Thursday, January 31, 2008

Wanna go to a DC opening tomorrow?

DC's Aaron Gallery has been around for a long time, but recently its direction has been taken over by a new generation of Cabadas, and the two Cabada sisters have already made a huge improvement not only in the way that the gallery looks, but also in completely making a whole new start for the gallery.

Look for this gallery to begin adding its contribution to the capital region's artistic dialogue.

And it may start this Friday, with the opening of a new exhibition by Chilean artistJoan Belmar and and talented DC area glass artist Kari Minnick. Join the gallery and artists on Friday, February 1st for an opening reception at 1717 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Washington DC at 6:30 to 8:30 pm. Contact for further details.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Vanity galleries

A vanity gallery is an art gallery that "rents" its space to artists in order for the artist to have a show. Thus, the main driver in having a show at a vanity gallery is not necessarily the quality of the artwork, but the artist's ability to pay the gallery to host his/her artwork.

New York is crawling with vanity galleries, and the vast majority of European galleries are vanity galleries. In the US however, vanity galleries are often looked down upon by everyone, since they are essentially a "rental" gallery. A knowledgeable art critic or curator knows which galleries in his/her town are vanity galleries, and often ignore them, much like book critics ignore most self-published writers, who use "vanity publishers."

An interesting fact, at least here in Washington, is the fact that I have seen "reputable" galleries which sometimes cross the line and become "charge the artist" galleries or vanity galleries once in a while, as the mighty dollar (or lack thereof) calls.

Sometimes, when I was part of Fraser Gallery, we'd get a phone call from an embassy, or from the agent of a Hollywood actor who's also a "painter" or "photographer," or from an individual "artist," and they'll ask us how much would we charge to host a show by their "artist."

When we'd inform them that we do not rent the gallery for artists to have shows, they'd thank us and hang up. Then a few months later I'd see that "Hollywood artist" or "embassy artist" exhibiting in one of the area's "reputable" art galleries, and immediately recognize that - at least for that month - that gallery is making ends meet by renting the space to someone.

While I understand that most galleries are labors of love, and often run by the skin of one's teeth, I still find it somewhat distasteful, and dishonest - to appear (on the surface) to be a gallery that shows work based on merit, while at the same time showing work based on an artist, or a corporation's ability to pay.

And it's not just commercial art spaces. Several years ago, the WCP profiled a then a local non-profit, which inadvertently admitted charging a multinational corporation a hefty fee to put up an art show at the "reputable" non-profit art spaces.

One can even make the case that even some museums sometimes cross the line and become "vanity museums."

A few years ago I was astounded when a Culture Minister from one of the embassies in DC told me that they had finished a deal with a local museum to host the first ever retrospective of one of that country's artists for a fee of four million dollars! To him, it was "business as usual," while to me it was distasteful and dishonest and left a bad taste in my mouth about that museum for the longest time.

Opportunity for Artists

Deadline: March 28, 2008 (postmark date)

Ragan Cole-Cunningham, Director of Exhibitions and Education at the Contemporary Art Center of Virginia (CAC), is the Virginia Art Education Association’s (VAEA) 2006 Art Educator of the Year/Museum Division is the juror for the 2008 Arts Council @ Grace Competition.

Last year’s winners were: Linda Hesh (1st place), Kathryn Cornelius (2nd place) and Charles Westerman (3rd place).

The exhibition is June 21–August 1, 2008 and has awards of $2000.

To download the 2008 entry form click here.

Opportunity for Artists

Established by the United States Department of State in 1964, the Art In Embassies Program is a global museum that exhibits original works of art by U.S. citizens in the public rooms of approximately 180 American diplomatic residences worldwide.

To submit images to its staff for consideration in upcoming exhibitions please email .jpg or .gif images of your works no larger than 50k in size, to:

Lucelia Artist Award winners

Are you curious about how the Lucelia Artist Award winners were selected? Join Sidra Stitch, former executive director of the Lucelia Artist Award and guest curator of the current exhibition, as she discusses each of the artists featured in Celebrating the Lucelia Artist Award, 2001--2006 and current issues in contemporary art.

McEvoy Auditorium — Lower Level Saturday, February 2, 3 p.m. Questions can be directed to (202) 633-1000 or

Michael Janis

No objectivity here, but more evidence of why DC area artists who use glass as their means to deliver visual art are creating a new art movement centered on the Greater DC area...

Recently his public art glass and steel sculpture for the Hotel Palomar received "Best Artwork Award 2007" from Boutique Design Magazine, and The Onion singled out that sculpture as one of the reasons that Washington, DC is becoming a cool arts center. He's also been selling a ton of work at the major art fairs.

Michael Janis
Lobby Sculpture Hotel Palomar, Washington, DC
Michael Janis, c. 2006 . Cast glass and steel - 4.5' x 6'

Michael Janis is represented in the Greater DC area by Gallery Neptune, in Richmond, Virginia by Red Door Gallery, and elsewhere by Maurine Littleton Gallery.

Janis will be in a three person show at Gallery Neptune titled "Closer" which is opening February 6, 2008.

Buy Michael Janis now.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Ober, Bailey, McNatt, Gopnik, and now Capps

Kriston Capps from the WCP confirms that there appears to be a dealer angle on the whole "Bailey as Ober" exhibition controversy in Baltimore and even makes a good case for the potential "adjustment" of the context and focus and word-spin of this show after the fact; here's the original news release on the show - there's nothing on Ober.

Read Capps here.

Here's an idea: how about some institution in DC or Baltimore sponsor a panel where Bailey, Block, Gopnik, McNatt, and Ober all sit down and chew this out and respond to the good questions raised by the visual arts blogsphere and take questions from the audience?

Maybe the BMA, or MICA, or School 33, or MAP, can step up and offer the place to host the discussion?

I'll moderate it for free.


Between January 2007 and December 2007, this blog received 715,265 visits/page views, an all time new record for DC Art News, Mid Atlantic Art News, Daily Campello Art News.

Evidence of the huge thirst that exists for information and writing about the visual arts.

"If you don't get it, you don't get it"
- Washington Post ad slogan
Thank you!

This Saturday

On February 2, O'Neill Studios will be hosting a Party, Art Show and Silent Auction to benefit Autism Speaks. Their past events have attracted hundreds of people and raised thousands of dollars for important charities, all while showcasing the best of the DC art community. Around nine artists will be painting live as attendees party around them. All guests are invited to eat, drink, dance, buy artwork, and bid on some cool items. Special performance at 9 p.m. featuring the legendary DC band, the LivelyStones.

WHO: Art lovers, partygoers, charitable contributors, DC metro community

WHAT: Post-Holiday Party, Art Show and Silent Auction to raise money for Autism Speaks

WHEN: Saturday, February 2, 2008 6 p.m.- midnight

WHERE: LeftBank, 2424 18th St, NW, Washington, DC 20009

CONTACT: Christine Hamershock,, tel: 301.530.9030

On Museums

Opinions are like assholes; everyone has one.

And depending on everyone's points of view and depth of knowledge, and agendas, and interests, when you're wrong, you're wrong, but also, when you're right, you're right, and this one is right on (thanks Rosetta!)

Luna & Summerford

Carlos Luna: El Gran Mambo opens today at DC's beautiful American University's Katzen Arts Center and runs through Monday, March 17, 2008.

Luna is a Cuban-American artist who is "a storyteller and social chronicler, merging themes of fables and mysticism, eroticism and prejudice, and religiosity and anthropology, all of which are organized, disbanded, interwoven, and reorganized in the iconographic discourse he creates. "

Also beginning today is work by Ben L. Summerford a Professor Emeritus from AU. "Ben Summerford has been a major influence on Washington art for over 50 years as an artist, teacher, and cofounder of the Jefferson Place Gallery."

There's several other shows opening early next month, including work by William Christenberry (his Klan Room Tableau makes their first appearance in DC), Roger Brown, Elena Sisto, and others.

