Sunday, October 31, 2004

Painting is dead... right guys? I mean... "ancient medium" and all that.

US Museum curators got together and decided to pick the US artist to represent the nation at the next Venice Biennale.

They picked a painter!

Not only that, but this is a second time returnee! The US choice for 2005 was also the US choice for 1970, when he contructed "Chocolate Room," a visual and sensory art experience where the Venice visitor saw 360 pieces of paper impregnated with chocolate and hung like roof shingles so that they smelled like chocolate; sort of like "scratch and sniff art."

But now he's just an "ancient medium" devotee.

Most local curators and Blake: read it and weep.

October (Art) Surprise: Tonight!

Curators Andrea Pollan and Nora Halpern have an October Art Surprise. Sponsored by Furioso Development Corporation, Metropolis Development Company, and G Fine Art, and in cooperation with Glen Construction (am I done with the credits?) they present: Jenny Holzer: Xenon for D.C.

Internationally acclaimed artist Jenny Holzer comes to Washington, DC to launch her first public art project here. The project consists of one of her first Xenon projections in the U.S.

Jenny Holzer's Xenon projections have captivated audiences around the globe from Buenos Aires to Paris to Berlin. She now presents them for the first time in the United States.

Tonight you can see the projections against the facade of the new 1515 14th Street Arts Building (near the corner of 14th & Church Streets NW between P & Q Streets).

On Monday, November 1, 2004, at the Gelman Library on the campus of George Washington University, Holzer will project poems, as well as declassified documents made available through the Freedom of Information Act and the work of the National Security Archive.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Congratulations to Washington area artist and co-founder of the Washington Glass School, Tim Tate who has been announced as one of New York City's Out Magazine 100 Most Remarkable People of 2004.

Tim will be hanging out in NYC next month gathering his award and hanging with celebrities like Ellen deG and others.

This is an important recognition no doubt based on Tate’s string of artistic accomplishments in the last couple of years, such as being recognized as the 2003 Mayor’s Arts Awards Washington Artist of the Year, two sold out shows at our two Fraser Galleries, major reviews in both national and international newspapers and magazines and his selection as the design winner for the International AIDS Monument to be built in New Orleans.

Friday, October 29, 2004

New Arts Based TV Show

GPV Group is an organization that provides assistance to program networks looking to expand.

They have started an arts news television program called ArtsMedia News. The program is starting off initially as newsbreaks airing seven times a week on MHz Networks in the DC area with further distribution to public television stations nationwide.

Starting in January they will be expanding to a half hour weekly program to air at 8:30 PM on Thursday nights on MHz with further distribution nationwide as well.

They've approached me to introduce some of the art newsbreaks that focus on DC-based art news and I will be doing my first one next week. This newsbreak will focus on the current exhibition Tradition in Transition: Russian Icons in the Age of the Romanovs currently on display at the Hillwood Museum and Gardens through December 31.

This is good news for our area's cultural tapestry!

Andrew Noyes has an excellent article in today's Voice of the Hill on the subject of the public art project that DC artist Marsha Stein has been organizing for the last few weeks.

The article is on page 32, and describes Stein's project as well as generous comments from the Washington Post's Chief Art Critic Blake Gopnik and from myself.

A novel concept that Stein has introduced to the world of art is the fact that she has a videographer working with her, and documenting everything in a reality TV approach. The videographer hopes that this project will be the seed of an art-based Reality TV series to pitch to the networks.

Interested artists should contact Marsha Stein at

Venezuelan photographer Luis Gomez makes his DC area debut with "Cities," a 32-photo exhibit at Candida’s World of Books at 1541 14th Street N.W. (14th and Q).

The exhibit runs through November 15 and focuses on inner, urban cores —one of Gomez’s favorite subjects— and offers glimpses of architecture and streetscapes, as well as their people. The photos will take viewers to cities that include Amsterdam, Chicago, Havana, Madrid, Prague, Santiago, Sydney and others.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Cynthia Young defends the "grubs" in a passionate letter in this week's Washington City Paper.

And Jeffry Cudlin writes another really good review (why isn't Cudlin writing more often in the WCP?).

This time he reviews "Inventions: Recent Paintings by Caio Fonseca" at the Corcoran and damned near convinced me that Fonseca was not just another hack painting the kind of safe, unintelligible art that cannot remotely offend anyone and that one routinely sees in hotels, airports and furniture stores. Not really art but "wall decor."

Thusday is the day the Style section of the Post reviews galleries and today Glenn Dixon reviews Kenny Hunter: Works in Colour at Conner Contemporary Art.

There's also a theatre review and a music review in today's Style.

The Washington Post finally picks up the story of Philip Barlow's woes with the WAP/C first reported here over two weeks ago.

The Arts Beat column adds little to the story that hasn't been discussed to death already by DC Artnews, J.T. Kirkland, Tyler Green, MetroBlogging and others.

Other than this great quote from the new OPTIONS 2005 curator:
"I've been forgiving of artists who've painted dreadful cows in my part of the country," adds Lumpkin, "so I can be forgiving of artists who've painted dreadful pandas in your part of the country." "

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

I've been out all day, and arrived home, picked up the email (I am by now used to getting one letter a week from either/or United or American Airlines pleading with me to sign up for their credit card), cooked dinner, got ready to watch the World Series, and then... read my email.

I was a bit taken back by the huge number of emails that I've received from artists commenting on the new WPA/C OPTIONS curator. But I think that we need to let the waters settle and see how things develop.

Last weekend the Washington Times gave our current Bethesda show (David FeBland), their "Hot Pick" of the week.

Transformer tells me that they will have Ken Grimes, Laura Craig McNellis, Judith Scott, and Melvin "Milky" Way in a show titled Cryptic Communications: Work by Four Self Taught Artists. Show opens November 6 and runs through December 4, 2004.

In Alexandria, Pa Dian Accents presents Women of Color, Style and Expression, a collection of more than 40 works by five contemporary artists from the D.C. area, from Saturday, November 13 through Sunday, November 21. The featured artists in this show found their visions in a variety of ways. Edith Graciela Sanabria’s art began as a response to a difficult childhood with an authoritarian father. Donna Boozer was inspired by the birth of her daughter. Chela Sanbria, Edith’s daughter, found healing from a crippling illness through painting vibrant colors and Jennifer Jin Seaver began her artistic career as a child in Korea. Mikel Glass

New York realist Mikel Glass is at Old Town Alexandria's Century Gallery. The exhibition is on view until December 1, 2004. I saw Glass’ show at Century a couple of years ago and Glass is a spectacularly talented painter whose works have been called "a battle between Rembrandt and Freud."

And in Georgetown...

"Ebb and Flow," recent paintings and drawings by Washingtonian Janis Goodman, (who teaches at the Corcoran) explores the universal theme of constancy.

Goodman's new series is devoted to water and its insistent repetition, even as the rest of the world is in flux. Her intelligent renderings of water capture the artist's intense devotion to observation and meditation.

"Ebb and Flow" will be on view at District Fine Arts from November 5 through December 11, 2004.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

New OPTIONS 2005 Curator Named

The Washington Project for the Arts\Corcoran Association (WPA\C) has announced that Ms. Libby Lumpkin has been named as the WPA\C OPTIONS exhibition curator to replace fired curator Philip Barlow.

Libby Lumpkin is an internationally noted art historian, critic, and curator who serves as Director of the Museum Studies Program at California State University and Assistant Professor of Art History, Long Beach. She was the founding curator of Steve Wynn's Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art in Las Vegas (man... Tyler Green will have fun with that bit of resume news), and has served as Visiting Professor of Art Theory at Yale University, Visiting Lecturer on Visual and Environmental Studies at Harvard University, Visiting Professor of Theory and Aesthetics at the University of California Santa Barbara, and Visiting Lecturer at Umeå University in Umeå, Sweden.

She also served as Assistant Professor of Art History and Curator of the Donna Beam Fine Art Gallery at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Lumpkin is the author of Deep Design: Nine Little Art Histories, as well as Ingrid Calame and Jean-Michel Basquiat: War Paint. She edited and produced the catalogs for the Bellagio Collection, and has authored numerous critical essays on contemporary art and design. Dr. Lumpkin was a contributing editor of Art Issues magazine of Los Angeles, and is a regular contributor to Artforum of New York.

She is founding director of a design institute for the Institute of Modern Letters at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas to open in January 2005. After spending two years in Long Beach, she returned to Las Vegas with her spouse, art critic and curator, Dave Hickey.

Ms. Lumpkin has stated that
"The emerging artist scene in the Washington, D.C. area is unexplored territory for me. I look forward to discovering what's out there. I'm hoping that artists of all types who do not yet have gallery representation will respond to the call for submission for consideration so that we can set up appointments to view works. I'm sure most of the artists will be young, but I'd love to hear from artists of all ages, anyone who is presently working outside the gallery system. I'm as interested in the private, eccentric artist as in those whose works are engaged in prevailing cultural discourse. I'd like to end up with an exhibition that presents a lively mixture of types."
Does this mean that Ms. Lumpkin is automatically excluding any and all artists who have gallery representation? Someone better tell the Corcoran Board of Trustees right away before she buys her plane tickets to come visit our area.

The WPA\C will soon announce submission guidelines for artists who wish to submit materials as preliminary research for the benefit of the curator. Because this is not a juried exhibition, there is no fee to submit materials and artists do not have to be a member of the WPA\C to be considered. These guidelines will be posted on the WPA/C website on Nov 1, 2004. Ms. Lumpkin will perform on-site studio visits while working on the exhibition in Washington, DC.

It is a smart move by the WPA/C to hire an outside curator to replace Barlow, but I wonder how much this is costing them; I suspect that curators such as Lumpkin do not come cheaply.

I wish Ms. Lumpkin the best of luck with a most difficult show. It won't be easy, but I am sure that she will do a good job; we will be watching.

Tonight I will be at one of my favorite charity art auctions for a great organization and a great cause.

It is at the Carnegie Institution of Washington (16th & P Streets, NW), the Walker Whitman Clinic will be having their annual Art for Life Auction, in my opinion one of the best art auctions in the city. Viewing from 6:00 pm and the auction starts at 7:30 pm.

See you there!

Monday, October 25, 2004

Sunny Taylor PaintingDriving Force was a national competition to recognize and showcase young artists with disabilities, ages 16 -25, who are living in the United States.

The exhibition is currently on view at the S. Dillon Ripley Center, Smithsonian Institution through November 29, 2004. It will then tour for one year throughout the U.S.

The grand prize winner, Sunny Taylor, is a self taught hand and foot artist (only 22 years old) who is a spectacular painter.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

One of the more eye-opening things in attending an art fair is seeing the dynamics that go onto the decision to buy a piece of art.

Put together a few thousand people, paying an entry fee to enter the fair, an assortment of dealers, and a huge diverse variety of offerings and it's an education in people watching.

The married couple:
"Do you like it?"
"Yeah, I like it- it's just what we've been looking for."
"Where would we put it?"
"We have a couple of spots that it'd fit."
"Do you really like it."
"Yeah, how about you?"
"Yeah, I kinda of like it."
"Should we get it?"
"If you want it."

(five minutes later)
"Let's think about it."
[To me] "Do you have a business card?"

The couple (not married):
Her: "Do you like it?"
Him: "Sssoright"
Her: "Where would we put it?"
Him: "Dunno."
Her: "Do you really like it."
Him: "So'OK.. Yeah, how about you?"
Her: "Yeah, I kinda, sorta, really like it."
Him: "Dunno though"
Her: "What? You don't like it?"
Him: "If you want it."
(five minutes later)
Him: "Let's think about it."
Her or Him: "OK" [To me] "Do you have a business card?"

The Single Woman (SW) with a Woman Friend:
SW: "WOW! Now, I really like this!"
Friend: "Yeah... it's nice"
SW: "It's exactly what I've been looking for!"
Friend: "I have a friend who does work just like this..."
SW: "I am really drawn to it!"
Friend: "Are you really sure you like it?"
SW: "Uh - yeah!... why? Don't you like it?"
Friend: "Yeah... it's OK"
SW: "I think it's really good... I think it's the first piece in this whole show that I really like."
Friend: "There's a few more booths we haven't seen."
SW: "I think I'm going to buy this."
Friend: "Are you sure?"
SW: "Uh - yeah!... It's a good price too.... why? Don't you like it?"
(five minutes later)
SW: "Do you have a business card?"

The Single Woman (SW) with a Man Friend:
SW: "WOW! Now, I really like this!"
Friend: "Yeah... Cool"
SW: "It's exactly what I've been looking for!"
Friend: "I think it's a lithograph" [it's actually a charcoal]
SW: "I am really drawn to it!"
Friend: "Are you really sure you like it?"
SW: "Uh - yeah!... why? Don't you like it?"
Friend: "I have something like it... I got it cheaper though..."
SW: "I think it's really good... I think it's the first piece in this whole show that I really like."
Friend: "You like lithographs?"
SW: "I think I'm going to buy this."
Friend: "Are you sure?"
SW: "Uh - yeah!... It's a good price too.... why? Don't you like it?"
(five minutes later)
SW: "Do you have a business card?"

The Single Focus Dream Buyer:
[Walks straight up to one piece, never looks at the rest of the work in your booth]
"I'll take this"
[Me] "Thank you... it's a very striking charcoal drawing - will be that be a check or charge?"
[Me] "I can send you more information on this artist..."
"That will be great - I love this work - it's exactly what I'm interested in!"
[Me] "I have a few more pieces here, would you like to see them?"
"No, thanks..."

The "I'm glad you're here guy (IGYHG)":
IGYHG: "Hey! I've been looking for you!"
[Me]: "Hi, how are you?"
IGYHG: "... been walking this whole fair looking for you!"
[Me]: "Yeah... lots of dealers this year... glad you found us!"
IGYHG: "Howsa been goin'?"
[Me]: "Yes... quite good actually..."
IGYHG: "Well, let me look at what you've got!"
[three minutes later]
IGYHG: "Well... I'm glad you're here... see ya next year!"

The "I Shudda Bought It Last Year Guy (Shudda)":
Shudda: "Hey! You're here again!"
[Me]: "Hi, how are you? Yeah... It's our 7th year here..."
Shudda: "... been walking this whole fair looking for you!"
[Me]: "Yeah... lots of dealers this year... glad you found us!"
Shudda: "Howsa been goin'?"
[Me]: "Yes... quite good actually..."
Shudda: "Well, let me look at what you've got!"
[three minutes later]
Shudda: "Where's that really good watercolor of the fill-in-the-blank?"
[Me]: "Uh... I sold it last year - but I have a few more pieces by that artist."
Shudda: "Ah! - I really wanted that one! Do you have another one?"
[Me]: "Well, no... it was an original watercolor, and I sold it; but I have ---"
Shudda: "I really wanted that piece; and it was a good price too..."
[Me]: "Maybe you'd like some of his new work..."
Shudda: "I shudda bought it last year"
[Walks away]
Shudda: "You gonna be here next year?"

The "Where's That Piece Guy (WTP)":
WTP: "Hey! You're here again!"
[Me]: "Hi, how are you? Yeah... It's our 7th year here..."
WTP: "... been walking this whole fair specifically looking for you!"
[Me]: "Yeah... lots of dealers this year... glad you found us!"
WTP: "Howsa been goin'?"
[Me]: "Yes... quite good actually..."
WTP: "OK... last year I saw this piece... it was a fill-in-the-bank and I should have bought it then! "
[Me]: "Yeah... that is a nice piece."
WTP: "I've been thinking about it for a whole year"
[Looks around the booth and doesn't see it]
WTP: "Do you still have it?"
[From here there are two paths...]
Path One -
[Me]: "Uh... I sold it last year - but I have a few more pieces by that artist."
WTP: "Ah! - I really wanted that one! Do you have another one?"
[Me]: "Well, no... it was an original watercolor, and I sold it; but I have ---"
WTP: "I really wanted that piece; and it was a good price too..."
[Me]: "Maybe you'd like some of his new work..."
WTP: "I shudda bought it last year"
[Walks away]
WTP: "You gonna be here next year?"
Path Two
[Me]: "Let me get it for you... I have it in the back!"
WTP: "Great"
[I bring it out and give to WTP]
WTP: "Yeah this is it! It's great!"
[Me]: "This artist has done really well this last year and ---"
WTP: [Handing it back] "Excellent! I'm glad you still have it... until what time are you going to be here?"

Michael O'Sullivan reviewed the Ana Mendieta retrospective at the Hirshhorn on Friday and makes an interesting connection in Mendieta's art.

One of seven pieces by O'Sullivan on Friday!

Friday, October 22, 2004

I'll be on the road today - heading for the last art fair that I will be doing this year.

Forgot my laptop! My not be able to post this weekend, but keep checking...

Thursday, October 21, 2004

The Controversy that won't go away.

Both Tyler Green at MAN and J.T. Kirkland at Thinking About Art, as well as Chris Shott at the Washington City Paper (who beats all other DC published media and breaks the story today), are seeing unidentified black helicopters flying between DCCAH and the Corcoran.

Not so sure myself, but as much as I trash the Post for their lack of visual arts coverage, I am still stunned that this whole controversy has been ignored so far by the world's second most influential newspaper.

I know that Jonathan Padget is working on this story for his "Arts Beat" column; but it is not scheduled to come out for another week.

Why not allow this story to be printed in the Post now, when the issue is hot!

I should know better.

If this had been a case of Septime Webre over at the Washington Ballet firing a guest choreographer because he excluded dancers that had participated in a rap video dance scene a year earlier, from the new Washington Ballet version of The Nutcracker then we'd be reading about it everyday in the Style section.

Makes my head hurt.

Letter to the Editors by James W. Bailey

To The Readers of D. C. Art News,

I have distributed the following Letter to the Editor to the national arts press, as well as the general mainstream media.

I am very appreciative of Mr. Campello allowing me to post this Letter to the Editor on DC Art News.


James W. Bailey


Should Art Curators Enjoy the Same Basic Rights of Freedom of Artistic Expression that Artists Enjoy?

by James W. Bailey

I am an experimental photographer from Mississippi who currently lives in Reston, Virginia. I am also a member of the WPA/Corcoran.

I have taken a very strong public stand in support of freedom of artistic expression for curator, Philip Barlow, who was recently fired by The Board of Trustees of The Corcoran Museum of Art and the WPA/Corcoran. Mr. Barlow was hired by the WPA/Corcoran to curate a cutting-edge exhibition called OPTIONS 05.

D.C. art critic, Mr. F. Lennox Campello, first broke this story on his blog, DC Art News, a week ago. The story was immediately picked up by D. C. art critic, Mr. J. T. Kirkland, on his blog, Thinking About Art, which has featured an ongoing debate over this issue. Mr. Tyler Green, national art critic for the Bloomberg news service, has come down firmly in support of artistic and curatorial freedom for Mr. Barlow on his site, Modern Art Notes, and opposes the actions taken by the Board of Trustees of the Corcoran Museum of Art and the WPA/Corcoran. The story is now entering into the mainstream media.

In the interests of full disclosure, I believe that I was under consideration for this major exhibition by Mr. Barlow.

Mr. Barlow is, in my opinion, a victim of curatorial censorship committed by the Board of Trustees of the Corcoran Museum of Art and the WPA/Corcoran. I believe that both artists, and curators, deserve to be protected by the same basic principles of freedom of artistic expression.

I subscribe to a definition of freedom of artistic expression that can be read on the web site of The National Campaign for Freedom of Expression:

"Freedom of artistic expression is the principle that an artist should be unrestrained by law or convention in the making of his or her art. Artistic freedom is vital to both the cultural and political health of our society. It is essential in a democracy that values and protects the rights of the individual to espouse his or her beliefs.

Just as our nation’s free speech heritage protects the rights of artists to create, display, perform, and sell their artwork, so too does it protect the rights of the general public to dislike, criticize, and be offended by artwork. What we will call a 'challenge' to the freedom of artistic expression is more than mere criticism or commentary. A "challenge" arises when the critic takes the significant leap from merely voicing distaste of the art to questioning its right to exist or be seen, and seeking to stop its exhibition or performance.

Artistic freedom is threatened when art is challenged because of its content, message or viewpoint, rather than because of its aesthetic qualities or artistic merit. A challenge may be motivated by disagreement with the perceived message or the fear of negative public reaction. A challenge may be part of an organized effort to protest specific social issues. Challenges may come from members of the general public, representatives of organizations, or governmental officials. Challenges may also originate from within the arts community—for example, from curators, artistic directors, or funders."

The WPA/Corcoran issued a press release that justifies in their mind Mr. Barlow’s dismissal as follows:

"While it is the responsibility of a curator to exercise both professional and personal judgment in the selection of works of art, this process must be based upon the artistic merit and suitability of the works in question to the themes or purposes of an exhibition or its related materials. It is inappropriate to base curatorial decisions upon the political, social or intellectual opinions an artist may hold, upon an artist’s personal behavior, personal life, or relationship to the curator or to the institution."

My Words:

I ask your readers to substitute the word curator in the above WPA/Corcoran response with the word artist, and the word selection with the word creation. I do not know a living artist on this planet with any intellectual credibility who would embrace such a definition of artistic freedom as an artist.

