Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Senior Art Show at WCU

Because I am currently curating an undergraduate student show, which I have titled "Early Look," I have been visiting a ton of art schools along the mid Atlantic.

I recently visited West Chester University in West Chester, Pennsylvania and will soon review their "Senior Art Exhibition" here.

Meanwhile, see a quick walkthrough of the show below...

Scott Brooks - Under the Skin

odiva by Scott BrooksG
One of the innovative, inventive, smart, and nicest artists from the Greater DC area is the very talented Scott Brooks and he is opening in DC's Longview Gallery. The opening reception is Saturday, May 10, 5-8pm.

I've been admiring how Brooks continues to grow and progress as an artist - and the most important "and" - to exhibit widely around the nation.

And thus I add him to my "Buy Now" list.

Buy Scott Brooks now!

Wanna go to a Philly opening on Saturday?

There's tons of openings in Philly and DC as part of the First Friday gallery openings routine, but just in case...

Strata Sphere, an artistic exhibition space at 1854 Germantown Avenue in Philadelphia, will be presenting the works of two area painters, Paul Hamanaka and Darla Beckemeyer Cassidy, in a show titled The Floating World, from May 3rd through June 7th.

The Floating World is a concept in Buddhism that "expresses the ephemeral nature of our existence." There will be an opening reception on Saturday, May 3rd, from 2pm – 5pm. The exhibition will run until June 7th.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Cuban reviews

Although I am Oh-for-two as far as reviews are concerned for the two shows that I have curated so far for DC galleries this year, the one currently on exhibition at Norfolk's Mayer Fine Art Gallery has been getting good critical coverage and exceptional sales.

One look at this exhibition makes it clear why Cuban art is especially hot right now.
- Betsy DiJulio
Portfolio Weekly
Last week it was reviewed by the Virginian Pilot (as soon as I can find a link I will put it up) and today it was reviewed by the Portfolio Weekly. Read that review here.

Danny Conant at Tibet House in NY

For many years now, DC area photographer Danny Conant has been visiting, photographing and developing a special relationship with the people and the nation of Tibet.

Vanishing Tibet by Danny ConantThis relationship is clearly evident in Conant's beautiful new book Vanishing Tibet, which delivers ample proof of what can be created when a superbly talented photographer puts her passion and effort on a subject that is special to her.

And this Thursday, May 1, 2008, Conant also has an opening of her Tibet photographs from 6-8pm at Tibet House in New York. The exhibition runs to July 1, 2008.

Washington Report

Art in America magazine's May issue has a report on Washington, DC by AinA's DC editor, my good friend J.W. Mahoney (page 94).

Monday, April 28, 2008

(In)Between opens in Philly this Friday

show post card
This coming Friday Philadelphians will get a chance to see some interesting sculptures by British artist Damien Hirst and the District's own Tim Tate in what appears to be a superbly well-curated group show at Philadelphia's Wexler Gallery.

Hirst skull

Damien Hirst, The Fate of Man (5/25), 2005, Cast silver, 6 x 5 x 8 inches

Curated by Sienna Freeman, Associate Director of the Wexler Gallery, the exhibition is based loosely on the idea of Vanitas - 16th century Dutch still-life paintings that celebrate life’s pains and pleasures while meditating on their inevitable loss.

Damien Hirst, The Sacred Heart

Damien Hirst, The Sacred Heart, 2005. Cast silver, 12 x 17 inches

Featured artists include Damien Hirst, Randall Sellers, Adelaide Paul, Tim Tate, Anne Siems, Dirk Staschke and Joe Boruchow. The show will run from May 2nd through June 28th, 2008. *An Opening Reception will take place on First Friday, May 2nd from 5-8pm.

Tim Tate Love in New Millenium

Tim Tate, Love in the New Millennium. Blown and cast glass, electronic parts, original video. 14 x 6 x 6 inches

I know that you know that I have no objectivity when it come to Tate, and I have been telling you this since his sculptures were $600 a pop, but buy Tim Tate now!

5th Annual Bethesda Fine Arts Festival

The Bethesda Arts & Entertainment District will present the 5th annual Bethesda Fine Arts Festival, a two-day fine arts event highlighting 140 contemporary artists who will sell their original fine art and fine craft on the streets of Bethesda, Maryland. The festival is scheduled for Saturday, May 10 from 10am-6pm and Sunday, May 11, 2008 from 10am-5pm.

The festival will take place in downtown Bethesda’s Woodmont Triangle along Norfolk and Auburn Avenues, located six blocks from the Bethesda Metro Station. Free parking is available adjacent to the event in the parking garage located on Auburn Avenue.

With over 20,000 attendees over the two day period, the Bethesda Fine Arts Festival has become one of the top art events in the Greater DC region and a must see for those who think that good art is only available in gallery or museum walls.

Direction here and a list of details here.

Go buy some artwork!

Con La Mirada en el Cielo

In his second solo show at Philly's Projects Gallery, Henry Bermudez presents “Con La Mirada en el Cielo” where Bermudez continues "his exploration of spiritually surreal imagery, combining his unique vision of pre-Colombian and Christian iconography. The complex arrangement of interlocking lines and colors are reminiscent of intricate Persian tapestries. The dense arrangement invites us to travel further into a realm of contemplation. Bermudez’s current body of work expands upon the tradition of cut-paper assemblage, in some cases expanding his surface to monumental proportions."

Henry Bermudez
An internationally exhibited artist, Bermudez’s work is in numerous museum and private collections throughout the world. He was the Venezuelan representative to the 1985 Venice Biennale. A solo exhibition of his work is scheduled at the National Museum of Catholic Art and History in New York City in 2009.

The exhibition opens this coming First Friday, May 2nd with artist receptions from 5-8 p.m. The exhibition continue through May 31st, 2008.

DCAC’s Sparkplug opens this coming Friday

DC Arts Center’s resident collective Sparkplug launches its first exhibition as part of "an ongoing pursuit of adventures beyond the commercial gallery system."

Sparkplug is "a gathering of a dozen or so Washington, DC metro area emerging artists, curators and writers that meet once a month to discuss their work, explore common concerns and ideas, grow their community, and dream up creative engagements both in DC and around the globe."

This inaugural two-week catalyst show will include work by: Deborah Carroll-Anzinger, Peter Gordon, Lisa McCarty, Kathryn McDonnell, Michael Matason, Mark Planisek, Karen Joan Topping and Jenny Walton. It is curated by Lea-Ann Bigelow.

The goal of Sparkplug is "to identify superior artists, curators and arts writers without current gallery representation or institutional employ, to provide them with an ongoing source of support, inspiration and encouragement, and to enlist them in the long-term development of a vital DC Arts Center collective."

Sparkplug is still actively seeking members – "dedicated visionaries with a broad range of backgrounds and experiences and a diversity of professional preoccupations and creative aspirations – from all communities in the Washington, DC region."

The Opening Reception is May 2, 7 - 9pm and some of the artists will be on hand on Saturday, May 10th from 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM to discuss the show, their work, and Sparkplug at the DC Arts Center.

Sculpture at Evergreen

click for larger image

Wanna go to an opening in Philly next Friday?

The Bridgette Mayer Gallery in Philly has coming up an interesting solo show of gallery artist Ivan Stojakovic -- titled Build-Up -- opening on the 29th, which will run through May 24, 2008.

This is Stojakovic's second solo show at the Bridgette Mayer Gallery. He currently lives and works in New York City, and is originally from Belgrade. Along with his solo show at the gallery in 2007, Stojakovic has exhibited in New York, Canada and Serbia in solo and group exhibitions.

Build-Up will run from April 29- May 24, 2008. An opening reception with the artist will be held, First Friday, May 2nd from 6:00- 8:30p.m.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Post Modernist Writing

". . . invents puzzles out of nonsequiturs to seek congruence in seemingly incongruous situations, whether visual or spatial . . . inhabits those interstitial spaces between understanding and confusion."
The above quote is from the Whitney Museum's Biennial exhibition of contemporary art... yeah.

