Wanna be in a PostSecret book?
My good friend Frank Warren is the genius whose worldwide art project, PostSecret, is easily the world's largest public art project by a googleplex of factors.
And Frank just told me about the new PostSecret book that will be released later this year - PostSecret Confessions on Life, Death and God.
This book has been two years in the making, but there is still time to contribute your postcards.
Use this link to watch a personal message from Warren about this special fifth PostSecret book and learn how to mail in your deepest secrets today.
Saturday, February 28, 2009
Wanna be in a PostSecret book?
Opportunity for Artists
Deadline: March 27, 2009 (postmark).
The Fine Arts League of Cary is seeking entries for its 15th Annual Juried Art Exhibition to be held from May 8th to June 27th, 2009 in Cary/Raleigh, NC. Show awards and purchase awards will total over $5,000. Entries can only be mailed via CD. The postmark deadline for the mail-in registration is March 27, 2009. I will be the juror for this show.
Full details and a printable prospectus are available
on the web here or call Kathryn Cook at 919-345-0681.
Friday, February 27, 2009
Best burrito in the world?
The massive carnitas burro in San Diego's Santana drive through?
There used to be only one Santana - on Rosecrans - but now I think that the little drive through has grown into a chain.
No matter, the food is still great and cooked just as you order it, not pre-cooked, and the carnitas are just amazing.
New Hirshhorn Museum director
Richard Koshalek has been named director of the Smithsonian's Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, effective April 13.
Koshalek, 67, was president of Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif., from 1999 until January 2009. Before that, he served as director of The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles for nearly 20 years.
"Richard Koshalek has vast experience in both the education and museum worlds," said Smithsonian Secretary Wayne Clough. "His creativity brought modern and contemporary art to bear on issues of the day and will help the museum and the Institution reach broad audiences in technologically and aesthetically exciting new ways."
"I am immensely excited to come to the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden," said Koshalek. "This institution, more than most, is at the perfect time and place to make a unique contribution not only to the history of modern and contemporary art, but to the larger appreciation of the role of the arts in society. Given its place in the nation's capital, as well as its proximity to a peerless range of cultural, diplomatic and civic resources, the Hirshhorn can be a catalyst for new creative and collaborative energy in many arenas."
We are also hoping that Koshalek discovers the museum's proximity to a large number of world class art galleries and an immense number of DC area artists, both of which, with a few and notable rare exceptions, have been largely ignored by the Hirshhorn in the past.
"In the past it seemed that Hirshhorn curators found it easier to visit Berlin or New York, or any place for that matter, rather than their own city, when looking for emerging artists or new innovative work in commercial galleries," Campello Vulcan-melded into Koshalek's mind. "Not anymore," he added, "there's a new sheriff in town."
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Facing a dramatic downturn in its endowment and waning city support, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is cutting staff, delaying exhibitions, curtailing programs, trimming salaries and — subject to city approval — increasing admission fees.Read the Inky report here.
The cuts will bring the museum’s operating budget down by about $1.7 million to $52 million for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, and, the museum hopes, will stave off a deficit the following year forecast as high as $5 million.
The museum will eliminate 30 positions — about seven percent of the staff — in all areas, though no curators are being let go. Of those 30 jobs, 16 are layoffs of current personnel, with the remaining positions lost by not filling vacancies.
Senior staff will take salary cuts of between five and 10 percent, said interim CEO Gail M. Harrity yesterday.
Dobrzynski on the Art Fairs
The crowd was cordial, happily sipping from glasses of Champagne, white wine, and soda. Big collectors like Marty Margulies, Agnes Gund, Frances Bowes, Don Marron, and Helen Schwab roamed the art-filled aisles. As everyone walked around during the gala opening of the annual Art Dealers Association of America art fair in New York last week, they were smiling, laughing, pausing frequently to chat and to look at the art in the gallery booths.Read the Judith Dobrzynski report on The Daily Beast here.
What they weren’t doing, despite valiant new strategies by some dealers, was buying much art.
A blow to the Greater DC area art scene... in the making... unless we all do something.
Arlington County Manager Ron Carlee has proposed the closing of the Ellipse Arts Center in the FY2010 recommended budget. This closing includes a complete budget cut of the Ballston, Virginia area Ellipse Arts Center facility rent, a complete budget cut for visual art exhibition programs and a complete budget cut for visual arts educational programs.
Cynthia Connolly, Ellipse Arts Center Manager & Curator, and LisaMarie Thalhammer, Ellipse Arts Center Education Programmer, are graciously but urgently asking for your written support in proving that Arlington County’s continued funding of the visual arts is a value to our community. Please consider writing a short statement in support of the Ellipse Arts Center program.
I hope you will take a moment before the end of the day tomorrow to send a note of support to Lisa. Please email Lisa Marie at firstname.lastname@example.org with your supportive statement by the end of the day tomorrow, Thursday, February 26, 2009.
Please call with any questions or concerns at 703-228-1861. You can also contact Ron Carlee directly 703.228.3120, fax: 703.228.3218 or email Ron Carlee - County Manager at email@example.com
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
A Public Thank You to Kim Ward
As we all know by now, the WPA's Kim Ward will soon leave as the head honcho for that terrific artists' organization.
I can’t exactly recall the first time that I met Kim Ward, but the first time that she made a distinct impression on me was back when she was one of the several WPA people working under Annie Adjchavanich’s leadership and the WPA was at the Corcoran and they had just published their first Artists Directory.
They were distributing boxes of the books through galleries in the District and Greater DC area, and I was working that day at my old and first gallery in Canal Square in Georgetown. We had asked for a couple of boxes, and Ward came into the gallery carrying one of the boxes, with that huge smile that she always seems to have.
“I’m illegally parked!” she announced in her hypnotizing Southern accent.
“You’ll get a ticket,” I predicted. “Let me go back with you to the car and I’ll bring the second box over.”
I walked with her across the street and picked up the second box from her car. She zipped away to her next delivery spot.
“Damn,” I said as I struggled with the weight of the box of books, “How’d in the hell did that tiny thing carry this box?”
It was the first of many instances where Kim Ward would show me and others the toughness, resiliency and hard working ethic of a woman in love with her job and the huge number of artists that the WPA represents. I’ve seen this woman scrubbing floors, painting walls, patching up holes, washing dishes, hammering at walls, cleaning spills, serving food… hanging artwork, all the stuff that makes the life of the director of an artists’ organization a glamorous job.
Ward worked her way up the WPA ladder until she became the executive director and new leader of the WPA, and in the five years since that happened she re-crafted that organization into a very important part of what makes the Washington, DC art scene “tick.”
Ward’s accomplishments at the helm of the WPA have been nothing short of spectacular; all the way from guiding the organization to the digital age to guiding it right out of the heavy shadow of the Corcoran Gallery of Art.
It can be probably argued that the Corcoran provided a life line to the WPA after several directors almost ran the organization into extinction. The Corcoran relationship allowed the WPA to rediscover itself, and to breathe a little easier in financial terms.
First under the dizzying leadership of my good friend Annie Adjchavanich and then under Kim Ward’s strong and steady hand the WPA began to rise again, and eventually it regained its independence last year.
And once again, it would be hard to imagine Washington, DC without a WPA. And hard to imagine a WPA without Kim Ward.
I am proud to call her my friend and on behalf of the thousands of WPA artist members, and of the Greater DC area art dealers, and every symbiot of the District’s art scene: Kim Ward, thank you!
