Arts Desk

Corcoran’s New NOW Series Will Meditate on D.C.—So Why Are Its Artists from New York?

Finchslideshowclouds2The Corcoran has just announced a new contemporary program called NOW at the Corcoran, a series of one- and two-artist exhibitions that presents new work addressing issues central to the local, national, and global communities of Washington, D.C.

Which is an interesting concept, since the series launches on Sept. 11 with Spencer Finch, a Brooklyn-based artist, who presents a body of work on clouds, alluding to a day in 1863 when Walt Whitman and Abraham Lincoln crossed paths. "It is about specific events that took place here but also about what draws people to the city and the desire to experience history," says Sarah Newman, the curator of contemporary art at the Corcoran, in a press release. Strange: People don't usually visit D.C. to experience the clouds. Or does the show suggest that on some breezy, overcast day—maybe, possibly, if you're lucky—you just might cross the path of some senator or congressman? After all, presidents don't get out like they used to a century and a half ago, and chances are you won't accidentally bump into President Obama's jogging detail.

Putting aside the loose connection between Finch's clouds and the series' theme, why isn't a D.C. artist represented in the series? (The next ONE exhibit, which opens June 18, 2011, stars Chris Martin, who grew up in the area but has spent his professional life in New York.) There's plenty of local artists who dealswith issues central to Washington. For the Corcoran to ignore them is at best a missed opportunity.

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