News Column

The Record, Stockton, Calif., Michael Fitzgerald column

August 4, 2014

By Michael Fitzgerald, The Record, Stockton, Calif.



Aug. 04--Today: a world-class museum enshrines Stockton.

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, America's newest major museum, has acquired the "Foreclosure, USA" portfolio photographed by artist Kirk Crippens in Stockton in 2009.

"It's life-changing. It really is," said Crippens, 43, of Emeryville.

Funded largely by Alice Walton, heiress to the Walmart fortune, Crystal Bridges opened in 2011. Like Walmart's headquarters, the museum is in Bentonville, Ark.

Don't be deceived by the heartland location. Crystal Bridges quickly ascended onto the short list of America's best.

For its current exhibition, "State of the Art: Discovering American Art Now," its curators fanned out across America, visiting the studios of 1,000 artists working in all different media.

"They wanted to come out and interview me in the studio, and that was fine," Crippens said. "But before they came I said, 'My work is out in the world. How would you feel about taking the day and going to Stockton?' "

So Crippens led a curator and videographer to this city, where in 2009 he photographed vacant homes and aborted subdivisions attesting to the country's collapse and shattered dreams.

Crippens was one of 102 artists selected for (in the words of the museum's website) "engaging deeply with issues relevant to our times."

Sixteen photographs from "Foreclosure, USA" will be included in "State of the Art" and 41 prints have been purchased for Crystal Bridges' permanent collection.

That's a big deal for Crippens. "It's a stamp of approval," he said. "The doors that will open because of this have yet to be told."

It is also noteworthy for Stockton. The city will forever represent the Dustbowl desperation of America's Great Recession. It's like being the Mona Lisa, immortalized and hanging in the Louvre, only our da Vinci caught us on a bad hair day.

Contact columnist Michael Fitzgerald at (209) 546-8270 or michaelf@recordnet.com. Follow him at www.recordnet.com/fitzgeraldblog and on Twitter @stocktonopolis.

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(c)2014 The Record (Stockton, Calif.)

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Source: Record (Stockton, CA)


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