Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Motion filed

If you haven't been following the whole mess with the trustees of Lynchburg’s Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, then read this first. Below is the latest news release:

In an effort to prevent the trustees of Lynchburg’s Randolph-Macon Woman’s College (R-MWC) — known as Randolph College since July — from auctioning four irreplaceable paintings to increase an already generous $153 million endowment, a motion for temporary injunction and a complaint requesting a temporary and permanent injunction has been filed before the Lynchburg Circuit Court, Preserve Educational Choice announced today.

“Judging by how hastily and secretively Randolph College officials took away the art, it is clear that the college fears a ruling from the Supreme Court against their actions and is moving to sell the pieces of art as quickly as possible,” said Anne Yastremski, Executive Director of Preserve Educational Choice, the alumnae group supporting the lawsuits.

“This motion for injunction seeks to stop the College from irreparably harming their reputation and their world-class American art collection until these lawsuits against Randolph College have been cleared by the Commonwealth of Virginia’s court system. We’ve been waiting for Attorney General Bob McDonnell to take action to stop the College, but since we know of no action thus far, the plaintiffs in this injunction suit and thousands of other alumnae, donors to the College and the Maier, and citizens of Lynchburg felt they needed to take action themselves.”

The plaintiffs that have filed the request for an injunction include all of the students, alumnae and donors of R-MWC involved in the charitable trust and breach of contract lawsuits that currently are being considered on appeal to the Supreme Court of Virginia, as well as the eleven potential "intervenors" who have asked the Lynchburg Circuit Court to stop Randolph College's attempt to sell off the art purchased with funds from the Trust of Louise Jordan Smith.

Just last month, the Supreme Court of Virginia decided to hear appeals of two lawsuits challenging the College’s fall 2006 decision to become co-educational. The first suit, which involves “donor intent,” challenges the college on charitable trust grounds, arguing that the college should have to prove it cannot continue as a woman’s college before it can use the assets accumulated under the original charitable purpose – to “educate women in the liberal arts” – for the benefit of a coed college. The second suit, filed by a group of students, alleges breach of contract, saying that they had been promised four years of single-sex education. Both suits pending before the Supreme Court of Virginia include allegations that the protection of the art collection is vital to providing the relief sought by the student and donor plaintiffs.

In the Circuit Court case filed by the College, the College asked the courts for permission to break the Trust of Louise Jordan Smith. Relatives of Louise Jordan Smith, students, alumnae, former faculty and Maier Museum directors, donors, and Lynchburg citizens filed a Motion for Leave to Intervene in the suit, alleging that the money from Smith’s trust was used to purchase a large number of the most valuable paintings in Randolph’s Maier Museum collection. The intervenors contend that the entire art collection must be protected in order to honor the intentions of Smith, both through her trust and her efforts during her lifetime. A hearing on that motion to intervene is scheduled for November 15.

“The Court’s decisions in these cases could affect whether or not the College can or needs to sell the paintings now at Christie’s,” says Yastremski. “If the College is allowed to go forward with the Christie’s auction before our cases are finalized, the art—pieces like George Wesley Bellow’s 1912 “Men of the Docks” which constitute the cornerstone of the Maier—will be lost forever.”

Yastremski, pointing to the college’s $153 million endowment (one of the largest in Virginia), believes the College’s efforts to sell these paintings are “due to greed, not need.”

While the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) has put the College on financial warning, it was not due to the size of the endowment. The specific issues that SACS cited the college for – astronomical tuition discounting (nearly twice the national average), excessive deferred maintenance, and operating deficits – are all signs of fiscal mismanagement, not a too-small endowment.

“Randolph College officials will do anything to mask the real problems: out-of-control spending and poor management, neither of which will be fixed by selling portions of the school’s treasured art collection,” said Yastremski. “This collection was not assembled as a financial investment for future ‘hard times,’ but rather from public donations and funds allocated to benefit the college’s educational mission and to create a cultural resource for the community. Two of the four paintings in question were donations from private individuals to the permanent collection, one was purchased with fees paid by students (at their request) specifically for the purpose of buying art and supporting artistic events on campus, and the most valuable one – “Men of the Docks” – was purchased by a Lynchburg-based community group with the express purpose of forming a permanent collection for the benefit of the students and the citizens of Lynchburg.”

Even if an infusion of capital was necessary, which thousands of alumnae and donors don’t believe, the national art community has strict standards against the sale of art for general fund purposes. Nearly every major Virginia and national art association has condemned the College’s plans to sell the four paintings, including the Association of Art Museum Directors, the Association of Art Museum Curators, the College Art Association, the Association of College and University Museums and Galleries and the Virginia Association of Museums.

“It is obvious that the current Randolph officials and Trustees care nothing for ethics or their donor’s wishes. Hopefully the Attorney General and the Commonwealth’s Courts will realize this, and act accordingly,” said Yastremski. “If not, donors may need to think twice about investing their hard earned resources with the state’s many nonprofits.”

Open Portfolios in Philly

The Print Center along with Philagrafika, and the Philadelphia Center for the Book will host an Open Portfolio event with more than 40 printmakers and photographers as part of Philadelphia Open Studio Tours.

Free and open to the public - Saturday, October 27 & Sunday, October 28, 12:00 – 6:00pm at Philagrafika - 728 S. Broad Street in Philadelphia.

New Arlington gallery

Duality Contemporary Art is a new art gallery in Arlington, Virginia.

Coming November 10, 2007 they have "Natural Selection — Art Inspired By Nature," which is a group show featuring the work of several Washington D.C. area artists such as Lynden Cline, Joy Every, Sharon Fishel, Dirk Herrman, Lucy Herrman, Nancy Sausser, Jeff Smith and Paula Wachsstock

The Artists’ Reception is Saturday, November 10, 2007 from 5-7 pm.

Wanna go to a Virginia opening this Friday?

It's a new gallery to me, but it has been around for alomost 15 years, which in gallery years is a superb accomplishment by itself, and the Hermitage Design Gallery in McLean, Virginia has Estrella Dannon opening this coming Friday, October 26, 2007, with a reception from 6 PM to 9 PM.

Artists' Condos

Three condos available for purchase by artists only. The condos are located at 915 E St NW in DC's Penn Quarter, and are listed at $289,900 with the developer prepared to offer $15,000 in down payment assistance or other incentives. These 574 sq ft apartments include large open kitchens with gas cooking stainless steal appliances, maple cabinets and granite countertops. There is bamboo flooring over the whole studio space, large closet and roomy full bath.

Space also includes washer and dryer in each unit, 24/7 concierge, fitness room, and rooftop deck. Condo fee of $280/month includes gas, water, trash removal, snow removal, and building management and maintenance. Floorplans are available at – Floorplan A1.

For more information, or to schedule a visit, please contact Kathy Olmstead at 202.253.2502 or

International Caribbean Art Fair

The first annual International Caribbean Art Fair will take place at The Puck Building, 295 Lafayette Street, in New York this coming November 1 - 4, 2007.

Miami's Cernuda Arte will be in Booths 18 through 21 showcasing a selection of over 45 Cuban artworks by established and emerging artists. Participating artists include: Wifredo Lam, Víctor Manuel García, Amelia Peláez, Mario Carreño, Roberto Diago, René Portocarrero, Mariano Rodríguez, Agustín Cárdenas, Agustín Fernández, Manuel Mendive, Tomás Sánchez, Flora Fong, Clara Morera, Vicente Hernández, Ismael Gómez Peralta, Miguel Florido, Ramón Vázquez, David Rodríguez, Gabriel Sánchez, Li Domínguez Fong, Giosvany Echevarría, Juan Miguel Suárez, Reynier Ferrer, César Santos, and Irina Elén González.

Other than some of the satellite fairs for Art Basel Miami Beach, this may become the key art fair for collectors and galleries showcasing Latin American art.

Fabbri on Mancini

Il Saltimbanco by Antonio ManciniThere's a gorgeous exhibition at the PMA on Neapolitan artist Antonio Mancini (1852-1930).

This is the first exhibition in the United States devoted exclusively to an artist considered by many to be one of the most prominent Italian painters of the late nineteenth century.

And the Broad Street Review's Anne Fabbri has an equally interesting and intelligent review here.


As early readers know, this visual art blog started in October 2003 as "DC Art News." When I moved to the Philly area last year I re-named it "Mid Atlantic Art News."

A review of the site's stats reveals that I am now gathering regular readers from all over the nation and a significant number from overseas. Daily visits float between 1800 to 3000 a day - no idea why such wild stat swings.

And as I expand my own lifestyle to possibly include (in the future) some physical presence in the Southwest, I'm toying with the idea of one last name change for the blog.

The URL is - and so I'd like something to work with the "dc" part. So far I've come up with:

- Don Campello's Art News

- Da Campello Art News

- Drawing Campello Art News

- Direct Campello Art News

See my drift? Anyway, I need some ideas along this vein or some other catchy, creative name. Email me your ideas here.

Wanna go to an opening in DC Saturday?

Brooklyn photographer Lori Nix "creates meticulous dioramas handcrafted from plaster, cardboard, and styrofoam and detailed with found objects, such as, fur, plants, and cat whiskers. These scale models, which take upwards of 4 months to produce, are carefully photographed using an 8x10" large format camera. Eventually the models are broken apart and stuffed into garbage bags to be hauled away."

Her exhibition at the Randall Scott Gallery in DC opens this coming Saturday, Oct. 27 with a reception from 7-9PM. The show goes through Dec. 8, 2007.