Sunday, October 18, 2020

New York Mets artwork

When I was a kid in Brooklyn, my dad and I used to be great New York Mets fans, and we'd go to Shea Stadium several times a year to watch the amazing Mets!

I also saw several of the 1969 playoff games and 3 World Series games that year!

While I was a student at the University of Washington School of Art, I often used the Mets' superstars of my youth as inspiration for class assignments... here's a couple below...

Nolan Ryan - Pen and ink on paper, circa 1979 by F. Lennox Campello
Nolan Ryan
Pen and ink on paper, circa 1979 by F. Lennox Campello

Tom Seaver - Limited Edition etching circa 1980 by F. Lennox Campello
Tom Seaver
Limited Edition etching circa 1980 by F. Lennox Campello

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

The Last Unicorn

 This is "The Last Unicorn", I did it as a commission for a private printing of the book by the same name... around 1978 when I was a student at the University of Washington School of Art.

The Last Unicorn, c. 1978 by F. Lennox Campello
The Last Unicorn
Watercolor on paper
16x24 inches, c. 1978 by F. Lennox Campello


Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Analog: Hand Printed Silver Gelatin Photo Collages by Adrienne Moumin

 Portico Gallery is hosting a mini artist reception for Adrienne Moumin only allowing 12 guests plus 4 staff/volunteers not to exceed 16 people total. At check-in, the gallery staff will take temperatures with a non-contact thermometer and everyone will need to have a mask or face covering and maintain social distancing. You MUST have a ticket to attend. Masks/face coverings are mandatory while inside the actual gallery. We will serve drinks outside on the portico and maintain social distancing while socializing.

Portico Gallery is unique in that we have three sets of double doors that open onto a portico (covered porch) that runs the length of the gallery. This will enable guests to access the outdoors, have fresh airflow throughout the gallery, and enable safe distances from one another.

We have already hosted one mini-reception and it was very successful and everyone had a good time.

As we will be socializing outdoors please dress for a lovely October evening. 

Please only reserve a ticket(s) if you plan to attend. (you are able to get a plus one ticket) - Reserve the tickets here.

Portico Gallery

3807 Rhode Island Avenue

Brentwood, MD 20722

Thursday, October 01, 2020

Queer Threads: CURIOUS SPACES

 


Now On View at Transformer
Queer Threads: CURIOUS SPACES

Organized by Transformer and Queer Threads curator John Chaich, Queer Threads: CURIOUS SPACES features solo artist installations by emerging queer artists Zoe Schlacter at Transformer and André Terrel Jackson at The Corner at Whitman-Walker.

As social distancing continues to refine exhibition experiences, audiences are invited to engage with featured artworks through each venues’ storefront windows.

Zoe Schlacter

Darn

September 26 – November 14, 2020

Transformer

1404 P Street NW

Visible like a diorama through Transformer's storefront window, Zoe Schlacter invites us into an exuberant, stylized, textured world. In this site-specific installation, the Brooklyn-based, Nashville-raised artist embraces everyday craft materials, reimagines traditional textile mechanisms, and celebrates the queer, creative impulse. Yarns extend from hand-made, wall-mounted, loom sculptures as paper mâché sculptures and fabric paintings dart across the floor.

Referencing the playfulness of Memphis design and plasticity of objects of art and pleasure, Schlacter employs the sharpness of graphic design to wink at the perception of sexually graphic content. Through negative and positive space, they explore ideas of (w)holeness, visibility, and mending. Trans/forming the gallery by deconstructing the language of weaving, Schlacter embraces the potentiality of queer identity, style, and connection through fiber, form, and space.

ABOUT THE ARTIST

Zoe Schlacter is an interdisciplinary artist and designer living and working in Brooklyn, New York. Schlacter earned their BFA in textiles from the Rhode Island School of Design, where they learned both traditional crafts and contemporary design skills. Read full artist bio at transformerdc.org.


Thursday, September 24, 2020

Portrait of Rodin

This is an etching of Rodin (after Rodin) that I did in the late 1970s at the University of Washington School of Art.