An opening reception for all of the above shows will take place on Saturday, Feb. 16, from 6 to 9 p.m. All shows will be open for viewing. In addition to the artist’s reception, a Gallery Talk on Roger Brown with Curator Sidney Lawrence will take place on Saturday, Feb. 16, at 4 p.m. and then a second Gallery Talk with Carlos Luna will take place the same day at 5 p.m. as American University Museum's Director Jack Rasmussen leads a conversation with artist Carlos Luna about his work.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Afghanistan Has World's Oldest Oil Paintings

Buddhist images on the walls of central Afghanistan's Bamiyan caves are the world's first oil paintings, Japanese researcher Yoko Taniguchi says. Taniguchi, an expert at Japan's National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, and a group of Japanese, European, and American scientists are collaborating to restore the damaged murals, the Daily Star reports. The Los Angeles-based Getty Conservation Institute analyzed 53 samples from the murals that date back to about 650 A.D., concluding that they had oil in the paint. "My European colleagues were shocked because they always believed oil paintings were invented in Europe," Taniguchi said. "They couldn't believe such techniques could exist in some Buddhist cave deep in the countryside." The Bamiyan Valley is known for two huge 1,500-year-old statues of the Buddha that were destroyed by the Taliban in 2001.
Read the whole story here.


I'm down South for a few days... more later.

But meanwhile, if you are a DC area sculptor looking for a great bunch of creative folks to hang around with, the Washington Sculptors Group is having a Sculptors Happy Hour, tomorrow, Tuesday, January 29, 7:00 pm at Busboys and Poets in DC.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Gopnik, Ober and Bailey

The WaPo's Chief Art Critic has an interesting angle on the debate caused by a Baltimore exhibition by an artist copying the distinctive style of Baltimore artist Cara Ober (Disclaimer: I have never met Cara Ober, nor do I own any of her works, but I have been to Baltimore).

This is one of Gopnik's most successful articles to date, at least judging by the intense debate that it caused at dinner with my in-laws; the sparks were flying as people took sides. He writes:

Baltimore artist Christine Bailey tests an almost equally strange notion. What if one artist were to suddenly start working in the very different style of a local colleague -- not simply copying specific works, but fully inhabiting that colleague's trademark way of painting? "Christine Bailey: New Work," on show in a corporate lobby in Baltimore, is the experiment. Its results can be seen in the tempest that it caused on the Baltimore art scene.
The artist being copied is Cara Ober.
Bailey's paintings capture all of Ober's telltale tricks and tics. Nostalgic imagery is pulled from older sources. Bird books, old encyclopedias, decorative wallpapers? Check. Tender, pastel colors -- soft washes of pale yellows, blues and pinks -- with brooding splashes of black on top? Check. Scraps of dictionary definitions, presented in old-timey fonts? Check. An overriding sense of capital-P Poetry, without ever making clear quite what that poetry's about? Check.
Gopnik, of course, takes the predictable side; he writes: " it's hard to imagine that a cerebral artist such as Bailey would like Ober's work enough to want to truly claim it as her own."

That's a zinger against Ober, earned (I think) because in Gopnik's own words, she is a "rather successful female painter."

That description could be compliment, I think, maybe... Why the maybe? because in the obsessive, theory-driven art brains of talented writers, but one-sided and one focus critics like Gopnik, I think that often ideas are much more important to them that the art itself. Success with commodifiable art is not necessarily a good thing to the theory mafia (la Cosa Teorista).

And thus, often it's a negative thing to be successful in that weird one-sided art upper world. And if an artist is successful, then that's often seen by these single vision soldiers as a negative.

I think that the right mix is probably a mix of creative ideas together with some degree of artistic success; not all artists have to be just Van Goghesque victims, or Pointdexters, or commercial geniuses (although the latter really helps... money is not everything in the world, but it's damned well ahead of whatever is in second place).

Notice how Gopnik tears at Ober's success: he insinuates that her artistic output is common and it is so "especially when it's one that's been out there for a decade or two already, and is shared by painters working all around the globe."

OK Blake, can you name three of those artists? Any country will do. I'm not saying that you're wrong, but as someone well-travelled, who has lived in three continents, and goes to a gazillion openings and art fairs, I'm wrecking my brains trying to think or remember a single artist in the last decade or two years whose work is similar or reminds me of Ober's? I just need an example to back up such a hugely broad commonizing statement.

Words count.

But we'll give Gopnik an A+ in making a clear case that Bailey is not really trying to just "copy" Ober's work as a forger or an imitator would. It's a good point and certainly does make up for an interesting and provocative idea for an exhibition.

But then again, in the theory-only OCD brains, the need to diminish the "other side" emerges no matter how well the case has been made for the theory side. He stabs Ober's work in the heart by writing that "in this case it's hard to imagine that a cerebral artist such as Bailey would like Ober's work enough to want to truly claim it as her own."

Not needed - Blake already made a solid case as to why Bailey is doing this; this is just an attempt to diminish Ober's work. It's not malice, but just an example of being unable to co-exist with the "other side." Gopnik can't help himself - he must elevate the idea above the work, and then attempt to bury the work.

But then, this erudite Anglophile steps over the edge with his exuberance over what Bailey has clearly accomplished with her idea. He joyously writes that
Most artists make an object and barely feel a ripple when they go public with it. It can seem a useless act, or at least an impotent one. So, Bailey says, she asked herself a question: "Can I make a picture -- a benign object -- and really make it function socially?" Judging from the heated responses to her project, the answer's clearly yes. It's made "Christine Bailey: New Work" one of the most stimulating local shows I've seen in ages.... Four of the lobby pictures are on their way to being sold, but it's hard to know if they're being bought for their tasteful, Oberesque good looks or their hard-hitting Baileyan brains
If it is the latter, then I think that those words begin the commodification of the idea into a commercially successful object; this is slippery ground for the theory only mafia. A "made" soldier like Gopnik should know better.

Congrats to Gopnik for delivering one of the most stimulating local reviews that I've read in ages; congrats to Bailey for not only delivering an interesting show and idea, but also an apparent commercially successful one; and congrats to Ober for simply being a damned good painter and good enough to be the target of this project.

Ahh... one last thing, and someone correct me if I am wrong, but I seem to recall that Jordan Faye Block, Bailey's current dealer and the dealer who set up this exhibit, used to be -- used to be -- Ober's dealer as well; but I am working from memory here and it is Sunday.

I am curious if there is a dealer part in the Ober selection process? I wonder if this issue had anything to do with Bailey's choice, and this is my open question to her, which I wish I could ask her directly rather than asking here.

If her dealer suggested Ober, then the dealer deserves a "well done" as well - after all, if we're gonna pick on an artist's style, we might as well pick on one whose work has a good sales track record, uh?

This is all good for art.

OK... one more last thing: Gopnik describes Baltimore's scene as "conservative." This adjective seems to be applied to every city's art scene on the planet, and it may be the right adjective, but then again, can someone send me an example of where a critic or writer has ever described any city's art scene on this planet as "progressive" or "liberal"? I'm sure some are, but I just want to be educated as to where, and with facts to back up such a sweeping statement.

Read Gopnik's article here and read Cara Ober's blog here - it has a lot more info on this interesting issue, including a statement by Bailey. And for a different take, read the Baltimore Sun's art critic's take on the issue here and artPark's here, and Mango & Ginger here and Bethesda Art Blog here.

Update: Kriston Capps from the WCP confirms my memory that there was a dealer angle to this story.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Gallery Anniversaries

Longview Gallery near the Convention Center in DC, and Project 4, also in DC, are celebrating second year anniversaries. Sometimes it is clear to me about how little people who are not gallerists understand about what a business-heroic task it is to run a gallery successfully. Congratulations to Drew Porterfield and Anne Surak.

Longview Gallery's next show is work by West Virginia painter Mary Chiarmonte and Jessie Mann (daughter of photographer Sally Mann). The Opening Reception is Friday, February 8, 5-8pm and the show goes through March 15.

Project 4 celebrates its two-year anniversary with an exhibition of new works by a selection of their artists as well as a preview of artists being introduced this year. The Opening Reception is Saturday, February 2, 2008 - 6:00pm - 8:30pm. The exhibition goes through March 1, 2008 and features work by one of my favorite DC area artists: Margaret Boozer, as well as work by Beau Chamberlain, Christine Gray, Amy Kaplan, Ani Kasten, Tricia Keightley, Lisa Lindgren, J.J. McCracken, Rich MacDonald, Amy Ross, Rene Trevino Paul Villinski and Laurel Lukaszewski.

