Monday, April 02, 2007

Imagine all the people

Who would have crowded the Hirshhorn Museum's Sculpture Garden on the National Mall had they known ahead of time that today, between 2:30 and 2:45pm, Yoko Ono dedicated a "Wish Tree for Washington D.C." in the Hirshhorn Museum’s Sculpture Garden as part of "Yoko Ono: Imagine Peace.”

According to the press release (sent out a few days ago):

This ongoing series, which she began in the 1990s, encourages the public to become participants in the art making process by inviting visitors to write wishes on paper and tie them to the tree. The dedication will begin with Ono tying the first wish onto the Hirshhorn’s tree. Ono will exhibit 10 trees around Washington, D.C., for the 2007 Cherry Blossom Festival.
The dedication was open to the press, but not to the public (unless I imagine, a tourist or two happened to be there and someone shouted “Hey there’s that lady who broke up the Beatles”).

As most Beatlephiles will testify, Ono was quite a revolutionary and imaginative artist prior to meeting and eventually becoming wife to John Lennon, and then having a best-selling Beatle ballad written about her wedding.

As it unfairly happens to most celebrities, I suspect that now Ono struggles to be recognized as an artist first, rather than a celebrity who also happens to be an artist. In her case she was a respected artist first and foremost, and her peripheral Beatle fame, in her case, was probably an artistic curse to her.

This DC project by Ono is part of “Street Scenes: Project for DC,” a public art program curated by Nora Halpern and Welmoed Laanstra. The trees will be installed at the steps of the Jefferson Memorial at the Tidal Basin as part of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, at THEARC in Anacostia, and at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden on the National Mall.

In addition, Ms. Ono will visit the site at the Japanese Lantern Lawn, just west of the Kutz Bridge at Independence Avenue & 17th Street. SW, on the other side of the Tidal Basin, where the first now famous DC cherry blossoms were planted in 1912. The artist will ask participants to "whisper a wish to the bark of the trees."

Someone needs to confirm an urban legend for me about the 1912 cherry trees. When I was a student at the University of Washington in Seattle, I was told that the cherry trees on the campus (there are hundreds and hundreds of them) were also a gift of Japan, and that sometime in the early 20th century, not long after they were planted in Washington, the DC cherry trees all died of some tree disease and then a new set of cherry trees were transplanted from the UW campus and replanted in DC to replace the original trees. Does anyone know if this is true?

Ms. Ono will also present text pieces, including disseminating “Imagine Peace” posters, and ribbons that read, “this line is a part of a very large circle.” These textual artworks will be free to the public and will be distributed at three locations: the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, THEARC and Provisions Library.

Can someone grab one for me?

An “Imagine Peace” billboard will be installed on the Verizon Center (at the intersection of 7th Street and G Street, NW) and will be on display through April 30, 2007, and a poster page was placed in the March 29 edition of The Washington Post Express.

“This project,” say Street Scenes co-curators Nora Halpern and Welmoed Laanstra, “is part of our effort to turn the streets of Washington, DC, into a living art gallery. For more info call 301-651-8275."

The Beatles - The Ballad Of John And Yoko

Standing in the dock at Southampton,
Trying to get to Holland or France.
The man in the mac said, "You've got to turn back."
You know they didn't even give us a chance.

Christ you know it ain't easy,
You know how hard it can be.
The way things are going
They're going to crucify me.

Finally made the plane into Paris,
Honey mooning down by the Seine.
Peter Brown called to say,
"You can make it O.K.,
You can get married in Gibraltar, near Spain."

Christ you know it ain't easy,
You know how hard it can be.
The way things are going
They're going to crucify me.

Drove from Paris to the Amsterdam Hilton,
Talking in our beds for a week.
The newspapers said, "Say what you doing in bed?"
I said, "We're only trying to get us some peace."

Christ you know it ain't easy,
You know how hard it can be.
The way things are going
They're going to crucify me.

Saving up your money for a rainy day,
Giving all your clothes to charity.
Last night the wife said,
"Oh boy, when you're dead
You don't take nothing with you
But your soul - think!"
Made a lightning trip to Vienna,
eating chocolate cake in a bag.
The newspapers said, "She's gone to his head,
They look just like two gurus in drag."

