Thursday, September 30, 2004
By the way, don't miss Gibson's funny comments on Gopnik and Chelsea galleries!
I find it incredible that the voice over for the movie trailers for the new Che Guevara movie The Motorcycle Diaries mispronounces Guevara's last name!
The "u" in Guevara is silent - It is not GUeh-varah; it is GE-varah (soft "G").
And I haven't seen the movie yet, but I bet that Hollywood glosses over one of the key aspects of Che's motorcycle trek: His (then) racist attitude towards Indians and Blacks.
In 1952, together with his friend Alberto Granado, Che took a wandering trip through South America, begging, drinking and borrowing their way through Argentina's northern neighbors. The book "Motorcycle Diaries" is about this trek, and the movie is based on this book.
Peru, with its largely pure Indian population had a profound effect on Guevara, and he refers to the Andean Indians as the "beaten race" in his diary. Since Argentina's own Indians had long been destroyed and overwhelmed by the millions of white immigrants from Spain, Germany and Italy which populated his homeland, it was in Peru where Che first met an oppressed people, and he notes in his writing that although he and Granado were usually broke, they were able to get by on "favors and concessions" based on their white skin.
South America's Caribbean coast provided him with his first exposure to black people, and oddly enough, the man who was later to fight alongside Africans in the Congo made some harsh observations, deeply fragmented with stereotypical Argentinean white racism:
"The blacks, those magnificent examples of the African race who have conserved their racial purity by a lack of affinity with washing, have seen their patch invaded by a different kind of slave: The Portugese.... the black is indolent and fanciful, he spends his money on frivolity and drink; the European comes from a tradition of working and saving which follows him to this corner of America and drives him to get ahead."
In his defense, as Che grew, his native racism towards people of color was discarded, and eventually he even married a mestiza.
But I suspect that the movie misses this area of this fascinating and iconic man's life.
I'll let you know when I see it.
Another sign that some sort of sanity may be returning to contemporary art can be read between the lines in the focus of the coming 48th Corcoran Biennial.
The 48th Corcoran Biennial: Closer to Home apparently takes as its focus contemporary artists making use of "traditional arts methods" (their words).
This coming Biennial also marks somewhat a return to the exhibition’s origins (it was America's only painting Biennial at one point) and "considers the familiar territories of traditional media – such as canvas, paint and wood – while giving prominence to the work of Washington, DC-based artists."
And I like that! And a well-deserved thank you to curators Dr. Jonathan Binstock and Stacey Schmidt for finally taking the lead and looking in their own backgarden for a major "local" museum exhibition. The previous Biennial (and Binstock's first) only had one area artist: the Corcoran's own Susan Smith-Pinelo (represented locally by Fusebox).
Per Corcoran Associate Curator of Contemporary Art and exhibition co-organizer Stacey Schmidt: "As the first museum in the nation’s capital, the Corcoran is especially committed to supporting the work of DC-based artists."
We've been noticing this change from Binstock and Schmidt's predecessor and saying under our breath: "About time!"
Area artists included in the Biennial are James Huckenpahler (represented locally by Fusebox Gallery and who got reviewed today in the Post), Colby Caldwell (represented locally by Hemphill Fine Arts), and Baltimore-based photographer John Lehr.
Both Lehr and Huckenpahler were also finalists in the 2003 Trawick Prize, which was also juried by Binstock (one of three jurors).
All together, Closer to Home showcases the following artists: Rev. Ethan Acres (represented locally by Conner Contemporary), Chakaia Booker, Matthew Buckingham, Colby Caldwell, George Condo, Adam Fuss, James Huckenpahler, John Lehr, Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle, Richard Rezac, Dana Schutz, Kathryn Spence, Austin Thomas and Monique van Genderen.
At the Corcoran Gallery of Art from March 19 – June 27, 2005.
We've all been waiting for Dixon to review Fusebox, which for whatever reason, has never been reviewed by Jessica Dawson, even though we all know that Fusebox is one of our city's top galleries and certainly one of the hardest working galleries. And we also know that Dixon is a well-published Fusebox enthusiast. So it's no surprise that Fusebox and Dixon would come together.
And yet, surprisingly enough (to me), in today's review, Dixon throws a well-deserved wet-blanket upon James Huckenpahler's photographs, which may have gone to the same well once too often. Bravo Glenn!
Dixon is a bit more positive about Maggie Michael at G Fine Art:
There’s such a dichotomy in this name; such a contradiction of stereotypes: Lucy, soft, feminine and flowing.
Hogg: heavy, masculine and powerful. And once you discover her artwork, you'll realize that seldom has a person been so aptly named.
Hogg is a tiny person, almost elfin-like; a complete reverse of what pops into the mind when it tries to visualize someone named Lucy Hogg. My mind came up with two characters: The first was as a sister or close kin of that big, fat, greasy character (Boss J.D. Hogg) in the Dukes of Hazzard TV series.
Because Hogg is Canadian, the other image was that of a secondary character in Robertson Davies’ fictitious small Canadian village of Deptford. A village that he creates superbly in The Fifth Business (part one of the Deptford Trilogy).
And this dichotomy, this Ying Yang of words and mental imageries, translates well to Hogg’s American solo debut currently on exhibition until October 30 at Georgetown’s Strand on Volta Gallery.
Hogg recently moved to Washington from her native Canada. She has exhibited widely in Canada, Asia and Europe, and in a town [DC] where most critics and curators continue to preach the death of painting as a viable contemporary art form, she brings something new and refreshing, pumping some new energy to the ancient medium.
Let me explain.
Salvador Dali once said that "those that do not want to imitate anything produce nothing." This is the Ying of Hogg’s exhibition.
And George Carlin added that "the future will soon be a thing of the past." This is the Yang of her show.
Titled "Sliding Landscapes," the exhibition consists of nearly twenty paintings segregated into two different canvas shapes: oval shapes on the gallery’s left main wall and rectangular shapes on the right wall. Each set of paintings deliver individual ideas, and although tied together by the subject matter, they nonetheless express superbly two sets of thoughts and impressions that I think Hogg wants us to see.
Hogg’s imagery are copies of Old Master paintings, "sampled" (a new word introduced into art jargon from rap music’s habit of using other people’s music or someone else’s lyrics in your music) from a series of capriccios, or fantasy landscapes by 18th century Venetian painters Canaletto, Francesco Guardi and Marco Ricci.
"Fantasy" in the sense that the landscapes only existed in the artists’ minds until created by them and re-invented two centuries later by Hogg.
I must clarify from the very beginning that these paintings are not "copies" in the same sense that you see people sitting in front of paintings in museums all over the world, meticulously copying an Old Master’s work, stroke by stroke.
Therein lies another dichotomy in this exhibition: Reading a description of Hogg’s subject matter brings that image to mind; seeing them destroys it. This is one show where the most erudite of news release spinmeisters will be challenged to separate the two visions.
So what are they?
Hogg starts with a capriccio painting that she likes. I suspect that she works from a reproduction, even a small one, or from an art history book or catalog, and thus cleverly avoids the pitfall of becoming a true copier rather than a sampler.
She then re-creates the capriccios in their original format (rectangular), but completely replaces the color of the original with a simple tint or combination of tints.
Simple enough... Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.
It isn’t simple at all.
What Hogg has cleverly done again is to offer us two visual main courses. Sure, she's recreating the original painting, overly-simplified and yet still complex with the seed of great painting and composition planted by the original Masters. But she has also provided herself with a radical new vehicle to flex some very powerful painting and creative skills of her own.
The overly simplified paintings offer her ample room and opportunities to bring a 21st century perspective to these works. Not just her very modern colors (cleverly incorporated into the titles such as "Fantasy Landscape (pthalo green/chrome oxide green) 2004"). Her scrubby, energetic brushwork is everywhere, especially the open skies of some of the works, and where 18th century masters would have reacted in horror, a modern audience takes their middle age glasses off so that we can better try to absorb the quality of the brushwork and peer at the under layers, often left exposed, that reveal the virtuosity of being able to deliver an exciting painting with a very limited palette.
Even within these rectangular recreations, Hogg has a Ying Yang thing going. A group of the pieces are truly monochromatic, using only ultramarine blue or yellow ochre.
In these, the simple associations of cool and warm colors mapping to respective emotions is what anchors our responses to them. But there are some pieces where she has ventured into two distinct colors (such as violet and burnt sienna orange). In these, the opposite position of these hues on the color wheel, and their well-known association with eye-brain responses in creating tension and movement, position these works as a very successful venture into the exploration of color, never mind the landscape that is the vehicle.
Vision two of the exhibition are the oval paintings. Here we again see the same explorations in color and painting that Hogg offered us in the rectangular pieces. But then she opens a new door for us; perhaps even a new door for contemporary painting.
I would have dared to write that she has opened the lid in the coffin of painting, but that would lend tacit approval to the claim that painting is like a "vampire that refuses to die." So I won’t.
In the oval paintings Hogg introduces us to a combination of two (again with the two) elements: the re-visualization within a limited, psychological palette plus a new methodological visual cropping and angling of compositional elements within the original paintings, placed in a new format (oval) and haphazardly hung at crazy angles on the gallery’s left wall. By the way, at the risk of becoming too pedantic, I didn’t like the tilted, askew, haphazard hanging of these pieces. It was a bit heavy handed and went too far to push the fact that they are indeed "sliding" landscapes.
Suddenly we discover two effects (i.e. she has another duality thing going here for the dimwits in the audience): Combine the psychological effect of color with a reorganization of the actual image's presentation and you have suddenly changed the entire character and effect of the painting!
This is the punch to the solar plexus that every artist hopes to accomplish in any exhibition. It is the moment when you stand in front of a piece of artwork, riveted to a sudden discovery that this, whatever "this" may be, has never been done, at least not this well, before.
Here is what I mean.
In the oval pieces, Hogg repeats the paintings from different perspectives or angles; suddenly her choice of colors is not the main driving force; but the relationship between the choice and the subject and the perspective and angle is the new driving force(s).
For example, in one oval piece she offers a calm, cool agrarian view, somewhat disorienting us by the angle and crop, especially when we try to find her source on the left wall's rectangular paintings. Within this painting, a horseman rides up an incline. He is deftly rendered in cool, quick brushstrokes to deliver a placid Sancho Panza character before he had the misfortune of meeting Don Quixote.
Slightly above and to the right of that painting there's another painting, which although it is exactly the same scene, and because it is offered from a slightly different perspective and in a completely different palette, it takes us a minute or two to realize that it is the same scene.
But what a different scene it is! The sky is now a turbulent hellish nightmare of cadmium red and quinachrodne red exaggerated so that the clouds have almost become flames, and the happy farmers of the companion piece are now haggard, beaten figures toiling in a new Dantasque level of hell, where the Sancho Panza horseman is now tired, beaten and barely staying atop his poor horse.
And this is all happening in our mind. Because all that this gifted painter has done is change the perspective and offer us colors that complete different neural paths that create different reactions in our brain.