You may recall that Laurel Lukaszewski was my prediction during the last Artomatic to emerge as that massive show's art star, and Lukaszewski has done spectacularly well both locally and in various galleries in other cities as well.

By the way, Anne Surak will be co-curating New Waves for the Contemporary Art Center of Virginia (CAC). New Waves 2008 is open to Virginia artists and will be on view April 11-June 15, 2008 in Virginia Beach. The exhibition will be seen during CAC's huge Boardwalk Art Show & Festival, which draws 350,000 visitors annually. The deadline for New Waves 2008 is February 1, 2008. Details here.

And another by the way, I will be also curating an exhibition titled "Early Look" for Longview Gallery later this summer. The exhibition will feature art by undergraduate art students from the Mid Atlantic who are enrolled in an accredited undergraduate art course. More on that later, but I plan to do a lot of art school visiting over the next few months. That exhibition will be from June 6 through July 5, 2008.

Friday, January 25, 2008


I gave you an early heads up last year... for the whole background read this.

And now the official news release:
The Georgetown Business Improvement District (Georgetown BID), in partnership with Artomatic, Inc., the Office of the Secretary for the District of Columbia, and Sunderland City Council, is proud to present an international fine arts glass exhibit, entitled Glass3, hosted by The Shops at Georgetown Park (3222 M Street, NW).

Glass3, which opens to the public on Thursday, February 21, debuts as the first Artomatic international collaboration. Located on the lower level of the mall, the three-story space contributed by The Shops at Georgetown Park will soon present vibrant glass work, glass blown sculptures, as well as narrative glass work through etching, writing, and video projection.

Glass3 is the first international glass exhibit for Artomatic. The exhibition will feature international glass artists represented by Cohesion Artists from Sunderland, England, national artists organized by the Arts Commission of Greater Toledo from Toledo, Ohio, and Washington, D.C.-based artists represented by the Washington Glass School. Through invitation only, each arts organization selects the artists presented in the three-week long exhibit.

The show will be open through Sunday, March 9, and is free and open to the public. Gallery hours are Monday through Saturday, 12 p.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday, 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.
This international show again underscores something that has been brewing and growing under the noses of DMV area museum curators and that has ironically been recognized first nationally and now internationally: the Greater DC area has become a hot spot (pun intended) for contemporary fine arts glass and is clearly leading the way in delivering a new conceptual, narrative and even technological boost to fine art glass.

You all know that I am not objective about this issue, but I wouldn't be surprised to see this seminal work with glass as the kernel for creativity become the basis for the most significant new art movement in the DC region since the halcyon days of the Washington Color School. I don't know who will be in this show from the UK and from Ohio, but I suspect that we may see a lot of really terrific vessels from those artists and perhaps then DC area eyes will see how different the work of our locals is when compared as to what the rest of the world is doing.

Call for Redemption by Tim Tate

Call for Redemption, c. 2007 Tim Tate
Blown glass, cast glass, video projection, speakers and motion sensors

Wanna tour the DC City Hall Art Collection?

At 12 p.m. on Thursday, January 30, the public is invited to the Wilson Building for a guided tour through the City Hall public collection of art on permanent display on floors 1-5 of the Wilson building. The tour will be lead by the talented Ellyn Weiss, whose work is included in the collection.

This is a unique chance to meet with local artists featured in the collection and have a discussion on being an artist in the Nation's capital and to see a rich cross section of local artists (both established and emerging). This will be a bi-monthly occurrence. This is the richest and largest permanent exhibition of the work of local DC area artists in the city, featuring a broad range of work, from internationally known artists such as Jacob Kainen, Sam Gilliam, Tim Tate and William Christenberry, to work by most of the artists of significance working in the capital region area now.

The tour is free; however space is limited. Please RSVP to with the number in your party. Meet at the Pennsylvania Avenue entrance — the building is located at 1350 Pennsylvania Ave NW. ID is required to enter the building.

Opportunity for Artists

Deadline: March 1, 2008

The Innovators Combatting Substance Abuse Program has a call out for artists for original art to appear in a forthcoming book on art and addiction to be published by Johns Hopkins University Press.

Open to all artists and all media, including video on the subject of drug addiction, including alcohol, and recovery. A panel of jurors (I'm one of them) will select finalists, and each finalist will receive a $200 honorarium, with the top five receiving an additional $500, copy of the book, and inclusion in exhibitions in Maryland and Puerto Rico.

No entry fees!

Download entry form here.

Philadelphia Biennaleing

"The Philadelphia Museum of Art is pleased to announce the selection of Bruce Nauman (b. 1941) as the artist to represent the United States at the 2009 Venice Biennale. The State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs selected Nauman following the unanimous recommendation of the Federal Advisory Committee on International Exhibitions (FACIE) that reviewed proposals received through an open competition. Carlos Basualdo, Curator of Contemporary Art, and Michael Taylor, the Muriel and Philip Berman Curator of Modern Art, will serve as the U.S. Commissioners and will organize the exhibition from the Philadelphia Museum of Art."

Thursday, January 24, 2008

London Blues

In this cruise that I just came back from, we all had a lot of fun in one of the bars singing drunken karaoke songs (I know... I know...) and it reminded me of something from my past.

Sometime around 1988 or so, I lived in England for a few months, and back then a lot of the English pubs were really into karaoke. And even though I am not a Texan, one of my past roomates is from Texas and he used to play "London Blues" all the time and I used to really love to sing it in English pubs.

Scary uh? A guy from Brooklyn singing a Texas song...

Unfortunately the cruise ship didn't have it in its inventory, but upon getting back I got myself a couple of Jerry Jeff Walker CDs and it brought back memories of the song that I think may be the greatest Texas song of all time --- and yes, I know that I've just made a zillion Texans disagree with me... or maybe not.

Listen to Barry P. Nunn sing it here the way that it's supposed to come out... lyrics below.

Well, when you're down on your luck,
And you ain't got a buck,
In London you're a goner.
Even London Bridge has fallen down,
And moved to Arizona,
Now I know why.
And I'll substantiate the rumor that the English sense of humor
Is drier than than the Texas sand.
You can put up your dukes, and you can bet your boots
That I'm leavin' just as fast as I can.

I wanna go home with the armadillo
Good country music from Amarillo and Abilene
The friendliest people and the prettiest women you've ever

Well, it's cold over here, and I swear
I wish they'd turn the heat on.
And where in the world is that English girl
I promised I would meet on the third floor.
And of the whole damn lot, the only friend I've got
Is a smoke and a cheap guitar.
My mind keeps roamin', my heart keeps longin'
To be home in a Texas bar.

I wanna go home with the armadillo
Good country music from Amarillo and Abilene
The friendliest people and the prettiest women you've ever

Well, I decided that I'd get my cowboy hat
And go down to Marble Art Station.
'Cause when a Texan fancies, he'll take his chances.
Chances will be taken, that's for sure.
And them Limey eyes, they were eyein' the prize
That some people call manly footwear.
And they said you're from down South,
And when you open your mouth,
You always seem to put your foot there.

Repeat chorus 'til the cows come home.

And thank God they also didn't have Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mothers.

Openings in C'ville

Charlottesville, Virginia holds a dear place in my arts heart - back in the mid 90s when we were hunting for a place to open a gallery, I focused a lot of attention on Charlottesville before the space in Georgetown fell in our lap. I also seem to have a lot of collectors of my own work in that area for some odd reason.
Rob tarbell
Anyway... two interesting exhibitions taking place there.

At the Second Street Gallery, Rob Tarbell's appropriated stuffed animals that he usually finds at Goodwill assume new forms as their stuffing is replaced with porcelain slip and then fired in a kiln.

There will be an opening reception for Tarbell (who teaches at Virginia Commonwealth University and Piedmont Virginia Community College) on First Fridays, February 1, 6:00 - 8:00 pm, with an artist talk at 6:30PM for Rob Tarbell: The Struggles Play Nice.

