Friday, December 24, 2004

O'Sullivan on Towles

Michael O'Sullivan reviews Kelly Towles' current exhibition at David Adamson and declares being a fan of Towles' work.

This is one of the reasons that I like O'Sullivan's writing. When was it the last time that you read a WaPo art critic declaring that they were a "fan" of anybody's work?

Other than O'Sullivan (this and in other past reviews), never. It is as if declaring that one actually likes the work being reviewed, with just a little bit of passion or enjoyment, is verbotten in the how-to handbook of modern art criticism.

Bravo O'Sullivan.

Top 10 Shows of 2004

With the large number of commercial fine art galleries, embassy galleries, non-profit galleries, artists cooperative galleries, alternative art venues and museums that we have in our Greater Washington, DC area, the task of selecting a list of top anything is not a trivial task.

To make matters worse, everytime that I've done this in the past, and after I see someone else's list, I always go "crap! I forgot about that show!"

Nonetheless, here's my top ten visual arts show of the year for our region, sans our shows of course. I was tempted, as 2004 allowed us to bring to the DC region some brilliant work by world-class Cuban artists like Sandra Ramos, Cirenaica Moreira, Marta Maria Perez Bravo and Aimee Garcia Marrero (all of whom were in Art Basel Miami Beach) as well as a spectacular second sold out show by Tim Tate, who enjoyed what can best be described as a record-setting 2004.

My Top 10 (in no particular order)

Ana Mendieta at the Hirshhorn

Sally Mann at the Corcoran

Chan Chao at Numark Gallery.

Bruno Perillo at Irvine Contemporary Art

Ian Whitmore at Fusebox

The Quilts of Gee's Bend at the Corcoran

Margaret Boozer at Strand on Volta

"In 2Words: Numbers" at Target Gallery.

Courtly Art of the Ancient Maya at the National Gallery.

Dan Flavin at the National Gallery of Art.

Washingtonian takes a swing at Glenn Dixon and Blake Gopnik

Washingtonian magazine's national editor, Harry Jaffe, has an article in the current issue titled "Three Best Post Columnists — and Two Worsts."

He writes:

Worst Review: Glenn Dixon on the Calder Miró show

Reading Post art reviews, one sometimes imagines the critics walking into exhibitions with their noses so high in the air they can’t see the walls. The height of naive nastiness came from Glenn Dixon in his October 10 review of the Calder Miró show at the Phillips Collection. Dixon, a freelance writer, tried to be more dismissive than the Post’s main critic, Blake Gopnik.

He succeeded in that but failed to describe the exhibition. He doesn’t like Miró. He denigrates Duncan Phillips, the museum’s founder. Every line reeks of animus. Viewers have flocked to the Phillips to see the wondrous and playful collection. Ignore Dixon; see the show, which closes January 23.
Regardless of how one feels about Dixon's animus, my question to Mr. Jaffe and to Washingtonian: How can you publish a magazine about Washington, DC and not have a regular column each month that reviews a gallery or museum show?

Like (cough, cough) the elegant and eloquent reviews of restaurants that the magazine publishes in issue after issue?

We need more critical visual art voices in this town to write about our artists, our galleries and our museums. And glossy magazines like Washingtonian need to step up to the plate and add to our city's cultural scene with more than just restaurant reviews and more than just listings of museum shows and the rare page about an artist or a show here and there.

One half page review a month is not much to ask, is it?

How about we kick start another letter writing or email-sending campaign? Let's all write to Mr. Jaffe and ask him to add a regular monthly art review column to the magazine (and not just museum reviews for chrissakes!). Make sure that you also copy the magazine's editor John Limpert and the arts editor, Susan Davidson.