Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Corcoran Screws Up (Again): Twice in One Go

As I mentioned last night, there's another mess at the Corcoran, this time dealing with their ill advised (and now cancelled) decision to host "An Evening at the Cuban Interests Section."

Both sides of this issue astonish me: (a) that the Corcoran decided to host this event in the first place and then (b) that they bowed to indirect governmental pressure to cancel it.

Today's Post article by Jacqueline Trescott discusses that the Corcoran decided to postpone the event under some indirect pressure from the State Department.

I hope that they postpone it until that brutal, racist, and homophobic bastard who oppresses that poor island with a bloody boot is six feet underground.

This is a dictatorship that sends librarians to jail for twenty years for the crime of having Orwell's 1984 in their possession.

A homophobic regime that sends gay Cubans to jail for four years for the crime of being gay.

A merciless regime where anyone who tests positive for AIDS is immediately locked away in Los Cocos.

Jails that have been off limits to the International Red Cross since 1989.

No doubt that the Corcoran really blew it in even thinking about this idea as an event in the first place. According to Trescott's article, Margaret Bergen, chief communications officer for the Corcoran says that the Corcoran sponsors 130 public programs a year and about a dozen are of them held at embassies. She adds that the discussions don't discount politics, but politics aren't the primary focus, Bergen adds that "We are trying to have a dialogue about art."

You don't "dialogue about art" with dictators who crush and destroy artists in their own homeland. If anything, you try to reach the artists and dialogue with them directly. I can guarantee to the Corcoran that the Cuban Interests Section will not assist them with that.

Now that I got that off my chest...

Now I am disturbed by the fact that they blinked when the State Department put a little pressure on them.

Sorry guys: Now you're damned if you do and damned if you don't. That's what happens when you make stupid decisions in the first place and then lack the cojones to stand up to pressure.

Washington Post to cut in half its gallery coverage

Today I called the Style desk at the WaPo and discovered that the Washington Post intends to reduce their already measly gallery coverage to only twice a month. This is a reduction from their one weekly column: "Galleries," which is published on most Thursdays, a day which according to the Style section's banner, is supposed to be a day focused on "Galleries and Art News."


"Galleries" has been written for the last few years by freelance writer Jessica Dawson (that's right... Jessica is not an employee of the Post, but a freelancer assigned that column). The task of writing a weekly column to review area shows is not an easy one, and it takes a lot of time, effort and driving around to see a lot of gallery shows in order to pick one or two a week. So Jessica wanted some time off, and thus the Post hired Glenn Dixon a few weeks ago.

The idea was for Jessica and Glenn to share the column and each write a review every two weeks and thus cover the gallery scene with a review a week. Measly coverage in comparison to the Post's excellent and in-depth coverage of our area's theater, music, clubs, dance and other performace art... but better than nothing.

But then something happened, and Dixon and the Post had a dispute and Dixon quit.

And now, someone at the Post has made the decision to cut down the column to just twice a month. I don't know if this is a temporary decision or not. I have emailed Gene Robinson (editor of Style) and Chip Crews (temporary Arts Editor while John Pancake, the Post's Arts Editor, is away on a teaching gig).

I am hoping that this is a temporary situation while the Post finds another freelancer to augment Dawson's biweekly coverage. I cannot, even in my darkest Post-bitching mood, fathom that the Post's editor would think that it is OK to write two columns a month to cover the nearly 100 new visual art shows that our area's galleries and artists offer each month.

Let's keep our collective fingers crossed. More on this issue as I find out more.

UPDATE: Chip Crews (who is the Post's acting Arts Editor) tells me that the decision about the "Galleries" column "may change at some point but there's no timetable. Our arts editor, John Pancake, is on sabbatical until mid-January, and it's highly unlikely any permanent action will be taken before then." I volunteered my services, but it was declined until Pancake returns to make a decision.

Michael O'Sullivan's Artomatic List

If anyone truly knows Washington art spaces, art scene and artists, it is Washington Post art critic Michael O'Sullivan. And in addition to his review of AOM, he submits the following list and notes about his top choices for this year's Art-O-Matic:

Michael O'Sullivan's Artomatic List

Best installations: Ira Tattelman/Kathryn Cornelius
Best Abstract Paintings: John Adams/Louise Kennelly
Best Portraiture: Allison Miner/Ian Jehle
Best Serendipitous Pairing: Kelly Towles/Dale Hunt
Best Thematic Spaces: Eye Candy/Girlz Club/Washington Glass School
Best Photography: Matt Dunn/Dennis Yankow (aka Dns Ynko)
Best Sculpture: Liz Duarte/Betsy Packard
Best Found-Object Sculpture: Elizabeth Lundberg Morisette/Joroko
Most Searing Use of Autobiography: Dylan Scholinski

And a couple of Bests (some of whom I [O'Sullivan] mentioned in my article) that aren't on anyone else's list:

Lynn Putney
Gregory Ferrand
Ben Claassen
Jen Dixon
Dave Savage
Kevin Irvin

...and finally, a special thanks to Brash, the poet who goes around writing
diamond-hard little poems in response to Artomatic artists, and then taping
them to the walls.