Stephen L. GriffinMigration: A Gallery, Laura & Rob Jones (who own one of my drawings) continue to offer the C'ville area a kick-ass exhibition program.

Currently they have the acrylic paintings of University of Mary Washington art professor Stephen L. Griffin in a show titled "Strata."

That show goes through Feb. 15, 2008.

Then check out the cool schedule of exhibitions coming down the road, including a Washington Glass School show.

White House Redux

You can just click onto this website or read on from the news release that I received:

I'm excited to announce that I'm on the jury for a new design competition,called White House Redux, the purpose of which is to design a new home for the U.S. Presidency.

It's a speculative project, to be sure - but a fun one, and I can't wait to see what comes up.

Here's the brief: What if the White House, the ultimate architectural symbol of political power, were to be designed today?

On occasion of the election of the 44th President of the United States of America, Storefront for Art and Architecture, in association with Control Group, challenge you to design a new residence for the world's most powerful individual.

The best ideas, designs, descriptions, images, and videos will be selected by some of the world's most distinguished designers and critics and featured in a month-long exhibition at Storefront for Art and Architecture in July 2008 and published in Surface magazine.

All three winners will be flown to New York to collect their prizes at the opening party. Register now and send us your ideas for the Presidential Palace of the future!

Continuing: Few people realize the extent of the White House, since much of it is below ground or otherwise concealed by landscaping. The White House includes: Six stories and 55,000 square feet of floor space, 132 rooms and 35 bathrooms, 412 doors, 147 windows, twenty-eight fireplaces, eight staircases, three elevators, five full-time chefs, a tennis court, a bowling alley, a movie theater, a jogging track, a swimming pool, and a putting green.

It receives about 5,000 visitors a day. The original White House design, by James Hoban, was the result of a competition held in 1792. Over the centuries, presidents have added rooms, facilities and even entire new wings, turning the White House into the labyrinthine complex it is today.

What if, instead of in 1792, that competition were to be held today? What would a White House designed in 2008, year of election of the 44th President of the United States, look like?

That's the question, then: If you were to design a residential office complex for the U.S. President, what would it look like? Perhaps London's GLA? Or the CCTV Building? Or Selfridge's, Birmingham? Or the Kunsthaus Graz? Would it be stylistically European - or Latin American, or African, or Asian? Prefab? Rammed earth? Perhaps an updated Nakagin Capsule Tower? Or would it be a Walking City? Maybe a helicopter archipelago? Maybe algae-powered, or billboard-bound, or an inhabited dam? Would it be ironic, self-deprecating, imperial, solar-powered, walled off behind anti-missile batteries, or anachronistically neoclassical and made of limestone? All of the above?

Here are the specs. The jury consists of Beatriz Colomina, Stefano Boeri, Liz Diller, John Maeda, myself, Mark Wigley, and Laetitia Wolff. So step up and submit.

I'm genuinely excited about this. Show us your best! Think big, think small, think detailed. Think abstract. Change history.
Details here.

One closes and one opens in Baltimore

Touchet Gallery in Baltimore will close.

DB5K is a new space across the street from where Touchet was.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


If you want to see 60 DC area artists all in one space (while you wait for the next Artomatic), then check out Touchstone Gallery's current show Double Vision, which is on now through Feb. 3, 2008.

Work by Mary Ott, Paul So, Cynthia Young, Alice Whealan, Jeanne Garant, Christine Cardellino, Janet Wheeler, Helen Corning, Marcia Coppel, Miriam Keeler, Mari DeMaris, Marie Straw, Melissa Widerkehr, Charles St. Charles, Walter Smalling, T. R. Logan, Kyoko Cox, Steve Alderton, Brian Martucci, Michael Lang, Emery Lewis, Chris Hutchinson, Marshe Hutchinson, Janathal Shaw, Malia Salam-Steeple, Antonia Macedo, Peter Karp, Dina Volkova, Helena Chenomazova, Maya Mackrandilal, Bill Bennett, Harriet Rosenbaum, Dina Rotklein, Harvey J. Kupferberg, Ulrich Stein, Rima Schulkind, Alice Bindeman, Aina Nergaard-Nammack, Lee Wayne Mills, Rosemary A. Luckett, Brigitte Pierrette Davis, Tory Cowles, and Kathy Beynette.

Sonya A. Lawyer at GRACE

About three years ago I came across the work of DC area photographer Sonya A. Lawyer and included her in a massive exhibition titled “Seven” that I curated for the Washington Project for the Arts/Corcoran. Then I lost contact with Lawyer's artwork.

And then last week I was invited to speak on contemporary art at the Greater Reston Arts Center in Reston, Virginia and came across the new work by Lawyer, which was on exhibition in GRACE’s beautiful new gallery spaces.

To say that I was simply impressed with the new directions in her work would be the first great understatement of 2008.

I was taken, absorbed, seduced, educated, revitalized and convinced that this talented photographer had accomplished a very intelligent marriage of her photographic skills, her gender and her culture, all succinctly wrapped up and presented for comment and absorption in this exhibition.

On view was a 21st century marriage of Mondrian design, African-American history, vintage photography, online appropriation, race relations, enviable presentation and well-honed artistic skills, and also a lesson on power and vision.

Oh yeah... and also an imaginative American photographer perhaps liberating the work of those earlier photographers on whose shoulders she stands, and also the subjects of their work.

Joanne Bauer, GRACE’s hard working curator told me that Lawyer had began collecting vintage photo albums of imagery of people of color from a variety of sources such as online auctions and antique stores.

Later Lawyer told me that after a couple of months of watching the online auctions, she realized that some participants would buy an album and then split apart the images in the album and re-sell them individually to make a larger profit.

She also told me that “the women, men, and children are for the most part nameless and only now known by their auction ID number and their seller’s quirky sign-on. The thought of families torn apart, albeit figuratively, and then sold to the highest bidder is very disturbing and repeats a very troubling part of history. Although I recognize my own complicity by participating in the auctions of my ‘ancestors,’ I do feel that I am rescuing the albums (people) I can, from further disturbance.”

Enter the power of art, as a healing process perhaps, for the artist and even for the nameless faces in Lawyer’s growing collection.

But this is not an easy step to take. She then struggled and says that as she looked over the albums for the past couple of years, she was never quite sure how to, and if she should, incorporate them into her own artistic practice.

At the GRACE show we now know that she did. And she succeeds triumphantly, and a key to the success is her presentation.

Lawyer has incorporated the vintage images into a very modern, Mondrianesque quilt-like presentation on fabric that manages to bridge modern ideas with the historical perspective of the Gee’s Bend quilters to deliver something new and refreshing and geometrical in contemporary photography.

She says that “In a quest to work with new materials, and because I never felt as I if was finding the right colors in fabric stores, I began hand-dying cotton fabric. The texture and the process finally felt right.”

The individuals chosen by Lawyer say something about her and about her focus. There are no victims in these images of a people who perhaps were being victimized by history when these photos were being taken almost a century ago. Instead, in the works on display are beautiful, empowered, and proud people, and one hard-looking individual that has known little fear of others in his hard life.

MR 096 (Cerulean Blue) from Finding Authenticity (does anyone remember?) by Sonya A. Lawyer

MR 096 (Cerulean Blue) from "Finding Authenticity (does anyone remember?)"
24" x 18", 2007, photo transfer on fabric by Sonya A. Lawyer

And curiously, as Lawyer says, except for the tell-tale signs of clothing and hairstyle, some of the photographs may have been taken “eight days ago instead of 80 years ago.”

Beautiful, empowered, and proud... not the kind of images that Hollywood and popular culture generally uses as historical references for people of color from decades in the past; not caricatures and stereotypes, but human and authentic. Lawyer notes that “their eyes twinkle with insight and intelligence as they gaze at the camera, dressed in their best, with hair perfectly coiffed.”

When one looks at old portrait photographs discarded to the bins of antique shops or the digital world of online auctions, we all seem to come up with the same questions about these long-forgotten and abandoned people. And Lawyer asks “What were their names? How long did they live? Where did they work? Were they religious? Who were their friends and lovers? And who were their enemies? Who disappointed them and discarded them like trash? And who did they truly trust and believe in?”

