Friday, July 17, 2015

Descent into the political and beyond

"Descent into the political" 
An exhibition proposal of artworks by Norm Magnusson

How does it happen that an artist decides to create political art? What is the proper goal of political art? Does it even need a goal? What about art in general?

This exhibition provides an answer to those questions and more as it tracks one artist's career from his early days creating lovely paintings of animals to today, when his primary thrust is to create evocative public art pieces.



For years, answering the follow-up question, "what kind of art?" was pretty easy. "I paint animals," I would always reply and only those intrepid strangers who ventured one more follow-up would get the truth of my artistic pursuit: "I create metaphors." The ANIMAL ALLEGORIES below are a sampling of my work in this vein; to see more, click here.

Apple and ass 1993 Acrylic on canvas 25 x 20”

Trick Hare 1994 Acrylic on woven linen 28 x 40”

Shadows on the Lawn 1995 Acrylic on canvas 48 x 46”

The Imposition of Order Upon Nature 1997 Acrylic on canvas 63 x 63”

The Spirits of self-sacrifice 1997 Acrylic on canvas 84 x 36”

Loki the trickster raccoon 1998 Acrylic on canvas 92 x 62”


Eventually, I began making paintings on environmental themes such as "The imposition of order upon nature". Since environmental issues are basically political issues it was just a short slide from there to my first foray into political work, the series "AMERICA'S SEVEN DEADLY SINS", which follow below.

For this series, I ditched the Catholic list, feeling that creating art is an essentially prideful pursuit, that greed can be a force for good, and that, smitten as I am with fatherhood, lust had really served me very well. Besides, it turned out that lots of other artists had already done series on pride, greed, lust, gluttony, sloth, wrath and envy. So I came up with my own list, and looked to my country for inspiration, generating these American "sins": Keen sense of environmental entitlement, Misallocation of financial blessings, The perversion of the American dream, The tolerance of intolerance, National arrogance, The desire for risk-free living, and How we decide what's good. This series was conceived in 1998 and 6 of the paintings were created in 1999 and 2000. The last piece in the series was completed years later, in 2006. To see them all, click here.


#2: Waiting (The perversion of the American Dream) 2000 Acrylic on wood 45 x 36 x 12”

#1: Apart (The desire for risk free living) 2006 Acrylic on wood 51 x 51”

In 2000, just as I was starting to make art on heavy political and social themes, my gallery called and told me about The Cow Parade. The piece I did for that was probably one of my most popular artworks to date and my first piece of public art. When I went to visit it in Riverside Park, a family was climbing all over it and getting their picture taken with it and then, a bride and groom came up and got their picture taken with it! My first public art experience left a big impression on me. Read more about my Cow Parade experience here, in an article I wrote about it for, a now defunct art website.

About the same time as all this, I had become a parent and began thinking a lot about what kind of world my kids were going to be growing up in. Living in New York City, the best and the worst of it was on display everywhere, and thus began a new series, focussed more on society than politics. A few pieces from that series follow below, more can be seen here.


Gumball machines 2000 Gumball machines, gumballs, condoms, joints, .44 bullets 60 x 37 x 21”

Yosemite Sam 2000 Acrylic on wood 48 x 25 x 20”

Shopping for clothes 2000 Acrylic on canvas 68 x 46”


In the midst of this increasing emphasis on social and political issues in my creative output, I took pause to complete a series I had promised my gallery, Bridgewater/Lustberg for a December 2001 exhibition: THE ANIMAL ALPHABET. The whole series can be seen here, twenty-six little circus posters, one animal for each letter, ranging from "Angelfish" to "Zebra swallowtail," a butterfly. The majority of these paintings were on psychological or social themes, but some of them, such as "Rattlesnake" below, were on environmental and/or political themes.


Baby Bear 2001 Acrylic on canvas 20 x 16”

Rattlesnake 2001 Acrylic on canvas 20 x 16”

I had finished two-thirds or so of these 26 paintings when the attacks of September 11, 2001 happened. Fearing for my family's health, we fled to Woodstock, where a couple years later we moved for good. When we returned to the city and the kids returned to school and I returned to the studio, I had a real problem with what I was working on. "An animal alphabet? That's how I'm spending my post 9/11 days? Painting a perfectly pointless animal alphabet?" I had an urge to do something, anything, that was relevant. Or even helpful.