And the best thing of all is that she didn’t need a video, or an installation, or dioramas of two-dimensional works, or ten pages of wall text to explain the concept. And in these pieces, the finished works are as interesting and successful as the concept itself; not a trivial accomplishment by the way.
All she needed were superbly honed painting skills, a deep understanding of the relationship between color and emotions, an intelligent perspective on composition, and a grab at art history to offer us (yet again) something new and refreshing from that never ending source of surprises: the dusty coffin of painting.
Bravo Lucy! ... Well Done Hogg!
Wednesday, September 29, 2004
And although I met Dali several times when I lived in Spain (once he asked me if I could help him fix his phone); and I curated the Homage to Dali exhibition in 1999; and I am a great, unapologizing fan of the great Catalan, my moustache is not because of Dali - if you want to know, next time you see me, buy me a beer and I'll tell you about the Druze.
Anyway, Alan Riding has a terrific article in the New York Times that discusses Dali's powerful impact as perhaps the 20th century's second most important artist (Picasso being the first) and two ongoing exhibitions on the centenary of his birth: "Dalí and Mass Culture," which tracks his impact on today's visual language, was shown in Barcelona this spring and Madrid this summer and will be at the Salvador Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg, Fla., from Oct. 1, 2004 through Jan. 30, 2005. And "Dalí," which focuses on his paintings, is at the Palazzo Grassi in Venice through Jan. 16 and will be presented at the Philadelphia Museum of Art from Feb. 16 through May 15, 2005.
Enter your suggestion here.
My suggestion? The Washington Ex-Expos.
Deadline October 15, 2004 and April 15, 2005
Exhibition opportunities at Howard County Center for the Arts, a 27,000 sq.ft. facility located in Ellicott City, MD.
They are seeking proposals from artists and curators nationwide for solo and group exhibits for the 2006-2007 gallery season. All original artwork in any media, including installations, will be considered. The Arts Council is also accepting slide submissions for two specific upcoming exhibits: Illuminations, a juried exhibit of artworks with light/illumination as the primary medium, and an untitled exhibit of book arts.
Work previously shown will not be accepted, nor will work previously submitted. No fee to apply. Artists must be at least 18 years old. Submit up to 20 slides with an accompanying slide list, an artist/curator statement, resume and application to exhibit, along with a self-addressed stamped envelope with sufficient postage for the return of materials.
Call 410-313-2787 for an application. Deadlines in the next two reviews are October 15, 2004 and April 15, 2005. A calendar of upcoming HCCA exhibits can be found on their website. Or email Amy Poff at email@example.com if you have questions.
Artists included in the show are: Joseph Barbaccia, Jonathan Bucci, James Calder, Deborah Ellis, Mike Fitts, Adam Fowler, Karen Graziani, Ryan Hackett, Mimi Herbert, Miriam Horrom, Scott Hunter, Flora Kanter, Rogelio Maxwell and Chris Saah.
CORE is located at 1010 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Suite 405 in Washington, DC 20007 (Georgetown).
Tuesday, September 28, 2004
And on September 30 at 7:30 p.m. in the Baird Auditorium at the National Museum of Natural History (across the Mall from the Hirshhorn), the Hirshhorn presents "Meet the Artist: Martin Puryear."
Washington, DC, native Puryear and Hirshhorn Director Ned Rifkin will engage in a dialogue about art and ideas that place the artist's work in context.
"In all, Marla has sold 24 paintings totaling nearly $40,000, with the prices going up. Her latest paintings are selling for $6,000. Some customers are on a waiting list."I now share it with you. Read it and weep.
The Washington Glass School offers a class titled "Beginner Glass Lovers' Weekend."
This class is for those of us who damned near flunked glass in art school or are just starting out or who just want to make some cool stuff out of glass. You learn all the basic stuff over a weekend, and this weekend is the Beginners Glass Lovers' Weekend and the class is being offered.
Not only do students learn several ways to work with glass, but they also will make four glass pieces (bowls, etc.) while learning at the same time. For more info or schedule of other classes, contact the school at 202/744-8222 or via email at WashGlassSchool@aol.com.
I hope some women photographers also find their way to the permanent galleries.
Sarah Greenough, is the curator and director of the department of photographs at NGA, and three shows a year are planned for the new galleries. The coming shows are by Roger Fenton, Andre Kertesz and Irving Penn.
Photography is certainly very hot, and at least 50% of our sales are photographs from the fifteen photographers that we represent.
And next November 13, beginner collectors have a great opportunity to start or add to a collection through the Annual "Auction in the Park" being held by PHOTOWORKS At Glen Echo Park.
All tickets include one entry in an art raffle, entitling every guest to a work of art from the raffle collection. In addition, a silent auction will feature photographs by well-known contemporary photographers, on-location shooting with respected commercial photographers, funky photo equipment, and trips and workshops with photography-related themes.
For more info, contact Alexandra Walsh at 301/523-3318 or Emily Whiting at 301/213-7763.
Monday, September 27, 2004
"I'm desperately trying to figure out why Kamikaze pilots wore helmets."
On Wednesday, Sept. 29, from 5-8 PM, Zenith Gallery's space at 901 E Street, NW, showcases The Reflection Series, a recent collection of stunning photo-realistic oil paintings by Washington DC artist Joey Manlapaz. I am familiar with Manlapaz's works and she has refined her skill to a level where I consider her amongst the best photo-realistic painters that I've seen in the last few years and certainly around here.
This coming Friday is the first Friday of the month. So boys and girls: what does that mean?
Answer: The Galleries of Dupont Circle are having their opening receptions or extended hours. It all happens from 6-8 PM this coming Friday. I'll be there! Come and say hello if you see me.
On Sunday, October 3, from 3-5 PM, four very good area artists are having an open studio (for the grubs in the audience: they will have Champagne and Hors d'Oeuvres).
They are Rosalind Burns, Susan Hostetler, Michele Montalbano and Jeneen Piccuirro. Their studio is at 411 New York Avenue, NE and you should RSVP to 202/546-9584.
Later that day, Lucy Hogg has an artist's talk at Strand on Volta on Sunday, Oct. 3rd from 7-9 PM. I've seen this show and it is well worth a visit. I am now finishing a review of the show and will be pimping it to the various newspapers and magazines that sometimes publish my reviews. Once it is picked up and published I will also have it here.
I got the feeling (in reading between the lines) that Banerjee was a little uncomfortable with the visual content of the work, and it translated into the profile.
This show is on my list to try and see and discuss this coming week. It has been extended to October 10.
Keegan is currently an MFA candidate at Catholic University.
New York had apples, Los Angeles had angels, Norfolk has mermaids, Baltimore has fish - or it is crabs? and a bunch of cities around the world have had cows. And now San Francisco has hearts!
Regardless of how you feel about the pandas being "art," I think that our pandas will soon go on auction and proceeds will help fund grants to DC artists. More info here.
Sunday, September 26, 2004
The first is why their Chief Art Critic is identified as "Washington Post Staff Writer" instead of "Washington Post Chief Art Critic." I know, I know... it's a Virgo thing, but I think Gopnik deserves to be separated in title from the guy who writes the obituaries, or stories for the Kid's Post. I betcha it has something to do with some silly union rule about all writers being equal.
The second peeve is why The Washington Post's Chief Art Critic seldom if ever writes about Washington, DC galleries. Today he does a magnificent job of writing about New York galleries.
Hey! The New York Times already does a great job of doing that, and I am glad that Blake is affording us to chance to get a view of what's going on around New York galleries.
How about a quarterly article like this one about Washington, DC galleries?
Dupont Circle, Georgetown and downtown DC are a lot closer than Chelsea, and I seriously doubt that the New York Times will send their Chief Art Critic to DC to do a round-up of DC galleries.
Saturday, September 25, 2004
I kid you not.
Grammar.police has a really funny posting discovering that there's a grotesque of Darth Vader in the National Cathedral!
I didn't know this!
It was sculpted by our own Jay Hall Carpenter (who is a damned good sculptor by the way), carved by Takoma Park's Patrick J. Plunkett and placed high upon the northwest tower of the Cathedral.
Makes my head hurt.
I have apologized to Dixon, corrected the posting, and below now publish Dixon's email to me in order to clarify the issue:
Dear Mr. Campello:
I'm writing regarding your posting yesterday about Art-O-Matic. Although you didn't identify me by name, it is no secret that I was the Washington City Paper critic who spoke about the 2002 exhibition on the Kojo Nnamdi Show in November of that year.
You are guilty of misrepresenting my comments and distorting the facts.
That I had not yet attended that year's Art-O-Matic was not something I hid from listeners. In fact, I prefaced my comments with a disclaimer:
"I've gotta say, I have not seen the current Art-O-Matic yet, but I've been to the first one, and it nearly killed me. There is a serious quality issue. It's not a very kind show to viewers. You have to wade through a lot of dross to get a few gems. The first year there were maybe two or three artists out of all of them that I really cared about."
I hadn't intended to weigh in on Art-O-Matic, but found myself in a situation where to keep mum would have been to offer tacit approval to the rather boosterish comments of my fellow guests, Joe Barber and Peter Fay.
By the time my 2002 wrap-up appeared in City Paper in late December, I had seen Art-O-Matic--not at the urging of my editor or because of some supposed scandal, but because I wanted to know if my misgivings were justified. What I wrote was this:
"After dragging myself through Art-O-Matic the first year, I vowed I'd never repeat the experience. But I went again, largely because I felt a little guilty about warning Kojo Nnamdi Show listeners off it sight unseen (although I was upfront about not having visited the exhibition at that point). I needn't have been so scrupulous. If anything, Art-O-Matic, as a visual-art event, had gotten even worse, more sprawling and more amateurish."
Again, note that I was completely forthcoming about the fact that I hadn't seen the show at the time of the broadcast.
The fact that streams and tapes of the Kojo Nnamdi Show and full texts of my writing for City Paper can easily be accessed or ordered online suggests that you made no attempt to check your mistaken recollections against the facts.
This little flap is indeed the result of an ethical lapse, but it is yours alone. You owe your readers a retraction and me an apology.
Curated by Faith Flanagan and Allison Cohen, and opening tonight at Dot Projects & Artwork (501 Ninth Street - NE, Washington, DC Phone: 202-546-0334) Saturday, September 25, 6:00pm to 9:00pm is a preview of the exhibition Hot Damn - Fresh Art featuring work by:
Noah Angell, Virginia Arrisueno, Ken Ashton, Lisa Bertnick, Christine Carr, Franck Cordes, Kathryn Cornelius (performance at 7:30 p.m.), Mary Early, Djakarta, Kevin Kepple, Peter Loge, Jayme McLellan, Dylan Scholinski, Trish Tillman, Kelly Towles, Leigh Van Duzer, and Joan Van Sledright.
And next Saturday, the Museum of Modern ARF in Arlington has an opening reception on October 2 from 6-9 PM for "Breaking the Silence II: Questioning Power Now More Than Ever."
