Friday, April 28, 2006

Things to do tomorrow

1. I will be the featured speaker at the Women's Caucus Networking Day, which starts at 9:30AM. My yakity yak starts at 10:15AM.

2. "Task" performance by by New York-based artist Oliver Herring (b. 1964, Heidelberg, Germany), in front of the Hirshhorn from Noon to 7PM.

3. Frank Warren discusses his worldwide phenomenom PostSecret (and signs books) at the Fraser Gallery starting at 7PM as part of the Bethesda Literary Festival. We will be serving our world famous Sangria.

The Power of the Web

The Fraser Gallery owes a HUGE thank you to Loudoun photographer Dave Levinson, who managed to help solve our Hotmail struggle with MSN.

Dave Levinson read about our email woes here, and then he sent me a note saying that he happened "to know a few folks at MS that I can ping about your problem." And he volunteered to help us out.

Dave then spent a long time today working the problems, talking to the gallery and to Microsoft and sometime this afternoon our email account was back online! We did lose two whole days of email correspondence, but it could have been a lot worse without his assistance.

And the man is not only a computer technowiz, but also a pretty damned good
photographer and even an art blogger!

Photo by Levinson
See his photographs here and read his blog here.

Thanks Dave!

Duffy Juries The Art League

My most recent visit to the Art League was to see the All Media Show, which although subtitled "Emphasis on Sculpture" was anything but that.

The show was juried by sculptor William Duffy, who according to the Art League, "has neither juried for The Art League before nor been to the Torpedo Factory since the early 1980s. When asked whether he had any expectations, he said he had thought the art would be 'sentimental' and 'crafty' but it was not. Duffy said he was surprised by the level of fine art, and liked the mixture of fine art, academic art, and 'funky' art."

Mr. Duffy’s surprising ignorance of the level of artwork shown at the Art League, and his even more surprising lack of visits in over 20 years is endemic of artists and critics who often have a wrong sense of things in the art scene around our greater area because of their own artistic apathy to what goes on around them. Get out more often, and see things before you say anything about them.

Duffy also said, "I went into the selection process with a very open mind. I was looking for the unique, self-discovery or expression rather than a duplication of other styles, artists, or periods."

This immediately alarms me as well, as (in my mind anyway) it places Mr. Duffy in the immediate camp of "it must be new to be good."

This academic and most traditional belief that "duplication of other styles, artists, or periods" is an immediate bad thing, is these days itself a sign of an artistic mind not in tune with the ebbs and flows of the postmodern art scene, where anything and everything is art.

In fact, one could submit that the most influential artists on the planet today (according to Sotheby’s anyway), Gerhardt Richter, is nothing but an artist who duplicates "other styles, artists, or periods."

Also according to the Art League (and despite this outdated commentary):

"Duffy frequently commented that the artwork reminded him of a particular artist. Emily’s Dilemma (by D. Smith), a collage box was, according to Duffy, reminiscent of Joseph Cornell’s psychological boxes about his psyche. Precarious Positions (by C. Levin) reminded him of Jeff Koon’s ‘kitschiness.’ And the acrylic, My Space (by G. Murrill), had a crudeness and symbolism reminiscent of the work of French artist, Odion Redon."
Also according to the Art League:
"Duffy looked for art where he felt the artist saw art as part of them, where there was quite a bit of ‘uniqueness and depth of expression.’ The Newlyweds (by G. Lockhart), a bronze sculpture, was ‘very honest and expressive.’ He liked the ‘simplicity’ of the terra cotta sculpture, The White Dress (by J. Legg). Rhino (by C. Romano), stoneware displayed ‘lots of artistic experience with the medium, drawing, sculpture, and composition.’ Monet’s Garden (by G. Rando) was like ‘stained glass and I suggested it should have a light behind it.’ Configuration I (by A. Becker), a wood sculpture, which on initial touch one is afraid will fall apart, but one can play with it and it holds together. Nested Waves (by N. Falk), a glass sculpture made of two pieces of glass, had ‘interesting shapes’ and reminded him of public art.
But enough on Mr. Duffy, who should get out more often, and more on the show itself.

Watercolor by Jenny DavisHaving visited nearly every monthly Art League exhibition since the early 90s, and having juried it myself, let me say that it is very, very difficult to select a bad show.