I have taken a very activist stand concerning what I believe to be a blatant act of curatorial censorship regarding the WPA/Corcoran’s actions taken against Mr. Barlow.

My argument is very simple: I believe that curators should enjoy and be protected by the above definition of artistic freedom of expression and that this definition of artistic freedom for curators should be embraced by the visual arts community.

Dr. David Levy, President and Director of The Corcoran Museum or Art, and Ms. Annie Adjchavanich, Executive Director of the WPA/Corcoran, and I have agreed to disagree on this subject. I have deep respect for both of them and respect their opinions.

I firmly believe that curators should not have to operate under a different definition of artistic freedom than that that all artists of integrity would claim for themselves.

I am convinced that a national dialogue needs to take place in the art world on this subject. If anything positive comes out of this episode concerning the WPA/Corcoran and its relationship with Mr. Barlow, it will be a resultant dialogue that I hope will lead to an expansion and embracing of a consistent definition of freedom of artistic expression for both artists and curators.

I am urging The Board of Trustees of the Corcoran Museum of Art and the WPA/Corcoran to reverse its position and reinstate Mr. Barlow as curator for OPTIONS 05.

I am also offering to withdraw my name from consideration as an artist for OPTIONS 05.

Artists and curators have given their lives for the cause of artistic freedom of expression around the world.

My potential sacrifice is but a fraction of a molecule of a single drop of water from the ocean in this cause. But I will willingly make it, and more if necessary, to see the right thing be done in this situation.

Rules, policies, procedures, guidelines and laws do not create great art; nor do they inspire great artists or great curators.

Freedom of artistic expression inspires...


James W. Bailey
Experimental Photographer
Force Majeure Studios
2142 Glencourse Lane
Reston, Va 20191
Ph: 703-476-1474
Cell: 504-669-8650

Via AJ:

New El Greco Photo: David Levene It reads like a mystery novel.

"The art experts climbed four flights of stairs in a dingy block of flats in the north-west of Spain, with dwindling hopes."

When they met the old man who had responded to the Christie's ad, "He went off to hunt in a cupboard in another room, and fetch the proverbial brown envelope - and out of it came this wonderful thing."

It was an original painting by El Greco!

Read The Guardian story here.

Thursdays, according to the mid page banner on page two of the Washington Post's Style section, is supposed to focus on Art Galleries and Art News.

Over the last three years or so, the third Thursday of the month has seen the "Galleries" column do a set of mini-reviews, while the "Arts Beat" column, which used to come out every Thursday, has all but disappeared and now comes out every two weeks. I like the mini-review format once a month, but I regret the loss of the weekly "Arts Beat" column.

In today's "Galleries" column Jessica Dawson delivers a set of mini-reviews and reveals that Signal 66, one of her favorite galleries over the years, is closing at the end of the month.

However, much like the cosa nostra kiss she gave the Troyer Gallery when that gallery closed earlier this year, she sends Signal 66 away with:
"After nearly six years mounting some of the city's grittiest art shows, Signal 66 shutters its doors at month's end. More whimper than bang, the final show collects a trio of artists working in the most traditional of all media: paint."
Most commercial galleries close within a year or two; it's a tough business that is best approached realizing that if you decide to open a gallery, then expect to lose money.

Signal 66's folding is somewhat of a surprise though. It had established a good, strong footprint in our area's art scene, and being a cooperative type, artist-run gallery, it had the gallery formula that has allowed this area's longest running commercial art galleries to survive.

In fact, other than Zenith and Kathleen Ewing, I can't think of any commercial art galleries in our area that has been around for 25 years or longer that is NOT a cooperative, artist-run gallery!

Anyway, I will miss Signal 66 and the terrific contribution that they made over the last five years to our area's cultural tapestry.

P.S. By the way there are also three music and one theatre review in today's "Galleries focus" day at the Style section. They actually have more print space than Jessica's review. Does anyone understand why we keep insisting that the Post visual arts coverage sucks? You can complain to Gene Robinson, the Style section editor.


The Red Sox spanked those damned Yankees... wouldn't it be great if Houston also won and then we'd have a team from Massachusetts versus a team from Texas!

MA against TX - get it?

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Some Coming Shows...

Elyse HarrisonGallery Neptune presents "Dream Material" new paintings by Gallery Neptune owner Elyse Harrison. The show is on from November 5- December 4, 2004.

Elyse Harrison is one of those artists and arts activisist who has enjoyed a very active and involved career in visual art for the past 25 years. Like me, she's originally from New York, but (unlike me) she was formally educated in the arts in Maryland and Washington, DC and has established even deeper roots in this area by opening Gallery Neptune and Little City Art Studio in Bethesda, now in their 7th year.

The artist's reception will be held on November 12 during the Bethesda Art Walk, from 6-9 PM. An artist's talk is scheduled on December 4 at 5PM. The talk will center on symbols in dreams and visual art.
At Fusebox, Sarah Finlay has Elizabeth Fisher curating a show by Terence Gower, Ulrike Heydenriech, Cynthia Lin, Joan Linder and Nicola Lopez.

The gallery's project space in the rear has Vincent Szarek's second Fusebox show, and Szarek explores more visual representations of the American flag.

Both exhibitions open on November 6 through December 18, 2004. The reception for the artists will be on November 6 from 6-8 PM.

It takes a New Yorker, in this case Todd Gibson at From The Floor, to discover and point out a really good new art BLOG in nearby Richmond. Go visit ANABA, by Martin Bromirski.

Say it isn't so...

It has nothing to do with visual arts, but it breaks my heart to report that Ionarts lets the bad news out of the bag in reporting that the Washington National Opera's world famous leader and supreme tenor, Placido Domingo, is being considered to become the general manager of the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

Read it and weep.

I'll be at the Corcoran tonite for the opening reception of the Common Ground: Discovering Community in 150 Years of Art, Selections from the Collection of Julia J. Norrell exhibition before rushing home to watch the Red Sox disappoint their fans once again.

Having been raised in Brooklyn and been schooled as a rabid Met fan, I hate the damned Yankees, but know that the Red Sox are doomed to once again stab their fans in the heart.

Tyler Green at MAN picks up the Philip Barlow controversy and makes some important points. Click here to read it.

And Kriston at Grammar.police also picks up the story.

Like Tyler Green says, expect stories on this issue by Chris Shott in tommorrow's edition of the Washington City Paper and by Jonathan Padget the Washington Post's "Arts Beat" column tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Mendieta fron Tracks - by Chris Smith/Lee StalsworthI keep forgetting to link to the great review by the other Gopnik (Blake Gopnik that is), of the brilliant Ana Mendieta retrospective at the Hirshhorn Museum.

I went to the press preview last week and I am working on a review that will be published (once translated) in a dozen Latin American newspapers. I will also have it in English here.

Anyway, Gopnik is eloquent as usual in treating and placing Mendieta into the important high art context in which she truly belongs. If you go to see one museum show this year - this is it!

Blake also earned me $100, as I had made a bet at the Mendieta show opening reception last Wednesday, with a curator friend of mine, that Gopnik would use the description vagina dentata somewhere in the review.


P.S. I intend to use vagina dentata as well; it's just the perfect descriptor of Mendieta's artwork.

More Insight into the Barlow Firing

Anyone who has been reading DC Art News or Thinking About Art or DCist, knows that James W. Bailey has taken the firing of Philip Barlow, first discussed here on October 13, to heart.

So on October 18, Bailey wrote David Levy, the Director of the Corcoran, a 1,444 word, three-page letter on the subject, expressing his outrage. This correspondence, and the responses by Levy, add some perspective to the whole controversy. Read Bailey's letter here.

Dr. Levy responded immediately, and sent Bailey this email.

Oh dear...

If you know James W. Bailey, then you know that not only is he a terrific photographer, but also an incredibly passionate and verbose all-around good guy. So Bailey responded with a 2,751 word email the next day! Read it here.

And again Dr. Levy responds on the same day with this email.

And the final note from Bailey is here.

Annie Adjchavanich, who is the Executive Director of the WPA/C, today emailed a press release about the firing of Philip Barlow as the curator from OPTIONS 2005:
On September 23rd, 2004, an article appeared in the Arts Beat page of The Washington Post in which Philip Barlow, Guest Curator of the Washington Project for the Arts\Corcoran (WPA\C) Options exhibition, stated personal viewpoints and opinions that are in no way reflective of the exhibitions goals nor the WPA\C’s mission. In stating that he would categorically exclude any and all artists who participated in either the city-wide Party Animals or PandaMania programs of the last two years from consideration for Options, he has violated basic ethical norms of curatorial practice, which is in direct conflict with the Corcoran’s policy on Freedom of Artistic Expression, and subsequently the WPA\C’s, mission statement.

While it is the responsibility of a curator to exercise both professional and personal judgment in the selection of works of art, this process must be based upon the artistic merit and suitability of the works in question to the themes or purposes of an exhibition or its related materials. It is inappropriate to base curatorial decisions upon the political, social or intellectual opinions an artist may hold, upon an artist’s personal behavior, personal life, or relationship to the curator or to the institution.

The leadership of the WPA\C believes that Mr. Barlow has irreparably compromised his credibility as curator of this exhibition and respectfully accepts his decision to step away from the project and his responsibility as curator.

An announcement regarding the selection of a curator for Options will be forthcoming.

Annie Adjchavanich
Executive Director

Adam Gopnik at the Corcoran Tomorrow

Blake Gopnik's brother Adam, who is an award winning writer for The New Yorker magazine since 1986, and wrote a best-seller about the years that he and his family spent in Paris (Paris to the Moon), has a new book out and will be discussing it at the Corcoran tomorrow at 7:00 PM.

Adam Gopnik's new book is Americans in Paris: A Literary Anthology and it is a compilation of selections from three centuries of distinguished American writing about the French capital.

Monday, October 18, 2004

People who are professors at most major Universities are generally expected to be very active in their field. They are usually expected to do research, to publish, to participate, etc. This is often a requirement in order for them to become tenured.

Are art professors under a different set of rules?

When I was an art student at the University of Washington School of Art, in beautiful Seattle, nearly all of the professors that taught there, people like Jacob Lawrence, Alden Mason, Frances Calentano and others all had one thing in common: they exhibited their work regularly and were a vibrant part of Seattle's great art gallery scene.

With a few notable exceptions, when I visit area universities to look at student shows (which I do regularly), I often look up the names of the faculties at these same schools and I often encounter names that I do not recognize.

Nothing unusual there, but it would seem to me, that as a person who visits 25-30 gallery shows a month, plus receives over 100 invitations to openings every month, that I should be able to recognize a high percentage of the names in our area's art schools' faculties.