If you wear a Che Guevara T-Shirt
Unless it is one like the one on the left, then you are wearing the image of one of the 20th century's worst psychopaths, who (like Hitler) never hid his hate and goals in his writing and speeches, which if you took the time to read, you'd find jewels like this (on the subject of the Cuban missile crisis:
"If the missiles had remained we would have used them against the very heart of the United States, including New York. We must never establish peaceful coexistence. We must walk the path of victory even if it costs millions of atomic victims."
-- Che Guevara, Interview in London Daily Worker, 1962
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Artists' Websites: Kathryn Cook
Kathryn Cook is a North Carolina artist and Kathryn's very cool paintings "provide visual metaphors for the viewer to consider ideas that define different elements of human nature, for better or worse, as well as our response to the age we live in."
Monday, February 23, 2009
Black Hole Sun
Sometimes a sentence or a word or even part of a song's lyrics trigger me into doing a drawing inspired by the words.
Right now as I travel West to California I am obsessed with ideas about a drawing inspired by these lyrics.
In my eyes
As no one knows
Hides the face
Lies the snake
In my disgrace
neath the black
The sky looks dead
Call my name
Through the cream
And Ill hear you
Black hole sun
Wont you come
And wash away the rain
Black hole sun
Wont you come
Wont you come
Cold and damp
Steal the warm wind
Times are gone
For honest men
Far too long
In my shoes
A walking sleep
And my youth
I pray to keep
No one sings
Hang my head
Drown my fear
Till you all just
New Executive Director of Washington Project for the Arts
Today the Board of Trustees of the Washington Project for the Arts (WPA) announced the appointment of Lisa J. Gold as the new Executive Director of the organization, now entering its 34th year as a leader in the support of regional contemporary fine art. Ms. Gold begins her new role on March 18, as the leader of a highly successful non-profit organization that has come to be recognized as one of the most influential and important arts groups in the region, and the U.S.
Ms. Gold’s appointment follows the nearly five-year leadership of my good friend Kim Ward, who successfully guided the WPA through the 2007 separation from the Corcoran Gallery of Art, and subsequent re-establishment of the WPA as a fully independent force in the arts community. What Ward did to revive an almost moribund WPA was nothing short of spectacular and I hope that all members of the WPA know how much they owe to that tough, hard-working little steel magnolia.
“The Washington Project for the Arts is very fortunate to have found Lisa Gold from such a great pool of highly qualified candidates,” said Board of Trustees Chair and also my good buddyand one of a handful of Cubans in the DC area, Andres Tremols. “Her experience, insight, familiarity with Washington, DC and with the world of contemporary art will be a great asset for WPA and the greater region.”
Most recently, Lisa Gold was the Public Relations and Marketing Director at The Drawing Center in New York City, where she managed the institution’s public programs and communications (drawing uh? I like her already). Ms. Gold has over twenty years of diverse experience in arts management, fundraising, development, programming, outreach, marketing, advertising and public relations. With a career that began in Washington, DC, her previous roles have included Director of Development and Communications at Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City, NY; as Outreach and Development Director at apexart in New York City; as well as Associate Director and Account Management positions at advertising and marketing agencies in the private sector in Washington, DC and New York. Her experience is enhanced by an extensive resume of volunteerism, including serving as the Chair of the New Leadership Alliance of the New York City Chapter of ArtTable, as the Open Studios Director for the Downtown Arts Festival, and in various roles with a number of New York City visual arts organizations.
"I am incredibly grateful for the trust the Board of Trustees and staff of the WPA have placed in me. I am looking forward to working with their support, and with the artists and art community of Washington, to ensure a remarkable future for the WPA,” said Gold. “It’s a tremendous privilege to be handed the reins of such a celebrated and important organization. I am excited to bring new ideas and energy to the WPA and to the community."
The Washington Project for the Arts has recently hosted a number of successful exhibitions, programs and educational seminars including: AQUIFER, a sculpture show in conjunction with the Washington Sculptor’s Group; When Absence Becomes Presence, the fourth iteration of the WPA Experimental Media Series in partnership with The Phillips Collection; Uncommon Beauty at the Ellipse Arts Center, and No Artist Left Behind, a ‘how-to’ self-help video campaign to help motivate artists and encourage them to take advantage of WPA opportunities.
On Saturday, March 7, 2009 the WPA will host the 30th Art Auction Gala, to be held at the Katzen Arts Center, which includes a silent auction of more than 125 original works by regional contemporary artists. For more information on the WPA, visit their website here.
Opportunity for Artists
Deadline: March 27, 2009 (postmark).
I have been retained as the juror for The Fine Arts League of Cary in North Carolina, and they are seeking entries for its 15th Annual Juried Art Exhibition to be held from May 8th to June 27th, 2009 in Cary/Raleigh, NC. Show awards and purchase awards will total over $5,000. Entries can only be mailed via CD. The postmark deadline for the mail-in registration is March 27, 2009.
Full details and a printable prospectus are available
on the web at here or call Kathryn Cook at 919-345-0681.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Katie Miller, 25, is a winner of the 2008 Wynn Newhouse Award - a $60,000 merit-based grant shared among four professional artists with disabilities. Artists may not apply directly for the award; Miller was one of a group of artists nominated anonymously. Congratulations to Miller and the other award winners: Barbara Bloom, Isabella Kirkland, and Stephen Lapthisophon.
The four award winners were chosen from the pool of nominees by an impressive selection committee consisting of Phong Bui, publisher of the Brooklyn Rail, uberartist Chuck Close, Donna DeSalvo, curator at the Whitney Museum, Chicago-based artist Joseph Grigely, and the award's namesake, art collector Wynn Newhouse.
Miller is excited to meet the other award winners at a private luncheon in New York next month. She plans on using the money to cover part of her graduate school tuition in the fall. "It is an enormous honor to be chosen by such a highly-regarded jury," says Miller, "I was humbled to be amongst the winners. They have outstanding work and are much more accomplished in their careers than me." To the right is "Newborn Walking," a recent charcoal and pastel on paper, 30 x 54 inches.
Miller is also excited to be exhibiting in The Armory Show – The International Fair of New Art, which has been the world's leading art fair devoted exclusively to contemporary art since its introduction in 1999. Top galleries and dealers from all over the world vie for one of less than 200 booths. In just four days, over 52,000 international visitors are expected to shuffle through Piers 92 and 94 along the Hudson River.
Miller is one of fourteen artists chosen by VSA Arts to exhibit in their booth. This is the first year that this non-profit has participated in the show. VSA Arts, which showcases the accomplishments of artists with disabilities and promotes increased access to the arts for people with disabilities, has previously exhibited Katie Miller's work in the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Smithsonian Institution.
As many of you know, I often surf the web looking for new artists (new to me anyway) so that I can highlight them here. Last year I discovered Miller's work and announced it here.
Katie Miller of Parkton, Maryland graduated with honors in 2007 from Maryland Institute College of Art, where she majored in painting. She has been exhibiting her work for the past ten years. She is proud to be on the autism spectrum and is active in the autism rights and neurodiversity movements. Miller thanks autism for her intense concentration, heightened perception, and unique way of viewing the world. She plans on a career as a professional artist.
The 2009 Armory Show takes place from March 5-8, 2009, Pier 94, at Twelfth Avenue at 55th Street, New York, NY. It is open to the public from noon to 8 p.m. March 5-7 and from noon to 7 p.m. on March 8.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Free Studio Space in Philly
Deadline: April 17, 2009
The 40th Street Artist-in-Residence Program (AIR) awards West Philadelphia artists one year of free studio space at 40th and Chestnut Sts. In exchange, each artist shares his/her talents with the West Philadelphia community by leading workshops, teaching classes, exhibiting in the area, etc. Founded by artist Edward M. Epstein in 2003, the program addresses the need for studio space in West Philadelphia, assists artists with career development, and makes the 40th Street area a nexus for visual arts.