After a spell, I came up with the idea of forming a think tank of creative people to devise terrorist scenarios that the government could then protect against. I sent the letter to the new director of Homeland Security Tom Ridge and got an email right back asking me for my resumé. I sent it off and didn't hear anything back. But my creative impulse was now off and running and the idea for an exhibition dealing with Sept. 11 was forming as I was completing my first real piece in response to the attacks, a noose made out of dollar bills called "resentment." (below)

For the exhibition, my plan was to enlist other artists and put on a big group show where each artist did a piece representing an emotion they felt about the attacks and the aftermath. The very first artist I asked to participate sold me on the notion that the show might be more interesting as a diary of one single artist's emotions and so I began the long process of identifying the psychological, emotional and intellectual states I had experienced and was experiencing since the attacks and creating a piece of art for each one. The entirety of that show, which opened at Bridgewater Fine Arts in Soho in September 2002, can be seen here, some of the highlights are below.


from AFTER THE 11TH:

Magnitude of loss 2002 Coat racks, hangers each 60’ long

Shell shock 2001 Acrylic on canvas 72 x 48”

Resentment 2001 Dollar bills, pine box 37 x 18”

The willingness to trade civil liberties for protection 2001 Mixed media 12 x 12 x 18 1/2”

A sense of imperialism 2002 Cloth dolls Various dimensions

The feeling that the Homeland Security Advisory System is pointless 2002 Acrylic on canvas 24 x 24”

The feeling that capitalism is perversely indomitable 2001 Topps "Operation enduring freedom" picture cards on wood 12 x 17 1/2 x 19”

The show was incredibly personal, but as a New Yorker and an American, it also represented a lot of more universal social and political viewpoints, a mix that was also present in my next solo show, this time at the recently opened (and now closed) Spike Gallery in Chelsea, the COLORING BOOK PAINTINGS. This body of work (see them all here) was a big leap for me more in terms of methodology than content. They conveyed meaning and my point of view in a real simple way. The background image provides commentary on the foreground image or vice versa. I had done the first two of these pieces as part of the YOUTH CULTURE IN AMERICA exhibition, herebelow are some others, including my first feminist painting "Save me" and a series on 4 of the hot-button issues of 2003, racism, homophobia, abortion rights and the death penalty.


Save me 2003 Mixed media on canvas 80 x 66”

Mr. T 2003 Mixed media on canvas 68 x 46”

Abortion 2003 Mixed media on canvas 24 x 24”

Racism 2003 Mixed media on canvas 24 x 24”

Homosexuality 2003 Mixed media on canvas 24 x 24”

The death penalty 2003 Mixed media on canvas 24 x 24”

In late 2003, I gave up my lovely work studio in the West Village. I'd finished THE COLORING BOOK PAINTINGS and had moved to Woodstock. I was still painting some, but didn't really have a good space and so circumstances made making art on the computer very attractive.



Jesus loves you 2003 Archival giclée print 20 x 30”

My goal for all the internet insurgency works was to get them to "go viral", I don't think any of them ever did, but "Jesus loves you" got closest, getting posted on numerous websites and blogs as it moved around the internet.

Next came my most overtly political series of work yet. I felt that our president was not telling the truth about very much and so set out to find the truth in his words in the series I called "FINDING THE TRUTH". Click on the image below for a larger view; reading the bolded words in this verbatim State of the Union address will give you what I think is the truth, excavated out of Bush's speech.


United Nations 2003 Archival giclée print 40 x 30”

Clear Skies 2003 Archival giclée print 30 x 40”

The FINDING THE TRUTH work got me really thinking about political art and what I thought it should do. Or at least what I wanted it to do. Which is to persuade. I like that word because it includes the idea of someone to be persuaded. This series was shown at the Van Brunt Gallery's shortlived Meatpacking space, where it gathered praise from fellow liberals and even a nice review by Roberta Smith in The New York Times. But the people who saw that show already were persuaded. I was preaching to the choir.

And though the choir needs to hear the sermon, too, it was not what I wanted. I wanted to take my message out of the churches of like-minded parishioners and into the wilds of differing opinion. I wanted to make public art. Persuasive art. That would be seen by people not already predisposed to agree with me. I wanted to make TV.

Television must be the strongest vehicle for persuasion ever invented - stronger than word of mouth, stronger than movies or novels, stronger, I would even argue, than religion. So, if you're making political art and your goal is to persuade, and you were not the type of person to pussyfoot around, you'd make some TV. Which is what I did. I made three videos and finished two of them and they aired nearly a hundred times and reached nearly 400,000 viewers. Video production (in my case anyway) is a collaborative affair, so I've got to thank Margaux Ravis for producing and Rachel Desario for editing these pieces.