Rodin (after Rodin) etching by F. Lennox Campello, c. 1978
Rodin (after Rodin)
by F. Lennox Campello, c. 1978


Wednesday, September 23, 2020

The curious case of predicting a juror's choice

As mentioned here, the McLean Center for the Arts sponsors a very good painting competition every couple of years called "Strictly Painting." 

A few years ago, around 1999 or 2000, the juror for that year's version of "Strictly Painting" was Terrie Sultan, who back then was the Curator for Contemporary Art at the Corcoran. 

I thought that this choice was a little odd, as Ms. Sultan, in my opinion then, was not "painting-friendly." 

In fact, with all due respect, back then I even blamed her for diminishing the great Corcoran Biennials, which used to be known at one point as the Corcoran Biennial of Painting. As such, they were essentially the only well-known Biennial left in the nation that was strictly designed to get a look at the state of contemporary painting, which was somehow surviving its so called "death." 

It was Ms. Sultan who decided to "expand" the Biennial and make it just like all other Biennials: Jack of all trades (genres) Biennials. In the process, depending on what side of this argument you're on, she (a) did a great service to the Corcoran by moving it into the center of the "genre of the moment" scene - like all other Biennials, or (b) gave away the uniqueness of the nation's top painting Biennial title. 

Even decades later, and with the Corcoran all but a memory, I'm aligned with the minority who supports camp (b) but understand those who defend her decision to become just another player in camp (a). 

Most people think that her decision and drive were the right thing to do in order to bring the Corcoran to a world stage, but clearly it didn't work, since the Corcoran has since folded.

But I digress. 

When she was announced as the juror, I decided to see if I could predict her painting selectivity, sensitivity, process, and agenda. It was my thesis that I could predict what Ms. Sultan would pick. So I made a bet, and decided to enter the exhibition with work created specifically to fit what I deduced would be agreeable to Ms. Sultan's tastes. 

I felt that I could guarantee that I would get into the show because of the transparency of the juror's personal artistic agenda. It is her right to have one; I have them, in fact, we all have them. 

I was trained as a painter at the University of Washington School of Art, but around 1992 or so, I stopped painting and decided to devote myself strictly to my love for drawing. 

So I had not picked up a brush in several years when I decided to enter this 1999 competition, designed to survey the state of painting in our region. It was my theory that Ms. Sultan would not be in the representational side of painting. It was also clear that she (like many curators) was seduced by technology in the form of videos, digital stuff, and such trendy things in the then novel Internet era. 

And so I decided to see if I could marry digital stuff with painting. 

And what I did was the following: I took some of my old Navy ribbons, and scanned them in to get a digital file. I then blew them up so that the final image was quite pixilated. I then printed about five of them and took slides of the printed sheets of paper. I then submitted these slides to the competition, but identified them as oil on canvas paintings. My plan was that if accepted, how hard could it be to whip up a couple of paintings after the fact? 

I titled them with such titles as Digitalism: National Defense and Digitalism: Expeditionary Medal and so on. 

From what I was later told, several hundred painters submitted work. 

And Ms. Sultan selected about only about seven or eight painters in total. And not only was I one of them, but she picked two of my entries. 

I was elated! I had hit the nail right on the head! 

I felt so superior in having such an insight into this intelligent woman's intellect that I (a painter no more) could create competition-specific work to get accepted into this highly regarded show. And then I began the task of creating the two paintings, using the pixilated images as the guide. 

And it turned out to be a lot harder than I thought. For one thing, I had submitted the "paintings" in quite a large size; each painting was supposed to be six feet long. And it didn't take me long to discover that there are a lot of color nuances and hues in an average pixilated image. And I went through dozens and dozens of rolls of tape as I pulled off the old Washington Color School trick of taping stripes (in my case small one inch square boxes of individual colors - hundreds upon hundreds of them) in a precise sequence to prevent smudging and color peeling, etc. 

