Thursday, June 24, 2004

My son Callum gave me this book for Father's Day. Does that kid know his Virgo dad or what!

Jessica Dawson sends a cosa nostra goodbye kiss to Troyer Gallery (which is closing) in today's Galleries column in the Post (halfway through the column).

This is the last paragraph in the review:

"Like much of the work shown at Troyer in recent years, the show is unremarkable. And the same can be said for most all of Troyer's Dupont Circle neighbors. There is a market for the kind of work Troyer, and her colleagues, have sold. Yet Dupont Circle needs more exhibitions that stimulate and advance contemporary art practice. I'm hopeful that Irvine will lead the way."
I have known Jessica Dawson on a professional capacity for several years (ever since she was a freelancer for the Washington City Paper), and I respect her as a writer and as a person. In the past I have both criticized her writing and critical opinions and also applauded it when deserved (in my opinion). This BLOG has ample evidence of both.

At the improbable risk of not ever getting reviewed by her again, let me say that I find it absolutely astounding and depressing that she has used the very little print space that the Washington Post gives for reviewing our area's art galleries to paint "most all of Troyer's Dupont Circle neighbors," with a single negative and undeserved brushstroke.

It is her clear right as a critic to express her opinion about Troyer's last show, and we all know that criticism without teeth is useless.


There are many different art galleries around Dupont Circle. On a month-to-month basis, the more reputable amongst them, manage to present their own individual discourses in the difficult business of offering artwork to the public. And on a month-to-month schedule dealing with the difficult issues of running a type of cultural business in a metropolitan area where the visual fine arts are nowhere near the top of the interest list of any of our area's mainstream media sources, and because of that, our general public. The "chicken and the egg" syndrome is rampant in this last issue; no interest from the media equals no interest (read awareness or knowledge) from the pubic.

Difficult issues that are frustrating and invisible to most people who just "visit" galleries. The goal of a good art gallery is not just to stimulate and advance contemporary art practice. That is an important part of a reputable gallery's business ethic - but it is just a member of a much more difficult and heroic set of goals, which also include paying artists on time and paying the rent, the electricity, the advertising, the catering, etc.

And because most of these galleries are independently owned small businesses, none of them are eligible for grants, which is a proven way for art non-profits to raise financial funds to pay their directors a salary, and also pay their monthly bills, while affording them the luxury of stimulating and advancing contemporary art practice in the eyes of some, without the urgent and delicate balancing act of also trying to sell the work. And that is why a city's cultural tapestry is made up of commercial independent fine arts galleries, non profit art spaces and other alternative art venues such as libraries, restaurants, etc.


The independent fine arts gallery that manages to present art shows that try to advance and stimulate contemporary art practice (and there are many in our area), while at the same time managing to maintain a reputable exhibition program, plus ensuring that the artists get paid (first priority), then the rent, plus all the other expenses, and still survive for a few years, deserves to be recognized as a distinct voice in the cultural tapestry that makes up our area's art scene. Dismissing most of them in one sentence does a huge disservice to that same cultural tapestry.

Slate has a really funny compilation of cartoons inspired by Pres. Clinton's record breaking biography.

Thanks to photographer James W. Bailey for this great tip:

Miss Digital World is the first ever virtual beauty contest, strictly for the most beautiful and intriguing virtual models made using the most advanced 3D graphics tools.

Seeing how Madison Avenue has corrupted our view of what women are supposed to look like (gaunt and with endless legs), it will be interesting to see what "normal" people (although one could make the case that digital geeks are far from normal) come up with to deliver a digital beauty.

You can preview some of the entries here. So far the German entry Erin looks like she can kick anyone's ass.

Exhibition opportunities

Art Director represents two alternative venues in NW Washington D.C.

One is a gallery in 14th street, and the other is a restaurant to be newly opened around 13th and U street in NW). They are looking for artists of all mediums for exhibition. Shows hang for approximately 2 months at a time. They are presently planning for shows for the upcoming year (July 2004-july 2005). Commissions range from 30% (restaurant) - 40% (gallery).

Please send 2-D images of work, bios, statements, reviews, and other supporting materials to:
BP - Art Director, Suite 101
1349 Wallach Place, NW
Washington, D.C., 20009

For more info, please email Brian Petro or call 202.270.7352

Congrats to Prescott Moore Lassman, whose photograph "Domesticated Animals" won Second Prize in the 2004 SoHo Photo National Photography Competition, which was juried by independent art critic Lyle Rexer.

"Girl With Activity Book", another of his photos, as been selected for the cover of Antietam Review, a literary and photography magazine published annually by the Washington County Arts Council. His photo "Black Goggles" is currently our group photography exhibition "Contemporary Photography."