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Coming up on the end of the year, we’re being deluged with a number of “Ten Best…” lists for 2011. I don’t care much for the practice myself; it seems to me to be  really self-indulgent and not particularly helpful to anyone who doesn’t know my tastes. Besides, my list would change every single time I thought about it.

I do read these lists, however, and found a couple of really cool pictures among John Seed’s 10 Memorable Paintings of 2011 on the Huffington Post site.

I have been lamenting the lack of a political edge in contemporary American Art in several posts over the last few months. To my mind, social consciousness in art isn’t nearly as prevalent as it was in, say, the 1930s, but it’s still there. Here are two paintings that held my interest that I’d like to share.

First is Karen Kaapcke’s Occupy Wall Street #5, a small oil painting done at Zucotti Park. Judging from the foliage, it was probably during the early days of the protest. I like that it renders the scene almost in the abstract by focusing not on the people but on the formal arrangement of the tents packed into the small space. While I wonder how well this will represent the scene in the future, when we don’t have the benefit of having recently watched the protests on CNN, I respect the creative decision to reach beyond the obvious.

Occupy Wall Street #5 (Karen Kaapcke - 2011)

I enjoyed John Brosio’s State of the Union, a whimsical representation of American politics that I find painfully accurate, even more. The sight of rampaging chickens is funny enough by itself: knowing that this is how the artist views our current leadership is even more hilarious.

State of the Union (John Brosio - 2011)

All of the paintings in Seed’s article are captivating, and, although I think a professor of Art History should know the difference between “criteria” and “criterion,” the text is thoughtful and well-written. It’s worth a look.



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