They are now accepting applications for the next round of artists. Applications are due April 17, 2009. The next round begins August 15, 2009. Details here.
Tonight at Curator's Office in DC
All the way from Atlanta I am hearing good things about artist Dawn Black, who is about to open tonight in DC's Curator's Office with a reception from 6:30-8PM. Black says that:
"Conceal Project is a collection of ... disguised persons, each being drawn separately on a piece of 7½" x 5½" paper and then arranged in a grid. Currently the project comprises 75 figures, and I am continuing to add more. Often I use the Conceal Project as a character bank, as these collected characters find their way into the narratives of my larger drawings. Each of these larger drawings tells a story by depicting numerous disguised figures whose mysterious and ambiguous relationships become intertwined with the viewer's beliefs regarding the authentic and the covert, the formidable and the meek, the false witness and the sincere, and are intended to invoke the aura of a forgotten myth or a foreboding parable."
Dawn Black, The Quarrelsome Shepherds, watercolor, ink, and gouache on paper, 15" x 17", 2009
New Campello Drawings
2008 sucked for most art dealers and artists, yet somehow, I think because they are generally intimate in size and affordable, I managed to sell a lot of drawings in 2008. Nearly all the sales took place in art fairs in New York, Santa Fe and Miami, plus a couple of art festivals.
I need a Los Angeles dealer and then I'll be set in 2009. My drawings will be up in New York next month during Armory week, and here are some new ones from my series on Biblical legends and nuns (if you want to buy any before I turn them over to galleries next week, drop me an email:
"The Magdalene Escaping from Egypt" 3 x 10 inches. Charcoal on paper.
"Lilith Creating Darkness" 3 x 8 inches. Charcoal on Paper
"Sister Mary Merlot" 2 x 8 inches. Charcoal on Paper
"Sister Mary Sentada and Sister Mary Robotica" 3.25 x 9 inches. Charcoal on Paper
"Sister Mary de Nubes" 9.75 x 2 inches. Charcoal on Paper
"Sister Mary Encerrada" 8 x 2 inches. Charcoal on Paper
"God Creating Light" 9 x 3 inches. Charcoal on Paper
Friday, February 20, 2009
The Washington Glass School & Studio is seeking...
WGS is looking for individuals for several positions. That studio is one of the busiest in the region, serving hundreds of students and professional artists each year.
I am told that the work will be varied, and often messy. They are looking for someone available on weekdays, not just evenings and some weekend work is required.
They will in return offer you the opportunity and access to a world class studio, and mentorship towards your own art career with three very successful artists.
(1) Studio Assistant. This would be a paid position which starts at $10 per hour. They will "also strive to find you additional side jobs to supplement your pay." This position is very hands on. You will be mold-making, lost wax casting, deep relief dry plaster casting, cleaning the studio, welding, etc. Experience in any of these skills is great, but otherwise you will be learning them quickly. Dependability is primary in this position, and the ability to work with a wide variety of personalities. The ideal candidate is self-motivated and can work in a multi-task arts environment, where craftsmanship and pride of work is important.
(2) Studio Intern. This is an unpaid position, but then they are much more flexible about work hours. They would depend on a schedule you agree to, but then stick to. This is a great way to learn a large variety of skills and receive mentorship in your own art career. This is a very exciting opportunity for someone who doesn't have the resources to pay for the classes offered there.
(3) Teaching Assistant. This position is also unpaid, and requires some experience in glass. This is perfect for the glass artist who wants to help out at a few classes, and learn while they assist. Its also a great way to be exposed to the energy and experience surrounding this studio, but in short time spans.
If you'd like to join their award winning and frenetic team, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Tim Tate at 202-744-8222.
Sharp at Delaware
Photographer, Keith Sharp (who happens to live in the same little town that I do - Media), will be exhibiting work in a solo show at Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts. Sharp is a present-day surrealist who digitally manipulates photographs to capture the uncanny or quirky in everyday scenes, combining human, urban, and natural elements to play tricks on our perception.
This exhibition runs from February 27 – April 5, 2009. The opening reception is Friday, March 6, 2009 from 5:00 – 9:00 pm. Hours are Tue, Thu, Fri, Sat: 10 am - 5 pm, Wed and Sun: 12 pm - 5 pm.
Zach Feuer, the New York dealer with a knack for turning young art-school grads into stars, has dropped eight artists -- nearly half of his roster.Details here.
“I didn’t want to be big in this economy,” said Feuer, 30. “Now is the time to have a lower overhead and be small and lean.”
After seven heady years in the art market, dealers and artists alike are adjusting to the slowdown in sales and prices. Four Manhattan galleries have shut down since September, and a fifth -- Soho’s Guild & Greyshkul -- will join them next week. The closings are leaving scores of artists without representation.
Artists who are no longer listed on the Zach Feuer gallery’s web site include the commercially and critically successful Israeli-born Tal R, Brooklyn-based Danica Phelps and Christoph Ruckhaberle of Leipzig’s Academy of Visual Arts.
The gallery will continue to represent Dana Schutz, Anton Henning, Jules de Balincourt, Nathalie Djurberg, Phoebe Washburn, Tamy Ben-Tor, Justin Lieberman, Dasha Shishkin, Johannes VanDerBeek and Stuart Hawkins.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Wanna go to an opening in DC tomorrow?
My good friend and ubercurator Laura Roulet co-curated this exhibition together with Tatiana Flores at the OAS Museum and it includes Puerto Rican, Venezuelan and Cuban-American artists, working in all sorts of media and it sounds like a really cool exhibition at one of the District's most beautiful art spaces... and I will check it out later.
The opening reception is Friday, February 20 starting at 6 pm... if you've never been to the OAS Museum, go and see this gorgeous space and some really cool art.
ArtDC has an auction coming up to support the development of their new studio and art space. This one is one of those auctions which really offers great art and needs your support.
Date: February 21, 2009 (rain date February 28, 2009)
Time: 5 pm until 8 pm
Where: Wohlfarth Galleries, 3418 9th Street, NE, Washington, D.C.
Details can be found here.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Art-In-Architecture Artist Registry
The General Services Administration (GSA) Art in Architecture Program commissions the nation's leading artists to create large-scale works of art for new federal buildings.
For more information, visit this websiteand type “art in architecture” into the search bar in the upper right hand corner.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Opportunity for Artists
Deadline: March 12, 2009
The Visual Arts Committee organizes nine solo, group, or theme-based exhibitions per year at the St. Paul Student Center's 520 sq. foot Larson Art Gallery. It also organizes four solo exhibitions at Coffman Memorial Union''s Coffman Art Gallery. To ask for a prospectus please make sure to include all of the following:
• Note which Gallery you are applying for (Coffman or Larson)
• 3-5 slides of your artwork or digital images in jpeg format
• Artists' statement and contact information
• Self-addressed stamped envelope for return of images.
Send proposals to:
Minnesota Programs & Activities Council
Visual Arts Committee
University of Minnesota
Coffman Memorial Union RM 126
300 Washington Ave SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455
Sondheim Semifinalists Announced
Twenty-six visual artists or groups from Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and the District of Columbia were named semifinalists a few days ago for Baltimore's fourth annual Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize.
