Friday, December 02, 2016

The curious case of Fidel Castro and La Quinceañera

Yesterday at the Context Art Miami fair, one of the cleaning ladies was nearby our booth and speaking on her cell phone using the machine gun steccato of Cuban Spanish that drives other Spanish speakers crazy.

"Cubans," once wrote the Argentinian writer Jacobo Timerman, "use Spanish as a weapon."

I could tell that she was trying to calm someone down on the other side of the conversation. When she hung up, she burst into tears.

Alarmed, I walked up to her and asked what was wrong. Prior to this event, we had exchanged pleasantries and she had told me that her family was from Matanzas. With tears on her face, she related that she had been speaking with her niece in Cuba.

It seems that her niece was in the middle of her Quinceañera party when the Cuban police showed up.

A Quinceañera party is the coming of age party that Cuban girls, and girls throughout Latin America celebrate on their 15th birthday. It remains one of the most important and strongest traditions of the Spanish-speaking world.

In Cuba, because of the extreme necessities of the Cuban people, setting up a Quinceañera party often takes years of preparation, usually in close coordination with relatives in other countries who can hand-carry and bring the required items needed to stage the most important social event in a young girl's life.

In this case, the teary cleaning lady told me that she had made half a dozen trips in the last two years binging party items, shoes, dress, candy, stockings; the list went on and on as she sobbed.

The local police showed up to the party, and informed the family that they were in violation of the official nine days of luto (mourning) for the death of Fidel Castro Ruz; parties and music-playing was strictly forbidden.

All guests' names were taken down and all were ordered to leave. When La Quinceañera's mother began to cry and complain to the police, she was pushed to the ground and punched in the mouth. When La Quinceañera's father tried to help his wife, he was also beaten and then arrested.

That's why this nice cleaning lady was trying to calm her abused family members across the miles, and then broke down once she hung up.

"Even after that desgraciado is dead, he's still abusing us," she sobbed in Spanish. I hugged her, and we cried a little together.

That's Cuba after Fidel, week one.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Context Day Two

Brutal drive to Wynwood to get to the art fairs - that needs to be fixed... how? see this.

Bit of a slow day, as all dealers seem to be commenting about how the separation of Context Art Miami from its sister megafair Art Miami has/will affect Context.

Personally I think that Context has begun to outshine its elder sister - not just me, but loads of collectors have expressed similar views; only time will tell.

With Audrey at the wheel of the huge cargo van, we arrived just in time after spending nearly an hour to go the last 2-3 blocks in Wynwood. By eleven AM we were set.

I strolled a little and spent some time speaking to Ciara Gibbons from Gibbons & Nicholas, a wonderful Irish gallery with a powerfully curated booth dealing with socially inquisitive artwork that addresses the worldwide problem of mass migrations. It would be good to see that artwork and those Irish artists in a DMV museum... very appropriate to these interesting times.

In the late afternoon we finally broke the ice and sold one of my drawings to a nice French couple from Miami Beach; it was soon followed by a sale of one of the very talented Georgia Nassikas to a Miami couple.

Later on the day there was a sports celebrity sighting in the booth, as legendary golfer Phil Mickelson and his wife dropped by the booth, took notes and pictures and admired some work... more on that later.

As the fair closed at 8PM, as we were packing we spent 45 minutes with a last minute collector who ended up buying two of my drawings and commissioning three more.

Day two done.

Artomatic is coming back on 2017!

Building on a partnership that started in 2007, Artomatic will return to Crystal City
to host a signature event in the spring of 2017. They anticipate attracting a large and diverse crowd showcasing a variety of creative work, including visual art, music, film, live performance, fashion, and more.
Look for more information about the next Artomatic in January when they kick off the New Year with a spring event in Crystal City!

The curious case of the Miami Art fair week, Wynwood, and traffic

There is a certain connection that exists between the success and survival of big events, the hosting city, people, businesses and traffic.

