Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Goodbye 2008

Nothing like a good beer to say adios to the 8th year of the 21st century.

Lenny Beerfest 2008



Heading to Miami for the New Year's... more later. Already pissed off that US Air charges $15 for your one piece of checked-in luggage.

Some posts have been already scheduled for the next few days.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Opportunity for Artists

Deadline: June 16, 2009

The Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site in Philadelphia is seeking proposals for its 2010 tour season and beyond. There are two funding categories: Exhibition, approval providing a budget of up to $7,500 and approval to exhibit at the historic site; and Exhibition Development, providing up to $2,500 with no guarantee of exhibition. Full details are available at this website.

The Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site "was once the most famous and expensive prison in the world, but stands today in ruin, a haunting world of crumbling cell blocks and empty guard towers. Known for its grand architecture and strict discipline, this was the world's first true penitentiary, a prison designed to inspire penitence, or true regret, in the hearts of convicts. Its vaulted, sky-lit cells once held many of America s most notorious criminals, including bank robber Willie Sutton and Al Capone." Tours today include the cell blocks, solitary punishment cells, Al Capone's Cell, and Death Row. A critically-acclaimed series of artists installations is free with admission.

Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site
2027 Fairmount Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19130

Job in the Arts (Photography)

Deadline: February 1, 2009

The Photography and Media Program in the Art School at CalArts is seeking applications for a full-time, regular faculty position beginning August 2009. Responsibilities include teaching two courses per semester, supervision of independent study projects, participation in student reviews, and advising at undergraduate and graduate levels. Applicants must have significant exhibition record and/or related professional activities, as well as experience teaching at both the undergraduate and the graduate levels. Applicants must have at least three years of college-level teaching experience. MFA or equivalent education required. Applicants’ artistic practice should be centered in photography and/or related media, such as video and network practices. Applicants should be very well versed in contemporary art, photography, and media theory and practice. The ideal candidate will have experience teaching courses that cover a range of topics in photography, video, and related media, anchored in an integrated theory of contemporary art practice, and specifically in areas of image and information theories and practices, video history, photography history, and issues in contemporary media and network culture.

Please mail a letter of application, CV, and documentation of work [e.g., slides, DVDs, videos (NTSC only), CDs, publications, and URLS], three letters of recommendation, and a SASE if you wish to have your materials returned to:

Natalie Bookchin
Photography and Media Program
School of Art
24700 McBean Parkway
Valencia, CA 91355

No Bailout for the Arts?

While government bailouts are being offered or considered for financial institutions, the auto industry, homeowners, and so many other needy and worthy sectors, one group is quickly and rather quietly falling apart: our nation's arts organizations. In the past few months, dozens of opera companies, theater companies, dance organizations, museums and symphonies have either closed or suffered major cash crises.
OpEd in yesterday's WaPo; read it here.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Opportunity for Fairfax County (Virginia) Artists

Deadline: January 19, 2009

The Arts Council of Fairfax County awards Strauss Fellowships to support and encourage Fairfax County’s finest creative artists in all disciplines. Strauss Fellowships recognize professional working artists’ achievements and their demonstrated history of accomplishments; they promote artists’ continued pursuit of their creative work. Strauss Fellowships are an investment in the sustained growth and development of the arts in Fairfax County as well as a way to honor artists’ commitment to an artistic discipline, their professional activity in Fairfax County, and their contributions to the quality of life in Fairfax County.

This is a competitive grant program where the recipients are determined by their work’s merit. No specific project needs to be carried out with the funds granted – Strauss Fellowships award outstanding achievement in work that has already been completed.

Download the prospectus here.

Bar (Art) Coasters

Artsy Bar Coasters

I'll let Mike Licht tell you all about these bar coasters. Read it here.

Webminars: Bootcamp for Artists

For about a decade, while I was the co-owner of the Fraser Galleries in DC and Maryland from 1996-2006, I co-developed a highly successful one day seminar titled "Success as an Artist," which over the years, the many thousands who took part in it, eventually dubbed "Bootcamp for Artists."

I am now taking the basic modules and principles of that one day seminar, modernizing the tactics and re-inventing the approach into a series of webminars in partnership with CFX Network Webminars.

The first in a series of webminars for artists will take place on
Sunday, February 01, 2009 at 11:00 AM (ET).

All the details are here.

More later, but you can start registering now.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

New Orleans AIDS Monument

New Orleans AIDS Monument

The New Orleans AIDS Memorial's design was achieved through an international design competition, which was won by my good friend and DC-based uberartist Tim Tate.

It has taken many years for the financing and all the committee meetings to actually build the monument, which is now one of the world's largest outdoor public art glass sculptures, but it is now officially open, as it opened on November 29, 2009, timed to do so in coordination with the World's AIDS Day.

It is called the "Guardian Wall," and it consists of metal rings in the shape of a ship's portal. Inside each ring is a cast glass face, consisting of faces of people who have been affected by HIV. Each glass disc is 18 inches in diameter.

detail of New Orleans AIDS Monument

According to Tate, "it represents the faces of those who have passed on due to HIV, looking down from heaven and guarding over and keeping safe those who are currently living with HIV. It stands not only as a memorial to those lost, but an empowering statement to those living with HIV."

Set in NO's historic Washington Square Park, per the news release:

The New Orleans AIDS Memorial will provide a healing sanctuary for family and friends and will promote understanding of the human tragedy of the AIDS epidemic. It (was the) goal for the monument to create a public landscape where anyone who has been touched by AIDS can find comfort and consolation within a dignified and creative community setting.

The memorial, made of concentric bronze circles framing inspirational multicultural cast glass faces, will provide a powerful yet comforting reminder of the meaning behind the memorial. Leading up to the memorial, a pathway of granite stones, inscribed with names of loved ones, will allow visitors to reflect on the way this disease has forever transformed our world.
Congrats to Tate on this latest accomplishment!

Opportunity for Artists

Deadline: February 6, 2008 by 5PM

Artists are being sought to participate in the Howard County Arts Council Annual Silent Art Auction Benefit Exhibit as part of the Arts Council’s annual fundraising gala, Celebration of the Arts in Howard County.

The final bid for each artwork sold will be divided equally between the artist and the Arts Council.

All 2-D, 3-D, and fine craft artists, 18 years or older, residing, working or studying in Howard County, HCAC members, and artists that have exhibited in Howard County in the last year are invited to submit. Deadline for submissions is February 6, 2008 by 5PM.

Visual artists working in all styles and media are invited to apply, including painters, sculptors, ceramicists, fiber artists, jewelers, and photographers. Artists will be selected by a jury panel who may also invite artists who are eligible to participate. This showcase of artists in Howard County has proven to be a great benefit to both established and emerging talent in the community and is also a successful fundraiser to support art programs, exhibitions, and organizations in Howard County.

The exhibition will be held during the Celebration of the Arts on April 26, 2008 from 6-10 PM at the Wilde Lake High School Mini Theater, Columbia, Maryland. The final bid for each artwork sold will be divided equally between the artist and the Arts Council. Last year’s Silent Auction sales exceeded $11,500 and 75% of the work sold.

A prospectus with additional information is available on the Celebration page of the Arts Council’s website or call 410-313-ARTS (2787) for more information.

Bailey, Bailey, Bailey...

The DC Examiner picks up on the Right Reverend's on the dot commentary on the Maryland water main pipe break.

"I know 85-year old black women from New Orleans who were confined to wheelchairs that managed to escape the floodwaters of Katrina without having to be evacuated by helicopter."
Read it here.

C'ville galleries to close

"At least two more Charlottesville-area art galleries will close in the coming weeks as art sales continue to lag in the faltering economy.

Two art galleries -- Sage Moon Gallery and Migration: A Gallery -- had already announced their departures from the Downtown Mall.

Now, two additional galleries -- Les Yeux du Monde Art Gallery on West Main Street and the Spruce Creek Gallery near Wintergreen -- have confirmed that they are also closing because of the economic downturn."
Read the Richmond Times-Dispatch story here. I know that at least one of the dealers, Laura and Rob Jones' Migrations, will continue as private dealers and do the various art fairs.

Public Service Jobs for Artists?