The 26 (dominated by Baltimore area artists) are:
• Seth Adelsberger, BaltimoreMy money is on either Mary Coble or Molly Springfield. Both of them are superbly loaded with talent, and both of them are perennial finalists in all of our area's top art prizes. The judges for this year's prize are Ellen Harvey, a New York-based artist; Valerie Cassel Oliver, curator of the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston; and Elisabeth Sussman, a curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.
• "Alzaruba," also known as Al Zaruba, Baltimore
•The Baltimore Development Cooperative, Baltimore. The cooperative includes Scott Berzofsky, Dane Nester and Nicholas Wisniewski, who are working on a community farm/art project in East Baltimore. Berzofsky and Wisniewski are former founding members of the artist collective known as Camp Baltimore.
•Lisa Blas, Washington, D.C.
• Rachel Bone, Baltimore
• Jessica Braiterman, Beltsville
• Travis Childers, Fairfax, Va.
• Mary Coble, Washington, D.C.
• R.L. Croft, Manassas, Va.
• Alyssa Dennis, Baltimore
• Liz Ensz, Baltimore
• Leslie Furlong, Baltimore
• Ryan Hackett, Kensington, Md.
• Christian Herr, Lancaster, Pa.
• Jason Horowitz, Arlington, Va.
• Jessie Lehson, Baltimore
• Kim Manfredi, Baltimore
• Katherine Mann, Baltimore
• Baby Martinez, Washington, D.C.
• Sebastian Martorana, Baltimore
• Lisa Moren, Baltimore
• Ellen Nielsen, Baltimore
• Louie Palu, Washington, D.C.
• Molly Springfield, Washington, D.C.
• "TwoCan Collective," Baltimore. TwoCan Collective consists of two women, "Emily C-D" and Jessica Unterhalter, who often make work using recycled materials.
• Karen Yasinsky, Baltimore
The winner of the $25K prize will be announced July 11 at the Baltimore Museum of Art. This year's competition drew 334 entries.
Congrats to all 26!
Monday, February 16, 2009
The shape of things to come
Worldwide courts have consistently recognized the right of owners to the return of artwork which has been looted by governments and dictatorships, confiscated, sold and re-sold.
It has taken in some cases several decades for the artwork to return to the familial descendants of the original and rightful owners, but essentially international law is pretty clear on the subject that generally no government can confiscate private property.
There are, of course, many dictatorships worldwide where one of the foundations of those regimes is that private citizens under their yoke cannot own private property.
It occurred to me recently that when the current Cuban dictatorship took control of that unfortunate island on January 1, 1959, one of the first things that they did after they executed thousands of people, burned and banned books, jailed all political opposition, and closed down newspapers and magazines, was to confiscate most private property.
And there was a lot of artwork confiscated in Cuba.
We've been led to believe that in 1959 Cuba was just another Latin American cesspool, but the facts are that in 1959 Cuba had one of the highest standards of living of any nation in the Americas and a higher per capita income than several European nations and higher than Japan, as well as a positive immigration flow from Europe to Cuba, as well as the third highest protein consumption in the Western Hemisphere. Today the island's food rations are actually lower than the slave rations mandated by the Spanish King in 1842.
The island also had the lowest infant mortality rate in Latin America and the 13th lowest in the world, ranked ahead of France, West Germany, Belgium, Japan, Austria, Italy and Spain. The average wage of a Cuban worker was higher than for workers in West Germany, France, Denmark and Belgium and in the late 50s Cuban labor received 66.6 per cent of the nation's GNP, again higher than several European nations (the US figure is 68%). And the 8 hour week was mandated by law in Cuba in 1933, five years before FDR's New Deal got to doing it in the US. And in the 1950s, 44% of Cubans were covered by social legislation, a higher percent than the US at that time.
And while we've been led to also believe that Cuban peasants and farm workers lived in a near feudal state, the average farm wage in Cuba in 1959 ($3.00 a day) was higher than those of farm workers in France ($2.73), Belgium ($2.70), Denmark ($2.74) or Germany ($2.73). In the US it was $4.06. And in 1959 only 34% of the Cuban population was rural and the nation had the lowest inflation rate in the Americas, 1.4% - the US was at 2.73%
So this was not a nation mired in poverty, as we have been led to believe, but a nation under the yoke of a very brutal dictator in the person of Fulgencio Batista.
The very wealthy Cuban upper and business class hated Batista and became the financial backers of the Castro Revolution, raising millions of dollars for the rebels. They also owned many art masterpieces from both European and Latin American masters.
As a thank you, nearly all of this work was confiscated by the Castro dictatorship and by 1961 most of the best work had made its way to government-owned museums and collections, and most of the owners had made their way to the United States in the largest proportional mass exodus in contemporary history.
When the abomination known as the Soviet Union collapsed in the 90s and Cuba's sugar daddy stopped sending billions of dollars in subsidy to the Castro brothers, the Cuban economy collapsed, and one of the results of that collapse was the mass selling, by the Cuban government, of those confiscated masterpieces, most of which found their way to European museums and European and Asian private collections via French auction houses. Thus many masterpieces once owned by the Fanjul family, or the Bacardi family, or by sugar magnate Julio Lobo (whose interest in Napoleonic memorabilia led to him amassing one of the world's largest collections of Bonaparte memorabilia such as weapons, furniture, paintings, letters, etc.) were sold to European museums and collectors.
But now I think that the end of the brutal Castro dictatorship is nigh, and one day soon, when the rule of law and democracy and freedom returns to Cuba, one of the first things that the descendants of those families should do is to go after whoever now possesses their families' stolen artwork and goods, and in some cases even copyrights.
And the details of these illegal sales have left bloody footprints. For example, according to Maritza Beato's excellent article in El Nuevo Herald titled "El Saqueo del Patrimonio Cultural Cubano" (The Looting of the Cuban Cultural Patrimony), the sale of the Julio Lobo Napoleonic collection to a French museum was orchestrated by a French official attached to the French Embassy in Havana. His name is Antoine Anvil.
And if I was one of those auction houses or museums in Europe or collectors or dealers around the world, I'd be a little nervous.
What goes around comes around.
I just finished jurying the next exhibition for the D'Art Center in Norfolk, Virginia and it was a very pleasant (and hard work) surprise to find some many really excellent 3D entries in this national show.
Mark Miltz. The Game. Sculptural Installation
Usually when there's a call for artists, the 3D genre is under-represented in the submissions, but in this particular exhibition, several hundred artists from all over the country submitted work, and there were several outstanding sculptural entries.
Tonight I will award about $3,500 in award prizes.
Lesley Hildreth. Hares, multiplying like rabbits while waiting for the tortoise. Clay
Sunday, February 15, 2009
DCist will offer the third annual DCist Exposed photography show running February 20 to March 7, 2009. DCist is partnering with the Gallery at Flashpoint to exhibit nearly 50 amateur and professional photographers chosen from more than 300 entrants who submitted their work through Flickr.com. A free opening reception will be held Friday, February 20, 2009 from 5 to 9 pm at the Gallery at Flashpoint.
Flashpoint is located at 916 G Street NW, in Washington, DC's bustling Penn Quarter neighborhood. The 2007 and 2008 DCist Exposed events saw over 500 people attend each opening night, with lines forming around the block and a ton of photographs sold because of their superb quality and extreme affordability.