Make it hard for people to get to a concert venue, and they won't go. Make it difficult for people to get to a sporting event, and they'll stay home and watch it on TV.

Make it impossible for people to drive to art fairs during ABMB and they will not go to the fairs.

The cities of Miami and Miami Beach have a cash cow going on with the explosion of the Art Basel week of art fairs. By my unofficial count, there are no less than 26 art fairs going on around the Greater Miami area, plus countless side art events, plus museum parties, etc. They generate a lot of business for the local area, a lot of tax revenue for the cities and a lot of good stuff for Miamians.

And all that is in extremis if the cities (and the fairs) do not do a better job of traffic management.

"All they need is some police presence guiding and directing traffic!" noted the exasperated Uber driver. "Just like they do for concerts or football games; you never see this kind of traffic nightmare in those cases... why?... because the friggin' cops are on the corners directing traffic!"

I suspect that in those cases, the events/venues have a contract with the local police force, so that they pay a fee to get the traffic coverage. For the last two nights in Wynwood, traffic has been a nightmare, often taking over an hour to move one traffic light. I hear that in Miami Beach it is even worse.

Unless resolved, this is going to kill the fairs in Miami and Miami Beach. We've already heard complaints over the last years - this year has been the worst. "You can't get an Uber or a Lyft," noted an exasperated collector via text last night. "They can't get in the area!"

This has to be fixed.

All the Wynwood art fairs, and all the Miami Beach art fairs needs to get together and arrange for police support during the art fairs - there hasn't been any for the first day or two...this is not just advice, but a must do unless they see the traffic jams kill attendance and thus infect the subsequent death of the fairs. You never want to hear: "I used to go to the fairs, but now it's impossible to even get in... so..."

Art fairs are run by business entities; not artists - if this issue is this clear to most attendees and most exhibitors (who also have to get to the fairs in and out), then they must also be clear to the most casual observer.

Miami/Miami Beach: Fix the traffic jams, or the fairs will die off. 

Update: On Wednesday and Thursday night cops magically appeared (at least in Wynwood) and traffic improved significantly - it's still packed, but at least moving a little!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Context Day One

Today was the VIP opening at Context Art Miami in Wynwood... we got there a little early, in order to get some time to walk the fair before the opening.

After parking I got me a cortadito on the walk from the parking lot to the fair. I am convinced that Cuban coffee is the real reason that crack never took hold in Miami. The cortadito was $1.87 in Wynwood... In most places in Hialeah you can get one for a quarter.

Booth 326 looked really good - there was Dulce Pinzon, Audrey Wilson, Jodi Walsh, Georgia Nassikas, Tim Vermeulen, Elissa Farrow-Savos and Alma Selimovic - and my art - rocking the booth!

Meanwhile, over in Miami Beach's SCOPE Art Fair, Tim Tate was manning our booth at that fair showcasing his new work... but more on that later.

Opening night was the usual stroll of impossibly slim women in impossibly high heels, and handsome young dudes in tight pants and sockless long shoes. There was also a lot of very good tasting food and plenty of Prosecco flowing.

My family started arriving in waves, and I spent much of the night speaking to them... collectors also came by, most notably Texas ubercollector Ardis Bartle.

Audrey Wilson, Ardis Bartle and Jodi Walsh

With most of my family members in one place together, I brought out a folder with around 100 lithographs and etchings that I had done 1977-1981 while a student at the University of Washington School of Art... I wanted to give them a choice of some of them as gifts.

Soon my familial peeps were spreading out the prints on the table and selecting them as a group. A few minutes later I noticed that several other people were also gathering around the table and selecting work. When I say "other people" I mean strangers.

Before my mind got this fact clear, I realized that people were helping themselves to the artwork - just anyone... not just my family.

By the time that I reached the folder, about 20 prints remained - I say maybe a third of those were in my family's new art collection; the rest now belong to perfect strangers who never bothered to ask a question, but just angled in, got some prints and left.

I guess that my artistic collectors' base just got expanded! cough... cough...

