Saturday, January 31, 2009

Goodbye Book World

In another sign that literary criticism is losing its profile in newspapers, The Washington Post has decided to shutter the print version of Book World, its Sunday stand-alone book review section, and shift reviews to space inside two other sections of the paper.
Where will they shift the book reviews and articles and discussions to?
“I think it’s going to be a great disappointment to a lot of readers,” said Marie Arana, who edited Book World for a decade before taking a buy-out from The Washington Post in December. “I just hope that there’s enough coverage and emphasis and attention given on the pages where Book World will now appear in print in Outlook and Style and Arts to satisfy those readers.”
Good luck with that Ms. Arana; it has been clear to the most casual observer that those sections of the WaPo are not really interested too much on "satisfying" their readers; at least those readers with niche interests such as book, visual arts, etc.

Think more celebrity focus and you've got the Style section. A few years ago the decay of the Style section's coverage of the visual arts in the Post started under then Style's editor Eugene Robinson, and this blog is a historical record of the decay of that section in covering the arts, as well as some outright lies by its editors over the years about some of the issues raised over the years.

In 2004 the Style section used to have one column a week to review DC area art galleries. 52 articles a year to review from a potential field of over 1,500 or so gallery shows. But 52 is better than nothing. The columns were shared by freelancers Jessica Dawson and Glenn Dixon, both ex-Washington City Paper writers. Then Dixon quit over some dispute with the Post and the art review column was reduced to twice a month.

But we were told on Monday, December 27, 2004 that the Post had "decided to hire a second freelance writer to augment Jessica Dawson's 'Galleries' reviews."

We're still waiting for that second additional freelance art critic. Instead, since then the Post has reduced its galleries' coverage even further. And it's not like we don't understand the economical reasons for this. With newspapers all over the nation slowly bleeding away readers each month, the end of the line is near for these major, once dominant moribund giants of the printed media. But what fires me up is when they still try to tell us that nothing will change and that they still "get it" as the Post's annoying radio ads proclaim.

In a phone interview with the NYT, Marcus Brauchli, executive editor of The Post said that “Our intention is to have nearly as many reviews as we’ve had in the past, though clearly there will be somewhat less room.”

Goodbye Book World.

Today in Chadds Ford

Andrew Wyeth, Christina's World

The family of Andrew Wyeth and the Brandywine River Museum invite the public to a celebration of the life and work of Andrew Wyeth, who died on January 16. This special event will be held Saturday, January 31, from 9:30 to 4:30 p.m. Complementary admission will be offered to all visitors today.

Andrew Wyeth's most famous painting, the iconic Christina's World, will be on view at the Museum for the celebration.* On loan from The Museum of Modern Art in New York, this is the first time the painting has been on view in the region. It is rarely seen outside New York City. The Brandywine River Museum currently displays 38 other paintings and watercolors by the artist.

In addition to Christina's World, Wyeth's last painting, titled Goodbye, will be also on exhibition. The painting depicts a friendship sloop sailing out of the picture past an island with a single white frame building reflected in the ocean and in the wake of the boat. The painting was completed by Andrew Wyeth in Maine in 2008.

"Andrew Wyeth once told an interviewer that 'Painting has been my one interest, nothing else but art,'" recalled Jim Duff, Director of the Brandywine River Museum. "The finest way to honor him is to enjoy the art he created."

The documentary film, Self Portrait: Snow Hill, produced by Betsy James Wyeth and narrated by Stacy Keach, will be shown in the Museum's Lecture Room every hour on the hour starting at 10 a.m. Incorporating many of Andrew Wyeth's works of art along with family photographs, home movies, personal letters and footage of Andrew Wyeth, this moving program provides insight into his private world.

In addition, memory books in which visitors can leave their thoughts will be located in the museum.

Exhibiting American art in a 19th-century grist mill, the Brandywine River Museum is internationally known for its unparalleled collection of works by three generations of Wyeths and its fine collection of American illustration, still life and landscape painting.