That elitist deconstruction of the English language is what passes in some circles for art lingo, but the Wall Street Journal's Eric Gibson has it right when he writes that "there is no excuse for a museum letting nonsense of the sort quoted above out in the open, particularly an institution whose mission includes educating the public. If the Whitney continues to snub this public -- its core audience -- by "explaining" art with incomprehensible drivel, it shouldn't be surprised if people decide to return the favor and walk away."

Bravo Mr. Gibson! Read the whole article here.

I visited the Biennial a few weeks ago intending to write a review, but I just couldn't justify spending time doing so. Everything seemed... so common and typical... nothing stood out in my mind.

For example, Oliver Mosset's work is exactly like a the work of a couple of hundred art school students each year (and because I am curating a student exhibition even as I type these words... I know!) and even like the work of a few Artomatic artists every time that there's a new AOM. As is Ry Rocklen's... or Frances Stark or 97.756% of these artists' works.

It is not to say that they are all bad, but what it does says -- to anyone who visits a few art fairs and a few hundred art gallery openings a year -- is "I've seen a few dozen artists who do exactly this stuff... yawn."

In this blue chip setting, I and we want to see something that WOWs us... never mind the shitty writing to explain the shitty art.

We say this because we expect this show to -- at least-- show us a couple of artists and works which really stand out, but instead, it seems likes it continues to degrade into a masturbatory event of "what-does-the-chosen-curator-who-never-actually-goes-to-gallery-openings-regularly... so that he/she only has a tiny perspective..." think is "new" and worthy of inclusion.

But it is not the curators's fault, but the mix of curators.

Whitney Museum: Throw in some common sense in there and you'll be shocked by the changes. Add a small time collector to the curatorial mix; not a multimillionaire, but a guy who owns a dry cleaners or a deli and has a passion for collecting art, or a bartender from NYC who has a passion for going to gallery openings and whose apartment is full of art. Include a small city curator or gallery director with a very focused perspective and you might be surprised what some commoners' blood does add to your blue blood curatorial effort: stamina and a new set of eyes (and new eyes have new perspectives),

For arts' sakes, connect to the "outside the art world" world... somehow.

Otherwise, stay they way you are, and resign yourselves to be the laughing stock of the critical and public world, but at least show me at least one memorable fucking painter or at least one video worth remembering, or one installation that doesn't look like garbage.

Pick out a really young artist whose name hasn't come to you via the usual routes... someone still in school but struggling to deliver something that is good and still someone can choose to display in their homes, for after all, some significant parts of the production of the art community are commodities -- not all mind you -- but not all are just ideas and undecipherable conceptual art.

It's supposed to be sort of a survey... right? So stop trying to be so edgy, because by the time you get to the edge, we've already seen it before when we got there first.

Because unlike you, we are not stuck in offices in museums, waiting for someone in our inner circle to tell us what is the latest and greatest in edgy art, so that we can then re-invent the English language to explain it.

Get out and see some stuff, and remember what the word "survey" means. Or take the approach that some Latin American nations' Biennials take (such as El Salvador and Costa Rica) and open the Biennials so that artists can send submissions for consideration. In this cyberspace world, it is not that hard to do and not that difficult to view and jury.

As for the text, it also brings me to the non-issue of: since every signage in public spaces these days are of the bilingual nature, why isn't museum wall text also displayed in Spanish?

Oy Gevault! Imagine translating all that crappy writing into Spanish if the Whitney Biennial was to travel around the US, as some have suggested.

Que Barbaridad!

Orphan Works Bill


In their final report, the independent review has recommended that the UK adopt a similar policy to what U.S. Orphan Works legislation is proposing, namely that works can be used if the copyright owner cannot be found after a 'reasonable search'.
Is Congress on drugs or what? Give up copyright if the copyright owner cannot be found after a "reasonable search"? This is crazy! Especially in the cyberspace world of today, where an image may be reproduced myriads of time and then lives forever as multiple digital footprints of that original image!

According to the Orphan Works Blogspot, earlier on, the Copyright Modernization Act of 2006, HR6052, which incorporated the Orphan Works legislation, after intense pressure, was withdrawn, but it is now back!

Read the Senate Version here and/or the House version here and then contact your Lucy-in-the-Sky-with-Diamonds elected official and tell him or her to drink a lot of coffee and realize what they're doing!

You'd think that the Republicans were in charge of Congress or somethin'!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Talking about Romare Bearden...

A Romare Bearden mural at a Port Authority subway station has been appraised at $15 million and could cost the transit agency more than $100,000 a year if it is forced to insure it, officials said Wednesday.

The financially troubled Port Authority is now struggling to decide what to do with the mural, according to spokeswoman Judi McNeil.

"We have to put our practical hats on and say, 'We're a bus company. We're not art experts,' " she said.

The mural, in the Gateway Center Station, was appraised as the Port Authority plans to build a new station. The project is part of the $435 million North Shore Connector T expansion from Downtown to the North Shore.

Port Authority officials plan to meet with members of the arts community, including local museums, to discuss the mural and whether it should be relocated to the new subway station or to another venue.

Romare Bearden Mural in Pittsburgh
Interesting, uh? There's more!
The mural was mounted in the subway as it opened in 1984. The agency commissioned Bearden for $90,000, using donations from public and arts organizations.

Officials are leaning toward appraising a second subway mural, also potentially valuable. A Sol LeWitt mural called "Thirteen Geometric Figures" is mounted in the Wood Street Station, Downtown. LeWitt is considered the father of conceptual art.
I think some DuChampians would have a little issue with that last statement, but read the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review story here.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Rice on Duane Michals

The Philly City Paper's Robin Rice with an excellent review of Duane Michals at the Sol Mednick Gallery, Univ. of the Arts, in Philly.

The Poet decorates his muse with verse, c.2004 Duane Michals

Read it here.

52 O Street open studios this weekend in DC

I alerted all of you a while back, and DCist's Lynne Venart now has an excellent walkthrough of the studios.

Read it here and then go buy some art... somewhere.

Lotta Art is tomorrow in Baltimore

click on the image for more details

Inaugural Exhibition

I've been remiss in failing to mention the inaugural exhibition of the new Lillian and Joseph C. Duke Gallery at the Community Arts Center of Wallingford, PA - the nearest art gallery/center to my own home!

On exhibit is the Philadelphia Watercolor Society juried members' show of works on paper and the show ends today. The juror was Geraldine McKeown, NWS.

By the way, Media Pennsylvania is known as "Tree City, USA," but I have a new name for them: "Allergy City, USA."

A rarity coming up

Aaron DouglasAaron Douglas: African American Modernist presents "the first nationally touring retrospective of Aaron Douglas (1899-1979), one of the most influential visual artists of the Harlem Renaissance. This exhibition brings together more than 80 rarely seen works by the artist, including paintings, prints, drawings and illustrations."

The show opens at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in DC on May 9, and runs through August 3, 2008.

I really hate the segregation of art by race or ethnicity, but once in a while something stands out so grossly out of synch that it must be pointed out.

This coming show is also a rarity for the DC area museums: an exhibition by a black artist.

Example: As far as I know the National Gallery has only hosted one exhibition in its entire history by a black artist, in this case African American artist Romare Bearden.

The Corcoran has done a little better, most recently hosting Sam Gilliam's first retrospective. Jonathan Binstock, then the Corcoran curator, had done his thesis on Gilliam, so I am sure that this helped get this DC art star a long overdue museum show in his own city. And the Phillips Collection certainly has paid attention to my old professor Jacob Lawrence with a couple of traveling exhibitions.

But some black artists are way overdue for the kind of exposure that an NGA show can afford an artist. My first suggestion is Wifredo Lam.

Any others? Feel free to comment.

Wanna go to a DC opening tomorrow?

DC's Studio Gallery has an opening Saturday night April 26 from 5-7PM. They are featuring the work of Roberta Thole in the upstairs gallery. Her works "allude to classicism and the environment and are mixed media with paint, copper and emulsion."

