A reader, Ben F., condemned my position on funding for the arts. He claims that America, outside of San Francisco, L.A. and New York, is at heart “a deeply conservative country and uncomfortable with provocative art.” As a foreigner I’m far from an authoritative voice on the subject, but here is my initial round-up of other American cities which have embraced provocative art. Will the rest of my readers please jump in and either defend me by adding to this list – or throw yourself behind Ben F. and tell me why I am dead wrong?
Starting with a deeply red state: the Kimball Art Museum & the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, and the SXSW Music, Film and Interactive Festivals held annually in Austin, TX.
Santa Fe: spiritual home of Georgia O’Keeffe, pioneer of American Modernist painting, and currently home to the world-class Santa Fe Opera, the innovative SITE Santa Fe, and the Santa Fe Film Festival.
Miami: home to the glorious and feisty Miami City Ballet.
The Telluride Film Festival in Telluride, CO.
Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.
Dali Museum in St Petersburg, FL.
Ojai Jazz Festival in Ojai, CA.
Seattle: home to the exhilarating Pacific Northwest Ballet, the Langston Hughes African American Film Festival, and a growing alternative art scene.
Chicago: more than any other city in the country, known for its vast accumulation of often subversive public art and rich architectural history. And home to Hubbard Street Dance, the Joffrey Ballet, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Second City and many other pioneering performing arts troupes.
Portland: home of Mark Rothko, whose family emigrated to Portland from Russia when he was 10. Today Portland boasts possibly the highest concentration of artists, craftsmen and musicians working and exhibiting in dozens of alternative spaces, as chronicled in the leading regional art blog PORT.
The River Arts district in Asheville, NC, home to many cutting edge artists and sculptors.
Nashville, TN (should be self-explanatory).
Detroit: home of MOCAD (Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit) and a magnet for contemporary artists who are turning crumbling homes, shuttered factories and auto plants into large-scale canvasses for their work at sites like the Russell Industrial Center.
Sedona, AZ, original home of the Cowboy Artists of America, the vibrant Sedona Arts Center, and Sedona Jazz on the Rocks.
Oh, and let’s not forget Burning Man, out in the Nevada Black Rock Desert, which is not a permanent home for art, but an increasingly important venue for some mind-blowing art installations.