The show, which runs until November 14, includes work by Martyn Turner, Claudia Olivos, Helen Zughaib, Scott Brooks, Steve Lewis, Kathleen Stevenson, Negar Assari Samimi, Richard Notkin, Jim Magner, Ruth Trevarrow, Mark Planisek, Tara Campbell, Joroko, Roger Cutler, Ruth Kling, Chris Britt, Chad Allan, John Aaron, Eliza Brewster, Daniel Penaloza, and Young Artists from Palestine and Israel.
The Museum of Modern ARF is located at 1116 N. Hudson St. Arlington, VA 22201 and can be reached at 703/528-4800.
Friday, September 24, 2004
"One of Schjeldahl's major points on the topic he chose ("What Art Is For Now") was that the snob appeal of art is one of the "underestimated engines of culture," that for now he has "no desire to swell the size of the tent" of those who love art. In his view, there is no reason to bring art to the masses. Those who want it will find it, and "if somebody doesn't want art, bully for them." However, as Schjeldahl also noted, the audience for art worldwide may be larger now than it ever has been, and the art market is a booming business. This may help explain the gulf that can be observed between major art critics and the art-going public, in the case of the J. Seward Johnson sculptures at the Corcoran, for example (see [his]post from September 14, 2003)."
I've been mulling Christ Schott's Sept 3, 2004 "Show and Tell" column in the WCP titled The Artsy Thing That Swallowed DC on the subject of Art-O-Matic.
Two letters in the current issue (one by Judy Jashinsky and one by Philip Barlow) express their disagreement with Schott's view of Art-O-Matic.
Let me start by saying that I am not very objective when it comes to Art-O-Matic. I think that it is the best thing that happens to the Washington visual art scene every couple of years; whatever is in second place is a distant second.
I am also rather sick and tired of the way (because of its size, energy and open attitude towards hanging any and all artwork as long as the artist is willing to help run the show) that it gets bashed by some in the lamestream media, the alternative media and even the BLOGosphere.
Such as when a WCP writer cruelly bashed the 2002 Art-O-Matic on the Kojo Nmandi Show. He admitted that he had not actually been to that year's exhibition (and thus pre-formed an opinion about that year's Art-O-Matic based on his dislike of the previous one). In his defense, he then felt guilty and actually visited the show, which he then brutalized again on paper.
And much like the current CBS Rathergate, some of the past Art-O-Matic bashing didn't really pass the journalistic ethics test.
Such as when a Washington Post art critic wrote a dismissive small pre-opening review, again without actually ever setting foot in the place.
So, I think that it is not just the bad art that they dislike; I believe that they also resent the democraticization of the art process, the joyfulness and uniqueness of the event, the huge public success that it enjoys and the fact that it takes place in our own backyard.
And they miss the key ingredient that the event adds to our cultural tapestry: an incredible amount of artistic energy and a vast amount of attention to the visual arts. Anytime that you get over 1,000 artists to organize something of this magnitude, the footprint and its impact will be vast.
And, as far as I know, there's nothing like it anywhere else in the nation, possibly the world. And here's where the key to Art-O-Matic bashing lies: If the event took place in London, or New York, or Madrid, or LA or San Francisco or even Chicago, it would be lauded as a good thing for contemporary art and artists. I can see the headlines now: "Los Angeles' Art-O-Matic is The Place to Discover the Next Generation of LA's Artists."
So what if it is growing? The 2002 version brought out 40,000 visitors; can we envision a future Art-O-Matic where it is an international open show, where artists from all over the world can participate and a quarter of a million visitors from all over the planet converge on DC to see the exhibition? I can.
So what if it is non juried? That way it allows people like me to go and see work by artists and artist-wannabes that otherwise I would never see because they are way off the radar of our curators and galleries. Granted, a lot of the work in past Art-O-Matics I have found amateurish, bland and forgettable. This puts Art-O-Matic in the same company as many recent shows in the Hirshhorn, the Corcoran and the last few Venice Biennales and Whitney Biennials.
And unlike those exhibitions, and as Barlow eloquently points out in his letter, many of today's top DC artists have Art-O-Matic in their resume: Manon Cleary, Dan Steinhilber, Adam Bradley, Scott Hutchison, the Dumbacher brothers, Renee Stout, Tim Tate, Michael Clark, Allison Miner, Jordan Tierney, Richard Dana, Graham Cladwell,Judy Jashinsky, Richard Chartier, and many, many others.
I am looking forward to Art-O-Matic 2004, and 2006, and 2008...
The same issue has picked up my bit about the grubs and has it in their Letters to the Editor.
Thursday, September 23, 2004
Read the earlier Washington Post review here and the Washington City Paper profile of Frenn here.
That makes an analysis I made a while back about the infuriating "high art" double standards (applied not only to artists, but also to processes and art). These double standards are even more infuriating as one discovers more and more variations upon the same theme. Here it is again:
J. Seward Johnson is a very rich man and his "art" has been brutalized by the press everywhere. I don't like Mr. Seward's work, but the main reason given in the reviewing of his work is not that Seward is a bad guy (he's very generous with his wealth towards the art world) or even a bad sculptor, but that his concept of taking someone else's two-dimensional art works - in Seward's latest case the Impressionists - and making them into a three dimensional "new" work is both kitschy and reprehensible.
1. As I whined about it before, the British artist brothers Jake and Dinos Chapman's best known works are based on the famous Goya etchings Disasters of War. Initially they used plastic figures to re-create Goya in a miniature three-dimensional form, and like Johnson (later on), one of these 83 scenes became a life-sized version using mannequins. Yet the Chapmans are darlings of the art world and were favorites in the last Tate show.
2. Whitney Biennial selectee Eve Sussman's "art" is to take Velasquez's Las Meninas and turn it into "ten minutes of a costume-drama feature film." It was actually quite good by the way.
3. Jane Simpson is one of Artnet.com's Artists to Watch for 2004. Her stellar reputation in the artworld has been acquired partially by her creation of sculptures based on Giorgio Morandi paintings.
Am I the only one who sees that all of these people are essentially working the same generic concept as J. Seward Johnson - but unlike Johnson, they are being lauded and praised?
What am I missing here?
"But the Podestas' stock of artists know well the benefits of securing such politically connected patronage. Uniquely capable of advocating for their artists using the lobbying skills of their day jobs, Tony and Heather can secure access, lend advice and connect artists to curators and coveted museum shows. It's backing more valuable, at times, than dollars.So that's where those Hirshhorn and Corcoran curators are hanging out!
...To keep themselves in pictures, Tony and Heather jet to art fairs and biennials from Sao Paolo to San Sebastian -- often just for the weekend. Theirs is a life led breathlessly, moving from airport to dinner party. The art is an extravagance that occasionally gives Heather pause.
... During last year's Venice Biennale, they threw parties night after night, renting out their favorite restaurant and packing it with artists and a gallerist or two. Here in Washington, they've hosted art parties with Patricia Puccini, Cathy de Monchaux, Anna Gaskell, Frank Thiel, Annee Olofsson, Nikki Lee and others. Curators from the Hirshhorn Museum and Corcoran Gallery of Art, top Washington collectors and the city's best dealers regularly show up. Podesta parties are where connections are made."
Anyway... inside the Style section, Jessica then delivers a surprisingly bland[ish] review of Avish Khebrehzadeh's show at Conner Contemporary Art, calling it "sweet and bracingly sentimental" with a weird tie-in to her Podesta article.
The review left me thoroughly confused. I've seen this show and to me it simply reflects the sudden discovery by the upper crust "high art" world of world-class artists that can actually draw.
Curators and critics here seem to be still trying to catch up to the fact that drawing is hot!
Wednesday, September 22, 2004
The Washington Post seems to be having a comic strip racial controversy!
Gene Weingarten's online chat at the Post's website discusses that:
"The Washington Post has decided not to run this week's episode of Boondocks, instead substituting an old sequence. Moreover, when this chat requested permission to LINK to the censored material, which is available to any and all on the Boondocks website, permission was denied.You can view the controversial comics here. The censored series started on Sept. 20 and goes throughout this week, so after viewing the first set of strips, click on "next date" to see the others.
The Washington Post has decided that it is inappropriate to disseminate this material in any way. Personally, this chat takes no position, pro or con, on this ruling, inasmuch as taking a position would amount to insubordination, a quality abhorrent to this chat."
It is not the first time that the Post has decided to cancel Boondocks because of perceived offensive content.
Deadline: October 4, 2004
Kansas City Convention Center. Kansas City, Missouri's One-Percent-for-Art program is seeking artists or artist collaborations to develop innovative, original artwork for the Kansas City Convention Center renovation and expansion. The Convention Center spans eight city blocks in downtown Kansas City.
Interested artists should submit qualifications by Monday, October 4, 2004, at 5:00pm Central Daylight Time. For more information related to this project and to download the complete Request for Qualifications, please go to this website.
Opportunity for Artists - $44,000 in awards
Deadline: December 15, 2004
The Art Renewal Center seeks applicants for its 2nd Annual International Salon Competition. Over $44,000 in cash awards; $10,000 Best in Show, and featured online gallery.
Send #10 SASE for prospectus to: Karen McCormack, Art Renewal Center, Box 837, Glenham NY 12527; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Design Competition - $2,500 Prize
Deadline: OCtober 15, 2004.
The National Symphony Orchestra is seeking an artist or graphic designer to create original visual art to commemorate its 75th Anniversary Season in 2005-2006. The NSO is coordinating this competition in partnership with the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities.
The competition is open to all artists and graphic designers; however, preference will be given to residents of the greater Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.
The winner will receive an honorarium of $2,500. Applications and additional information are available at this website. For additional information call: Jennifer Leed, Special Projects Manager: 202-416-8112.
Grants for Painters
Deadline: October 15, 2004
The George and Helen Segal Foundation is accepting applications for grants ranging from $5,000 to $10,000 for painters only. Applications may be found on the Foundation's website or you may contact the Segal Foundation, 136 Davidson's Mill Rd., N Brunswick, NJ 08902.
Tuesday, September 21, 2004
The exhibition reflects what many upper-class Spaniards thought about race, class and skin color during the 1700s, when Mexico was a colony of Spain.
The 2004 Jerwood Drawing Prize actually went to... a drawing!
An actual, real drawing won, despite "the judges declaring that they were prepared to stretch the definition to breaking point."
Past shortlisted entries have included drawings in dust, string, and moving light recorded by a video camera.
But this year, the first prize of £5,000 went to a real drawing by Sarah Woodfine.
See all the prizewinners here.
The next Secondsight meeting will be held this coming Thursday, September 23 at 6.30pm in Bethesda, MD. The guest speaker will be Amy Lamb, a very successful fine arts photographer and highly respected scientist. For more information, visit www.secondsightdc.com or call Catriona Fraser at (301) 718-9651. Meetings are free for members - $10 for guests.
