Monday, June 04, 2012

AOM: The Review! (Updated)

Update: On my 4th AOM visit on Saturday, I discovered some new artists and spaces that I had missed the first time and thus, the AOM review and awards have been updated below. The updates have been mixed into the review so that you have to read the whole thing again...
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A few days ago I discussed my overall first impressions about Artomatic, and now, having returned to the gigantic exhibition twice, I remain with some of the same overall conclusions:
  • Every year the overall "quality" of AOM improves and this year is noticeably better looking and more professional-looking than any other year.
  • There are a lot of blackboards with blackboard art all over the place.
  • There's a lot less porn in AOM this year. In fact, there's a lot less nudes of all kinds.
  • The range of the quality of the work, even in a postmodern world where everything is art, still ranges from the mind-boggling bad to the artistically sublime.
  • There are several brand new (at least to me) artists in AOM who can show anywhere right now.
  • There is a lot of art about The Beatles and blues musicians.
  • There's more video art than I expected.
  • There are a lot more well-known DMV area "gallery" artists in this AOM than any previous one (except the first one in 1999).
  • There's a lot of artists working with discarded computer boards and parts.
  • There are a lot of glass artists and every single one of them is really good.
  • There are a lot of dark room style galleries and a lot of "blue light" art.
  • There is a lot of artwork about Obama.
  • There is a lot of left-wing nuttery artwork.
  • There are a lot of really good sculptures.
  • There are a lot of artists who make it really hard for someone interested in buying their work to get the basic details (how much is it and how do I buy it?) 
On my return visit I did notice that many artists took my advise and did put prices up and easy to find contact information. I have never been a fan of anything that is for sale and which yet makes you ask what the price is. In this context, just like in a commercial gallery context, art is a commodity and if you want to sell your artwork, you better make it very clear how much the artwork is.

Enough of that.

As I've developed my AOM "eye" since 1999, each year I try to find the key new artists (new to me) in each show, and as difficult (well, really impossible) as it is, I also settle on my Top 10 Artists of the show, fastidiously avoiding any artist which has previously been awarded a DC Art News Top 10 Artomatic Award.

For many years now, I've also developed my own set of individual genre awards, and this year was a particularly good one for that.

Starting on the 11th floor, I liked Joe Granski's large and expressive portrait work; I've noticed Granski's work in previous AOM reviews as well. Also standing out on this floor is the glass work by well-known DMV artist Kirk Waldroff. Other artists not to miss are painters Marina Reiter and Todd Gardner, as well as Andrew Wodzianski and Jamie Caplinger, and the very cool installation by Gloria Chapa (which was vandalized on 23 May and subsequently restored by the artist, only to have it vandalized again on the 25th) and photos by Mark Parascandola. On the 10th floor go see Peter Duvall, Roger Cutler and Tracy Lee's kids mosaics of Legos and daughter's superb photography. On the 8th floor I liked the work of Melissa Badenhop and the elegant abstract works on birch by Ellen Hill and the nudes by Marcie Wolff-Hubbard and the cool etchings by Henrik Sundqvist (his Murcielago Santo is gorgeous). On the 9th floor do not miss Rania Hassan and Sean Hennessey (they're next to each other), also Nancy Donnelly (who's exploring some cool new concepts with her work and another artist that PG County needs to acquire), Rita Elsner, and Zofie Lang. I also liked Erin Antognoli's sharp new presentations.On the 5th floor I liked the nice charcoal nudes by the artist known as "Ray" and the really superb landscape oils by Parisa Tirnaz. On the 4th floor I liked Jamie Gerhold and Jessica Murray. and Frank Mancino. On the 3rd floor, even though he's in the corner of a giant room, Greg Minah's swirling works really stand out as do Susan LaMont's works; also go see Jessica Beels. On the 2nd floor, see Gregory Ferrand and Michael Janis and I really enjoyed the very nice paintings of Mary Catherine Starr (which are also a great price deal) and another great discovery was the work of Sue Ahn (who needs a website!). On the first floor, check out the always amazing dress metal sculptures by Donna McCullough. And while you're at AOM, don't miss Tim Tate's new video piece.