The big ABMB Week Art Dance starts tonight!

Alida Anderson Art Projects invites you to the

VIP Opening Receptions of


Tuesday, November 29th @ 5:30-10pm

Alida Anderson Art Projects is proud to participate for the fifth year in a row, in this year's CONTEXT ArtMiami fair, taking place November 29 - December 4 in the Wynwood Design District of Miami.

The gallery will feature work by Dulce Pinzón (Mexico), Jodi Walsh (Canada), Alma Selimovic (Bosnia), Elissa Farrow-Savos (US), Tim Vermeulen (US), Georgia Nassikas (US), Audrey Wilson (US) and F. Lennox Campello (US via Cuba).  We are located in booth 326, near the fair’s center collectors’ lounge.

Intemperance Detox Simulation... by Audrey Wilson - Context Booth 326 (Photo by @peted301)
The gallery is also proud to sponsor a gorgeous public art spaces installation by New York City artist Matthew Langley in space SP10. On display are 35 of his small artworks – the largest presentation ever!

Detail from Matthew Langley installation
We are also at the SCOPE ArtFair in Miami Beach, where we’re showcasing a solo booth by Washington, DC artist Tim Tate. His work is in booth D29 at SCOPE. Their VIP opening is also Tuesday, November 29 from 4-8PM.

Tim Tate at SCOPE Art Fair
The gallery has a few complimentary passes for the art fairs left, please contact us at for more information.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Let me count the ways...

How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnets to The Portuguese) Charcoal on Paper by F. Lennox Campello
How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnets to The Portuguese)
36x36 inches, circa 2016
Charcoal on Paper by F. Lennox Campello

How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnets to The Portuguese) Charcoal on Paper by F. Lennox Campello
How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnets to The Portuguese) - Detail
36x36 inches, circa 2016
Charcoal on Paper by F. Lennox Campello
Come see it at the CONTEXT ART MIAMI fair in Wynwood - booth 326!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Context Art Miami... booth 326

We are wild, beautiful things II by Elissa Farrow-Savos

Art Scam Alert!

Be aware of this SOB trying to steal artwork from artists!
From: John Marcus
My name is John Marcus from NC. I actually observed my wife has been
viewing your website on my laptop and i guess she likes your piece of
work, I'm also impressed and amazed to have seen your various works
too, : ) You are doing a great job. I would like to receive further
information about your piece of work and what inspires you. I am very
much interested in the purchase of the piece (in subject field above)
to surprise my wife. Kindly confirm the availability for immediate
sales. Thanks and best regards, John Marcus
My name is John Marcus from NC. I actually observed my wife has been
viewing your website on my laptop and i guess she likes your piece of
work, I'm also impressed and amazed to have seen your various works
too, : ) You are doing a great job. I would like to receive further
information about your piece of work and what inspires you. I am very
much interested in the purchase of the piece (in subject field above)
to surprise my wife. Kindly confirm the availability for immediate
sales. Thanks and best regards, John Marcus

Raul Castro is just as bad (if not worse)

The man being tied to a tree by Fidel Castro is a Cuban peasant from the Sierra Maestra. He refused to give his crops to the Cuban revolutionaries, and was "condemned" to execution for refusing. The man covering his eyes is Raul Castro.

Here he is being executed. The man firing the rifle is Raul Castro

The aftermath of the execution - all duly recorded by the camera. The man standing in the background by the collapsed victim is Fidel Castro. The man to the left of Raul Castro is Che Guevara.
And before anyone starts justifying or explaining - this execution (one of many) was well documented by the Castros in the official history of the Revolution - they didn't "back away" from the murder, but used it as an example to those unwilling to cooperate with the regime.

At Scope installating

It all starts today as Audrey Wilson begins installation of Tim Tate's pieces at the Scope Art Fair in Miami Beach!

Come see his new work in booth D29!

A Silence Opens 2016 by Tim Tate. 24 x 18 x 4, silver plates and colored frame, mirror, ceramic, LEDs

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Finally, he's dead!