Secondsight is an organization dedicated to the advancement of women photographers through support, communication and sharing of ideas and opportunities. Secondsight is committed to supporting photographers at every stage of their careers, from students to professionals. Each bi-monthly meeting includes an introductory session, a guest speaker, portfolio sharing and discussion groups. Each photographer will have the opportunity to present their work within a small group of other photographers, ask for constructive criticism, gain knowledge or simply share their artistic vision and techniques.
September 21, 2004 6:30pm-9:00pm
Design Within Reach Georgetown Studio
3307 Cady's Alley, Washington, DC 20007
(Near Hemphill Fine Arts) - FREE
Monday, September 20, 2004
The artists participating include:
The Vastu Studios (1829 14th street, 14th street between T and S - enter through Vastu Gallery):
Saturday and Sunday - noon till 5 PM
In the studios next to Maison 14 (1327 14th street)
1 pm - 4 pm Saturday and Sunday
In the studio of Sondra Arkin (1764 Church Street)
1 pm - 4 pm Saturday and Sunday
The studios of Kelly Towles and Virginia Arrisueño at 1643 13th street, NW, #1
Sunday 1- 4 PM
The studio of Nicolas Shi (1500 P street, NW)
Saturday and Sunday 10am - 5 PM
The studio of Robert Cole (1714 15th street)
Saturday and Sunday 1 - 4 PM
The studio of Peter Alexander Romero (1320 Wallach Place - between T and U)
Saturday 12 - 5 PM
Sunday 12 - 4 PM
The studio of Gina Miele at Raven Arts (1833 14th street, #201)
Saturday 11 - 6 and Sunday 11 - 5 PM
By the way, there's no better resource in the world for connecting artists and grants than the Foundation Center, which happens to have a local office here in Washington, DC.
They also offer a CD ROM (for $75) titled Guide to Greater Washington D.C. Grantmakers that features profiles of over 2,500 grantmakers located in the DC region and funders in 40 different states that have an interest in funding DC-area projects.
" ... had to email you about "the grubs" after reading the Washington City Paper article and your post.
During my 2 ½ years at the Greater Reston Arts Center, they never missed any of our openings, including fine art openings in the main gallery, Market Street Bar & Grill openings for solo artists at Reston Town Center, children’s art openings for the children who participate in Summer Art Camp and GRACE’s Art-in-the-Schools Program, it didn’t matter. If we had an opening that included wine and food, you had better believe they were there.
When I was new to Reston, several Restonians told me that they were one of the original new town pioneer couples who moved to Reston during the early 1960’s; that they had fallen on hard times and that the only thing they had left was their $600,000 Lake Anne home and were struggling to survive on their last $200,000 in the bank.
Having lived in New Orleans for 20 years - New Orleans being the poorest American city per capita - I know a thing or two about real poverty and people really down on their luck and doubted the accuracy of many of these Reston tales about them. Again, being from New Orleans their eccentric behavior and dress would merit them about one quarter of one nano second of attention in the Big Easy where Bank Officers, Corporate Executives and Baptist preachers parade around dressed like something out of a Mardi Gras nightmare. However, in Reston, they were obviously something of a spectacle. Finally, my curiosity got the better of me and I just flat out asked them who they were and what they were all about while they were munching away on imported English cheese and crackers at one of our openings.
They were kind enough to share the history of their lives and experiences (pretty much per the article) and, yes, their art interests, with me. This conversation took place in probably October or November of 2002. Later in 2003 they attended one of our catered functions at Market Street Bar & Grill (a very very popular venue for them because the Hyatt puts on quite an impressive seafood spread with decent wine) and I told them about being notified that I had been selected for a solo exhibition at the Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center for October of 2004.
They both gave me this profoundly disappointed look and said that they had stopped going to that venue because the artists themselves cater their own receptions and the quality of their past experiences was appalling. I promised them that being from New Orleans I could guarantee that they would leave my reception dancing in the streets with joy over the spread I would be importing from some of the finest restaurants in Louisiana. They said they would consider it as my show got closer.
On the day of my reception, 9-11-04, I was starting to panic around 2:45 pm. My reception was scheduled to run from 1:00 – 3:00 pm. During the process of taking down the food and beverage tables, along with "The Death of Film" installation piece designed by a friend of mine and fellow Board Member of the LRA, Robyn Spence, suddenly I looked up and there they were... with a look of calm hunger on both their faces. They proceeded to filter through various food items that had already been packed into the ice chests. I was so relived. I told them that I too would have considered myself a failure had they not attended my reception.
They didn’t buy any of my work. They never bought any work while attending GRACE functions to my knowledge either. It’s really a wonderful pleasure to know that there are people in this world who love art enough to protect the value of their wallets. I’m not sure just what that means that I just said, but I do know that they have promised to come to my January 2005 solo show in Reston, even though I’m not catering food and wine for that one!"
Sunday, September 19, 2004
Deadline: Tuesday, October 12, 2004
The Arts Commission recognizes up and coming DC artists with The Young Artists Grant Program, which offers grants of up to $3,500 to DC artists between the ages of 18 and 30. For more information and an application, call 202-724-5613, or visit this website.
Saturday, September 18, 2004
I had always heard that they "bought" work, but in over 100 shows between the two Fraser Galleries, they've eaten a ton of food and drank gallons of Sangria, and yet never, ever even feigned remote interest in any of the artwork - now I know why: we don't show colorful abstraction.
But they still come to every opening, devour whatever is on the plate, and head straight out to the gallery next to us.
And let me tell you: These guys know this city's art scene (as long as there's food) better than anyone else! They could give even the most seasoned of gallery goers and every art critic in this town a lesson on art spaces and where they are and what food they serve.
And I don't know how they do it, but they are also at every embassy, restaurant opening, etc. I've seen them as far south as Virginia Beach.
In Canal Square we call them "the grubs." There are several others in the locust pack besides the ones mentioned in the article.
Worst story I've heard allegedly about them: A now defunct gallery in Leesburg actually had some of Coxe's works in a group show (she's a stained glass artist); the whole gang was there, and apparently it was the daughter's birthday.
To the gallery owner's dismay, he discovered that once all the food and drinks had been devoured in the main gallery, and before he noticed, the grubs all went to the backroom area, and ate all the food that was stored inside the refrigerator there plus two cases of beer.
When he took them to task for doing this, they responded that they were celebrating the daughter's birthday!
I was told that he was so upset that he had her remove her work from the show and threw them out!
It takes all kinds to make a city's art tapestry: Even the grubs!
None of these have any application or review fees...
Deadline: October 1, 2004
Monterey Peninsula College is currently reviewing slides by U.S. artists for new exhibitions for the 2005-2006 season. Send up to ten slides and supporting materials to:
MPC Art Gallery
Monterey Peninsula College
980 Fremont St
Monterey, CA 93540
Deadline: October 15, 2004
Valdosta State University's fine arts gallery is now reviewing proposals for solo and small group shows for the 2005-2006 season. Open to all U.S. artists. No sales commission. Send proposal letter and 20 slides, resume and statement to:
Valdosta State University
Dept. of Art
1500 N. Patterson
Valdosta, GA 31602
Deadline October 23, 2004
Cecilia Coker Bell Gallery at Coker College is reviewing proposals for five solo shows in 2005-2006. No sales commission. Send ten labeled slides, slide list, statement, resume and SASE to:
Cecilia Coker Bell Gallery
300 E. College Avenue
Hartsville, NC 29550
Deadline November 30, 2004
Edinboro University's Bruce Gallery is reviewing proposals for inclusion in small group shows for 2005-2006 season. Send letter of intent, eight slides, resumes, statements and supporting materials to:
215 Meadville Street
Edinboro University of Pennsylavania
Edinboro, PA 16444
This is Nirvana for visual artists... if you don't know what Art-O-Matic is then, visit their website and then read my review of the 2002 show here and a second review here.
Over the three Art-O-Matics that have taken place over the years we have picked several artists for our galleries by visiting Art-O-Matic.
Artists such as Adam Bradley, Erik Sandberg, Scott Hutchison, Brad Rudich, Tim Tate, Ardath Hill, and others first came to our attention through these huge, wonderful shows.
Friday, September 17, 2004
Apparently "the eye on the right side of the painting tends to look straight ahead and the other eye deviates outward," according to a letter published in the Sept. 16 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.
Apparently this is known as "stereoblindness" and has the same effect as closing one eye, which is what artists do as they try to create three-dimensional images on flat surfaces.
The Rockville Arts Place, a non-profit arts organization located in Rockville, Maryland seeks a Director of Development to provide strategic direction and vision during a time of transition as the organization prepares to become part of Rockville’s downtown development project and move into a new facility.
To apply, please submit cover letter, resume, names of three references, and salary requirements to: Debra Moser, Executive Director, Rockville Arts Place 9300 Gaither Road, Gaithersburg, MD 20877 by September 15. You may also send information by fax at 301-869-9173 or by e-mail to email@example.com.
The Baltimore Museum of Art is seeking a part-time Special Events Coordinator whose primary responsibility is the planning and implementation of events for the Development Division, including exhibition openings, receptions, and meal functions. The Special Events Coordinator also manages a limited corporate rental program. This position reports to the Deputy Director for Development.
The schedule for this contract position is three days per week in the Special Events office, plus event coverage. The successful candidate will be creative and detail-oriented and will have strong organizational and budget management skills. The ability to manage multiple projects at the same time is critical. Excellent word-processing, spreadsheet, database, and internet skills are essential. Special events experience and a college degree are required.
Please send resumes to: Judith M. Gibbs, Deputy Director for Development, The Baltimore Museum of Art, 10 Art Museum Drive, Baltimore, Maryland 21218.
The Village of Arts and Humanities is seeking a Managing Director who oversees and manages the financial planning for the organization and assists in the management of all Village program activities and related staff development. Duties include overseeing financial planning and monitoring of program budgets, actively participate in planning and development of strategies, guide and support managing staff.
Qualifications: Bachelor’s degree in a relevant field, Masters preferred, at least 5 years experience in non-profit management position, knowledge of computer systems and equipment (PC and Mac). $38,000+ (depending on experience), plus full benefits, starting September 2004. Email a cover letter, resume, and writing sample to firstname.lastname@example.org Attn: Managing Director Search.
The Textile Museum in DC invites applications for the position of Director to provide vision and leadership for dynamic institutional growth. Primary responsibilities reflect the Museum's strategic priorities: programming that promotes public appreciation of the textile arts; expansion of local, national, and international audiences; and fundraising to address current and future needs.
Qualifications: knowledgeable and enthusiastic about arts, textiles and cultural history; ability to envision and articulate exciting, innovative programming; 6-8 years senior-level administrative experience, including strategic planning and fundraising, in museum or comparable organization; outstanding communications skills to interact effectively with diverse internal and external constituencies. Advanced degree preferred. Full position announcement available at this website. Apply in to: Director Search Committee, The Textile Museum, 2320 S Street, NW, Washington, DC 20008 or email@example.com.
Curator of the Art Gallery: American University – DC. The American University, College of Arts and Sciences announces an open position for Curator of the art gallery at the new Katzen Arts Center. This position will be responsible for artistic and creative direction of the gallery including: overall planning for gallery collections, collection development, conservation, management, operations, and exhibitions and programming.
