Monday, January 09, 2012

World’s first Art Decathlon to be at DC Arts Center

Four artists compete in 10 categories to claim the title of best artist.

If the best all-around athlete is one who most efficiently balances speed, strength, technique, and endurance, then what defines the best all-around artist?

This good-natured competition sparks the debate around the issue of what it means to be the best all-around artist, challenges individuals to try their hand at new disciplines, and gives exposure to artists who embrace working in various media.

In the spring of 2011 DCAC posted an open call for individual artists in the DC metropolitan area to submit proposals that explore the significance of what “unspecialized” means to being a working artist today. Artists were told they had to “compete” in ten artistic areas: Textiles/fiber art, Painting, Drawing, Video, Printmaking, Photography, Collage, Sound, Conceptual Art, and Sculpture.

Applicants from diverse backgrounds were narrowed by DCAC’s Visual Arts Committee to four semi-finalists: Shanthi Chandrasekar, Lee Gainer, Lisa Rosenstein, and Mary Woodall. During the six-month run-up to the exhibition, designated commentators Buck Downs, Patrick McDonough, Karen Joan Topping , Hays Holladay and Ryan Holladay, covered the progress of the decathletes on a blog as the artists created work for the show, with each commentator being assigned an artist to visit once a month. Shanthi Chandrasekar likened her experience to "learning to drive on the expressway" and Lisa Rosenstein states "this competition has changed the way I look at my whole working process."

The opening reception for The DCAC Art Decathlon will take place on Friday January 13, from 7:00 – 9:00 and will culminate in an artist’s talk and awards ceremony on Sunday, February 5 at 5:00.

The work of all the semi-finalists will be on view at DCAC from January 13 to February 5, during which time it will be viewed and judged by an eight-person panel including George Hemphill, Andrea Pollan and Vivian Lassman. Two discussion panels will be held during the exhibition, one focused on the relationship of athletic competition and a second on art and the creative process for the four finalists. Dates to be determined.
Follow the decathletes and their progress at

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