30 Americans is an exhibition that, by its very existence, raises all sorts of questions. Who are these African-American artists and why are they exhibited as a group? It helps to know that these works were chosen by Mera and Don Rubell for their collection, itself a kind of who's who sampler of leading contemporary artists, and that they epitomize a specific genre. In a nutshell, they illustrate how modern American artists who happen to be black work within the paradoxes of being who they are, and doing what they do, in America today. Recent black art tends to be more nuanced, yet no less visceral, than it was in the past so it's no surprise that irony is a constant, or that sentiments can seem over the top. The challenge is to handle the outrageous deftly, and these artist know how to do it.
30 Americans: Group Exhibition Featuring Art by Leading African-American Artists Over 30 Years, through June 15, Contemporary Arts Center, 900 Camp St., 528.3805 Left: One Day and Back Then by Xaviera Simmons