Duties include coordinating press and public relations, seeking donations for art collections, assisting in capital fundraising, working with academic units to integrate students and curricula into gallery operations, developing proposals for program enrichment, and planning for the opening of the Katzen Arts Center. Qualifications required include graduate degree in art history or related field, PhD preferred,and curatorial/exhibition experience.
Salary: Commensurate with qualifications and experience. To apply, complete an application in person or send your resume to: American University, Office of Human Resources, 4400 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20016-8054. e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Fax: 202-885-1737. Applicants may also download an application from their web site.
Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation seeks a Development Officer who will be responsible for the initiation, oversight, planning, implementation, and management of a development program that secures significant financial resources from government, foundations, corporations, and individuals to support the Foundation's mission.
Qualifications include: a bachelor's degree in business, marketing, communications or a field related to the arts; two to three years of progressive experience and responsibility in development in an arts or cultural agency; strong research, planning, writing, grantwriting and budgeting skills; and proficiency in computer technology including the ability to use various software applications for project and data management (especially Access and Excel).
The starting salary for this position is in the low $40's. A full benefits package accompanies the position. Send letter of application, resume, writing samples, and names and addresses of three references to: Development Officer/ Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation/ 201 N. Charles St., Suite 401/ Baltimore, MD 21201. For more information, visit their website.
The Washington Post's art critic Michael O'Sullivan reviews our current show of George Mason University's controversial professor Chawky Frenn's show at Fraser Gallery Bethesda.
"Frenn is equally comfortable with ambiguity, a quality that's obvious in three paintings depicting disquietingly androgynous nudes. Yet it is not bare flesh -- at least not human flesh -- that makes up his most disturbing, and, to my eyes, most satisfying, work. Based on photographs taken in butcher shops during trips to his native Lebanon, Frenn's latest and best paintings depict decapitated sheep's heads and beef cattle at various stages of slaughter.
Like all of Frenn's art, they're an attempt to take something ugly and turn it into something beautiful, or, as he says, "to transform manure into new life, [excrement] into fruit." In addition to their shopworn memento mori message, though, that reminds us subconsciously of our own mortality, Frenn pushes other readings of his work. One of his carcasses, after all, is called "Kosher or Halal?" in a reference to the futility of killing in the name of religion (halal refers to Muslim dietary laws)."
Thursday, September 16, 2004
Read "Why The Exhibit Was Cancelled."
In what I think is one of the most original ideas that I have been aware of in many years, Linda Hesh, whose work eloquently discusses questions of race, ethnicity and gender issues, takes her artwork to a new public level with the "Art Ads" project.
Her pieces start with a photograph of a friend, or couple, taken at a commercial portrait studio, which gives the work a common, commercial look. She then adds a statement underneath the image, or digitally changes the image itself. Hesh’s work has been shown nationally and is in the collection of the Library of Congress. More work can be seen here.
In "Art Ads", Hesh now takes her work to a new national public level and anyone can be part of it and help deliver its important message. To find out how, visit this website.
Also tonight, the The Art Museum of the Americas of the Organization of American States has its inaugural exhibition of the season with an opening reception from 6-8 PM for a group show titled "Artists of the Americas." The exhibit runs until January 16, 2005.
And tomorrow is Georgetown's turn for gallery openings.
Wednesday, September 15, 2004
The Anne C. Fisher Gallery moved from Wisconsin Avenue and its Canal Square inaugural show will be work by Beth Cartland in an exhibition titled "Moving Forward - Looking Back."
The opening reception will be from 6-8 pm on Friday, September 17th as part of the Georgetown Third Friday openings and there will be an artists' talk and reception on Sunday, October 3 at 2 pm.
In addition there will be a workshop: "Cycles of Your Life: An Exploration through Art and Movement" on Sunday, September 26th from 1-3:30 pm. Call the Gallery for registration and information at 202/625.7550.
Welcome to the neighborhood!
The well-known and documented dislike of contempory painting by most museum curators and mainstream media art critics infects all levels of the art world.
In Canada, when the first biennial $50,000 Sobey Art Award was announced two years ago, not one of the five finalists were painters, and the 2004 finalists only included the silly doodles of Marcel Dzama.
So what did the Canadians do?
They established the Plaskett Foundation Award, one of the largest visual-arts awards in Canada, with a purse of $25,000 and open only to painters!
We need something like that around here.
Deadline: The active dates for submitting artwork to this exhibition are September 15, 2004 through January 31, 2005.
As discussed earlier, Art.com has a call for artists in an Homage to Frida Kahlo curated by yours truly with the sponsorship of the Mexican Cultural Institute.
All entries will be done online. There is no fee for artists and the following prizes will be awarded:
1st Prize: Airfare, hotel and expenses for 3-day/3-night trip for two to the Frida Kahlo Museum in Mexico City , Mexico. (Total package valued up to $2,500.)
2nd Prize: $1,000
3rd Prize: $150 towards a Print on Demand order through Art.com Original Art & Photography
To enter, visit the website here.
Tuesday, September 14, 2004
So here it is with some revisions...
A while back, Washington Post art critic Blake Gopnik discussed the work of John Currin and his success in the art world.
Apart from the silly and erroneous headline, this is actually a very readable article, and as posted by me earlier, I somewhat agree with Gopnik's puzzlement as to Currin's success in the art world.
However, I think that Blake gets most of his supporting arguments wrong, when he discusses why Currin has been so successful.
This is a perfect case where this eloquent art critic lets his personal beliefs and tunnel-visioned agenda (formed by the belief that painting is dead) get in the way of being remotely close to objectivity.
And that's somewhat OK, as critics don't have to be objective - but they should be clear about their beliefs rather than appear to speak from an objective pulpit. Gopnik is a smart, intelligent and eloquent art critic - we all know that; but he has a deeply-rooted belief that painting is dead, and realism, as he once put it: "It's like a vampire that refuses to die."
So we all know that Gopnik has clearly shown that he doesn't like painting and above all he doesn't like realism. According to Gopnik's "Long Live Realism - Realism is Dead" lecture at the Corcoran, realism has been done, so why would "serious" artists still waste their time attempting to continue to do it?
Thus, it is understandable that Gopnik would be particularly repulsed by Currin's work - in fact I dislike it too. But he is wrong in attempting to use Currin's success as an example of why contemporary realism is "dead" in his view.
Gopnik writes that "Within the art world, where Currin's career and reputation have been forged, he can get praise as an original not because he's doing anything new or special but simply because some vanguard curators and collectors don't get out enough."
I disagree that this is the main reason, but I certainly do agree that "vanguard curators" (whoever they are, as no star eclipses faster than a "vanguard" curator once his or her show has closed) don't get out enough.
As far as collectors, I do not believe that Mr. Gopnik (or most museum art critics) knows much about art collectors, so these are just extra, senseless words.
However, what Gopnik does not mention, is that some very influential art critics - much higher in the art world food chain than he is - have also praised Currin and his art, and helped tremendously to build this artist's standing in the rarified upper crust of the art world.
Influential critics like the New York Times' Michael "Dia" Kimmelman likes Currin a lot. In fact Kimmelman has writen that "Mr. Currin is among other things a latter-day Jeff Koons, trafficking in lowdown humor, heartless kitsch and ironic smut, while offering up dollops of finesse, beauty and brains. The combination is disorienting and, at its best, thrilling."
And because of Kimmelman's job, even Blake would have to admit that Kimmelman probably "gets out" a lot, especially around first rate New York galleries, rather than the "third-rate commercial galleries across the country" mentioned in Gopnik's piece.
So it's not just "vanguard curators and collectors [who] don't get out enough," that have made Currin's career. It is also one of the most powerful art critics in the world; and many more like him; all colleagues of Gopnik.
Let me re-affirm something again.
I don't like Currin's work either - but his sappy, vulgar work is not to be generalized to cover all of contemporary realism, which is generalized as "shopping mall realists...boardwalk caricaturists... or Sunday-painter surrealists."
So it's not just vanguard curators stuck in their offices, art collectors who don't get out much, but also first class, influential art critics, who have clothed Currin as a modern art emperor. You can also fill in any well-known contemporary artist name (Hirst, Barney, Brown, Chapman, Dean, etc.) instead of Currin.
Let's go back over that key paragraph again:
"Within the art world, where Currin's career and reputation have been forged, he can get praise as an original not because he's doing anything new or special but simply because some vanguard curators and collectors don't get out enough. It's as though the elites of contemporary art are so engrossed in their own world that they're not aware of what's already going on in the American mainstream -- at shopping malls, on boardwalks and in Sunday painting classes."
Wouldn't that logic apply to all artists whose career and reputation have been forged within the "art world"?
I'm not sure if Gopnik gets around to visit any of the "third rate galleries" that he mentions in the review - after all, he just reviews museum shows and I don't think that he has the "pulse" of what's going on in art galleries around the nation.
He certainly rarely gets around Washington, DC area art galleries. I can vouch for that!
But spend a few hours in 3rd, 2nd and 1st rate commercial galleries in Los Angeles, or New York, or San Francisco, or London or Madrid, or Washington and you will see a thousand artists still delivering Rothko-like, Pollock-like, Impressionism-like, Pop, and fill-in-the-blank "like" to any style, genre and idea - not just realism.
In fact, visit any of the garbage "galleries" in the malls or Bethesda or La Jolla or any expensive neighborhood, and weep as you see them selling reproduction after reproduction, gyclee, Iris, etc., framed in expensive baroque frames, and you're apt to find anything from Peter Max to Chuck Close to Warhol to Lichtenstein to Rothko to Pollock, etc.
Conclusion: The appetite for cheap, garbage reproduction poster art is not restricted to the genre of realism, or Currin-like images.
In this paragraph Gopnik tips his hand and his disdain for realism and specifically painting:
"Currin fills a perennial void: The American art world, and especially the art market in New York, is forever hoping for an oil-paint messiah -- for someone who will at last restore credibility to old-fashioned realist technique. Ask dealers or curators and they'll tell you that nothing appeals to collectors and the public like figurative oil painting."
I thought that Gerhard Richter was that messiah? Oh wait! he's German, and the dubious undying appeal of realism to make artists into superstars is an American obsession.... wrong!
And even in trendy YBA land, the BBC says that "No modern artist, not even the likes of Damien Hirst or Tracey Emin, divides opinion like Jack Vettriano." Jack Vettriano is, of course, a painter - sort of the John Currin of Great Britain - but much harsher and romantic and sexual - and although this Scottish painter has sold out every single exhibition that he's ever had, apparently all of them within an hour (including one in NYC), and has a waiting list for his next painting of several hundred names, and famous people and celebrities all crave his work, and the British critics hate his work - he enjoys spectacular success in Great Britain and is one of those artists whose reproductions are sold by the millions in the same mall "galleries" that push out the endless Warhols, Maxes and such.
So it's not just a provincial American "thing" to reserve some of our want for a bit of realism in our art - even if most critics despise it - but if the "public" likes it... then it can't be good art.