Downstairs gallery has two emerging artists who "use paint in a very bold, abstract way." Katya Kronick "draws her inspiration from nature directly" and Andrew Acquadro "abstracts everyday images in a very bold and dynamic way."

Artists' talk: Alexandria, VA

Amy Lin will be discussing her work at the Art League Gallery in Old Town Alexandria on Saturday, April 26 @ 3:30pm.

Buy Amy Lin now.

Seeing double

One of the below invite cards is from the Corcoran's new "Anonymous" fundraising exhibition, the other is from the Washington Project for the Arts' own series of "Anonymous" fundraising shows...

Corcoran Anon Postcard

WPA Anon Postcard

Eakins update

The Philadelphia Museum of Art announced today that it has completed the funding of its share in the joint acquisition of Thomas Eakins’s heroic 1875 masterpiece, The Gross Clinic, through deaccessioning Eakins’s Cowboy Singing, which has been jointly acquired by the Denver Art Museum and the Denver-based Anschutz Collection, as well as two oil sketches for Eakins’s Cowboys in the Badlands, which have been acquired by the Denver Art Museum. The Museum acquired The Gross Clinic early last year with the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts from Thomas Jefferson University, amidst a spirited campaign to keep the painting in Philadelphia.
Above from the press release from a few days ago; details here.

Five ways to get sued for using people in your Art

Beth Russell is a musician and attorney admitted to practice law in New York, Connecticut and Wisconsin. She is the author of the book Art Law Conversations perhaps the key legal book for artists. Buy it here.

And Beth pens Five Ways to Get Sued for Using People in Your Art for Art Calendar magazine - which by the way is a must subscribe-to magazine if you're an artist looking for a great opportunites and business magazine for artists (disclosure: I've written tons of articles for Art Calendar over the years).

It's a great article; read it here.

Opportunity for Sculptors

Accepting Entries: May 2 to September 5 (received deadline)

The Washington Sculptors Group has a call out for "Aquifer," a sculpture exhibition to be held at the Edison Place Gallery (701 8th Street, NW Washington, DC 20001) and co-curated by my good friends Deborah McLeod and J.W. Mahoney.

The exhibition is open to members of Washington Project for the Arts and Washington Sculptors Group. Artists who are not current members may join either or both organizations. New members may request a membership form by contacting WPA at or WSG at

For more info or details visit the The Washington Sculptors Group website.

New Look

Yes boys and girls... after five years with one of Blogger's earliest templates, I finally took the plunge and switched to a new template in order to allow comments.

You see, for quite a while I have been struggling to add comments to this blog; without an iota of success.

So then I decided to do a little research and quickly found out that my 2003 vintage blog template didn't support comments and that the only solution was to switch to a new one.

And so, countless hours later, here it is! Expects a few visual tweaks here and there.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Frida Kahlo at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Seldom does an art review need a little context from the perspective of the reviewer's own historical involvement with the work being reviewed, as this one does.

In 1975, I visited Mexico City and discovered the works of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo. Almost immediately, I developed an artistic obsession with Kahlo's image and over the years I have created hundreds of works on that subject, including dozens of art school assignments at the University of Washington School of Art (1977-1981).

Although the vast majority of those works were sold over the years, a few years ago I had a solo show in Washington, DC that chronicled 27 years of preparatory drawings, etchings, oil paintings, watercolors and sculptures about Kahlo.

In 1975 my parents took their first vacation ever, at least in my memory. As Cuban exiles, the American tradition of yearly vacations was as removed from their routine as the Cuban tradition of Nochebuena is from American Christmas holiday customs.

Anyway, they decided to go to Mexico City for a week with another couple from New York, which is where my folks had been living since leaving Cuba as political refugees in the early 60s. In 1975 I was finishing my first year in the US Navy, where I had enlisted right after High School, and stationed aboard USS Saratoga, homeported in Mayport, Florida.

I had turned down a New York State Regents Scholarship, a Cornell University art scholarship and a Boston University art scholarship to satisfy my desire to see the world before I went to college.

Mexico City and its nightlife and food (and how far a dollar went) made such an impression upon my parents and their friends, that the one-week trip became two, and eventually they spent nearly a month in that huge, dirty city, enjoying the food, scenery, clubs and markets. They also asked me if I'd like to join them for a few days, and since they were paying for it, I got a few days leave and flew to Mexico City for about five days of my own, unexpected vacation.

I hardly spent any time with them. As a 19-year-old teenager, my interests were more focused on girls, cheap booze and plenty of great things to do. It was while visiting a museum during the last few days of my visit, that I accidentally discovered Frida Kahlo.

I remember walking into the museum salon where the Two Fridas hung. It was love, or more like witchcraft, at first sight. This large, spectacular painting swallowed my visual senses and attention as no work of art would do again until I first saw Velasquez's Las Meninas at the Prado in Madrid eight years later.

At that first exposure, and the ones that followed over the years, as I tried to absorb as much of Frida Kahlo as I could in my remaining Mexico City days, I became an addict for the work and imagery of this Champagne Communist Mexican virago. I recall sitting down in the room where the Two Fridas was hung, and copying the painting through a pencil sketch done on gift wrapping vellum paper from an earlier touristy purchase of a huge, saucepan sized solid silver belt buckle and brown cowboy etched leather belt that I wore for years and that thankfully has been now lost.

Kahlo left me gasping for knowledge about her and her work. Her imagery was like nothing I had seen before, even in my childhood's New York atmosphere that often included day-long trips to the Brooklyn Museum, the Met, MOMA and many other New York museums.

The more of her work that I discovered, the more I became obsessed with learning about her. In 1975 and the first few years that followed, this wasn't exactly an easy task. In those years, at least in Mexico, Kahlo was still just Diego Rivera's wife; a wife who also happened to paint.

And thus my burning interest in visiting the massive Frida Kahlo exhibition which opened a few weeks ago at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA).

PMA is the only East Coast venue for this major exhibition, the first in nearly 15 years to be devoted to Kahlo's work. It includes more than 40 of Kahlo's paintings, including many that have never been exhibited before, and others which have never been seen in the United States. You can see the exhibition in the video below:

The exhibition was organized by the Walker Art Center working with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and curated by Kahlo biographer Hayden Herrera, whose brilliant Kahlo biography is a must read for Kahlophiles worldwide, and by the Walker's associate curator Elizabeth Carpenter.

In addition to the Kahlo works, the curators have included over 100 photographs from Kahlo's personal collection, some of which have been annotated and drawn on by Kahlo.

Among them are images by Tina Modotti, Nickolas Murray, Gisele Freund and many others. They truly help to create a sense of place and time and aura around some of the most iconic imagery from 20th century art.

The PMA show also adds some additional materials from the museum's own collection. These works, mostly ex-votos works, really add a brilliant insight to Kahlo's influences. The PMA additions were curated by the PMA's Michael Taylor and Emily Hage; more on that later.

A proper Kahlo primer demands the reading of Hayden Herrera's Kahlo biography or at the very least the viewing of Selma Hayek's Frida movie.

The film was the most recent of a curious worldwide Kahlomania that shows little sign of slowing down. It is especially curious in the sense that the artist who now represents "Mexicanity" to its most profound depth, was essentially ignored in her own country for many years, both during and after her lifetime (Kahlo died in 1954), and only had one exhibition of her works in Mexico (in 1953), just before she died.

Kahlo was born in 1907, and in 1929 she married Diego Rivera. At the time he was perhaps Mexico's best-known artist and womanizer, and their relationship was turbulent, to say the least. It also provided the subject matter for some of Kahlo's best-known works.
Frida Kahlo
Almost upon entry we see "Frieda [sic] and Diego Rivera," painted in 1931. Painted while Kahlo and Rivera were living in San Francisco, this work was first exhibited at the 6th Annual Exhibition of the San Francisco Society of Women Artists. It's a rather sad double portrait, where Kahlo paints Rivera's profession as an artist, and depicts herself as a traditional Mexican wife, even taking Rivera's last name when she signs the work "Frieda [sic] Rivera." Their hands barely touch each other.

