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Art in 2017: What we liked, what we didn’t...
... and what we’re excited for in 2018
Work by Hannah Alsdorf tackled current sociocultural issues.

I’VE BEEN writing this art column for a year, and what a year it’s been in this artsy town of ours.

Good Stuff

• There’s a lot of chaos in our world right now, and artists are turning the chaos into powerful bodies of work. Artists were inspired this year by feminist issues (“From the Front Lines” by Hannah Alsdorf), the environment (“Avanguardia” by Lisa D. Watson), misrepresentation and stereotyping of minority communities (“Generation” by Sawsan Al Saraf and Tamara and Sundus Abdul Hadi) , LGBT rights (“ROYGBIV” by various artists), reproductive rights (“The Personal is Political” juried show), and more.

In April, the Jepson Center ran “Kahlil Gibran and the Feminine Divine” and “Generation” concurrently to strengthen their message on tolerance. “I think promoting empathy is one of the most important things we can do as an arts organization,” said curator Courtney McNeil.

• Alternative spaces seem to be the thing right now, from Laney Contemporary’s top-floor decadence out on Mills B Lane to the Shack on Bull’s pop-up stint in the old carwash at 1602 Bull Street. Sulfur Art Services has been hard at work placing art on the walls of local businesses, challenging the typical whitewall gallery model.

Who knows what kind of spaces we’ll see in 2018?

Bad Stuff

• Startlingly often this year, I heard artists rip on “marsh paintings,” specifically calling them out for being basic. I was intrigued by one interviewee that equated the local art scene to bored housewives picking up a hobby. I am so not here for this and neither should you be.

Think of why you create art. Is it for self-expression? To send a message? To turn a profit?

Once we start nitpicking each other’s reasons for creating art, we start promoting a very divisive art scene.

People create art that is meaningful to them. That’s what art is.

At the Tybee Cottage Art Gallery’s exhibition at Blick Art Materials back in June, Cate Campbell said, “When you come to a show like this you’re getting the true essence of the artists ... not just because they want to sell the piece, but because it makes them happy. I brought my mermaid [paintings] because they’re close to my heart.”

Let’s work harder in 2018 to support art of all types, even if it’s not our favorite.

• The City of Savannah’s budget for 2018 only allocates $680,400—the same amount as last year—to all arts and cultural programs that are funded by the city.

It’s the same small amount of funding getting spread between many organizations, regardless of what additional benefactors a group has.

While a smaller chunk of change doesn’t mean we’re losing cultural arts services, it does mean that their programming is being done on a shoestring budget and benefits from outside sources.

That said, support your favorite organizations. Donate to an art nonprofit or festival organization if you are able, or volunteer your time and efforts in other ways.

Looking Ahead

2018 starts off strong with the PULSE Art + Technology festival on Jan. 17. The Savannah Book Festival takes place Feb. 17, and the Savannah Comic Con starts back the next week, on Feb. 24.

“Margins” by Henry Dean, a collection of environmental pieces, opens Jan. 5 at Sulfur Studios. “Beacons,” an installation by Martha Enzmann and Karen McVay Butch, will open at Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum on Jan. 12.

As all the art students trickle back into their studios, there will be an uptick in exhibitions around town, so keep your eyes peeled.

Cheers to 2018—may your year be prosperous and full of art.