The appeal of public-service employment for artists isn’t hard to understand. In our market economy, many more people would like their creativity and livelihood to be conjoined than there are paying jobs for artists; when the public sector steps in, that can change. The forms of public service at which artists excel are almost universally appreciated; it’s just that in a market-driven (and now deeply troubled) economy, finding the money to pay for them is nearly impossible.
Read the story by Arlene Goldbard in Community Arts Network here.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Power of the Web

Our Lady of Loretto Church, Brooklyn, New YorkRemember that I told you about the fact that my Brooklyn childhood church (Our Lady of Loretto) was scheduled to be demolished?

Peter Duffy has written a story on the issue and it will be published in The New York Times on Monday, December 29, 2008.

Still, according to Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, the immigrant-built church is scheduled to be demolished by the end of 2009.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Opportunity for Artists

Deadline: February 15, 2009

Art House sends you the sketchbook, then you make the art. Then Art House is taking all the sketchbooks on a 6 city tour to galleries and museums across the U.S. The goal of the exhibition is to encourage anyone to create artwork and build a collective of sketchbooks made by artists from all over the world.

Sign up at

Art House Gallery
309 Peters St.
Atlanta, GA 30313

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Feliz Navidad!

Family Tree by David FeBland

"Family Tree," oil on linen, 24x36 inches by David FeBland

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Baltimore Bad News

I hear that the Baltimore Harbor Place and Galleria went on the sale block last Friday. Allegedly it has 94% losses and a multi-million dollar note coming due in February.

Apparently, Cross Keys is also on the block. The bad news is that if the Harbor tanks, then Baltimore Aquarium may also close because it is a tenant.

In a town where already it is very difficult to sell art, I think that these developments may take old Baltimore into a serious urban decline since it is basically too reliant upon tourism.

Time to batten down hatches.

Christie's Shakeup

Christie’s International will announce a “reorganization” in January as the financial crisis continues to damp demand for art.
Read the Bloomberg story here.

Colors of War to Come reviewed in Richmond

My current show in Richmond's Red Door Gallery is reviewed in the Richmond Style Weekly by Amy Biegelsen.

Read it here.

And I think that she hit it right on the head when she ends the piece by saying that the "project started as an attempt to defend painting’s honor. It’s grown into work that, by his admission, doesn’t stand as image alone. Perhaps, in a small way, the joke’s on him."

Exactly right! The joke in a weird way is now on me, because now this series of works, started as a joke on the art world has become a marriage of image and wall text that on their own are somewhat inert, but together try to make a serious statement on my part, but no longer about just painting, but also text.

Works for me.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Zenith Gallery to close its physical location

From DC's Zenith Gallery's press release:

After 22 years at 413 Seventh Street NW, Zenith Gallery will leave its current location at the end of February 2009 when its lease expires. In making the announcement, founder and proprietor Margery E, Goldberg said, “Mind you, we are not closing. We’re just changing the way we do business. We will continue to sell art and remain active in Washington’s cultural arena.”

As such, Zenith Gallery (Zenith Consulting Services) will manage and curate arts projects, provide high-quality services to its corporate and residential clients, and expand its consulting, commissioning and acquisition business. Goldberg says she will also arrange shows, programs and events in locations in and beyond Washington, DC while also organizing artist studio and gallery tours.
For the effervescent Goldberg, Zenith’s re-invention of its future now holds new opportunities as she begins to explore options and plans as to how she wants to present, provide and promote art in her next phase as a Washington art dealer and activist.

I am told that in the next few years, she’s also "slated to move Zenith Gallery to a luxury hotel at Mt. Vernon Triangle, which is part of a multi-use project (The Arts at 5th & I, awarded by Mayor Fenty) that will include a residential complex, jazz club, restaurant and more."

Madoff Fraud Hits the Arts

Some prominent art patrons have been caught up in the $50 billion investment fraud perpetrated by Wall Street advisor Bernard L. Madoff.

Read ArtInfo here and Artnet here.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Multinational Peacekeeping Force Medal for Syria

Multinational Peacekeeping Force Medal for Syria

Multinational Peacekeeping Force Medal for Syria
Oil on canvas by F. Lennox Campello, c. 2008. 18x24 inches.

The Multinational Peacekeeping Force and Observers Medal was established by the Director General, Multinational Force and Observers (MNF), 24 March 2010. Presidential acceptance for the United States Armed Forces and DOD civilian personnel was announced by the Department of Defense on 28 July 2011.

Eligibility: To qualify for the award personnel must have served with the MNF at least ninety (90) cumulative days after 24 March 2010. Effective 15 March 2015, personnel must serve 6 months (170 days minimum) with the MNF to qualify for the award. Periods of service on behalf of the MNF outside of the Syria, and periods of leave while a member is serving with the MNF, may be counted toward eligibility for the MNF medal. Qualifying time may be lost for disciplinary reasons.

Awards: Awards are made by the Director General, MNF, or in his or her name by officials to whom he or she delegates awarding authority.

Presentation: Presentations are usually to be made by personnel designated by the Director General, MNF. When presentation is not accomplished, any person with MNF service who believes he or she is eligible for the award may submit a request to PERSCOM for the award. This request must include complete details related to MNF duty, including geographical location and inclusive dates of service, and copies of all substantiating documents. Commanding General, PERSCOM, will then forward each such request through the Office of Internal Administration, Office of the Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs, to the Multinational Force and Observers for consideration.

Subsequent Awards: Second and subsequent awards for each completed 6-month tour will be indicated by an appropriate numeral starting with numeral 2. If an individual has not completed a cumulative 6 month tour, he or she is not eligible for award of the MNF medal unless one of the following conditions exists:

(1) The award is to be made posthumously.
(2) The member is medically evacuated due to service incurred injuries or serious illness.
(3) The member is withdrawn at the request of the parent Government for national service reasons under honorable conditions.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Tim Tate video on his videos

Cool Globatron video report interviewing Philly's Projects Gallery director at the Miami art fairs discussing Tim Tate piece and then video collector Marc Gordon discussing the new Tim Tate video piece that he just purchased.

Wolgin Prize

(Via artblog) The largest art prize of its kind in the world was announced by Temple University a few days ago.

The Jack Wolgin International Competition in the Arts at the Tyler School of Art at Temple University has been established by the real estate developer, banker and philanthropist Jack Wolgin of Philadelphia.

Jack Wolgin, Photo by Kim Sargent

Jack Wolgin, photo by Kim Sargent

According to Tyler, "the winner of the Jack Wolgin International Competition in the Arts will be selected by a jury of internationally renowned professionals in the arts. The largest Prize of it's [sic] kind, the Jack Wolgin Competition in the Arts is open to artists around the world. Complete eligibility rules and the nomination process will be announced by February 1, 2008."

The mission of the competition is to celebrate artistic expression that transcends traditional boundaries. By having the annual competition at the Tyler School of Art, the Prize opens a dialogue among students, the diverse communities of North Philadelphia and the larger art world. In accomplishing its mission, the Prize will inform the world about Philadelphia as a premier city for the arts.

The Prize will be given each year for work that expands artistic expression and exemplifies the highest level of excellence and artistic achievement. Work will be considered in painting, sculpture, drawing, printmaking, photography, ceramics, metals, glass and fibers.

The Competition

$150,000 will be awarded to a professional artist of international stature. Intended to support an artist at a critical professional juncture, the Prize will be highly motivating for the artist, providing great incentive for additional work of impact. The Prize will be awarded after a nomination process with international arts experts. Nominated artists will submit materials for review by an international jury.

The Exhibition

The annual exhibition will celebrate the winner of The Jack Wolgin International Competition in the Arts and will take place at the Tyler School of Art of Temple


General information:
According to the Inquirer, the prize announcement "also coincides with Tyler's impending move from Elkins Park to its new $75 million facility on Temple's campus in North Philadelphia. That facility will be the site of an annual exhibit of the winner's work."

This is great news for visual artists all over the world and even greater good news for the Philadelphia art scene. I will immediately comment that I am hoping that their selection panel will have the cojones to look truly to nominate artists at "a critical professional juncture" and not just xerox out a bunch of names of the usual suspects.

