Monday, December 20, 2004

Rosetta DeBerardinis Top 10 DC Area Art Shows

If anyone around here sees a lot of art shows, then let me tell you: It is DC area artist Rosetta DeBerardinis!

Not only is she a talented and highly collected DC area artist, but for the last few years she has been leading guided gallery walks around the city, most recently as the leader of the new Bethesda Art Walk Guided Tours.

Rosetta gets to see a lot of gallery shows! And here are her top 10 picks:

1. Chan Chao at Numark.
2. Edward Clark at Parish. (Rosetta says that this show was her favorite).
3. Jason Gubbiotti at FuseBox.
4. Joan Konkel at Zenith.
5. Wayne Trappe at Zenith.
6. Sica at Zenith.
7. Tim Tate at Fraser.
8. Rima Schulkind at Touchstone.
9. David Flavin at the National Gallery.
10. Gyroscope at the Hirshhorn.

Corcoran Resignation

Rex Weil, who is the DC area editor for Art News magazine, as well as a highly respected artist, and part of the faculty at the Corcoran College of Art & Design has resigned and sent around the following note:

Dear Friend & Colleagues:

At the end of last week, I resigned from the Corcoran College of Art & Design. The teaching atmosphere at the Corcoran has become intolerable. I hope this will be heard as a resounding vote of NO CONFIDENCE in the administration of the College.

Rex Weil
I don't know what the issues that caused this "atmosphere" at the Corcoran College of Art & Design are, but I hereby invite the Corcoran to respond if they so desire, and I hope that they do, as this key DC area museum and school seems to keep getting into the news for the wrong reasons, and it deserves better. Furthermore, Weil is a very respected name in our area, and I am sure that his resignation will raise questions, as it already has done with me.

Corconites, the ball is on your court.

JT has an excellent review (over at Thinking About Art) of the Kelly Towles show at David Adamson Gallery.

I'll try to go and see this show soon. I must admit that I am a bit surprised to see David Adamson exhibit a young, new artist like Kelly Towles, as Adamson has historically, at least in my memory, rarely exhibited emerging local artists, and has focused more on exhibiting established artists and the Gyclee reproductions of the many art superstars that his superb digital printmaking reputation brings to his fold.

Congratulations to Washington, DC painter Maggie Michael, who was just awarded a $20,000 grant from the Joan Mitchell Foundation.

Earlier this year, Ms. Michael was also awarded $5,000 from the the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities.

Maggie Michael is represented locally by G Fine Art.

An Open Letter to the Washington Post

As I've discussed before, the Post's Style section will soon have a new Assistant Managing Editor leading it. Deborah Heard will be the person in charge of Style starting January 1, 2005.

I believe that this offers all of us in the area's visual arts community an opportunity to see if we can convince Ms. Heard to augment the WaPost's tiny coverage of art galleries and area artists and I have asked all of you to write to her, or at least email her, with copies to her boss, Lenny Downie and the Arts Editor, my good friend John Pancake.

In this spirit I have written a letter to Ms. Heard, with copies to Downie and Pancake.

December 19, 2004

Deborah Heard
Washington Post Style
1150 15th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20071

Dear Ms. Heard,

Congratulations on your promotion to Style section editor. It is our sincere wish and that of the artists whom we represent that you not only enjoy this important position, but it is also our hope that you may consider bringing some needed changes with respect to coverage of our area’s art galleries and visual artists.

It is thus why I am writing to you, in the hope that I can bring to your attention the perception by our area’s visual arts community of artists, fine arts galleries, alternative arts venues and artists organizations, of the poor coverage now afforded by the Washington Post to them/us.

As an artist, freelance art critic, radio arts commentator, publisher of DC Art News, and co-owner of the two Fraser Galleries, I believe that I have my finger on the heartbeat of our region’s visual art scene, and as I have discussed many times in the past with my good friend John Pancake, it is also my subjective opinion (but backed by empirical facts), that the Post does a very, very poor job in covering our area’s art galleries and visual artists, especially in comparison to your excellent coverage of the local theaters, area performance venues, as well as movies, fashion, books, etc.

