Friday, April 21, 2017

Wanna go to a closing reception tomorrow?


Thursday, April 20, 2017

The end of the JPG?

Virtual reality has hit the mainstream seemingly overnight. 
The New York Times posts daily 360° videos and has a virtual reality app, 200,000 developers are registered with Oculus to create VR games, and the Hirshhorn created a VR version of Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors exhibition. These organizations, among others, are seeing the incredible potential of VR technology.  
Virtual reality offers two unique advantages. First, it can be used to experience a space—like a gallery—in an incredibly realistic manner without setting foot in it. Second, it offers entirely new experiences that no one has ever had before. Arts organizations are beginning to take advantage of the former, and artists are exploring the latter. 
While VR may not change the way galleries are run immediately, keeping an eye on the digital landscape will inform the future of your gallery’s programming. There are steps you can take now, investments both small and large, to prepare your gallery for what’s to come—and generate excitement about your program in the short term.
Read this fascinating (and important article) via Artsy here.  

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Winners and Losers

A guest piece by Bill Roseberry 

"... like any juried or selection process, there’s people who can be perceived as winners and people who can be perceived as losers."

So says the executive director of a prominent D.C. non-profit arts organization in a recent article in The Washington City Paper.

He's right. There simply aren't enough public-sponsored venues and exhibit halls for every artist who wants to be seen. And it would be a losing battle even if D.C. didn't have the number of federally-funded arts institutions it has, all competing for the share of attendance and visibility local arts non-profits might otherwise expect. The MD and VA suburbs are bursting - and as is the numbers of artists who now work and reside there - all wanting to take advantage of the city arts opportunities and limited arts funding.

(Funny it is how the topic of D.C. Statehood is nowhere to be heard among those speaking of DMV arts and culture. As if there simply isn't any relationship - or if any attempt to define the difference between those with state representation and those without is offensive or irrelevant in a discussion of art and arts funding?)

What to do...? Concede to the sports analogy of "winners and losers"? Why can't D.C. become like a major-league player in the arts? Why shouldn't D.C. attract wealthy arts patrons like the big-league owners, and class-A administrators and curators with competitive salaries and seasonal contracts? Not to mention that D.C. real-estate development would be nowhere without quality arts and entertainment. No, we mustn't disappoint the owners, the developers, the managers, the team ... or the fans.

So it's a good thing that there are so many artists and performers (makers and creatives) in and around D.C. It "raises the bar".

Whose bar?

Another question I keep returning to is, "Since when did the arts become a competitive endeavor and why?

Is the sole purpose of arts organizations to establish even more competitive arenas with more entrepreneurs and even greater stakes (and subsequently more "losers" than winners) in the pursuit of a more "refined" or "progressive" culture ...??

Awards, prizes, grants, exposure, sales are not what all artists want or need; but it is the only thing they've come to expect will ever be offered if only by some stroke of fortune or dogged placation that those who control the rewards of cultural labor might look upon them.

So despite what artists are being told they need and want, the last thing (...ask any artist) is to be informed that they are a "loser" and not among a select team of "winners". Not this time. But maybe next? Everyone receives his or her turn? Not likely.

What's the alternative?

(First it must be seen that there is a significant difference between visual and performing arts organizations, their audiences, as well as their function. There are a few similarities but I wish to focus on the visual arts as that is my area of knowledge and not attempt to draw too large a picture or create too many generalities).

Museums of contemporary art, arts institutions of contemporary culture, and arts organizations - that profess to support more community-centered arts and culture - but also serve for the promotion and marketing of contemporary global culture as an economic incentive. The differences between their vision to serve as education centers, as showcase venues for artists, and as arts advocates varies as much as those functions may be blurred or be said to overlap. As centers for arts education, organizations and institutions may be eligible to receive non-profit status and much needed tax deductible donations - even though the direct impact or supplement to school-based arts education is also be heavily abstracted - particularly where those centers for arts education are estranged geographically from the communities and neighborhoods they claim to serve.

The truth is that contemporary arts institutions and organizations are less educational than promotional in their programming - serving more as proxy venues for artist promotion and sales as well as training grounds for the careers of curators, administrators, consultants, assistants and the host of arts-professionals whose competitive salaries must paid from an ever-increasing requirement for funding. Managing gallery and performance spaces are also very costly, contributing to a large percentage of an organizations overhead expense (and volunteer time) while serving only a small percentage of artists and a limited range of cultural views.

However, from the artists point of view (and similarly like any unobstructed lawn with a goalpost and bleachers becomes a potential playing field for sports enthusiasts) any public building with bare walls and lights becomes a gallery, or a performance space and a potential sales and promotion venue... or more to the point, a source of revenue to be "managed".

As there is never enough space for all of the art and performance that is produced selective management becomes absolutely critical to its continued function as a viable space - choices must be made and curatorial standards and narratives must be devised to substantiate those choices - however dubious or artificial those choices, standards and narratives are to reality and relevant to the community in which they are displayed. Hence, "winners" and "losers"; those who are assisted in selling their work or their brand, and those who are left to fend for and support themselves.

