Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Fever Within: The Art Of Ronald Lockett. American Folk Art Museum.

Just saw this extraordinary exhibition of mixed media works by the late African American artist Ronald Lockett who lived and worked in a small town in Alabama and who died very young at 32 from AIDS related pneumonia. Related to another great African American artist Thornton Dial who encouraged Ronald to make art the show has only 41 large pieces but they are so rich and hefty with emotion and beauty that I felt satiated even though I would have liked to have seen more of his amazing works.
The works are aware of his sensitive and innate sophisticated approach to art and to life, and left me out of breath from the heartbreaking images he made in his short life and art career. Ronald was inspired and touched by terrible events in the world, The Holocaust, Hiroshima, terrorism at home (Oklahoma), the terrible treatment of animals and the environment and the ever present battle of racism in his own life and our country. Mixed with wood, paint, tin, chicken wire, and elements from the natural world these works fit in with much of what has been going on in contemporary art, trained or self taught it matters not to me.
Some of the works are abstract and some are figurative but they all are terrific and inspiring. What I could have done without is the curators choice of mixing in works by two other artists along with small groups of eskimo effigies, brazilian wood ex-votos and a model of Noah's Ark. Not needed and will no doubt cause confusion for some. By leaving these pieces out they may have had room for one or two more of Lockett's pieces. This remarkable show will be on until September 18th and may very well be the show of the year for me.


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