Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Multimediale Opens tomorrow in DC

Multimediale is a four-day multimedia DC area arts festival that brings together artists from the Washington, DC region centered around the theme: Capturing the Capital!

This festival of Art, Politics, and New Media runs from April 19 - April 22, 2007.

Multimediale seeks to energize the DC arts community with new ideas about art, society and politics. Visit their Web site at for news and dialogue and info on city-wide events. Multimediale is organized by Randall Packer and curator Niels Van Tomme. All events are free and open to the public.

And check out the video shot by John James Anderson:

Tim Tate sculpture - uh oh. Where'd it go?

This Artomatic photo from Tracy Lee says it all...

Missing Tim Tate Sculpture from AOM - by Tracy Lee

Read Tracy Lee's thoughts on Artomatic here and also see her great images of some of the AOM artwork here.

Artomatic Rumor Department

The CP's Jessica Gould discusses the Artomatic rumor that I alluded to last week.

Informal research on the part of the Mid Atlantic Art News investigative department has failed to nail potential ubercollectors willing to admit that it is their dastardly plan to bring blue chip artists to AOM under unknown artists' names in order to see if the blue chip art gets a positive response from the public when juxtoposed with the more other-colored chip artists' work.

Our blue chip artist identification department has swept AOM attempting to identify any possibility of a super famous artist(s) being present at AOM, and although so far we have found at least one artist channeling Alexander Calder's work, the closest that we can come is two wild guesses which we will reserve until a later time.

The idea itself is quite brilliant! Start a fun rumor that even as it is blatantly nearly impossible to accomplish, it nonetheless brings home an interesting point.

artDC benefit

The opening night of the District's first major art fair, artDC, will benefit the Cultural Alliance of Greater Washington.

Thursday, April 26, 2007
Washington Convention Center , Hall E
800 Mount Vernon Place, NW, Washington DC

5:30-7:30, Drinks and Hors d' Oeuvres - Tickets are $100
7:30-9:30, Cash Bar - Tickets are $30
For tickets call 312-587-8124 or email

A view of Art-O-Matic after one visit

How does a writer cover an arts extravaganza of the size of AOM once the eyes and mind become numb after the 200th artist, or the 400th or the 600th?

As an art critic, I once started a review of a past AOM by complaining how much my feet hurt after my 5th or 6th visit to the show, in a futile attempt to gather as much visual information as possible in order to write a fair review of the artwork and artists.

Over the years I have discovered that it is impossible to see everything and to be fair about anyone; the sheer size and evolving nature of the show itself makes sure of the impossibility of this task. And often I see fellow writers who fall prey to this attempt to see everything at once and then gather thoughts about the artwork. But AOM is not just about the artwork.

I have visited the 2007 AOM once, and soon I will return for a second, longer visit.

Nonetheless, often first impressions are the most memorable, and thus some early thoughts on the artwork itself follow.

Like all previous Artomatics, this version of the open mass art show started in 1999 continues to evolve up the food chain of both art and business. AOM is now an official 503(c), and this location in Crystal City is by far the best one so far, as the dozens and dozens of small, well-lit offices make excellent art galleries.

The art itself, like any huge group art show (open or juried) falls into three categories: very good, very bad, and (the vast majority) adequate.

And yet, the least of the adequate original artwork, by its creative process itself, beats any mass-produced poster. AOM is a Mecca and a magnet for beginning collectors; if you can't find art that you like from such a vast and diverse group of artists, then perhaps you should stick to collecting action figures or pre-Columbian artifacts, or baseball cards framed as art.

As a gallerist, I also have visited AOM looking for new talent amongst the mind-numbing numbers of artists who come together under one roof. Over the years, together with my fellow DC area gallerists, we have plucked many artists from the ranks and files of AOM. Artists who since their first appearance at past AOMs have now joined the collections of museums and Biennials and have been picked up by galleries nationwide. Names like Tim Tate, the Dumbacher Brothers, Kelly Towles, Kathryn Cornelius, Richard Chartier and that amazing worldwide phenomenon and best-selling author Frank Warren of PostSecret fame. But AOM is not just about the emerging superstar artist.

More on that later; now let me give you a peek into the artists whose work stood out during my first look:

Maria Mandle was the first artist to make my list. I've never heard of this artist before, and thus she's "new" to me. I liked her strong graphite drawings.

