I love this image: the containment, the way the expanse of the land is implied through restraint.

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It's by Jennifer Arlem Molina, shot in her native Mazatlan, and part of Sense Us 2010, featuring Northwestern Latino artists including Juan Alonso, Laura Castellanos, and Justin Mata, among others. The works are varied in intent, interests, and background, too—from BFA-decorated artists to independents to documentarians.

Is the identity-based art exhibition dead? Should it be? I'm with Ken Johnson on this—each show has to make its own sense, and its own case. Does Sense Us add up as a portrait of Latino/Hispanic Northwest artistry that you didn't already know or couldn't have expected? Not really. It has gems, and that's that. As a statement, it's nonexistent, which is fine. Just so you know.

Here's Johnson in a review last week of a similar show in New York:

Taken altogether, it is not clear what this show says about today’s Mexican-American artists. Are they doing something unusual that the art world needs to catch up on? Not those in this show. Is it news that they are as creatively diverse as American artists in general? It should not be.

It has long been said that the identity-based show is an evil whose necessity would disappear in a more equitable world, but museums and grant-giving foundations will continue to support this kind of project because of its appeal to various interest groups. In truth, it as much a bureaucratic artifact as a curatorial one. A more astutely focused, judiciously selected exhibition might lead to different conclusions, but this one will not alter the impression that last rites for this type of show are in order.