The idea for these videos was to take the language of Christianity that the republican party had been using so effectively to advance their cause and use it to illustrate the disconnect between their words and their actions. The first one is the new testament video, the second one is the old testament video.

My old art dealer Paul Bridgewater, sold the videos for the cost of the airtime. Here are the two that ran:

These videos, for me, represented the absolute pinnacle of political art doing what I wanted it to do. They were public and persuasive and partisan but not overly abrasive. I received a couple of nasty emails about them but far more positive emails. They're also a pinnacle in another way: after these videos, I began to make work that was more, as one dealer called it, "art of social conscience" rather than art of an obviously partisan political stripe.

The HISTORICAL MARKERS project was the first step down from that partisan peak. Writing these things is tough. If they're too abrasive, the audience I'm after (people who do not already see the issues the way I do) will just write them off as vile propaganda. If they're too soft, they lose their ability to persuade.

After 9/11, intolerance for dissent was at its high point. That attitude continued on for quite a while and to me seemed to be un-American. And yet, somehow the people who were least tolerant were waving our flag the highest. I address this issue in the first marker here.


Rob’t Hass 2006 Cast aluminum, paint 90 (32) x 36”

Illegal immigrants 2008 Cast aluminum, paint 90 (32) x 36”

These markers are part of a grander project I've been working on for years, The I-75 Project, which would place 'historical' markers with contemporary social and political content on them in each of the 50 rest areas up and down the length of Interstate 75, which runs from the top of Michigan through Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Georgia on its way down to the bottom of Florida. Visit the I-75 Project website here.

My next project continued my descent from the height of partisan preaching: AMERICA'S SEVEN CARDINAL VIRTUES. Two things helped make this body of work something that I wanted to do: 1) I was getting sick of hearing myself complain about the un-American, un-Christian activities of the Bush administration and 2) I love my country. So I wanted to do something positive. Celebratory. Once again, I made up my own list (the Catholic list of cardinal virtues has only 4 of them: fortitude, temperance, prudence and justice) which included "The strength of communities," "The opportunity for prosperity," "The expectation of justice," "Freedom," "Optimism," "Diversity" and "The embrace of the new." The entire series can be found on my website here, two of them are herebelow:


#3: Yes (Optimism) 2007 Acrylic on maple slab 103 x 30”

#4: Come (Diversity) 2007 Acrylic on canvas 52 x 52”

Currently, I'm working on a project clunkily called "ON THIS SITE STOOD - LOWER MANHATTAN". I got a grant from The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council to bring my 'historical' markers to lower Manhattan. Navigating the bureaucracy from community groups to the Federal Government to make this project happen has been quite a learning experience and it should prove useful for getting The I-75 Project up and running.

With this project, I feel I've found my happy middle ground of political art: socially conscious, thought-provoking, engaging not enraging, and hopefully persuasive, with messages that could be embraced by folks on both sides of the aisle. I've got a blog explaining the lower Manhattan project, you can read it here. Below is a mock up of what will be the first finished plaque.

"Alice Rose" 2009 bronze, 12 x 14"

"Big box store" 2007  Cast aluminum, acrylic paint 90 (32) x 36”

"Di Dwyer" 2010  Bronze 12 x 14"

"Illegal immigrants" 2008  Cast aluminum, acrylic paint 90 (32) x 36”

"Ken Oask" 2010 bronze, 12 x 14"

"Meri Ferber" 2014  Cast aluminum, acrylic paint 90 (32) x 36”

"Scottie Webb" 2014  Cast aluminum, acrylic paint 90 (32) x 36”


In addition to the art of social conscience, I'm also almost always working on something else. Currently I'm working on a series called DECORATING NATURE, which is so much fun to do. Once again, some examples can be seen below and a link to the whole series can be seen here.


Fig. 1: Leaf of the clown tree 2008 Archival giclée print 22 x 16”

Fig. 5: Rhododendron showing signs of pixelanimus infestation 2008 Archival giclée print 22 x 16”

Fig. 13: Fantail fungus spreads over a streamside stone 2008 Archival giclée print 22 x 16”

Looking back over my career so far, I can say a few things for certain. One, I love making art; two, I love my country; three, I care deeply about the direction its government takes it; and four, I believe that one person with the right message can make a difference. I don't know if I'll ever be that person, and don't think that's under my control. But I don't want to look back at my life or wake up the morning after an important election, say, and think that I should have worked harder or better or brought more of whatever expertise I had to the effort and did not. And so I'm involved. I do what I can. I want, always, to be able to look in the mirror the next day, and think, I brought my best game to our political system. And to the country. And to my family and to myself.