I painted for at least six hours every day, switching off between paintings to allow the previous day's work to dry off enough to allow a new layer of tape to be applied. I did all the varnishing outside, which usually attracted all the small neighborhood ruffians. It was incredibly hard work, and I was ever so sorry that I had even gotten this crazy idea. All my nights were consumed. 

Expeditionary Medal, oil on canvasBut eventually they were finished and delivered to MPA and Ms. Sultan even wrote some very nice things about them in the exhibition's catalog. 

Me? 

I was in a mix of both vindication and guilt; exhausted but fired up with the often wrong sense of righteousness of the self-righteous. After the show, I had no idea what to do with them, and they didn't fit my "body of works," but I ended up selling both of them through Sotheby's

And today, some art collector in South Carolina and another one in Canada, each have one very large, exhausting and handsome oil painting of pixilated naval ribbons hanging in their home, in happy ignorance of the interesting story behind them. 

I mentioned the adjective handsome in describing them, because a few years ago I was telling this story to Prof. John Winslow, who asked to see the images of the real paintings. When I showed him, he said that they were actually "quite handsome paintings." 

I had never had my work described as "handsome" (although the Washington Post once described it as "irritating"), so it stuck in my head. So there you have it: The story of a former painter with a point to prove about a local curator, the subsequent hard-labor punishment of the process, and a hidden story behind two handsome paintings.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Lessons for artists

An artist has a show and someone steals a piece of art. What happens next? With a signed contract, the artist would know ahead of time that either (a) the gallery has no insurance, in which case the theft is a full loss, or (b), the gallery has art insurance, in which case (a) the gallery puts a claim in with the insurance company, or (c) the artist deals directly with the insurance company. And, by the way, in the event that there’s insurance, don’t expect to get the full value of the stolen work, but in most cases (and policies) only the 50% commission that you’d have received in the event that the work had sold instead of being stolen.

Talking about commissions; how do you know, other than a handshake, what the gallery’s commission is? Let’s say that you are told that the commission is 50% (the general standard for independent commercial fine arts galleries around here). Is that 50% of the price of the piece or 50% of the final sales price? I know of at least one (now closed) major DC area art gallery that has a record of really screwing artists by giving them 50% of an agreed price for a piece; however, the gallery also often sells the piece for a lot more money to its out of town collectors and keeps the difference. Here’s how it works. The artist agrees to sell the photographs for $500 each and thus expects a commission of $250. The unethical gallerist sells some for $500, and some to its out-of-town clientele for $1000, but gives the artist the same $250 commission on those sales.

But let’s say that you have approached a gallery, and show them the works, and discuss representation, and the gallerist agrees to hang some of your work in his next group show. You are not sure if you are “represented” in the sense of the word as you understand it, but shake on it and prepare for your first appearance in a well-known gallery and invite all of your family and friends. At the packed opening, your second cousin-once-removed is admiring one of your huge watercolors, which are tacked onto the wall in a really cool post-post-post-modernist style. He leans forward to admire your brushwork and accidentally spills his white wine onto your watercolor, immediately making your representational work of art into a messy abstraction. What happens next? Does insurance cover damage? Is there insurance? Is that the guy who spilled the wine making a dash for the door?

Having learned your lesson, at your next opening you resign yourself to getting your new work framed and spend a ton of money getting them framed at the most affordable (in other words cheapest) possible way, but still spend a considerable amount of shekels -- because as everyone knows, framing is very expensive (unless you attend the Campello Boot Camp for Artists Seminar and learn how to cut framing expenses by 80%). When you deliver the works to the gallery, the gallerist goes into fits about your gold leaf rococo frames from Target and silver acidic mats and refuses to hang the work. A good contract would have specified ahead of time all issues dealing with framing and presentation standards.

Having calmed down, the gallerist then offers to re-frame all the work for you. You accept with a sigh of relief, and at the opening your 20 newly framed watercolors look great in the 8-ply pH-balanced, acid free mat board, under UV glass and Nielsen mouldings and backed by half-inch, acid free, pH-balanced foam core. You sell four pieces and are happy that things worked out in the end. A few weeks later you get a huge bill in the mail from the gallery; it is what remains of the framing bill after the gallery applied all of your commission to the total framing bill. A good contract should also specify the economic who’s and what’s of any framing done by the gallery.