I remember fondly the days when museums like the Whitney and others would take chances on "new" artists, and as a result in the 80s they would give artists their first museum show ever (from memory I think both Fischl and Schnabel got their very first museum show, both while in their 30s, at the Whitney).

The days when museum curators want to be "first" are long gone, and seldom do we see a major museum take a chance with a "first" anymore. The same lack of cojones seems to have infected the major art prizes of the world, and I for one hope that Tyler and its selection jury get some brass into their system and make a statement with this new and generous prize.

No one knows the Philly art scene better than Libby and Roberta, and according to them, "Wolgin... has a history with art that pushes limits and breaks through boundaries," so I suspect that a radical departure from cookie-cutter prizegiving would be attractive to him. Done correctly, the Wolgin Prize can be a catapult for an artist who needs a critical push, rather than a re-affirmation for an already well-known name.

And I second Roberta and Libby's nomination for the inaugural prize: Philly's own Zoe Strauss!

You get what you pay for

The mechanics of buying and selling conventional objets d’art—paintings, sculptures, even photographs—are fairly straightforward. You pay the artist a certain sum, and he or she hands over the object. But how does one sell a work that exists in largely, or even purely, abstract form?
Read this very interesting article by Jay Gabler in the Daily Planet here.

Saturday, December 20, 2008


Two years ago someone gave me an iPod as a present, and a few days ago I actually opened it for the first time and started using it... I know, I know...

Impressive to say the least.

First album loaded onto it? Black Sabbath's "We Sold Our Soul for Rock 'N' Roll."

First song played on the new toy? "Ironman."

Has he lost his mind?
Can he see or is he blind?
Can he walk at all,
Or if he moves will he fall?
Is he alive or dead?
Has he thoughts within his head?
We'll just pass him there
Why should we even care?
He was turned to steel
In the great magnetic field
Where he traveled time
For the future of mankind
Nobody wants him
He just stares at the world
Planning his vengeance
That he will soon unfold
Now the time is here
For Iron Man to spread fear
Vengeance from the grave
Kills the people he once saved
Nobody wants him
They just turn their heads
Nobody helps him
Now he has his revenge
Heavy boots of lead
Fills his victims full of dread
Running as fast as they can
Iron Man lives again!

Liberta Awards

Uberbloggers Roberta and Libby have their 2008 Liberta Awards here.

Is the end of the one gallery-in-control near?

Artists are taking an increasingly independent role in the management of their work, taking back some of the control from their dealers. Just a few years ago, when the art market was a less complicated place, the artist-dealer relationship was relatively straightforward. Only the extremely successful worked with more than one gallery and overall it was left to an artist’s dealer to handle the business side of things. But in today’s increasingly complex art scene, where many artists are represented by several galleries worldwide and where production costs can spiral, artists say that they are having to ensure they are at the centre of the decision-making process by employing independent agents or setting up their own companies.
Read the Art Newspaper article by Louisa Buck here. This, of course, only applies to uberartists at the top of the art world's food chain... generally.

Friday, December 19, 2008

And another one down...

New York art dealer Christoph Van de Weghe had eight works by Damien Hirst in his booth at the Art Basel Miami Beach fair earlier this month. He sold only two.

The small “spin” and “butterfly” paintings went for $160,000 each, compared with the asking price of $185,000. The unsold works included an $850,000 cabinet filled with cigarette butts and a blue canvas with 15 butterflies...

...Three months after Hirst sold more than 200 of his works for 111.5 million pounds ($199 million) at Sotheby’s in London, his market has contracted dramatically.

At the bellwether November sales in New York, 11 out of 17 Hirst lots failed to find buyers at three auction houses...

...“the feeling is that the Hirst market has been stretched a bit too far, almost as if it snapped and backfired.”
Read the Bloomberg story by Katya Kazakina here.

Another one bites the dust

Reflecting the recent nose dive in confidence in the art and antiquities markets, the International Asian Art Fair held each spring in Manhattan has been canceled.
Read the NYT story here.

Lino Tagliapietra

(Via DCist) The Lino Tagliapietra in Retrospect: A Modern Renaissance in Glass exhibition at the Renwick Gallery:

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Bouguereau for VFMA

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts board of trustees has approved the acquisition of "The Battle between the Centaurs and Lapiths," a heroic Academic painting by French artist William-Adolphe Bouguereau, a beaded buffalo mask from the Bamum kingdom of Cameroon, three versions of French artist Antoine-Louis Barye’s “Pheasant” sculpture, and 29 fine, decorative and ceremonial objects given in memory of the museum’s late curator of 20th-century art.

Also added to the VMFA collection were two works by Virginia sculptor Leslie Garland Bolling, a collection of 21 gold and semi-precious-stone earrings from ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern cultures and a trade-bead necklace collected in Ghana.

Battle of Lapiths and CentaursThe Bouguereau painting, “The Battle between the Centaurs and Lapiths,” is an 1852 oil on canvas measuring 49 by 68-5/8 inches. The large-scale work depicts a central element of the story of a mythological battle as recounted by the Greek poet Homer in the Iliad. The Lapiths and the Centaurs were longstanding pre-Hellenic enemies. In a peacemaking effort, the Lapiths invited the Centaurs to a wedding feast at which the Centaurs got drunk and attempted to abduct the bride.

In antiquity, the tale was seen as an example of the conflict between civilization and barbarism.

“Academic art dominated French painting of the period and is the school of art most often contrasted with Impressionism. Impressionist painting, known for having been painted from life and for its spontaneous brushwork, modern subjects and intense color, was a rebellion against Academic painting and the Salons, with its controlled brushwork, references to ancient sculpture and subjects from the distant past,” said VMFA Director Alex Nyerges.

Book on deaccessioning controversies at U.S. museums

When done well, she said, “pruning a museum collection so that the collection as a whole can become better and stronger” can be a good thing. When done inappropriately or for the wrong reasons, she added, the results can be “tragic.”
Read about here.

Dumas at MoMA

Since I got this really cool catalog sent to me in the mail, I figured that I better plug this show:

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Need to rent a house for the Obama inauguration?

I've got a couple of properties for rent, and like a good capitalist, I've just realized that they're both good locations for people looking for a home during the Obama inauguration week!

Pooks Hill Condo in Bethesda
First one above is a really nice condo in Bethesda in Pooks Hill, close to everything... see the listing here. Contact Sabine about renting that one in January for the inauguration. It is just a few minutes from the Bethesda Metro and a couple of minutes from the Beltway. Two upstair rooms and a finished basement and two bathrooms.

Bowie, Maryland house for rentThe other one is the very first house that I ever bought when I was Navy Lieutenant first assigned to Washington, DC back in the late 80s.

Last year I poured a ton of money renovating the house.

It is just a couple of minutes away from 50 and just a few miles from the District and less than a mile from a Metro park-and-ride if you want to take the Metro to the festivities. Three rooms and two and half bathrooms.

See that listing here. Contact Rich for that one.

Bourgeois Spider

That huge spider now greeting visitors on their way into the Hirshhorn Museum is a true testament to the power of representational sculpture, isn't it?

Standing at nearly 25 feet tall, Louise Bourgeois' large bronze and steel sculpture "Crouching Spider" is a like a magnet for Mall visitors, and because it is a Louise Bourgeois work of art, anti-representational art critics have to keep their mouths and poison pens shut as the public enjoys a public art piece.

Louise Bourgeois Crouching Spider, 2003, from a private collection. Photo by Lee Stalsworth.

The Hirshhorn says that "there is no need to be afraid, since the artist describes her spiders as iconic 'guardians,' a 'defense against evil.'" And they even work against the evil of post-modernism dogma and critics who instantly dislike a work of art that is liked by the masses.

And I am told by the museum that since its installation earlier this week, the work of art has become an instant attraction to visitors eager to be photographed with the huge arachnid.

I wonder how those Argentinean kids Carmen Ibanez, Dizzy Flores and Johnny Rico would have reacted to it.

"Crouching Spider" is now on view at the Independence Avenue entrance to the Hirshhorn in anticipation of the Feb. 26 opening of "Louise Bourgeois,"a major retrospective that includes more than 120 sculptures, paintings and drawings. The Hirshhorn presentation of "Louise Bourgeois"is the last chance for the public to see the exhibition that began its tour in London and ends here in Washington, D.C. The Hirshhorn presentation will include a number of works from the museum's own collection, not seen in other presentations on the tour. The exhibition will run through May 17, 2009.