Christ you know it ain't easy,
You know how hard it can be.
The way things are going
They're going to crucify me.

Caught an early plane back to London.
Fifty acorns tied in a sack.
The men from the press said, "We wish you success,
It's good to have the both of you back."

Christ you know it ain't easy,
You know how hard it can be.
The way things are going
They're going to crucify me.
The way things are going
They're going to crucify me.

Capps with a super funny report on Mrs. Lennon's performance(s). Read it here.

Modernism at the Corcoran

Provided that I can work out the software bugs from Google and Blogger, later today I should have a video walkthrough of the Modernism exhibition at the Corcoran Gallery of Art led by the Corcoran's director Paul Greenhalgh.

This will be the first of many videos that Mid Atlantic Art News will be doing in collaboration with our newest contributor: William Anderson of BB's Video Press and 205 Lavinia Gallery.

Look for future videos on gallery and museum openings, discussions with curators, artists' interviews, etc.

Tuss on Women’s Work at Nevin Kelly Gallery

By Katie Tuss

Six distinctly talented women younger than 30 have come to the forefront via Nevin Kelly’s current group painting exhibition Women’s Work. Nevin Kelly Deputy Director and the show’s curator Julia Morelli teamed up with five local female artists to create a show of varied sensibilities and styles, yet linked by a woman’s unique touch.

The five young artists include Abbe McGray, Laurel Hausler, Mary Chiaramonte, Molly Brose, and Jenny Davis — who is the youngest in the group at 18. Together they are eloquent, and yet a bit bashful, but all insistent that although they are women, gender does not have to be the central focus of their work.

The artists explained that gender enhances and enriches but certainly does not inhibit them in the larger art arena. “I was thinking about the show in terms of being women’s art, not necessarily feminist art or girly art, but possessing a sense of femininity in the work,” said Morelli.

Some of the artists had never met one another, and the work was created separately.

Brose’s work waxes nostalgic about family, friendships, and significant others in two groups of five paintings with titles all beginning with the directive ‘keep.’

Molly Brose painting

In Keep in Mind, Brose’s two grandmothers are represented precisely in graphite against Brose’s abstracted watercolor ground. A rendering of a classic set of aluminum measuring spoons bridges the empty space between the two portraits. Brose is “trying to measure where I got what from these two people,” she said.

McGray and Davis both contributed portraits to the group effort. McGray explained that she paints people that “may be disadvantaged or looked over.” She wants to bring these people forward and give viewers the opportunity to look at them. Her subjects are inquisitive and somewhat beseeching, yet never asking for pity.

Conversely, Davis paints meticulous watercolors of her friends. The subjects are young women themselves, and are thoughtfully depicted down to the delicate links of a silver necklace or a wind blown strand of hair. Davis’s colors are seductive and her controlled hand impressive.

Mary Chiaramonte’s paintings are intensely personal, Thanks A Lot being a response to a negative response to one of her paintings. Chiaramonte mixes subtle collage elements and a slightly distracting signature with refreshing layers of graphite sketches under a thin paint application.

Laurel Hausler’s five paintings were all made with the show’s title in mind. Hausler’s liberal experiments with beeswax further the mysterious light in which her narratives unfold. Even while uprooting radishes or cavorting with an oversized rabbit, women seem to float through Hausler’s ethereal world with elongated lines, curved figures, and haunting eyes. Hausler concedes that “maybe there is something about storytelling that is inherent in some female art.”

Women’s Work is on view through this Sunday, April 8.

Go listen to Zoe

The super talented Philly photogstar Zoe Strauss’ latest project is the 10-year long I-95 Project, an annual installation underneath I-95 in South Philadelphia. Strauss received a Pew Fellowship in the Arts in 2005, and her work was featured in the 2006 Whitney Biennial in New York.

From April 13 through May 4, 2007, her work will be featured in Gallery 1401 at the University of the Arts, in an exhibition entitled “If You Break the Skin,” co-sponsored by the Equality Forum. But, and more importantly, today, April 2, at 1pm at the CBS Auditorium of the University of the Arts, Zoe will be giving a lecture on her photography as part of the Paradigm Lecture series.

Oh yea; the lecture is free and open to the public.