Sunday, September 13, 2015

Armin Hansen might be the best artist you have never heard of

Shark Fishers, Armin Hansen

Yesterday a friend and I paid a visit to one of the cities with the most happening art scenes in California.  No, sorry L.A. it wasn’t you and yes San Francisco, we know how much you love yourself, but no, you’ve been pushing all the art out.  But a 90-minute drive away is Sacramento.  We took some time to explore some of the open studios at the Verge Center for the Arts.  This weekend was Sacramento’s big open studios event and we barely scratched the surface.  Sacramento still has room for working artists to have studios to make and show art.  I also got see the new space that will be hosting this year’s Pink Week show as well as the upcoming Pink Mail Art show I am curating in November.
Our main goal was to get to the Crocker Museum to see the exhibit Armin Hansen: The Artful Voyage.  I had read the book before seeing the show and familiarized myself with Hansen’s work.  The catalog is beautiful, yet the printed pages cannot really do his work justice.  He was one of those artists whose work you truly have to see in person.  The museum website has a few images and the review in the Sacramento Bee has some additional images to give you an idea (the image shown above is from permanent collection and not part of the special exhibit).
One could describe Armin Hansen as the west coast’s Winslow Homer.  It would give you an idea of what to expect if you were unfamiliar with his work.  But it might be better to put Hansen in a league with Herman Melville. Melville could write about life on the sea so well, in part, due to his experiences as a crewman on merchant ships and a whaler.  Like Melville, Hansen was able to approach the sea as someone who had worked it – as a fisherman.  Many of his seascapes were not painted with a view from the shore but instead from how it would look far out in Monterey Bay.  I kept looking at them from across the room and they almost started to move.  It took me me back to being out in a small boat on rough water – something I have not experienced for decades.    The most surprising thing about Armin Hansen is that he is not more famous.  After seeing his work, I would expect he would be one of those American artists that most everyone has heard of — a name in a category with Georgia O’Keeffe, Edward Hopper, Andy Warhol, etc..  Yes, he is that good.  But alas, the bias against West Coast artists by the New Yorkerati has been going on for over a century.

There is always art to see in Sacramento, but if you want to discover Armin Hansen, you have go to get up there before the show closes on October 11.

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