The Power of the Web
A while back I put out a fun request as a call for this blog readers' favorite artworks, based on an idea triggered by the Washington Post's art critic Michael O'Sullivan's "Conversation Pieces" in which he listed some A-list folks' favorite art in the Greater DC area.
Since then I have been slowly but surely publishing them -- to those who have sent them in: patience! I am way behind and on holiday in the mountains.
And today I received an email from a publishing house interested in pursuing the effort in a book form, with an expanded format to be discussed!
I will be mulling that idea for a while, as I have a super busy January coming down the pike, but I am pretty sure that I will do the project if I can fit it into what's already looming as a super-busy 2008 for me.
Is that great or what?
Monday, December 31, 2007
The Power of the Web
Sunday, December 30, 2007
Martin Irvine's Favorite Artwork
DC area gallerist Martin Irvine quickly established Irvine Contemporary as one of the leading Mid Atlantic art galleries and has led the way in bringing the super hot Chinese art to the DC region. He responds to my call for readers' favorite artworks and writes:
I was just in the NGA-East and was impressed by the nice little suite of works they have up from 1962, the turning point year in pop. I love Andy Warhol’s “200 Campbells Soup Cans” (1962): it’s entirely hand painted with some cut stencil work, and made before the now iconic soup cans from silk screens. Andy started silkscreening in 1963 after learning it from Gerard Malanga. The 200 hand painted soup can painting on canvas seems even more subversive because he made a painting that looks commercially made, a repetitive series of logos and product graphic design ubiquitous in every supermarket, but rendered back into a painting made by hand. The outrageousness of that — in 1962!
200 Campbell’s Soup Cans, (detail) 1962 (Acrylic on canvas, 72 inches x 100 inches), by Andy Warhol
The Mint Museums, comprising the Mint Museum of Art and the Mint Museum of Craft + Design in Charlotte, NC, is looking to hire a Director to oversee responsibilities for the development, care and presentation of one of the finest collections of contemporary craft and design within the United States.
The collection's history begins an exciting new chapter as The Mint Museum breaks ground for a 145,000 square foot building that will be the centerpiece of a thriving cultural district in the city of Charlotte. The anticipated opening of the new facility is fall 2010. The museum will provide over 18,000 square feet dedicated to the Craft and Design Collection and special exhibitions
The successful candidate should have a minimum of five years professional curatorial/management experience within a museum environment. Salary and benefits shall be commensurate with experience. Submit application letter and resume to: Caroline Schuster email@example.com (Job Code Reference: MM0107).
Fun with art
Saturday, December 29, 2007
Shanthi Chandra-Sekar's Favorite Artwork
Artist Shanthi Chandra-Sekar responds to my call for readers' favorite work of art and writes:
It is the Chola bronze of Nataraja. I always get inspired when I look at a sculpture of Nataraja. According to Indian philosophy, he represents Space and I love this sculpture for its use of space. It is so totally packed with symbolism and meaning that the more I look at it, the more I learn from it.
I am currently reading a book by Ananda K. Coomaraswamy called The Dance of Shiva in which he describes the symbolism of Nataraja. Coomaraswamy is known for introducing the Nataraja sculpture to the West.
Shiva Nataraja, ca. 990, Indian
Chola dynasty, Bronze, India
In the Poconos for Christmas and the New Year's...
More later, with some interesting exhibition news for 2008 and even more interesting new curating projects...
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Blake Gopnik at his best
We all know a few things about Blake Gopnik, the Washington Post's Chief Art Critic:
- He doesn't like painting.
- He especially doesn't like representational painting.
- He very, very rarely reviews his hometown's art galleries, and focuses his reviews on museums all over the nation, biennials, etc.
- Some of his fellow newspaper critics don't think much of him.
But the Anglocentric, Oxford-educated Gopnik is also sharply equipped to skewer, debone and consume his visual art victims when he wants to make a point, and is especially effective when he has a valid one.
And Blake Gopnik makes a very valid point in "The Overripe Fruit of John Alexander's Labors," his current review of the John Alexander retrospective at the Smithsonian American Art Museum (the show will then go on to the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston - remember that).
After decimating Alexander's paintings during the first few lethal word descriptions of some of the work at the exhibition, and after re-channeling some often repeated Gopnikisms about painting and the tired "someone has already done this," or the "masters did it better," blah, blah, blah, Gopnik delivers a superbly clear message about one of the cornerstones of art throughout the ages: it's not just talent that gets ya there, it's also who you know! Gopnik executes the show when towards the end of the review, in discussing Alexander he writes:
I'd place him somewhere up there among the 5,000 or so best artists in the country. Which is more than enough to justify his continuing to paint and collectors' continuing to buy him. What I don't understand is why our national art museum, with such limited exhibition slots and an already iffy reputation for its contemporary programming, would want to highlight such a secondary figure. Alexander has barely had a significant museum show since the early 1980s, when his good friend Jane Livingston first displayed him at the Corcoran, where she was a talented chief curator. Livingston, now working freelance, also organized this show; her boss at the Corcoran, and again for the current survey, was Peter Marzio, now director of the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston.Bravo Mr. Gopnik!
By curating Alexander into our national museum, Livingston is billing him as one of our next Gilbert Stuarts, Edward Hoppers, Jackson Pollocks or Jenny Holzers. That's more than his modest talent can bear.
Read the whole review here.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Gail Enns Favorite Artwork
California's Anton Gallery's owner and director Gail Enns responds to my call for readers' favorite artwork and she writes
I'll tell you that aside from the new work by Tony Sheeder, I love the work by Brazilian artist, Walter Goldfarb, now on view at MOLAA (Museum of Latin American Art) in Long Beach, CA. Title of the show is D + Lirium and it goes through May 18, 2008. Hope you get to see it.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Monday, December 24, 2007
What about art?
This article by the Washington Post's ombudsman Deborah Howell exemplifies the sort of stuff that drives me batty about the Washington Post's coverage of the visual arts.
While one one hand they claim that they deliver fair and appropriate coverage, and while new editors all promise to look into the complaints about lack of appropriate coverage, and while they also promise to expand it, the truth is that it continues to shrink while the WaPo tells us that if we "don't get it, we don't get it..."
Ms. Howell writes an interesting article titled "The Critics Have Their Critics," and it goes along like this:
Who decides whether a play, concert or dance performance gets reviewed in The Post and whether the review is favorable? Readers complain about the absence of a review, an unfavorable one, or a review they think is given insufficient length or prominence.She then goes on to quote, discuss and explain away the theatre, dance, classical music, and pop music.
Post Arts Editor John Pancake says the chief critics, all based in Style, decide what to review and who will review it -- a staff writer or a freelancer. A critic's job is to be, well, critical. While culturally sophisticated people can disagree, the critics' decisions to review and the review itself are The Post's guide to readers in the performing arts. The critics also write news and feature stories.
What about art?
What about Blake Gopnik, Michael O'Sullivan (not based in Style, but nonetheless a Washington Post art critic) and freelancer Jessica Dawson?