But what if... arts organizations were NOT in the business of promotion, of giving support to some artists but not others? What if arts organizations supported ALL artists both equitably and more directly without preference to gender or race, style or substance? What if arts budgets went directly to the communities they represent to strengthen the cultural infrastructure, providing incentive for artists and cultural workers to remain within those communities, to thrive, and both preserve the native culture and provide for the unique cultural requirements of which the artists have an innate and natural relationship? What if arts organizations did not serve as a proxy for the commercial market as galleries and theatres to promote art and ticket sales or as a career platform for transient arts administrators, transient curators and transient non-artist professionals? What if arts organizations were not players in the cultural gentrification of communities but the glue that held those communities together to resist urban expansion and cultural homogeneity?

What would arts organizations do?

Perhaps the most effective, the most significant (and the least costly) thing arts organizations could do is to formally recognize the difference between art and artists; between culture and its potential for marketing. (Many of those who annually profess "support for the arts" could care less about the welfare of artists or community cultures. To them "the arts" are either a collector commodity or a refined source of entertainment that likewise must be codified, qualified.. to be entered into competition; to earn approval or disapproval through critical judgment.)

Rather, artists and culture share a living relationship, a symbiosis, by which one is not likely to survive without the other. For art to survive requires nothing more than a museum and those with the means to collect it. For artists and cultures to survive requires a great deal more imagination and committed effort.

"Art has no ‘dominion’ really – it just exists and sometimes in the unlikeliest places made by the unlikeliest people." (1)

Functionally speaking, arts organizations could raise money along with awareness to do little things that would actually help all artists thrive and by extension to build and secure a more vibrant, viable art community that the public would be proud to call their own and in a way that would set a newer, higher and directly productive standard for arts organizations everywhere.

How would they do this?

As an advocate for artists rights, affordable housing and studios, as advocates for fair practices, create job banks for artists, create emergency funding for artists and their immediate families when there is a serious medical need, fire, or job layoff, underwrite group insurance, to advocate for health safety in the arts workplace, as a representative for artists with the local government with regard to city planning and arts education in the public school system, in conjunction with other arts organizations to advocate for artists in federal arts legislation, as an advocate for elderly and handicapped artists, as an archive for local artist's documents such as with the Archives of American Art, as an historical library or repository of the Arts in D.C. or to assist artists with the compilation of their personal archives (2) ...

The truth is there are plenty of things that D.C. arts organizations could be that are fully inclusive that doesn't presume to select one group of artists or selection of any individual artist over another; that doesn't contribute to divisiveness, that doesn't require a curator or even a scheduled exhibition space; whose budget isn't merely self-preserving, and that doesn't presume that the only need artists have is greater exposure ("people die from exposure").

The idea that artists and the public must be educated to the latest trend in contemporary art or to the newest big-names in a list of this year's emerging artists - or that artists are somehow uniquely gifted or visionary in voicing the needs and issues of communities while remaining silent with respect to their own issues of livelihood - and that somehow manifests as a cultural service - is not only short-sighted, it's redundant and proven to be of little if any long-term effective value.

It's time to stop seeing arts organization as arenas. Art is not a competition. Artists are not players. Culture needs to be served, not sold; it is its own reward, and a city with its diverse neighborhoods and cultures deserves to be treated fairly, unequivocally, with equanimity to all - that art and art practice might the one human endeavor by which NO ONE LOSES. Ever



Wanna go to an opening tomorrow?

Thursday night from 7-9pm, one of the DMV's blue chip artists will be having a reception for his latest solo show. "With the Grain: Paintings by J.T. Kirkland" at the McLean Project for the Arts in McLean, VA. The exhibition will run until June 3 at their new/temporary location on Chain Bridge Rd.

Here's a blurb about the show:
This exhibition features multipart and shaped paintings on wood. Focusing on line, color, form and structure, J.T. Kirkland combines wood and paint into uniquely warm and abstract paintings in the minimalist vein.  Using grain of the wood as both guide and essential component, Kirkland incorporates and contrasts the organic nature of the material with the crisp intentionality of hard-edged blocks of color.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Linguini versus Spaghetti

Pasta mafia meme

MFA Thesis Exhibition Alternative Views

Q: What's one of the best places for both new collectors and experienced ones to "discover" new artists early on their careers?

A: Student art shows!

AU's Department of Art presents the work of their Masters of Fine Art Thesis candidates: Mills Brown, Aaron Eckstein, Yaroslav Koporulin, Sarah Norman, Sarah O'Donoghue, Jen Smith, and Zarina Zuparkhodjaeva. 
American University Department of Art presents the work of current first and second year Studio Art MFA candidates in a two-part exhibition. From April 1-April 19, MFA First year students present work completed during their first year, followed by the thesis presentation of MFA second year students from April 29-May 28. Collectively, these emerging artists represent study, experimentation, and reflection while also providing a window into each artist’s individual artistic practice.