I suggest that the Post should change this article's headlines from "Plan to Become An American Art Star? Oh, Be a Realist" to "Plan to Become An Art Star? Oh, Be a Realist."
And then the headline would still make absolutely no sense at all - can anyone send me a list of their top ten contemporary art "stars" that includes a majority of realists? What a load of nonsense!
My final thought on this issue. Both Gopnik and I dislike Currin's work.
But Gopnik dislikes it because he dislikes (a) the subject matter, (b) painting and (c) realism. I dislike it because I think that it is the pushing of the ultimate kitsch button by art curators - the perennial search not for a painting messiah, but for a high kitsch messiah to succeed the tired and jaded Jeff Koons.
One thing doesn't make sense to me though.
At Gopnik's "Long Live Realism - Realism is Dead" lecture at the Corcoran, when asked if he had to buy a painting today, what would he buy, he answered: "A reproduction of an old master."
"Oh Come On!," replied the exasperated questioner, "You surely must have one painter that you somewhat like!"
When thus pushed further, Gopnik flashed some slides by Lisa Yuskavage and explained and defended her work using a lot of the same words and logic that critics use to explain and defend Currin's work.
Does this make any sense?
Am I the only one who thinks that both these painters are singing (and painting) the same tune?
Makes my head hurt.
Allison Miner is quite a talented painter and I am a big fan of her work, so I will try to drop by and see this show, which hangs until October 3, 2004.
Next door to us in Georgetown's Canal Square, our neighbor Parish Gallery has painter Darnella Davis and photographer Phoebe Farris opening a show as part of the 3rd Friday Canal Square openings on Friday, September 17, from 6 to 9p.m.
Monday, September 13, 2004
Read Blake Gopnik's falls preview here and then the full Washington Post's visual arts preview here.
And now that we're underway, next is the Third Thursday Gallery Openings around the 7th Street corridor on Sept. 16 and the next day, the Georgetown gallery openings with the four Canal Square Galleries opening next Friday.
We will host the Washington, DC solo debut of Bay Area photographer Hugh Shurley.
Shurley manipulates photography to create a fascinating blend of the unusual, the odd and the contemporary. His work is in the collection of several public institutions and museums including LACMA.
Shurley was the Best of Show winner at the Second Annual Bethesda International Photography Competition juried by Philip Brookman, Curator of Photography and Media Arts at the Corcoran Gallery of Art. Opening reception Sept. 17 from 6-9 PM.
Zenith Gallery has Sica, and you can meet the artist on September 17 from 6-9 PM.
That same day, Strand On Volta has the Washington, DC and American debut of Canadian painter Lucy Hogg in a show titled "Sliding Landscapes." Hogg has a gallery talk on October 12 at noon.
And still on the 17th, Cheryl Numark offers "Architecture Untethered." It feautures typical blue chip artists like Isidro Blasco, Robert Lazzarini and others.
And finally, the great, overloaded day delivers a member's reception for Lynn Putney's Meanwhile (While You were Sleeping), where Putney will create one large wall painting on site at DCAC. Putney will have an artist's talk on October 2nd at 4 PM.
The next day, on Saturday, Sept. 18, Transformer presents "sub-TEXT" featuring three generations of Sala Diaz artists with Jesse Amado, Andréa Caillouet and Chuck Ramirez.
And of course, that day is also Arts on Foot between 11:00am and 5:00pm, when Downtown Washington's Pennsylvania Quarter will hold its 12th Annual Arts on Foot Festival.
At Spectrum Gallery, J. Lea Lansaw, whose show opened a while back, has an artist's talk on September 19 at 2:00 PM. The show runs until Sept. 26.
A bit north, the Rockville Arts Place just opened "A Sense of Place," which features three artists conversing on thematic subjects: Prescott Moore Lassman (who is slowly but surely becoming one of the best-known photographers in our area), Constance Bergfor and Neena Birch.
In Dupont Circle, the openings or extended hours take place October 1st from 6-8 PM, and Elizabeth Roberts Gallery showcases Koren-born Philadephia artist Alice Oh, who takes her artistic inspirations from viewing blood cells under a microscope.
In Alexandria, Gallery West presents Deborah Hoeper's show "Soft Views," with an artist reception on Saturday, October 9 from 6-8 PM. A block from there, the Art League showcases contemporary fiber art by Jennifer Coyne Qudeen.
At The Artists' Gallery in Frederick, Maryland, painters Phyllis Jacobs and Doug Moulden have "Off the Wall" opening on Sunday, October 3 from 3-5 PM.
And this is like... one percent of the new shows... see more new shows here.
It's great to be a visual arts lover in DC come September!
"When it comes to swimming against the tide, Olympic gold medals should go to all representational artists. For half a century, they have been almost completely ignored by museums, boycotted by prestigious galleries and scoffed at by critics." Still, a renaissance of figure drawing has been evident for some years, led by countless amateurs and enthusiasts, and embraced by a few diehard pros. But "in a society that values quick and easy success... and when so many galleries and museums prefer to give their space to video art, conceptual art and installation art, why do so many keep struggling to master a skill that art critics insist is anachronistic and old hat? Why this continuing compulsion to draw?"Please read the entire book review in the New York Times, and then print it and send it to every curator and art critic that you know.
And is this topical to the three Trawick Prize curators! I will make sure that they (a) get a copy of my review once it is published, and (b) a copy of the NY Times piece.
The book by Peter Steinhart is "The Undressed Art: Why We Draw," and it is now on my to-read list.
Thanks to AJ
Sunday, September 12, 2004
Come by - there will be about 30-40 area artists selling their work...
Saturday, September 11, 2004
This fine arts award is the result of a commitment by a terrific woman and business leader who is dedicated to bringing artistic attention to our area: Carol Trawick.
Maryland, Virginia and District artists are eligible to compete for the prize.
David Page of Baltimore, MD was the Best in Show winner of $10,000. Jeff Spaulding of Bethesda, MD was honored with the second place prize of $2,000 and Randi Reiss-McCormack of Lutherville, MD was awarded the third place prize of $1,000. Marci Branagan of Baltimore, MD received the "Young Artist" award of $1,000 sponsored by the Fraser Gallery.
My congratulations to all the prizewinners.
I cannot say enough good things about Ms. Trawick and the fact that in an area dominated by some of the largest and wealthiest corporations in the world, it has been a small business owner who has taken the challenge of ponying up a considerable annual cash prize to recognize an area artist and hopefully place our area on the national fine arts map. My kudos and applause to all involved in this great effort.
Each year Catriona Fraser, who is the non-voting Chair of the Trawick Prize (and whose idea it was to create the Prize), has the unenviable job of gathering three jurors, one each from Maryland, Virginia and the District, to jury the competition and award the prizes.
The jury members for the competition are Jeffrey W. Allison, Paul Mellon Collection Educator at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts; Peter Dubeau, Associate Dean of Continuing Studies at the Maryland Institute College of Art and Kristen Hileman, Assistant Curator at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.
This year, the three curators culled these 15 finalists from an entry field of around 400 artists.
And I wish I could have been as quick-witted as Thinking About Art, where Kirkland writes:
"It appears to me that these curators pulled out a handbook titled "How to Jury a Show: The Predictable and Boring Contemporary Way." This handbook, only one page long, likely contains a checklist of types of art that must be in a contemporary art show."This is funny, but unfortunately correct!
As tempted as I am to say that this exhibition could rank as possibly one of the worst curated group art shows that I have ever seen, I will not do so (ooops! too late!) simply because I recognize that althought I found most of the work boorish, predictable and cookie-cutter contemporary cool "art," I do realize that these are, for the most part, serious, intelligent artists who deeply believe in what they are doing and creating.
My apologies in advance to the artists that I am about to brutalize and my congratulations to the ones that I am about to praise. Remember, it is only my opinion, so please: no hate email.
But I do have an opinion, and in this case there are very few good things that I can and will say about the artwork - although I place the blame for the vapid quality of this show squarely on the shoulders of the three curators, one of whom I know well and who has curated excellent shows in the past, but when working alone and not in a committee curatorial task, as this one was.
Let me start by saying that Graham Caldwell got ripped off. He should have won the Prize and his work was a vast distance ahead of the rest of the field.
Caldwell's entry, titled "Pillows" (to the left) was a trademark piece by this highly talented artist, represented locally by Addison/Ripley Fine Art in Georgetown.
A lovely composition of delicate glass pieces anchored to the gallery wall, it brought forth not only the artist's technical mastery of one of the great remaining fine arts where technical skill is not up for discussion, but also his keen visual creativity. "Pillows" was the best piece in the show.
The winner of the worst piece in the show is easily awarded to John Watson - both of his entries.
Watson currently teaches sculpture and drawing at the University of Maryland and the Maryland College of Art and Design, and with all due respect, both of his entries reminded me of the sort of work that art students do when they wake up on a Friday morning and realize that "Oh Fuck! I have a project due today!" Then I ... uh... they would head to the shool's woodshop and grab a pile of odds and ends from the garbage bin and in about 30 seconds create the project.
Problem was that when I'd bring it -- I mean they'd bring it -- to the class later that day, there would be about half a dozen similar "projects" up for review and a bored art professor rolling his eyes and handing out B plusses to everyone.
Watson's second entry, titled "Orestes" has a bit more work and thought into it... about 116 seconds more I'd reckon; for a total of 146 seconds!
I was sorely tempted to ask the gallery attendant if the shelf supporting "Orestes" was also done by the artist, as the shelf shows some actual wood-working skill, while "Orestes" actually looks like a maquette for the world's sorriest-looking birdhouse.
Then there is J.L. Stewart Watson coming to the rescue to the artistic Watsons of this world. This artist's entry (a huge messy thing titled "Kitchen 300 degrees (Lollipop 192)") I both hated and loved, and thus I reluctantly place it as one of the most successful works in the show.
This Watson has cooked up a huge drippy, melting installation of sugar, corn syrup, water, dye, steel, cast iron, galvanized cable, muslin and assorted hardware to deliver a brutally macabre work that floats back and forth between mind images of a bloody, tortured female figure to more plebian thoughts of "what a mess."
I applaud this Watson for actually having the cojones to put a price of $2,800 on an installation that is essentially melting away and creating a spectacular, syrupy, blood-like mess on the gallery's floor. Ants within a twenty mile radius of Creative Partners Gallery must be at this very moment planning the Sunday attack, when the gallery is closed.
"Kitchen 300 Degrees (Lollipop 192)" is also a good point as to why the Trawick Prize is good for Bethesda area art lovers: It allows them to see the kind of work that is rarely seen in our area, unless one ventures to the wilderness of the Hirshhorn, or to any of the next thousand cool-wanna-be museums that are always so fond of sculptures and installations made of food.
News alert to curators: Video is dead! (unless of course you throw in some real sex like Andrea Fraser).
Fuzzy, static-noisy type video is especially dead, overdone, repeated and spectacularly boring!