In terms of how I craft the message in my art, I see a swing from one extreme (no political or social statement at all) to the other (the partisan attacks of the videos) and a final settling down in the middle. My middle comfort zone. I'm not an extremist. (The third anti-Bush video I did was on the subject of extremism and can be viewed on its YouTube home here.) I respect the value of extremism in nudging the middle ground, but it's not an honest place for me to be. I'm not an extremist, I'm an artist, trying to make a little bit of a difference. It's a great, great job.


(click here to read it on the Woodstock Times' site or click on the image below to enlarge)



Much contemporary art is concerned primarily with itself, relating to its surrounding society with little or no interest at all. The bulk of it exists either in the rarefied, self-intellectualized realm of cutting-edge galleries or in the popular outlets of decorative art found in malls across the country, and neither of these venues serves the public well.

The cutting-edge galleries are, by design, not intellectually inviting, even to well-educated Americans, and the mall art is, by design, not intellectually challenging to anyone. The average American looking for meaning in the visual arts is either rebuffed by elitism or disappointed by emptiness. This is not how it should be.

To be sure, there is a small middle ground: a small mass of art that is not intellectually elitist, but is intellectually engaging; a small batch of art that invites interpretation and can actually deliver its message to the thoughtful viewer; a small trove of art that is as much fun to look at as it is to think about. This wonderful middle ground, however, is rarely embraced by the high-end gallery art world, for it is too populist in its approach; and it is rarely embraced by the world of art criticism, for it already gives itself away to the thoughtful viewer; and it is rarely embraced by the public, for it is rarely seen in the institutions that are truly hospitable to them.

As Dave Hickey wrote in “The Invisible Dragon,” referring to the contemporary art world’s institutional discounting of beauty and accessibility: “they must, almost of necessity, distrust appearances -- distrust the very idea of appearances and distrust most of all the appearances that, by virtue of the pleasure they give, are efficacious in their own right.” He continues, “there are issues worth advancing in images worth admiring...” and this is what I try to create: artworks of aesthetic merit on topics of cultural importance; visual artworks that celebrate both craftsmanship and content, and aspire to the level of social poetry, artworks that fly in the face of what critic Peter Schjeldahl recently characterized as the “post-modern cringe at meaning and sincerity.” (“The drawing board,” The New Yorker, 11/4/2002)

The poet W.H. Auden said “poetry makes nothing happen,” but poetry can make things happen, artworks can change minds, at the very least, this is a great and noble goal for art. A quick anecdote: my dad lives in Georgia, in Newt Gingrich’s old district. He knows nothing about the contemporary art world, but knows all about government funding for the arts and what a perverse pursuit it is. A few years back, you see, he got a mailing from the religious right, which reproduced the notorious “Piss Christ” photo by Andre Serrano. “Your tax dollars are funding a sacrilegious abomination!” the mailing screamed. “The NEA must be stopped!” And, indeed, the NEA’s funding of individual artists was stopped. Now tell me poetry makes nothing happen. To be sure, this was a despicable misuse of Serrano’s image, but a politically effective misuse nonetheless. Art that made something happen.

How does art make things happen? Well to begin with, it should seek to be understood, not strive to be beyond understanding. It should be relevant and reveal truths: social, emotional, psychological, political, and on and on . . . it should be insightful. It should illuminate, illustrate, and stick. Years later, my dad still remembers “Piss Christ.” It stuck. And where the religious right’s appropriation of Serrano’s piece was both sneering and pandering, I prefer to strive for an artistic efficacy that does neither.

My goal is to create bodies of work that fill that middle ground described above, bodies of work that can achieve enough volume to make things happen. But make what happen? you may ask. Well . . . at the beginning, art can have a personal effect; it can console or clarify; and at the most (dare I dream big?) art can effect social change, it can comment and illuminate, juxtapose and reveal. It can be the spoonful of sugar that helps the sweet medicine of meaning go down, followed by understanding and persuasion. Beauty is the great under-appreciated friend of meaning.

Is this art as advertising? Well, yes, in that it shares the same goals of advertising. And is advertising effective? Ask Michael Dukakis who lost a campaign because of one ad run by his opponent or John Kerry who got swiftboated out of office. Ask Noam Chomsky or Nike. Advertising can be persuasive; it can change people’s minds, and so can art.