The Post already has the most minimalist of arts coverage of any major newspaper in the US, and its Chief Art Critic is the only one that I know of who is allowed not to report on his city's art galleries, a job and task that he had in his previous art critic assignment for a Canadian newspaper.
Maybe Ms. Howell will soon be doing a separate article discussing the spectacular apathy that the Post exhibits towards its city's art galleries and artists.
Second question: My good friend John Pancake says "the chief critics, all based in Style, decide what to review and who will review it -- a staff writer or a freelancer."
This is interesting news to me, as it reflects a change in how gallery reviews were done in the past, where Jessica Dawson pretty much had a free hand on what she chose to review and who and what gallery she chose to ignore. Apparently, according to Pancake anyway, now Blake Gopnik tells Dawson what her assignment is...
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Elyse Harrison's Favorite Artwork
Elyse Harrison is the hardworking and talented gallery owner and director of Bethesda's Neptune Gallery, and she responds to my request for readers' favorite artworks. Elyse writes
Joan Miro's "The Farm" has been an important painting in my life. "The Farm" predates Miro's shift into higher abstraction yet contains numerous examples which interpret everyday objects as exquisite abstract compositions. I really enjoy the simultaneous views of exterior and interior spaces and the skill of his brush work. The palette is beautiful, extremely well balanced. I can gaze into this piece deeply, meeting the magic of Joan Miro over and over again. This work has made me want to be an artist.
"The Farm" by Joan Miro (Catalan, 1893 - 1983)
Friday, December 21, 2007
Chelsea Gallery Crawl
More on Amy Lin
The Amy Lin avalanche continues; not only has her commercial solo gallery debut has received heaps of critical press coverage, and sold well, but as several of you pointed out to me, it was covered by the rare television coverage as well.
Check out Amy Lin’s work on Maryland Public Television’s program “Artworks This Week” in the “Salon Highlight.” The show will broadcast again on Saturday, December 22 at 8:30am .
The Amy Lin show at Heineman-Myers in Bethesda closes this Sunday. Hurry!
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Asking an art historian for her favorite art work is like asking a mother to choose her favorite child. Impossible!
But here are three Washington DC masterpieces that I love to revisit, always finding more to see and ponder: Leonardo da Vinci, Ginervra de Benci (the only da Vinci painting in the Americas) in the National Gallery of Art, Jackson Pollock, Number 1, 1950 (Lavender Mist), also the NGA and Maya Lin, the Vietnam Veterans' Memorial.
Ginevra de' Benci, c. 1474-1478, Leonardo da Vinci
Number 1, 1950 (Lavender Mist), 1950 by Jackson Pollock (American, 1912 - 1956)
Jeffry Cudlin's Fave Artwork
Jeffry Cudlin is a talented painter, the hard-to-please award-winning art critic for the Washington City Paper, a fellow blogger, and the curator at the Arlington Arts Center and he responds to my request for readers' favorite artworks. Jeffry writes:
None of the that answers I come up with seem sufficient. Maybe Bonnard's The Open Window at the Phillips -- or, really, any Diebenkorn that's handy. Bonnard's sense of light and temperature, the way he leans on saturated colors and analogous/complementary harmonies instead of tonal contrast --very tasty. Diebenkorn's compositions and ways of massing in color are just perfect -- he only makes a handful of decisions in every piece, and they're all correct.
At the NGA: El Greco's Laocoon, or maybe a Chardin -- Soap Bubbles? I always liked thinking of that Mannerist strategy of modelling your figures in clay before you paint them. I don't know if that's what El Greco did here, but his bodies have that strangely compelling unreality -- like lumpy, lighted figurines in a diorama. Chardin's just exquisite, period.
Wait, wait, maybe I want a Cezanne from the NGA instead -- I'll take either House in Provence or Chateau Noir.
And for purely sentimental reasons, a creepy painting from the Hirshhorn: The Golden Days, by Balthus. Wait, wait; maybe that painting of Leigh Bowery by Freud instead. Or those two studies for a portrait of Van Gogh by Bacon. None of those have anything to do with what I like about painting now, but when I first saw them, many years ago as an art undergrad, they made quite an impact on me.
Well, there you have it: ten paintings I can't really decide between, for wildly divergent and/or irrational reasons.
Laocoön, early 1610s, El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos) (Greek-Spanish, 1541–1614)
The Open Window, 1921, Pierre Bonnard (French, 1867-1947)
Save the Date
As it has been widely announced, the Washington Project for the Arts (WPA) is returning to its roots and is separating from the Corcoran Gallery of Art as of December 31.
Another date to save is the 2008 WPA Art Auction Gala, which will take place on Friday, March 7, 7:00 pm – midnight at the Katzen Arts Center of American University.
The WPA Art Auctions are easily one of the DC region's top art nights with eclectic and interesting events that offers 150 works of new and established artistic talent , and more than 500 artists, collectors, patrons, business leaders and contemporaries for a night of fun and fundraising, and each year they sell out!
They are currently looking for advanced patrons; to get the Advance Patron Registration Form with options for participation, visit the WPA website or call them at 202/639-1828.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Kristian Kozul at Goff + Rosenthal Gallery in Chelsea
If you are a painter who routinely gets brow-beaten by critics, writers and artists telling you that "painting is dead," then please read this.
The LA Times erudite art critic Christopher Knight nails the final nail in the coffin burying the "painting is dead" crowd, a couple of which seem to write for several mid Atlantic newspapers.
My favorite artwork in a public collection – that is currently on view – is Mary Coble’s “Note to Self” at the Hirshhorn. If that were not on view …. Gerard David’s "Rest on the Flight to Egypt” would be the pick at the NGA or, close second, the Dan Flavin works in the East Wing.
Mary Coble, Note to Self
Mary Coble, Note to Self
The Rest on the Flight into Egypt, c. 1510 by Gerard David, Netherlandish, c. 1460 - 1523
It's a tie between Rosa Bonheur's "The Horse Fair" and Frederic Church's "Niagara" -- power, beauty, and energy both sublime and overwhelming.
The Horse Fair, 1853–55 by Rosa Bonheur (French, 1822–1899)
Niagara, 1857 by Frederic Edwin Church (American, 1826 -1900)
Bailey's Fave Artwork
James W. Bailey is the rabblerousing mad blogger at Black Cat Bone as well as a talented DC area photographer and he responds to my request for readers' favorite artworks. Bailey writes:
The one work of art that I have found myself mysteriously drawn to over the years is the bronze sculpture of a woman knocking at the door of the former crypt of one of the most famous madames of New Orleans, Josie Arlington.
This beautiful and haunting sculpture has become even more important to me since the tragic events of Katrina. I see the hope of resurrection for my beloved New Orleans when I visit the site of this moving work of art, a hope that is tempered by the bitter unimaginable realities of death and decay that have enveloped New Orleans since Katrina. None of us from New Orleans knows what is to be found on the other side of the door to our future, a door that we continue to struggle to push open. The Woman at the Tomb calmly approaches the door to her fate. She provides inspiration for me to do the same.
From Haunted New Orleans by Troy Taylor:One of the city’s most fascinating tales comes from this graveyard and involves the ghost of Mrs. Josie Deubler, also known as Josie Arlington, the most colorful and infamous madam of New Orleans.A history of Josie Arlington’s famous bordello, The Arlington, can be read online here.
From 1897 to 1917, New Orleans was the site of America’s largest district of prostitution. The city officials always realized they could not get rid of prostitution, so they decided to segregate it instead. Based on a plan created by an alderman named Sidney Story a district was created which would control and license the prostitutes. Much to the alderman’s chagrin, it was dubbed “Storyville” in his honor.
It was here where Josie Arlington operated her house of ill repute and became very rich. The house was known as the finest bordello in the district, stocked with beautiful women; fine liquor; wonderful food; and exotic drugs. The women were all dressed in expensive French lingerie and entertained the cream of New Orleans society. Many of the men who came to Josie’s were politicians, judges, lawyers, bankers, doctors and even city officials. She had the friendship of some of the most influential men in the city, but was denied the one thing she really wanted... social acceptance.
She was shunned by the families of the city and even publicly ignored by the men she knew so well. Her money and charm meant nothing to the society circles of the city. But what Josie could not have in life, she would have in death. She got her revenge on the society snobs by electing to be buried in the most fashionable cemetery in New Orleans... Metairie Cemetery.
She purchased a plot on a small hill and had erected a red marble tomb, topped by two blazing pillars. On the steps of the tomb was placed a bronze statue which ascended the staircase with a bouquet of roses in the crook of her arm. The tomb was an amazing piece of funerary art, designed by an eminent architect named Albert Weiblen, and cost Josie a small fortune. Although from the scandal it created, it was well worth it in her eyes.
Tongues wagged all over the city and people, mostly women, complained that Josie should not be allowed to be buried in Metairie. But New Orleans is a city normally lacking of discrimination and nothing was ever said to her about it.
No sooner had the tomb been finished in 1911, than a strange story began making the rounds. Some curiosity-seekers had gone out to see the tomb and upon their arrival one evening, were greeted with a sight that sent them running. The tomb seemed to burst into flames before their very eyes! The smooth red marble shimmered with fire, and the tendrils of flame appeared to snake over the surface like shiny phantoms. The word quickly spread and people came in droves to witness the bizarre sight. The cemetery was overrun with people every evening which shocked the cemetery caretakers and the families of those buried on the grounds. Scandal followed Josie even to her death.
Josie passed away in 1914 and was interred in the “flaming tomb”, as it was often referred to. Soon, an alarming number of sightseers began to report another weird event, in addition to the glowing tomb. Many swore they had actually seen the statue on the front steps move. Even two of the cemetery gravediggers, a Mr. Todkins and a Mr. Anthony, swore they had witnessed the statue leaving her post and moving around the tombs. They claimed to follow her one night, only to see her suddenly disappear.
The tradition of the flaming tomb has been kept alive for many years, although most claim the phenomena was created by a nearby streetlight which would sway in the wind.
Regardless, no one has ever been able to provide an explanation for the eyewitness accounts of the “living” statue.
Perhaps Josie was never accepted in life... but she is certainly still on the minds of many in New Orleans long after her death!
“Woman at the Tomb” by The Right Reverend James W. Bailey - Photographed at Metairie Cemetery in New Orleans
Monday, December 17, 2007
I have many local favorites, but if asked to pick one --- I am a huge fan of Louise Bourgeois' Spider in the NGA Sculpture Garden for several reasons; viewing it is free, it is a fabulous piece that you can see from many vantage points, it is appropriate in scale and placement---appearing as though some gigantic spider has crawled across the mall, yet mostly because it looks like it is advancing on the Archives building and will be walking across the street at any moment.
Louise Bourgeois - Spider, 1996, cast 1997
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Gift of The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation
My pick would be Philadelphia artist Matthew Suib’s video Heston, 2004, from his solo exhibition, ReVisionist Cinema/Triple Feature that was on view at the Philadelphia Art Alliance from May 18 to August 8, 2004. Suib spliced video from the Hollywood Bible epic The Ten Commandments and created an awkwardly non-verbal, anti-climatic video of Moses parting the Red Sea. It kept you on the edge of your seat waiting for something to happen in some kind of oddly looped dimension.
Here’s the official blurb on the piece with installation image:Heston, Matthew Suib, 2004 (from the ReVisionist Cinema series) Color video w/ Dolby Digital 5.1 surround audio on DVD for projection Running time: 11:00
Comprised of silent, interstitial moments from Demille’s The Ten Commandments (1956)--extended through subtle looping and matting--Heston critiques Judeo-Christian mythology’s claim of divine origin/inspiration. Building on concepts from Thomas Paine’s infamous 1794 tract The Age of Reason: Being an Investigation of Both True and Fabulous Theology, both “the words” and “The Word” have been excised from Demille’s epic, stranding American icon Charleston Heston (Moses) amidst the grandiose artifice of theology and Hollywood splendor. The awkward tension of these altered scenes makes mockery of the inherent profanity of theological portrayals and the conceit of the self-righteous.
Installation view of Matthew Suib’s exhibition ReVisionist Cinema/Triple Feature
Sunday, December 16, 2007
You saw it here first... and it needs a little background first...
First and foremost: There's an important International Fine Arts Glass Show coming to the DMV. This event's start is a bit complex, so pay attention!
The British sister city to Washington, DC is Sunderland.
Why Sunderland and not London? After all, most other sister cities to DC are the capitals of other countries - but Sunderland is George Washington's ancestral hometown, so that's why!
Sunderland is also where the United Kingdom has their National Glass Centre and, by the way, glass has been made in Sunderland for around 1,500 years.
George Koch is one of the District's true art icons: he's a talented painter, the founder of A. Salon, Ltd., a board member of the Cultural Development Corporation, a founding board member of the Cultural Alliance of Greater Washington, a Commissioner of the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, board member of Hamiltonian Artists, and the Board Chair of Artomatic.
They don't get much bigger, influential, or harder working for the District's artists and arts organizations than George Koch.
And George has been working very hard to get the British to bring the United Kingdom's premier glass artists to an exhibition in the US, while at the same time bring some attention to the many and talented glass artists working around the Greater DC region.
So Koch has been orchestrating the process to bring the Brits to DC in a major show, somehow tie it to the Artomatic organization, use it to showcase Washington area glass artists, and also tie the whole effort into a nascent Toledo, Ohio Artomatic-type organization.
If you paid attention in art school, then you know that Toledo, Ohio is also historically one of the glass centers of the colonies, and an important placeholder in art history.
In 1962, Harvey Littleton, Professor of Art at the University of Wisconsin, (and DC gallerist Maurine Littleton's father) and Dominick Labino (a glass scientist with the Johns-Manville Fiber Glass Corporation), presented a glass workshop in conjunction with the Toledo Museum of Art.
These men are recognized internationally as the "fathers" of the American Studio Glass Movement and certainly the first two to take the seminal steps to bring glass from the high end crafts to the fine arts world.
Convinced that it was finally possible for an individual artist to undertake glass art by working entirely alone - as compared to being part of a glass factory, Littleton and Labino provided information on furnace construction, glass formulas, tools, techniques, etc. They sowed the seeds that eventually sprouted thousands of individual kilns, furnaces and glass studios and schools around the United States and the world.
The Toledo workshop was the beginning of the American Studio Glass Movement. Since then, American glass artists are acknowledged worldwide as the undisputed leaders in creativity and originality and the continuing battle to bring glass to the fine arts dialogue.
The final key player in this showcase of three glass centers is the Washington Glass School, bringing to the show about 15 area glass artists who are instructors of the now nation wide famous content-driven art glass facility.
Bottom line: a historic event is about to take place in Washington, DC. Three educational leaders in today's Contemporary Art Glass movement are joining forces to present a representative survey of the exciting artists and techniques surfacing at these three facilities. Two of these institutions, the Toledo Glass Pavilion and Sunderland Glass School represent hundreds of years of a rich glass-making tradition while the Washington Glass School has emerged as a new and vibrant player on this field.
The show will take place at Georgetown Park Mall in Washington, DC from February 21, 2008 to March 16th, 2008 and this "International Glass Invitational" will be presented as a partnership with Art-O-Matic, the Sister City Program, etc. The opening date is set to coincide with the birthday of George Washington.
Mark your calendars for this one.
I have been captivated by James Hampton's "The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations' Millenium General Assembly" at the Smithsonian American Art Museum for about a decade. I think partly because it was closed-off for so long and I began to miss seeing it.
It was the first piece of Folk or Visionary Art that I fell in love with. I like art that expands how we define it, and challenges who can create it. I like how the piece is so unselfconscious and at the same time ambitious. I like how it uses what some might see as trash to express a high spiritual calling. And I like how seeing it in a museum makes me think, "hey, maybe my stuff it good enough to be here too."
The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations' Millenium General Assembly by James Hampton
Saturday, December 15, 2007
My favorite works of art in general are anything by Gustav Klimpt. But my favorite is below. It reminds me of little bits of glittering falling glass. I guess I am biased there.
The Kiss by Gustav Klimpt
Without a doubt, hands down, and also in the NGA, is Picasso's "The Tragedy."
If I ever show up on the news as "missing" - you can claim the big "finder's reward" as now you know I'll really be sitting in front of this one!
Do you agree that sincerity is not to be found outside the realm of grief?
Ha - Saddish thought for such a festive season, no?
I'm always surprised at the oddity of the hands and feet, and at different times have waivered between aligning my perspective with each character. Hard to believe 1901 - 1903 - over 100 years ago, and still so completely timeless.
"The Tragedy" by Pablo Picasso
Nude Descending a Staircase (No.2)/Nu descendant un Escalier. No.2. 1912, Marcel Duchamp
Nigredo by Anselm Kiefer, c.1984
Friday, December 14, 2007
No one asked me...
Nobody asked me, but Michael O'Sullivan's "Conversation Pieces" in today's WaPo lists some A-list folks' favorite art in the Greater DC area.
Watson and the Shark by John Singleton Copley at the National Gallery of Art. It seeks to depict an event that took place in Havana, Cuba, in 1749.
The naked guy in the water is fourteen-year-old Brook Watson, who was attacked by a shark while swimming alone in Havana harbor. Lucky for Watson, some of his mates were already at sea waiting to escort their captain ashore, and were able to fight the shark and rescue Watson, although the shark bit one of his legs off. On his return to England, he got his fifteen minutes of fame and Copley painted this work.
If you study the painting carefully, you will realize that Copley probably had never seen a shark in his life, and his depiction of the great white in Havana harbour yields one of the most ungainly and ugliest non-sharks fish things ever painted.
I love to sit in front of this painting and watch people as they walk by and get mesmerized by the brutal event taking place and kids making fun of the shark.
What is your favorite work of art? Not just DC, but from wherever you [reader] hail from? Email me your favorite and I'll post it!
Wanna go to an Alexandria opening this Saturday?
At the beautiful Athenaeum in Old Town Alexandria, VA: "Wild Imagination - Works of Six Self-Taught Artists from the American South," curated by Ginger Young and featuring work by Howard Finster, James Harold Jennings, Nellie Mae Rowe, James Arthur Snipes, Jimmy Lee Sudduth, and Mose Tolliver.
The show goes through January 27, 2008 and the Opening Reception is Saturday, December 15th, from 6 - 8 pm with a gallery talk by Ginger Young at 7pm.
The Shape of Things to Come
The WaPo's art critic Michael O'Sullivan shows and tells us not only about a few of his favorite art objects and places in the Greater DC area, but also the shape of things to come in art reporting and writing with this beautiful multimedia piece in the Washingtonpost.com.
A well done to whoever came up with this idea!
Thursday, December 13, 2007
The Washington Project for the Arts (WPA) has announced the recent public launch of the WPA ArtFile Online, an interactive web-based image registry of WPA members’ artwork, accessible 24 hours a day through the WPA’s website.
As I recall, back in the 1900s, Jack Rasmussen, then the spry young Assistant Director of the Washington Project for the Arts established the original ArtFile Slide and Media Registry, conceived as a centrally located repository containing slides of local artists’s work.
For many decades the original ArtFile has served as a go-to resource for curators, gallerists, collectors, artists, and members of the general public to see a cross-section of the artwork being produced in and around Washington DC.
In 2005 I used it to review about 20,000 slides (twice) in order to select the artists for the "Seven" show that I curated for the then WPA/C.
Funded by a grant from the Philip L. Graham Fund and developed by database firm ClearDev, the new WPA ArtFile Online contains over 3,800 images from more than 400 artists -- numbers that are growing daily. Visitors to the ArtFile Online can:
- browse alphabetically by artist’s last name
- search for artists by name or keyword
- sort artists by media (drawing, painting, etc.)
- sort artists by style (abstract, conceptual, etc.), or
- view artists by geographic location.
Visitors also have the option of registering -- free of charge -- as a Curator, allowing them to maintain a “Lightbox” -- a saved folder of their favorite artists’ portfolios.
Portfolio pages in the WPA ArtFile Online are one of the membership benefits given to WPA member artists, who are able to log in at any time from any computer with an internet connection to update their images, image captions, artist statement, resume, contact information, and the style and media keywords that best describe their artwork. Each artist’s portfolio page displays up to 12 images, and allows the artist to provide a link to their own external website where more images and information can be found.
Direct link to the WPA ArtFile Online: artfile.wpadc.org.
For additional information, please contact David William at firstname.lastname@example.org
Baltimore struggles over public art
The Baltimore Sun, has a fascinating insight into what happens behind the scenes when someone wants to add a work of public art to a city.
In a nutshell, a group wants to honor former mayor and governor William Donald Schaefer by commissioning and putting a 9 foot statue of him on a prominent corner in Baltimore's Inner Harbor? This is all at no cost to the tax payers, other than perhaps as a eye sore to people who didn't like Schaefer.
Sculptor Rodney Carroll rough proposal concept sketches for the Schaefer statue
But seriously, it seems that every time that these issues on public art become, ah... public, the following happens:
(a) if the proposed honoring statue is an abstract work of art, someone complains because it doesn't really reflect clearly enough the intent or focus of the honoree.
(b) if the proposed honoring statue is a representational work of art, and actually looks like the person being honored, then someone complains that it is too traditional.
To that effect, Darsie Alexander, a sculptor on the panel, apparently took course (b) and stated one of the most traditional of lines and one of the dumbest arguments consistently taken by the boring "representational versus abstract" soldiers (note that I did not say "traditional," as it is clear to the most casual student of art history that abstract art, because of its age and proliferation in academia and public art these days, is as "traditional" as representational art).
According to the article Darsie Alexander said that:
"she saw a disconnect between the groundbreaking nature of the Inner Harbor redevelopment and the 'old-fashioned' quality of Carroll's sculpture. She warned that putting a traditional statue along the refurbished shoreline isn't likely to help put Baltimore on the map as a destination for cutting-edge art - and therefore she feels Carroll's piece may be inconsistent with what the Inner Harbor is all about."Please... an interesting art destination, even a "cutting edge art" destination, is a tapestry of many colors and textures, not just one kind of artwork or style or genre; whatever happened to diversity?
And now let me take the other side.
Say that Mayor Sheila Dixon and the Baltimore city fathers all nod their head to Darsie Alexander's traditional opinion on this issue. Then I hope that Alexander's influences and opinions are educated enough to go past the "if we put an abstract work on the Inner Harbor and a plate that says it's William Donald Schaefer so that people actually know what it's all about" notion.
How about some really cutting edge art?
No, not a just a video piece of Hizzoner... that's also traditional stuff by now; it has been around for over half a century - let's get modernized folks!
Let's maybe explore some robotics, some motion sensors, some audio and video combos... I envision a moving statue of William Donald Schaefer; either a solid robotic one or a holographic one, with some sophisticated software and robotics properties (the art geeks from Dorkbot DC can design this part), which interacts with people as they pass by.
To really make it realistic, and consistent with Schaeffer's past actions, the statue could be equipped with some visual recognition algorithms to recognize attractive young women and issue a cat call every time that a pretty girl walks by.
Rousseau on Lin
I've been telling you all about Amy Lin for a long time now. And now Dr. Claudia Rousseau, writing for the Gazette newspapers reviews her current exhibition at the Heineman-Myers Fine Arts in Bethesda, a takes an indepth look at the sources for Lin's works:
"The work of emerging regional artist Amy Lin, now on view at the Heineman Myers Gallery in Bethesda, presents something of a conundrum. The interest it has generated, and the sales, threaten to make it suspiciously too popular to be taken seriously. Couple that with a widespread fascination with the artist’s technique — hundreds of small circles of varying sizes hand-drawn in curving strings with little tail-like ends — discussions of Lin’s work tend to be on the level of a ‘‘temple of toothpicks” rather than the kind of analytical response usually accorded abstract compositions. What passes for commentary on her work has tended to focus on the amazing number of dots, the sort of thing that could be done with a computer in short order, but which Lin tediously, obsessively, draws with colored pencils. But does this emphasis on the ‘‘wow” effect do it justice? If there were no more interest here than the dazzlingly meticulous way they are made, would they really be worth looking at? The fact is, once past that level, there is much to be seen and thought about here, and the artist’s much overlooked serious intent, particularly in terms of self-expression, deserves some attention."Read the review here and you can meet Lin on these two dates at the gallery:
Friday, December 14, 6-9pm (Bethesda Arts Walk)
Sunday, December 16, 2-4pm (wine/cheese reception - artist talk at 2pm)
Buy Amy Lin now!
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Join the Washington Glass School's open house and annual Washington Glass School Holiday Party and Glass Sale. Lots of fine arts glass, class specials, artwork from a dozen prominent and emerging artists, music, food! This yearly event is always their biggest bash of the season and I am told that this is the largest sale that they have ever had! The perfect way to pick up original holiday gifts!
What: The Washington Glass School's Annual Holiday Sale and Party
Where: The Washington Glass School (3700 Otis St. Mt. Rainier, MD 20712; just across the DC city line; tel: 202-744-8222)
WashGlass.com for more info on the school.
Plenty of free parking and just 4 miles up Rhode Island Ave from Logan Circle.
When : Saturday, Dec 15th from 2 to 6pm
Monday, December 10, 2007
Wanna go to an opening in DC on Thursday?
You are all invited to the opening reception of Elements at Prada Gallery next Thursday, December 13, 2007. This exhibition features the work of Mark Cameron Boyd, Craig Cahoon, Willem de Looper, Pamela Frederick, Flora Kanter, Pepa Leon, Gene Markowski and Alex Mayer.
Prada Gallery is new to me and it is located at 1030 Wisconsin Avenue, NW, in Georgetown between M and K Streets, next to the Embassy of Thailand.
The reception is from 6:30 to 8:30 pm - please RSVP to (202) 342-0067.
Saturday, December 08, 2007
Friday, December 07, 2007
Market Five Gallery in trouble
For over 30 years Market 5 Gallery has operated in the north hall of Washington, DC's historic Eastern Market as an alternative art space.
Despite the fact that the space has no indoor plumbing or climate control, this non profit arts organization has thrived and launched many DC area artists. A few years ago, Market 5 went to court to fight what the gallery terms "an illegal eviction" by the city.
The case was then settled out of court but according to sources, the rent was raised almost 10 fold with the promise of indoor plumbing, heat, an upgraded electrical system and other improvements to bring the entire market up to code.
Now that improvements are underway on the south hall of the market, the city apparently trying to evict Market 5 Gallery again.
Please help the gallery by signing a petition to stop this eviction. Go to market5gallery.org for information about the gallery and then go to this website sign the petition.
Wanna go to an Arlington, VA opening tonite?
At the Arlington Art Center: Hope and Fear, Curated by Carol Lukitsch and part of the Winter solos 2007, and in the Jenkins Community Gallery: Art Enables: Outsider Art Inside the Beltway.
Show Dates: December 4 – January 19
Reception: Tonite! December 7, 6 – 9 pm
Location: Arlington Arts Center, 3550 Wilson Blvd, Arlington VA.
You’ll see works in their main floor galleries by Michael Platt, Sandra Parra, Janis Goodman, M.V. Langston, Rachel Waldron, Steven Williams, Laurel Hausler, and Shahla Arbabi -- all selected by former AAC Curator, Carol Lukitsch, in her show exploring both beauty and unnerving tension in contemporary art: "Hope and Fear."
In their Chairman’s Gallery on that same floor, and in their Truland experimental galleries downstairs, you’ll also find three disparate WINTER SOLOS shows that highlight both established and emerging contemporary artists from around the Mid-Atlantic region: Jennifer Levonian, Young Kim, and Joe Mannino.
Downstairs, a selection of works from ART ENABLES — a D.C. arts organization working with adults who have developmental and/or mental disabilities -- will be on view in the Jenkins Gallery. And upstairs, you’ll find the colorful representational paintings and prints of resident studio artist Edith Heins in her show, Up Close and Personal.
The reception will include the premiere of a new dance choreographed by Lucy Bowen McCauley, with performances at both 6:30 and 7:30 in the Meyer Gallery by Bowen McCauley Dance.
Hope and Fear curator Carol Lukitsch will give her remarks in the Tiffany Gallery at 7:00.
Read the WaPo review here.
Thursday, December 06, 2007
Wanna go to a DC opening tomorrow?
Tomorrow, December 7 is not only the anniversary of the day when, according to John Belushi in Animal House, the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor, but also it is the last in the inaugural round of 9x10 exhibitions featuring the work of WPA member artists!
In tribute to the late William Warren Parker’s support for emerging DC artists, his family has generously donated space at the William W. Parker (WWP) Gallery – housed in Mickelson’s Fine Art Framing at 629 New York Ave NW - to the WPA for a new “nine-by-ten” exhibition series: 9 shows of 10 member artists each.
These shows provided a new outlet for WPA member artists, and each exhibition presented a diverse cross-section of the WPA membership to the public, showcasing works in all media.
Show #9: December 7, 2007 – January 4, 2008, featuring works by Michele Banks, Michael Kent, Preeti Gujral Kochar, Pepa Leon, Laurie Messite, Mary D. Ott, Bailey Rosen, Andrei Trach, Jennifer Trice and Irene Zweig.
OPENING RECEPTION: FRIDAY, DECEMBER 7, 6:30 – 8 pm
WWP Gallery (Mickelson’s Fine Art Framing)
629 New York Ave NW, 3rd Floor
Washington, DC 20001
Info: 202.639.1828 or here.
In addition, Michele Banks has a solo show of her abstract watercolors running at Gallery Frame Avenue in Bethesda through December 31.
McQuaid on Campello
The Boston Globe's Cate McQuaid reviews "Ozspirations" at The New England School of Art and Design Gallery at Suffolk University in Boston and has something nice to say about my drawings, although she pretty much dismisses the rest of the exhibition.
Read her review here.
A sculpture by Sol LeWitt and an oil painting by William D. Washington, a 19th century Washington, DC raised artist famed throughout the South for his "Burial of Latane" Civil War painting, have been acquired by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.
VMFA is a state museum with private endowments for art purchase. I think that this is perhaps the ideal public/private partnership, because art is purchased with private funds and then becomes the responsibly of the state for its ongoing care.
Throughout their history, they have benefited from many generous donors, including Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, Rita Gans, Lillian Thomas Pratt, and Sydney and Frances Lewis, among many others.
The LeWitt was a partial gift of the Sol LeWitt estate and Pace Wildenstein in honor of Frances Lewis and in memory of Sydney Lewis, in addition to some funds from the Sydney and Frances Lewis endowment.
VMFA's new Sol LeWitt sculpture is titled "Splotch #22" and was created in acrylic on fiberglass this year. It stands just more than 12 feet tall.
"Much of today's art practice would be unthinkable without LeWitt's pioneering work in Conceptual Art in the 1960s and 1970s," says John Ravenal, VMFA's Sydney and Frances Lewis Family Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art.
"Our new sculpture is the largest and most complex of LeWitt's series of non-geometric sculptures. It is also LeWitt's last work."
Ravenal says that the artist made two drawings for "Splotch #22" on which he indicated colors and height. A fabricator then translated the drawings into 3-D using a computer. The result is a sculpture made of layers of industrial-grade foam that were laminated, carved and sanded before being coated with epoxy resin, fiberglass, and multiple layers of paint and varnish.
I am curious as to the technical aspect of this... once the "fabricator" has created a 3-D digital file, is it then fed to a machine which then "builds" the sculpture, or creates a mold for it? And who carves and sands the industrial-grade foam? Who coats it with resin and fiberglass and then applies the paint and varnish?
Possibly not LeWitt, and that's OK...
But is this the same general idea as a watercolorist creating a watercolor and then handing it over to a lab which then scans it into a hi resolution image and prints it into a canvas, and then another machine replicates the artist's original brush strokes in a finishing clear medium and recreates another work which is not the original piece.
We call those reproductions.
But then say that the artist's watercolor is scanned into a 3-D translation and made into a sculpture?
Makes my head hurt.
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Miami Day One
As the entire human art universe is now focused on Miami, I thought that it might be fun and interesting to have an artist's viewpoint reporting from Miami.
Each day I will publish the District's uberartist Tim Tate's experiences from Miami. Here's the first installment:
A day by day impression of ArtBasel from the perspective of an artist showing there for the first time. Call it my mini blog for just these few days. One artist's journey through the most complex art maze on Earth.
The weather here is spectacular... about 75 degrees yesterday and cool and breezy. I cabbed in from the airport to my hotel (which is a totally adorable guesthouse in South Beach) then went to see my gallery space at the Flow Art Fair.
FLOW is one of the spin off shows from ArtBasel Miami Beach and is right next to Bridge and Aqua (two other art fair spin offs). And all are right next to "the" ArtBasel MB.
I arrived in late afternoon.... this is just set-up day. Wednesday is press preview at noon and the actual opening is Thursday night.
FLOW is being held at the Dorset Hotel. When I arrived it was a little underwhelming. It seems that each gallery that is participating in FLOW gets a hotel room.
FLOW is considered one of the best off shoot fairs as it's an invitation only show, which means that a gallery has to be invited to show there - in other words, a gallery can't apply to the show, it has to be invited.
I am showing here with a gallery with an incredible reputation, and they are totally featuring me. I can't quite believe it.
And a hotel room is what you get... a small hotel room.... about 15 x 20 feet.
It's all so odd. They have covered the toilet with fabric and it is its now a pedestal for a sculpture. They have covered the sink with a black disc and it is now another pedestal. Thank God that they also covered the flocked brocade wall paper that dominated the room!
It totally reminds me of just starting out in my art career when we would take over a friend's apartment for a home show.
So finally I am being represented at the largest art show in the world, and it feels just like I'm starting all over again. Just like Annie Adjchavanich's $100 art sales used to be in the District years ago!
But maybe that's the point: I am starting over. Just on an international level.
I am told that this is the way its done and so I am hopping on board for this ride. For better or worse, I will report it all to you.
Last night they threw a welcoming party for us on the roof of the Dorset Hotel. Tons of liquor and sushi; it was very nice. George Hemphill of DC's Hemphill Fine Arts, came over to me and said hi and welcomed me to FLOW (he is showing here too).
At the same time, right across the street was a huge VIP opening for the super-swells... klieglights... limos... furs... very fancy (I think Lenny was there).
And as I stood on this roof deck... klieg lights dancing across the buildings, George Hemphill saying hi... everyone coming up to me telling me how blown away they are by my video pieces... I thought: "maybe I have arrived."
But as my life has taught me... my hubris in these situations is always quickly corrected by the Universe... we will see as the days unfold down here.
The District's Aaron Gallery has been around for a long time. Recently the director and owner passed away, and now the gallery is in the hands of the talented Sabrina Cabada and she's slowly but surely re-inventing the gallery, one step at a time.
And something new already!
They're having an art exhibition by gallery artists - as opposed to the same work hanging all the time as they used to be.
Join the gallery and artists on Friday, December 7th for an opening reception at 1717 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Washington DC at 6:30 to 8:30 pm. Contact email@example.com for further details.