Kahlo was a woman of multiple identities, but this one is far from the Frida Kahlo who has become an unexpected icon to the world's feminist movement. And yet this early work provides a seminal entry point to Kahlo's deep debt to Mexican folk art, and what Herrera calls "Mexicanidad" (or Mexicanity), a post-revolutionary idea formulated by Mexico's intelligentsia to carve out a Mexican identity based upon its own rich indigenous history and its mestizo culture.

And over the years a distinct and very Mexican icon would emerge. An artist who has also become a separate icon not only to the same Mexicans who mostly ignored her while she was alive, but also to the new culture of Mexican-Americans once known as Chicanos who have since adopted her as an iconic cultural leader of their re-discovered Mexicanity.
Frida Kahlo
A genetic and iconic paradox emerges in this latter deification of Kahlo. In 1936's "My Grandparents, My Parents, and I (Family Tree)," Kahlo has depicted her own family tree proudly reflecting her own mestizo heritage, exhibited by her maternal grandfather's indigenous blood.

She also showcases her three Caucasian grandparents, and even depicts herself being sustained inside her mother and we also see the moment of creation as an European sperm enters her mother's mestizo egg. Kahlo shows herself as a small child in her Blue House, perhaps sadly stating the end of the line, as Kahlo was unable to bear children.

Kahlo's Mexicanity would grow and progress over the years, and she embraced the traditions of Mexican folk art and the colonial religious paintings known as "ex-voto" with a ferocity that is a perfect example why the post-modernist war cry of "it's been done before" fails immediately no matter how often repeated.

"So what?" would have answered Frida Kahlo as she used the ex-votos as guides for some of her most successful works.

In "The Suicide of Dorothy Hale," we have an opportunity that no one else got to see at the Walker or will see in SF. An opportunity to see, side by side, how Kahlo embraced an older tradition and brought it forward to her own painting dialogue.

Suicide of Dorothy Hale

Commissioned by Clare Booth Luce in 1939 (while Kahlo was living in New York as a bit of a Champagne Communist) to commemorate the suicide of her friend Dorothy Hale, I was told by Hayden Herrera that it "horrified" Luce when she first saw it.

It is a painting executed in the direct style of the ex-votos, and somehow the PMA has found in its own collection an ex-voto that almost matches the storyline of the Kahlo painting.

An ex-voto is a votive painting commissioned by someone to celebrate or record an event where someone has survived a dangerous event. In Mexico, it was generally painted on tin sheets. Often the ex-voto has a narrative style that shows the progression of the event, in a timeline, in the actual work.

In the Kahlo painting we see Dorothy Hale jumping to her suicide, first as a small figure jumping off her apartment building, which is surrounded by clouds echoing El Greco. We then see Hale's body in a close up of her fall, and finally the broken and bloodied woman on the ground. A banner at the bottom of the painting tells the story in Spanish, and Kahlo has bloodied her signature and even the frame.

In the PMA's ex-voto, titled "Fall from a Balcony," we see a Nanny and child falling through the floor of a balcony, which has given way under their weight. We also see them on the ground, having fallen and miraculously survived the fall. The banner at the bottom relates the story of the fall.

It's a brilliant juxtapositioning of two unrelated works that cement the powerful influence of ex-voto upon Kahlo's own work as no words can describe.

Brilliant artists borrow from all sources around. The Beatles' "A Day in the Life" borrowed from the morning newspaper headlines that Sir Paul was reading over his beans on toast:
I read the news today oh boy
Four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire
And though the holes were rather small
They had to count them all
Now they know how many holes
it takes to fill the
Albert Hall
Kahlo's horrific "A Few Small Nips," painted in 1935, is a revelation in many ways. As Herrera tells the story, Kahlo was inspired to make this gruesome painting, which depicts a man in a bloodbath of an assault on a naked woman who has been stabbed many times, from a newspaper story relating the crime.

The killer, while being reprimanded by the judge, was quoted as responding that he had only given the victim a "few small nips."

The work came at a difficult time in Kahlo's own life, when her marriage to Rivera was on the rocks, because Rivera had an affair with Kahlo's younger sister Cristina. The painting is a visual bloodbath itself; Kahlo's misery is projected onto victim lying naked on a bloodied bed. There's blood everywhere, including the frame, which Kahlo has used to extend the bloodstains.

And there's something else that even a Kahlo expert such as Herrera first discovered when she saw this painting for the first time during this exhibition: Kahlo has also stabbed the frame repeatedly, extending her own anger onto the wood, giving it a few small nips of her own.

This is why sometimes even a familiar work of art yields new clues when examined for real; those angry stabs on the frame had not been revealed in the countless reproductions of this work.

This revelation alone is worth a trip to see this exhibition. See Hayden Herrera discuss the work below:

Another incarnation of Frida Kahlo was her ability to paint her own pain. Starting with a horrific accident in her youth, which left her body broken and subject to pain throughout the rest of her life as well as countless operations, Kahlo borrowed from her own physical pain to deliver images that makes us wince from a different place than the images of a suicide or a stab victim.
Frida Kahlo
Physical pain that comes from a deep moist place inside us all, and which Kahlo has exposed via her painting many times.

It's there in "The Broken Column," (c. 1944) and also in "Without Hope," and perhaps in one of her best-known paintings "The Little Deer," where the pain becomes arrows on the deer's body.

There are surprises in this show as well. Even for a Fridaphile like me and I suspect for most acolytes of Fridamania. Such as "The Circle," a round work that is undated and look nothing like any Kahlo work that I have ever seen.

And then there is "The Two Fridas" just as I remember from my first exposure to it back in the mid 1970s. This is her largest work, painted in 1939 and occupying a place of honor in the exhibition.

Two gigantic Fridas sitting against an El Greco sky, holding hands and sharing a bloodline. One is a Mexican Frida in her Tehuana dress; the other Frida is bloodied and the dripping vein paints small red flowers on her white dress; perhaps a contemporary European wedding dress of the times.

See curators Herrera and Carpenter discuss the work below (the video is part 1 of 3; the rest are at YouTube):

I hope that this exhibition will kindle new interest not only from her legions of fans, but also from art scholars and researchers, as there are still many holes and gaps that need to be identified and expanded in this amazing life.

Kahlo's influence on contemporary art also needs serious examination by art scholars and researchers. Kahlo's obsession with her own image has been reflected in the work of many important contemporary artists and photographers who use their body and image as the canvas for their work.

And even as Fridamania continues to expand and her images commodified into Chinese made Mexican souvenirs of all kinds, Frida Kahlo is a major 20th century artist, perhaps even eclipsing her husband's place in art history.

Like Picasso, Kahlo refused to be labeled and refused to produce one style or genre of work. “God is really only another artist," once said Picasso, "He invented the giraffe, the elephant, and the ant. He has no real style. He just goes on trying other things."

Frida Kahlo is at the PMA through May 18, 2008. See a quick walk-through the exhibition below:

When bloggers bite

Read this.

Been done...

Remember the Washington Post "experiment" with violinist Joshua Bell playing outside a Metro station in Washington, DC, just to see who would notice?

(Via) And so someone ( a Belgian art radio/channel) has done a very controlled experiment for 48 hours with a painting by Belgian painter Luc Tuymans, one of the stars of the contemporary art world. They put one of his paintings out on the street and then filmed it for 48 hours and counted the people who ignored it (96%) and the people who stopped to look at it (4%). See the experiment below:

These kind of "experiments" are silly, because people out on the street, especially outside a Metro station - as was the case with the Joshua Bell experiment - are in the context of getting from A to B, and their senses are attuned to that task, not listening or viewing artwork.

A more interesting experiment would be to put a Luc Tuymans in a group exhibition of emerging artists in some artists' cooperative somewhere, under another name, and then see what happens with jury awards, visitors interests, etc.

Even there the context is a little sketchy, but a lot clearer than having it hung on a busy street.