So, just for fun I am going to look up a few art faculties from some of our area colleges, and see if I can figure out where they are exhibiting, or have exhibited, or plan to exhibit.

And if I can't find that information, then I will take it as a 21st century negative mark in the sense that if you are an art professor, you should have a good, solid Internet footprint.

I'll start with the Maryland Institute College of Art, one of the best art schools in the nation.

In two clicks I can find this impressive page about MICA's faculty. Question: 231+ people in the faculty? WOW! That's a lot!

MICA gets an A+ for their Faculty listing (A-K here and L-Z here).

And in these faculty listings I find some good things and also some holes. For example, one of the persons teaching Foundation courses' most recent exhibition was in 1995! Compare that to Timothy App (whose work I know and recognize). He has a solid and consistent exhibition record; however, App does not seem to have a website. Perhaps MICA just needs to pay more attention to updating their faculty's resumes online.

Some of the Faculty Directory listings have links to the teacher's websites. But MICA needs to augment this directory with a link to every single art teacher that has a website. And if any of them does not have a website... then that tells me something, doesn't it?

MICA boasts some very well-known names in their faculty listing. People like my good friend Joe Shannon, Jyung Mee Park (no website that I can find), Raoul Middleman, Connie Imboden, Trawick Prizewinner Richard Cleaver and many others.

So MICA gets a passing grade, but they really need to stay on top of the website and update it, and definately link it to the person's web presence.

Thinking About Art has an excellent gallery crawl set of small but insightful reviews of several DC gallery shows.

Zoe Myers is looking to open a new gallery in the Greater Washington area and is looking for space. She'd like about 2,500 square feet, preferably nearby the new gallery concentration around 14th Street, but she's willing to look anywhere.

If anyone has any leads on available space, email me.

I am still unpacking from my move, and still re-discovering stuff. When I was in my teens, this sunny poem below was my favorite poem. It is "Song of a Mad Minstrel" by Robert E. Howard. Allow me to share it with you:

I am the thorn in the foot, I am the blur in the sight;
I am the worm at the root, I am the thief in the night.
I am the rat in the wall, the leper that leers at the gate;
I am the ghost in the hall, herald of horror and hate.

I am the rust on the corn, I am the smut on the wheat,
Laughing man’s labor to scorn, weaving a web for his feet.
I am canker and mildew and blight, danger and death and decay;
The rot of the rain by night, the blast of the sun by day.

I warp and wither with drouth, I work in the swamp’s foul yeast;
I bring the black plague from the south and the leprosy in from the east.
I rend from the hemlock boughs wine steeped in the petals of dooms;
Where the fat black serpents drowse I gather the Upas blooms.

I have plumbed the northern ice for a spell like Frozen lead;
In lost grey fields of rice, I learned from Mongol dead.
Where a bleak black mountain stands I have looted grisly caves;
I have digged in the desert sands to plunder terrible graves.

Never the sun goes forth, never the moon glows red,
But out of the south or the north, I come with the slavering dead.
I come with hideous spells, black charms and ghastly tunes;
I have looted the hidden hells and plundered the lost black moons.

There was never a king or priest to cheer me by word or look,
There was never a man or beast in the blood-black ways I took.
There were crimson gulfs unplumbed, there were black wings over a sea;
There were pits where mad things drummed, and foaming blasphemy.

There were vast ungodly tombs where slimy monsters dreamed,
There were clouds like blood-drenched plumes where unborn demons screamed.
There were ages dead to Time, and lands lost out of Space;
There were adders in the slime, and a dim unholy Face.

Oh, the heart in my breast turned stone, and the brain froze in my skull-
But I won through, I alone, and I poured my chalice full
Of horrors and dooms and spells, black buds and bitter roots-
From the hells beneath the hells, I bring you my deathly fruits.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Sunday Morning Round-Up

About 25 NoMA (North of Massachusetts Avenue) artists have open studios today. Some of the artists include Stuart Gosswein, Ira Bloom (metal sculpture), Kim Dutton (painting), Steve Litwin (sculpture), Mimi Masse (sculpture), Joe McKenna (painting & drawing) and others. The studios are in four separate buildings located at 443 I Street, NW (Second Floor), 52 O Street NW, 57 N Street NW and 411 New York Ave. NE. From 12-5 PM. Free and Open to the public.

Today is the second and final day of the Bethesda Row Arts Festival. Over 170 artists. I'll be there. From 11-5 PM. Free and Open to the public.

Today is the last day of Art Baltimore, which is on at the Baltimore Convention Center's Exhibit Hall E (Entrance from Pratt Street). Over 150 national, regional and emerging artists from 38 states and Canada are exhibiting.

The Art-O-Matic link for artists to register is finally working! Sign up here.

Washington Printmakers Gallery has a silent auction coming next Sunday. See the auction details here. The auction is Friday October 29 2004. 5-9pm, RSVP to Jenny Freestone.

Linda Hesh's "Art Ads" will be appearing in the Washington Post as small ads in the main national and world news section. On Tuesday, October 19th, the interracial couple ad will appear, and the gay couple ad will appear on Tuesday, October 26th. The New York Times refused to place "these ads because their policy is that all advocacy ads must clearly state and opinion, and their opinion is that "these do not. The Times has no other category for the ads to fit into, so they will not be seen in the Times.

On Tuesday, October 26, 2004, at the Carnegie Institution of Washington (16th & P Streets, NW), the Walker Whitman Clinic will be having their annual Art for Life Auction, in my opinion one of the best art auctions in the city. Viewing from 6:00 pm and the auction starts at 7:30 pm.

DCAC has a benefit reception on Friday, October 22nd from 7-9pm. Tickets: $30, includes a new membership to DCAC, which is a terrific deal! The exhibition, curated by Vivienne Lassman, honors Washington, DC Noche Crist's memory. Crist recently passed away.

The artists whose "Funky Furniture" exhibition was cancelled by the City Museum will be removing their artwork from the museum and then conducting a protest outside the Museum on Monday, October 18 from 6-8 PM. Directions to the museum are here. Support to the artists is encouraged!

Marsha Stein will be having an artists and interested parties meeting at Karma Restaurant on Monday, October 18, 2004 from 6-8 PM to discuss her City Museum of Washington Art Project.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Back from the first day of the Bethesda Row Arts Festival. The wind and rain had a negative effect today; a wind gust broke about six framed pieces. The crowds were good though.

I did sell two small drawings and two etchings and one large drawing.

Tomorrow is the last day for the Festival. I'll be there again.

Today and tomorrow I will be at the Bethesda Row Arts Festival in booth 31E, located on Elm Street. If you are in the area, come by and say hello.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Tonight was the opening night for the Canal Square Galleries and it was somewhat diluted by the rain (good pun uh?).

Still... I got the chance to meet J.T. Kirkland, author of Thinking About Art and his lovely date, as well as to chat with Philip Barlow, who seemed a little worn out about the whole OPTIONS 2005 controversy (more articles in the Washington City Paper and Washington Post to come in the next few days), but firm in his beliefs nonetheless. My kudos to Barlow for sticking to his beliefs.

Today's Washington City Paper has a letter from Alex Belifante, where this smart, art-gallery-food-eating-machine defends himself. Belifante is one of the "grubs."

By the way, the grubs" came out to the openings tonite, and most of them came, drank, ate and left, but I didn't see Belifante and Coxe come into the gallery; I hope they're not mad at me (what am I saying!).

Today is the 3rd Friday of October and thus the five Canal Square Galleries in Georgetown have their new shows. Openings are from 6-9 PM and are catered by the Sea Catch Restaurant, also located in the Canal Square (31st Street and M in Georgetown).

We will have the DC debut of Bay Area figurative painter Douglas Malone, Best of Show winner of the 2003 Georgetown International Fine Arts Competition.

Many of the artists will be present in the five galleries. We will also have plenty of our famous Sangria. Free and open to the public.

See you there!

Funky Furniture Artists to Stage a Protest at City Museum

The artists whose "Funky Furniture" exhibition was cancelled by the City Museum will be removing their artwork from the museum and then conducting a protest outside the Museum on Monday, October 18 from 6-8 PM.

Directions to the museum are here. Support to the artists is encouraged!

Funky Furniture will be installed in and part of the Art-O-Matic 2004, where it will certainly become Art-O-Matic's main attraction!

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Philip Barlow responds and eloquently explains why he sees a logical difference between Art-O-Matic's unfair treatment by the press and his decision to exclude Pandamania and Party Animals artists from OPTIONS 2005.
I did not like either the Party Animals or Pandamania, but I never had an effective way to voice my complaint. When the opportunity to curate the Options show came up, I decided to take the opportunity to raise my complaint as part of the selection process. Given the number of artists in the Washington-Richmond-Baltimore area and the 12-15 artists I was going to select for Options, I realized there was very little likelihood that I would pick people who participated in either project. But my goal was to make a political statement about something that I thought was a bad representation of the local arts community.

I am not an artist and there are many things about artists that fascinate me. One very important characteristic of artists is the inspiration they have to come up with their art. It baffles and amazes me. Who decides that two basketballs floating in a fish tank is art? And how and why do they go about doing that? How do they know when a piece of art is finished? I have to believe there is an intellectual process that affects these decisions or else art is nothing more than glorified baseball cards. The inspiration is an important part of an artwork, just as talent and technique are and it is probably the most important to me in my enjoyment of art.

Which is exactly my opposition to the Party Animals and Pandamania, the very crucial creative inspiration part of what makes something art has been eliminated. It is a very easy question to answer "Who decides that a decorated donkey, panda or elephant is art?" - the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities and definitely not the artist. The talent and techniques artists possess make them ideal candidates to decorate the animals, but that is not enough to make it art.

Art-O-Matic on the other hand is full of people fulfilling their creative inspiration. There may be different levels of talent and technique in AOM, but that is ok with me. This is why I feel that I am being completely consistent in my thought process which pans the animals, but enjoys and supports AOM. And there is a big difference in AOM and the Party Animals, AOM is an artist run volunteer group that applied to and received funding from the DCCAH, the animals are the brainchild of the DCCAH (realizing of course that all they did was co-opt an idea that has been used many times before in many other cities, so it is hard to argue there was any creative inspiration on their part in coming up with the idea).

Time to Sign-up for Art-O-Matic

Art-O-Matic News Release:

Art-O-Matic, Washington’s favorite art, music, theater, poetry, dance, and film extravaganza will open November 12th and run through December 5, 2004.

More than 1,000 area artists, writers, and performers will transform an exciting space at 800 3rd St. NE into an open showcase for thousands of works, hundreds of performances, and dozens of educational presentations and discussions. Nearby Union Station provides easy Metro and there’s plenty of parking.