And that describes the entry of E. Brandon Morse, titled "Insulary." Morse says the conceptual focus of his work is the "development and portrayal of situations of a specifically vague nature." He gets an A+ for achieving that goal, although I think that he's pulling our leg when he uses the word focus in anything to describe his work.
Surprisingly enough, there were three painters among the fifteen finalists: Daniel Sullivan, Jo Smail, and Randi Reiss-McCormack - I am not familiar with any of them, but note that all three have shown nearly exclusively in Baltimore non-profits such as School 33 and thus they are painters that obviously Peter Dubeau knows well and placed into the finalists. I cannot believe that not a single DC or Virginia painter was selected.
Of the three, Smail (who teaches at MICA, where Dubeau is the Associate Dean of Continuing Studies) is by far the best painter. Her Black Angels with Handkerchiefs, is at first deceptively simple and minimalist. Upon close examination, it reveals quite a skilled painter with a strong command of design and composition as well as painting skills.
I also liked the three pieces by Marie Ringwald, which are these unusual, utilitarian maquettes of buildings and structures that allow Ringwald to get away with solid fields of color under the cover of sculpture.
They are attractive, well-constructed and strangely appealing. The artist says that they "embody hopefulness, possibilities, history and mystery." I don't know about that, but they are certainly a notch above most of the other work selected for this show and visibly stand out by their design and color.
The Best in Show winner's piece (Paradysdonkie, steel, wood, canvas, felt) by Baltimore's David Page is hard to dislike... or to feel passionate about.
Therein lies its failure in my view.
It is modern and contemporary enough... sort of a pommel horse for retired, artsy S&M gymnasts, and certainly does not and would not look out of place in any museum or gallery show of contemporary art, although it may look slightly out of place even in the coolest of post-modernist bachelor pads.
It's not bad; uh... it just doesn't do it for me as Best of Show.
The Trawick Prize: Bethesda Contemporary Art Awards is one of the great assets of our area's cultural tapestry, and designed to recognize the best that our area has to offer. Because the prizewinners are selected by museum and academic curators, it has some inherent flaws in the selection process that are very difficult to correct and that every single committee art curating project has. We must applaud, and add, to this prize, and hopefully demand that future curators do a better job of opening their minds to the skill and talent of artists beyond just those that they know intimately.
The way to do this is for museum curators and for school burocrats to get out of their offices and visit galleries and artists' studios and art panels and the such, so that their tunnel art vision is expanded beyond a handful of artists.
Friday, September 10, 2004
Deadline: Monday, September 27, 2004.
War or Peace at Warehouse Gallery. October 15-November 14, 2004. Opening reception Friday, October 15. One of five Washington exhibitions relating to the theme. All work in War or Peace will be juried from digital images. Juror for two dimensional work is Molly Ruppert, Director of Warehouse Gallery; Juror for sculpture: Judy A. Greenberg, Director of The Kreeger Museum.
Two-dimensional work: Send Jpegs to: RuppertM@erols.com.
Sculpture: Send Jpegs (two views of each work) to: email@example.com.
Please include in the text of the email the following info:
title of work
There will be no entry or hanging fees but a commission of 20% of all sales will be taken by the gallery.
Maximum dimensions: 9 feet height, 8 or 10 feet width.
Notification by October 4. Further information: email MJ@webworqs.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
The opening reception is from 6-9 PM as part of the Bethesda Art Walk. See you there!
As soon as I get back from Cornhuskerland I will go see the show and offer my own comments on the subject, but judging from the photos posted by J.T. about the selected works, I am already finding myself somewhat agreeing with Kirkland.
Wednesday, September 08, 2004
On the flight here I read Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss and loved it!
Mora later... on both Omaha and the book.
Tuesday, September 07, 2004
Deadline: 30 November 2004.
All artists working in digital media are eligible to enter this competition. The IDAA seeks to present the very best artists working in 2D digital stills and New Media art.
The IDAA was one of the first international awards to present an online and touring hard copy exhibition with publication.
2005 program will also include a fully integrated web conference featuring several leading international artists and academics. The 2005 prize list is extensive and can be viewed online. It is worth mentioning that Epson and DES will be supporting two artists with special printing prizes in the 2D category.
The IDAA is a major award and offers free entry to all artists.
Deadline for entries is 30 November 2004 - Those artists who enter before October 30 will be eligible to win the new G 600 Konica Minolta 6 meg Digital Camera.
Enter at this website.
Monday, September 06, 2004
The blunt, chain-smoking ex-miner had this to say about it all.
On the road this week for a visit to Nebraska (don't ask). I will be back on Friday in time for the Bethesda Art Walk and the opening of GMU Professor Chawky Frenn at our Bethesda gallery.
Chawky Frenn is easily one of the most controversial artists in our area. Some of you may recall the noise and complaints that his recent show at Dartmouth University caused, where Frenn out-controversied Damien Hirst, who was also showing at the University at the same time.
Sunday, September 05, 2004
Last Friday I went to the opening and selected the prize winners. The Best in Show was won by area artist Paul Ellis, while the two awards of excellence went to Spanish-born New York photographer Yolanda del Amo for two-dimensional work and to Andrey Tsers for three-dimensional.
Yesterday the Baltimore Sun's art critic Glenn McNatt had a review of the show. McNatt writes:
"A touch of whimsyLike any juried competition, this was a difficult one to jury, and I struggled for what seemed hours with the Best in Show decision. It could have easily gone to Yolanda del Amo (a RISD graduate), whose photograph is as compelling and sublty seductive as McNatt describes. Her winning entry (Domestica) is pictured above to the left, and it is from a series called "Maids" photographed in Argentina by del Amo. According to one of del Amo's friends who was at the opening (the photographer was not present at the opening), del Amo has been stirring quite a bit of interest in her neck of the woods in N'Yak and could be a photographer to keep an eye on (pun intended).
The title of the exhibition at Gallery International, All Media Competition and Show, sounds a bit grandiose, but actually it's as apt as any for this sparkling group show, which brings together 48 artists from far and wide chosen by guest curator F. Lennox Campello.
Campello, a co-owner of the Fraser Gallery in Washington, selected the works on view from the more than 200 entries submitted, and he readily concedes that he followed no formula or format other than his own whimsy in making his choices.
The results, however, are as delightful as they are occasionally surprising. And, true to its title, the show's offerings are divided almost equally among paintings, sculpture, photography and mixed-media works.
There are also quite a few Duchamp-inspired artworks of the buzzing, whirling, mechanical variety, including Wade Kramm's ingenious Candle flipbook, an electric-powered contraption that mimics the flickering motion of an animated cartoon, and Adam Bradley's Dandelion, a weirdly alluring wind-up diorama depicting the soul's reluctant fall from grace.
One of the most polished works in the show is New York-based photographer Yolanda Del Amo's Domestica, a large-scale color photograph mounted on Plexiglas and aluminum that recalls the staged but unforced naturalism of Tina Barney's upper-middle-class domestic dramas. The Spanish-born Del Amo, whose photographs convey a compelling but stubbornly ambiguous narrative thrust, is on the evidence of this work clearly an artist to watch.
The show runs through Sept. 24. The gallery is at 523 N. Charles St. Hours are noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. Call 410-230-0561."
The interesting point in this article by Ian Mayes is that fact that he discloses that between the Guardian and the Observer (owned and run by The Guardian), they employ about 60 art critics backed by a similar number of editors and sub-editors!
And they made a deliberate effort to provide arts coverage in spite of the fact that "...the commitment is not simply or primarily a commercial one. In terms of revenue for the paper, many areas of the arts would not pay for the coverage."
I would guess that our own Washington Post, which has a daily (and shrinking) circulation of around 600,000 printed papers, and gets around two million hits a day for its great website, and owns several other newspapers, is probably about twice the size of the Guardian newspapers combined.
Does anyone want to count the number of Post critics and see if they employ or use more or less than the Guardian?
Saturday, September 04, 2004
I have been chosen to curate this exhibit due to my well-known interest in all things Kahlo.
It started in 1975, when I visited Mexico City and discovered the works of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo. Almost immediately, I developed an artistic obsession with Kahlo's image and I have created hundreds of works on that subject, including dozens of art school assignments at the University of Washington School of Art (1977-1981).
In 1975 my parents took their first vacation ever, at least in my memory. As Cuban exiles, the American tradition of yearly vacations was as removed from their routine as the Cuban tradition of Noche Buena is from American Christmas holiday customs.
Anyway, they decided to go to Mexico City for a week with another couple from New York, which is where my folks had been living since leaving Cuba as political refugees in the 60s.
In 1975 I was finishing my first year in the US Navy, where I had enlisted right after High School, and stationed aboard USS Saratoga, homeported in Mayport, Florida. I had turned down a New York State Regents Scholarship and a Boston University art scholarship to satisfy my desire to see the world before I went to college.
Mexico City and its nightlife and food (and how far a dollar went) made such an impression upon my parents and their friends, that the one-week trip became two, and eventually they spent nearly a month in that huge, dirty city, enjoying the food, scenery, clubs and markets. They also asked me if I'd like to join them for a few days, and since they were paying for it, I took a few days leave and flew to Mexico City for about five days of my own, unexpected vacation.
I hardly spent any time with them.
As a teenager, my interests were more focused on girls, cheap booze and plenty of great things to do. It was while visiting a museum during the last few days of my visit, at the insistence of a cute American Jewish tourist girl whom I had picked up at my parents' hotel, that I accidentally discovered Frida Kahlo.
I remember walking into the museum salon where the Two Fridas hung. It was love, or more like witchcraft, at first sight. This large, spectacular painting swallowed my visual senses and attention as no work of art would do again until I first saw Velasquez's Las Meninas at the Prado in Madrid eight years later.
At that first exposure, and the ones that followed as I tried to absorb as much of Frida Kahlo as I could in my remaining Mexico City days, I became an addict for the work and imagery of this Champagne Communist Mexican virago. I recall sitting down in the room where the Two Fridas was hung, and copying the painting through a pencil sketch done on gift wrapping vellum paper from an earlier touristy purchase of a huge, saucepan sized solid silver belt buckle and brown cowboy etched leather belt that I wore for years after and that thankfully has now been lost.
Kahlo left me gasping for knowledge about her and her work. Her imagery was like nothing I had seen before, even in my childhood's New York atmosphere that often included day-long trips to the Brooklyn Museum, the Met, MOMA and many other New York museums. The more of her work that I discovered, the more I became obsessed with learning about her.
In 1975 and the first few years that followed, this wasn't exactly an easy task. In those years Kahlo, at least in Mexico, was still Diego Rivera's wife, who also happened to paint.
In 1997, together with the Mexican Cultural Institute in Washington, DC I curated a small exhibition at the Fraser Gallery focused on an attempt to bring to Washington contemporary artwork that paid homage to Kahlo. It rapidly became one of the best-attended, most visited exhibitions ever held by the gallery and showed the giant strides in recognition that Kahlo and her art had made since that day in Mexico City when I first discovered her.