Is this art as political cartooning? Yes, but aspiring to an even deeper level of communication, a visceral communication fortifying the intellectual communication.

Is this art as illustration? Most certainly. Accessibility of meaning is one of the prime benchmarks used to define the fine line between art and illustration and used to relegate illustration to the base world of the commercial and elevate art to the grand world of the divine. And accessibility of meaning, the creation of intelligent sub-text that can be “read” by the thoughtful viewer, is one of my main goals.

Tell me with a straight face that you’ve never walked into an art gallery or a friend’s studio and wondered what the work is about, but decided not to ask, for fear of being thought a rube. Most of the art viewing public feels the same way; they have been conditioned to believe that it’s hopelessly bourgeois to look at contemporary art and ask “what’s it about?” Sneak a peak at the gallery’s explanation on the front desk, the slick explanatory text that has replaced the once-meaningful artist’s statement as our only hope of understanding what’s going on. Now read it again. Do you really believe it? “Meaning” in art has widely been replaced by the emperor’s new meaning and this alienates even more of the public. I seek to engage the public in meaningful art.

In my studio, art should convey meaning, it should be accessible, engaging, beautiful; but please don’t mistake my personal goals as some misguided mandate demanding universal adherence. I like much purely decorative art, and I like a lot of what I see in the more cutting-edge galleries. There will, of course, always be a place for these things and I don’t begrudge their existence, I simply feel that frequently they don’t serve a great majority of the public.

Now, dear reader, you will no doubt have no trouble digesting the first part of my plan, the plan to create art that is relevant, meaningful and accessible. But even as I write, I hear your groans regarding the second part of my plan: the plan to achieve enough volume to make things happen, because I sadly suspect that deep down, most people in or around the art establishment agree with Mr. Auden. Please don’t.

Richard Serra, whose work I greatly admire, said, speaking about architecture, that it isn’t art, because it serves a practical purpose, and that art, by definition, doesn’t. But art can be functional, it can be political, it can serve the public good. I strive to create a structure of art upon which socially relevant issues can be beautifully carried. And, excuse my bias, but I think it’s a structure eminently worth building.


Norm Magnusson
b. 1960

Public art projects

2014 “On this site stood” Center for Sustainable Rural Communities, Schoharie, NY
2013 “Hidden gallery walk” Palenville, NY
2013 “I want to sleep with America” Woodstock, NY
2012 “Far and wide” Woodstock Artists Association Museum, Woodstock, NY
2012 “Historical tense”, Artspace, New Haven, CT
2011 “O+ Festival”, Kingston, NY
2010 “The art of inspiration”, Sculpture installation, Time Warner Bldg, N.Y., NY
2010  “Sculpture Key West Invitational,” Key West, FL
2009 “Sculpture Key West 2009,” Key West, FL
2007 “On this site stood,” The Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Ridgefield, CT.
2006 “The Byrdcliffe Outdoor Sculpture Show,” Woodstock, N.Y.
2006 “Unexpected Catskills” Byrdcliffe Arts Colony, Woodstock, N.Y.
2005 “Karen DeWitt,” Historical marker with political content installed on
Heart’s Content Road in Greene County, N.Y.
2004 “Do unto others,” “Practice what you preach” Two :30 videos that aired 96 times on national tv leading up the Nov., 2004 election.
2003 “Jesus loves you, Bush doesn’t” Viral internet project
2000 “Pull toy” Cow Parade, Riverside Park, N.Y., N.Y.

Solo Museum Exhibitions

2011 “Public service public art project”  The Pember Museum, Granville, NY
2007  "On this site stood" The Main St. Sculpture Project of
The Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Ridgefield, CT.
2003 “Metaphorical Menagerie” Pember Museum, Granville, N.Y.
2001 “Image and Allegory,” The University of Mississippi, Oxford, MS
2000 “Norm Magnusson -- American Painter” The Springfield Art Museum, MO