In 1999, a group of artists were inspired to create a grassroots art show at the old Manhattan Laundry building, which inspired the name: Art-O-Matic. The year 2000 brought a bigger, better Art-O-Matic and an even larger show debuted on Halloween in 2002.

Art-O-Matic 2004 is being presented with partner Abdo Development, a D.C.-based development and construction company that will be re-developing this year’s Art-O-Matic site after the show is over, including a complete restoration of the site’s historic buildings. Abdo specializes in the restoration, preservation, and conversion of distressed buildings throughout the District and has been widely credited with leading the revitalization of the 14th Street, NW corridor. Abdo is very excited to be providing the venue for Art-O-Matic 2004, and helping to continue the revitalization of H Street, NE.

Art-O-Matic shows have drawn 20,000 to 50,000 visitors, who come to look, absorb, question, and identify what they like from this community of artists. The shared discovery between the audience and artist is what makes Art-O-Matic unique and rewarding for all. There’s something for everyone!

Sign up here.

Thinking About Art has a letter from Philip Barlow describing his side of the whole series of events that led to him being fired as curator of OPTIONS 2005.

Kirkland also has a spirited discussion about the whole issue in his BLOG's comments section.

Tomorrow I should have a statement from the WPA/C on the issue. Check back.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Anyone who regularly reads DC Art News or J.T. Kirkland's excellent Thinking About Art knows that James W. Bailey is a damned good photographer and an opinionated, passionate, verbose human being and one of those guys that we wish we had a few-more-of around.

And James W. Bailey pipes in with his opinion on my posting on the firing of OPTIONS 2005 curator Philip Barlow. Here it is:
From: James W. Bailey, Experimental Photographer and Member of the WPA/Corcoran

RE: The WPA/Corcoran firing of OPTIONS 2005 curator, Philip Barlow.

Dear Mr. Campello,

I'm absolutely shocked to have arrived home this evening and to see posted on your site that the WPA/Corcoran has apparently fired OPTIONS 2005 curator, Philip Barlow.

You may remember that I emailed you on the day Mr. Barlow's comments appeared in the Thursday Style Section of the Washington Post
[I do remember] asking what your opinion was concerning his comments, especially in reference to his suggestion that artists who participated in the Pandamania project would not be considered for OPTIONS 2005, because I knew that some of his comments were going to reverberate through the artist community, especially with some artist friends I have or personally know who are in support of the Pandamania project, either as a believer in the project or as a participating artist, and who also have pull with the WPA/Corcoran.

Apparently what has happened here is that an angry group of artists has been allowed to hijack the curatorial intent of OPTIONS 2005 that was clearly evident in the curatorial selection in the first place of Mr. Barlow.

People who know him know what his views are on the state of contemporary art in the metro D.C. region. It is almost unbelievable to me that this firing has occurred.

This is a pure and simple case of artistic censorship, period.

There is no other word for it.

It would be no different than if I were selected to be in OPTIONS 2005 by Mr. Barlow and then told at the last minute that we are rescinding the invitation because we think that your views on digital photography are too extreme and exclusive. I don't want my small little role in the artist community to go to my head, but really, anybody that knows me, has met me, has seen my work, or read about my work knows what my views are.

I've been honest about where I'm coming from with my experimental photography and the concerns I have about digital media and the broader concerns of the state of the modern art world, just like Mr. Barlow has been honest about his concerns for the state of contemporary art in D.C. area.

People that know him know who is, what he believes and why he believes. There's no mystery here about what has happened.

As a member of the WPA/Corcoran, as a supporter of the organization, and as an artist who is listed in the WPA/Corcoran 2004/05 Artists Directory, I'm extremely angry about this decision of the WPA/Corcoran to fire Mr. Barlow.

Mr. Campello, you are 100% times ten right about your defense of Mr. Barlow to make the statements he made. His statements are part of his deep concern as a curator for OPTIONS 2005.

His statements, although I know they must have hurt the feelings of some artists, were honest and served to confirm in my mind that he was deeply serious about trying to involve work in OPTIONS 2005 that all too frequently is overlooked or missing from the debate of contemporary art in this region of the country.

I purposely contacted Mr. Barlow and invited him to view my work because I believed him to be serious about his commitment to exploring politically challenging and socially engaging work that simply has no viable commercial market because artist such as myself aren't in it for the money.

Mr. Barlow understands this concept.

I strongly believe that a letter or protest signed by the artist community should be written by someone, perhaps you, Mr. Campello, because of the serious weight you carry with the artist community, and submitted to the Executive Director and the Board of the WPA/Corcoran; and if necessary, to the Washington Post and Washington City Paper, as well as the general art media.

I would sign such a letter.

It would pain me to do it, because I have such respect for the WPA/Corcoran and am a supportive member of it, but I would do it because my concern over this issue of censorship overrides any other concern I might have. I also believe that there are many other artists and visual arts professional that will also want to sign such a letter as soon as the news of this incredible decision filters through the artist community.

This unbelievable decision of the WPA/Corcoran touches its very members in a very personal way.

Let me explain: Philip Barlow visited my "The Death of Film" exhibition and communicated with me about his strong interest in my work.

I say this because he was already in the community making the rounds and speaking with artists and evaluating work. I think this decision to fire him is terribly unfair to artists like me who proceeded in good faith to initiate contact with him and invite him to our shows and studios.

Mr. Barlow indicated to me in person and by email that he very much wanted to have a strong selection of politically oriented and socially conscious work in OPTIONS 2005. What are some of us to make of this decision now?

That such work will not be considered because the WPA/Corcoran will now have to bend over backwards to prove how accepting it is of less challenging work?

As far as I'm concerned, OPTIONS 2005 will have no artistic or curatorial credibility no matter who steps in or is hired at this point. Again, the WPA/Corcoran's decision is simple censorship.

Mr. Barlow was honest in his opinion in the paper and was honest with me in person as to his goals with the show. I accepted his premise as being legitimate and would have been thrilled beyond words had an invitation actually been extended to me by him.

I would not participate at this point in OPTIONS 2005 no matter who the curator is that is ultimately chosen. To do so would be an endorsement on my part of an art crime committed by the WPA/Corcoran.

James W. Bailey
Experimental Photographer

OPTIONS 2005 Curator Fired

Last Saturday I was told that Philip Barlow, who last August was announced as the curator for the WPA/C Options 2005 Biennial, has been fired.

Here's what happened and then my comments on the whole issue:

As reported in the Washington Post, in September Barlow made it known that he was excluding from Options 2005 all artists who participated in the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities' Party Animals and Pandamania projects. "They made a bad choice, and there are consequences to bad choices," Barlow said.

I am told that Barlow made it clear to the WPA/C (from the very beginning) that he intended to exclude all artists who participated in those projects; apparently it was no secret to the WPA/C.

However, when the issue made the papers and was then brought up to the attention of the Corcoran Board of Trustees, pressure was put on Barlow to quit; he stuck to his beliefs and as a result, he was fired.

My thoughts on this subject: I disagree 100% with Philip Barlow's decision to exclude all artists who participated in these two projects from being considered for Options 2005; however, I respect and defend his right, as the curator, to make that decision. He has that right and it was wrong of the Corcoran to fire him from the job.

Barlow's logic in excluding all Pandamania and Party Animals artists from Options 2005 is as flawed as the logic that says that all Art-O-Matic artists are bad, amateur artists. Barlow has worked very hard in the past to support and defend Art-O-Matic (which by the way, gets a large amount of financial support from the DC Arts Commission), and it is surprising that he doesn't see the logical relationship between what he was doing to Pandamania and Party Animals artists and what most art critics in this town did to Art-O-Matic's artists.

Having said that, I back Barlow's right to make whatever decision he chooses to make as a curator. It is his goddamned right to exclude whoever and whatever he so chooses, just as it is my and your right to disagree with his decision - but he owns the right to make it!

And Barlow has been working very hard for the last few months visiting artists' studios and gallery openings, etc. He is a constant figure at most visual arts events in Washington, and probably knows more about our city's art scene (I suspect) than most of the members of the Corcoran Board of Trustees added together.

I love the WPA/C and what they do for Washington art and artists - but they blew it in this case.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Sometime tomorrow DC Art News will go over 40,000 visits since I started this BLOG a year ago.

What a great birthday present for anyone who cares about the visual arts in our region!

I want to thank all of you who read this BLOG everyday! Pass the word, and email me with any and all info to help spread the word about our incredible, incandescent art scene from our art galleries, artists and museums!

J.T. Kirkland is a 26-year-old artist and art critic who writes incredibly eloquent thoughts and feelings and observations about art and art shows at Thinking About Art.

Anyway... J.T. has been soliciting artists to write to him and communicate words about their art, which he then posts into his excellent Thinking About Art BLOG.

Please check Thinking About Art and see some of the artists who have so far responded and (if you are an artist) add to the dialogue.

Art Events for This Week

On Thursday is the opening of the major Ana Mendieta Retrospective at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. Curated by the Hirshhorn's Deputy Director, Olga Viso, this exhibition is a comprehensive look at the Cuban-born artist Ana Mendieta’s career between 1972 and 1985. Mendieta (b. 1948 – d. U.S., 1985) is celebrated for using her own body to explore issues of gender and identity, and her work has significantly influenced subsequent generations of artists. I met her quite by accident in 1975 and am lucky to have one of her early drawings in my collection. The retrospective will be on until January 2, 2005. I will review it later.

Painting by Doug malone And Friday is the 3rd Friday and thus the 3rd Friday and the five Canal Square Galleries in Georgetown have their new shows. Openings are from 6-9 PM and are catered by the Sea Catch Restaurant, also located in the Canal Square. We will have the DC debut of Bay Area painter Douglas Malone, Best of Show winner of the 2003 Georgetown International Fine Arts Competition. Many of the artists will be present in the five galleries. We will also have plenty of our famous Sangria. Free and open to the public.

And there are two major art events over the weekend. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Art Baltimore takes place at the Baltimore Convention Center's Exhibit Hall E (Entrance from Pratt Street). Over 150 national, regional and emerging artists from 38 states and Canada will be exhibiting and selling a unique mix of original works of art and gallery quality crafts. See participating artists here.

And Saturday and Sunday is the Bethesda Row Arts Festival in Bethesda. 170 national and area artists and fine crafters will be selling their work on the streets around Bethesda Row. I will be in booth 31E, come and say hi.

If I missed any art events this week, please email me.

DC Art News reader Keith Peoples, in reference to the Goya posting, notes that the National Library of Medicine currently has thirteen prints by Francisco Goya on display.

Two of the works are first editions created by Goya, while the others are "restrikes" printed by others using Goya's original plates.