Or put a John Currin painting on the streets and see how long before someone defaces it.

I personally just like to sit in front of "Watson and the Shark" at the NGA and see how it reels people in.


A controversial German artist known for exploring death is searching for a dying volunteer to take part in an upcoming installation: taking his or her last breath while on display.

"Unfortunately today, death and the road to death are about suffering. Coming to terms with death — as I plan it — can take away the pain of dying for us," artist Gregor Schneider, 39, told the online edition of German daily Die Welt.

Schneider specified that that he is not just looking for anyone: the volunteer would have to fully understand the intention of the exhibit and have things in common with the artist himself.

Also, he added that he would seek the blessing of the volunteer's relatives and strictly control the location.

"It would be a private atmosphere with rules about visitors," said Schneider, who has been contemplating the installation for more than 10 years.

He is also looking for a gallery willing to serve as host.
Hey Greg! I got a gallery for you!

Call Códice Gallery in Managua, Nicaragua!

- Jeffry Cudlin's take on Gregor Schneider here.

- Richard Lacayo's here.

- "Crank Pisspot's" (read comments' section of post) here.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

When artists and gallerists part

An overheated art market sets all kinds of things in motion. Big galleries with money to burn and multiple spaces to fill start circling smaller galleries, eyeing their most successful artists like the underdeveloped properties they sometimes are. Artists get itchy and think about moving up the gallery food chain. And boom or bust, even the friendliest, most mutually beneficial artist-dealer relationships can prove finite. They are outgrown or become stale. Suddenly, it’s time to move on.
Read this oh-so-true article by Roberta Smith in the NYT

Artists' Website: Mike Schaffer

Condoleezza Rice by Mike Shaffer

Condoleezza Rice by Mike Shaffer

Mike Shaffer "assaults the famous and the unknown from the DC environs, their identities obscured, abstractified, warped and altered. Maybe you'll recognize them. Maybe you won't." Visit his blogwebsite here.

Wanna go to a DC opening tomorrow

M. Andrés Svensson, the Chilean Cultural attache brings to my attention the opening of the show by Chilean painter Gustavo Schmidt at the Embassy of Chile in DC. The show opens on Thursday, April 24 at 6:30PM and will include some good Chilean wines and food as part of the opening. The exhibition runs through May 20, 2008.

Ancestral Rites by Gustavo Schmidt

Ancestral Rites by Gustavo Schmidt. 2006, Oil on linen, 65 x 55 in.

You must RSVP to 202/530-4118 or email RSVP to


Which of the 300+ Chelsea galleries to visit?

Wanna go to a Richmond opening on Friday?

Flora, Fauna, Fabulous & Fun! opens in Richmond, Virginia's Chasen Gallery with an opening reception on April 25, 2008, 6-9PM. The show runs from April 25 - May 25th. Work by Carl and Jody Wright.

Wanna go to a National Harbor opening on Friday?

I haven't been to National Harbor yet, but it sounds and looks really cool.

A good reason to check out this emerging new location on the shores of the Potomac is that Art Whino has the opening for an exhibition featuring the art of Leah Sarah Bassett, and also introducing four new artists to the Art Whino Collaboration: Francesco D'Isa, Lisa Adams, Patrick Fatica and Nicolas Gracey

The opening reception is April 25th, 2008 from 6pm to Midnight at their new National Harbor location. 173 Waterfront Street, National Harbor, MD 20745. The event is free and open to the public.

DJ Stylo will be on the turntables and there will be special performances by I.R.E and LaVondra Shinholster. The exhibition will run through May 25th, 2008.

For directions visit National Harbor is also accessible by water taxi. Please visit for more info.

Quilts save town

What Italy provides for people who love food is what Paducah does for quilting. A small Kentucky town on the Ohio River halfway between St. Louis and Nashville, Tenn., Paducah has become one of the prime destinations for quilt tourism, 21st-century style.

In late April every year, the American Quilter's Society draws 35,000 quilt makers and quilt lovers to Paducah for one of the biggest quilt shows in the country. The niche craft has been used as an economic engine to revive this once-declining town. The story of Paducah also helps demonstrate why quilting is now a $3.3 billion industry, with an estimated 27 million enthusiasts.
Story here; best quilters in the world?

Gee's Bend.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

And then...

Read this

It started with a dog

In 2007, when I first received a deluge of emails and pictures of the art installation by Costa Rican "artist" Guillermo Vargas "Habacuc," they were so disgusting and sick that I decided against posting any discussion about it, lest I add more publicity to the artist and the act.

He got a ton of publicity worldwide anyway.

But my recent posting about the German artist Gregor Schneider planning to show a person dying as part of an exhibition has re-started the deluge, plus some newish information was made available, and so here it goes:

In 2007 Guillermo Vargas created an installation (details in Spanish and loads of horrible images here), where the artist allegedly paid a couple of Nicaraguan children to chase and capture a stray dog, and then the animal was tied to the gallery wall at Códice Gallery in Managua, Nicaragua and allowed to starve to death.

The Spanish language arts blogsphere erupted in shock and nausea at this event, and subsequently the artist stated (Via):
"Hello everyone. My name is Guillermo Habacuc Vargas. I am 50 years old and an artist. Recently, I have been critisized for my work titled 'Eres lo que lees', which features a dog named Nativity. The purpose of the work was not to cause any type of infliction on the poor, innocent creature, but rather to illustrate a point. In my home city of San Jose, Costa Rica, tens of thousands of stray dogs starve and die of illness each year in the streets and no one pays them a second thought.

Now, if you publicly display one of these starving creatures, such as the case with Nativity, it creates a backlash that brings out a big of hypocrisy in all of us. Nativity was a very sick creature and would have died in the streets anyway."
By October of 2007, the Costa Rican newspaper La Nacion had picked up the story from the Spanish language arts blogsphere and delivered this story. In the story, Marta Leonor González, identified as the editor of the La Prensa cultural newspaper in Managua, confirmed that the dog had indeed died (by then lots of blog stories had come out that the dog had been fed in between shows, or that it had escaped alive).

She also stated that the installation included the statement (in Spanish) "You are what you read," written with dog food on the walls of the gallery. It also included an audio of the Nicaraguan National Hymn played backwards, photos and an incense burner, where 175 crack rocks and an ounce of marijuana were burnt.

In the same story the artist defends his installation and makes the point that "no one untied the dog, or gave the dog food, no one called the police. No one did anything." The piece was also an homage to a woman who had been killed by feral stray dogs.

A month earlier Guillermo Vargas had been also chosen to represent Costa Rica at the Bienal Centroamericana Honduras 2008. He already was part of Costa Rica´s Visual Arts Biennial (Bienarte) 2007 when the announcement that he and five other Costa Rican artists would represent their nation at the Bienal Centroamericana Honduras 2008 was made.

The fact that no one (at least in the English speaking world and to Google) had ever heard of this biennial was a little suspicious to me, until later on I figured out that it had been misnamed in the story and in countless other stories that followed. I think that the actual title is the "VI Bienal de Artes Visuales del Istmo Centroamericano."

The selection was made by a jury comprised of Ana Sokoloff (Colombia), Oliver Debroise (Mexico) and Rodolfo Kronfle Chambers (Ecuador).

This selection really incensed the Internet, and several boycott petitions were initiated (one is here), and by October of 2007, one of the best American visual art blogs -- Edward Winkleman -- discussed the issue at lenght and even published an explanation of the event by Códice Gallery defending the actions and claiming that the dog had been fed and that it had escaped.

By March of 2008, the Argentinean newspaper Clarin was reporting that over a million signatures had been recorded. In the same article the three jurors who selected Vargas to the Biennial defended their choice and stated that the work that Vargas offered up had no relation to the earlier installation and they also "rejected" the boycott campaign.

Then a few days ago discussed the story in the context of the dog, the gallery, and the supposed "Bienal Centroamericana Honduras 2008."