Solo Gallery Exhibitions

2013 “Decorating nature” Evolve Design Gallery, Woodstock, NY
2009 “Descent into the political”  Bard College at Simon’s Rock, Great Barrington, MA
2008 “Youth Culture in America” Muddycup Gallery, Kingston, N.Y.
“America's Seven Cardinal Virtues” Van Brunt Gallery, Beacon, N.Y.
2006 “America’s Seven Deadly Sins” Van Brunt Gallery, Beacon, N.Y.
2004 “Figures of speech in paint” Inquiring Mind Gallery, Saugerties, N.Y.
2003 “Vacation” Spike Gallery, N.Y., N.Y.
2002 “After the 11th” BridgewaterFineArts, N.Y., N.Y.
2001 “The Animal Alphabet” Bridgewater/Lustberg/Blumenfeld, N.Y. 2001
1999 “Central Park Animals - Then and Now” The Arsenal Gallery,
Central Park, N.Y. , N.Y.
1998 “American Paintings” Bridgewater/Lustberg Gallery, N.Y.
1997 “Norm Magnusson” J.J. Brookings Gallery, San Francisco, CA.
1997 “Travelogue” Bridgewater/Lustberg Gallery
1996 “Norm Magnusson” Picturesque Gallery, Akaroa, New Zealand
1995 “Bestiary” Bridgewater/Lustberg Gallery
1994 “The Normandy Paintings” Bridgewater/Lustberg Gallery
1993 “Recent paintings” The Gallery Upstairs at Flamingo East, NYC
1992 “Norm Magnusson” The Gallery Upstairs at Flamingo East, NYC

Group Museum Exhibitions

2013 “Current hues of the Hudson” The Museum at Bethel Woods, Bethel, NY
2011 “Far and wide” Woodstock Artist’s Association Museum, Woodstock, NY
2009 “Food” Muroff Kotler Visual Arts Gallery, SUNY Ulster, Stone Ridge, NY
2005 “Over the top - Under the rug” The Shore Institute of Contemporary Arts
2003 “Genetic expressions: Art after DNA” Hecksher Museum, Huntington, N.Y.
2000 “Animals in Art” The Anchorage Museum of History and Art, Alaska

Selected Group Shows

“re:Purpose” WFG Gallery, Woodstock, NY
“Miners” Snyder House Historical Site, Rosendale, NY
Works on paper” Atwater Gallery, Rhinebeck, NY
 "Playing with a full deck” GCCA, Catskill, NY
“Museum of controversial art” BAU Gallery, Beacon, NY
“The Kingston Museum of Controversial Art” KMoCA, Kingston, NY
Cut & Paste” Muroff-Kotler Gallery, SUNY Ulster, Stone Ridge, NY
These animals are driving me to abstraction” WFG Gallery, Woodstock, NY
“Winter solstice show” Ai Earthling Gallery, Woodstock, NY
“FU”  WFG Gallery, Woodstock, NY
“Zoom In”  imogen Holloway gallery, Saugerties, NY
“From Wall St. to Main St.” GCCA, Catskill, NY
“SpoOk”, Oo Gallery, Kingston, NY
“SpOor”, Oo Gallery, Kingston, NY
“Change of climate”, Suite 503 Gallery, NY, NY
"Rock City Pop Up”, Van Brunt Projects, Woodstock, NY
 "Route 28 or thereabouts”  Van Brunt Projects, Beacon, NY
“Define the decade” GCCE, Catskill, NY
“SKW inside” Lucky Street Gallery, Key West, FL
“Mill Street Loft invitational”, Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
“Group show” Kleinert James Art Center, Woodstock, N.Y.
“Decorating nature” Gallery 668, Battenville, N.Y.
“spctclr vws” One Brooklyn Bridge, Brooklyn, NY
“Inaugural” Van Brunt Gallery, Beacon, NY
“Hudson Valley Invitational” Van Brunt Gallery, Beacon, N.Y.
“Animal allegories” Gallery 668, Battenville, N.Y.
“Wild thing” Ira Wolk Gallery, Napa, CA
“Strange bedfellows” Le Petit Versailles, NYC
“Variations on a rainbow” Le Petit Versailles, N.Y., N.Y.
“About face: artists not afraid of U-turns” GCCA, Catskill, N.Y.
“New Hudson Room” Van Brunt Gallery, Beacon, N.Y.
“Compared to what” Gallery OneTwentyEight, N.Y., N.Y.
“This is not an archive” Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y.
“Ambush” VanBrunt Gallery, N.Y., N.Y.
“Happy Art for a sad world” Spike Gallery, N.Y., N.Y.
“Reactions” Exit Art, N.Y., N.Y.
“Biennial” Bradford Brinton Memorial, Big Horn, Wyoming
“Animals as Symbol” Curated online exhibition,
“Salon” HereArt, N.Y., N.Y.
“Urbiculture” Sylvia White Gallery, N.Y., N.Y.
“A big show of small work” Bridgewater/Lustberg/Blumenfeld, N.Y. “Portraits 2” Jorgenson Gallery, N.Y., N.Y.
“Wish you were here” Elsa Mott Ives Gallery, N.Y., N.Y.
“Framed” Elsa Mott Ives Gallery, N.Y., N.Y.
“Open your heart” Leo Castelli Gallery, New York, N.Y.
“A big show of small works” Bridgewater/Lustberg, New York, N.Y.
“Anima Mundi” Bridgewater/Lustberg, New York, N.Y.
“Whit, Whimsy & Humor” Castle Gallery, New Rochelle, N.Y.
“Winter show” J. Cacciola Gallery, New York, N.Y.
“PhotoSoho” Buhl Foundation, New York, N.Y.
“Art walk ‘97 Show” J.J. Brookings Gallery, San Francico, CA.
“A big show of small work 2” Bridgewater/Lustberg, NYC
“A big show of small work” Bridgewater/Lustberg, New York, N.Y.
“Summer exhibition” J. Cacciola Gallery, New York, N.Y.
“Creative Conflict” Elsa Mott Ives Gallery, New York, N.Y. “High/Low/Art Soup” Renee Fotouhi Fine Art, East Hampton, N.Y.
“Animal Kingdom” The Union League Club, New York, N.Y.
“Open your heart” Christinerose Gallery, New York, N.Y.
“Preview of 1995” J. Cacciola Gallery, New York, N.Y.
“Then and Now” Bridgewater/Lustberg Gallery, New York,N.Y.
“Summer 1994” J. Cacciola Gallery, New York, N.Y.
“Accidental Tourist” Bridgewater/Lustberg Gallery, New York, N.Y.
“Garden in the Gallery” Elsa Mott Ives Gallery, New York, N.Y.
“Group Show” Galerie Antoinette, Paris, France
“Celebration of Victor Hugo” Galerie Les Etelles, Villequier, France
“Group Show” Galerie Antoinette, Paris, France
"Apres New York" Galerie Les Etelles, Villequier, France