This exhibition, on display through October 29, 2004, is curated by Belle Waring of the Prints and Photographs Collection of the History of Medicine Division.

The National Library of Medicine is located at 8600 Rockville Pike in Bethesda, MD and is near the Medical Center stop on Metro's Red Line. The Library's hours are 8:30 am to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday and 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday. The exhibition is inside the History of Medicine Reading Room. For more information, call: 301 496-6308.

The "Funky Furniture" controversy made it to the "Countdown with Keith Olberman" TV show at MSNBC last night. It was the third highest ranked story of the night!

New Masters' Painting Discovered!

A previously unknown work by the painter usually considered to be the true father of modern art, Don Francisco de Goya y Lucientes has been discovered in Malaga, Spain by a local art restorer.

Read the story here - thanks AJ.

We are lucky to have many Goyas in Washington, DC at the NGA.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Tip for Photography Collectors

One of the best ways to acquire terrific deals in contemporary photography is through the Photo Review Benefit Auction.

The Photo Review Benefit Auction is now on-line here. You can preview the work and submit absentee bids.

A special preview will be held in New York City at the Sarah Morthland Gallery, from Tuesday-Thursday, October 12-14, 11 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.

A preview at the University of the Arts, Dorrance-Hamilton Building, Broad and Pine Streets, in Philadelphia, will be held on Friday, November 5 from 11 - 5 PM, and on Saturday, November 6 from 11 - 6 PM.

The auction will take place on Saturday, November 8 at 7 PM at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.

Among the work featured are rare vintage prints by Francis Frith, Milton Greene, Philippe Halsman, Lewis Hine, Eadweard Muybridge, August Sander, Lou Stoumen, Josef Sudek, and Weegee, as well as Barbara Morgan's famous image of Martha Graham: Letter to the World (The Kick).

Among the contemporary photo stars whose work will go on the block are Shelby Lee Adams, Elinor Carucci, Lois Greenfield, Michael Kenna, Cindy Sherman, Jock Sturges, Jerry N. Uelsmann, Alex Webb, and William Wegman. In addition, a broad range of 19th-century photographs are up for bid.

The annual auction is free of charge. A fully illustrated catalogue is available for $12 from The Photo Review, 140 East Richardson Avenue, Suite 301, Langhorne, PA 19047-2824.

click here to see the showLast Friday we had our best opening night ever, in the fourth solo show at Fraser Bethesda by New York painter David FeBland.

FeBland's last solo immediately preceeding this show, at Galerie Barbara von Stechow in Germany, sold out; another bit of evidence of how hot painting is in Europe.

You can view the show online here.

Want to ask Charles Saatchi a question?

To coincide with the 20th anniversary of the Saatchi gallery, the advertising genius turned art collector, Charles Saatchi has agreed to answer The Art Newspaper’s questions as well as your own in their January 2005 issue. Email a question to Saatchi here.

Deadline for questions is December 6, 2004.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Jacqueline Trescott in the Washington Post: The DC City Museum will close its exhibit galleries to the general public next spring.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Tomorrow, Sunday October 10, from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. is the Bethesda Artists' Market, with 25-35 area artists (some are coming from as far north as New York now) selling their artwork.

The market is on Bethesda Plaza, right outside and around the Fraser Gallery Bethesda, one and a half blocks north of the Bethesda Metro stop on the Red Line.

See you there!

"Funky Furniture" Controversy making worldwide news

The "Funky Furniture" controversy, first discussed here a few days ago, and subsequently in the Washington Post has made worldwide news and even the BBC has picked up the story!

One of the show's curators (Chad Alan) told me yesterday that a protest outside the City Museum was being organized for next week - I will let you know as soon as details are available.

This is a PERFECT opportunity for an area exhibition venue to step up and offer up space to host this exhibition. It is sort of a replay of the "Mapplethorpe at the Corcoran" controversy of the past. Except that this time, of course, it is the perfect opportunity for the Corcoran to step up to the plate and offer up its empty ground floor space (the empty space to the right when you first enter the museum) to host "Funky Furniture."

The exhibit is designed to look like a "living room," and so it would be a perfect fit into that Corcoran ground floor empty space.

And you can't buy publicity like this controversy has generated. So the ball is in the Corcoran's court, I think.

Friday, October 08, 2004

The Post's "Geek" art critic Michael O'Sullivan reviews Dan Flavin at the NGA.

The Washington Posts's Jacqueline Trescott today has a story on the "Funky Furniture Controversy" at the DC City Museum that was first posted here and by Jesse Cohen at ArtDC and discussed on the air yesterday at the Kojo Nmandi show.

I am told that the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities is actively looking for a place to hold the exhibit and may have an alternative space lined up!

The Vampire Keeps on Rising

(Thanks AJ).

This article in the Christian Science Monitor discusses an exhibition opening at the UCLA Hammer Museum in Los Angeles titled "The Undiscovered Country."

The show examines the role of representational painting in a post-photographic world by looking at 65 works by 23 painters from the United States and abroad over the past four decades.
"This is not the straightforward landscape and formal portrait that dominated art for so many centuries. Instead, it's a concentrated effort by artists to come to terms with a world suffused with real-world imagery - and find a new role for realistic painting within it."
This all simply means that for years a lot of influential people in the art world have been trying and insisting on denigrating painting, especially representational painting - but in the end, as it has happened several times in the vicious circle, painting refuses to die and suddenly it is back in vogue and trendy curators are scampering all over the place to find the painters they've been ignoring for so many years.

Not too mention some art critics who have made a career and name by pushing the "painting is dead" slogan.

I call this "Contemporary Realism." That is: realism with a bite.

And (shameless plug coming) if you want to see an artist whose works have been called "the leading edge of the new urban realists" by the New York Times, come see David FeBland's fourth solo with us at Fraser Bethesda. Opening reception is tonight from 6-9 PM as part of the Bethesda Art Walk.

As promised, here I will post all the different websites and shows that I discussed on the air at the Kojo Nmandi Show, together with Jeffry Cudlin, the talented young new art critic from the Washington City Paper and Dr. Claudia Rousseau, the highly respected art critic from the Gazette Newspapers. The audio from the show is here.

We started the show by discussing the "Funky Furniture Controversy" that I discussed here a while back.

Rather than re-hash what we talked about, the best thing to do is to review what Art.DC posted yesterday. This posting by Jesse Cohen tells the story from the horse's mouth. Please read it.

I then gave Kojo's listening audience the scoop on the fact that the same woman who is sponsoring the Trawick Prize for Contemporary Art has been so disappointed by the hired curators disdain for painting that she is in the process of deciding to institutionalize an annual art prize of $10,000 just for area painters (DC, VA and MD).

I then reviewed the main pockets of gallery concentrations in the area and the specific times when they host openings and extended hours. I explained that it is free, and that artists are usually present, many are catered, etc.

• First Fridays – Dupont Circle Galleries
• Second Fridays – Bethesda Art Walk
• Second Thursdays – Alexandria, VA
• Third Thursdays – Downtown area galleries
• Third Fridays – Georgetown's Canal Square galleries

I also announced that there’s a new Art-O-Matic being planned – It will be from November 12 to December 5, 2004. It will be at 800 3rd St, NE (3rd and H St.). Over 1,000 artists participated in the last Art-O-Matic. Open to all artists; more details at Art-O-Matic's website. This is great news for Washington, DC art lovers.

We then discussed some important new museum shows opening soon:

Ana Mendieta Retrospective opens next week at the Hirshhorn Museum. First major retrospective of Cuban-American artist Ana Mendieta. She was a "Peter Pan" child sent away from Cuba by her parents to be raised in the US away from the brutality of Communism and was raised in foster homes in Midwest. She then died a spectacular death by "falling" from the 34th floor of her home in NYC. I gave well deserved kudos to Olga Viso, who curated this show.

Dan Flavin Retrospective at the National Gallery of Art. Now until Jan 9. The whole issue of conservation was extensively discussed. The curator of the exhibition essentially says: "when the flourescent lights go out - that's it!"

• I gave props to Jonathan Binstock and Stacey Schmidt (curators of the 48th Corcoran Biennial) for looking in their own backyard. Selected area artists for the 48th Corcoran Biennial have been announced and (for a change) they include James Huckenpahler (represented locally by Fusebox Gallery, Colby Caldwell (represented locally by Hemphill Fine Arts), and Baltimore-based photographer John Lehr. Last Thursday I had posted all the selected artists here.

I also discussed some important gallery shows opening soon:
FuseBox: A group drawing show from Nov 6 – Dec 18 including drawings by Terence Gower, Jason Gubbiotti, Ulrike Heydenreich, Cynthia Lin, Joan Linder, and Nicola Lopez. Drawing, like paintings is suddenly the “hot” genre in the art scene. Next year they will have a solo by Ian Whitmore, a very talented young area-based painter.

Conner Contemporary has Erik Sandberg opening on Nov 19 through Dec 23. One of the most talented local young painters and one of my all-time favorites.

Kathleen Ewing has Bruce McKeig’s pinhole photography of urban parks. October 22 – Nov 27.

• There’s a new gallery in Georgetown’s Canal Square: Anne C. Fisher Gallery and next Oct. 15 they have the works of Phyllis Elizabeth Wright.

Tranformer Gallery continues to have an unique exhibition program. Jayme McLLellan and Victoria Reis have been doing a great job. Currently they have an exhibition of text based multimedia work by three Texas artists. Until Oct. 16.

• Friday, Oct. 8 is the Bethesda Art Walk – 19 Bethesda art galleries and art venues.

Kojo then asked each of us to mention our favorite area artists. I rambled on about Manon Cleary (represented locally by Addison Ripley) and Tim Tate (represented locally by us). Later on I added Erik Sandberg (represented by Conner Contemporary).

There was also a very spirited discussion between Jeffry Cudlin and Dr. Claudia Rousseau about abstract and representational art in the context of contemporary art. Get the audio of the show here.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Welcome to all the new readers who are discovering DC Art News for the first time thanks to the great link from my appearance on the Kojo Nmandi Show earlier today discussing Washington area art and artists.

I have a special opening to attend tonight, but I promise that as soon as I get home I will post here all the links and events mentioned on the air. You can also listen to the show again on the internet by visiting the Kojo Nmandi Show archives. They will soon have the audio of the show online.

The WAMU telephone operators told me that the phones were buzzing and a lot of people waited a long time but were unable to ask their questions. Please feel free to email them to me, and I will try ot answer them.

click here to hear Kojo

Later today I'll be on the Kojo Nmandi Show discussing Washington area visual arts and artists. Tune in to WAMU 88.5 FM around 1 PM.