Such is the immense talent pool that is the Art League’s artist membership.

My favorite piece in the show was another stunning watercolor by Jenny Davis. This piece, titled "Hands with Bangles," continues to establish the young Davis (daughter of equally talented watercolorist Tanya Davis) as one of the prime watercolorists in our area. Completely self-taught, the young Davis, who has just finished High School, already masters the most difficult of mediums in her obvious mastery over transparent watercolors. While I was there staring in rapture-like ecstasy at her watercolor, I was informed that Jenny had recently been accepted to the Torpedo Factory as one of its newest (and youngest) artist members and will soon have a studio there.

I also liked "Mother Sara" by Nancy Reinke, which has a slight dark attraction to the piece, and "Sunset" by Peter Ulrich, which is a most traditional watercolor of boats and ocean, etc., and yet proves that in the hands of a talented artist, sometimes the subject matter doesn’t really "matter" and we are seduced by the skill and facility of the artist.

The exhibition goes through May 1, 2006.

MSN versus Fraser Gallery Update One

Our struggle for online email survival has gone from the ridiculous to the stupifying. As reported here, we have lost access to our Hotmail account and MSN's "help" process has been incredibly lacking.

Today I received two emails from them. The first one left me speechless:

From : MSN Hotmail Support
Sent : Friday, April 28, 2006 12:13 PM
To :
Subject : RE: SRX1013084219ID - MSN Hotmail:I need something fixed

Hello F. Lennox,

Thank you for writing to MSN Hotmail Technical Support.

My name is Erwin. I am responding to your Hotmail concern.

I apologize for the delayed response and I understand how inconvenient it is for you to experience these issues. Please let me assist you on this matter.

F. Lennox, in order for us to understand and investigate your issue properly, kindly reword the issue you are experiencing and answer the questions below.

1. What is the detailed step-by-step procedure you did and where did the process failed?
2. Have you tried accessing your Hotmail account in a different computer with a different Internet connection? if yes, what happened?
3. Did you encounter any error message? If yes, kindly provide us with the exact error message you received.

You are a valuable customer to MSN and we are glad to give you consistent and effective service. We look forward to hearing from you soon.


Erwin P.
MSN Hotmail Technical Support
Three things:
(a) The problem was already reported in gruesome detail to them over 48 hours ago.
(b) Good thing Erwin didn't call me "Fraser"
(c) I didn't know anyone in India was named "Erwin."

And then I get the below email from the managers at Microsoft:
From : Customer Feedback for PSS Customers
Sent : Friday, April 28, 2006 4:14 AM
To : "F. Lennox Campello"
Subject : RE:'RTCProd=011-778-339' For Biji Balan: 1013078543

Hello Lenny,

Thank you for contacting Microsoft Online Customer Service.

I regret that your issue is not resolved.
To contact the Hotmail team, please fill the e-mail form located in the following page:

After filling that form, you will receive a reply from the Hotmail team within 24 hours.

If you wish to report a Hotmail site outage, you can also call at (650) 964-7200 Monday - Friday, 10:00 A.M. - 5:00 P.M. Pacific Time.

In the meantime, if you are able to access your Hotmail account and would like to view self-help resources like FAQs, please use these steps:

1. Sign in to Hotmail, and then click Help in the upper-right corner of the web page.
2. Click on either “Find” or “All topics” option.

Lenny, I hope your issue gets resolved soon and appreciate your patience in this regard.

Thank you for using Microsoft products and services.

Microsoft Online Customer Service Representative

If you have any feedback about your Online Customer Service experience, please e-mail my manager, Biji Balan, at
So, they're essentially telling me to report the problem... again. Senthil clearly did not read my email detailing all the issues, nor did Senthil read the email from the "Hotmail team" that was part of the email trail sent to Senthil.

Capps on Compelled by Content II

Kriston Capps has a good look at our current Compelled by Content II exhibition in the new issue of the Washington City Paper. Read that review here.

Also a reminder: Several of the artists in the exhibition will be discussing their work at an artists' talk, sponsored by the James Renwick Alliance which will take place at the gallery on Saturday, May 20, 2006 at 2PM. The talk is free and open to the public and will also offer an opportunity to learn more about the Renwick Alliance.

Metcalfe on Edwards

And the CP's John Metcalfe has a good profile on roboticist Thomas Edwards. Read that profile here.