LIVES IMAGINED Meehan’s Guinea Bissau I.
Last weekend The New York Times proclaimed Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, the debut video game of former Red Sox pitcher and outspoken Republican millionaire Curt Schilling's 38 Studios, "one of the finest action role-playing games yet made."
Call it a victory for government arts subsidies. In March 2010, then-Governor Donald Carcieri was at a fundraiser at Schilling's Massachusetts home and they got to chatting. Rhode Island was broke but, next thing you knew, Carcieri got the legislature to fund $125 million in loan guarantees to attract tech companies, $75 million of it went to 38 Studios, and Schilling announced in September 2010 that he was moving his company from Massachusetts to Providence.
Who knew Schilling was a socialist? But, hey, all the big CEOs are socialists because our government — from the feds to the municipal government — subsidizes everything from financial giants to oil. So when arts funding is threatened — again — I don't think that the money for arts might be better spent on teachers or firefighters. I think like a CEO: how do we get governors to come to our parties?
I was mulling such thoughts on my way to the "2012 RISCA Fellowship Exhibition" at Machines With Magnets (400 Main Street, Pawtucket, through February 25), the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts' roundup of 25 Little Rhody artists who have each received state grants ranging from $1000 to $5000. Let's call it another victory for government arts subsidies.
Mary Beth Meehan's color photos reveal the homes of undocumented (or shall we say, illegal) immigrants in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. "The work tries to pierce that obscurity with a kind of document that brings these people into view," Meehan writes. Two pairs of sandals rest next to the bed of an immigrant from Guinea draped with a blanket decorated with an eagle and American flag. Other photos show rooms with televisions, flags, photo portraits, pictures of saints, a poster of Snoop Dogg and Tupac. The matter-of-fact photos evoke a feeling of peeking in on empty rooms. They prompt us to imagine these lives lived between memories of the old country and unsteady, surreptitious beginnings in the new.
Jenna Goldberg carves and hand-paints floral patterns with an Asian flavor onto a handsome bass wood cabinet and long jewelry box. For a few years now, Scott Alario has been working on "Our Fable," a series of dreamy photos starring his daughter. Eternity (before sleep) shows a blurry girl in bed atop a lumpy form that reveals itself as a woman in a hooded cloak covered with stars. The girl seems embraced by the night sky.