If you have any questions or art issues, you can call Kojo during the show at (800) 433-8850 or you can email me questions to

After the show I will post here all the websites and information that we discuss on the air.

Everytime that I start thinking that I am too harsh on the Post, they do something to prove to me that they (the corporate they or editorial they who makes decisions as to what is to be covered by their writers) haven't got the foggiest sense of what place they hold in the cultural tapestry of our city and how they manage to mismanage it when it comes to the visual arts.

Read this waste of printspace and weep with me for a newspaper that has some of the smallest art coverage of any major daily in the US and yet devotes the time and effort and space to cover mass produced garbage and use the word "art" in describing it.

Perhaps if more people knew that they could buy original art by emerging artists at the same prices as the "wall decor," they would not waste their time and money buying expensive posters.
"... a growing trend of consumers who buy art -- known in the industry as "wall decor" -- that is made and marketed to coordinate with prevailing trends in home furnishings...

... "People are absolutely buying more art. In the last two or three years, our art sales have doubled," said Becky Weber, Crate & Barrel's accessories buyer, who declined to give specific sales figures.

None of this is lost on artists -- whose royalties are tied to sales -- as they create images of quaint Parisian cafes, jammin' jazz combos, monochrome geometrics and ye olde hunting scenes."
Makes my head hurt.

Elsewhere in the Post, Jessica Dawson, who generally is supposed to review Washington area galleries (I think), treks to Annapolis to review Louise Nevelson: Selections From the Farnsworth Art Museum at the Mitchell Gallery, St. John's College.

I now eagerly await for the Annapolis Capital to send their art critic to DC to review one of our shows.

Oh wait...

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

City Museum Censors "Funky Furniture" Show.

Area artists Chad Alan and Maggie O'Neill have been organizing an interesting exhibition for the City Museum of Washington, DC titled "Funky Furniture."

Several area artists are involved and have been working for the last few months for this exhibition. I have been made aware by several people of a developing controversy now rapidly revolving around this show.

I am told that entries for the show were brought in over this past weekend, and when viewed a couple of days ago, there were at least six adjudged by the museum management to be "not acceptable" because of sexual and/or offensive content. One of the objectionable ones was an end table with "The bitch set me up" carved with on the surface with a razor blade.

The entire show has been removed from the main floor, and some may be allowed in smaller spaces elsewhere, but the offending six will not appear.

There are apparently ongoing negotiations with the museum management, but this has the smell of art censorship.

In a paradoxical way, this brewing controversy could be exactly what the museum needs to increase its visibility and maybe even get some people to visit it.

Look for Washington Post and Washington City Paper stories in the next few days, but you read it here first.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Target Gallery has a Call for Artists

Deadline December 31, 2004.

Open Call for 2005 Exhibition Proposals at the Target Gallery in Alexandria, Virginia. Open to all individual artists and groups in all media in North America.

Jurors: Richard Dana, a well-known and talented Washington, D.C. based artist and arts activist; Millie Shott, Exhibitions Director, Strathmore Hall, Bethesda, MD; and Virginia McGehee Friend, Washington area collector of contemporary Fine Craft.

Deadline for Proposals: December 31, 2004. Exhibition Dates: October 26-December 4, 2005

Fee: $35 for 20 images (slides or JPEG CD) and proposal. For Applications: email them here, or call 703/838-4565 ext. 4, or send SASE to:
Open 2005
Target Gallery
105 N. Union Street
Alexandria, VA 22314

Grammar.police has a really good pre-review preview (police that!) on the Dan Flavin retrospective at the NGA.

Sarah Tanguy is the new head of the Department of State's Art in Embassies program.

Established by the United States Department of State in 1964, the Art In Embassies Program is a global museum that exhibits original works of art by U.S. citizens in the public rooms of approximately 180 American diplomatic residences worldwide. To submit images to their staff for consideration in upcoming exhibitions please e-mail .jpg or .gif images of your works no larger than 50k in size, to this email address.

Pilfered from AJ:

Carmel, the famous little seaside town in California has decided that they have too many galleries and has imposed a moratorium on licensing new art galleries in the city. You can read the story here. This is the same silly town that passed a law in the 80s forbidding eating ice cream in public and then elected Clint as mayor.

61 galleries have opened in Carmel since 2000, bringing the total to about 120. Of the city's roughly 300 retail shops, approximately four out of 10 are art galleries.

When I lived there in the late 80s (I used to review books for the newspaper publishing this story), and I used to exhibit my artwork in a Carmel gallery that has since closed, and during my last visit in the late 90s, one thing was clear: A lot of them were and are crap galleries - that is, they are the type of galleries that sell a lot of reproductions, decorative art, gyclees by the millions, etc. Many others show the work of just one artist, or do not change shows regularly.

Because Carmel's main business is tourism, the galleries aim to tourists. And tourists come to Carmel because of its beauty, to play golf, see the Spanish mission, stroll around the beach, and because of... galleries.

Still, seems silly to pass regulations forbidding what obviously is the town's main attraction.

Locally, we have the same flavor of an issue around Dupont Circle, where the locals have decided that no more "new" galleries can be opened. As a gallery closes (such as Elizabeth Roberts will soon), it can be replaced by a new gallery in the same building, but no new galleries can open in a building that hasn't been a gallery prior to the sale.

And so we're all hoping that Elizabeth Roberts will be able to find a buyer for her building that wants to open a new gallery in that building. I've spoken to Elizabeth and she would prefer for that to happen as well.

Monday, October 04, 2004

A while back I posted a bit about a fiery DC area artist (Marsha Stein), who decided that the reported woes of the City Museum of Washington, DC deserved some hands on action.

So she's taking some action.

Stein has come up with a project to revitalize what the City Museum of Washington, DC does to leave a significant footprint on our city.

Here it is, in her own words:
This project will bring together artists from the Washington, DC area to form "artistic teams" and create collaborative pieces that convey ideas about Washington, DC.

The works of art created by the teams will be displayed in a feature exhibition at The City Museum of Washington, DC.

Visitors will be invited to vote on their favorite piece, as well as describe why they made this choice. The artists will be documented on film while they are in the creative process for educational purposes. These pieces will be auctioned at the close of the exhibit.

The goals of the project are to:

1. Bring the artistic community together
2. Empower DC artists to create an artistic movement
3. Integrate artists with the community

A jury panel will select the teams. The call will invite individuals as well as those who can form teams of two or three to send slides as well as describe why they want to do "team art."
All artists, newspeople and visual art lovers who are interested to participate, learn more, or put in their two cents are invited to:
Karma Restaurant
1919 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
(19th and I, NW)
On Monday, October 18, 2004 from 6 - 8 PM

I'm curious as to what can develop; So.... see you there.

Good week in Washington if you are a lover of the visual arts.

This Friday is the second Friday of the month and thus time for the Bethesda Art Walk with all these art venues participating from 6-9 PM.

David FeBland's Accidental CoupleWe will host the fourth solo show by David FeBland, who has become our best selling artist (and whose solo debut in Europe a few months ago sold out in Germany).

FeBland paints what the New York Times dubs "urban realism" (the Times called him "the leading edge of the new urban realists") and the Washington Post has called "a revival of the Ashcan School."

And Calder Miró, which opens at the Phillips Collection on October 9, 2004, showcases the emergence of a new type of abstraction in the work of these two giants of modern art as seen in the context of their five-decade friendship. That same day, at 11:00 AM, the eminent Spanish art historian Victoria Combalía, will discuss Alexander Calder’s art in the context of Calder's travels to Spain in the early 1930s when he was Miró’s guest in Catalonia. Contact Mary Ann Bader (202) 387-2151 x4235 or Mela Kirkpatrick (202) 387-2151 x4220 for tickets to the lecture.

I have been astonished by the re-emergence of Catalonia and the Catalan language in the last few years. The last time that I was in Barcelona, there wasn't a single ad or street sign in Spanish! Everything was in the native language (again)!

That same day, the Corcoran opens "Inventions: Recent Paintings by Caio Fonseca", which will run until February 14, 2005.

The LA Times discusses"Reporting the Arts II," a study conducted for Columbia University's National Arts Journalism Program and released Saturday at a conference of newspaper editors in New Orleans. The report looked at arts journalism in 13 American cities in October 2003 and compared the findings with a similar analysis that had been done five years earlier.

The findings: "In all the cities our researchers visited, they found evidence of growing vitality in the arts. But when it comes to journalism, the opposite is true."

DC was not included in this study, but doesn't this paragraph describe the Washington Post's coverage:
"Our findings reveal an alarming trend: During the last five years, none of the papers we looked at increased the amount of their arts criticism and reporting. Editors at many dailies are filling smaller news holes with more and therefore shorter stories. Pieces on "high" arts, as well as those with hard reporting about cultural institutions, continue to take a backseat to soft-focus features on the latest movie star, CD or rock concert... Now many art sections have become viewer guides, devoting the bulk of their efforts to calendars, the daily TV grid and tiny thumbnail reviews."
In DC, under the leadership of its Arts Editor Leonard Roberge, the Washington City Paper continues to take over the void created by the Post's tiny visual arts coverage. This trend is apparently also common in other cities, as the piece discusses that:
"The alternative press, once derided by mainline news outlets, has also proved so successful at covering local arts events that media giants such as Tribune Co. and Gannett have started publications that mimic those brash competitors."
And the article closes with a key prediction:
"The greatest hope of quality arts journalism is the Internet. By going online, a reader can gain access to what seems like the work of every news organization and blogger on the planet. But there's a problem with the Web: The information is there, but you have to go looking for it. Articles and ideas are not placed at the reader's front door or local newsstand. The Internet cannot form the kind of connective tissue for our cultural life that newspapers offer.

We don't know where the talented cultural writers of tomorrow will come from and what type of art they will champion. They may choose to ply their trade outside newspapers, feeling too hemmed in by old routines and space constraints."
You can order the actual report here.

Thanks AJ!

Tyler Green does a tiny DC gallery walk-through.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

DCARTNEWS reader Shark chimes in with a very funny comment on the Flavin Retro at the NGA:
"I've always wondered: Have museums and collectors stocked up on replacement bulbs for their Flavin works?

What happens in a hundred years or so (a decade, even?) -- when nobody can find a flourescent tube?

PS: Shark's Prediction: Flavin won't even be a minor blip on the art history landscape. He and the likes of Donald Judd will be lucky to be footnotes.

(But Marfa [Santa Fe without the scenery] is nice this time of year!)"

Saturday, October 02, 2004

The power of the Internet surfaces again...

Ernesto Guevara de La Serna LynchI received a studio email (I think) thanking me for pointing out to the world that the movie trailers for the new Motorcycles Diaries movie were mispronouncing Ernesto "Che" Guevara de La Serna Lynch's name, and Lo and Behold: there's a new voice over the same movie trailer.