It had to happen, after all, the old Celt was in his ninth decade, and yet, it was still somewhat of a surprise when the announcement came that the world's longest reigning dictator, Fidel Castro Ruz was dead.

Those Celtic people from Iberia's northern mountains last a long time, and Castro's generation was a particularly long-lived ones. "Estan hechos de hierro [They're made of iron]", my mother used to say.

But he's dead, and it sounds like he died in his sleep, or otherwise peacefully, unlike the tens of thousands of Cubans under his boot who died in pain, or under torture, or drowning, or against a firing-squad wall, or while being lobotomized... all because of him, via him, through him, as a result of him... him, him, him.

"El Caballo" was one lucky Celt - he escaped multiple attempts on his life; all while millions of his countrymen also escaped the hell that he made his island into.

After Fidel died, his spirit, as all do, arrived at the Pearly Gates. He stretched his tall frame and started walking towards the gate. To his relief, he noted that they were open. He also noted a tall, bald man standing outside the gates.

"I've been waiting for you," the man said in Spanish... clearly Cuban Spanish from Oriente province.

"Campello?," said Castro, recognizing the man, after all, they once spent many months together in the Sierra Maetra, "Why are you here, outside the Gates?"

My father comes a little closer to Fidel, who is still a little unsure of himself, probably for the first time in his life... ah afterlife. "As I said," repeats my father, "I've been waiting for you." He also stretches himself and he's just as tall as Castro.

Two tall Galicians facing each other.

Castro begins to speak when my father's fist smashes into his mouth, and the meaty part of Castro's inner lip shreds into his teeth. He stumbles backwards, spitting blood and teeth; his inner lip is wedged between his front teeth, making it hard to speak. He looks back, fear in his veins, looking for an escape venue. He then notices that there is a black hole nearby, and that rancid smoke and screams of pain come from within it.

Even Castro knows where that leads - after all, he studied in his youth at exclusive Jesuit schools. A privileged part of his upbringing from the upper class landed gentry of Cuba's Galician blue blood society.

He turns to my father as another fist smashes into his perfectly Aquiline nose; a Roman nose like the ancient statues. It makes a crunching sound, the bone shatters and blood begins to pump out of the nose, joining the blood from his mouth.

This is pain like Castro has never felt before. Suddenly his mind is flooded with thousands of memories of broken noses and broken teeth; all the memories of the Cubans that his henchmen tortured and killed over the decades.

He stumbles a little, trying to avoid my father and at the same time trying to avoid the black hole. He thinks that he hears a melee of voices coming from the hole - they call his name.

His first name, like Cubans once called him.

He cannot defend himself; he was always a coward. Even in the attack against the Moncada on that 26th of July long ago, he was the first to run and only one of a handful who got away. When he was finally caught, the black Cuban Army Lieutenant who captured him, recognized Castro and protected him, as that Lieutenant had once known Castro as children. It saved Fidel's life.

How did Castro repay this honorable man? He was one of the first Cubans executed in 1959. It was clear that Fidel was too embarrassed by his cowardly behavior to leave that man as a witness to it.

He's gotta talk his way out of this, but his lip is still caught and jammed between his front teeth, and his stammers and lisps. The lisp brings to mind the thousands of maricones that he sent to concentration camps for the crime of being gay. Many were accused of being gay simply because of speaking with a lisp, a gruesome logic if one side is armed with guns and power.

"Work Will Make Men Out of You" said the sign to the entrance to the concentration camp for gays and lesbians.

The next fist strikes him on the forehead and he stumbles and falls backwards. Now he feels the heat coming out of the black hole and the voices calling his name grow louder. The soundings inside his injured head is augmented with the images of the tens of thousands of gay men that he ordered "cured" via lobotomies.

He screams in terror and the thin strand of lip meat that has been wedged between his front teeth finally snaps and he's free to beg for mercy, but the blood is now pouring really fast into his throat and lungs, and he gasps for air.

