Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Wanna go to a DC opening tomorrow?

"Roman Vishniac’s Berlin" opens May 3 at the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue (600 I Street NW in DC) with a reception at 6:30 pm. Opening remarks by special guests Mara Vishniac Kohn (daughter of Roman Vishniac), Klaus Scharioth (Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany), and Aubrey Pomerance (curator of the exhibition and archivist of the Leo Baeck Archives at the Jewish Museum Berlin). RSVP to 202-408-3100 or

New DC gallery

A new gallery will open at 1353 U Street, NW in Washington, DC next year. More later...

Mega Art Show Ideas

The WaPo's former Chief Art Critic (and now mostly a resident of soggy Scotland) Paul Richard, writes about the disappointing numbers of visitors attending the Corcoran's mega exhibit "Modernism."

It's not easy predicting or creating museum exhibitions that will attract huge numbers and put some money in a museum's coffers, especially at $14 a pop, as the Corcoran's entry fee is. I've heard nothing but good things about the Corcoran's new director (Paul Greenhalgh) and at least he's trying to get the Corcoran back on track and also out of the red.

And museum directors are caught between a rock and a hard place when selecting exhibitions that have a good chance of being popular. In the elitist world of most art critics and the art world cabal, any exhibition that is popular with the masses is immediately suspect of being low brow.

The American art world generally does not trust the American public's sense of taste when it comes to visiting an art exhibition. If they line up around the corner, then the exhibit is too popular and thus... ah... "popular."

Nonetheless the Mid Atlantic Art News Mega Exhibition Ideas Department has been hard at work with some suggestions almost guaranteed to bring huge masses to the Corcoran, or any other museum in the nation for that matter.

Lines like the ones we experienced in DC with the Vermeer exhibition, or the Van Gogh exhibition, or the WPA/C PostSecret exhibition, or in Philly with the Dali exhibition.

Frida Kahlo - In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo (1907–1954), the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, in association with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), will present a major exhibition of the artist’s paintings spanning her career. Curated by art historian and Kahlo biographer Hayden Herrera and Walker Associate Curator Elizabeth Carpenter, Frida Kahlo will open at the Walker October 27, 2007 – January 20, 2008, before traveling to the Philadelphia Museum of Art and SFMOMA. Why Kahlo is not coming to any DC museum is a mystery to me, and I can already hear the k'ching of cash registers in those museums selling posters, books, etc.

The Art of Comic Books - Hollywood gets it, so when will the artworld get it? Comic book characters generate big bucks for la la land, and I suspect that a massive survey of original artwork by both the vintage artists of the early to mid 20th century, as well as the cult icons like Frank Frazetta, Berni Wrightson and others, coupled with the young new hard guys and gals is sure to (a) expose the brilliant genre of art that is comic book art, and (b) get huge lines to see the original boards for Superman, or Batman, or Spidey, or Frazetta's spectacular series of Conan, The Barbarian illustrations.

PostSecret - Why someone hasn't done this on a massive scale is beyond me. Imagine a museum lined up with 100,000 postcards of Frank Warren's secrets. If they stood in lines around the block when the WPA/C did it in hard-to-get-to and hard-to-park Georgetown, imagine what it would do in a highly visible museum setting and to that scale.

The Ivy League and Seven Sisters Nude Photographs - It was an apparently long-established and bizarre custom at most Ivy League and Seven Sisters schools for incoming freshmen to pose nude for a series of photographs. In some cases, pins were attached with adhesive to their backbones at regular intervals from the neck down. These "posture photos" were in some of these schools a routine feature of freshman orientation week, and designed to "discover" those students with an erratic postural curve, and those were then required to attend remedial "posture classes." I kid thee not. Both George Bush presidents, Bob Woodward and many other now famous folks were required to do it at Yale. At Vassar, Meryl Streep did it, and at Wellesley, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Diane Sawyer also did it. Can you imagine the lines of people waiting to peek at a naked Dubya?

Ansel Adams Revealed - There are some fill-in-the-blank American art icons whose name alone guarantees a mega show because their art has become part of the American identity. In addition to Adams, other such artists include Georgia O'Keefe, Norman Rockwell, Andrew Wyeth, Andy Warhol and maybe Hopper. Because the Library of Congress owns thousands of Ansel Adams negatives created while Adams worked for the Dept. of the Interior, I suspect that a hard-working curator could dig and put together an exhibition of seldom seen Adamses.

Sports Art - People are always yapping about political art (yawn), which is simply another genre or subject that artists look at once in a while. And if we simply consider focusing an art exhibition on a particular subject matter, just to get a general survey as to what artists are doing on that particular subject, then a potential idea would be a survey of sports-related art. What has happened in this genre since the great George Bellows paintings? Some photos have become an iconic part of Americana, such as the great Ali - Liston photos. What else is out there?

Other interesting ideas (not guaranteed to be mega exhibits):

Ebay Artists - At any given time there are around 150,000 lots classified as art on Ebay and around 12,000 by self-representing artists. Ebay is generally where bottom-feeders dwell (for the most part) in the world of art. But we also know that it's not that unusual anymore for museum curators to occasionally troll through Ebay looking for specific stuff. Can a decent exhibition be curated from the massive numbers of artwork being exposed through Ebay? Just an exhibition of copy cats may be fun.

Blank Canvas - Imagine that a local museum sets up 100 4 ft. x 4 ft. blank canvasses on easels and sets up an online and snail mail lottery where artists from all over the world submit their details and at a certain point 100 of them are picked at random via a lottery style (or a curated process I guess) and selected to come to the museum for a specific period of time and create a painting live and in situ.

Googlart - A variation of the above, but a more contemporary approach, where the museum sets up 25 big LCD screens in a cool minimalist way, and each screen in hooked up online and connected to a wireless keyboard somewhere else in the museum, where visitors can type in some sort of search parameter and using some new dorky CGI script of whatever, in conjunction with Google Image Search, be constantly presenting images on the screen, say 10 seconds each? Because this is the USA, some sort of safety net to try to avoid porn would be needed, so perhaps a hidden human in the loop to prevent porn from going to the screens may be a good idea. Get Google to sponsor the exhibition, pay for the screens and for the minimal software development and you're set!

Any more ideas? Email me.

Tyler School of Art Seeks Exhibition Coordinator

Deadline: May 21, 2007

The Department of Exhibitions & Public Programs at Tyler School of Art, Temple University, is seeking an Exhibitions Coordinator to administer an ambitious contemporary art programs at Temple Gallery in Old City Philly and on Tyler's Elkins Park campus.

These programs are designed to contribute to the intellectual liveliness of the artistic community in Philadelphia, and to have a national impact as a forum for the debate of significant artistic issues. Tyler Exhibitions seeks a highly organized individual to work with the Director on public relations, planning, budgets, overseeing students, and all aspects of gallery and office administration.

The Successful candidate will be flexible, detail-oriented, and able to work on multiple projects simultaneously. Position requires minimum three years art gallery or museum experience, strong writing skills, knowledge of contemporary art, experience with office administration including expertise with Word, Access, and Excel.

Cover letter, resume, and three references to:

Sheryl Conkelton
Tyler Exhibitions
7725 Penrose Ave
Elkins Park, PA 19027

Pyramid Atlantic Art Center Seeks Executive Director

Pyramid Atlantic Art Center, a contemporary visual arts center and gallery in Silver Spring, MD, dedicated to creation, exhibition and appreciation of paper, prints and book art, seeks a new Executive Director to succeed founder, Helen Frederick, who has been running the joint for over 26 years.

The new person will direct, inspire and oversee art programs through collaboration with external artistic leaders for the organization's programming and artistic activity. Reporting to the Board, they will work closely with local, regional and broader philanthropic community, including state and local agencies, to cultivate financial and other support.

Experience should include: arts background, proven leader with entrepreneurial flair, experience with diverse fundraising of $500k annually, experience leading a management team and staff through change process, Master's or Bachelor's degree in Art, Arts Management or related field.

Click here for a full job description. To apply send email with your cover letter, resume and salary requirements to: