Thursday, March 22, 2007


Last year I noted that DC area artist Chris Goodwin had started a blog called Trashball! that documents some of the stuff that he finds (much of it in his part-time job driving a dump truck) and transforms into an art project.

Today Rachel Beckman in the WaPo has a nice profile on Goodwin and his art project, including a nice video online. Read and see it here.

Kudos to Beckman and visit Trashball! often!

Wanna go to a DC gallery opening tomorrow night?

Randall Scott Gallery has a special exhibition of unique furniture by Josh Urso through March 31st, 2007 and the artist reception is tomorrow night, March 23rd from 6pm-9pm.


To DC area art wunderkind Jenny Davis, who just won the National Society of Arts and Letters Washington Chapter Career Awards Competition last Saturday at Heineman-Myers Gallery! She's excited to be going to the National Competition in Tempe, Arizona in May.

Smithsonian woes

Yesterday The Art Newspaper broke the story on the 51-page external confidential report (now made public and online here), commissioned by the Smithsonian Institution's Undersecretary of Art, Ned Rifkin, on the state of the Smithsonian Institution's eight museums.

The confidential document, a copy of which has been seen by The Art Newspaper, is the result of an 18-month external review of the art museums and two related art programmes run by the Smithsonian Institution which are collectively known as Smithsonian Arts.

Ned Rifkin, the Smithsonian’s undersecretary for art, appointed a committee to carry out the review in August 2005.

This includes Glenn Lowry, director of the Museum of Modern Art in New York; Michael Shapiro, director of the High Museum of Art in Atlanta; John Walsh, director emeritus of the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles; James Wood, director and president emeritus of the Art Institute of Chicago and, since February, president and chief executive of the Getty Trust, Michael Conforti, director of the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown; Vishakha Desai, president and chief executive of the Asia Society in New York, and Susana Leval, director emerita of El Museo del Barrio in New York.

They met in small groups with Smithsonian museum executives and convened five times to draft the report which was submitted to the Smithsonian’s board of regents in January.

The 51-page document and its appendices provides an analysis of each Smithsonian art museum, listing strengths and weaknesses and offering recommendations.
Per the Art Newspaper, among the report's recommendations:

- "Questions the long-term viability of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York because of 'the modest size of audience, ­limited programs and scope of [the] collection.'"

- "Calls for the 'administrative consolidation' of the National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian American Art Museum."

- "Warns that leaks in the storage areas of the Freer and Sackler galleries threaten the collection. Leaks are also identified as a problem at the Hirshhorn Museum."

- "Concludes that the National Museum of African Art suffers from a 'lack of visionary leadership' as well as a non-contributing board and a lacklustre curatorial team."

Read the whole Art Newspaper article here, and read the SI report here, and the WaPo's Paul Farhi's take on the subject here, and then a SI response via the SAAM's blog, Eyelevel, here.

It's Boise, Idaho's turn to be embarrassed

In 2002 the District of Columbia went on a crackdown to try to stop the District's art galleries from serving wine (any alcohol) at art openings. Threatening letters from Maurice Evans, the chief investigator for the District's Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration, were sent to nearly all of DC's galleries.

As I recall, the letters also stated that galleries must stop serving wine at openings, or obtain a [very expensive and hard-to-get] liquor license, or apply for a temporary license for each opening (at around $100 a day), that would then allow licensed caterers (who would also need to be hired by the gallery for each opening) to pour the wine for the over-21 crowd.

Upon receipt of this letter I called the WaPo and talked to its arts editor, John Pancake, reporting this fact, and a few days later the Style section published this article by Natalie Hopkinson on the subject.

The WaPo's story was picked up by the AP or UPI and then itself picked up worldwide by newspapers as far away as Australia, and the BBC even did a small story on it. It embarrassed Washington, DC on a planetary scale, characterizing the nation's capital as a repressed small town where the time honored tradition of cheap white wine and cheese at gallery openings was in danger of being nixed by an over zealous alcohol enforcement official.

Because of this embarrassment, the City's alcohol board held a quick hearing and several of us gallerists testified to the board about the art of the art opening. It all eventually went away, but not before the nation's capital was embarrassed around the world.

Now it is Boise, Idaho's turn to get its share of planetary shame and I hope to get that ball rolling. Since at least August of 2006, according to Margaret Littman in Art & Antiques:

Though the law has been on the books since the 1930s, Boise City Police, at the direction of the Idaho Beverage Control, are cracking down on the free glasses of wine some galleries offer during monthly First Thursday art openings.
For the Idaho Beverage Control zealot(s) who wasted time orchestrating this: You are an embarrassment to this nation and your zeal had led you down the wrong path in alcohol enforcement and you have made your state and this nation the laughing stock of a planet that seldom agrees on many things, but as history taught us before, seems to think that serving a glass of wine at a gallery opening doesn't deserve a police raid.

Shame on you Idaho.

Update: Read the Boise Weekly article on this subject here.

Wanna go to a DC art opening tonight?

Several of DC leading edge dorktechnical scientartists will be opening an exhibition of their latest work (an interactive media project) at the Warehouse Gallery on 7th Street. Work by Philip Kohn, Thomas Edwards, Brian Judy, and Claudia Vess. The opening is Thursday, March 22 from 6-8PM.