Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Traffic and Turtles

Talking (or actually writing) about traffic and hits, John Martin over at Art in the City points out an article by Kristin Royce in The Artrepreneur on how to increase traffic to your art blog.

Read "How to Increase Traffic to Your Artist Blog: 7 Free Ways to Promote Your Blog" online here.

Testudo Public Art ProjectJohn also has a posting announcing that the University of Maryland is now seeking artists to participate in a University sponsored public art project: "Fear the Turtle."

Maryland is going to be putting out 50 fiberglass sculptures of Testudo, the school mascot, as a means to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the school. Call for proposals is here and artists can get more info here. The deadline for proposals is October 7, 2005.

I can already hear the heartburn boiling inside a couple of wrathful art blogers (and an art critic or two), neither one of whom (I suspect), has ever set foot inside College Park.

Fear the Turtle! Man... Blake Gopnik is going to love this...

Shape of things to come

I've got a lot of openings and art stuff to discuss and promote as I try to get back into the art groove after spending over a week in the Left Coast with an ornery laptop. Come back later.

I'm also getting an unusually and constant high number of visitors today from all over the world. Wonder what triggered that? but to all new visitors: Hello and come back often!

A trip to Alexandria

Before I left for my latest left coast venture, I spent a few hours in Old Town Alexandria (as opposed to Old Town San Diego, which is really cool, not to say that Old Town Alexandria is not cool)... anyway, herewith some notes on that visit to our Southern suburb...

Count on the Art League to deliver a terrific group show each month. That should be an art aficionado’s mantra.

And the most recent juried show was selected by Howard Paine, the former art director of National Geographic Magazine, and a regular juror at the Art League (this is the 6th show that he has juried!).

And such an experienced juror brings some good advice to artists.

Payne states that he brings a selection process that is "intuitive, based on decades of looking and working with art, So I almost immediately know what seems right and what seems wrong, overall, or uncertain details of color, composition, perspective, or even framing."

Good for Payne! And this is often the main difference in a show selected by a new juror, as opposed to an experienced juror, and yet Paine walks right into one of my pet peeves in juried art shows when he says also: "I try to select a balance of subject matter and techniques." And while that it what most jurors go for, it is what I avoid personally. When I jury a show, whenever possible I aim to leave a focused show that leaves a footprint on what I like, and my shows disregard 100% of that stuff that I don’t appreciate (read "like") in art.

Paine selected a large semi-abstract painting by Marcia Dullum, titled "Tribute to Bonnard" as the winner of the Shayna Heisman Simkin Award and issued 16 Honorable Mentions.

After walking the show a couple of times, my own selections are a bit different (as usual), and I first of all, I was absolutely amazed by a brilliant oil by an artist named E. Atzl titled "Vidalia," and which depicts the famous onions in absolutely full and total mastery of the oil medium, but with that added touch of genius that takes such a mundane subject and elevates it to the sublime level.

Because I’ve never seen Atzl’s work before, I asked about the artist; and to my next level of astonishment, I was told that it was the work of the 17-year-old daughter of one of the Torpedo Factory artists. "Vidalia" is a classical painting, and perhaps that’s why it was ignored by Paine for an award. It is however; the best oil in the show, and although vastly overpriced at $1250, it represents an amazing new discovery of obviously a hugely talented young artist.

By the way, someone should check the water at the Factory; this is at least the third teenaged offspring of a Factory artist who has managed to astound me in the last few years. Prior to her I was left speechless when I first saw the watercolors by Jenny Davis, daughter of one of the Factory’s best watercolorists: Tanya Davis.

My other top choices for this show were Susan Herron’s "Road at Tilghman Island," an exquisite and loose landscape painting (and a steal at $400), and Sheep Jones"Allium Akaka." I cannot say enough good things as to how good both these artists are; their work is immediately recognizable as theirs, and it just keeps getting better and better.

I also liked Fae Penland-Gertsch’s sexy red shoes watercolor titled "Inner Soul," Jackie Saunders "Three Views of Alan," and a gorgeous charcoal drawing by M. Slater titled "Solitude."

"Solitude" was by far the best drawing in the show, but it was unfortunately badly framed under acidic double mats and the charcoal was not properly fixed, and had already begun to drip charcoal bits on the cut edge of the mat. Tsk, tsk...

In the Art League’s solo show, painter Michele Rea’s watercolors for "Urban Survivors" (the title of her show) had done exceptionally well. When I walked through, over half the large paintings had been sold. "Urban Survivors" focuses on exceptional city features of Rea’s two favorite places: New York and Chicago.

The Art League’s nearby neighbor, Target Gallery, had "Role Play: The Definition of Self in Contemporary Society," another juried exhibition. This one was curated by my good friend J.W. Mahoney, a well-known DC area artist, teacher, curator, and art critic for Art in America magazine.

Mahoney selected a mixed bag show, which is often the direct result of the pool of entries submitted for a juried competition. The best entry in the show (by far) are three macabre digital pieces by Stephanie Hocker titled "Fear 4,5,6."

I liked them because they are so adept at standing out in the show, and because they use the magic of digitalism well. I also liked Trish Klenow’s two entries "Reborn Self" and "Self Portrait in Yellow" because they were not only good paintings, but also because they gave me a peep into the artist herself. Also on my short list was Laurel Hausler "Paxil," a quirky painting that was funny and intelligent – sort of a modern "Las Dos Fridas."

Upstairs, after visiting Rosemary Feit Covey’s studio, and after going gaga over her last project, which involves the creation of whole new set of her amazing wood engravings focused on the theme of head operations, head trauma, the brain, etc., I came away, as I always do, realizing that Feit Covey is one of the most amazing artists in our area, and another one that the Corcoran should add to their short list of ignored area artists deserving a retrospective.

Still on cloud nine from Feit Covey’s works, I visited Multiple Exposures Gallery to see the landscape photographs of Colleen Spencer Henderson, and I was again very impressed how digitalism is making old things new.

There isn’t a single photograph in this show that doesn’t owe a debt to the great masters of landscape photography, but there isn’t a single photograph in this show that also doesn’t carve a new road for this talented photographer, who has flexed the power of digital color so as to blur the line between what nature offers the photographer and what Colleen has muscled in through the magic of ink and dyes and bits. For example, "Blue Moonlight," a tiny photograph ostensibly of clouds, is not about clouds at all, as the digital medium’s exaggerated colorization of the blue, has yielded an exceptional, intimate work that pushes deep into the realm of color and abstraction while seducing us with a hint of recognition.

Bravo Colleen!