Like Artnet, I can't find any references or websites to the above titled Biennial, but what I have found is a letter from the one of the sponsors of the Honduran Biennial (different biennial) and also for the VI Bienal de Artes Visuales del Istmo Centroamericano, which I think may be the forementioned Bienal Centroamericana Honduras 2008. They are the Mujeres en las Artes “Leticia de Oyuela” and the letter about the Biennial, the dog and Vargas is here in Spanish.

To add confusion to the mix, the website of the Museo de Arte de El Salvador (MARTE) has the Biennial scheduled to take place at the museum from 27 May to 27 July of 2008, and back in October 2007 they had a press conference about the Biennial. Not in Honduras, but El Salvador.

And because in this interview of Rebeca Dávila Dada published in the Salvadorean newspaper La Prensa, one of the items in her resume list her as a consultant to the VI Bienal de Artes Visuales del Istmo Centroamericano, by now I should be pretty sure that the "Bienal Centroamericana Honduras 2008" is actually the "VI Bienal de Artes Visuales del Istmo Centroamericano" and will take place in El Salvador and not Honduras.


Not so fast!

For here's the Call to Artists for Salvadorean artists who wish to be considered for the Biennial. They claim that it will take place in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

Confused again... and now I think that what will happen in MARTE is the exhibition of El Salvadorean artists from which a few will be selected to represent El Salvador at the Biennial - not the actual Biennial itself!

And thus I have emailed a whole bunch of people in Spanish (in Central America) to see where and when this almost internet urban legend Biennial will take place.

One thing seems to be clear, the vile act focused upon the stray dog by Vargas accomplished exactly what this artist desired: immense publicity and horror.

Until he's raised one by Gregor Schneider's human plans. Let's hope that no one raises Schneider's sicker plan.

But I think that I know what is next. It was proven to be a hoax, but for a while ( Via) this story in the Yale Daily News discussed Art major Aliza Shvarts' art project during which allegedly she for nine months "artificially inseminated herself 'as often as possible' while periodically taking abortifacient drugs to induce miscarriages. Her exhibition will feature video recordings of these forced miscarriages as well as preserved collections of the blood from the process."

And I wouldn't be surprised that somewhere, a gallery and an artist are currently discussing some sort of live installation focusing on some sort of in situ abortion of some sort.

We've already had a live circumcision in DC.

And if the law allowed it, you can bet that some sicko would love to make cheap headlines by tying a homeless person to a gallery wall and watch him or her starve to death in the name of art.

It's all been done before by an artist group collective called "The Romans." They ruled the art world, in fact most of the Western world, for a few centuries. In fact, the massive gallery where they performed most of these vile installations still stands in Rome.

Aspiring shock artists should read Suetonius' The Lives of the Twelve Caesars , especially the chapter on Tiberius, to get a lesson on some really disturbing and shocking art installations done by this vile Roman Emperor artist over two thousand years ago.

Face it, it's been done!

Makes me sick.

PS - I bet that these Biennial calls are open to Salvadorean and Honduran born artists residing in the US. It would be a good opportunity to try for, and then if selected you can tell me if the Biennial did take place!

Update: Yale refuses to allow Aliza Shvarts' art project to go on display today; read the story here.


To Marsha Ralls, founder of The Ralls Collection in Georgetown in DC, who together with Seth Goldman, President and TeaEO of Honest Tea, were honored recently by The National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) for their commitment to increasing education and economic opportunities for low-income youth, at NFTE’s 15th Annual Salute to the Entrepreneurial Spirit Awards Dinner in New York City.

Anne W. McNulty and Marsha Ralls

Anne W. McNulty, JBK Partners, introduced Marsha Ralls (right) at the Awards' Dinner

Ms. Ralls chaired NFTE Greater Washington DC’s most successful Dare to Dream gala to date, helping the organization raise nearly $1 million to support its work in low-income communities.

Congrats Marsha!

Plexiglass House

Kriston responds to my rock here (missing the point a little, I think); no more on this subject from me unless a get together is arranged somehow.

But I'm not sure that I'm not gonna twitch the next time that he reviews the gallery that he curated a show for.

Update: OK, OK... one more thing here.

Opportunity for artists with disabilities

Deadline: Friday, July 11, 2008

Sponsored by VSA arts and Volkswagen of America, Inc. Open to emerging artists with disabilities, ages 16 -25, living within the U.S. Fifteen (15) artists will receive a total of $60,000 in cash awards. No entry fee.

"Green Light" challenges artists to pinpoint the motivation behind their work and the infinite possibilities that creativity provides. Eligible media include: paintings and drawings (oil, watercolor, acrylic, pencil or charcoal), fine art prints (lithographs, etching, intaglio, or woodcuts), photography, computer generated prints and two-dimensional mixed media - any media that may be represented in two-dimensions. Artwork should not exceed 60 inches in either direction.

New This Year: Sculpture and time-based media (video, film etc.) will also be considered. Sculpture should not exceed 24 inches in any direction. Fifteen (15) awardees will be honored at an awards ceremony on Capitol Hill during the Fall of 2008, and their artwork will be displayed in a nation-wide touring exhibition that debuts at the Smithsonian during September 2008.

To learn more about last year’s program, visit: For additional information and to access the application, please visit: or contact Jennifer Wexler at 800.933.8721 x3885; email: Alternative formats of the application are available upon request.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Art Deals

Wanna get a Colby Caldwell for a $100 bucks? How about a Tim Tate for $100 Samolians? or an Amy Lin? or Melissa Ichiuji? Susan Jamison? Joshua Levine? Akemi Maegawa? Linn Meyers? Marianela de la Hoz?

Those blue chip artists and a ton more artists' works will be on display at the Corcoran first ever Art Anonymous fundraiser, benefiting the Corcoran College of Art + Design’s BFA Scholarship Fund.

Leading DMV contemporary artists will offer for sale original works alongside the creations of students, faculty, and staff of the Corcoran College of Art + Design and the Corcoran Gallery of Art. All works are only $100 —- the catch: all artwork is signed on the back, so the identity of the artist will remain a mystery until after the purchase.

Hard to disguise a Tim Tate or a Linn Meyers though...

Saturday, May 10, 2008 - 6 p.m. Preview and Raffle, 7 p.m. Bidding Opens; Drinks and dancing until 11 p.m.

You have to RSVP for this event by May 1, 2008. For more information and to register, please click here or call (202) 639-1753.