Unfortunately, we will never know the answers to those and many similar questions. But I submit that in rescuing them from the bins of discarded history, and incorporating them into the substrate of a new art process, and consciously marrying them into a historical presentation brought forth into a contemporary dialogue, Lawyer has not only rescued, but also liberated these images and given them the potentially infinite lifespan that great artwork delivers.

The exhibition at GRACE goes through February 16, 2008 and it is the kind of exhibition with the impact deserving of a trip to Reston, by both the public and Washington Post, Washington Times and Washington City Paper critics alike.

GRACE, under the leadership of John Alciati and Joanne Bauer has made a noticeable turn-around in the last couple of years after a handful of years of being slightly out of focus and even in confusion, and kudos to the current board, curator and President/CEO is well deserved.

Go to Reston and see this show.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Charles Albert Huckins' Favorite Artwork

This submission of a favorite artwork comes from Charles Albert Huckins, an active photographer in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area who has maintained the Stonelight Images web site for the continuous exhibition of his photography since 1999. He writes:

Although I, along with your other readers, have many favorite works of art, time and circumstances require me to narrow my submission down to two anonymous works few people have ever seen before.
Masquerade © 2005 Charles Albert Huckins

Masquerade - © 2005 Charles Albert Huckins

Three Graces - ©2003 Charles Albert Huckins

Three Graces - ©2003 Charles Albert Huckins

Though virtually unknown, both of these works are priceless, in my opinion.

“Masquerade” is a painting on cinder block, replete with symbolism and, for me, is as enigmatic as the Mona Lisa. “Three Graces” is an ink drawing on enameled steel plate and has a dignity and simplicity of line that make it spell-binding. Although both are figurative works, they have all the energy and spontaneity of the abstract Gee’s Bend quilts, now so rightfully esteemed as icons of American folk art.

Both works were created by unknown former inmates of the Youth Correctional Facility of the District of Columbia Department of Corrections site in Lorton, Virginia. The entire prison facility was decommissioned in 2000 and has been owned and converted to other uses by Fairfax County since August, 2002.

What makes these remarkable works of art so unique at this time is the possibility of their being unavailable for future generations to appreciate firsthand.

In the process of transition from a prison complex to a multifaceted community resource, a number of intriguing artifacts within the prison’s walls have necessarily been destroyed. However, these two works of art, and several others scattered around the prison site, are still intact and salvageable.

Fairfax County is currently seeking input regarding the artistic value of these and other works before a final decision is made about whether or not to save them. Perhaps some of your credentialed readers might care to weigh in on the artistic merits of these works?

If any of your readers would like to express their opinions about the art-worthiness of these works in writing, I, as a volunteer assisting Fairfax County in the documentation of prison resources, will be happy to forward all such comments to the appropriate County authorities. I may be reached at
I will publicly testify that in my opinion these works not only merit being salvaged, but in doing so represent a triumph of art over adversity, in a sense.

Perhaps the Youth Correctional Facility of the District of Columbia Department of Corrections can simply isolate and protect these works, but leave them exactly where they are, maybe adding some wall text next to them so that future generations can be inspired and learn from the artwork of those who created it in far from enjoyable circumstances.

Elizabeth Whiteley's Favorite Artwork

Elizabeth Whiteley is a DC area artist whose work is already in the permanent collection of several museums. And she responds to my call for readers' favorite artwork. She writes:

It was wonderful, this past weekend, to get a start on the new creative year with my visit to the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden to stand under the Kenneth Snelson "Needle Tower" and look up to the sky. With its cable and aluminum tube construction--held together with only a fragile tension -- it's reminder to me of the fragile relationships I have to other people and the remarkably strong structure that comes about as a result of our connections. It also sets the tone for a creative new year -- visual mysteries within mysteries to be discovered, uncovered, and made into objects and images.

Kenneth Snelson - Needle Tower
Kenneth Snelson "Needle Tower"

Polish Artists

Stop by and experience "An Ideal Mix-Up," an exhibition of works by Polish and local DC area artists at the Nevin Kelly Gallery in DC next Saturday, January 26, 4 pm for a lecture by gallerist Nevin J. Kelly on the Polish artists featured in the gallery followed by refreshments.

Essentially this show is a group exhibition that includes works by the contemporary Polish artists that helped launch the gallery in May 2003 and the many local artists who have joined the gallery along the way.

The exhibition will feature works by DC area artists Sondra Arkin, Joan Belmar, Ellyn Weiss, Mary Chiaramonte and Laurel Hauler and by Polish artists Edward Dwurnik, Darek Pala, Krzysztof Kokoryn, Pawel Król, Lukasz Huculak and Michal Zaborowski.

The show will be on view in the gallery from now until February 24, 2008.

Wanna go to a Virginia opening tomorrow?

The University of Mary Washington Galleries in Frederiscksburg, Virginia presents Mid-Atlantic New Painting 2008 with an Opening Reception on January 24, 2008 5 - 7pm.

There will be also a presentation of awards and remarks by the juror, John B. Ravenal, Curator of modern and Contemporary Art, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. The exhibition runs through March 2, 2008.

Wanna go to an Arts Panel in DC tonight?

DC's Transformer Gallery kicks off the new year with Art School, Confidential: Rethinking Art Education, the 7th installment of their dynamic Framework Panel Series.

Art School, Confidential: Rethinking Art Education, which is free and open to the public, brings together "an esteemed group of area artists and professors in a dialogue about the influence of art schools in the lives of artists and on the direction of contemporary art-making within the larger arts landscape."

The panelists are:

- Billy Colbert (Adjunct Faculty, American University)

- Maggie Michael

- Brandon Morse (Associate Professor of Digital Media & Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Art, University of Maryland, College Park, MD)

- Renee Stout

- Rex Weil (Professor of Art Theory, University of Maryland, College Park, MD)

And it is moderated by Dean Kessman (Assistant Professor of Photography, George Washington University), the panel discussion will be followed by a thirty minute question and answer segment with the audience.

Another Frida Show

In addition to the two Frida Kahlo type exhibitions coming to Philly that I mentioned yesterday, I was just told about this exhibition, so now make that three!

The Delaware Art Museum will present Frida Kahlo: Through the Lens of Nickolas Muray, an exhibition of nearly 50 photographs of Frida Kahlo, on view in the Brock J. Vinton Galleries February 2, 2008 - March 30, 2008. The show is courtesy of the collection of the Nickolas Muray Archives, and is part of a national tour over a two-and-a-half year period. The tour was developed and managed by Smith Kramer Fine Art Services, an exhibition tour development company in Kansas City, Missouri.


Rob: [into shaky camera] My name is Robert Hawkins. Approximately seven hours ago some *thing* attacked the city. If you found this, if you're watching this then you probably know more about it than I do.

Saw Cloverfield last night and in spite of the online hype, and in spite that I usually love this kind of movies, and in spite of the cool trailers about the new Star Trek movie coming Xmas 2008, and maybe because of the fact that I shelled out $6.50 for a large popcorn which seemed to be the size of what a small popcorn used to be in the 90s (AMC, what's up with that?), I really didn't think much of the movie.


Cloverfield is a highly derivative mix of the Blair's Witch Project camera style married to the Godzilla movies with a sprinkling of "Gadzuki meets Alien" (tunnels included).

The Godzilla and Alien influence is just too much to overcome. Not just the rambling monster destroying a city, but then the monster's offspring is up and about biting people and then the people seem to then explode and perhaps host the new offspring as it goes forth and multiplies?

The decent special effects in the film of New York being torn apart by a seldom seen monster (until almost the end) with those psych effects derived a little from M. Night Shyamalan's "Signs," unfortunately then yield a silly looking monster a little too closely related to Kermit the Frog and those weird looking spidery-looking camel crickets that seem to infect every basement in the Greater DC region.