While you're there, in the DMV's most beautiful museum space (with plenty of parking!) make sure that you see Frida Larios' Maya Alphabet of Modern Times (through May 28):
Maya Alphabet of Modern Times intends to re-codify a small part of the Maya mythic narrative, giving the artistic tradition new graphic form. In the Maya Alphabet of Modern Times typo-graphic works, Frida Larios, a native of El Salvador, has borrowed directly from the logo-graphic language of the ancestral Maya scribes, but speaking to and for the Indigenous Maya of today. Since finishing her master thesis in London in 2005, Larios has regenerated nearly 100 new designs that have been integrated into diverse media: books, works on paper, installations, sculptures, garments, jewels and toys. These new artifacts carry through the Pre-Columbian heritage to a contemporary audience of every age, thus intending that the Meso American script is preserved to see a new generation.
Also The Summerford Legacy:
Ben L. Summerford (1924-2015) taught at American University's Department of Art from 1951-1987. All of the artists in Summerford Legacy studied under Professor Summerford and took different aspects of his teaching to heart. Some stayed close to their artistic roots in AU's Department of Arts, and some used those roots to support far-flung but personal explorations. All of the artists exhibit the artistic integrity embodied by their teacher, and approach their art as an act of discovery. 
Free Parking: A salon-style conversation with former students of Ben L. Summerford.  April 27, 2017.  RSVP

Monday, April 17, 2017

Torpedo Factory Artists’ Association Welcomes Fifteen New Members

The Torpedo Factory Artists’ Association recently completed its Annual Membership Jury. From this process, fifteen new artists were selected as Associate Members. Congratulations to:  Ahmed Ansari, Veronica Barker-Barzel*, Ramon Camarillo, Cam Chapman, Dennis Crayon, Tsolmon Damba, Mary Beth Gaiarin, M. Alexander Gray*, Briana Hertzog, Yoon Sun Lim, Lizzy Lunday, Charlene Nield, Ciddi Sermin, Meg Talley, and Marine Weiss for being selected as the Torpedo Factory Artists Class of 2017.
The Annual Membership Jury process is conducted in two phases. The first phase evaluates the digital images submitted with each application. Steve Prince, Associate Professor and Artist in Residence at Allegheny College, served as the Phase I juror. In Phase II, artists are placed into one of two groups: two-dimensional or three-dimensional work. Artist work is then anonymously evaluated, both individually and collectively, by all three jurors for that group. There are no quotas or recommendations given to the jurors by the Torpedo Factory Artists’ Association.
For 2017, the jurors for two-dimensional jurors were: David Bellard, Creative Director, Social Marketing & Program Services at Rare Residency Program; Glen Kessler, Founder of The Compass Atelier; and Robert Yi, Director of George Washington University’s Corcoran Arts Continuing Education Program. The three-dimensional jurors were: Michael Janis, Co-director of Washington Glass School; Mary Cloonan, Professor of Ceramics, Adjunct, Towson University and Exhibitions Director at Baltimore Clayworks; and David Knopp, Towson Art Collective and Sculptors Inc.
The Newly Juried Artist exhibition is on display in Gallery 311 at the Torpedo Factory Art Center until April 30. There is a closing reception on April 30 from 3:00 pm - 5:00pm.
On a note of personal interest, waaay back in 1995 or 1996 I applied to this process and was soundly rejected! Another example of why artists need thick skins! Congrats to all the new members!
*Members of Printmakers Inc; a Torpedo Factory studio and workshop

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Wanna be in an art show?


Wish You Were Here 16
A.I.R. Gallery's Annual Postcard Show

A.I.R. Gallery is pleased to announce its 16th annual postcard show, Wish You Were Here, which will take place in the entry gallery of our Plymouth Street location from May 25 - June 25, 2017. This inclusive event both raises valuable funds for A.I.R. programs and makes affordable artwork available to the public. Past Wish You Were Here exhibitions have included work by notable artists like Mary Beth Edelson, Dottie Attie, Mary Grigoriadis, and Barbara Zucker.

They invite artists from all over the world - female / male / cis / trans / gender nonconforming / neutral -  to participate by donating 1 postcard-sized work (4 x 6 inches) in any medium. Each original work is sold for $45 on a first come first serve basis and the buyer will take the work with them at the time of the sale. All proceeds go to benefit A.I.R. programming and are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law.


For more information and to submit work for the annual postcard show, click

Deadline is May 19, 2017 at 6pm.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Wanna go to an opening tonight?

Jacob Kainen, High Noon II, 1980, oil on linen, 24" x 30"
Jacob Kainen, High Noon II, 1980, oil on linen, 24" x 30"


Romare Bearden, Woman and Egret, 1975, collage and acrylic on board, 11 3/4" x 16"
Romare Bearden, Woman and Egret, 1975, collage and acrylic on board, 11 3/4" x 16"
April 15 - June 10, 2017

Opening on April 15, 2017, 6:00pm - 8:00pm at Hemphill

HEMPHILL1515 14th St NW
Washington DC 20005
tel 202.234.5601