Jesse CohenI've seen Jesse Cohen's photographs develop (good pun uh?) and grow through the last few years, and the cynotypes and X-rays images at AOM, where Cohen struggles with his own identity through his father's X-ray imagery, are memorable and strong, and Cohen's best work so far.

Same thing for Shannon Chester, whose work often pops up in DC area art shows. This diminutive photographer has an excellent eye for capturing a suble eroticism in unusual circumstances and locales. Check out her beautiful photographs.

Alison Sigethy has won eight gold medals as a kayaker, and probably because of her outdoor nature, the environment is very important to her. And thus it is no surprise to see this talented DC area glass artist be one of the first ones to bring glass to the new, emerging "green art" movement that recycles art into new art, as Sigethy does with her beautiful new works. Another cool "green" artist, also working with glass (trust me, glass artists have a lot of work eligible for recycling, as anyone who has dumpster-dived into the Washington Glass School broken glass and trash dumpster knows!), is Erwin Timmers, whose work I mentioned yesterday.

I also liked Joe Granski's painterly, fun and exciting work. This is also a "new" artist for me, as is Joseph Merchlinsky's work, which at first I saw as attractive, abstracted super pixalated works, until I realized in horror that they were imagery from Sept. 11 of people jumping from the WTC. Once this discovery is reveled, it is amazing to see the breathtaking reel-back reaction of the viewers high atop Crystal City, with a spectacular view of the airport and the city. It is proof again of the never-ending ability of the visual arts to deliver thoughts, agendas, ideas, history and presence as no other form of the fine arts can.
Mine by Ruth Trevarrow
Ditto for liking Ruth Trevarrow's signs, and also the no-name photographer in Gallery 6R09 on Corridor R, with a set of sensual photos of a woman's feet in the bath, turning the tap on in a series of sexy photographs that echo Frida Kahlo's "What the Water Gave Me" painting.
Stacked by Andrew Wodzianski
I also discovered some artists exploring new directions, such as Andrew Wodzianski's giant leap into a blend of his enviable figurative skills with a modernist approach to illustration as art. Note to Andrew (and fifty gazillion other artists at AOM): Put your effing prices up so that people can make an instant decision to buy when they see it or immediately know if they can afford it.

Other artists exploring or pushing new directions are Pat Goslee and Lynn Putney, both of whom share a gallery and whose work is refreshingly minimalist and (in Goslee's case) sensual in an odd way that I can never put my finger on.

Talking about separated at birth, two other artists who share a gallery and whose work really works well together is Matt Sesow and Dana Ellyn.

Playboy Bunny, PETA Protest by Susana RaabOh yeah... the image that most-likely will be the most memorable and perhaps popular, is the terrific photo by Susana Raab titled "Tofu Dog, Playboy Bunny, PETA Protest, Washington, DC", or as the no-holds barred press crowd dubbed it last Friday: "Lettuce Lady." Raab has an exceptional ability for capturing the unsual in the everyday common.

The event itself is perhaps the nation’s most powerful incarnation of what it means to be a creative community of hundreds of working creative hands all aligned to not only create artwork, but also to put together a spectacular extravaganza that re-charges the regional art scene as no museum or gallery show can.

AOM is a community of artists employing the most liberal of approaches to art that there exists: the artists are in charge, and the artists make it work, and the artists charge the city with energy and zeal. And these descendants of those brave souls who challenged the academic salons of the 19th century face the same negative eye from the traditional art critics and curators of our museums, who challenge not only the artwork itself, but also the concept of an open, non-juried, most democratic of art shows: a community of artists in charge of energizing the community at large.

And it is certainly the easiest and most comprehensive way to discover contemporary art at its deepest and also at its newest roots. This is where both the savvy collector, and the beginning collector, and the aspiring curator, and the sharp-eyed gallerist can all come to one place with a sense of discovery in mind. And the ones that I missed in the past, and who were discovered by others, are ample evidence of the subjectivity of a gargantuan group art show.

Viva AOM!

Lotta Art logo
On Saturday April 21, 2007, School 33 in Baltimore will host its annual Lotta Art Benefit.

This is the school's largest and most popular fundraising event. You are invited to attend an evening of art, food, and fun! More than 100 local artists generously donate works in all mediums and styles to benefit School 33 Art Center's exhibition and education programs.

At the event, a lottery-style drawing is held and each ticket holder brings home a work of art. Attended by more than 250 persons, Lotta Art is considered by many to be one of the most exciting and unique special events in town!

Get your tickets here or call 410.396.4641.