Thursday, December 13, 2007

WPA Registry

The Washington Project for the Arts (WPA) has announced the recent public launch of the WPA ArtFile Online, an interactive web-based image registry of WPA members’ artwork, accessible 24 hours a day through the WPA’s website.

As I recall, back in the 1900s, Jack Rasmussen, then the spry young Assistant Director of the Washington Project for the Arts established the original ArtFile Slide and Media Registry, conceived as a centrally located repository containing slides of local artists’s work.

For many decades the original ArtFile has served as a go-to resource for curators, gallerists, collectors, artists, and members of the general public to see a cross-section of the artwork being produced in and around Washington DC.

In 2005 I used it to review about 20,000 slides (twice) in order to select the artists for the "Seven" show that I curated for the then WPA/C.

Funded by a grant from the Philip L. Graham Fund and developed by database firm ClearDev, the new WPA ArtFile Online contains over 3,800 images from more than 400 artists -- numbers that are growing daily. Visitors to the ArtFile Online can:

- browse alphabetically by artist’s last name
- search for artists by name or keyword
- sort artists by media (drawing, painting, etc.)
- sort artists by style (abstract, conceptual, etc.), or
- view artists by geographic location.

Visitors also have the option of registering -- free of charge -- as a Curator, allowing them to maintain a “Lightbox” -- a saved folder of their favorite artists’ portfolios.

Portfolio pages in the WPA ArtFile Online are one of the membership benefits given to WPA member artists, who are able to log in at any time from any computer with an internet connection to update their images, image captions, artist statement, resume, contact information, and the style and media keywords that best describe their artwork. Each artist’s portfolio page displays up to 12 images, and allows the artist to provide a link to their own external website where more images and information can be found.

Direct link to the WPA ArtFile Online:

For additional information, please contact David William at

Photos of Miami Beach Art Fairs

The Cappster has many photographs of the various art fairs from ABMB; see them all here.

Baltimore struggles over public art

The Baltimore Sun, has a fascinating insight into what happens behind the scenes when someone wants to add a work of public art to a city.

In a nutshell, a group wants to honor former mayor and governor William Donald Schaefer by commissioning and putting a 9 foot statue of him on a prominent corner in Baltimore's Inner Harbor? This is all at no cost to the tax payers, other than perhaps as a eye sore to people who didn't like Schaefer.

Rodney Carroll's proposal for statue

Sculptor Rodney Carroll rough proposal concept sketches for the Schaefer statue

But seriously, it seems that every time that these issues on public art become, ah... public, the following happens:

(a) if the proposed honoring statue is an abstract work of art, someone complains because it doesn't really reflect clearly enough the intent or focus of the honoree.

(b) if the proposed honoring statue is a representational work of art, and actually looks like the person being honored, then someone complains that it is too traditional.

To that effect, Darsie Alexander, a sculptor on the panel, apparently took course (b) and stated one of the most traditional of lines and one of the dumbest arguments consistently taken by the boring "representational versus abstract" soldiers (note that I did not say "traditional," as it is clear to the most casual student of art history that abstract art, because of its age and proliferation in academia and public art these days, is as "traditional" as representational art).

According to the article Darsie Alexander said that:
"she saw a disconnect between the groundbreaking nature of the Inner Harbor redevelopment and the 'old-fashioned' quality of Carroll's sculpture. She warned that putting a traditional statue along the refurbished shoreline isn't likely to help put Baltimore on the map as a destination for cutting-edge art - and therefore she feels Carroll's piece may be inconsistent with what the Inner Harbor is all about."
Please... an interesting art destination, even a "cutting edge art" destination, is a tapestry of many colors and textures, not just one kind of artwork or style or genre; whatever happened to diversity?

And now let me take the other side.

Say that Mayor Sheila Dixon and the Baltimore city fathers all nod their head to Darsie Alexander's traditional opinion on this issue. Then I hope that Alexander's influences and opinions are educated enough to go past the "if we put an abstract work on the Inner Harbor and a plate that says it's William Donald Schaefer so that people actually know what it's all about" notion.

How about some really cutting edge art?

No, not a just a video piece of Hizzoner... that's also traditional stuff by now; it has been around for over half a century - let's get modernized folks!

Let's maybe explore some robotics, some motion sensors, some audio and video combos... I envision a moving statue of William Donald Schaefer; either a solid robotic one or a holographic one, with some sophisticated software and robotics properties (the art geeks from Dorkbot DC can design this part), which interacts with people as they pass by.

To really make it realistic, and consistent with Schaeffer's past actions, the statue could be equipped with some visual recognition algorithms to recognize attractive young women and issue a cat call every time that a pretty girl walks by.

Rousseau on Lin

I've been telling you all about Amy Lin for a long time now. And now Dr. Claudia Rousseau, writing for the Gazette newspapers reviews her current exhibition at the Heineman-Myers Fine Arts in Bethesda, a takes an indepth look at the sources for Lin's works:

"The work of emerging regional artist Amy Lin, now on view at the Heineman Myers Gallery in Bethesda, presents something of a conundrum. The interest it has generated, and the sales, threaten to make it suspiciously too popular to be taken seriously. Couple that with a widespread fascination with the artist’s technique — hundreds of small circles of varying sizes hand-drawn in curving strings with little tail-like ends — discussions of Lin’s work tend to be on the level of a ‘‘temple of toothpicks” rather than the kind of analytical response usually accorded abstract compositions. What passes for commentary on her work has tended to focus on the amazing number of dots, the sort of thing that could be done with a computer in short order, but which Lin tediously, obsessively, draws with colored pencils. But does this emphasis on the ‘‘wow” effect do it justice? If there were no more interest here than the dazzlingly meticulous way they are made, would they really be worth looking at? The fact is, once past that level, there is much to be seen and thought about here, and the artist’s much overlooked serious intent, particularly in terms of self-expression, deserves some attention."
Read the review here and you can meet Lin on these two dates at the gallery:

Friday, December 14, 6-9pm (Bethesda Arts Walk)
Sunday, December 16, 2-4pm (wine/cheese reception - artist talk at 2pm)

Buy Amy Lin now!