If an artist records an award-winning record but isn’t recognized by local media, does she cease to matter? If a nonfiction book hits the pop culture best-of lists, why does the fictional Charlotte Simmons get all the attention? If movies become the flashpoints for red-blue debate, does that make them more important than written commentary?

These are some of the talking points in our 2004 best of the year in arts.

For instance, Grayson Currin notes the limited coverage of Tift Merritt in broadcast media: Though she outsold Clay Aiken in local music stores and was nominated for a Grammy for Best Country Record, local television stations all but forgot her.

In literature, contributor John Valentine calls Oxford, N.C., native Timothy Tyson’s Blood Done Sign My Name the “best book of the year,” a tribute that was echoed by no less mainstream a magazine than Entertainment Weekly, which chose the work as its fourth best book of the year.

And in film, Godfrey Cheshire reminds us of the controversies that preceded The Passion of the Christ and Fahrenheit 9/11, writing: “These movies posit cinema as an almost unique arena in the current culturescape: the place where you can get powerful individual truths that are less effectively conveyed in books and magazines, and that seldom are even permitted in the electronic media.”

There was an abundance of great (and not-so-great) work around the Triangle in 2004. Let’s hope local artists and organizations get more fair and balanced coverage this year. We’ll try to do our part.

The Best of …

by Grayson Currin

by Byron Woods

by Byron Woods

Visual Art
by Doug Stuber

by Jon Valentine

by Godfrey Cheshire

by David Fellerath