My father's next punch strikes at his throat, and the Comandante begins to choke. Now his brain is filled with the over 60,000 Cubans who drowned at sea while attempting to escape from Cuba. He's drowning in blood and cannot understand how one can die twice.

One can't.

My father looks at him, and whispers the accusation that only Cubans who fought against Batista on the streets of Havana and Santiago and Guantanamo and many other Cuban cities know. Cubans who fought in the mountains of the Sierra Maestra and the Escambray; Cubans who risked their lives, and their families' lives to fight against a bloody tyrant, only to have that tyranny replaced with one a million times worse.

"Traidor", my father whispers as he kicks Castro down the black hole into the waiting hands who want to tear, the waiting teeth who want to bite, the waiting flames, which wait to burn.

There is no scream on the way down.

My father turns and slowly walks through the Gates... he's been waiting for Fidel, and now his wait is over.

"Un hombre puede ser traidor, pero un pueblo... jamas!"

Friday, November 25, 2016

Congrats to Jefferson Pinder

Each year, United States Artists (USA) awards $50,000 fellowships to the country's most accomplished and innovative artists working in the fields of Architecture & Design, Crafts, Dance, Literature, Media, Music, Theater & Performance, Traditional Arts and Visual Arts. Former DMV artist (now living in Chicago) and one of the 100 in my book about DC artists, Jefferson Pinder is the recipient of the Joyce Fellowship in Performance and Theater. 

Fellows are selected through a rigorous, highly competitive process involving hundreds of experts, scholars, administrators and artists. USA Fellows spotlight the importance of originality across every creative discipline, celebrating the broad diversity of American artistic practices from coast to coast, cultivating a creative ecology that is diverse in age, race, religion, gender, and sexual orientation. Past recipients of USA Fellowships include visual artists Glenn Ligon, Kara Walker, Theaster Gates and Catherine Opie; cartoonist Chris Ware; designers Kate and Laura Mulleavy (of Rodarte); performing artist Meredith Monk; jazz composer Jason Moran; ballet dancer and choreographer Benjamin Millepied; choreographer Bill T. Jones; and writers Annie Proulx and Sapphire.

For more information about USA Fellowships, click here.
Jefferson Pinder's work provokes commentary about race and struggle. Focusing primarily with neon, found objects, and video, Pinder investigates identity through the most dynamic circumstances and materials.  Through his meditative exploration with light and sound or his intensely grueling corporeal performances, he delves into conversations about race. His exploration of sound, music and physical performance are conceptual threads to examine history, cultural appropriation, and portrayals of exertion and labor. Creating collaged audio clips and surreal performances he under score themes dealing with Afro-Futurism and endurance. 

His work has been featured in numerous group and solo shows including exhibitions at The Studio Museum in Harlem, the Wadsworth Athenaeum Museum of Art in Hartford, Connecticut, Showroom Mama in Rotterdam, Netherlands, The Phillips Collection, and the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC.  At present, Pinder is preparing for the 2016 Shanghai Biennale, and has just finished a sculptural installation at the new Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture. Pinder resides in Chicago where he is a Professor in the Sculpture department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. 
For more information on Jefferson Pinder, click here
For available artworks by Pinder, who is represented locally by Curator's Office, click here.

Jefferson Pinder is ALSO representing the USA in the current 11th Shanghai Biennale with a work entitled Black Portal (2015). The exhibition is called "Why Not Ask Again: Arguments, Counter-arguments, and Stories" and takes place at the Power Station of Art, the first state-run museum dedicated to contemporary art in mainland China. It was curated by Raqs Media Collective and co-organized by Ugochukwu-Smooth Nzewi.

For more information about the 11th Shanghai Biennale, click here.

Context Art Miami - here we come!

Polarizing Mist Gun, 2016 Audrey Wilson
Polarizing Mist Gun
2016, Audrey Wilson
Glass, neon and found objects

Come see us in booth 326 at the Context Art Miami art fair Nov 29 - December 4, 2016.