By Crocker Staff
In 2005, artists Annie Owens and Daniel “Attaboy” Seifert answered a calling. They wanted to share the type of art they loved and make it accessible to anyone, anywhere. With their own well-developed aesthetic and penchant for visually stunning work, the now-husband-and-wife duo recognized that many of the artists they most enjoyed — often emerging, underground, and “lowbrow” — remained underrepresented in fine arts institutions and media outlets. A few alternative art magazines existed at the time, but they didn’t address the complete breadth of Owens and Attaboy’s interests. So, the couple founded contemporary art magazine Hi-Fructose.
Organized by the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), this one-of-a-kind exhibition brings a broad spectrum of artwork from the pages of magazines and computer screens to the walls of art museums.
In its first decade, more than 340 artists were represented in Hi-Fructose magazine — and many more were presented online. With works in a variety of media, ranging from oil paintings and drawings, to porcelain, bronze sculptures, video works and installations, "Turn the Page" is a remarkable amalgamation of artists who may not otherwise exhibit together.
Hi-Fructose investigates the ever-expanding avenues of a diverse art world while acknowledging that the lines between high art, “lowbrow” art, and popular culture are increasingly blurred. In the past decade, the print magazine has grown to include a wide audience and a far-reaching digital media brand, relying upon a recognizable, though not easily defined, aesthetic. With an inclusive approach to the artists and artwork featured, the selection process is deceptively simple: The work must demonstrate a mastery of technical skill and must be unique and meaningful. This democratic outlook allows pop surrealist, street, figurative, narrative, and many other styles to seamlessly converge. Most consistently found in Hi-Fructose are well-made art objects from artists who use their media to convey ideas rather than as an end in and of itself. Uninterested in pursuing any particular genre or trend, the ultimate goal of Hi-Fructose is to inform with content that is relevant and original.
The exhibition is loosely organized around each of the selected artists’ first appearance in the magazine. Among them are names like Beth Cavener, Mark Ryden, Olek, and Tara McPherson. Some, including Kris Kuksi and Tracey Snelling, are already represented in the Crocker’s permanent collection. Visitors may also recognize the graphic, stenciled aesthetic of street artist Shepard Fairey, who is best known for his “Obey Giant” propaganda and iconic Barack Obama “Hope” poster. The heroic old-master-style portrait of a young African American in contemporary attire is the work of Kehinde Wiley, who is becoming broadly known through a retrospective currently touring the country.
Despite varying levels of recognition, the artists in the exhibition have engendered widespread and devoted followings of fans and collectors, both mainstream and underground. Although they have successfully built careers around their art practices, they have not always done so with the aid of traditional institutions like museums and galleries. As such, their contributions to contemporary art dialogue have often gone unrecognized. At its 10-year anniversary, Hi-Fructose has become an important and divergent voice for contemporary art. This exhibition allows viewers to connect one-on-one with some of the most intriguing and well-crafted art of our time and the cultural landscape in which it was created.