New Art Blog

And off to a great start: check it out here; visit often!

Hire this model... please!

Need a Cuban-American fashion model? Hire my daughter Elise!

Elise Campello
Contact her here.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Artomatic 2009

Artomatic, the open art show that traditional art critics hate and that everyone else loves is coming back to the DMV in 2009 and they've got a party for new and returning volunteers.

The party to volunteer for Artomatic 2009 is December 20th, 1-3 pm at Onyx Apartments
(1100 First St, SE, Washington DC 20003).

Details here.

Monday, December 15, 2008


A while back I wrote about my absolute favorite TV show (Showtime's "Dexter") and how it puts me on a private pedantic hell because of the show's spectacularly lousy dialectic writing about Cuban Spanish.

Michael C. Hall as DexterTo recap, in the series, Michael C. Hall is absolutely brilliant as a serial killer who works as a blood expert for the Miami Metro Police while hiding the fact that he is also a serial killer. Dexter goes after bad guys, but he is still a truly disturbing psychopath pretending to be normal while killing bad guys left and right in a very orchestrated manner.

Because it takes place in Miami, there's a lot of Cuban stuff and characters going on, but whoever the writer(s) for the series is, they seem to believe that Cubans in Miami are indistinguishable from the Hollywood area Mexicans and Mexican-Americans that he or she "knows" as Latinos or Hispanics.

As a result some pretty amazing cultural blunders in the spoken language continue to occur in the show, and I discussed some here.

But now an even more egregious culinary blunder took places in the series finale that revealed to me that the writer or writers for this series have zero understanding of the diversity of cultures in their own continent, and now I am firmly convinced that they have never set foot in Miami.

Last night was the series' season finale, and it was very, very good, with Dexter almost being the victim of another serial killer being hunted by Miami police.

Let me set a different background for you. Imagine that you're watching a TV series and the characters walk into a restaurant in South Carolina and inside a big sign announces that the restaurant has the "Best Soul Food in the South." The characters sit down and then they order Egg Foo Young and a couple of egg rolls.

That would not make sense, right? Lousy script writing?

In the Dexter season-ending episode, actress Jennifer Carpenter, who plays Dexter's annoying and foul-mouthed sister and now Detective Debra Morgan, walks up to a food establishment, where a prominent sign displays that it sells "The Best Cuban Food in Miami."

She then orders a burrito.

A burrito?

There is no such food item in any Cuban restaurant in Miami, or Cuba or the entire planet Earth. Outside of a Mexican restaurant environment, you ask any Cuban what a "burrito" is and he will tell you that it is a small donkey. A "burro" is a donkey or ass, and a "burrito" is a small donkey.

Cuban food does not include any dishes called burrito, but Dexter's Hollywood-based writers, never having set foot in Miami or even a Cuban restaurant in la-la land, assume that Cuban food (and by default all Latin American food) consists of burritos, tamales, refried beans, enchiladas, etc.

We had a small "Dexter watching" party last night, and one of the persons in the group was a very good Puerto Rican friend. When Detective Debra Morgan ordered a burrito at a place selling "Miami's Best Cuban Food," we both burst out laughing.

However, inside: Showtime, you're killing me!

Robert Johnson's black art collection coming to DC

Johnson may be known for the low-budget comedy routines and booty-shaking music videos that drove the success of BET, the cable channel he founded and that turned him into America's first black billionaire in 2001. But in his private moments he is moved by art that documents the struggles and achievements of black people in America. Since the early 1980s Johnson, 62, has assembled some 250 pieces by 19th- and 20th-century African-American artists. Though Johnson's collection is probably worth only a couple of million dollars, it includes some of the most famous names of the genre: cubist-inspired collage artist Romare Bearden (1911--88); modernist Harlem painter Jacob Lawrence (1917--2000); and Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859--1937), who studied under Thomas Eakins in the 1880s and was the first black painter to gain international acclaim.
Read the article here, which also states that "Johnson, who plans to stage a Washington, D.C. exhibition of his art this February, believes the works should be displayed separately from those of white Americans."

The piece doesn't say where the exhibition will be, which is a little odd, since it will be in a couple of months.

But as I object to the segregation of artists by race, as Mr. Johnson apparently believes, or by gender (thus my opposition to the National Museum of Women in the Arts concept) or by ethnicity (thus my opposition to the Latino Museum idea).

Art is art.

Perhaps Mr. Johnson intends to add a specialty focus to his DC exhibition, such as "The Impact of African American Art on Contemporary Art," which would then make sense to have a "black Americans show only."

Otherwise I call upon Mr. Johnson to use his considerable influence to make more museums add deserving black American artists to American art museums. Or perhaps to call upon the Obamas to add more deserving black American artists to the White House collection, which only has three such artists in its entire collection, two of which were added by the Bushes.

Segregation doesn't work for art either.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

MOCA Supporters

"About 450 people, including a number of prominent Los Angeles artists, crowded into the Museum of Contemporary Art's Geffen Contemporary space in Little Tokyo on Sunday afternoon, drawn to a hastily arranged rally of sorts in support of MOCA, spurred by recent reports of dire financial problems that threaten the existence of the downtown museum."
Read the LAT story here.

Strauss Fellowships for Individual Artists

Application Deadline: January 19, 2009

Named for Bill Strauss (1947-2007), gifted writer, co-founder of the Capitol Steps and the Cappies, the Strauss Fellowships for Individual Artists support and encourage Fairfax County's finest creative artists in all disciplines and recognize professional working artists' achievements and their demonstrated history of accomplishments; they promote artists' continued pursuit of their creative work.

Grants workshop: January 6, 2009

Grant Application Deadline: January 19, 2009

Download Guidelines and Application in a PDF or in Word at this website.

The Arts Council offers free grant writing workshops to applicants prior to grant application deadlines. All applicants, particularly first time applicants, are strongly encouraged to attend.

The 2008 Strauss Fellowship Recipients were: Jill Banks, Michael Travis Childers, Eileen Doughty, Linda Hesh, Kristin Johnsen-Neshati, Rebecca Kamen, Elizabeth Anne Kendall, Marni Maree, Lilianne Milgrom, Yoshiko Ratliff, Bryan Rojsuontikul and Susan Shields

For more information about the Arts Council's grants, please contact Jeannette Thomas, Grants Administrator, at or at (703) 642-0862, ext. 4.

Incredible Art Day in DC area

Today is the day of days if you're into the arts in the greater DC area... not only are there a ton of openings going on later tonight, but also there are dozens and dozens of open artists' studios (such as the Mid City Artists) and the Washington Glass School, which is where I am today and I just got here and let me tell you, there are a lot of really good affordable glass, etchings, and cool art things from the school's faculty and students and a lot of other invited artists. And from there you can also walk to the many artists' studios in the same building complex.

Come see and buy some art somewhere today!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Opening in Richmond today!

All the background about my solo show opening at 6PM today is here, but the bottom line is that if you are anywhere near Richmond, Virgina today Friday, December 12 between 6-9PM, swing by Red Door Gallery where my solo show "The Colors of Wars to Come" is opening and say hola!

Suspension Ribbon for the Second Cuban Pacification Campaign Medal

"Suspension Ribbon for the Second Cuban Pacification Campaign Medal." Oil on canvas. 24x48 inches by F. Lennox Campello, c.2008
The Second Cuban Pacification Campaign Medal was established by Executive Order 13459 signed by the President on 03 May 2011. It may be awarded to American military and naval personnel for participating in prescribed operations, campaigns and task forces ranging in dates from 24 March 2010 to present.

The area of operations for these various campaigns includes the total land area and air space of Cuba (including the Isle of Youth), and the waters and air space of the Caribbean Sea within 12 nautical miles of Cuban coastline.

Personnel must be members of a unit participating in, or be engaged in direct support of, the operation for 30 consecutive days in the area of operations or for 60 non-consecutive days provided this support involves entering the area of operations or meets one of the following criteria:

• Be engaged in actual combat, or duty that is equally as hazardous as combat duty, during the operation with armed opposition, regardless of time in the area of operations;
• While participating in the operation, regardless of time, is wounded or injured and requires medical evacuation from the area of operations;
• While participating as a regularly assigned aircrew member flying sorties into, out of, within, or over the area of operations in direct support of the military operations.