DCist is also bringing back last year's special event for emerging collectors, Emerge Exposed, on Tuesday, March 3 from 7 to 9 pm at Flashpoint's Mead Theater Lab. Co-hosted by DCist, Flashpoint and the Pink Line Project, a panel of experts will share tips and ideas on how to begin collecting art. There will be a $10 suggested donation at the door for Emerge Exposed. The panel will be moderated by The Pink Line Project Chief Creative Contrarian Philippa P.B. Hughes and will be comprised of FotoweekDC Founder and Chrome Imaging President Theo Adamstein, Photographer Jason Horowitz, Collector and Jackson Design Group Principle Veronica Jackson and Corcoran Gallery of Art Senior Curator of Photography and Media Arts Paul Roth. For more information: Call 202.315.1310 or visit flashpointdc.org.
Opportunity for Artists
Deadline: February 23, 09, 5pm.
The City of St. Helens Arts & Cultural Commission is seeking proposals from artists interested in creating decorative street banners as part of its new multi-phase Gallery Corridor project. The first phase of the project includes artist-designed and created aluminum banners to be mounted on poles and placed along Old Portland Road, Columbia Blvd. and Gable Rd. in St. Helens. Artists selected to participate will be awarded $1,000 for their work and be provided with a 2’ by 6’ aluminum sheets, donated for the project by Pacific Stainless Products in St. Helens.
Contact: Kathy Payne, City Recorder, City of St. Helens, P.O. Box 278, St. Helens, OR 97051.
For more information about the project, contact John Walter at 503.397.4544. Requests for Proposals can be found on the City’s website at www.ci.st-helens.or.us, or can be requested by phone at 503.366.8218.
A Circus Family: Picasso to Léger, on view at The Baltimore Museum of Art February 22–May 17, 2009, features more than 80 prints, drawings, paintings, and books by Pablo Picasso, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Fernand Léger, and other European artists fascinated by the extravagant spectacle of the circus and the bohemian lives of the performers outside the ring. This special ticketed exhibition brings together major works from museums and private collections to offer a behind-the-scenes look at the circus during its heyday as a form of popular entertainment.Details here.
Opportunity for Artists
Deadline: March 27, 2009 (postmark).
The Fine Arts League of Cary is seeking entries for its 15th Annual Juried Art Exhibition to be held from May 8th to June 27th, 2009 in Cary/Raleigh, NC. Show awards and purchase awards will total over $5,000. Entries can only be mailed via CD. The postmark deadline for the mail-in registration is March 27, 2009. I will be the juror for this show.
Full details and a printable prospectus are available
on the web at www.fineartsleagueofcary.org or call Kathryn Cook at 919-345-0681.
Fair Use Redux
The Stuckists, a group of anti-conceptual artist-activists that is the anti-thesis to Britain's Turner Prize exhibitions and award ceremonies, have opened their own online store, selling objects inspired by Damien Hirst and other uberartists works.
Stuckists Jamie Reid (who designed graphics for the punk band the Sex Pistols), James Cauty and Billy Childish have produced a range of prints “recreated from random pixels found on the Interweb” and other products satirizing Hirst’s diamond skull and works by the Chapman Brothers and the urban artist D*Face.
“An exact copy of an image similar to an image of Hirst’s “For the Love of God,”’ from a numbered edition of 1,300, is priced at 13 pounds, said the Web site.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Corcoran's Fine Art Photography Thesis Exhibitions - next 4 weeks!
This is how you spot the jewels early on... go visit some of these shows:
Corcoran School fo Art Fine Art Photography Senior Thesis Exhibitions: February 15 – March 15
Gallery 31 (entrance on New York Avenue)
February 18–22: Fine Art Photography Senior Thesis I
Reception: Thursday, February 19, 5–8 p.m., North Atrium
February 25–March 1: Fine Art Photography Senior Thesis II
Reception: Thursday, February 26, 5–8 p.m., North Atrium
March 4–8: Fine Art Photography Senior Thesis III
Reception: Thursday, March 5, 5–8 p.m., North Atrium
March 11–15: Fine Art Photography Senior Thesis IV
Reception: Thursday, March 12, 5–8 p.m., North Atrium
Friday, February 13, 2009
Prayer for Obama I (detail), 2008, Polaroid prints by Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons
One of the most important artists to emerge from post-Revolutionary Cuba, María Magdalena Campos-Pons creates multimedia installations, large-scale Polaroids, sculpture, painting and performance that investigate history and memory, and their roles in the formation of identity. Drawing from her personal narrative as an Afro-Cuban woman living in the United States, Campos-Pons’ work transcends individual experience to explore crosscultural, universal phenomenon. Issues such as cultural hybridity, displacement, ties to family and home, and the dualities present in each individual are themes that continue to permeate her work.
In this new body of work, Life Has Not Even Begun captures the anticipation and tension inherent in exploring the unknown. From the artist re-discovering her Chinese ancestry, to her intensive study of midnight-blooming flowers, to the unexposed horrors of war, to the future of an imagined peaceful world, each work in this exhibition makes its own unexpected revelation.
Life Has Not Even Begun is curated by Neysa Page-Lieberman. A fully illustrated catalogue accompanies this exhibition at the Glass Curtain Gallery at Columbia College Chicago (1104 South Wabash Ave., 1st Floor, Chicago, IL 60605). The exhibition goes through March 6, 2009.
Vagina Monologues at Theatre Widener
One of the great benefits of living in any area with lots and lots of universities and colleges (like DC or Philly) is the terrific and affordable opportunities to enjoy the theatre and the visual arts at most of them.
Because I live so close to Widener University, I go to a lot of their plays and have nearly always been impressed by them, although I did get one harsh email once from a director (when I was a little tough on a particular play).
Theatre Widener at Chester, Pennsylvania's Widener University is currently producing The Vagina Monologues, the well-traveled Obie Award winning play by Eve Ensler that has been raising eyebrows and making people laugh and cry for over a decade.
The Vagina Monologues has been described as a "hilarious and poignant tour of the last frontier, the 'Ultimate Forbidden Zone.'" At is core, to many people it is often just a very diverse and entertaining celebration of female sexuality. Eve Ensler now classic play delivers real women's stories of the most intimate nature, sometimes funny, often revealing a surprising vulnerability, and nearly always some sort of sexual self discovery.
The Widener production is directed by Bohdan Senkow, the Director of Theatre Widener, and this production features an outstanding cast that includes Heather Astorga and Lauren Greenberg, two undergraduate seniors, Lisa Eckley-Cocchiarale, a staff member who directs the Widener Fresh Baked Theatre Company, and Roni Cibischino, Shanna Tedeschi, and Jennifer Woo, three graduate students from Widener University's Human Sexuality program.
All six performed superbly at opening night, and Senkow made some great choices in the assignment of individual monologues to specific actors, and the chemistry between them was palpable and added a very positive effect to the overall production. This is not your typical play, there's no plot or music and a very austere set, so the production's success is almost all based on the actors' ability to grab your attention with their stories and interaction with each other.
Cibischino and Greenberg were terrific and nearly flawless in their delivery and interpretations of their specific monologues and Lisa Eckley Cocchiarale had the audience cracking up from the beginning. Jen Woo easily had the hardest and most difficult monologues, especially the one dealing with the "C word," which she delivered in a funny and valiant performance.
Shanna Tedeschi was also surperb and often very funny, especially when she donned a hat and scarf and related an old lady's experiences with her "down there."
Also superb was Heather Astorga, who delivered two of the most moving monologues of the evening, one dealing with wartime rape and another with a young woman's discovery of her sexuality. For some constructive criticism, the very pretty Ms. Astorga should refrain from biting her cheeks during her colleages' monologues. I suspect that she's not aware that she's doing it (neither is this writer when he does it), but it is very distracting once you see her doing it in the background of someone else's monologue.
