Tuesday, November 07, 2006

City Hall Art Collection Comments

I've been overwhelmed by the number of comments that you have emailed me about the new City Hall Art Collection, and have somewhat fallen behind posting them. Below are a few, with more to come. I am also told that Jessica Dawson will have a review in the Washington Post this coming Saturday and there will be an article in the WaPo's Metro section on Thursday -- I think in the District Extra.


Tim Tate wrote:

"At the opening last night at the Wilson building it was community building at its finest. Probably 3/4 of the artists represented were in attendance.... and they represented a comprehensive and thoughtful cross section of the Washington art scene, from the old guard to the newest burgeoning faces.

Sondra Arkin once again pulled off a wonderful flawless event with all the enthusiasm that she puts into Art-o-matic. While is was great to see surprises around every corner (from new artists you weren't familiar with to new directions from artists we knew), the real pleasure was to see work from the artists we've come to know well in DC. it somehow felt comfortable, as the city's collection should feel.

My favorite wall included works by Rima Schulkind, Margaret Boozer and Sean Hennessey. Each of these pieces worked incredibly well together and represented an established artist, a new artist and a new direction for another established artist.

Some of the work you hoped top see was there.... William Christenbery, Sam Gilliam and six wonderful Gene Davis pieces. Also some of the older school had some great pieces like Judy Jashinsky, and Richard Dana and Ellen Weiss.

Two smaller repetitive works had a great sense of discovery about them. One was from Georgie Deal and one from Lynn Putney, who share a similar sensibility. Also two smaller paintings by Andrew Wodzianski had all the depth and lusciousness of his larger works.

The collection as a whole was spectacular and extremely professionally well done. It seemed to have always belonged in that space. I hear there will be a second round of purchasing, so all those who didn't have work ready for the last call will be getting another chance. I'm sure Lenny will post it on his this site!"
Adam Griffiths wrote:
"Sorry to hear you didn't make the opening, it was pretty great. A lot of abstract work, but quite a variety of stuff. Presentation was great, although some pieces were tucked away in offices that weren't open until halfway through the night.

Wow! There was a lot of art to look at, and all of the selections were exceptional. There was an excellent Gilliam piece on the first floor, and two nice Renee Stouts.

And while I don't seek to make a large point of it, there really wasn't that much representational work in the show. In addition, it seems that wall-friendly work took priority over 3D artworks. There seemed to be plenty of places for sculpture to go in the building, but I guess when the building was remodeled, no one thought to put in more than the few 1st floor niches for future artworks. Otherwise, I must say I was quite pleased with it.

The complimentary catalogue was very beautiful and is definitely worth seeking out if you know someone who got one.

The place was really packed by 7pm and you could barely move in the center hall. Lots of people watched the opening remarks from balconies all the way from the 5th floor. Linda Cropp gave a speech that I could barely hear from the back of the room, but people were quite excited by it. Otherwise, the energy was pleasant just about everywhere I went, I saw some artists talking to folks about their work, and people eating the yummy fruit and buffalo wings from Whole Foods (there was a line at each table setting on every floor and the food lasted about an hour from 6pm to 7pm)."
Andrew Wodzianski wrote:
"The reception was a blast, and the collection is truly awesome in scope/breadth. I have only three

1) While a majority of the artwork had gorgeous frames, a few pieces suffered from poor presentation. Glare from glass was a main culprit.

2) I don't recall the submission requirements, but there were too few sculptures (in the round).

3) Political back slapping. Linda Cropp and Anthony Williams are windbags.

Still, those are minor complaints for such a large exhibit in such a large venue."
Karen Joan Topping wrote:
"Frankly, I'm impressed and amazed at the wonderful job that has been done with presenting the first group in the city's art collection.

The range of style displayed in the actual art objects purchased was professional, daring, and spot on. With only, what-153 pieces?, from established and emerging artists alike it is a collection that is ready to expose DC artists to a broader audience. From Margaret Boozer's process-oriented clay relief wall hanging to Judy Jashinsky's character portraits, to Pat Goslee's abstract encaustic painting, all in addition to some household 'names', the collection definitively gives voice to the great range and depth of talent that has been present in DC for decades.

Yet, as a 15 year artist-resident of DC, what I am most refreshed by is that while the art scene in DC may have been provincial in the past, this collection stands as tangible proof that the actual art & artists are not and never have been the P-word. It seems like the rest of the city is finally catching up with what those of us practicing in 'the field' already knew.

I was quite amazed to see the number of catalogs and maps that were given away at the opening. The business side of my brain says BRAVO - commitment to that kind of documentation will do wonders for promoting the city and no doubt inject a new fire into a 'scene' that has come a long, long way. That kind of fancy paper is one of the best ways to get non-artists on the outside of the scene to come on in because it lets them bring the experience into their home and life in a tangible way. Bravo to the city for financially making it happen.

I've only read about half of the catalog. There's a surprising amount of text, though given the weird color on a few of reproductions, I guess they had artist’s provide their own reproductions. I’d be curious to know.

If I have any criticism, it is that while each of these authors that contributed has done a great job capturing a slice of the collection, the fact that one section reads like an art history text, another like a press release, another a scientific manual; I find it a bit jarring. Turns out I know a few of these authors, so while I know why their piece sounds like it does, maybe a little more than a job title by each authors' name would have introduced each specific POV.

I'm being uber-critical here because the catalog is really, really nice and having worked at a museum and been on the fringes of the trials involved in making this kind of document, what is present in this HeART of DC catalog is an aspiration for producing a catalog nothing short of the gold ring, it just so happens on this first time around they only got the silver.

But that is just in terms of the catalog, which is a fleeting document at best. I'll say it again, the conceptual work that went into these first purchases and the quality of the art objects-SPOT ON!"
Also, JT Kirkland has a quick set of comments here.

And later this week, together with several DC area art museum curators, I'll be walking the collection myself, and hope to provide you with my and their comments.

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