Sunday, November 18, 2018

Tia Ñica moves on...

Yesterday my aunt Ñica passed away in her beloved home in Miami Beach. 

She was in her nineties and holds a special place not only in my heart, but also in my family's history. 

Tia Ñica and her husband Jose immigrated to the United States in the 1950s and settled in Brooklyn, in the old Italian neighborhood clustered around the beautiful Our Lady of Loretto church, convent and school in East New York. 

One of 11 children to Galician immigrants to Cuba, not only did she herself become an immigrant to a new land where she did not know a single person, but also (I am certain), the first woman in her family to work. 

She worked in the factories that back then surrounded the neighborhood, and "after work", also worked babysitting the neighbors' children while their parents worked late hours. By the late 50s my aunt and uncle had saved enough money to buy a six apartment brownstone on Sackman Street, which is where they lived, and where my family and I landed in the 1960s when our family left Communist Cuba as political refugees during the "Freedom Flights" that allowed hundreds of thousands of Cubans to escape the political wrath of the Cuban dictatorship. 

My aunt was a strong, powerful, opinionated woman, with a strong will and even a stronger, loud voice that could and would command attention in the chaos and cacophony of Cuban family dinners. For a few years, when I was a teen, I would accompany her after school, as we went door to door in Brooklyn selling oil painting portraits, where she'd send a photo to someone in Spain, who would then send back a pretty good oil copy of the photo! In retrospect, my "training" as an art dealer started back then! 

My aunt and uncle moved to Miami Beach in the early 1970s, and bought a gorgeous house on Alton Road surrounded by palm trees and avocado trees, and as a teenager my parents would "ship" me to them for the summer. I would always be picked up at the airport, and waiting in their house would be an ancient, retired Spaniard who would then give me a haircut and bring my hair length to my aunt's severe, anti-hippie standards, part of her belief that long hair, not wearing a watch, bell bottom pants and parting your hair down the middle, all contributed to moral corruption! 

Those summer months spent with my aunt and uncle remain as some of the happiest times of my life. But my strongest debt to this powerful gallega remains the fact that it was because of her and her loving husband, that my family was able to escape the living nightmare that their birthplace had become. 

And on behalf of your my children, and their future descendants, I send her a warm hug, and a most sincere "gracias" for all that she did, and the key part that she played in my destiny... and for all the love and support that she gave me through the decades: I love you Tia, and "teikyrissy" on Tio Jose!

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Coming to Miami

Laura Beth Konopinski
As usual, we'll be returning to Miami this coming December for the big dance of the art world during Art Basel week in the Greater Miami area, with over twenty art fairs all over. This will be our 12th year coming to Miami!

This year we're returning to Context Art Miami, where we'll have two booths: C321 and C322 and featuring works by Matthew Langley, J. Jordan Bruns, Michael Janis, Erwin Timmers, Amy Lin, Tim Vermeulen, Dulce Pinzon, Elissa Farrow-Savos, Laura Beth Konopinski and Audrey Wilson.

J. Jordan Bruns

J. Jordan Bruns

Tim Vermeulen

Tim Vermeulen
Erwin Timmers

Friday, November 16, 2018

Lori Katz at Longview Gallery

Lori Katz at Longview Gallery - November 29 -January 6

Opening reception
 Thursday November 29, 6:30-8:00


      Longview Gallery
      1234 Ninth Street NW
      Washington, DC 20001

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Eerie magazines

Marcus, drop me an email to lennycampello at

Monday, November 12, 2018

On Veterans' Day 2018

A warm cyberspace shout out to all my fellow vets and to the men and women of the US Armed Forces all over the planet, with a special nod to the sailors and marines at sea!

The American flag that I sometimes hang outside my house and which hangs today has a most interesting story. 

As you can see below, it is a gold-fringed flag, which we used to call "a Navy flag" back in the days, because of who knows why... when I was an Executive Officer at the Naval Security Group Activity Skaggs Island, California in the 1990s, I was told that it was because it represented the ability to execute/hold a Captain's Mast.

But I meander away from the history of this flag... my flag.

In 1983 I was the OZ Division Officer for USS Virginia (CGN-38), and the ship was assigned Naval Gunfire Fire Support (NGFS) patrol off the coast of Beirut, Lebanon, in support of the US Marines ashore in Beirut as part of the Multi-National Peacekeeping Force.

We would routinely fly ashore for meetings, etc., and one day I will scan and show you a description that I put on my journal (in pre-blog days) many years ago where I described one such meeting and the interesting event that happened, with 50 cal bullets flying all over the place. Below is a picture of me, ashore in Beirut with the USMC.