And the logic also fails at times... the main characters seem to have little trouble killing off the nasty crawly creatures that Godzilla the Cloverfield monster drops off to bite and multiply... but when a couple of supersonic USAF jets drop off two MOABs (the world's largest and most powerful conventional bombs) onto the monster, they just cover it in a convenient cloud of dust before it comes up unharmed.

If its offspring can be killed with a bat, how come Mom survives two MOABs without even missing a step or an inch of green skin?

And the last issue that bothered me is the Hud (the actor who is the cameraman in the movie) character spends most of the time yelling: "Rob! Rob! Where are you going?"


Monday, January 21, 2008

This Saturday in DC

On Saturday January 26, from 4-6PM, Irvine Contemporary in DC will have the first Washington, DC projection screening of Paul D. Miller's acclaimed video, New York is Now, selected for the 2007 Venice Biennale.

NY is Now still by Paul D. Miller
Paul D. Miller (DJ Spooky), Film still from New York is Now, 2007, C-print

Frida Kahlo's coming to Philly

A while back I commented on the coup scored by the Philadelphia Museum of Art in getting on the Frida Kahlo bandwagon, and noted my amazement that no DC area museum was included in the tour - and yes, I know that Philly is only two hours from DC.

As most of you know, I am and have been a Fridaphile since I first came across Kahlo's work when I was 18 or 19 years old... read this essay about that particular obsession.

Seven Fridas by F. Lennox Campello - click for a larger version
"Las Siete Fridas (The Seven Fridas)"
Pen and Ink Wash, F. Lennox Campello
Univ. of Washington Art School assignment circa 1980-1981
Collection of Seeds for Peace.

And thus my warranted excitement about the coming Kahlo exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Organized in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the her birth, this will be the first major Kahlo exhibition in the United States in nearly fifteen years. It includes over 40 of the artist's most important self-portraits, still lifes, and portraits from the beginning of her career in 1926 until her early death in 1954. The exhibition also features a selection of nearly 100 photographs of Kahlo and her husband Diego Rivera, by such well-known photographers of the period, such as Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Lola Alvarez Bravo, Gisele Freund, Tina Modotti, and Nickolas Muray. It opens February 20, and runs through May 18, 2008.

Also in the Kahlo spirit, Philadelphia's Projects Gallery will have an exhibition titled Frida and Me, Common Threads, which is of course inspired and aligned to the centennial exhibition of Frida Kahlo at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

In this show, four contemporary Latina/Hispanic artists, Doris Nogueira-Rogers, Michelle Angela Ortiz, Marilyn Rodriguez-Behrle, and Marta Sanchez present works that "reflect on the intertwining relationships between various identities and cultures of Latin American female artists."

I'm really looking forward to visiting both of these shows and will report on them later.

Frida and Me at projects Gallery

Frida and Me, Common Threads will be open from February 1- 23, 2008. The Opening Reception will take place on First Friday, February 1st, 2008 5-8 pm with a special reading from Las Gallas Artist Collective.

Blog Heat

Seattle's blogging art critic Regina Hackett is taking some undeserved blog heat after publicly asking a couple of blogging peers "if they wouldn't mind getting to the point faster."

Artists usually learn really quickly to develop a thick skin and must learn to graciously accept malicious criticism, constructive criticism and negative criticism.

Bloggers learn really quickly to dish out all three versions of the criticism; they/we certainly also need to develop thick skins in order to accept (as in Hackett's online criticism of two fellow bloggers) constructive criticism.

And constructive criticism is definitely not an "attack" as has already been written about Hackett.

In 1997 the Washington Post's art critic Ferdinand Protzman wrote a small review about a solo show that I had in Georgetown and wrote:

Fraser Gallery is showing charcoal drawings of nudes by F. Lennox Campello. The subjects are mostly women Campello found on X-rated Web sites. He then arranged to meet and draw them. The drawings are very dark and the artist's abundant use of shadow effects can be heavy-handed and irritating. But in a few of the works he manages to find a delicate balance between the black charcoal and cream-colored paper resulting in a grainy, film-noir effect, making his subjects, traffickers in mass-consumption prurience, seem tough but vulnerable, like a flowering plant in a sexual wasteland.
I was delighted that the review-poor WaPo had chosen to review my show (and unfortunately since then the Post has further reduced gallery reviews from weekly to twice a month) and sent Ferd a thank you note, and as most of you know, proudly wear the fact that my drawings can be irritating!

Another Nude Bush Update

Another update and a call for you to remember when the below painting by Kayti Didriksen caused all that uproar at Artomatic and became the Internet's most downloaded image?

It became the most popular contemporary political art of all time.

George Bush by Kayti Didriksen

Kayti tells me that her world famous painting has been chosen to be illustrated in an American college textbook: Art Appreciation by Debra J. Dewitte, Ralph M. Larmann & M. Kathryn Shields.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Color Invitations Photos

Jeffry Cudlin has some good installation photos of Color Invitations here.

VSA arts’ Call for Entries: Derivative Composition

VSA arts is seeking visual artists with disabilities ages 18 and up whose work is inspired by the performing arts for “Derivative Composition,” an international juried art exhibition that will be on display at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., from May 29-July 20, 2008. Two-and three-dimensional art, digital art, installations, video and film, and other media that draw inspiration from music, theater, or dance are eligible. Submissions must have been completed in the last five years and after the onset of disability.

Applications will be accepted through March 21, 2008. For more information, please visit or call (202) 628-2800.

Via Simbolica

Via Simbolica is an exhibition curated by the very talented DC area curator Sarah Tanguy, and features works by Liset Castillo, Justine Reyes and Jose Ruiz.

Reception & Panel Discussion: Thursday, January 24, 4:30-6pm. The show goes through February 15, 2008.

St. Mary's College of Maryland
Boyden Gallery / Montgomery Hall
St. Mary's City, MD 20686
Tel: 240.895.4246

Color Invitations Video Walkthrough

Friday, January 18, 2008

WPA Artist Directory 2008-2009

The WPA Artist Directory is not only the definitive listing of established and emerging contemporary artists throughout the Washington region, but one of the best advertising deals on the planet for both galleries and individual artists.

It is seen by more than 2,000 galleries, curators, and interested art patrons. Registering has never been easier. Artists can reserve a space through the WPA website and mail in slides or CDs later, or upload their image files instantly.

Sign up here.

Last night

And we actually had a standing room only crowd last night at the Greater Reston Arts Center for my talk on Contemporary Art.

Cool uh?

I also managed to check out the current exhibit at GRACE, which has a very powerful two person show of works by Anna Fine Foer and Sonya A. Lawyer and also a really good painting exhibition by Ann Williams at the Market Street venue. More on both later, but Lawyer's works are especially powerful.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Art with a Twist Talk is Tonight

Nu, so it stopped snowing... and the roads are clean (I just drove from DC to Reston)... and from 7:30-9pm I will be doing a special presentation at the Greater Reston Arts Center in Reston, Virginia as part of their continuing education programs.

Space is limited and reservations are requested. Call 730.471.9242. Details here.

I will be doing a quick and fun walk through art history, all leading to contemporary art, where I will be discussing the work of some well known art superstars and also some Greater DC area artists.

Martinis are also involved. See ya there!

Opportunity for Artists

Deadline: January 18th, 2008

The Writer's Center in Bethesda is currently looking for a local artist to feature on their Carousel newsletter cover. They are accepting all mediums including photography, using the themes of "MUSE - what inspires you to create".

Please submit 1-5 jpeg images to They should be no larger than 300 dpi and 1Mb for consideration by January 18th at 5pm. Images submitted after that deadline will not be considered. Please keep in mind that the selected image will be used in printed materials and electronically. All credit is given to the artist.

They are unable to pay an honorarium, however your work and bio will be featured in the publication with a distribution list of more than 2,000 members, institutions, and the public within the Washington metro area.

For more info about us, please visit their website.


To one of my favorite DC area painters who's always doing stuff and showing all over the nation: Amy Marx.

Amy Marx's "The Dark Fantastic" opens February 16, 3-5PM (work on exhibition through March 15, 2008) at OK Harris works of Art in New York City.
Amy Marx tornado painting

There Is Dark and There Is Light, 46"x 74", oil on canvas, after Hollingshead, by Amy Marx

West fires back

By now you all probably know that W. Richard West, the founding director of the National Museum of the American Indian, has been catching all kinds of flak in the WaPo and the artblogsphere for alleged abuses of his travel and expense budgets.