Participating artists include: Irene Abdou, John M. Adams, Dana Aldis, Geoffrey Aldridge, Shahdeh Ammadi, Alida Anderson, Tim Anderson, Sondra N. Arkin, John Aquilino, Geoff Ault, Patricia Autenrieth, Jennifer Axner, Malena Barnhart, Jessica Grace Bechtel, Diane Blackwell, Lisa Blas, Raya Bodnarchuk, Tanya Bos, Richard Boswell, Mark Cameron Boyd, Joseph Bradley, James Brantley, Courtney Bratun, Lindsay Bratun, Julia Braun, Jean Brinton- Jaecks, Andrew Brown, Jason Bulluck, Renee Butler, Craig Cahoon, Colby Caldwell, F. Lennox Campello, Julie Carrasco, Stevens Jay Carter, Julie Casey, Gloria Cesal, Sarah Chamberlain, Amy Chan , Natalie Cheung, Nannette A. Clark, Lauren Clay, Michael Clements, Genevieve Cocco, Cindy Ann Coldiron, Tim Conlon, Bryan Conner, Sarah Coombs, Ellen Cornett, Patricia Correa, Adger W. Cowans, Robert Creamer, Christopher Cunetto, Emily Cunetto, Christopher Cunningham, Jasmine Daraie, John Deamond, Adam de Boer, Marianela de la Hoz, Rosetta DeBerardinis, Francks F. Deceus, Kate Demong, Jennifer DePalma, Rosanna Dixon, Nancy D. Donnelly, Joel D’Orazio, Katie Drenga, Nekisha Durrett, Steven Eson, Lori Esposito, Steven E. Frost, Lee Gainer, Lacey Gentry, Casey Goldman, Janis Goodman, Pat Goslee, Liz Gordon & Anna (Na Kyung) Ahn, Melissa Green, Tom Green, Lauri Hafvenstein, Mohamed A. Hamo, Rion Harmon, Carol Harrison, Jonathan Hartshorn, Stephen Hay, Sean Hennessey, Dayan Herrara, Randall C. Holloway, Jackie Hoysted, Michal Hunter, Melissa Ichiuji, Megan Irving, Ema Ishii, Harry L. Jaecks, Chris Jamison, Susan Jamison, Ian Jehle, Ryan Carr Johnson, Sue Johnson, David Jolkovski, Adam Jones, Coty Jones, Benjamin Gray Jones, Courtney Jordan, Mila Kagan, Margaret Kepner, Amy Kincaid, Marti Deppa Kirkpatrick , Nick Kirkpatrick, Katherine Kisa, William Knipscher, Steve Lakatos, Nick Lamia, Joshua Levine, Gina Marie Lewis, Katie Lewis , Amy Lin, Heidi Lippman, Carol Lukitsch, Raymond MacDonald, Akemi Maegawa , Dana Maier, Susan Makara, Isaac Maiselman, Isabel Manalo, Joey P. Manlapaz, Katherine Mann, Nathan Manuel, Anne Marchand, James Marshall (Dalek), Madeline Marshall, Myra Maslowsky, Leah Matthews, Cory May, Lisa McCarty, John McDaniel, Joseph McSpadden, Robert Mellor, Ashleigh Nicole Meusel, Trace Miller, Adrienne Mills, Elizabeth Lundberg Morisette, Camille Mosley-Pasley, Marci Nadler, Otto Neals, Emilia Olsen, Kerry O’Neil, Jonathan Ottke, David Page, Paulette Palacios, Chul Beom Park, Annie Peters, Brian Petro, Pamela Phillips, Ryan Pierce, Michael B. Platt, Nick Popovici ,Antonio Puri, Carole Rabel Nicoteri, Camden M. Richards, Marcel Richter, Charlotte Riley-Webb, Emily Rockwell, Andrew Roda, Lisa Rosenstein, Michael Knud Ross, Ron Rumford, Anna Samaha, Nancy Scheinman, Kahn & Selesnick, Mike Shaffer, Joanna Silver, Kristy Simmons, John Simpkins-Camp, Kerry Skarbakka, Paul So, Judy Southerland, Ashley A.. Sullivan, Lynn Sures, Zach Storm, Erik Swanson, Jordan Swartz, Tim Tate, Steve Taylor, James Stephen Terrell, Katurah L. Thomas, Kevin Tierney, Erwin Timmers, Susan Powell Tolbert, Patricia Truitt, Alexia Tryfon, Nicholas Tryfon, Katie Tuss, Linn Meyers and Bert Ulrich, Jessica van Brakle, Izel Vargas , Oliver Vernon, Ivi Volanska, Christopher Walker, Cheryl Warrick, Ellyn Weiss, Moon Young Wohn, Sharon Wolpoff, Antoinette Wysocki, Thomas Xenakis, Lindsey Nicole Yancich, Michelle Yo, Trevor Young, and Toopy Zerotree.

Valko at the Corcoran

Only two days left to catch Marissa Valko's Fine Art Senior Thesis I (through March 23, 2008) at the Corcoran's Gallery 31 in DC.

Marissa Valko
Next is Nicholas Carr from March 26–30, 2008.

Scotland's Rocky Statute?

If we were accountants or lawyers, I am sure our professional advice would be taken seriously but when it comes to art, everyone is suddenly an expert.
So complains Richard Calvocoressi, the director of the Henry Moore Foundation and until recently director of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, who packed up his toys and went home over the fact that the Scots apparently want a particular statute in front of their Scottish Parliament at Holyrood, and it's by an artist who was not one of the five that he and the rest of the body which recommends art for the Scottish Parliament invited to submit proposals.

Photo by An Honest Man Ayr, Scotland
Read the Guardian story here.

Wha's Like Us? Damn Few And They're A' Died

End of Nature

I've heard good things about the "End of Nature" show at the Warehouse complex in DC. Loads of good photos here and then read the City Paper review by Maura Judkis here.

School 33

Jody Albright has stepped down as director of Baltimore’s city-owned School 33 Arts Center. It's the second School 33 to to resign abruptly in the last four years. Read the story here.


To DC's Isabel Manalao's Studio Visit blog , which has been selected by the City Paper's staff as DC's "Best Art Blogger" in the current "Best of DC" issue of the Washington City Paper.

See the other staff picks here and visit Isabel's blog here.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Video Art World

A new website designed to showcase video art and make it available to video collectors has made its debut at

Galleries can sign to show brief clips of videos they represent for various fees starting at $95 a month for three clips.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Glasshouse shattered

From Kriston Capps in 2005:

"It's bitchy of me to say— and I don't know the extent to which Lenny Campello of DC Art News contributes or what Cyndi Spain [the DCist Arts Editor] has to say on the subject— but I twitch whenever I see a feature with Lenny's name attached on DCist about work on display at the gallery he operates. I don't doubt the conviction Lenny clearly feels about the art he represents or enjoys, and I don't think that it's unreasonable that he writes about artists he represents on his own blog. But you really can't don the critic's cap when you're a producer in the community."
Back then three years ago I didn't think that Capps was right, but just in case I quit immediately contributing gallery openings information ( which is the only data and info that I ever contributed) to DCist.

But now Washington City Paper art critic and many other outlets' contributor Kriston Capps has become a "producer" himself when he curates the current show at Project 4 in DC.

Will I twitch now or whenever I see a future Project 4 feature in the Washington City Paper or any of the other freelance outlets that Capps writes for?

I don't think so, because inside me I think that those outlets, like DCist was in 2005, and it is now, know how to separate themselves from unethical procedures. And because Project 4 is a terrific gallery in the DC art scene and deserves attention. And I sort of hoped that Capps would have had the same "inside me" feeling about the data that I was contributing to DCist back then... but he didn't and perhaps rightly so, lowered the ethical limbo pole for "art producers" who are also art critics or writers.

Inside me, I know this is not 100% the case, and that the art universe has plenty of room for critics who want to be curators and vice versa. And it is not Project 4's fault or the WCP's, or any of the other places that print Capps' eloquent words, that this unwarranted ethical attention has been brought onto to them by Capps' actions, as it wasn't DCist's faults that the unethical spotlight caused by my gallery openings contributions was focused onto them in 2005 by Capps.

But words count, and we Cubans tend to have long memories, and I recall being pointed out for something that was almost smelling unethical in Capps' words, without the courage to say so, and so I took the high road and quit contributing to DCist.

Right away.

Not writing reviews for DCist -- mind you... I never wrote a review for DCist as some less than accurate bloggers erroneously reported -- but just being associated with DCist at all... just in case Capps' ethical testing strip might have a tiny chance of being right...

But now I think that it is time to throw a stone at that Kristonian ethical glasshouse, and put Kriston to the same limbo test that he put me three years ago when he was not a "producer" as he is now as a curator for a gallery show in the city where several of the freelance outlets that he writes for... ahhh... cover.
"It's bitchy of me to say — and I don't know the extent to which Kriston Capps contributes or what Mark Athitakis [the Washington City Paper Arts Editor] has to say on the subject — but I twitch whenever I see a feature in the City Paper about work on display at the gallery that employed Kriston as a curator. I don't doubt the conviction Kriston clearly feels about the art he curates or enjoys, and I don't think that it's unreasonable that he writes about artists [that] he curates on his own blog. But you really can't don the critic's cap when you're a producer in the community."
I was never, ever a critic for DCist.

Thus, if it was an issue for me to contribute multi-gallery opening data to DCist while being an art "producer," then it definitely is an issue for Capps to contribute to the City Paper or his other art writing outlets that may cover the District, as a writer... while now being a commercial gallery curator, which falls neatly into the set of "producer."