Profits from this very well done production will be contributed to support organizations that combat abuse against women.
The Vagina Monologues opened on Thursday, February 12 and will be presented on Friday and Saturday, February 13, 14 at 7:30pm, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, February 19, 20, 21 at 7:30 and Sunday February 22 at 2:00pm. Widener Students and Staff are invited free of charge, Staff Guests are just $8. Adults are $15 and Non-Widener Students are just $8. To make reservations please call Theatre Widener at 610-499-4364.
Theatre Widener is at 15th and Potter Streets at Widener University in Chester, PA.
The Fifth Annual Bethesda Painting Awards
Deadline: Submissions must be received by Friday, February 20, 2009
The Bethesda Arts & Entertainment District is currently accepting applications for the fifth annual Bethesda Painting Awards. Eight Finalists will be selected to display their work in an exhibition from June 3-July 4, 2009 at the Fraser Gallery in downtown Bethesda, and the top four winners will receive $14,000 in prize monies.
Best in Show will be awarded $10,000; Second Place will be honored with $2,000 and Third Place will receive $1,000. Additionally, a “Young Artist” whose birthday is after February 20, 1979 may be awarded $1,000. Artists must be 18 years of age or older and residents of Maryland, Virginia or Washington, D.C. All original 2-D paintings including oil, acrylic, watercolor, gouache, encaustic and mixed media will be accepted. The maximum dimensions should not exceed 60 inches in width or 84 inches in height. No reproductions.
Artwork must have been completed within the last two years and must be available for the duration of the exhibition. Each artist must submit 5 slides, application and a non-refundable fee of $25. Digital entries will be accepted on CD in JPG, GIF or PNG format.
For a complete application, please send a self-addressed stamped envelope to the Bethesda Painting Awards, c/o Bethesda Urban Partnership, 7700 Old Georgetown Road, Bethesda, MD. 20814, visit www.bethesda.org or call 301/215-6660.
Arts get their cut
Just moments ago, the U.S. House of Representatives approved their final version of the Economic Recovery bill by a vote of 246-183. We can now confirm that the package does include $50 million in direct support for the arts through the National Endowment for the Arts grants. The exclusionary Coburn Amendment language banning certain arts groups from receiving any other economic recovery funds has also been removed. Tonight the Senate is scheduled to have their final vote, and President Obama plans to sign the bill on Monday - President's Day.
We all hope that these art funds make their way down to artists and are not swallowed up by art burocrats lest I rat on them and have them sitting in front of Barney on the same seats still warm from all those banking moguls.
My good friend Mark Coetzee, who for the last eight years has been directing the Rubell Family Collection in Miami is moving on.
Mark will soon become the Program Director for PUMAVision and Chief Curator of PUMA.Creative and work out of Nairobi, Kenya.
Artomatic 2009: Tenth Year!
Time for DC area art critics to roll their eyes: Artomatic is back!
The tenth version of the massive art shows that artists, collectors, gallerists and the public loves and most DC art critics hate (but would love if it took place in NYC, or Berlin or London) will deliver over five weeks of art, music, theatre, workshops and more this year in Washington, DC's Capitol Riverfront neighborhood from May 29 - July 5.
The 2009 Artomatic will be held at 55 M Street, S.E. - atop the Navy Yard Metro - celebrating its tenth anniversary in a newly built 275,000 square foot "LEED Silver Class A building", whatever that means.
Registration for Artomatic 2009 will begin in March, and is open to all artists - including painters, photographers, sculptors, graphic designers, musicians, poets, actors and dancers. Artomatic is an unjuried open event, so all artists are welcome and that is precisely the reason that makes Artomatic great and unique and precisely the reason that most art critics, art writers and some art bloggers hate it, in their odd need to have art shows curated, trimmed and ruled.
Held regularly since 1999, Artomatic transforms an unfinished building space into an exciting arts event that is free and open to the public. In addition to displays by hundreds of artists, the event features free films, educational presentations and children's activities, as well as music, dance, poetry, theater and other performances.
Artomatic 2008 attracted a record-breaking 52,500 visitors and 1,540 participating artists. Visit their Flickr site to see over 4,000 photos captured at Artomatic 2008 or check out the below video.
Who will be the emerging art star of this AOM?
Who will be the artist who cracks us up?
Will "The Collector" make a comeback?
Who will be the prima donna?
The Washington Project for the Arts has selected my good friend Jack Rasmussen as the 2009 recipient of the Alice Denney Award for Support of Contemporary Art.
The award will be presented on Thursday, February 26, 2009, at 6:30 pm during the WPA Auction Preview Night event in the Abramson Family Recital Hall at American University’s Katzen Arts Center.
The event is free and open to the public but a RSVP is requested by February 25 to (202)234-7103x4 or email@example.com.
Rasmussen's work as curator and director of the beautiful Katzen Museum has been nothing short of spectacular and a lesson on how a museum can combine local, regional and international shows.
A well done to Jack!
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Lawsuits all over the place
The street artist Shepard Fairey has filed a lawsuit against The Associated Press, asking a judge to declare that he is protected from copyright infringement claims in his use of a news photograph as the basis for a now ubiquitous image of President Barack ObamaRead about it here.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
How to Build Your Resume
An artists' resume is one of the key factors not only in potentially helping to sell artwork, but also in getting grants, residencies and awards, as well as attracting gallery and collector attention. In tonight's webminar I will cover a variety of proven tactics for building your resume quickly and easily. The tactics are applicable to new Art school graduates, emerging and mid career artists as well as those starting a new career in the visual arts after retiring from another career.
Click on the image below for more info. The webminar starts at 7PM and there's a 50% discount on the prices.
Opportunity for Artists and Curators
Deadline: April 3, 2009
Boston's Center for Latino Arts (CLA) Gallery is now accepting portfolio submissions for solo and group exhibitions of contemporary art for its 2010-2011 season.
Participating artists will be selected by the CLA Curator, and one of four 6-8 week shows will be awarded to qualified and relevant artists whose proposed works are closely aligned with their mission and goals (see below). Artists working in any number of mediums are eligible and encouraged to apply; suggested mediums include painting, drawing, photography, sculpture, digital media, video, new media and installation. Exhibitions will be scheduled between September 2010 and August 2011.
The CLA Gallery presents contemporary works that are unique and innovative in concept and presentation. The CLA Gallery will provide promotional flier design, printing and distribution for each exhibition in addition to extensive listings and press releases. Each artist is responsible for providing finished works for awarded exhibitions, to include framing and/or other gallery presentation materials (for new media and video, this includes monitors, projectors and other devices inherent to the presentation of the work).
To Enter, Please Submit, an Exhibition Proposal to include:
- Call to Artists Application (available here)
- Exhibition Statement (Please make clear if proposal is for existing or new works to be created. If submitting for a group show, please explain how each artists’ work is related to, inspired by or compliments the other, with a maximum of 3 artists per group show)
- Artist Statement(s) and CV(s)
- 10 to 15 proposed images/works per artist on CD/DVD. Printed images or links to websites will not be accepted. Each submission should contain 3 copies of a printed list that corresponds to the images on CD (and numbered accordingly) including the title, year, dimension and medium(s). Images should be provided at, or near, 300 dpi as a JPEG, TIFF, PDF, BMP, or GIF file
- 250-500 word Statement of Purpose explaining why you would like to exhibit at the CLA Gallery and how your work furthers their mission.