On a separate issue, I myself gave the museum a talking to for their disclosed failure to find a native American portrait artist to create West's departure portrait.

And now West is firing back with a response that seeks to clarify some of the accusations levied against him. West starts by writing:

During my 17 years as director of the National Museum of the American Indian, I welcomed and learned from criticism, whether gentle or harsh. But nothing prepared me for the recent gossip passing for investigative journalism at The Washington Post and editorials in Indian Country Today. Real Indian country deserves better than rumor-mongering and character assassination, and so do I.

Allegations, which are false, are that my travel was "excessive" and "lavish," as I was "eating and slumbering first-class on the federal dime." Provocative, undocumented adjectives make for good reading in tabloids, but should not be in the Post or ICT. Both should be ashamed of themselves.
Read the Indian Country Today article here.

About last night

Big crowds for the opening of "Color Invitations" at the new R Street Gallery. The show looks good, had the usual last minute hiccups with some unexpected artwork, but in the end it's all resolved and looks great from my biased perspective.

Drop by "Color Invitations," and check out what some of the Greater DC area's key artists have been working on lately. There is new work by Maggie Michael, Jeffry Cudlin, Amy Lin, Andrew Wodzianski, John Blee, Steve Lapin and myself. The show runs through February 4, 2008.

The crowd included the usual suspects, and I had a chance to say hi to Philip Barlow, Phillipa Hughes, Dan Steinhilber, Dr. Claudia Rousseau, ubercollector Steve Krensky, Kathryn Cornelius, Dr. Claudia Rousseau, Prof. Chawky Frenn, and many, many others... it felt kinda good to be back in a DC gallery opening.

Pics and videos later.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Come join me tonight!

Come by and say hi and see some cool artwork at the new R Street Gallery, located on the upper level of 2108 R St. NW Washington DC 20008, Tel: (202)588-1701.

Starting at 6PM there is a reception for "Color Invitations," a group show of several key DC area artists working the focus of color as a key ingredient of their work. There will be new work by Maggie Michael, Jeffry Cudlin, Amy Lin, Andrew Wodzianski, John Blee, Steve Lapin and myself. The show opened on the 10th, but the reception is tonight. It runs through February 4, 2008.

I will also be exhibiting two new paintings from the "Digitalia" series as well as some of the prep watercolors done for the original works from 1999-2000 that started the series. Details here.

Come by and say hi.

The Fourth Annual Bethesda, MD Painting Awards

Deadline: Friday, February 15, 2008

The Bethesda Arts & Entertainment District is currently accepting applications for the fourth annual Bethesda Painting Awards. Eight Finalists will be selected to display their work in an exhibition from June 4-July 5, 2008 at the Fraser Gallery in downtown Bethesda, and the top four winners will receive $14,000 in prize monies.

Best in Show will be awarded $10,000; Second Place will be honored with $2,000 and Third Place will receive $1,000. Additionally, a “Young Artist” whose birthday is after February 15, 1978 may be awarded $1,000. Artists must be 18 years of age or older and residents of Maryland, Virginia or Washington, D.C. All original 2-D paintings including oil, acrylic, watercolor, gouache, encaustic and mixed media will be accepted. The maximum dimensions should not exceed 60 inches in width or 84 inches in height. No reproductions. Artwork must have been completed within the last two years and must be available for the duration of the exhibition. Each artist must submit 5 slides, application and a non-refundable fee of $25. Digital entries will be accepted on CD in JPG, GIF or PNG format. For a complete application, call call 301/215-6660 or please send a self-addressed stamped envelope to:

Bethesda Painting Awards
c/o Bethesda Urban Partnership
7700 Old Georgetown Road
Bethesda, MD. 20814

Opportunity for Artists

Deadline: February 27, 08.

The Eastern Nebraska Veteran's Home has announced a Request for Proposals (RFP) and Direct Purchase call for two-dimensional interior wall artwork to be installed within the newly constructed ENVH facility. This request for proposals/direct purchase project competition is open to all professional public artists or artist teams from throughout the United States, including those who are new to the field of public art. The call is specifically directed to the acquisition of two-dimensional art. Appropriate artwork themes include military and patriotic themes, as well as landscapes relating to the Midwest region. Subjects that invite conversation and reminiscence among resident members, their families and staff are desired.

Their budget is: $50,321. To learn more about this project, or to obtain a hard copy of the prospectus, contact: JD Hutton, Nebraska Arts Council, Artist Services and Communications Manager, at (800) 341-4067 or within Omaha area at (402) 595-2142, or email at For more information on this RFP/Direct Purchase Call for Art; or to download the prospectus and view supporting materials for this project, visit the Nebraska Arts Council website.

Art Job: University Professor

Deadline: January 25, 2008

Columbia University, Visual Arts Division -- This interdisciplinary art program is seeking applications for a full-time professorial position open as to rank. Teaching includes graduate and undergraduate courses. Applicants working in any medium will be considered. The Division is seeking artists with distinguished professional profiles and teaching experience. Participation in departmental and university committees is expected. Rank and salary are commensurate with experience. MFA or equivalent experience is required. Please submit cover letter, resume, digital images (including name, date, media and dimensions of artwork represented), along with the names of three persons from whom letters of reference may be obtained. Additional materials in the form of video, CD-ROM or DVD may also be included. Please send application materials (and a SASE) to:

The Visual Arts Division
Columbia University
2960 Broadway
310 Dodge Hall, MC 1806
New York, NY 10027

Art Job: Curator

The Robert Hull Fleming Museum in Vermont is looking to hire a curator. He or she will oversee curatorial operations of the University of Vermont's Fleming Museum, exhibition development, and management of permanent collection, including oversight of building security and environmental systems. Provide supervision of Exhibition Designer/Preparator and work closely with Manager of Collections and Exhibitions.

Requirements include Master's Degree in art history or related field and two years museum experience, curatorial and broad art historical competence, and specialization in an area represented in the Museum's collection, or an equivalent combination.

For further information on this position, #032038, or to apply with electronic application, resume, cover letter and reference contact information, please visit
their web site.

Funding for DC Artists

Deadline: February 1, 2008, 7:00 pm.

The Young Artist Program offers funding between $2,500: up to $3,500 to emerging artists between the ages of 18 and 30. Funds are granted in two categories: Young emerging Artist Grant Program and Young Artist Community Service Program. This grant is normally offered once a year, but the Commission is offering a second deadline because additional funds are available. Young Artist Program workshops will be held at the DC Arts Commission at 1371 Harvard St. NW, Washington, DC 20009 to assist individuals and organizations in preparing applications. All applicants are strongly encouraged to attend a workshop prior to submitting a proposal. No prior reservations are required to attend workshops. Grant Workshops: Thursday, January 10th- 6:00-7:30 PM. Wednesday, January 16th- 12-1:30 PM.

Contact: or visit DCCAH's website to download an application.

Small Projects Program Grant FY08

Deadline: February 27, 2008, 7:00 p.m. and Wednesday, April 9, 2008, 7:00 p.m.

Small Projects Program offers grants to individual artists and arts organizations for small-scale arts projects with budgets under $3,000. Staff Contact: Ebony Blanks. All DC Arts Commission grant applications can be downloaded at DCCAH's website or, call (202) 724-5613 to request that a copy be mailed to you. While visiting the website, they also recommend that you review the Guide to Grants for more detailed information about grant programs and requirements.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Black Matter

Zenith Gallery, which is celebrating its 30 year anniversary (which in gallery years is around 200 years), has an interesting exhibition coming up at its alternative art space: Black Matter.

On exhibition through March 16, 2008 there will be three-dimensional mixed media and sculpture by Washington area artists from the Black Artists of DC Collective: Akili Ron Anderson, Ann Bouie, James Brown, Terry deBardelaben, Lillian Thomas Burwell, Cheryl Derricotte, Julee Dickerson-Thompson, Aziza Gibson-Hunter, Thomas Gomillion, Francine Haskins, Gloria Kirk, Serinity Knight, Harlee Little, Juliette Madison, Chris Malone, Uzike Nelson, Chris Randolph, Cynthia Sands.