For example, although there are almost twice as many art galleries in the Greater Washington region than theatres, for the last several years, the Style and Weekend section have consistently offered five to six times more print space, in the form of reviews, for theatres than galleries. Even plays in Olney get reviewed consistently (and we applaud you for this), while important visual art shows get ignored, simply because the Galleries column is the only regular column in the Post to cover local area gallery shows, augmented occasionally by the On Exhibit column in the Weekend section.

To make matters worse, the Washington Post is the only major newspaper that I know of, that has a Chief Art critic (Blake Gopnik) who does not review local galleries, and only (with a very, very rare exception) reviews museum shows. In fact, it was quite embarrassing earlier this year, when Gopnik was asked on the air (at the Kojo Nmandi show on WAMU) to discuss his favorite Washington area artist and he could not come up with a single name. In comparison, the chief art critics of major newspapers such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, etc. not only review museums, but also the galleries in their cities. It has been a mystery to our art scene why Mr. Gopnik has been allowed to segregate himself to only review our area and other cities’ museums and other cities’ art galleries and other cities’ artists, but not Washington area art galleries and artists. Does this make any sense to you?

Furthermore, your Thursday Style banner still claims that Thursdays is focused on Galleries/Art News, and yet, and consistently, there have been more theatre reviews on Thursdays than actual gallery reviews. Additionally, as you know, several years ago, the Arts Beat column, which used to be published every Thursday, was reduced to twice a month. Not only that, but that column, which used to often augment visual arts coverage, now has become, under the last two or three writers, a jack-of-all-arts column, more often than not writing about theatre, or music.

The evidence that the Washington Post has unexplainable apathy towards our area’s visual arts community is also highlighted by the recent issue with the reduction of the Galleries column to a twice-a-month column rather than weekly.

While we realize that a final decision has not been made in this issue, and that you are awaiting John Pancake’s return from his teaching sabbatical to finalize the issue, it nonetheless shows and adds evidence to the claim that the Post simply does not care about our city’s regional visual art scene (when it comes to our galleries and artists).

Why? Simply imagine that several of your many theatre critics all quit at once, leaving you with only one theater critic, who could only write one theatre review every couple of weeks. Would you reduce your theatre coverage from its very generous, almost daily occurrence, to twice a month?

I doubt it.

Why? Because it is clear that the Washington Post is dedicated to helping to grow our theatre scene, and this is a great effort that has yielded brilliant gains to our area’s cultural tapestry. Your effort includes not only daily coverage of the theatre, but also (I believe) around $300,000 in pro bono advertising for theatres.

This is great! And we all applaud the great theatre coverage. But what about us?

We also applaud your consistent coverage of our area museums, and as we are lucky enough to have some of the great museums in the world in our city, we are also grateful that the Washington Post affords great coverage through Mr. Gopnik in Style and the Sunday Arts, Mr. Richard once in a while in Style, and through Mr. O’Sullivan in Weekend, with Jacqueline Trescott and Teresa Wiltz also adding news articles and stories also dealing with our museums.

This is great! And we all applaud this informative coverage. But what about us?

And the Style coverage of movies (often then reviewed again by a different writer in Weekend), music (often then reviewed again by a different writer in Weekend), and dance is also adequate and informative, if somewhat repetitive, putting into question one excuse given in the past for not augmenting gallery coverage: "lack of newsprint space."

I will close this verbose letter with one last statistic: In the last couple of years the Style section has had over twice as many reviews and articles about fashion shows in Europe, New York and other cities, elegantly illustrated with color photos of gaunt models on the runways of Rome, New York, London and Paris, than reviews of art galleries in the Greater Washington area.

In my prejudiced opinion, I find it hard to believe that your readers would be more interested in un-wearable fashion from the runways of Europe than on our area’s art galleries and artists.

We welcome the change in command at Style and I sincerely and warmly wish you the best of luck in the job. I also hope that you bring an open mind to this subject, and consider augmenting gallery coverage to a level commensurate with Style’s coverage of the other cultural genres.

Warmest regards,

F. Lennox Campello

Cc: Leonard Downie
John Pancake
I hope that some of you write Ms. Heard as well, and I think that with enough notes and emails, she will realize that some changes need to be made under her leadership.