When the year 2020 falls into history, each memory will be laced within the theme of our shared pandemic. The quarantine has affected us all, and with the abrupt end of normality and ever-pressing stress and uncertainty, I have found my own path and sense of focus in the art of others. Cut off from the physical space of galleries and conventions, I want those meanings and conversations visualized. It is through that current lens that I approached assembling my personal art highlights of the year. They are in no certain order.
‘Octobriana 1976’ by Jim Rugg
Jim Rugg‘s Octobriana 1976 is an absolute gift. The project involved a poster (first image), process zines, and of course, the eponymous comic. Octobriana 1976 is a fluorescent flash bomb of Cold War-inspired dread, violence, rebellion, and one incredible Amazonian superhero. Through the Kickstarter for the comic, Rugg brought fans along for the ride as each element was being crafted and assembled. Rugg’s one-off comic is bold and unashamed in its camp and bombastic blacklight color scheme. A slab of bliss in a darkened year.
‘Love in the Time of Lockdown’ by Paul Blow
As the pandemic and Shelter In Place orders continued deeper into the year, I was not interested in seeing the current state of the world reflected back to me through art just yet. There were enough moments of reflection and dissection of the pandemic in the news, magazines, and everywhere you could look. Still, Paul Blow‘s Love in the Time of Lockdown really got to me. Blow’s composition, symmetrical and glowing with comic-light, gave us eight windows of possible living. Some hide, others argue, but two found love. It is a direct commentary on the state of the world in 2020 but in five or ten years Blow’s illustration will still resonate because it is all too human.
‘Waterfall’ by Thomas Danthony
Thomas Danthony’s Waterfalls series harnesses the French illustrator’s penchant for concise illustration, delivering a meditative collection focused on the perfection of minimal shape and color. Any misstep would be visible and incongruous to the individual painting and the entire series. Danthony’s steady hand brings peace to the uncorrupted simplicity of falling water.
‘The Wedding Party’ by Aron Wiesenfeld
For me, 2020 has been a steady search for peace — a mind free of the noise and the painful buzz of the modern world. I have found solace in the work of artist Aron Wiesenfeld, a comic artist turned fine art painter. In The Wedding Party, Wiesenfeld shows us a bride walking across snow-drenched train tracks, a darkened tunnel having equal force to the white snow on the ground. I have this print framed in my house and each time I pass by, I see the bride as the hero, unafraid of the weather or what could barrel towards her from the darkness. She is caught in a moment created by the world around her, but she moves forward. Wiesenfeld’s painting is devoid of chaos, free of noise. Death could be coming, but it always is. I want to feel my feet fall through the snow onto the steel rails of the track and hear the trail of the wedding dress pull across the fresh show.
Reed Fujifilm FP-3000B Type photographed by AW Media
As an admirer and collector of printed matter, I have recently started buying prints from a variety of photographers, AW Media being one of them. He moves between digital and analog, and there is true experimentation happening with his analog work. Images distort, colors fail, exposures falter and over time the entire image will deteriorate.
Alex (AW Media) shoots with model Reed quite often, leading to a creative partnership with an immensely rewarding output. This image captures a solemn Reed, tranquil inside the pale haze of the developed film. She recedes inside the chemicals and process of the film itself, but she is not lost. Alex uses film as others do brush and paint. He trusts his own process and materials and with subjects like Reed to work with, the creative outcome continues to fascinate. I adore his images, each full of mood and a voice focused only on the present moment.