And please do not try to justify it as curators are not producers.

What is the solution?

Sounds like it would make a great topic for discussion at an art panel or over a few beers.... first round on me.


Smithsonian Official Resigns

The head of the Smithsonian Latino Center resigned in February after an internal investigation found that she violated a variety of rules and ethics policies by abusing her expense account, trying to steer a contract to a friend and soliciting free tickets for fashion shows, concerts and music award ceremonies, according to records released yesterday by the Smithsonian.
Read the story by James V. Grimaldi and Jacqueline Trescott in the WashPost here.

Dia de los Muertos

The German artist Gregor Schneider is planning the ultimate performance piece: showing a person dying as part of an exhibition.
I shit thee not... read about it here.

Artist Talk: Baltimore

Hamid Kachmar will be discussing his inspiration and creative process, at New Door Creative in Baltimore this Sunday from 3-5PM.


To DC artist Kathryn Cornelius, who has been included in "Ad Absurdum
Energies of the absurd from modernism till today"
running April 18 - July 27, 2008 at the MARTa Herford Museum in Germany. Ad Absurdum is a joint project by MARTa Herford and the Städtische Galerie Nordhorn.

Curated by Jan Hoet, the exhibition includes work by Jost (Jodocus) Amman, Joseph Beuys, Jurgen Bey, Guillaume Bijl, Erwin Blumenfeld, Michaël Borremans, Katharina Bosse, Constantin Brancusi, Sebastian Brant, George Brecht, Marco den Breems, André Breton, Marcel Broodthaers, Veronica Brovall, John Cage, Rui Chafes, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Giorgio de Chirico, Kathryn Cornelius, Philipp Corner, matali crasset, Wim Delvoye, Matthias Drechsler, Felix Droese, Marcel Duchamp, Jimmie Durham, Elmgreen & Dragset, Max Ernst, Nick Ervinck, Robert Filliou, Katharina Fritsch, Dorothee Golz, J. J. Grandville, Kristján Gudmundsson, David Hammons, Al Hansen, Raoul Hausmann, Jürgen Heckmanns, Dick Higgins, Andreas Hofer, Ottmar Hörl, Séverine Hubard, Jan Van Imschoot, Marcel Janco, David Kaller, Tadeusz Kantor, Allan Kaprow, Kristof Kintera, Martin Kippenberger, Milan Knízák, Imi Knoebel, Arthur Koepcke, Surasi Kusolwong, Ulrich Lamsfuß, Le Corbusier, Zoe Leonhard, Via Lewandowsky, Zbigniew Libera, Edward Lipski, René Magritte, Jacques Mahé de la Villeglé, Dirk Martens, Fabio Mauri, Jonathan Meese, Rik Meijers, Otto Muehl, Bruce Nauman, Chris Newman, Honoré d'O, Meret Oppenheim, Eduardo Paolozzi, Anna Lange, Francis Picabia, Pablo Picasso, Sigmar Polke, Emilio Prini, Royden Rabinowitsch, Man Ray, Odilon Redon, Tobias Rehberger, Tejo Remy, Thomas Rentmeister, Jason Rhoades, Georges Ribemont-Dessaignes, Mimmo Rotella, Dieter Roth, Michael Rutkowsky, Michael Sailstorfer, Takako Saito, Fabian Sanchez, Wilhelm Sasnal, Sebastian Schmieding, ManfreDu Schu, Thomas Schütte, Kurt Schwitters, Michael Sellmann, Hannes Van Severen, Floria Sigismondi, Nedko Solakov, Louis Soutter, Klaus Staeck, André Thomkins, Rosemarie Trockel, Susan Turcot, Pieter van der Heyden, Koen Vanmechelen, Ben Vautier, Wolf Vostell, Friederike Warneke, Emmett Williams, and Carmelo Zagari.

Open Studios: DC

Saturday & Sunday, April 26 - 27, from 11AM- 5PM at 52 O Street NW in Washington DC - website here.
Work by:

Stevens Jay Carter
Brooke Clagett
Betsy Damos
Christopher Edmunds
Adam Eig
Thom Flynn
Cianne Fragione
H2O n2 Wine Films
Andrea Haffner
Peter Harper
Mike Harris
Matt Hollis
Luke Idziak
B. Neal Jones
Micheline Klagsbrun
Raye Leith
Greg McLellan
Brandon Moses
Kendall Nordin
Holly & Ashlee Temple
Lisa Marie Thalhammer
Ben Tolman
Gabriel Thy

Artists' Websites: Diane Ramos

Photography by Diane Ramos

I am hearing good things about Diane Ramos' MFA thesis show at the Latin American Youth Center's Art & Media house on 15th St NW in Columbia Heights in DC. This young and talented artist will graduate from GWU next month.

Visit her website here.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Mellema on Lin

Kevin Mellema at the Falls Church News-Press reviews the current Amy Lin show at the Art League in Alexandria, Virginia and notes:

Alexandria resident Amy Lin has been on the radar screen of the D.C. area arts scene for a couple of years now and was last seen in December 2007 at her solo show in Heineman Myers Contemporary Art Gallery in Bethesda...

... Lin was included in Washingtonian Magazine's 2007 list of “40 Under 40 to Watch.” To be sure this is one rising star in our midst.

Still, I've had my reservations. Not so much on the eventual outcome, but rather the timing of it all. In Lin's last show, I saw too much centered and seemingly static work that didn't quite get up and dance for me. Shafts of brilliance are mixed with moments of weakness, as befits the process of artistic growth. At 29, Lin's best work is most assuredly ahead of her.

The current show in the Torpedo Factory's Art League Gallery is comprised of only six works, yet bears witness to a significant amount of artistic growth in a scant four months' time. While there are still occasional moments of weakness visible, the powerful work to come is clearly breaking out of its shell...

... Welcome the new Amy Lin.
Read this really excellent and insightful review here.

Predicted Mini Controversy

The National Endowment for the Arts has announced a design competition, in partnership with the Joint Committee on the Library and the Office of the Architect of the Capitol, for a statue of civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks. Commissioned by the U.S. Congress, the sculpture will be permanently installed in National Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol Building. The Chrysler Foundation has provided $100,000 to support the administration of the competition.
Chances are that the selected winner will be a classic sculpture to complement the works already there. But, and this may be a bit of a stretch considering the site and the probable set of jurors, if a jury dares to select something a little different from a classical statue, then expect the usual angst and fight over contemporary art.

This event could be an instant career-maker a-la-Maya-Lin and the Viet Nam War Memorial, but only if the jury sidesteps the tradition of traditional statuary (yes, yes.. I know) and selects - as an example - a life size glass reliquary featuring objects that belonged to this amazing lady, plus a running video of her life couple with motion detectors to kick in a little audio when someone stops in front of it.

Details for the competition here, and if I was an art professor teaching some 3D class somewhere, I may just make this a school assignment and have my students each submit a proposal for this call.

Application Receipt Deadline: May 30, 2008
Notification of Semi-Finalists: August 1, 2008

PMA and regional artists

Here's something that you will never see in a Washington, DC museum: This spring the Philadelphia Museum of Art collaborates with the Center for Emerging Visual Artists -one of this region’s artist organizations - to present "Emerging to Established: Twenty-Five Years of the Center for Emerging Visual Artists."

Organized in conjunction with the CFEVA in celebration of this milestone anniversary, the exhibition includes works on paper by 25 artists, including current and former Fellows from CFEVA’s Career Development Program, as well as members of its Board of Artistic Advisors, who select the Fellows. It will be on view through July 6 in the Director’s Gallery.

While the CFEVA program encourages work in all mediums, this exhibition concentrates solely on those making works on paper: drawings, prints, photographs, and mixed-media.

The Center For Emerging Visual Artists, formerly Creative Artists Network, was founded in 1983 by Felicity R. “Bebe” Benoliel to encourage the career development of emerging visual artists. Since then, the organization has worked steadily harder to provide the support essential to talented individuals building careers in the visual arts.