Saturday, May 15, 2004

Just back from spending the day burning in the sun at the Bethesda Fine Arts Festival.

It was great! Lots of people, and I sold quite a bit of work... in fact I came home ready to frame new pieces for tomorrow, but got engaged on the phone in a great conversation with a kindred ancient soul and now it's too late for framing, so instead I'm posting some recent thoughts and news.... see below.

Come see 120 plus artists tomorrow at the Festival. I'll be there.

Do you want to know why art criticism can never ever be objective, but always comes loaded with a critic's personal agenda?

Read Blake Gopnik's piece in the Post. Gopnik does not like painting, and subscribes to the somewhat dated and debunked theory that "painting is dead."

Since painting refuses to die, and collectors refuse to let it die, and dealers refuse to let it die, and curators refuse to let it die, the pushers of this antiquated theory that once made news in the 60s, try to rationalize it, as Gopnik brilliantly does in this piece.

However, once you realize that this is on the "agenda" of a particular art scribe, it sounds as empty now as it did in ther 1960s.

Notice how he labels Robert Hughes, one of the planet's most respected and influential art critics, and probably the best-known contemporary art critic in the world, as "Conservative" simply because Hughes would bury the "painting is dead" slogan in the same grave as "happenings" from the 60s and 70s.

It is a shame that such a gifted and influential writer as the Washington Post's chief art critic is, will go all the way to London to visit that distant city's art galleries, but cannot be bothered to visit or write about his own city's art galleries on a regular basis.


One of the things that seems to have hindered the visibility of the Greater Reston Arts Center is the development of a genuine and credible exhibition committee or group or guidance to advise on the programming and exhibition philosophy of the new Arts Center.

In my opinion, after sliding by far too long with inconsistent policies and practices, I’m happy to report that a friend of mine tells me that such a panel was instituted a few weeks ago!

She says that the new panel is being chaired by Michael Monroe, formerly of the Renwick. GRACE will be retaining Deborah MacLeod (former director of McLean Project for the Arts) to help develop and/or curate a new direction in their programming and exhibitions.

I am posting this because I hope this means that GRACE is moving in the right direction. It is a very nice space, and having curated a show there a few years ago, I really want to see them become a firm member of our arts tapestry.

GRACE also needs to do something to restore the reputation of their Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival, which has slipped in the last couple of years, and was even boycotted by many artists last year for their huge price increase for an exhibition booth. This is one of the great outdoor art festivals in the nation, but it needs to be more artist-friendly.