My most recent visit to the Art League in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, was to see the All Media Show, hosted by the venerable Art League at the Torpedo Factory Arts Center. The exhibition, which was subtitled “Emphasis on Sculpture,” was anything but that.
The show was juried by sculptor William Duffy who, according to the Art League, “has neither juried for The Art League before nor been to the Torpedo Factory since the early 1980s.” When asked whether he had any expectations, he said he had thought the art would be “sentimental” and “crafty” but it was not. Duffy said he was surprised by the level of fine art, and liked the mixture of fine art, academic art, and “funky” art.
Mr. Duffy’s surprising ignorance of the level of artwork shown at the Art League, and his even more surprising lack of visits in over 20 years, is endemic of artists and critics who often have a wrong sense of things in the art scene around the Greater Washington, DC area because of their own artistic apathy to what goes on around them.
Duffy also said, “I went into the selection process with a very open mind. I was looking for the unique, self-discovery or expression rather than a duplication of other styles, artists, or periods.”
This immediately alarms me as well, as (in my mind anyway) it places Mr. Duffy in the immediate camp of it must be new to be good. This academic and most traditional belief that "duplication of other styles, artists, or periods" is a bad thing is itself these days a sign of an artistic mind not in tune with the ebbs and flows of the postmodern art scene, where anything and everything is art.
In fact, one could submit that the most influential artist on the planet today (according to Sotheby’s anyway), Gerhardt Richter, is nothing but an artist who duplicates “other styles, artists, or periods.”