The Brandywine River Museum is located on U.S. Route 1 in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. The museum is open daily, except Christmas Day, from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Visit the museum's website here.

Friday, January 30, 2009

February’s Phillips after 5

DC's Phillips Collection is teaming with the American Poetry Museum to present a panel about poetry and hip hop. It should be really great. Here are all the details…

Phillips after 5
Feb. 5
5–8:30 p.m.
Admission: By donation
Cash bar
Music: DJ Adrian Loving will spin hip-hop tunes in the Music Room. 5–8 p.m.
Discussion: Poetic Voices: Hip Hop Here and Now at 6:30 p.m.

African-American music and poetry have become a soundtrack for a migrating global audience searching for its character. Artist Fred Joiner moderates a panel of poet-scholars in a discussion of hip hop as a force that blends cultural identities with the realities of modern life. In collaboration with the American Poetry Museum.

Gallery Talk: Once upon a Picture — Lawrence as Storyteller - 6 & 7 p.m.

Explore how Jacob Lawrence’s use of patterns and bold colors tells the story of the Great Migration of African Americans to the North in the early 20th century.

Free Podcast Tonight at 7PM

I'm going to be doing a free radio podcast tonight at 7PM talking about some of the issues from the Artists' Boot Camp Webminars and answering questions. Click on the image below for details and to sign up for the free webminars.

Click here for details

Obara-rama at Projects Gallery Not unlike the groundswell of support during our recent national election, what began as the bubbling excitement of a few artists has swelled into a tsunami of artistic pro Obama output. Through word of mouth and passing conversations, a wide range of artistic talent and media has enthusiastically embraced the idea of celebrating the historic Presidential event. Perhaps as no other elected official in history, Obama is a canvas on which is projected the hopes and fears of a nation.

  “Obama-rama” brings together many prominent Philadelphia area artists, as well as others, united in the celebration and critique of our nation's new commander in chief, including Elizabeth Bisbing, Jim Brossy, James Dupree, Roberta Fallon, Cheryl Harper, Frank Hyder, Tom Judd, Alex Queral, Libby Rosof, Shelley Spector, Ira Upin and others, including yours truly (I have a couple of drawings of Obama as well as several lithos and etchings done in 2007 and 2008).

 Projects Gallery is located at 629 N 2nd St Philadelphia, PA 19123. Gallery hours are Wednesday & Thursday 4 - 7 p.m. and Friday & Saturday noon to 7 p.m. The show opens with a First Friday's opening reception for the artists on Friday, February 6 from 6-9PM, and continues through February 28th, 2009.

Tax Dollars for the Arts

Singers, actors and dancers can stimulate audiences, but can they stimulate the economy? The authors of the current stimulus package seem to think so — they have included $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts and $150 million for infrastructure repairs at the Smithsonian.
NPR story by Elizabeth Blair here.

Free Podcast Tonight

I'm going to be doing a free radio podcast tonight at 7PM talking about some of the issues from the Artists' Boot Camp Webminars and answering questions. Click on the image below for details and to sign up for the free webminars.

Click here for details

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Rosenbaum on Comforti

In early June, when Michael Conforti became president of the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD), no one could have anticipated the challenges that he and his colleagues would face just a few months into his two-year term.
Read Lee Rosenbaum on the WSJ here.


The creator of an inflatable artwork ignored safety concerns and blocked its evacuation shortly before the walk-in structure broke free of its moorings and soared into the sky with catastrophic consequences, a court heard today.

Two women fell to their deaths and others were injured when the giant PVC sculpture, hit by a gust of wind, became airborne as members of the public relaxed on a hot summer’s afternoon at a popular park in Chester-le-Street, County Durham.

Maurice Agis, the 77-year-old artist who designed and supervised the multi-coloured Dreamspace installation, is accused of manslaughter by gross negligence over an alleged litany of safety failings.
Read the article by Andrew Norfolk in the Times here.

Free Podcast Tonight and Tomorrow Night

I'm going to be doing a couple of free radio podcasts tonight and tomorrow night at 7PM talking about some of the issues from the Artists' Boot Camp Webminars and answering questions. Click on the image below for details and to sign up for these two free webminars.