One bronze service star shall be worn on the ribbon for qualifying participation during an established campaigns. However, that if an individual's 30 or 60 days began in one campaign and carried over into another, that person would only qualify for the medal with one service star. The medal is not awarded without at least one service star.

The executive order provides that service members who qualify for either the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal or the Armed Forces Service Medal for service in Cuba between 24 March 2010 and 01 May 2010, remain qualified for those medals. However, upon application, any such member may be awarded the Cuban Campaign Medal in lieu of the Armed Forces Expeditionary medal or the Armed Forces Service Medal, but no Service member may be awarded more than one of these three medals for the same period of service in Cuba.

The suspension ribbon for the medal's white, and blue colors were suggested by the striking colors of the Caribbean Sea and the stripes of the Cuban flag.

Rousseau on Aquilino

John Aquilino has been one of my favorite DC area painters since he moved from New York to the Maryland suburbs a few years ago. His landscapes are elegant and intelligent, and under the pretext of being an urban landscape, are really all about the handling of light and form, not really the subject matter.

He currently has an exhibition in Bethesda's Neptune Gallery, and like any other Aquilino shows in galleries and art fairs, it is selling out very quickly.

Dr. Claudia Rousseau of the Gazette newspapers reviews that show here and once again I wonder why this very talented bilingual art critic is not writing for the Washington Post (which owns the Gazette chain).

Aquilino is also a master of light, as in a painting like "No Parking" in which the angled sunlight falls sharply on the garage walls. These harsh contrasts of light and shadow are reminiscent of Edward Hopper, or even more of Charles Sheeler in the 1920s and '30s; the two are important 20th century American precedents for Aquilino's style. Like Hopper and Sheeler, realism is tempered with an abstract sensibility to underlying form, and a tendency toward simplification and reduction to emphasize the juxtaposition of shape and color. Hopper often included the human figure, bringing a sense of narrative into his work. Although Sheeler's cityscapes and paintings of factories eliminated the figure, there was always a hidden discourse about progress in them. It is this narrative element Aquilino seems to reject.

Bettie Page is gone

"Page was mystified by her influence on modern popular culture. 'I have no idea why I'm the only model who has had so much fame so long after quitting work,' she said in an interview with The Times in 2006.

Bettie Page
Read the LAT obit and story here on this icon.

The richer they are...

The cheaper they are:

"He is one of the world's richest artists, who defied the credit crunch in September by auctioning a whole collection for £111m. But even Damien Hirst may not be immune to the economic climate - many of the workers who produce his works found themselves out of a job this week, the Guardian has learned.

On Thursday, up to 17 of the 22 people who make the pills for Hirst's drug cabinet series were told their contracts were not being renewed, according to two sources close to Science Ltd, Hirst's main art-producing company. Another three who make his butterfly paintings were also told they were surplus to requirements.

It is thought that amounts to approximately half of the London-based artists who work for Hirst. They are paid about £19,000 a year, sources said. In June 2007, Lullaby Spring, a cabinet filled with hand-painted pills, sold for £9.65m."
Read the Guardian story here.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I'm opening in Richmond on Friday

You can read the background about the show here, but the bottom line is that if you are anywhere near Richmond, Virgina tomorrow (Friday, December 12) between 6-9PM, the place to be is Red Door Gallery where my solo show "The Colors of Wars to Come" is opening.

Suspension Ribbon for the Alaska Secession Pacification Campaign Medal

Suspension Ribbon for the Alaska Secession Pacification Campaign Medal. Oil on Canvas by F. Lennox Campello. 18x24 inches, c.2008
The Alaska Secession Pacification Campaign Medal was established by Executive Order 14178 signed by the President on 7 December 2014. It may be awarded to mainland and Hawaii American military and naval personnel for participating in prescribed operations, campaigns and task forces ranging in dates from 6 September 2013 to the present.

The area of operations for these various campaigns includes the total land area and air space of Alaska and surrounding islands, and the waters and air space of the Gulf of Alaska, Bering Strait, Pacific Ocean and the Arctic Ocean within 12 nautical miles of the Alaska coastline.

Personnel must be members of a unit participating in, or be engaged in direct support of the operation for 30 consecutive days in the area of operations or for 60 non-consecutive days provided this support involves entering the area of operations or meets one of the following criteria:
• Be engaged in actual combat, or duty that is equally as hazardous as combat duty, during the operation with armed opposition, regardless of time in the area of operations;
• While participating in the operation, regardless of time, is wounded or injured and requires medical evacuation from the area of operations;
• While participating as a regularly assigned aircrew member flying sorties into, out of, within, or over the area of operations in direct support of the military operations.

One bronze service star shall be worn on the ribbon for qualifying participation during an established campaigns. However, that if an individual's 30 or 60 days began in one campaign and carried over into another, that person would only qualify for the medal with one service star. The medal is not awarded without at least one service star.

Additionally, one black service star shall be worn on the ribbon for qualifying participation during oil fields recovery and pacification operations immediately following the defeat of the Alaskan Insurgent Army.

The suspension ribbon for the medal's white and black colors were suggested by the colors of the snow and ice bound views of the Alaskan coastlines and by the color of oil, its main economic force.
See ya there!

Open Studios: Matt Sesow

DC's Matt Sesow is having shows all over the place, but this this Saturday from 12-6PM he has an open studio.

Details here.

Lecturin' at the Museum

Lenny Campello lecturing at Easton Museum

My world famous lecture on collecting contemporary art (a primer for art collectors), which includes a bonus lecture on fun art history.

Email kidnapping

And so I get this email:

Artworks Purchase.‏
From: Lennox Campello (
Sent: Thu 12/11/08 12:02 PM

Hi ,

I checked you website and i think your artworks sucks....

lennox campello.
And clearly, someone with too much time in their hands and too much evil in their heart has gone through the trouble of creating a fake email account in Yahoo in my name just so that he can send me (and probably others) hate emails in my name.

If you get an email from "" - it is not me.

But clearly this idiot is not aware that the days when you could do this in total anonimity are gone and that it is illegal to do what they have done and quite punishable by law. And we have busted the following from the fake email:
X-Message-Delivery: Vj0xLjE7dXM9MDtsPTA7YT0wO0Q9MTtTQ0w9Mg==
X-Message-Status: n:0
X-SID-PRA: Lennox Campello
X-Message-Info: JGTYoYF78jHU+hsIIhqBSgZ9LzI/t33wvrR8pu/N0FjUEEwMSzkurxMuOWIFNS55EWkNlfuhXScIr6gSVZwh+Ba9VMEaVjZ/
Received: from ([]) by with Microsoft SMTPSVC(6.0.3790.2668);
Thu, 11 Dec 2008 04:02:21 -0800
Received: from ([]
by with esmtp (Exim)
id 1LAkFJ-0002wM-04
for; Thu, 11 Dec 2008 07:02:21 -0500
Received: from ([]
by with esmtp (Exim)
id 1LAkFI-0008G0-UE
for; Thu, 11 Dec 2008 07:02:20 -0500
Received: from ([])
by with NO UCE
id po2L1a00y1q56SB03o2LGj; Thu, 11 Dec 2008 07:02:20 -0500
X-EN-IMPSID: po2L1a00y1q56SB03o2LGj
Received: from [] by with NNFMP; 11 Dec 2008 12:02:19 -0000
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X-Yahoo-Newman-Property: ymail-5
Received: (qmail 20292 invoked by uid 60001); 11 Dec 2008 11:56:12 -0000
DomainKey-Signature: a=rsa-sha1; q=dns; c=nofws;
X-YMail-OSG: AJ8VyKUVM1mC_GqO7zSM0NtIFZBxDq.3wQeCdhzYDFviM2BN9EhPKXnwG.x.zVDa2L8dYnwgz5XXdH48bBHWCY1OZSecsaeVrVeZnxmvv.QLDX620T.F3pfFPM8E3lPCDE0fhN4kuUestoWvoCtN5qAh9obs
Received: from [] by via HTTP; Thu, 11 Dec 2008 03:56:11 PST
X-Mailer: YahooMailWebService/
Date: Thu, 11 Dec 2008 03:56:11 -0800 (PST)
From: Lennox Campello
Subject: Artworks Purchase.
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: multipart/alternative; boundary="0-2120375569-1228996571=:19021"
Message-ID: <>
X-OriginalArrivalTime: 11 Dec 2008 12:02:21.0757 (UTC) FILETIME=[52ADC6D0:01C95B88]

Content-Type: text/plain; charset=iso-8859-1
Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable

Hi ,
I checked you website and i think your artworks sucks....
lennox campello.=0A=0A=0A
Content-Type: text/html; charset=us-ascii

Hi ,


I checked you website and i think your artworks sucks....


lennox campello.

