Biennial 2019

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