Now... Che's name is not mentioned at all!

GE-varah, GE-varah, GE-varah (soft "G"... like in "get").

Blake Gopnik at the Washington Post with an excellent video review of Dan Flavin at the NGA.

Poor Flavin's show will soon come down in history as the exhibition that everyone loved but that was cursed with the cheesiest headlines in art history.

Gopnik's is "Glowing Review" while Kimmelman was "To Be Enlightened, You Pull the Switch."

By the way, in case you missed it, a few days ago Gopnik dissed "imperious art critic Clement Greenberg." Read it here.

The pot calling the kettle black?

Last night I went gallery hopping around Dupont Circle and managed to catch a few shows, drink some free cheap white wine and nibble on some cookies.

Jane Bowles by Judith RichelieuI started at Gallery 10, a terrific cooperative, artist-run gallery. The current exhibit is by Judith Richelieu, a former librarian at the Library of Congress.

She has 25 portraits of women artists, writers, etc. as part of a series called "Eligy." Richelieu complements them with carved wood saints that accompany the portraits. I overheard the artist discuss the fact that she "wasn't a portrait artist," which I found a little odd in terms of her current exhibition.

I'm not really sure what to think of the portraits. Richeliu obviously works from published photographs (nothing wrong with that), but every single one of her portraits is done in the same odd, unsual grayish skin tone for all the women, as if they all share a shark somewhere in their family tree.

It is a bit disorienting, but perhaps Richelieu wants to use the common gray skin color as a unifying force. My favorite piece was the portrait of Spanish artist Remedios Varos. The works are on exhibition until October 30.

Up the street, Kathleen Ewing Gallery has photographs by contemporary Native American artists Zig Jackson, Victor Masayesva, Jr. and Hulleah Tsinhnahjinnie. Michael O'Sullivan wrote about this exhibition:
"For Indian art with a bit of an edge (something you won't find at the new museum, by the way), try Kathleen Ewing Gallery's "Contemporary Native American Art." Along with the photographs of Victor Masayesva Jr. and Hulleah Tsinhnahjinnie, the show includes several selections from some of photographer Zig Jackson's more pointed black-and-white pictures, including his shots of tourists taking snapshots of Indians in full regalia, which turn the exploitative gaze back on the exploiter, and his conceptual series featuring the artist in feathered headdress and sunglasses posing in front of a customized sign demarking "Zig's Indian Reservation," which happens to be wherever the artist sees fit to stand."
The exhibition closes October 9.

Marsha Mateyka yet again has an exhibition from the Gene Davis estate. See them here, and you can see some recent results of Gene Davis' auctions at Sotheby's here.

Elizabeth Roberts Gallery is having its farewell show, as the gallery is closing at the end of this show as ELizabeth is moving to the Bay Area. On exhibition are works by Alice Oh. Her paintings are derived from the behavior and morphology of infected blood cells as seen under the microscope and are fascinating to study how nature and art align to deliver some very interesting results. I am sure that Ms. Roberts is hoping NOT to get the same sort of cosa nostra goodbye review that Jessica Dawson gave the Sally Troyer gallery when it closed.

Below the Elizabeth Roberts Gallery things were going gangbusters for The Studio Gallery; several sales took place in the few minutes that I was there. The current exhibition is "Works on Paper" by Phyllis Jayne Evans.

The Studio Gallery is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year - this is a spectacular achievement and in "gallery years" something rare and noteworthy, as most galleries close within a year of opening and a hardy few survive past four or five years.

I then visited Fondo del Sol, fully aware that once I said hello to Marc Zuver it could possibly be another week before I'd leave. Fondo del Sol is one of the cultural jewels of our city, and the current exhibition(s) do not disappoint. Zuver has curated a fascinating grouping of works under a exhibit titled "In Search of Lost Iberia," where he submits a theory that the peoples of ancient Iberia and ancient Georgia (the former Soviet republic, not the Southern state) share a common name, bloodlines and history in a distant past. There are some striking works of art by Alejandro Arostegui, Rogelio Lopez Marin ("Gory"), Vladimir Kandelaki and Mumumka Mikeladze.

Of these, Kandelaki's works stand out by their sheer complexity and by the powerful ant-Soviet and pro-Georgian messages they delivered when first created in the 1980s. They are courageous works that represented the brutal Soviet repression of the Georgian people and the decay of Soviet Communism.

And if you want to see one of the most powerful exhibitions around the theme of Native Americans (in fact so powerful that you'll never see anything like it in the new National Museum of the American Indian), then go see Michael Auld's installation "Surviving Genocide: Remembering Anacaona."

For the last several years Michael Auld has been researching and documenting the indigenous people of the Caribbean; some, such as the Tainos, were thought to be extinct, until "discovered" by Auld, in small mountain pockets of people.

When I first saw Auld's works a few years ago, what stuck in my mind was an extraordinary wooden sculpture of Itiba Cahubaba, the legendary Earth mother of Taino legend. This stunning piece depicted the Earth mother giving birth simultaneously to two sets of twins, who became the fathers of mankind. This was a gripping piece not only because of its artistic value, but more importantly because it marked the rebirth of Taino culture after nearly 500 years of being nearly forgotten, erased and virtually destroyed.

Auld's current exhibition adds another powerful installation based on a sculpture of Anacaona, the famous Taino queen who was the wife of one of the five caciques of Hispaniola and one of the first recorded Native American characters met by the Spaniards when they first landed on that unfortunate island. She was subsequently murdered by the Conquistadors, whom she had invited to her village.

In Auld's installation, a life-sized cherry wood sculpture of Anacaona sits in a cohoba trance in a traditional bohio (house) made from sixteen carved large lizards and snakes. The queen is adorned with conch jewelry and feathers, and delivers a stern message to contemporary viewers. It left me feeling uncomfortable and thinking that at one point Father Bartolome de las Casas estimated that there were six million Tainos in the Caribbean when the Spaniards first arrived.

Bruno PerilloWhen I managed to escape Zuver's animated discussion I headed over to Irvine Contemporary Art, which has a spectacular exhibition by one of the most talented young painters that I have seen in years: Bruno Perillo.

The Brooklyn-based Perillo brings a superbly talented brush to the revived genre of painting. He was recently reviewed by Michael O'Sullivan in the Post who wrote that Perillo has "witty, conceptual works that allude to both highbrow and lowbrow culture." O'Sullivan nailed it, and the show has nearly sold out, reviving my hope that Washingtonians are discovering that they can actually buy art here in the city!

Next I went to the Washington Printmaker's Gallery, where Jen Watson gave me a quick tour of the main show (monoprints by Christine Giammichele) and the always strong group show in the back gallery by the gallery's member artists.

My last stop was at Conner Contemporary where Avish Khebrehzadeh's show has also sold very well. The show was reviewed by Dawson here and by Cudlin here, but I think that it was this article on art collectors Tony and Heather Podesta that drove the collectors to one of the best galleries in the city.

Keep coming back.

Friday, October 01, 2004

I know, I know... I keep bashing the Post on their miserably tiny coverage of our area's art galleries and artists, but I must admit that at least Michael O'Sullivan, who covers the museums and sometimes galleries for the Post's Weekend section, does a pretty good job of keeping a finger on the pulse of DC's visual arts.

Today he covers five separate shows in Indian Art Beyond the Museum.

He also reviews "The Dream of Earth: 21st-Century Tendencies in Mexican Sculpture." at the Cultural Institute of Mexico. That is one show that I do not want to miss.

If you haven't been to the Cultural Institute of Mexico, please do so; it is one of the most beautiful buildings and most attractive gallery spaces in DC.

© Stephen Flavin/Artists Rights Society, New York
Other than the really cheesy headline, this is a pretty eloquent review by the New York Times' Michael Kimmelman of the Dan Flavin traveling retrospective exhibition now at the East Building of the National Gallery.

Even some humor: In discussing Flavin's impact, Kimmelman writes that ... "It also helped to open the way for installation art, but you can't blame only Flavin for that."

Who else do we blame? We want names!

Tonite is the Dupont Circle Art Galleries' crawl... from 6-8 PM. Most galleries will have wine and food as well as the artists will be there to meet the public.

Go and buy some art.

In a major new visual arts initiative for the Northern Virginia region, the League of Reston Artists (LRA) announces its first Call for Curated and Solo Art Exhibition Proposals for exhibits to be presented during its 2005 season at its sponsoring venue, The University of Phoenix Northern Virginia Campus, in Reston, Virginia.

LRA Board Member and spokesperson, James W. Bailey, says that individual artists, groups of artists, artist collectives, and independent emerging curators are invited to submit proposals for a curated exhibition by the postmarked deadline of Monday, January 17, 2005. Bailey also says proposals for solo artist exhibitions will be considered and are strongly encouraged from regional artists as part of this call.

"Those interested in submitting proposals are encouraged to visit the site at the University of Phoenix first to see how the space would work with their ideas," says Bailey. "Interested curators and artists can download the proposal application form from our web site."

Proposals should include a brief narrative exhibition statement, artist statements from key participants, a proposed budget, a proposed timeframe for the exhibition and relevant support materials, including representational slides, photographs, CD’s or videos. The LRA Board will select shows based on a representation of the proposed works included in the proposal.

Congratulations to Tyler Green, Washington, DC's first art BLOGger, who has been designated as the art critic for Bloomberg News.

The Vampire Rises Again

"A group of works by Damien Hirst, including his famous tiger shark suspended in formaldehyde and "Hymn," his monumental bronze anatomical model, as well as pieces by fellow British artists Tracey Emin, Jenny Saville, Sarah Lucas, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Marc Quinn, and Chris Ofili, among many others, are to be removed from display at the Saatchi Gallery. In their place comes an exhibition, "The triumph of painting" which opens in January 2005 to mark the 20th anniversary of the gallery."
The new show is devoted to the work of five painters, Peter Doig, Luc Tuymans, Marlene Dumas, Jörg Immendorf, and Martin Kippenberger, described by Charles Saatchi as "key European artists."

If you are one of those critics or curators who have been trumpeting the "death of painting" for the last four decades: your flag-bearer just went to the other side.

Read the entire Art Newspaper story here. (Thanks AJ).

The Washington City Paper continues to take over the vacuum created by the continuous Washington Post's poor coverage of the area's galleries and artists with several interesting reviews in the current issue.

Louis Jacobson reviews our current show of Hugh Shurley's DC debut of his photographs at our Georgetown gallery. He also reviews Kristi Mathews at Flashpoint.

And Jeffry Cudlin has a very good and interesting review of Avish Khebrehzadeh at Conner Contemporary Art.

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