Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Kristian Kozul at Goff + Rosenthal Gallery in Chelsea

Read this!

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.

"Lingering animus toward painting is so end-of-the-20th century. Painting hasn't been the black sheep of the art family for a couple of decades now, except in academic backwaters of provincial thought."
Dios Mio!

Leigh Conner's Fave Artwork

Leigh Conner is the hardworking owner and Director of DC's Conner Contemporary Art and she responds to my request for readers' favorite artworks. Leigh writes:

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

Mary Coble Note to Self
Mary Coble, Note to Self

Gerard David - The Rest on the Flight into Egypt
The Rest on the Flight into Egypt, c. 1510 by Gerard David, Netherlandish, c. 1460 - 1523

Lisa Egeli's Fave Artwork

Lisa Egeli is a gifted Maryland painter and she responds to my request for readers' favorite artworks. Egeli writes:

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 by Rosa Bonheur
The Horse Fair, 1853–55 by Rosa Bonheur (French, 1822–1899)

Niagara by Frederick Church
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.

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!
A history of Josie Arlington’s famous bordello, The Arlington, can be read online here.

Woman at the Tomb

“Woman at the Tomb” by The Right Reverend James W. Bailey - Photographed at Metairie Cemetery in New Orleans

Borf's Dad?

Seen yesterday at W.34th and 9th Avenue in NYC:

Rambo as Borf

Seen in DC everywhere a while back: