Thursday, August 16, 2007

Media, Pennsylvania

Check out this very cool video of the little town that I settled in after my move from DC. It's part of a contest sponsored by IKEA and if you feel like it, vote for Media. So far it's number one in the whole nation! Winner gets a Main Street "makeover."

See the video here.

Trawick Finalists Announced

The artists selected as Trawick Prize finalists are:

Mary Coble, Washington, D.C.

Mary Early, Washington, D.C.

Suzanna Fields, Richmond, VA

Inga Frick, Washington, D.C.

Jeanine Harkleroad, Chesapeake, VA

Linda Hesh, Alexandria, VA

Baby Martinez, Washington, D.C.

Kathleen Shafer, Washington, D.C.

Jo Smail, Baltimore, MD

Bruce Wilhelm, Richmond, VA

Nicholas F. Wisniewski, Baltimore, MD

The jurors for this year's Trawick are Anne Ellegood, Associate Curator at the Hirschhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden; Amy G. Moorefield, Assistant Director and Curator of Collections for Virginia Commonwealth University’s Anderson Gallery and Rex Stevens, Chair of the General Fine Arts Department at Maryland Institute College of Art. Catriona Fraser, owner of the Fraser Gallery in downtown Bethesda, is the non-voting Chair of The Trawick Prize.

The Trawick Prize is clearly the DC area region's premier fine arts prize and once again kudos to Ms. Trawick! Lots of surprises on who was dropped from the semi-finalists' list. A public opening will be held at Creative Partners Gallery on Friday, September 14, 2007 from 6-9pm in conjunction with the Bethesda Art Walk. Creative Partners Gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday from 12-6pm.

I've got my money on Mary Coble!

Talcott on Modernism

The WaPo's Jacqueline Trescott has a really good article on the results of the Corcoran's much heralded Modernism exhibition.

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

But eventually the show drew "93,000 visitors over 116 days, an average of 801 a day. The projected attendance was 100,000," so I guess that it did OK, especially when viewed in the perspective that this was the Corcoran's most expensive exhibition ever ($2 million), and its third most visited ever -- "Jacqueline Kennedy: The White House Years" was open for six months in 2002 and had 153,000 visitors. In 2004, "Norman Rockwell's Four Freedoms: Paintings That Inspired a Nation" attracted 110,000 visitors in five months.

Last March I was elated to discover that a major Frida Kahlo exhibition was coming to Philly from the Walker Art Center, where it was curated by Michael Taylor; from Philly it will travel to SFMOMA.

I was a little disappointed that this show is not traveling to any DC area museum; it would have been a perfect blockbuster for the Corcoran, but I suspect that those decisions were made prior to Paul Greenhalgh arriving to take the helm of the Corcoran.

Another positive development revealed by Greenhalgh was that they "got 1,800 new members, and that was a dramatic success." He also told Talcott that "he hopes to do a survey of the postmodernist movement in late 2010."

Postmodernism survey? Yawn...

Of course, a while back I had some ideas for some megashows that the Corcoran or other museums should consider. Here they are again + a new one:

Mega Art Show Ideas

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!

The New Idea

"Castro's Cuba: A Survey of Contemporary Cuban Artists." Guaranteed to cause tons of protests and perhaps even some vandalism when it travels to Miami! The "can't touch" mystery of this jailed island and its brutal dictator has always had a magnetic romanticism to Americans, and the title alone will ensure that the interest and curiosity of both visitors to the DC area and local Washingtonians is raised. When I co-curated "From Here and From There: Artists from the Cuban Diaspora," I knew that there was interest in the subject, which ended up being our most successful exhibition ever, both in terms of sales and spectacular press coverage. Couple the survey with filling one of the galleries with historical photographs of the Cuban revolution borrowed from the Library of Congress, and this not only puts the survey in some sort of context, but also gives the public lots of photos of the superphotogenic Che Guevara and other young bearded guerrilla gods.

Success guaranteed and also guaranteed to get a few museums interested in the show as well.


Today is the 30th anniversary of Elvis Presley's death, and below is a drawing that I did while I was in art school 30 years ago, upon hearing that the King had died. It is titled "Marilyn Monroe and Frida Kahlo waiting in icon heaven for Elvis Presley."

Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe and Frida Kahlo

"Marilyn Monroe and Frida Kahlo waiting in icon heaven for Elvis Presley"
24 x 20 inches c. 1977, ink wash on paper

Capturing the New Berlin

Official, private, and intimate – Berlin is seen and captured in the Goethe-Institut’s exhibition Portrait: Berlin – Contemporary Photography and Video Art. From August 22 - September 27, 2007.

Stefanie Bürkle – Daniela Comani – Oliver Godow– Armin Häberle – Frank Hülsbömer – Jens Liebchen – Wiebke Loeper – Gerhard Kassner – Christian Rothmann – Mariana Vassileva – Brigitte Waldach.

Curated by Matthias Harder, Helmut Newton Foundation, Berlin. Opening reception on Wednesday, August 22, 6 – 8 pm with photographer Christian Rothmann.

RSVP to 202-289-1200 ext. 165