Best Conan Females - The artist known as Wolverine on the 11th floor. As a Frazetta fan, I bow to you sir.

Best Aerial Landscape - The electronic circuit boards and parts used in Eric Celarier on the 11th floor to make computer-age quilts. He really makes them work and stands out in a show over-populated with artists doing this sort of work. Eric needs to get a hold of the Microsoft Collection curator, as they collect art based on technology.

Best Clouds - Emily Piccirillo on the 11th floor. The cool presentation also makes the work stand out.

Clouds by Emily Piccirillo, 11th floor, AOM 2012
Best Use of Light - Sarah Louise Chittenden on the 11th floor. This was a tough category, as there are a lot of darkened rooms using light as part of their process.

Best Use of Black Light - Michael Auger on the 11th floor wins this subcategory.

Best Organic Sculpture - Liz Lescault wins a tough sub-category; there are a lot of good sculptures at AOM.

Best Glass Art - Joseph Corcoran squeaks by in the toughest category in AOM; there are a LOT of really good glass artists in this show. This is no surprise, as the DMV is one of the glass world's epicenters. He really should share this award with David D'Orio, but since D'Orio received a separate award, Corcoran gets to keep his award solo.

Scariest Picture of Obama - Easily won by hardworking DMV artists Matt Sesow.

Most Adoring Picture of Obama - Dike Harris on the 7th floor.

Best Odd Project - "15 Miles of Vanity," which are photos of vanity plates; it is sort of cool to read what people want the rest of the world to know.

Best Robot - "Robama 2012" by Benson Z. Anspach wins the always hotly contested robot art category.

Most Innovative Modernization of the Washington Color School Nancy Donnelly's new work takes the color stripes from the canvas of the 1960s giants of DMV painting and re-invents it ina  fresh new approach to a 21st century dialogue in glass and concrete. PG County needs to buy some of these.

Best Tool Artwork - Richard Appelt, Jr.

"I didn't know he was a racist award" - Won by Ishmail Basha Reaves, who has a display of really well done portraits of African American icons, civil rights leaders, etc. and somehow includes a painting of Che Guevara, who once wrote: "The Negro is indolent and lazy, and spends his money on frivolities, whereas the European is forward-looking, organized and intelligent." This is one of many such racist statements by the guy on the T-Shirt.

Scariest Artwork - Kasia Swierczek on the 11th floor dominates the art of the scary. Don't get me wrong, this is really good work, but even her name is a little scary to me.

Best Deal for $100 - Corey Oberndorfer paintings of donuts on color swatches are not only gorgeously painted, but a steal at $100 from a DMV blue chip artist.

Corey Oberndorfer paintings of donuts at Artomatic 2012
 Best Deal under $50 - Any of the "Obama Versus" series on the 10th floor; Fun ideas superbly presented, but I'm not sure who the photographer is, but this is his/her website.

"Obama Versus" photographs on the 10th floor of Artomatic 2012
Best Innovative Use of Star Wars Imagery - Isaac Lange's "dARTH vay-dEER" is a gorgeous marriage of Star Wars with Frida Kahlo; how could he not win? And this is a tough category as well, there are a LOT of Star Wars in AOM.

dARTH vay-dEER by Isaac Lange, AOM 2012
Second Best Innovative Use of Star Wars Imagery - Princess Leia naked by Paul Oberle merits a mention and an award in this tough category! I always suspected that Leia had nice tits!

Best Innovative Use of Star Trek Imagery - Rob Sprouse has Mr. Worf as Marilyn Monroe; what else can I say but Brilliant!

Best Gay Use of Star Trek Imagery - Well, actually the only gay use of Star Trek imagery... do not miss Sarah Palaszynski's evolving Space Opera.

Amok by Sarah Palaszynski
Best Adaptation of Another Artist's Work - Ric Garcia has some really good pieces in AOM, and he has evolved Andy Warhol's Campbell Soup cans motifs into a 21st century dialogue with his use of Goya Black Bean soup cans. I think PG County needs to buy this guy's work under their county art collection focus on AOM.

Celia Cruz, Desi Arnaz and Goya Black Bean Soup, Ric Garcia, AOM 2012
Best Channeling of Another Artist - Marti Deppa Kirkpatrick's elegant paintings from her "Channeling Rothko" series.

Made Me Hungry Award - Rebecca Gordon has unexpectedly beautiful photographs of bacon on the 10th floor.

Best WalMartist - Elizabeth Brown has some spectacular sculptures on the 10th floor that really stand out - especially the one using the light bulbs (how did she get those little notes inside the bulb?) and her Terminator prints on dollar bills.

Detail of Elizabeth Brown's sculpture on the 10th floor of AOM 2012
Cool Use of the Nude Award - "Eye of Ra" photography on the 10th floor.

Best Nude on the Rocks - I don't know how Bert Pasquale got those nudes to climb those rocks, but the resulting photographs are eye catching and superbly well done; this is one fine photographer at work.

Most Unusual Use of the Nude - The artist known as "Ralph" on the 2nd floor has a wall full of nudes doing all sort of interesting things that people usually don't do in the nude, but probably should (play football, do synchronized peeing into the river, etc.).
Painting of people peeing by Ralph, 2nd floor of Artomatic 2012
Best Installation - Lilianne Blom has a really cool installation in yet another dark room - it has sound, lights and it all marries together with her digital paintings.

Worst Artomatic Presentation Ever - Whoever the artist is in the room located to the left of the bar on the 7th floor. See the picture below for an explanation.
The worst looking gallery room at Artomatic 2012
Best Painter of Blues/Jazz Artists - There are a lot of people painting blues musicians and thus J. L. Hussey on the 2nd floor had a lot of competition, but wins jazz hands down.

Best Printmaker - Kathryn Trillas' sensitive monotypes are not only eye-catching in their softness and intimacy, but because of the latter draw you in like a magnet in order to verify the process and method.

Best Landscape Artist - This is one tough category in a building full of excellent landscapists, but I think that Sarah Wardell's intimate and superbly priced work on the 8th floor merits this highly contested award, which she shares with Jeff Wilson's beautiful oils (mostly of tornado events) on copper plates on the 4th floor.

Best Charcoal Landscape Artist - James Halloran on the 8th floor.

Best Political Art - Roy Utley's Manisfesto takes this hotly contested award away from a large continent of extremists' art; it is smart, well presented and very interesting.

Best Sexual Art - Jaden O'Doyle made it look easy with a series of very attractive and intelligent images on a wide range of taboo subjects. Someone left a comment that summarizes it all; the visitor wrote in the guest book: "You made me horny!"

Best Urban Landscapes - Pattee Hipschen has some very painterly works with a focus on urban imagery, but are really a riot of color.

Ignore the Subject Matter and Look at the Painting Skills Award - Cynthia Sheppard on the 8th floor displays superb painting skills. I actually like the subject matter, but I know that most of you pansies won't. In any event, this is a master painter working as an illustrator (I think), but still a really good painter.

Coolest Artist Name - Marie Dominique Bondet de la Bernardie, 3rd floor, gallery 210.

Best Sculpture - The bicycle sculpture by David D'Orio on the 8th floor manages to marry together such a discordant and different set of ideas and topics (coupled with a pristine presentation) and materials (the bike, gorgeous glass, an old radio, etc.) that it really stands out - as a local critic put it: "The radio atop is tuned to WMAL, a station that broadcasts the conservative points of view through conservative opinion broadcasters like Chris Plante and (the syndicated shows of) Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin." I noticed during my second and third visits that someone had changed the radio station to a music station.
Detail of David D'Orio's sculpture at Artomatic 2012
Best Image of Dicks - I was surprised how the always popular subject of penises was not as prevalent in this AOM as in the past. The artist known as Fr. Defenestrato was the top pinga in this category.

Largest Dick Award - Andrei Trach on the 3rd floor.

Best Looking Tits at AOM - Roy Utley's superb photo of model Angelina Leigh on the first floor. This model may in fact have the nicest looking tits in North America and possibly the whole New World.