Work by Chico Hardraker, Chris Milk Hulburt, Francine Shore, J. Aaron Alderman, John Blee, Mary Jennings, Matt Sesow, Rebecca D’Angelo and Sabrina Cabada.
New Director at the Phillips
Dorothy Kosinski, Senior Curator of Painting and Sculpture at the Dallas Museum of Art, has been selected as The Phillips Collection's new director.
"I am thrilled to have been selected as the next director of The Phillips Collection," says Dr. Kosinski. "I have long admired Duncan Phillips’s extraordinary record as a collector of modern art and his deep commitment to contemporary artists."
Dr. Kosinski will assume her post next Spring and succeeds Jay Gates, who announced his retirement in June 2007. Read the WaPo's Jackie Trescott's article on the subject here.
Welcome to the DC area!
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Monday, December 03, 2007
The Washington DC Southwest Neighborhood Assembly History Task Force Call Box Committee, in collaboration with Cultural Tourism DC, seeks artists to participate in Art on Call.
This public arts project is a city-wide effort led by Cultural Tourism DC in partnership with the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities and the District Department of Transportation to restore Washington, DC's historic abandoned police and fire Call Boxes as neighborhood artistic icons.
Art on Call challenges artists to use existing police or fire Call Boxes as frames for the artist's unique and creative image or design that can be permanently installed within the call box.
For more information regarding this opportunity and for a copy of the prospectus please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sunday, December 02, 2007
Art Basel Miami Beach takes place December 6 - 9, 2007, although ABMB itself has become such a magnet for art symbiots of all kinds that the event now encompasses more than the 200 leading art galleries from North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia and Africa which will exhibit artworks by over 2,000 artists at the "real" ABMB.
There are now well over a dozen satellite art fairs all revolving around ABMB, and quite a few DC area art galleries and private dealers will be represented in several of these fairs.
It's a long way since the now-closed Fusebox Gallery became the first DC area art gallery to venture to the Miami area in 2003; as I recall to show Fusebox artists at The Art Positions section -- those air-conditioned shipping containers right on the beach.
The more I talk art fairs to gallerists and art dealers the more that it makes sense why a good gallery should do at least 3-4 art fairs a year. Some Philadelphia gallerists that I have spoken to have been "saved" from closing down in stingy Philadelphia because of art fairs.
"About 75% of my yearly sales now come from the three art fairs that I do each year," related to me an Old City gallerist. "Next year I am going to apply to double that number."
I hear a similar story from DC area gallerists, some of which are now even exploring art fairs in Europe and Latin America, as the sales continue to climb more and more at the fairs, and the appetite for the European Euro is discovered.
Moral of the story: If you are a gallerist, you owe it to your gallery and to your artists to start applying to the high quality art fairs such as Scope, Bridge, Aqua, Flow, Art Miami, Pulse, the Armory Show, LA Art Fair, Art(212), Affordable Art Fair, Red Dot, Pinta (for Latin American art), SOFA, NADA, Frieze, ARCO, Art Santa Fe... the list goes on an on - just click here to see how many different art fairs there will be next weekend in Miami.
This doesn't mean that the "new" art model is just art fairs; far from it. There are such models, and several private art dealers do great in getting into art fairs and selling loads of work.
But they do not contribute to their city's cultural life. And that's OK... a city's cultural tapestry has many members and parts, including private art dealers.
However, an art gallery, a good art gallery anyway, is not just an art store, but an integral and key part of the cultural tapestry of a city. As my good friend John Pancake once told me, "a heroic venture."
And so the true and valid model for a good and reputable art gallery seems to be a mixture of a brick and mortar establishment, a substantial and organized and updated web and digital presence, and a healthy assortment of art fairs.
Gallerists: Start applying now for 2009 - most 2008 deadlines have already passed! Or stop complaining about being unable to sell artwork in your local market.
Multiple congrats to former DC area artist (now living somewhere in Atlanta) Jiha Moon, whose work was recently acquired by the The Mint Museum of Art in Charlotte, North Carolina, which also (a while back) acquired a work by DC artist Tim Tate.
Second congrats because Moon is also having her European debut at the Miki Wick Kim Gallery in Zurich, Switzerland.
Third congrats because there's a review of her recent show at Curator's Office is in the December issue of ArtForum; read it below (click on it to get a larger image):
Jiha Moon has also been in my "Buy Now" list for quite a while...
Update: The Mint Museum has advised me that Jiha Moon will have her first solo museum exhibition at the museum February 2 through July 6, 2008!
Friday, November 30, 2007
The WaPo on Amy Lin
Amy Lin's current commercial gallery solo debut (at Heineman Myers Contemporary Art) is not only selling well, but also receiving the critical attention that it deserves.
The Washington Post has the very rare double mention today. Read the first review here and then a second article here.
Amy Lin has been on my "Buy Now List" for a long time now. Don't wait much longer. The show goes through December 23, 2007.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
You don't see this very often...
My good friend Kriston Capps not only delivers a review of Lucy Hogg's current exhibition at Meat Market Gallery in DC, but also adds something that is seldom seen in art criticism these days: humor! Read Capps here.
Three years ago I reviewed an exhibition by Hogg in Georgetown's Strand on Volta Gallery. Other than the declaration of "painting being dead," (feh!) and since the attempt at photography is dismissed by Capps, it sounds like the below review somewhat still applies to the painting part.
And I find it ironic that my review has a causal effect from her work of being a revival of painting, when Hogg now apparently has joined the ancient crowd demanding painting's death.
Substitute the names of the masters below with George Stubbs and Diego Velázquez... and by the way, I think that Hogg will continue to paint.
There’s such a dichotomy in this name; such a contradiction of stereotypes: Lucy, soft, feminine and flowing.
Hogg: heavy, masculine and powerful. And once you discover her artwork, you'll realize that seldom has a person been so aptly named.
Hogg is a tiny person, almost elfin-like; a complete reverse of what pops into the mind when it tries to visualize someone named Lucy Hogg. My mind came up with two characters: The first was as a sister or close kin of that big, fat, greasy character (Boss J.D. Hogg) in the Dukes of Hazzard TV series.
Because Hogg is Canadian, the other image was that of a secondary character in Robertson Davies’ fictitious small Canadian village of Deptford. A village that he creates superbly in The Fifth Business (part one of the Deptford Trilogy).
And this dichotomy, this Ying Yang of words and mental images, translates well to Hogg’s American solo debut currently on exhibition until October 30 at Georgetown’s Strand on Volta Gallery.
Hogg recently moved to Washington from her native Canada. She has exhibited widely in Canada, Asia and Europe, and in a town [DC] where most critics and curators continue to preach the death of painting as a viable contemporary art form, she brings something new and refreshing, pumping some new energy to the ancient medium.
Let me explain.
Salvador Dali once said that "those that do not want to imitate anything produce nothing." This is the Ying of Hogg’s exhibition.
And George Carlin added that "the future will soon be a thing of the past." This is the Yang of her show.
