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Art Review: Atlanta High Museum’s “Go West!” finds sweet spot where popular appeal and substance meet

ATLANTA – Mention Western art, the genre featured in the High Museum’s “Go West! Art of the American Frontier from the Buffalo Bill Center of the West,” and you are likely to encounter enthusiasm and disdain in equal measure.

broncoThere are those who are attracted to both the accessibility and the content. The artists, Rockwells in spurs, speak in a visual language that requires no translation, and they tell stories familiar to us from Hollywood westerns, television series and literature. (Evidence of their abiding appeal rang my doorbell on Halloween: a little girl dressed as Laura from Little House on the Prairie.)

There are those who find sculptures of bucking broncos or sentimental depictions like “Madonna of the Prairie” (a face framed in the halo of light pouring in through the back of the covered wagon) a bore, more illustration than art, and the stories clichés.

Hold your fire. “Go West!”, at the High through April 13, 2014, is richer than either camp might expect.

(Click here to read the rest of Catherine Fox’s story on ArtsATL).

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Catherine Fox is the executive director, editor and chief art critic of ArtsATL. She was art and architecture critic at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for 27 years, during which time she was Cox Writer of the Year, twice winner of Cox awards in criticism, and received Green Eyeshade Awards and an award from the American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors. She holds a master’s degree in art history from the University of Michigan. She was assistant curator of the Arts Festival of Atlanta’s 1981 Site Works Program, has written for ARTnews and other publications, and is a co-author of Noplaceness: Art in a Post-Urban Context. She received the 2013 Community Impact Administrator Arts Award from the Emory College Center for Creativity Arts for her work on ArtsATL.

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