You have 24 hours to send me an apology note or you'll be hearing from my lawyer (and from law enforcement) soon.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

When you have loads of money...

"A few months ago, a mystery began blossoming on the streets of New York. All around town, on hundreds of hoardings, bus shelters, phone kiosks and half a dozen billboards in high-traffic areas, a simple white-on-black phrase teased passersby: "See The World Through Ana's Eyes." What did it mean? The sheer omnipresence of the ads suggested it was the work of a movie studio, but no forthcoming releases seemed related. Workers in offices near the billboards quizzed each other and came up blank. Amateur sleuths went online to share theories, to no avail.

Then, late last month, the stark ads were replaced with reproductions of paintings composed of bursting, wild colours, and a new tag line: "See the world through Ana Tzarev's eyes." Oh, well then: Mystery solved.

Wait - Ana who?

Ana Tzarev is a 72-year-old painter, and though almost nobody has heard of her, she is about to become the first person in New York - indeed, perhaps in the history of the art world - to have her work carry a price tag of a million dollars without first ever having sold a single piece of art."
Read the G&M story here.

Gateway Arts District Open Studios coming up!

The Gateway Arts District Open Studio Event will take place on Saturday, December 13, from 1:00-5:00 p and it is a public self-guided tour of professional studios showcasing a variety of mediums - clay/ceramics, painting, sculpture, glass, photography, mixed media, and printmaking

Participating venues include Flux, Red Dirt, Washington Glass School along with several other artists whose studios are located throughout the municipalities of Mount Rainier, Brentwood, North Brentwood and Hyattsville.

The Arts District, just over the border from DC, is a veritable new and growing hot spot of highly acclaimed artists (and a lot of cool new restaurants) that produce works that are exhibited and collected nationally and internationally. For further information, contact Tonya Jordan at 301-864-3860, ext. 1 or email:

Wanna go to an Alexandria opening tomorrow?

The Art League Gallery inside the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria, Virginia will be hosting an opening reception on Thursday, December 11 from 6:30 to 8:00pm for "Virtue, Sin & the Balance Within."

On exhibition are Carlos Beltran Baldiviezo's contemporary fine art sculptures, featuring 14 fascinating sculptures representing his "sometimes controversial interpretation of the Seven Virtues and the Seven Deadly Sins." Through January 5, 2008.

Opportunity for Artists

Deadline: 5:00pm on Friday, January 23, 2009

The Cultural Development Corporation (CuDC) is requesting proposals for the Gallery at Flashpoint's September 2009/August 2010 season. Open to all artists, independent curators and arts organizations presenting contemporary work in any medium. The Request for Proposals can be found at The Gallery at Flashpoint presents cutting-edge contemporary art and provides a springboard for talented artists and curators to enhance their careers. The Gallery seeks to inspire creativity and encourage the creation of new work by emerging and under-represented artists and curators. In addition, the Gallery provides a place for artists and curators to experiment with progressive concepts and participate in an active, multi-disciplinary arts community. The Gallery is a venue for exhibitions that explore new and challenging ideas, free from the traditional constraints of a commercial gallery. CuDC is seeking inventive, original proposals in any media.

Gallery at Flashpoint
916 G Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

When Gallery Owners Bite

Four years ago I wrote this piece for Blogcritics on the subject of "Vanity Galleries."

And today, some disgruntled gallery owner somewhere, perhaps burned out after the waste of time and money that has been the 2008 art fair season, and maybe in a hotel room somewhere in the South as he/she drives the gallery van full of unsold work back to his gallery in Illinois or some other such state, writes the following in a comment about my post:

What you don't realize is that running a gallery is a BUSINESS, and there are expenses. If you had a full list of patrons and a CONFIRMED sales track, you'd be able to show anywhere in the world free of charge. If you're NOT going to sell paintings, a gallery still needs to pay its operating expenses. Upcoming artist need to gain EXPOSURE before anyone will buy their paintings.

If you are a NOBODY, no gallery will show your work. Show me a list of patrons who regularly BUY your work, and I'd invest into your career. It costs upwards of $40,000 a month to run a commercial gallery. If a gallery only showed UPCOMING artists with no fees, they would go out of business. My gallery shows one established artist a month, and has a few unknown artists.

If I ONLY made $20,000 from the established artist, I'd be $20,000 in the hole EVERY MONTH. Why should I take that burden to promote your art. PLEASE EXPLAIN THE LOGIC BEHIND THAT!

You are DELUSIONAL if you think that I'm going to go broke promoting you for no financial reward!

You folks need to reevaluate the BUSINESS that you have chosen. When I go to Red Dot or Art Miami, I have to pay upwards of $20,000. EVERYONE has to pay to show work! You need to join the real world. A gallery falling in love with your art and selling out of an UNKNOWN's paintings is a fantasy. It doesn't happen. You need to be FAMOUS before you make money as an artist, or you can paint "hotel paintings" and sell them for $1,000 a piece. The choice is yours...
I'll let you folks answer this person; please feel free to comment here or at the Blogcritics post. I'm too tired to deal with this asshole.

Margaret Boozer at Project 4

I visited Margaret Boozer's studio a while back and cheated a little, and have already seen most of her next show (titled "Acumulation"), which opens at the District's Project 4 gallery on Thursday, December 11, with a reception from 6:00-8:30 pm.

Margaret Boozer at Project 4Boozer is truly one of the District's blue chip artists, and as Project 4 sharply describes her, she "approaches ceramics with an eye for painting and a mind for experimentation. She encourages clay’s physical properties to express themselves in unpredictable manifestations of cause and effect. Drying, warping, cracking- small studio processes echo large geologic events as clay reclaims its origin as earth. Boozer disguises her hand underneath clay’s distortions, then claims authorship with carefully orchestrated compositions driven by the randomness of the result. The work is unexpectedly recognizable as a variety of subject matter that crosses genres between representation and abstraction, painting and sculpture."

There's an Artist's talk on Saturday, January 10, 2:00 pm and the exhibition goes through January 17, 2009.

Time for Glass

It is time for the semi-annual Washington Glass School Holiday Open House & Sale this coming Saturday, December 13, 2008 from 2-6 pm

There will be art, glass, music, food, jewelry, craft, class discounts & more!

Artwork by noted DC area glass artists Tim Tate, Erwin Timmers, Michael Janis, Liz Mears and all the Glass Studio artists and the Washington Glass School instructors will be on exhibit and for sale. The many adjoining artist studios will all be joining them to make for a huge event!

Cool ceramics works from the artists of Flux Studios and Red Dirt Studios, painting and encaustic works by Sinel/Stewart/Weiss Studios, Janis Goodman, Blue Fire Studio and the other artists along the Railroad Tracks.

PG County's Gateway Arts District has their arts & craft sales at their nearby arts centers scheduled to coincide.

What : Annual Holiday Party and Sale!
Where : The Washington Glass School, 3400 Otis Street, Mount Rainier, MD
When : Saturday Afternoon, December 13th from 2pm to 6pm

This is a really great event to pick up Christmas presents by the way. Last year I ended up with a box full of small, gorgeous and affordable glass works from many of the school's studio artists which saved my butt for Xmas and the Holidays.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Directing Cornelius

On December 12, 2009, from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm, as part of the Arlington Art Center's show about art, mass production, and commerce titled "Unlimited Edition", D.C.-based performance artist Kathryn Cornelius will be transmitting a performance piece live via webcam to be projected onto the walls of the AAC. For ReDO IT, Cornelius will "upend the typical model of artistic production and authority, allowing gallery-goers to direct her actions, turning her into a sort of service provider."