From HistoryNet:
At 6:22 on Sunday morning Oct. 23, 1983, a 19-ton yellow Mercedes stake-bed truck entered a public parking lot at the heart of Beirut International Airport. The lot was adjacent to the headquarters of the U.S. 8th Marine Regiment’s 1st Battalion, where some 350 American soldiers lay asleep in a four-story concrete aviation administration building that had been successively occupied by various combatants in the ongoing Lebanese Civil War. Battalion Landing Team 1/8 was the ground element of the 1,800-man 24th Marine Amphibious Unit (MAU), which had deployed to Lebanon a year earlier as part of a multinational peacekeeping force also comprising French, Italian and British troops. Its mission was to facilitate the withdrawal of foreign fighters from Lebanon and help restore the sovereignty of its government at a time when sectarian violence had riven the Mediterranean nation.
... Marine sentries initially paid little attention to the Mercedes truck. Heavy vehicles were a common sight at the airport, and in fact the BLT was expecting one that day with a water delivery. The truck circled the parking lot, then picked up speed as it traveled parallel to a line of concertina wire protecting the south end of the Marine compound. Suddenly, the vehicle veered left, plowed through the 5-foot-high wire barrier and rumbled between two guard posts.
By then it was obvious the driver of the truck—a bearded man with black hair—had hostile intentions, but there was no way to stop him. The Marines were operating under peacetime rules of engagement, and their weapons were not loaded. Lance Corporal Eddie DiFranco, manning the sentry post on the driver’s side of the truck, soon guessed the driver’s horrifying purpose. “He looked right at me…smiled, that’s it,” DiFranco later recalled. “Soon as I saw [the truck] over here, I knew what was going to happen.” By the time he managed to slap a magazine into his M16 and chamber a round, the truck had roared through an open vehicle gate, rumbled past a long steel pipe barrier, threaded between two other pipes and was closing on the BLT barracks.
Sergeant of the guard Stephen Russell was alone at his sandbag-and-plywood post at the front of the building but facing inside. Hearing a revving engine, he turned to see the Mercedes truck barreling straight toward him. He instinctively bolted through the lobby toward the building’s rear entrance, repeatedly yelling, “Hit the deck! Hit the deck!” It was futile gesture, given that nearly everyone was still asleep. As Russell dashed out the rear entrance, he looked over his shoulder and saw the truck slam through his post, smash through the entrance and come to a halt in the midst of the lobby. After an ominous pause of a second or two, the truck erupted in a massive explosion—so powerful that it lifted the building in the air, shearing off its steel-reinforced concrete support columns (each 15 feet in circumference) and collapsing the structure. Crushed to death within the resulting mountain of rubble were 241 U.S. military personnel—220 Marines, 18 Navy sailors and three Army soldiers. More than 100 others were injured. It was worst single-day death toll for the Marines since the World War II Battle of Iwo Jima.
Aboard USS Virginia, the ship's crew went into action, and within minutes our helo was airborne, carrying our ship's doctor and his Navy corpsmen to help with the wounded Marines. Minutes later the helo came back, looking for people and equipment to help assist with digging out the people from the collapsed building. Because my division was the only one that had an Arabic linguist, they came to us to see if he (Sgt. Bobby Jack Irvin, an amazing linguist and as far as I know the only Marine ever to qualify for the Enlisted Surface Warfare pin) could go ashore to help facilitate our doctor's mission, as he had radio'd that several Lebanese doctors had already come up to help him, and he might need language help.

Irvin and I had been ashore the day before (that's him in the photo a few paragraphs above - Irvin is to my left and to my right is Warrant Officer Carnes), but because of our shipboard mission, I felt that he could really help more by staying on the ship and doing what he did best.

Later on, they asked for volunteers to help ashore, and together with some other crew members, we headed to Beirut - other than Irvin, I was the only person on the ship who routinely flew back and forth between Beirut and the ship, and thus I wanted to ensure that I was part of the volunteer crew.
When we arrived at the airport, it was essentially controlled chaos, and dozens of bodies were already being tended to, and our ship's helo - along with others - began taking the wounded to a hospital in Sidon. There were also plenty of black body bags already filled.

With our doctor frenetically working to triage the wounded Marines, and since most Lebanese doctors actually spoke English, after donating blood, I left the medical area and began to help with the digging operations.

This story is not about that part, which was brutal and heart-breaking. This story is about the flag that I found in the rubble.

My American flag.

At the time, it seemed like a natural thing to "rescue" it from the rubble. I brought it back to the ship, where it flew often, as our mission shifted from routine patrol to Naval Gunfire Support (NGFS). When I left the ship, it was given to me, along with a ship's plaque. When I retired from the Navy two decades ago, I used it as my retirement flag and it was presented to me again, after flying over the Capitol - I never put it in a shadow box, as is the custom, but kept it flying every once in a while, as a flag deserves to do.