Titled "Sliding Landscapes," the exhibition consists of nearly twenty paintings segregated into two different canvas shapes: oval shapes on the gallery’s left main wall and rectangular shapes on the right wall. Each set of paintings deliver individual ideas, and although tied together by the subject matter, they nonetheless express superbly two sets of thoughts and impressions that I think Hogg wants us to see.
Hogg’s imagery are copies of Old Master paintings, "sampled" (a new word introduced into art jargon from rap music’s habit of using other people’s music or someone else’s lyrics in your music) from a series of capriccios, or fantasy landscapes by 18th century Venetian painters Canaletto, Francesco Guardi and Marco Ricci.
"Fantasy" in the sense that the landscapes only existed in the artists’ minds until created by them and re-invented two centuries later by Hogg.
I must clarify from the very beginning that these paintings are not "copies" in the same sense that you see people sitting in front of paintings in museums all over the world, meticulously copying an Old Master’s work, stroke by stroke.
Therein lies another dichotomy in this exhibition: Reading a description of Hogg’s subject matter brings that image to mind; seeing them destroys it. This is one show where the most erudite of news release spinmeisters will be challenged to separate the two visions.
So what are they?
Hogg starts with a capriccio painting that she likes. I suspect that she works from a reproduction, even a small one, or from an art history book or catalog, and thus cleverly avoids the pitfall of becoming a true copier rather than a sampler.
She then re-creates the capriccios in their original format (rectangular), but completely replaces the color of the original with a simple tint or combination of tints.
Simple enough... Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.
It isn’t simple at all.
What Hogg has cleverly done again is to offer us two visual main courses. Sure, she's recreating the original painting, overly-simplified and yet still complex with the seed of great painting and composition planted by the original Masters. But she has also provided herself with a radical new vehicle to flex some very powerful painting and creative skills of her own.
The overly simplified paintings offer her ample room and opportunities to bring a 21st century perspective to these works. Not just her very modern colors (cleverly incorporated into the titles such as "Fantasy Landscape (pthalo green/chrome oxide green) 2004"). Her scrubby, energetic brushwork is everywhere, especially the open skies of some of the works, and where 18th century masters would have reacted in horror, a modern audience takes their middle age glasses off so that we can better try to absorb the quality of the brushwork and peer at the under layers, often left exposed, that reveal the virtuosity of being able to deliver an exciting painting with a very limited palette.
Even within these rectangular recreations, Hogg has a Ying Yang thing going. A group of the pieces are truly monochromatic, using only ultramarine blue or yellow ochre.
In these, the simple associations of cool and warm colors mapping to respective emotions is what anchors our responses to them. But there are some pieces where she has ventured into two distinct colors (such as violet and burnt sienna orange). In these, the opposite position of these hues on the color wheel, and their well-known association with eye-brain responses in creating tension and movement, position these works as a very successful venture into the exploration of color, never mind the landscape that is the vehicle.
Vision two of the exhibition are the oval paintings. Here we again see the same explorations in color and painting that Hogg offered us in the rectangular pieces. But then she opens a new door for us; perhaps even a new door for contemporary painting.
I would have dared to write that she has opened the lid in the coffin of painting, but that would lend tacit approval to the claim that painting is like a "vampire that refuses to die." So I won’t.
In the oval paintings Hogg introduces us to a combination of two (again with the two) elements: the re-visualization within a limited, psychological palette plus a new methodological visual cropping and angling of compositional elements within the original paintings, placed in a new format (oval) and haphazardly hung at crazy angles on the gallery’s left wall. By the way, at the risk of becoming too pedantic, I didn’t like the tilted, askew, haphazard hanging of these pieces. It was a bit heavy handed and went too far to push the fact that they are indeed "sliding" landscapes.
Suddenly we discover two effects (i.e. she has another duality thing going here for the dimwits in the audience): Combine the psychological effect of color with a reorganization of the actual image's presentation and you have suddenly changed the entire character and effect of the painting!
This is the punch to the solar plexus that every artist hopes to accomplish in any exhibition. It is the moment when you stand in front of a piece of artwork, riveted to a sudden discovery that this, whatever "this" may be, has never been done, at least not this well, before.
Here is what I mean.
In the oval pieces, Hogg repeats the paintings from different perspectives or angles; suddenly her choice of colors is not the main driving force; but the relationship between the choice and the subject and the perspective and angle is the new driving force(s).
For example, in one oval piece she offers a calm, cool agrarian view, somewhat disorienting us by the angle and crop, especially when we try to find her source on the left wall's rectangular paintings. Within this painting, a horseman rides up an incline. He is deftly rendered in cool, quick brushstrokes to deliver a placid Sancho Panza character before he had the misfortune of meeting Don Quixote.
Slightly above and to the right of that painting there's another painting, which although it is exactly the same scene, and because it is offered from a slightly different perspective and in a completely different palette, it takes us a minute or two to realize that it is the same scene.
But what a different scene it is! The sky is now a turbulent hellish nightmare of cadmium red and quinachrodne red exaggerated so that the clouds have almost become flames, and the happy farmers of the companion piece are now haggard, beaten figures toiling in a new Dantesque level of hell, where the Sancho Panza horseman is now tired, beaten and barely staying atop his poor horse.
And this is all happening in our mind. Because all that this gifted painter has done is change the perspective and offer us colors that complete different neural paths that create different reactions in our brain.
And the best thing of all is that she didn’t need a video, or an installation, or dioramas of two-dimensional works, or ten pages of wall text to explain the concept. And in these pieces, the finished works are as interesting and successful as the concept itself; not a trivial accomplishment by the way.
All she needed were superbly honed painting skills, a deep understanding of the relationship between color and emotions, an intelligent perspective on composition, and a grab at art history to offer us (yet again) something new and refreshing from that never ending source of surprises: the dusty coffin of painting.
Bravo Lucy! ... Well Done Hogg!
Tire Todo a la Mierda
This excellent point by Mark Athitakis on the subject of British writer Tom Hodgkinson's new book, The Freedom Manifesto, and my comment on it, bringing out a Cubanism on the subject, got me to think about something peculiar that I notice whenever I listen to Spanish language radio.
The last time that I was in Miami, I was listening to the news in Spanish while I drove around the area, and a Cuban accented voice detailed the usual grim news that generally dominate any newscast.
The other news anchor on the show then commented how bad the news usually are, and how some people get stressed over them. His partner then offered a solution to remove the stress.
"Tire todo a la mierda," he said.
This is a tough Cubanism to translate. "Tire" is to throw, and "todo" is everything, and "mierda" is shit.
But what it means is more like "Consider (or treat) everything as you would shit." Or more succinctly: "Fuck it."
But that's not my issue or point - as usual, I digress.
Anyone on an English-speaking radio station can be fined - or definitely bleeped - for saying the word "shit" (among others) on the air.
So, and I know that this happens all the time in Spanish speaking stations, are non-English radio stations getting away with cursing on the air?
Or does the FCC have a separate army of linguists listening to Spanish, Chinese, Arabic, Farsi, Italian, Russian, Hebrew, Chinese, etc. trying to find on air cursing?
Or after considering the cost of doing this, has the FCC HMFIC decided to "tirar todo a la mierda"?