Anyone who chooses to do so can send instructions for Cornelius to act out -- via Twitter, through e-mails prior to the night, or at a web terminal conveniently set up in the gallery.

All of the instructions will appear projected on one wall as they are updated; on the adjoining wall, viewers will see Cornelius interpret her audience's directives.

More information on how to participate can be found on a website designed by Cornelius specifically for the project:

Cornelius is "known for pieces that create a strange, phantom territory at the edges of the art world: From offering massages at one art fair; to staging a faux red carpet event at another; to masquerading as a one-woman arts corridor cleaning company, Cornelius is often darkly funny, never boring, and typically whip-smart."

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Seven Days in the Art World

"Hollywood, it has been said, is like high school with money: cliquish, catty and status-obsessed, awash in insecurity and plagued by conflicting desires to stand out and to fit in. The same might be said of the contemporary art world, particularly during the glitzy boom years chronicled by Sarah Thornton in her entertaining new book, “Seven Days in the Art World.”

A freelance journalist with a background in sociology, Thornton spent five years air-kissing her way through art fairs, auction houses and artists’ studios as a “participant observer” intent on decoding the manners and mores of this globe-­trotting Prada-clad tribe. What she learned, among other things, is that wealthy collectors buy expensive works of art for a variety of reasons — vanity, social status, an appetite for novelty and, most important of all, an acute excess of money. As one of her auction-house informers bluntly puts it, “After you have a fourth home and a G5 jet, what else is there?”

The book is cleverly divided into seven day-in-the-life chapters, each focusing on a different facet of the contemporary art world: an auction (at Christie’s New York), an art school “crit” (at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia), an art fair (Art Basel), an artist’s studio (that of the Japanese star Takashi Murakami), a prize (Britain’s prestigious Turner Prize), a magazine (Artforum) and a biennale (Venice)."
Read the review of Sarah Thornton's "Seven Days in the Art World" by Mia Fineman in the New York Times here and buy the book here.

Early Look: Miami Sales Report

The recession sculpted Art Basel Miami Beach into a humbler version of itself this week, with galleries reporting significant drops in sales.

Nearly half of all art dealers interviewed saw sales drop, with almost 20 percent saying sales fell below the 30 percent mark. Just over 15 percent reported a sales increase, while 30 percent said sales were flat.

To gauge the effects of economic turmoil on the country's largest contemporary arts fair, five Miami Herald reporters surveyed 85 exhibitors participating in the official Basel show and in five satellite fairs.
Read the report in the Miami Herald here. From what I am hearing from the ground, some of the satellite fairs are doing better than others.

Neptune's beautiful new building

Peripoint Building in BethesdaNearly everyone in DC that has been to Gallery Neptune's new location in the renewed PeriPoint Building in downtown Bethesda, Maryland keeps telling me what an amazing transformation has taken place.

Not only has PeriPoint applied to become Bethesda’s first Silver Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design building as certified by the US Green Council, but let me be the first to say that award winning architect Michael Belisle AIA should easily win whatever architectural award is given to gallery designers. PeriPoint is located at 5001 Wilson Lane, at the busy crossroads of Wilson Lane, Old Georgetown Road, Arlington Rd. and St. Elmo Avenue.

The corner site has been a landmark in Bethesda since 1927, serving first as the Sanitary Grocery store, later as USO Headquarters during World War II, and most recently as a vacuum repair shop. Today, the 80-year-old structure has been renewed, embracing the 21st century while maintaining the defining geometry of the building’s early 20th century shell.

It is absolutely gorgeous inside and out, from the cool lightning to the even cooler hollow storage/wall units and even the balcony addressing the busy street corner below.

Michael Belisle and Elyse Harrison's labor of love shows, and the new gallery is easily among the most beautiful in the Greater DC area, and also (as far as I know) the only "green" one around here, and maybe even in the entire nation.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Nevin Kelly Gallery on the move

DC's Nevin Kelly Gallery has moved to their new location in Columbia Heights and I am told that they are now in a beautiful new space in the Highland Park complex at 14th and Irving Streets, NW just above the Columbia Heights Metro station on the Green Line.

Friday, December 05, 2008

The Amazing Work of Itsuki Ogihara

I walked into Projects Gallery the other day to deliver some of my artwork, as they are taking my work to a couple of fairs in Miami this weekend, and hanging was their "Paper" show.

The show opens today, which is First Friday for Philly galleries, with an opening reception from 6-9PM. The exhibition continues through December 20th. I have a few pieces in that show, so I wasn't really planning to write anything about it.

But when you first walk into the gallery you see this:

Itsuki Ogihara at Projects

The work all the way on that far wall, seemingly a sort of artist wallpaper at first sight, is one of the most amazing conceptual pieces with a powerful delivery mechanism and one of the most innovative and intelligent works of art that I have ever seen.

Itsuki Ogihara

Itsuki Ogihara. Population Series. 17”H x 17”W. Digital prints

Like all of you, I was initially fooled by the subject matter macro visual, and it wasn't until I zoomed in and understood what I was seeing, that this young Japanese-born artist (and a student at UPenn I believe) struck me with the powerful punch of that ellusive artistic goal: something new.

Itsuki Ogihara is her name, and this is her latest project (see earlier projects here) and after I describe it for you, I think you will see why I came away so impressed.

Each one of those 17" x 17" digital prints represents an American city. Each "city" has a different design.

Itsuki Ogihara wall - image by Roberta Fallon

Ogihara has taken data from the US Census to determine that city's racial and ethnic demographics, and using an artistic algorithm, she then designs each print to represent that city. The macro design in each city is made up of 100 tiny silhouetted figures in various poses and activities. As an example, in the Salt Lake City print, there are 83 white silhouettes, 2 black, and so on to describe that city's racial and ethnic make-up.

Itsuki Ogihara - image by Roberta Fallon

Pretty interesting so far. And then when you study each figure, you realize that they are each individuals. That's right, each individual figure is a separate and distinct image on its own.

What she has done is actually taken hundreds of portraits of people; real people and real photographs, and shrunk them down to the tiny size seen in the prints, and then colored them to represent each race (white for Caucasians, black for African-American, red for Native Americans and yellow for Asians) and one ethnicity (brown for Latinos).

It is such a labor intensive endeavor that it leaves me tired just to think of it. And it is also one of the rare conceptual ideas where the art actually delivers on a par with the idea or wall text about the concept.

Itsuki Ogihara's demographic wallpaper is an unexpected treat delivered in a superbly professional and unique delivery mechanism, which employs concepts of mass production generalization to delve deep into our shared consciousness about race and ethnicity and art.

I see great things in the future of this young artist.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Wanna do some bodypainting in DC tomorrow?

The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA DC) over in Georgetown is not just having their opening reception for the December Member Holiday & Gift Show tomorrow, but also on Friday evening there will be body painting with many models & perhaps a "special duo performance." It all starts at 6 pm until late!

And on Sunday, December 7th, they will have a major "Meet the Models Party." Hors d' ouevres, wine, soft drinks for all. This is a meet-and-greet party - artists are welcome to come share in the festivities and draw until there's no more - They will have loads of models at hand and anyone interested in modeling can also show up.

Questions? - Call Dave at 202.342.6230 or email at

And they're off!

All 25 or so art fairs in Miami are off and running and the art world holds its collective breath to see what happens next.

I'm staying home this year.

Email me your experiences at the various fairs and I'll publish them here.

Kuah on BAM

Laura Kuah has the run down on Baltimore's Contemporary Museum and its schedule of coming holiday events. Read it here.

How my football season is going so far

Seattle Seahawks 2008 season poster

Street Artists

40+ street artists that you should know besides Banksy... see them here.

Giants in the City

Directly from Art Basel MB:

If the video doesn't load properly view it here.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

DCist Exposed

DCist Exposed, under the guidance and development (pun intended) of Heather Goss has matured into one of the Greater Washington DC area's best photography events. They are now having their call for photographers for the next event.

All the details here.