The Alternative Gallery Space at:
1111 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20004
Open Weekdays 8am – 7pm Daily
Saturdays and Sundays, appointment only, Call 202-783-2963

Meet the Artists: Thursday, January 31, 5:30-8:30pm

Wanna go to an opening in DC tomorrow?

By now you should all know that the place to be is at the new R Street Gallery, located on the upper level of 2108 R St. NW Washington DC 20008, Tel: (202)588-1701.

Starting at 6PM there is a reception for "Color Invitations," a group show of several key DC area artists working the focus of color as a key ingredient of their work. There willnew work by Maggie Michael, Jeffry Cudlin, Amy Lin, Andrew Wodzianski, John Blee, Steve Lapin and myself. The show opened on the 10th, but the reception is tomorrow. It runs through February 4, 2008.

Maggie Michael Pink
I will also be exhibiting two new paintings from the "Digitalia" series as well as some of the prep watercolors done for the original works from 1999-2000 that started the series. Details here.

Come by and say hi.

Malik Lloyd's Favorite Artwork

Malik Lloyd is one of the key members of the DC area art scene and definately one of the area's online information innovators. He is the Founder and Publisher of the FIND ART information bank, the winner of the Washington Area Lawyers for the Arts 1998 Rising Star Award, the winner of the District of Columbia 2000 Mayor's Art Award: Innovation in the Arts, and also has been nominated for Excellence in Service to the Arts, DC's Mayor's Art Award and also nominated for Outstanding Contribution to Arts Education, also for DC's Mayor's Art Award. Malik responds to my request for readers' favorite artworks.

Lloyd writes:

That is a very tough question, since my favorite changes with the mood that I'm in. However, Henri Rousseau's "The Dream," is the one that I would select today. When viewing it at the NGA a couple of years back, I could not keep my eyes off it. It is tranquil, surreal, mysterious and romantic - qualities that I usually try to capture in my artwork and in life; located at the Museum of Modern Art, New York

Dali would be a close second on my list. He is like the exciting place that you love to visit, but would not want to live there.

Henri Rousseau The Dream
Henri Rousseau, The Dream, c.1910

Cavanaugh on DC area masterpieces

DCist's Amy Cavanaugh has the first in a new series exploring some of the paintings, sculptures and other works that are always on display in D.C. Read her first post here.

Art with a Twist

On January 17, from 7:30-9pm I will be doing a special presentation at the Greater Reston Arts Center in Reston, Virginia as part of their continuing education programs.

Space is limited and reservations are requested. Call 730.471.9242. Details here.

I will be doing a quick and fun walk through art history, all leading to contemporary art, where I will be discussing the work of some well known art superstars and also some Greater DC area artists.

Martinis are also involved.

Venus of Willendorf

Venus of Willendorf, c. 24,000–22,000 BC

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Power of the Web

One of the things that good art blogs can do, provided that the blogger is not lazy or seduced by the power of disseminating information, is to tell readers about good art shows that take place in alternative art venues that are usually ignored by the printed media.

And I have been hearing good things about the exhibition that Boston Properties, Inc., and Jean Efron Art Consultants LLC, have mounted in the lobby of 505 9th Street, NW in DC. The exhibition is open to the public during building lobby hours, Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 7:00 pm. now through April 10, 2008

On exhibition are new encaustic paintings by West Coast artist Betsy Eby. Encaustic painting is a really harsh and difficult process that usually brings to my mind the works of the very talented DC area artist Pat Goslee, whose works I once regrettably described as "vaginalism."

Silent Voice Speaking: Hey! Look at this!

By the way... Goslee has an ass-kicking website that's an example to artists everywhere.

Phil Nesmith - My Baghdad: Photographs

Someone whose opinion I respect very much called me the other day to chat about things and then he told me that had attended the opening at Irvine Contemporary in DC for Phil Nesmith - My Baghdad: Photographs.

"Lenny," he said, "this is an amazing show, you gotta write something about it!"

The exhibition is a series of photographs shot in Baghdad and produced on glass plates using a dry plate ambrotype process. A set of editioned C-print enlargements from the glass plates accompanies the unique images in the exhibition, which goes through Feb. 17, 2008.

Phil Nesmith, MH47, 2007. Dryplate ambrotype
(sandarac varnished silver emulsion on black glass). 8 X 12 inches

This is what the photographer wrote about the works:
In 2003, soon after the fall of Baghdad, I began a year long stint in Iraq. The novelty of the experience wore off soon after arrival, and my days in Baghdad seemed to repeat themselves, like a film looped to play continuously, returning to the start the moment after it ends. The repetition created routine, the routine normalizing what would otherwise be extraordinary.

This normative process was one that I was both aware of and oblivious to, and was one that I realized was itself a repetition of what my father had gone through as a soldier in Vietnam. I started to become conscious that the daily existence of the soldiers around me, while surrounded by different, new technologies and capabilities, still maintained a surprising similarity to the life of soldiers on the battlefield in Vietnam or anywhere, going back centuries. The routine of life in a war zone this week would be recognized by soldiers from World War II, from the Spanish American War, or from the American Civil War.

Since returning from Iraq I have sought to find a way to evoke this sense of historical telescoping and the echoes of social memory in my work. I became interested in early photographic processes, and saw within them a way of creating a visceral connection between the contemporary and the historic, utilizing an old process to capture a new conflict. These images also blur the boundaries of photographic processes as well by mixing the cutting edge digital technology used to capture the image and a combination of nineteenth century techniques to bring the image to life.
Having served in several war zones during my time in the US Navy, I know what he means. And seeing that helicopter brought back memories of a helicopter crash at sea on a flight from Beirut to Larnaca, Cyprus that is a story for another day and reminded me what a lucky man I am.

See the photographs here

Muffled thoughts on grants

In the years that I served in the advisory panels for the District of Columbia Commission on the Arts and Humanities, I confirmed an interesting paradox that exists in the world of grant-giving when it comes to individual artists.

Arts organizations are usually registered as non-profit status organizations, and they rely on philanthropy and grants in order to operate - some gather a few thousand dollars each year, other millions.

Meanwhile, individual artists usually have to rely on their paychecks from their non-arts related day jobs, or teach in order to get a reliable source of income, since they are mostly ineligible to get direct financial support from grant-giving organizations because they are not incorporated with the state, city or federal government as a not-for-profit organization.

Although there are notable exceptions, a quick scan of the Foundation Center database reveals that most visual arts focused foundations in the US restrict their arts funding to not-for-profits.

That immediately also reveals a paradoxical disparity in grant giving to the people who create art and the people who put it on walls.

Around the area, DCCAH, the Maryland State Arts Council, the Heinz Endowments and others do offer individual financial grants for artists, but they are some others are the exception, rather than the rule.

And certainly missing is the individual donor, who may hand out millions at once to a museum or arts organization, but seldom sets up an organization (such as Andy Warhol did with Creative Capital) to hand out financial support directly to artists.

Update: As if to underscore my point, I am told that Heinz Endowments no longer gives grants to indovidual artists.

Tony Podesta's Favorite Artwork

Tony and Heather Podesta are two of the top rare ubercollectors from the DC area, and Tony responds to my request for readers' favorite artworks.

Tony writes that his favorite work is an oil painting by Julie Roberts called Teenage Suicide.

Teenage Suicide by Julie Roberts

Teenage Suicide by Julie Roberts

Sunday, January 13, 2008


To one of my favorite DC area artists, Linn Meyers, whose two-person show with Miriam Cabessa opened earlier this month at the Lyons Wier - Ortt Gallery in NYC.

New Art Blog

Bethesda Art Blog is a new colleague on the Greater DC area artblogsphere and they've already delivering much needed art writing focused on Bethesda art galleries.

Here BAB mini-reviews the "Committed" show at Fraser Gallery and then here BAB says good stuff about Fiona Ross in the same show.

And here is a review of Ivan Depena at Heineman Myers.