Guest Best: Robyne Robinson
When the economy goes south, usually so do art galleries. Minneapolis has seen its share come and go, including the latest casualty, and perhaps the most difficult to bear: Flanders Contemporary, which has been a champion of both local and international artists. While many galleries still represent the best of our community, only a handful offer more than the traditional, soulless gallery experience. In its fourth year, Art of This Gallery creates shows that delve into the current sociopolitical climate and encourage audiences to discuss more than just the artists' pedigrees. It has unpretentiously curated exhibits that match the more established galleries in both content and the strength of the artists. Clearly tapping into the zeitgeist of America's need for spiritual and political change, Art of This last November hosted Matt Bakkom's moving exhibition "Graduates," a collection of 664 portraits of U.S. military pilots from the 332nd Red Tail Fighter Group produced between 1943 and 1946. Black Americans knew the 332nd as the Tuskegee Airmen—black men who suffered racism, politics, and war to become one of the most decorated units of the Army Air Corps in World War II. Their strong, stoic faces show little evidence of their struggles, but they gave hope to millions—just as Obama's election as president does today. Nonprofit, artist-run galleries are as fragile as glass; let's hope directors David Petersen and John Marks get the community and financial support to preserve Art of This for young artists and patrons alike who want more than ever to discuss relevant issues that can shape our entire community.Robyne Robinson is an Emmy-winning anchor at Fox 9 News. She is an avid local arts activist, collector, former gallery owner, board member on several arts organizations, and jewelry artist.