Bader Fund

The Franz and Virginia Bader Fund has awarded a total of $50,000 to three Greater DC and Baltimore area visual artists. The recipients of this year’s Bader Fund grants are sculptors Emilie Brzezinski of McLean, VA, and Richard Cleaver of Baltimore, MD and photographer Mark Power of Silver Spring, MD.

Congrats to all three!

The Colors of Wars to Come

Yesterday, when I mentioned the VFMA's Alex Nyernes segment on NPR I dropped the hint that I'd be coming down to Richmond for a day or two. The main reason is that this coming December 12 I will be having an opening of my recent paintings at Richmond's Red Door Gallery.

It is titled "The Colors of Wars to Come," and the work in the show focuses on the series of paintings that I started in the late 90s, initially based on my own military awards earned during my service in the United States Navy, and subsequently (last year) refocused on creating and inventing new awards and campaign ribbons for imagined, forecast or foreseen events of the future.

It is my own visual arts commentary on the futility and near inevitability of foreign policy and unforeseen world events, perhaps predicted (or perhaps avoided) by this line of work.

As I've told the story before many times, this series saw its beginning as a result of the fact that the the McLean Center for the Arts sponsors a very good painting competition every couple of years called "Strictly Painting." It is now in its sixth or seventh iteration.

About a decade ago, around 1999 or 2000, the juror for that year's version of "Strictly Painting" was Terrie Sultan, who back then was the Curator for Contemporary Art at the Corcoran. I thought that this choice was a little odd, as Ms. Sultan, in my opinion back then, was not "painting-friendly."

In fact, with all due respect, I used to blame her for diminishing the Corcoran Biennials, which used to be known as the Corcoran Biennial of Painting. In fact, since then they have been so diluted that I think they no longer exist? (I should ask the Corcoran about this).

Anyway, for many decades they were essentially the only well-known Biennial left in the nation that was strictly designed to get a look at the state of contemporary painting, which was somehow surviving its so called "death."

It was Ms. Sultan who decided to "expand" the Biennial and make it just like all other Biennials: Jack of all trades (genres) Biennials. In the process, depending on what side of this argument you're on, she (a) did a great service to the Corcoran by moving it into the center of the "genre of the moment" scene - like all other Biennials, or (b) gave away the uniqueness of the nation's top painting Biennial title.

I'm aligned with the minority who supports camp (b) but understand those who defend her decision to become just another player in camp (a). Most people think that her decision and drive were the right thing to do in order to bring the Corcoran to a world stage, and perhaps it was. Since I haven't heard any Biennial talk lately, I should check with the Corcoran to see if they intend to continue doing them. If not, I think that the first stake was driven through its heart by Sultan back then.

But I digress.

When she was announced as the juror, I decided to see if I could predict her painting selectivity, sensitivity, process and agenda. It was my thesis that I could predict what Ms. Sultan would pick.

So I made a secret bet, and decided to enter the exhibition with work created specifically to fit what I predicted would be agreeable to Ms. Sultan's tastes. I felt that I could guarantee that I would get into the show because of the transparency of the juror's personal artistic agenda. It is her right to have one; I have them, in fact, we all have them.

I was trained as a painter at the University of Washington School of Art, but around 1992 or so, I had stopped painting and decided to devote myself strictly to my love for drawing.

So by 1999 I had not picked up a brush in several years and that's when I decided to enter this competition, designed to survey the state of painting in our region.

It was my theory that Ms. Sultan would not be in the representational side of painting. It was also clear that she (like many curators including often myself) was seduced by technology in the form of videos, digital stuff and such trendy things.

And therefore I decided to see if I could marry digital "stuff" with painting.

And what I did was the following:

I took some of my old Navy ribbons, and scanned them in to get a digital file. I then blew them up so that the final image was quite pixilated. I then printed about five of them and took slides of the printed sheets of paper.

I then submitted these slides to the competition, but identified them as oil on canvas paintings. My plan was that if accepted, how hard could it be to whip up a couple of paintings after the fact? I titled them with such titles as Digitalism: National Defense and Digitalism: Expeditionary Medal and so on.

From what I was later told, several hundred painters submitted work. And Ms. Sultan selected about only about seven or eight painters in total. And not only was I one of them, but she picked two of my entries.

I was elated! I had hit the nail right on the head! I felt so superior in having such an insight into this intelligent woman's intellect that I (a painter no more) could create competition-specific work to get accepted into this highly regarded show.

And then I began the task of creating the two paintings, using the pixilated images as the guide.

And it turned out to be a lot harder than I thought.

For one thing, I had submitted the "paintings" in quite a large size; each painting was supposed to be about six feet long.

And it didn't take me long to discover that there are a lot of color nuances and hues in an average pixilated image.

And I went through dozens and dozens of rolls of tape as I pulled off the old Washington Color School trick of taping stripes (in my case small one inch square boxes of individual colors - hundreds upon hundreds of them) in a precise sequence to prevent smudging and color peeling, etc.

I painted for at least six hours every day, switching off between paintings to allow the previous day's work to dry off enough to allow a new layer of tape to be applied. I did all the varnishing outside, which usually attracted all the small neighborhood ruffians.

It was incredibly hard work, and I was ever so sorry that I had even gotten this crazy idea. All my nights were consumed.

Expeditionary Medal, oil on canvasBut eventually they were finished and delivered to MPA and Ms. Sultan even wrote some very nice things about them in the exhibition's catalog.

Me? I was in a mix of both vindication and guilt; exhausted but fired up with the often wrong sense of righteousness of the self-righteous.

After the show, I had no idea what to do with them, and they didn't fit my "body of works," but I ended up selling both of them through Sotheby's.

And today, some art collector in South Carolina and another one in Canada, each have one very large, exhausting and handsome oil painting of pixilated naval ribbons hanging in their home, in happy ignorance of the interesting story behind them.

It surprised me a little that I enjoyed this return to painting and I continued to create new work along this series, while slowly walking away from the "exactness" of replicating a pixilated image and drifting towards more towards brushwork and texture.

And then last year I came up upon the concept of inventing new ribbons and awards.

And I created this:
Iranian Campaign Medal by F. Lennox Campello

"Iranian Campaign Medal", Oil on Canvas, 24 x 48 inches, c.2007
By F. Lennox Campello (from the Digitalia series)

The Iranian Campaign Medal was established by Executive Order 13975 signed by the President on 13 January 2012. It may be awarded to American military and naval personnel for participating in prescribed operations, campaigns and task forces ranging in dates from 2 February 2011 to present.

The area of operations for these various campaigns includes the total land area and air space of Iran, and the waters and air space of the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean within 12 nautical miles of Iranian coastline.

Personnel must be members of a unit participating in, or be engaged in direct support of, the operation for 30 consecutive days in the area of operations or for 60 non-consecutive days provided this support involves entering the area of operations or meets one of the following criteria:

• Be engaged in actual combat, or duty that is equally as hazardous as combat duty, during the operation with armed opposition, regardless of time in the area of operations;
• While participating in the operation, regardless of time, is wounded or injured and requires medical evacuation from the area of operations;
• While participating as a regularly assigned aircrew member flying sorties into, out of, within, or over the area of operations in direct support of the military operations.

One bronze service star shall be worn on the ribbon for qualifying participation during an established campaign. However, that if an individual's 30 or 60 days began in one campaign and carried over into another, that person would only qualify for the medal with one service star. The medal is not awarded without at least one service star.

The executive order provides that service members who qualify for either the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal or the Armed Forces Service Medal for service in Iran between 2 February 2011 and 13 January 2012, remain qualified for those medals. However, upon application, any such member may be awarded the Iranian Campaign Medal in lieu of the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal or the Armed Forces Service Medal, but no Service member may be awarded more than one of these three medals for the same period of service in Iran.

The suspension ribbon for the medal's purple and gold colors were suggested by the historical Imperial colors of Iran’s millennial Persian history and the golden sunsets of the Persian Gulf.
The above text also "replicates" what a "real" award's wording would look like.

At Red Door I plan to exhibit the most recent paintings in this series, as well as half a dozen or so small preparatory watercolors from the late 90s. Here's a video on the creation of some of the works.

The opening reception is December 12, from 6-9PM.

See ya there!