Scariest Pussy Award - And Andrei Trach wins again with a sleep-robbing image of the scariest-looking vagina that I have ever seen; the thing actually projects out of the canvas, as if it wants to snap out of the linen and start crawling on the floor, making wet sounds and leaving a mucky trail behind it as it attacks viewers on the 3rd floor.
Painting by Andrei Trach on 3rd floor of Artomatic 2012

Best Giant Artwork - M. Helene Baribeau has several really well-crafted knitted pieces (and some prints made from her knitted work). The scale of the gloves is really attractive and they truly make an impact.

M. Helene Baribeau's Giant Gloves
Best Pet Portrait Artist - Whoever "sheppardbear" is on the 3rd floor shares this coveted prize with Glen Kessler (I also liked his "Icon Series").

"I Don't Get It" Award -  Artist Judith Claire's rambling installation - I'm not sure if it is anti or for racism, but it left me all confused.

Best DC Focus Art - Robert Kincheloe on the 3rd floor finally hits his stride with an awesome wall installation of individual glass pieces commemorating the capital's famed cherry blossoms. Kincheloe takes this potentially saccharine subject and hits an artistic grand slam. This is another PG County artist whose work needs to be acquired by the county.

Glass sculpture by Robert Kincheloe, 3rd floor Artomatic 2012
Best Pastels - Ellen Cornett takes on this most difficult of genres with pastel oils that are vibrant and colorful - she really muscles a lot of power out of her various subjects. Yet another PG artist for the county collection.

Best Abstract Art - Shanti Chandrasekar offers a pristine and elegant array of abstraction influenced by a variety of South Asian nuances. Her "Chakra" is a perfect example of what a talented artist can produced with a limited palette of cool colors. This is also the most improved artist in AOM.

Best All Over the Place Art - Nicolas Zimbro on the first floor is armed with an impressive set of painting and drawing skills. I love this guy! He reminds me of me, except that he can paint much better than I can. I loved how his subject matter meanders all over the place. Zimbro even meanders within a painting - there's hyper-realism, abstraction, maybe even manga mixed all in there. 
Painting by Nicolas Zimbro, 1st floor Artomatic 2012
Best Flower Photography - Camille Mosley-Pasley on the 11th floor. This is new stuff from Camille and the work is not only fresh in a really popular subject, but also superbly priced.


Best Flower Art - Elizabeth Floyd's hyper-realistic flower paintings manage to capture this popular subject vividly with intelligent use of color and texture.


Best Drawing - Christian Tribastone showcases not only some fantastic drawings, but also some mixed media drawing/painting that stands out now that I've managed to discover it on my 4th visit.


Best Mixed Media - Stephanie Booth's "She Always Wanted to be a Blonde" series of photographs employ the artist showcasing her grandmothers' wigs - coupled with that is embroidered words that use Booth's hair and continues this talented artist's fascination with that product of the body.


Stephanie Booth (Detail from She Always Wanted to be a Blonde series)
Best Fabric Art - The amazing creations by Aeren Waters are all tucked into a small space, but nonetheless stand out for their ingenuity and detail.

As I discussed here, PG County announced their intention to make significant purchases of artwork by Prince George's County artists at this year's Artomatic. These are my recommendations for them to acquire:

Matt MacIntire
Nancy Donnelly
Ric Garcia
Robert Kincheloe
Ellen Cornett
Michael Janis
Jessica Murray

And after much haggling with myself, here are my recommendation as the Top 10 Artists of this year's AOM. This year I decided to focus the top ten on artists whom are either new to me or who have never been on my previous AOM Top 10 List.  As I've noted earlier, I also noticed that there are a lot of well-known and very talented DMV area "gallery artists" in this year's AOM. In the past, I know for a fact that gallerists discouraged and even prohibited their represented artists from participating in AOM. It is a significant chunk of evidence to where AOM has come to in 2012 to see some of those well-known names show up in the world's largest free-for-all art group show.

Here are my Top 10 new finds in this year's AOM in alphabetical order:
Sue Ahn
Melissa Badenhop
Elizabeth Brown
Shanti Chandrasekar
Joseph Corcoran
Ellen Cornett
Bert Pasquale
Kathryn Trillas
Jeff Wilson
Nicolas Zimbro

1 comment:

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