Friday, March 28, 2008


Next week I am going to Boston for a studio visit and also to visit an arts-related business looking for some "new" online presence(s) advice and work.

Any Bostonians out there with a "must see" exhibition - drop me a line...

Artists' Websites: Rosemary Feit Covey

Rosemary Feit Covey
Dark Summer, c.1990, 15 x 13 by Rosemary Feit Covey

If there's a better wood engraver on the planet, I do not know who he/she is... as far as I am concerned, no one is better than this modern master, who continues to surprise me, gross me out, enlighten me, and always impress me with both her enviable technical skills and her super-sharp ability to cut deeply into my psyche.

Visit her website here and check out her new work here.

Words that count, or counting... period?

Earlier this week, GrammarPolice scribe and Washington City Paper gallery critic and good friend Kriston Capps and Washington City Paper museum art critic (and Arlington Arts Center curator) and also good friend Jeffry Cudlin -- joined in a little by the dynamic Philippa Hughes) -- hashed out the significance of Capp's words and counting skills in Capps' CP piece on "Collectors Select" at the Arlington Arts Center.

Specifically, the online chatterfuss is about the parts of Capps' review that deal with Philippa Hughes and Tim Conlon; Capps wrote:

[Daniel] Lavinas shows [the work of León Ferrari] without pretension: His biggest intervention is to have the gallery painted a deep shade of cherry-lambic red to match the heliographs. Philippa Hughes went further. The least experienced collector in the group, Hughes invited some graffiti artists—Tim Conlon, Bryan Conner, RAMS, and the Soviet—to tag her room. The intervention is the work here. But Hughes is bursting through a door that's been open for nearly three decades. There's still room for innovation in graffiti, but graffiti in a room isn't innovative alone (even if it shares the room with floor-to-ceiling Tiffany windows, as it does here). Context notwithstanding, the work by Conlon (which takes up most of the room) is dull in any formal sense. As tags, they're not particularly intricate or witty; as abstraction, they don't offer much.
Regardless of how you feel about Capps' words, opinions, advice, and counting skills in the review, this discussion is interesting to me because (a) it shows the blogsphere ability to challenge a writer's words and if needed correct his errors and (b) because it puts my good friend Jeffry Cudlin on the receiving and thus defensive end of a review which may not be in synch with what he perceives to be the real story or guts of an exhibition.

It tears me a little in both directions, because I am of the opinion that any review is a good review, and considering the dearth of art criticism in the Greater Washington DC area, Cudlin does give his colleague props for making his way to Arlington (Capps doesn't have an automobile, and it's a nice walk from the Metro stop to the Arlington Arts Center).

In the past, whenever someone has reviewed either my own work or a show that I have curated, even if there have been glaring mistakes, I have nearly always resorted to biting my lip and thanking the critic for the review.

On the other hand, when in reviewing someone else's show not-my-own, and a critic makes a mistake, or just gets something about the artist or exhibition plainly wrong, as a third party I'm glad to call them out on it.

But most gallerists, and a large percentage of artists and curators, have learned the hard way to just bite their lip, sigh and maybe bring up the error or the real "mark" - if the missed mark or error is egregious enough - in private to the writer.

I'm sure that Cudlin, in his capacity as a critic has received his fair share of complaints about his own writing - I myself have both chided and praised his words in the past -- but now it is interesting to see him react when he feels the criticism has missed the mark when the words are aimed in his own direction.

Was the substance of the complaint big enough to merit the fuss? I'm not sure, but it's a brave and interesting teen-aged world out there, where both valid and sock puppet commenting all add their own weird dialogue to the discourse and leave a new digital footprint for art exhibitions, artists, critics and opinions about their opinions.

A new model for the new Internet model?

For the first five years, the Jen Bekman Gallery, near the Bowery, lost money — and Bekman didn't have much to lose. She drained her 401(k), and racked up debt on her credit cards. Sometimes she slept in her mom's living room so she could sublet her apartment. Last year, when she couldn't pay the electric bill, the gallery's lights were cut off.

But Bekman stubbornly clung her basic idea: "There are a lot of people out there who want to sell their art, and a lot of people who'd like to buy it," Her job was to introduce the emerging artists to the emerging collectors.

An Internet person, she did Internet things. She blogged ( She started an open-to-all-comers on-line competition called "Hey, Hot Shot!" ( — one that gave the winner a shot at a gallery show, in Bekman's bona-fide New York gallery. (This is not the kind of thing that regular galleries do.)

Last year, she got the idea for 20x200. IM-ing each other, a few of her Internet friends put together a clean, cool Web site for what little Bekman could afford. It went live in September — and soon after, broke even. Sometimes 20x200 editions sell out within a week, or even days.

About half the purchases, Bekman says proudly, are from repeat customers some of whom grow brave enough to spend more than $20. And the site's success has spilled over, attracting new collectors to Bekman's traditional gallery.

Bekman, who once couldn't get an Internet job, has become a star in the digital universe. At South By Southwest this month, her old Internet friends bestowed on her the coolest adjective in their lexicon: "Disruptive." Her Web site, they said, is changing the way the art world works.

And that's impressed the art world, where once she was an outsider. For Christmas, a Museum of Modern Art curator bought 20x200 Christmas presents for his staff. American Photo Magazine named her its Innovator of the Year. And this month, she's mentioned in both Wired and Redbook — surely the first time anyone has appeared simultaneously in those magazines.
Read more about Jen Bekman and her radical website 20x200 in this terrific article by Lisa Gray.

The Tribulations of a Ruined Gallerist

“Our society now values a Warhol for three times as much money as a great Rembrandt,” he thunders, referring to the latest auction reports. “That tells me that we’re fucked. It’s as if people would rather fuck than make love.”

He says the last sentence slowly, emphasizing each word.

“That’s the difference between the Warhol and the Rembrandt,” Salander continues. “Being with Rembrandt is like making love. And being with Warhol is like fucking.”
Read this really interesting feature by James Panero in New York Arts here.

Student Shows at the Corcoran

The 2008 Corcoran School BFA Senior Thesis Exhibitions consist of a series of week-long, rotating exhibitions in Gallery 31, featuring photojournalism, photography, graphic design, digital media design and fine art produced by members of the graduating class, grouped by major. Seniors in the College’s Bachelor of Fine Arts program are responsible for all aspects of their thesis exhibitions.

The exhibits are on display and changing weekly now.

The individual shows culminate in May in the 2008 All-Senior Exhibition, a dynamic exhibition installed in four museum galleries, representing all disciplines and featuring work by every student in the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree program.

Meet the Artist - DC

Rick Nahmias, L.A. photographer and creator of “The Migrant Project,” which was first a photo exhibit and activist project and is now a book, will be welcomed by the Mexican Cultural Institute in DC on Monday, March 31, from 6-9 pm. Come talk to Rick about the slow food movement, migrant workers, and what Americans can do to change attitudes about what we eat.

There is a book signing and reception at the Mexican Cultural Institute, 2829 16th St. NW, Washington D.C. Exhibition of photographs from The Migrant Project runs from February 21 through April 14.

Manon Cleary

There's a great interview of DC area artist Manon Cleary in The New Gay.

Read it here.