The Seven Fridas (Pen and Ink, circa 1981)
Collection of Seeds of Peace
The love affair then produced in 2002 a show of my own work titled "Passion for Frida: 27 Years of Frida Kahlo Artwork." It chronicled 27 years of preparatory drawings, etchings, oil paintings, watercolors and sculptures about Kahlo. It received good critical attention in the Washington City Paper and the Washington Times. It consisted of work that I had done as early as 1975 and as recently as a week before the show opened. In the wake of Julie Taymor’s beautiful movie "Frida," it was also a spectacular success.
And now I am honored to juror a worldwide call to artists who share my passion for Frida, for her life, for her artwork and for her influence. This call for art will deliver a new Homage to Frida Kahlo and all things Kahlo. I’d like to see work that delivers new portraits of Kahlo, or work that has been influenced by Kahlo, or by her life or her work.
In the end, I hope to put together a virtual exhibition that will leave a memorable footprint of the tremendous influence that this iconic daughter of Mexico left on all of us.
As soon as the official call is ready to be announced, I will post it here.
The next Secondsight meeting will be held on Thursday, September 23 at 6.30pm in Bethesda, MD. The guest speaker will be Amy Lamb, a very successful fine arts photographer and highly respected scientist. For more information, visit www.secondsightdc.com or call Catriona Fraser at (301) 718-9651. Meetings are free for members - $10 for guests.
Secondsight is an organization dedicated to the advancement of women photographers through support, communication and sharing of ideas and opportunities. Secondsight is committed to supporting photographers at every stage of their careers, from students to professionals. Each bi-monthly meeting includes an introductory session, a guest speaker, portfolio sharing and discussion groups. Each photographer will have the opportunity to present their work within a small group of other photographers, ask for constructive criticism, gain knowledge or simply share their artistic vision and techniques.
Friday, September 03, 2004
Call me plebian, but I am always delighted to read an art critic that shows his colors and his prejudices when reviewing a visual exhibition, and then has the honesty and courage to somewhat change his mind.
"FULL DISCLOSURE: I don't particularly like flowers or shiny metallic thread.I'll admit that althought I liked O'Sullivan's review, I'd rather still rather watch an ice cube melt than go see "Floral Perspectives in Carpet Design," which makes O'Sullivan a more open-minded and fair critic that I can ever hope to be; but that's just me.
Which makes my recent visit to the Textile Museum to check out two exhibitions -- the new "Floral Perspectives in Carpet Design" (whose title pretty much says it all) and the about-to-close "By Hand in the Electronic Age: Contemporary Tapestry" (a show with more than its share of fiber bling-bling) -- potentially problematic.
See, I've been conditioned by exposure to contemporary art to mistrust the decorative. Floral art -- unless it's a stand-in for sex or death, as it so often is -- is not my cup of tea. And glints of gold thread woven through textiles remind me, I'm sorry to say, of Liberace.
So I was heartened, not to mention somewhat surprised, by the fact that in addition to flowers and lamé, there's something to chew on in both shows."
But I digress. My point is that it is rare to see these sort of "full disclosures" when discussing an opinion in an art review. More often than not what we find is cynicism, and writing that is what the author thinks the other "cool" critics and "hot" curators would want to read.
That also explains why a lot of contemporary art critics and curators have such dislike of painting. They have been conditioned to think that it's not cool to like painting, and it's fun to see them scramble to line up when an unexpected painter bolts out of the blue, such as Gerhard Richter and the same people who shout that "painting is dead" line up to applaud a painter who Sotheby's calls the "most influential artist in the world." Not painter, but artist.
Thus we can always see critical hypochrisy or all the sheeps lining up to follow the lead. Another perfect example of that theory was the orgy of great reviews by super cool contemporary art critics for The Quilt's of Gee's Bend. The New York Times dubbed this show one of the "ten most important shows in the world," and art critics who one would imagine would rather have their eyes poked out with a blunt butter knife than hang a quilt as "art" in their post-modernist flats all lined up to applaud the show.
I did too. I was enthralled and seduced not just by the quilts, but mostly by the quilters that I met.
And I went back and re-read a lot of the reviews and I was (and still) nagged by the impression that a lot of the words were written not out of honesty, but out of political correctness; it would have been suicidal for any writer, not just an art critic, to dislike the show.
I could be wrong.
But when the world's most influential daily anoints a show as one of the "ten most important shows in the world," it essentially dares every other secondary art critic in the world to disagree with them.
But I could be wrong, and because I have never been particularly fond of quilts as "fine art," I went to see this show prepared to dislike it - my own prejudice and (like Michael says) "conditioning," and a fun opportunity to disagree with the mainstream critic media.
And yet, let me repeat myself: I was enthralled and seduced not just by the quilts, but mostly by the quilters. I ended up loving the quilts because of the quilters.
And to this day I am nagged by the feeling that it was the quilters, more than the quilts, that we all liked so much.
And thus, I applaud honesty like O'Sullivan's in today's review.
However, since Labor Day is actually next Monday, I suspect that many galleries may still be closed and on vacation, in which case the "unofficial" opening of the visual arts season may shift to next Friday to the Bethesda Art Walk from 6-9 PM on September 10.
The week after that, on Sept. 16, is the Third Thursday Night Out for the 7th Street Area Arts District from 6-8 PM. By the way, if you'd like to volunteer as a 3rd Thursday gallery crawl guide, contact Rachel Leverenz at 202/315-1310.
The next day, on Sept. 17 is the third Friday and the Canal Square Galleries in Georgetown have their new show openings from 6-9 PM, catered by the Sea Catch Restaurant and Raw Bar.
Thursday, September 02, 2004
Robinson (whose most recent book I am currently reading by the way) wrote:
"Sorry, Mr. Campello, but even Galleries columnists get a vacation now and then.So I have written back:
Assistant Managing Editor -- Style
The Washington Post"
"Dear Mr. Robinson,
Thank you for your note - I know that you are a busy man and I appreciate your time, and I am sure that their vacations are well deserved. By the way, I quite enjoyed and learned a lot from Coal to Cream and have in fact used it as an inspiration for some of my artwork. I am currently reading Last Dance in Havana. I strongly recommend that you may enjoy Waiting for Snow in Havana: Confessions of a Cuban Boy -- by Carlos Eire.
Back to my original point.
Theater critics also deserve a vacation now and then, and there has never ever been a week in the Washington Post (at least in my memory) without a theatre review. Why? Because the Post does a wonderful job of covering our area theatres and has a good number of writers to cover our area theatres - if one or two of them go on vacation in August, there's always someone else to ensure that a review keeps the theatre scene alive and kicking in our region. A highly deserved well done for that!
There are three times as many art galleries in the Washington area as there are theatres, but in my prejudiced opinion (which has been expressed many times to John Pancake, a man that I respect and admire), the Washington Post does not view our area galleries in the same perspective as theatre, movies and performance.
Until recently you had only one critic (Jessica Dawson) to cover all the area galleries - the addition of Glenn Dixon dumfounded many of us who knew of his past disdain for DC art galleries (his column "Beneath Contempt" while he was editor of the City Paper is still infamously remembered) - but at least a second voice was added to cover our galleries and we applauded and welcomed Dixon to the column.
And thus my utter disbelief when today I open my paper and expect to read a review of a gallery show from the nearly 200 shows currently on exhibit in our region, and instead find a theatre review and a music review - thank you for those - but no "Galleries" column.
Therefore my frustration with your coverage and my note to you.
I thank you for your time and hope that I clarified the issue for you.
It is especially galling now that the paper has two freelancers (Jessica Dawson and Glenn Dixon) covering the region's gallery circuit. Why then are there still Thursdays when the only regular gallery column by the world's second most influential newspaper is simply not there?
It is such a huge show of disrespect for the Post's readers, and for the region's artists, art collectors and art galleries, made even more galling by the fact that today's Style section still managed to include a theater review of The King and I and a music review of Jesse Henry, so print space was not the reason.
If this pisses you off as much as it always does me, then drop an email on the subject to the Style Editor (Gene Robinson) at email@example.com, and info the Arts Editor (John Pancake) at firstname.lastname@example.org and the Ombudsman (Michael Getler) at email@example.com.
Wednesday, September 01, 2004
The CDS/Honickman First Book Biennial Prize in Photography.
Deadline: September 10, 2004.
Open to American photographers, no age limit, who have not published a book-length work. All subject matter is acceptable. Submissions should be visually compelling and have an integrity of purpose. A cash award of $3,000, publication of a book of photography, and a traveling exhibition will be awarded to the winning entry. Entry fee: $25. For more information, contact: CDS/Honickman First Book Prize in Photography, Center for Documentary Studies, 1317 W. Pettigrew St., Durham, NC 27705; email: firstname.lastname@example.org; or visit website
The Ronnie Heyman Prize for an Emerging Jewish Visual Artist: National Foundation for Jewish Culture.
Deadline: November 2004
The Ronnie Heyman Prize was established by the National Foundation for Jewish Culture to recognize and support an emerging visual artist who has created and exhibited a body of work that reflects the Jewish experience or addresses issues in the Jewish community. The Fund will provide a grant/prize for $2,500. Visit this website to download the application or contact Kristen L. Runk, Associate Operations Director; (212) 629-0500 x. 215 or email her at email@example.com
This year's finalists include:
Marci Branagan, Baltimore, MD
Graham Caldwell, Washington, D.C.
Annet Couwenberg, Baltimore, MD
Susan Eder & Craig Dennis, Falls Church, VA
Suzanna Fields, Richmond, VA
Bernhard Hildebrandt, Baltimore, MD
Brandon Morse, Takoma Park, MD
David Page, Baltimore, MD
Randi Reiss-McCormack, Lutherville, MD
Marie Ringwald, Washington, D.C.
Jo Smail, Baltimore, MD
Jeff Spaulding, Bethesda, MD
Daniel Sullivan, Baltimore, MD
J. L. Stewart Watson, Baltimore, MD
John Watson, Washington, D.C.
Deadline: Sept 29, 2004.
The League of Reston Artists (LRA)/Reston Photographic Society (RPS) announces its 2004 Call for Entry for its Annual Judged Photography Exhibition.
The juror is Joshua Taylor, who is an award-winning photographer with over thirty years experience in newspaper and magazine photography, teaching, and workshops. Currently a faculty member of the Smithsonian Studio Arts program and member of the Northern Virginia Photographic Society (NVPS), he has also taught at the Corcoran School of Art and Design and provided photographic expertise in retail sales at Penn Camera. He recently gave workshops at the U.S. National Arboretum, U.S. Botanic Garden and Green Spring Gardens Park, and lectured at the National Horticultural Society Garden School.
This call for entry is limited to a maximum of two framed photographs. The entry fee for LRA/RPS members is $15. This exhibition is restricted to members of the LRA/RPS. Membership in the LRA/RPS is $20 per year.
The entry form can be downloaded from the LRA’s web site here. Send completed entry form to the LRA, POB 2513, Reston, VA 20195. Entry forms must be postmarked no later than September 29.
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