CLA Gallery Artist Call
Attn: Evan J. Garza
405 Shawmut Avenue
Boston, MA 02118
Monday, February 09, 2009
To Michael Janis and all the other nominees who have been selected as finalists for the DC Mayor’s Arts Awards.
Janis is a finalist in the category of Outstanding Emerging Artist. The Mayor’s Arts Award is the most prestigious honor given by the District of Columbia to individual artists, arts organizations and patrons of the arts.
Join Mayor Fenty as award recipients are selected from among the finalists and announced live from the stage at the Mayor’s Arts Awards Ceremony on Monday, March 23, 2009 at 6:00 PM at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in the Concert Hall.
Admission is free and having been to many of them, it is a boatload of fun, with great live music and entertainment and loads of good food and drinks.
Buy Michael Janis now!
New drawing for the Habatat Auction
I told you a few days ago that Habatat Galleries in Tyson's Corner, Virginia is sponsoring a special art auction for charity. Already many prominent artists have donated works of art with 100% of the proceeds going to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
The artists will display their art work for silent bidding in an exhibition titled "Habatat for Healing."
Lindsey Scott, President of Habatat Galleries was nominated by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society for their Man and Women of the Year contest. Ms. Scott has conceived "Habatat for Healing", a special exhibition and auction of exceptional works of art in support of LLS.
Artists such as Jon Kuhn, Mark T. Smith, Bennett Bean, Tim Tate, Tanija & Graham Carr (Australia) and Petr Hora (Czech Republic) to name a few, have already generously donated art works ranging from the $100s into the $1,000s for this wonderful event.
The exhibition opens on March 5th for display and the start of silent bidding. The exhibition will continue through the evening of April 7th when several key-pieces will be auctioned live and winning silent bids will be announced.
Woman Jumping into the Void. Charcoal on Paper. 11x14 inches framed.
F. Lennox Campello, c. 2009.
I plan to donate the above drawing to to this charity, and in the event that some of you are interested in donating a work of art for the auction (deadline is end of February), please contact:
8020 Towers Crescent Drive
Tysons Corner (Vienna), VA 22182
The Art League's 42nd Annual Patrons' Show
If you were crazy enough to be hanging around Old Town Alexandria about 4 AM on a cold morning last January 17th, about that time you would have noticed people forming a long line in the brutal cold outside the Torpedo Factory. They were waiting for a chance to get original art for their collections – or perhaps some brave souls starting to collect art.
"A line for art?" you must be asking, "who is crazy enough to freeze lining up at Oh-dark-thirty just to buy artwork?"
They were lining up for one of the great art deals of the year: the Art League's Annual Patrons' Show. It's very simple: artists donate original artwork to the Art League, who inspects it, selects it and often frames it. It is quality stuff, ranging from huge abstracts to delicate pencil drawings. The Art League represents nearly 1,800 artists in the area, so there's plenty of possible sources of art donated by generous artists. See some of the donations here.
It is one of the largest art events in the country, with around 600 original works of art finding a new home in one day.
Usually about 600 pieces are donated and hung salon style in the Art League’s gallery on the first floor of the Factory. The raffle tickets went up for sale at 10 AM on January 17th, and they usually disappear within an hour or two; and each ticket equals a guaranteed a work of art. Thus as work is donated, more tickets become available.
The Art League's annual Patrons' Show usually features between 500-600 works of fine art donated by Art League and Torpedo Factory artists, and the number of tickets sold matches the number of works donated. The show may be viewed in The Art League Gallery from February 4-15 (or some of them online here, and ticket-holders may come during this time to view the show and note their favorite pieces.
The actual drawing for the 2009 Patrons' Show will be held Sunday, February 15 in the main hall of the Torpedo Factory Art Center.
Thus on that Sunday, February 15 at 5PM, people who have a ticket begin gathering into the main floor of the Factory and they bring chairs, tables, food and loads of booze (this is like an art picnic) as it will be a long, loud, fun, cheery and boozy evening as the tickets are drawn at random; and as they are called, ticket-holders select a piece of art from the work on display on the walls.
Everyone with a ticket is guaranteed a work of art. The tickets cost $175 each - an amazing deal once you see the work that you can get.
The first ticket called gets the first choice and so on - you get to pick the best piece (to you) from around 600 works of art). You better pick one quickly, or the crowds begin to shout and whistle and demand a choice be made.
It is without a doubt, the most sought after art ticket in town, and often incredible acquisitions are made... and I hear that there are some tickets available on the wait list.
Call the Art League at 703/683-1780 and more details here.
Sunday, February 08, 2009
Went to Projects last Friday
I went to Projects Gallery in Philly's Northern Liberties neighborhood on Friday night for the opening of dual shows: Guilty Pleasures and Obama-rama. I have a drawing in each one of these shows.
The gallery was packed and we were greeted at the door by the amazing team of Roberta Fallon and Libby Rosof, as they were handing out copies of their Obama OK book, edition of 100, to people as they arrived. Roberta and Libby also have the cool paintings that make up up the book on exhibition.
Seems like I have been to a dozen Obama shows in the last month alone, but in my own prejudiced and subjective view, this was one of the best ones that I have seen, mostly for its spectacular diversity of interpretations of the theme and the media that artists used to express their Obama viewpoints.
The below huge installation of black and white portrait paintings by Frank Hyder titled Fifty States of Obama to me was the most visually striking piece in the show, and maybe a predictor for the next election?
Frank Hyder. Fifty States of Obama. 100”H x 40”W. Ink paint on canvas
I also liked Cheryl Harper's Count on Me Obama Bank, a stoneware and acrylic paint 3D work that when executed in 2008 had one meaning and now, in view of the spectacular financial mess that we are allegedly in, acquires a whole new meaning and presence.
Cheryl Harper. Count on Me Obama Bank. 15"H x 8.5"W x 9"D. Stoneware and acrylic paint
Tatyana Fazlalizadeh's Is He Black Enough? smartly touches on the revolving issue of Obama's "blackness." During my frequent drives between Philly and DC, one of my favorite radio spots in the morning is the Baltimore area's Larry Young Show on WOLB, where Larry and the Coach discuss a lot of issues affecting the African American community in Baltimore and in general. I recall the early days of the Obama campaign, and the sometimes heated discussions on that same topic as WOLB's audience opined on Obama's blackness. Fazlalizadeh's oil flexes the representational genre's ability to take a subject and present and ground it viscerally.
Tatyana Fazlalizadeh. Is He Black Enough?. 24”H x 18." Oil on canvas
I also liked Mia Rosenthal's January 19, 2009, another ink and graphite on Bristol board which continues Rosenthal's intelligent tiny composite and obsessive drawings addressing all facets of history and issues and Alex Queral's Yes We Can!, another one of his 3D acrylic on carved phone book pieces that must be seen to be believed, as they are difficult to describe the brilliant effect that this artist accomplishes in carving a phone book. See the exhibition online here.
Guilty Pleasures was exhibited in the gallery's rear and lower spaces, and for a show with a "viewer discretion is advised" warning, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that not all of the pleasures were about sex.
In fact my favorite piece in the entire show was Atticus Adams' Love Spasm, a potent wall sculpture that was not only an unique interpretation of the subject, but also had the interesting, and perhaps unintended ability to create very sexy shadows on the wall because of its overhead lighting in Projects' lower gallery. It was also a steal at $250. Call Projects right now and buy this piece.