Your relationship with the gallery is now seriously on the rocks, but then you are told that a review in DC Art News will come out soon. Three months after your show has closed the review finally comes out in DC Art News and it’s a good one. A young computer geek in Bala Cynwood, Pennsylvania, who is waiting to see his doctor for his annual physical reads that DC Art News review in his phone while waiting in the doc’s office, sees the nice reproduction of your work and after he goes home, looks you up on the Internet and contacts you directly and tells you that he read the review of your gallery show in DC Art News and wants to buy the painting reproduced in the magazine. You sell him the painting and put all your money in the bank. Sixteen minutes after the painting is delivered to Bala Cynwood, the gallery gets a call from a collector in Spokane, Washington who has also read the DC Art News review and wants to buy that painting. The gallerist calls you and tells you the good news. You are ecstatic that two people want your painting, but then you tell the gallerist that someone else in Bala Cynwood read the review and that you sold the painting to that person. The gallerist congratulates you on the sale and then asks you to make sure that you send him the gallery’s commission. You are confused because you had no idea that you owed the gallery a commission.

Your review in DC Art News has opened a few doors for your artwork and you are invited by a non-profit art venue to have a solo show at their space in a year. You are pleased and tell everyone, including the gallerist, who informs you that because his gallery represents your work, you are not allowed to exhibit anywhere else in the city, or maybe the area, or maybe the state, or maybe the US, or maybe the world.

Then your alma matter, impressed with your artistic prowess, invites you to a group show of alumni artwork in the school’s gallery. Since you attended art school in another state, you are pretty sure that it will be OK to show there, because after the last confusion, you discovered that the gallery had exclusive representation for your work only in DC, MD and VA (known to locals as the DMV -  an acronym that I invented decades ago), and your art school is in Brownsville, Texas. You tell your gallerist, and because he has never heard of Brownsville, Texas, he looks it up in the Internet and then he informs you that if you exhibit your artwork in “certain places” it will bring the reputation of the gallery down and thus the gallerist doesn’t want you to exhibit in Brownsville, Texas – or anywhere in Texas, Arkansas, and Nebraska for that matter... or any state that voted for Trump!

You beg and plead because you really want to impress your ex-girlfriend in Texas, and the gallerist allows you to include one piece in that alumni show, but makes it clear that he needs to be consulted on any and all exhibitions of your work. And so you exhibit your best piece in Brownsville and a New York gallerist, who happens to be a Robert Ervin Howard admirer, visits Brownsville to pay homage to REH's birthplace and decides to check the local yokels show at the art school. Because your immense watercolors are the largest works in the show, they catch his attention and he jots down your name. Weeks later his intern calls you and tells you that they want to show some of your work in their next group show. This is really hitting the big time, and you announce to your gallerist that a big shot New York gallerist is including you in his next group show. He congratulates you and reminds you that you owe him 10% of any sales made in New York, or in Brownsville, Texas, or anywhere for that matter. You rant and rave and ask why, and he tells you that the reasons for your recent success all lead back to the exposure that he has given you. You demand to know why none of this stuff was made clear from the beginning. The gallerist answers that “everyone knows this,” and that he “likes to operate on a handshake and without a contract.” You then realize that you have him by the balls, since you have no signed contract with him or his gallery, and tell him that you are leaving. He says some threatening stuff about verbal contracts, but you walk away anyway, wondering how you are going to get back the six paintings of yours that your soon-to-be-former gallerist still has in storage.

Nonetheless, New York is New York, and you go visit the big shot New York gallerist and meet with him, and over a handshake he agrees to put you in a group show and tells you that his commission is 60% - You are not sure if you are “represented” in the sense of the word as you understand it, but shake on it and prepare for your first appearance in a New York City gallery and invite all of your family and friends...

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