A sculptor preparing to open a new show must balance her creative life with the daily dramas of family and friends, in Kelly Reichardt’s vibrant and captivatingly funny portrait of art and craft.
“‘Places where people can still have a Bohemian lifestyle are a nice thing to have in the world’, writer Jon Raymond said in an interview. ‘I hope this movie depicts that kind of community – the community of Lizzie and Jo – in a positive light, one that is not satirical, but inviting and real.’ In that ‘real’ lies the rub: Reichardt’s fantasy campus is built on the boneyard of the Oregon College of Art and Craft, which closed in 2019 after more than a hundred years of teaching. Some of its graduates even worked on the film. A statement from the school’s board claims that the ‘path to closure was paved with years of restructuring, none of which could sufficiently eradicate the rising costs of running a private arts college in the 21st century’ – which says plenty about our present condition. In amending this reality, Showing Up represents perhaps the only time in her career where Reichardt has deviated from the real in favour of something hopeful. She resurrects the school to make a claim for its necessity – reframing her portrait as something almost radical. This is truly art for art’s sake, a polemic for the roly-poly.”