Atticus Adams. Love Spasm, 11"H x8.5"W x 7"D. Found Objects.
I also liked Brooke Holloway's two drawings and Cara Jung's smart sculptures as well as Jack Thompson's Siamese (Conjoined) Twins. Also quite good were Craig Cully's 49 Kisses, a wall installation of 49 tiny oil paintings and each one a steal at $180 each or $5,000 for all 49 paintings.
Craig Cully. 49 Kisses, 2.5"H x 2.5"W each, oil on panel (detail)
See the Guilty Pleasures exhibition online here.
Finally, here was talk at the show about traveling the Obama-rama exhibition to a few cities, including Washington, DC, and there was also talk from a publisher who came to see the exhibition, about compiling and publishing a book about this show. More on that later.
After the show we walked a couple of blocks to Standard Tap for dinner and brews. I have been there a few times and need to devote some time writing about this superb Philly gem of a bar with a spectacular kitchen. Suffice it to say for now that this place offers some of the best grilled octopus, if not the best, that I have ever tasted. Coming from someone who lived in several Mediterranean countries, that is quite a statement.
More on Standard Tap later; for now, the octopus was delicious, the Lancaster Stout was great and the scallop salad out of this world.
Saturday, February 07, 2009
Politics as unusual
Yesterday afternoon the Senate voted for the Coburn Amendment to the massive economic recovery bill and the amendment, which virtually eliminates all art funding from the package among other things, passed by a wide vote margin of 73-24, and included support from many high profile Senators including Chuck Schumer of New York, Dianne Feinstein of California, Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, and several other Democratic and Republican Senators.
Shepard Fairey arrested
I've been told that artist Shepard Fairey was arrested last night in Boston, where he was for the opening of a show at Boston's Institute of Contemporary Art.
Apparently the arrest was because of warrants due to graffiti tagging of private property.
Clearly the Boston police must know that they just added a huge new publicity boost to Fairey and the ICA show.
Update: Boston Globe says arrest was due to the fact that the "Police said they had warrants on Fairey from last month after he allegedly tagged property in Boston with graffitti based on his Andre the Giant street art campaign."
Friday, February 06, 2009
Art advice for the White House tenants
Life has an interesting way of forcing us to sometimes either reversing what we once thought were final positions, and other times life offers us a chance of defending both sides of a position.
I have been generally against the segregation of artists by race (black, white, Asian or native American) or by ethnicity (Hispanic, Semitic, etc.), and yet sometimes a void or need is so egregious that the solution is very clear and may cross lines that we may have thought as cast in concrete.
When we all discovered a couple of years ago that 66% of all the artwork by black American artists currently in the White House art collection had been acquired by the Bushes, depending on what side of the political aisle you stand, this fact may either raise an eyebrow from right wing nuts or some sort of conspiracy theory from left wing nuts.
But when we also discovered the fact that only three works (out of an estimated 375 pieces) were by black Americans, both sides of the aisle should find that surprising... and maybe in need of attention by the Obamas.
A little recap and an update: In 2007 I reacted in my usual self-righteous, irate manner to having American artist Jacob Lawrence described as a great African-American artist, rather than just a great artist. And then the Washington City Paper in the process of policing that whole issue, came up with an interesting fact.
Jacob Lawrence, pen and ink, circa 1980 by F. Lennox Campello
In an Private Collection
According to the City Paper, Betty Monkman, the curator of the White House, revealed that, "while Lawrence’s painting isn’t the sole piece by a black artist in the executive mansion, it’s close to it — there are only two others."
That's now three out of "an estimated 375 total in the White House’s art collection."
That implies that Simmie Knox's portrait of President Clinton is not considered part of the White House’s art collection, which doesn't make sense. Knox is a DC area artist by the way, and a brilliant painter.
So let's take off the first century and a half of the White House's art acquisition process. During that time we can safely assume that they probably just focused on American artists from one of the four races, and somewhat let me reverse my stand on segregating artists by race, rather than just artistic merit, and let me take the uncomfortable side of trying to again ask the question, "Why aren't there more works by black artists in the White House art collection?"
Even if one ignores skin color, and just looks at the art and artistic achievement, there are plenty of great American artists, who happen to be black, whom I think would make a great update to the White House collection.
Some art greats, by artistic default, I would think, would have to be Black, or Asian, or Native American, not just Caucasian artists of all ethnicities - after all, all four races of mankind create art and all four and their many mixtures, live in America.
Back in the 1980's, Jacob Lawrence was awarded the National Medal of Arts from President George Bush The First. Why did it take 27 years for one of his paintings to become part of the White House's permanent collection?
The City Paper research identified the other two paintings: "Henry Ossawa Tanner’s Sand Dunes at Sunset, Atlantic City (1885), which hangs in the Green Room, its home since 1996, and an 1892 painting by one “Bannister” (possibly Ed Bannister) acquired in 2006 and which was then undergoing conservation.
So two of the three have been acquired by the Bushes, and before 1996 there wasn't a single work of art by any black artist in the President's home, in spite of the fact that artists such as Jacob Lawrence, Romare Bearden, Sam Gilliam, Martin Puryear, Alma Thomas, and others are all just great American artists, period, and have even broken the National Gallery of Art code, and should all probably have been acquired by the White House years, and years, and years ago.
Makes my head hurt.
And let's agree, as Jonathan Melber notes in the HuffPost, that the White House's collection is not exactly, ah... contemporary.
But let's say that a traditional acquisition focus on painting were to remain, and thus we would immediately unfortunately eliminate a lot of good contemporary choices. After all, the White House is not an art museum, and the case could be made that it sort of "feels" that it should be an art collection where all things somewhat say "America" in a variety of traditional visual ways, and I submit that for that goal, painting is still first among equals. That still leaves Romare Bearden, Sam Gilliam, Alma Thomas and others I am sure.
So if the Obamas were to continue what President Bush started, and expand the White House's collection to be more representative of American artists and the American people, I would suggest that (in addition to perhaps more Lawrence), Romare Bearden, Sam Gilliam, Martin Puryear, and Alma Thomas would be a good start.
And, if as Malber suggests, the Obamas should expand the White House collection to more than just paintings, then in addition to some Lawrence collages, I would suggest work by other blue chip artists such as Kara Walker, Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons (who is not only a brilliantly accomplished artist, but also happens to be both Hispanic and Black) and Lorna Simpson.
But I don't know if the Obamas personally collect art, and even though I am one myself, I don't really buy the idea of a staff White House art adviser.
If the Obamas are like most people, they probably don't "really" collect art with a focus or intensity to say, the Podestas in DC or the Rubells in Miami (either one of whom, by the way, would make excellent unpaid volunteer art advisers to the White House, if having an adviser was the choice made to change the visual arts acquisition status quo).
So... since the odds are that they would be beginning collectors, then I would suggest the same thing that I do to all beginning collectors: start looking first at emerging artists, which generally can be acquired for much less money than a well-established artist from the upper crust of the rarified artmosphere. Do this until you establish your tastes, desires and somewhat of a focus, and then, if your financial status allows it, begin expanding into the big museum-level names.
And if the Obamas listen to Malber's excellent point of looking locally (as Clinton did in selecting Simmie Knox to do his Presidential portrait), then I would add one of the terrific works by Rikk Freeman to the White House.
A huge Freeman painting would do wonders for the White House collection and also do wonders for Freeman. Not only would it add a presence and feel to the collection that is missing right now and which is an integral part of American history, but it would also set a new, fresh change of venue of how artwork has been acquired in the past, and the kind of artists that get acquired.