One day, hopefully I will donate it to some museum, along with its history and story.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

775 works in miniature at Strathmore

Beginning the weekend of the 17th, the 85th Annual Exhibition of Fine Art in Miniature features 775 works in miniature—handmade pieces as small as a thumbnail or postage stamp—created by 274 artists from eight countries, as far away as Australia, Israel, and South Africa. 

Local artists also found inspiration on the grounds of Strathmore in Montgomery County Plein Air Artists, and Baltimore painter Nick Eisele blends techniques of Old World masters with chiaroscuro techniques (experimenting with light and shadow). 

Girl with Golden Earrings by Michael W. Coe
Girl with Golden Earrings by Michael W. Coe
Related Events
Opening Reception Fine Art in Miniature and Oil + Light, Sun, Nov 18, 2pm
Opening Reception Montgomery County Plein Air Artists, Sun, Nov 25, 12pm
Kids Talk and Tour Sat, Nov 24, 10:15am
Recorrido de Arte para Niños en Español Sa, 24 de nov, 11:30am
Curator’s Tour Sat, Nov 24, 1pm
Visita del Curador en Español Sat, 24 de Nov, 2pm
Miniature Painting Workshop Sun, Dec 9, 10am

Saturday, November 10, 2018

First Joint Acquisition Between the Two Smithsonian Museums!

I didn't even know that this was an option - but makes sense!
The Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Smithsonian's Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden have jointly acquired Arthur Jafa's (b. 1960) iconic video "Love is the Message, The Message is Death" (2016). Considered a breakout work when it debuted in 2016, the single-channel video signaled a shift in approach to contemporary American discourse on race and politics through the use of CCTV, documentaries, YouTube and social media footage alongside Jafa's own personal home movies.
This is the first joint acquisition between the Smithsonian's two museums most active in collecting contemporary art. Both museums have a long-standing commitment to the acquisition and presentation of contemporary moving-image works. "Love is the Message, The Message is Death" was recently on view as a highlight of the Hirshhorn's exhibition "The Message: New Media Works," which closed in September.
"Jafa stands as one of the most provocative artists working today, and we are delighted to partner with our colleagues at the Smithsonian American Art Museum to acquire this seminal work for the museums' permanent collections," said Hirshhorn Director Melissa Chiu. "Unapologetically bold, his work has the unique ability to resonate with viewers of all backgrounds, and it is a testament to the potential of new media to reflect and respond to the issues of our time."
"By jointly acquiring Jafa's majestic video, SAAM and the Hirshhorn will build on the unique opportunities for understanding the work that each collection provides to visitors to the Smithsonian," said Stephanie Stebich, the Margaret and Terry Stent Director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. "As part of SAAM's collection, Jafa's piece resonates powerfully with more than three centuries of artists engaging with America's racial complexities. Within the context of the Hirshhorn's international contemporary art galleries, it stands as a defining work of 21st-century media art."
"Love is the Message, The Message is Death" is a moving montage of original and appropriated footage, exploring the mix of joy and pain, transcendence and tragedy that characterize the African American experience at this historical moment. Set to Kanye West's gospel-inflected song "Ultralight Beam," the seven-and-a-half-minute piece swells with spiritually uplifting but candid lyrics; the music occasionally recedes allowing poignant snippets of dialogue to come to the fore. This tightly controlled editing echoes the intricate rhythmic structures of jazz, soul and hip-hop, while the source selection perfectly captures the range of mediation through which contemporary viewers experience and understand race in America. Getty-watermarked footage nods to the commercial afterlife of civil rights leaders and riots; silent-era film and sensationalized news clips link constructions of blackness across a century of moving images; and camera-phone-recorded YouTube-distributed videos highlight how personal moments can now become shockingly public, whether through choice or necessity.
About the Artist
For 20 years, Jafa has straddled the worlds of filmmaking and fine art. Since serving as director of photography on Julie Dash's groundbreaking Daughters of the Dust in 1991, Jafa has worked as a cinematographer on major films, such as John Akomfrah's Seven Songs for Malcolm X (1993), Spike Lee's Crooklyn (1994) and Nefertite Nguvu's In the Morning (2014), as well as on music videos for artists such as Jay-Z and Solange. He started showing work in art contexts in 1999, and was included the Whitney Museum of American Art's Biennial in 2000.A recent solo exhibition entitled "A Series of Utterly Improbably, Yet Extraordinary Renditions" debuted at the Serpentine Gallery in London in 2017 and is currently touring in Europe. A solo exhibition featuring new, commissioned work opens at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive Dec. 12. Jafa's work is in private and public collections worldwide, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, The Studio Museum in Harlem, the High Museum in Atlanta, the Dallas Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.
Jafa was born in Tupelo, Mississippi, studied at Howard University in Washington, D.C., and currently resides in Los Angeles. He is represented by Gavin Brown's enterprise.