2014            “re:Purpose”, WFG Gallery, Woodstock, NY
2013            “The Museum of Controversial Art”, BAU, Beacon, NY
2013            “The Kingston Museum of Controversial Art”, KMOCA, Kingston, NY
2012            “FU”, WFG Gallery, Woodstock, NY


2014            “Descent into the political” Kleinert-James Gallery, Woodstock, NY
2014            “Nature art” Rockland Country Day School, Congers, NY
2013            “Decorating Nature” Rhinebeck Science Foundation, Rhinebeck, NY
2010            “Define the decade” Greene County Council on the Arts, Catskill, NY
2009            “Animal alphabet” Woodstock Day School, Saugerties, NY
2008            “Art that’s changed the way I see the world around me” Woodstock Day School
2001            “Image and Allegory” The University of Mississippi, Oxford, MS

2000            “Metaphorical menagerie”  The Springfield Art Museum, MO

Selected Press

“ ‘Historical’ signs are really an art installation” Times Journal, June 3, 2014

“Woodstock artist opens local exhibit at the Schoharie Hive” Schoharie News, June 2, 2014

“Animal allegories”,  Animal Imagery Magazine, Spring 2012.

“The I-75 Project: Offering up food for thought at every rest stop”,, Nov. 15, 2011.

“The I-75 Project”,, Sept. 27, 2011

“America’s Seven Deadly Sins: The Political Art of Norm Magnusson”,, Sept. 24, 2011.

“Work in progress: Interstate 75”, CSPA Quarterly issue 6, 2011

“#110 The I-75 Project, activism with a smile”,, Aug. 4, 2011.

“Political art dots local museums’ landscape” Granville Sentinel, May 12, 2011.

“Artist erects social markers in Granville, NY” Rutland Herald, May 6, 2011.

 “Rewriting history with a wink” Utne Reader, April 13, 2011

“Street signs and pixilated leaves: the art of Norm Magnusson”  Washington Post, Oct. 29, 2010

“Art of Social Conscience: The I-75 Project by Norm Magnusson”, Oct. 25, 2010

“Just a little bit subversive”,, Oct. 21, 2010
“Gentle, public activism: Magnusson’s I-75 Project”,, Sept. 22, 2010

“Markers of American Decline”,, Sept. 22, 2010

“Signs of trouble on the I-75”,, Sept. 9, 2010

“Decorating nature by Norm Magnusson”, Wine and Bowties, Feb. 20, 2010

“Artist adds colors to nature” GreenPacks, Feb. 19, 2010

“Mother nature’s forest canvases, kicked up a few colorful notches” Greenwala, Feb. 16, 2010

