Looking to THE HORIZON
American Art Collector|December 2020
With a turbulent 2020 beginning to fade, the ar t world looks to the future with hope.
MICHAEL CLAWSON

The recurring joke in action movies is how the hero could walk away from the big explosion and not turn around to witness the wanton destruction unfolding behind him. Having experienced 2020, I get it. I wouldn’t look either. It’s just too painful. Back there is chaos. Forward, that’s where this story has to take us.

And forward is where we’re going.

While pondering what 2021 might look like, we reached out to more than a dozen fine artists all around the country, and some outside of it, to get their perspectives on what is to come. What we found is a future filled with hope.

And make no mistake, that is a big deal. Our scientists and doctors will save our bodies. Our religious leaders will save our souls. Our elected officials will save our freedoms (fingers crossed on this one). But our culture, well, that is left to our artists. Our painters, our sculptors, our actors and dancers, musicians and poets, architects and designers, writers, photographers, printmakers…every artist in every field. What our future looks and sounds like is in their hands.

One of the artists we spoke to was Danny Galieote, who found himself steadily busy throughout 2020. Late in 2019 he was asked to paint modern versions of Norman Rockwell’s Four Freedoms—Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want and Freedom from Fear—which he was imagining with updates that reflect the greater cultural and religious diversity of America today. With an election looming, and protests throughout the summer related to police brutality, the project took on a potent new meaning to the painter. “As I was finishing Freedom of Speech, the protests and unrest began, and I couldn’t help but feel that what I was painting had some major cultural significance. It was a catalyst giving me renewed energy and focus to complete the remaining paintings in the series,” he says. “I have learned that whatever happens in this world, art matters. We’ve heard a lot about essential workers, and we owe them a lot; however, I also think everyone’s work matters, regardless of what you do. We all play an integral role in the fabric of society. An artist’s role is to often give visual meaning and poetry to underlying themes in our culture and timeless subjects.”

For painter Andrea Kowch, her 2020 was spent mostly outside the studio with her infant son—“…I learned more than ever in 2020 that the people you love come before anything else,” she says. While her desire and motivation to paint is strong, she’s choosing her studio time more carefully these days, and gone are the late nights and endless painting sessions. Several pieces are on her easel now, but motherhood and the times we’re living in have also allowed her to reflect back on several old pieces, including Within, a painting from 2007 that she recently had reframed and placed in RJD Gallery. Looking back, it was a marker of the bridge forming between my hyperrealism and narrative realism of that time, loosening and fusing together, constructing the foundation and framework of the lyrical, visual, Americana worlds I now summon in my paintings today, she explains.

When asked what she's looking forward to in 2021, she responds, I am first and foremost looking forward to our world uniting, healing and eradicating COVID-19, and for all free nations to identify common goals and incentives to work together again, for all of our best outcomes. We all need each other more than ever now and must realize that ridding ourselves of this invisible enemy can only happen if we truly are in it to win it together. I've never felt so concerned for the well-being of humanity as I do now, especially now that I am a mother. It's difficult for me to understand why the Golden Rule is so hard for so many to practice. It's a paradox. Things perhaps cannot exist without their opposite/opposing counterpart, she says. Art and creativity often spearhead change, because artists see things from a creative mind, early on, and are less threatened by or concerned with the methodology that others create and develop to manifest the systems of change. Art offers the seeds of thought required to enable others to shed light on issues and brings people together to find a respectful and meaningful resolution to the issues we all face collectively.

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