The Walker's Ten Top Tens

Over at the day job, I finally posted the Walker's Ten Top Tens, a series of year-end best-of lists compiled by Walker Art Center staff and guests. Highlights include Rex Sorgatz, a former Minneapolitan who runs the site Fimoculous, revealing a sighting of Garrison Keillor at a strip club; photographer Alec Soth's wide-ranging list of music, images, and films; a list of the "best art blogs" by Modern Art Notes' Tyler Green, and an excellent set of DVDs rereleased in 2006 (many already in my Netflix queue). You'll have to click to see the good stuff, but in the meantime, here's my meager offering:

A Relatively Random List of Things Recalled
• Best use of visionary art in a marketing piece: Art Directors Club Call for Entry, with art by Norbert Kox
There's not much competition in this category, but I'm glad the honor goes to an old friend. Green Bay's Norb Kox (above) has a remarkable bio: born the day the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, he served in the military, became an Outlaw biker, and eventually found Jesus and spent nine years in the woods near Siren, WI, developing a personal spirituality that arose from intense study of scriptures. While a clever payoff for ADC's "Final Call for Entries" concept, his "apocalyptic visual parables" have so much more detail and depth.

• Best Walker exhibition on tour: House of Oracles: A Huang Yong Ping Retrospective
Huang Yong Ping (below) makes contemporary art that doesn't seem temporary. His sculptures feel more like artifacts than art at times, like relics unearthed in a dig. I found his art to be profoundly moving, occasionally creepy (the bats!), often funny, and deeply arresting. Tour schedule here.

• Best museum publication: Studio
While I'm partial to our own Walker magazine, the Studio Museum's quarterly has qualities (and a budget!) I wish we could emulate. It's packed with interviews, the voices of artists and curators, photo spreads, and features of interest to its Harlem neighbors. I especially liked a 2005 photo-essay on Frank Gaskin's series of murals on security gates along 125th Avenue.

• Favorite Walker acquisition: Dr. Lakra's flash art
Actually acquired in 2005, I learned of our acquisition of seven works on paper by Mexican artist Dr. Lakra from Tyler Green's blog. Amid our excellent collection of Minimalist works, our wonderful cache of Beuys multiples, and every one of Matthew Barney's Cremaster films, it's great to see the earthy, carnivalesque work of this Mexico City-based artist.

• Top ten to remember: We lost many great creators in '06. Let's not forget them: artist Nam June Paik, reggae/ska legend Desmond Dekker, Egyptian novelist/Nobel prizewinner Mahfouz Naguib, filmmaker Robert Altman, Bill Stumpf, designer of the Aeron and Ergon (below) chairs, installation artist Jason Rhoades.

• Favorite single artwork: Thomas Hirschhorn's Cavemanman
When I met Hirschhorn during the installation of our show Heart of Darkness, I had the gall to tell him I didn't get his work, especially the huge Swiss Army knife made of cardboard, tape, aluminum foil, and cellophane he showed here in 1998. But walking through the shiny and claustrophobic tunnels of Cavemanman, I was moved by the over-the-top-ness of it and the germaneness of it to current events. Discussing the project with him only underscored my change of, ahem, heart.

• Favorite bumpersticker: "Think About Honking If You (Heart) Conceptual Art"

• Favorite Walker photo: Flagging Patriotism
Cameron Wittig's staged image of a flag feebly fluttering next to a plastic fan beautifully illustrated the kind of trumped-up patriotism artists Bill T. Jones and Sekou Sundiata discussed in a March essay for Walker.

• Favorite midwestern photographer(s): Since Alec Soth gets props elsewhere, I'll make this one a tossup between Chicago's Brian Ulrich, whose documentation of consumers in thrift shops and megastores (above) teeter between religious devotion and blunt critique, and Minneapolis' Paul Shambroom, who offers clinical and compelling portraits of Homeland Security-era America.

• Under-reported story of the year: Darfur
If we all agree there's genocide going on in Sudan, why isn't more being done?

• Bonus: Blogs You Should be Reading 2006
Thanks for all the (credited and uncredited) webfinds: Greg.org, In Search of the Miraculous, The Daily Irrelevant, NEWSgrist, Fashion Incubator, TalkLeft, Design Observer, and reBlog.

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