"Decorating nature series", GreenMuze, 15 February, 2010

“Political descent”, Woodstock Times, November 5, 2009

"Magnusson's Markers", Woodstock Times, February 12, 2009

"Norm Magnusson’s ‘historical markers’”, Woodstock Times, July 31, 2008

“Norm Magnusson” Sculpture, June 2008

“On this site stood a man with a message” The New York Times, Sep. 30, 2007

"Signposting America," Eyeteeth: A journal of incisive ideas, Aug. 18, 2007

“Standing ground – The Aldrich goes Americana, sort of”, Bedford Mag., July 2007

"Parting shot: Norm Magnusson," Chronogram, August, 2007

“Magnusson’s markers highlight social issues,” Ridgefield Press, July 12, 2007

“I saw the sign”, Modern Painters, June 2007

"Norm Magnusson - On this site stood," American Towns, June 3, 2007

“On this site stood: culture jamming history,” Art Threat, May 29, 2007

“Énoncé de l’artiste,” Esse arts + opinion, Spring-summer 2007

"Painting politics," The Woodstock Times, August 3, 2006

“A blossoming of political art” The Huffington Post, June 6, 2006

“Art that pushes the limits of studio walls,” Atlanticville Press, September 7, 2005

“Caution: angry artists at work,” The New York Times, August 27, 2004

“Vacation,” The New York Times, September 12, 2003.

“Norm Magnusson,” The Week, August 29, 2003.

"Images of a beautiful era, and of scientific breakthroughs," The NY Times, July 27, 2003

"Pember Museum has Art Exhibit," The Granville Sentinel, February 19, 2003

Selected Bibliography (con’t.)

“Artist’s ‘funism’ provides lesson behind each animal,” Springfield News Leader,
October 18, 2000

"The Artist’s Way," Adweek, August 16, 1999

"Norm Magnusson," Review, March 1, 1997

"Travels with Magnusson," Where New York, February, 1997

"Ecological awareness with paint and a brush," The Villager, February 12, 1997

"From the Big Apple to Akaroa," The Press (Christchurch), March 27, 1996

"Fun-ism in art," The Beta Theta Pi Magazine, Spring 1996

"Museum/Gallery Notes," Wildlife Art News, Sept./Oct. 1995

"Norm Magnusson," Cover, September, 1995

"Viel Rauch um nichts," Der Vogel, August 18, 1995

"Raw News," Raw Vision, Summer 1995

"Animal Rites," The Villager, June 28, 1995

"Norm Magnusson," The New Yorker, February 28, 1994

“Scene Change,” The Villager, February 16, 1994

"Dimanche, les ecoliers invitaient aussi a voter," Le Courier Cauchois, March 27, 1993.

"La peinture sur le chemin des ecoliers," Le Courier Cauchois, January 23, 1993.

"A la decouvert d’un peintre americain avec les ecoliers de Villequier,"
Paris Normandie, 1/22/93

"A Self-taught Village Artist Creates a ‘Funism’ Style," The Villager, Sept. 9, 1992.

"Enjoyable and Accessible Art," The Villager, August 19, 1992.

Museum Collections
Anchorage Museum of History and Art - Anchorage, Alaska
The Museum of Modern Art - New York, N.Y.
(Franklin Furnace/Artist’s book collection)
The Springfield Art Museum - Springfield, Missouri
The Pember Museum - Granville, N.Y.

Selected Private Collections:
Mr. William Burback  Garrison, N.Y.
Mr. and Mrs. Kristen and Johann Eveland  New Canaan, CT.
Mr. Kenneth Cole  New York, N.Y.
Mr. and Mrs. Ione and Marshall Crenshaw  Rhinebeck, N.Y.
Ms. Kim Dickens                                            Los Angeles, CA
Mr. Joe Reece                                                New York, N.Y.
Ms. Jill Sobule                                                Los Angeles, CA
Mr. & Mrs. Andy and Kate Spade  New York, N.Y.
Mr. Theo Spencer  New York, N.Y.
Dr. & Mrs. Harlan Waksal  Telluride, Colorado
Tanya Wexler & Amy Zimmerman  New York, N.Y.

Public/Corporate Collections
AmSouth Bank - Birmingham, Alabama
Fidelity Insurance - Boston, Mass.
Kenneth Cole - New York, N.Y.
Simmons, U.S.A. - Atlanta, Georgia


NYFA Fellowship (Sculpture) 2015
NYSCA through CSRC  (Public Art) 2014
Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (Public Art) 2008
Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant, (Painting) 1998-1999