While I don't agree that there are no interesting new works in visual arts, and I also don't agree that there are no influential painters or other artists, I did find much of this article relevant to both visual arts and writing.
As for artists, try looking for those who are not "of" the trendy, commercial art world. Look in unexpected places. (The same goes for writers. Think that too many writers who win awards and are lauded are the "expected" names and sometimes undeserving? Cast your net wider.)
As for influence makers, look to painters like Makoto Fujimura, who founded International Arts Movement and has been a great leader in realms of painting, the arts, and religion. Take a look at his biography here if you don't believe artists can be leaders on the national and world-wide level--presidential appointee to the National Council of Arts, founder of IAM and the Fujimura Institute, an artist with solo shows around the world, a speaker and culture maker.
I would like to see an energetic critic tackle the art world (and the writing world) we barely see and explore those who deliberately work outside the fashionable, the mainstream, and the academic. Past years of postmodernism and political correctness transformed and even now dictate what is acceptable in the eyes of art journalists.
A few clips that might make you want to read the whole thing:
Unfortunately, too many artists have lost touch with the general audience and have retreated to an airless echo chamber. The art world, like humanities faculties, suffers from a monolithic political orthodoxy—an upper-middle-class liberalism far from the fiery antiestablishment leftism of the 1960s.
Today's blasé liberal secularism also departs from the respectful exploration of world religions that characterized the 1960s. Artists can now win attention by imitating once-risky shock gestures of sexual exhibitionism or sacrilege.
This trend began over two decades ago with Andres Serrano's "Piss Christ," a photograph of a plastic crucifix in a jar of the artist's urine . . . However, museums and galleries would never tolerate equally satirical treatment of Judaism or Islam.
For the arts to revive in the U.S., young artists must be rescued from their sanitized middle-class backgrounds. We need a revalorization of the trades . . .
Creativity is in fact flourishing untrammeled in the applied arts, above all industrial design. . . . But there is no spiritual dimension to an iPhone, as there is to great works of art.
. . . a strange and contradictory culture, where the most talented college students are ideologically indoctrinated with contempt for the economic system that made their freedom, comforts and privileges possible.
In the realm of arts and letters, religion is dismissed as reactionary and unhip. The spiritual language even of major abstract artists like Piet Mondrian, Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko is ignored or suppressed.