Click here for details

Jury Duty

I'm jurying and curating nearly a dozen shows this year, but I wanted to let you know about this very special one that I will be jurying for The Fine Arts League of Cary in North Carolina.

Deadline is March 27, 2009 (postmark).

The Fine Arts League of Cary is seeking entries for its 15th Annual Juried Art Exhibition to be held from May 8th to June 27th, 2009 in Cary/Raleigh, NC. Show awards and purchase awards will total over $5,000. Entries can only be mailed via CD. The postmark deadline for the mail-in registration is March 27, 2009.

Full details and a printable prospectus are available
on the web at or call Kathryn Cook at 919-345-0681.

Show Highlights:

Location - Cary/Raleigh, NC
Awards and Purchase Awards total over $5000
Mail-in Registration (Digital images on CD) - Deadline: March 27 Postmark
Notification of accepted work: April 13
Receiving of shipped accepted work: April 27 - May 1
Receiving of delivered accepted work: Sunday May 3
Receiving of delivered accepted work: Monday May 4
Opening Reception and Awards - Friday May 8
Show ends: June 27
Pick up work: Sunday June 28
Pick up work: Monday June 29
Shipped work returned: June 29

Wanna go drawing tonight in Vienna, VA?

The Soundry's figure drawing open studio with a live model is tonight from 8pm-11pm. To register and ensure your spot, please call The Soundry at 703-698-0088. Cost for non-members is $15. They will have a large table or two in the room and a few drawing boards but feel free to bring your own easel if you prefer.

Also, absolutely no cell phones, cameras, or any recording devices allowed in the studio. Must be 18 years or older to attend.

The Soundry
316 Dominion Rd
Vienna, VA 22180

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

National Portrait Gallery responds

A while back I raised some issues concerning the acquisition by the National Portrait Gallery of the iconic Shepard Fairey portrait of President Obama. Today I received a response from the NPG:

Visual appropriation, a technique for adapting borrowed imagery which Shepard Fairey admits to using, has a long, time-honored tradition. Religious and political graphics have especially relied over the centuries on this sort of repetition. James Montgomery Flagg’s famous “I want you for the U. S. Army,” recruiting poster, for example, was “borrowed” without credit from British artist Alfred Leete’s image of a pointing-finger Lord Kitchener. Appropriation became a common tool of fine art in the 1960s in the hands of Andy Warhol and various pop artists. Fairey’s description for this approach is ““hijacking something with cultural relevance and switching it up.” Of course, wholesale borrowing can violate copyright issues legally and ethically if you are not “switching it up.” But in the case of Fairey’s portrait of Obama, his adaptation and translation of the face into something quite different falls squarely into the “fair use” category.

It is also true that the Portrait Gallery staff values pictures “from life” that represent an artist’s direct interpretation of a known subject. But there are exceptions to that standard. The engravers of George Washington’s day copied paintings for their prints; Currier and Ives’ political cartoons were based on photographic faces; designers of movie posters and political graphics typically adapt film stills and photographs. We consider all these forms valid, authentic expressions produced during the sitter’s lifetime and rich with biographical information.
Therefore, when I was told a few years ago that in order to be considered for acquisition by the NPG, a contemporary portrait had to be done from the live subject, that was wrong.

I thank the NPG for their response, but on a separate issue, I still think that Garcia's photo should accompany the Fairey artwork and that the wall plaque should detail the entire story for future generations.


To Philadelphia-born artist Barbara Steinberg, whose solo shows opens with a private view 19th February 6 - 9pm and an opening on 20th February, 2009 at London's Signal Gallery.

Barbara was born in Philadelphia and she studied at Smith College in Massachusetts, where she won a scholarship to study at Yale University summer school. On graduating from Smith, she received a grant to study sculpture in England, first with Ralph Brown at the West of England College of Art, then privately with Michael Ayrton in London. She returned briefly to America, to teach sculpture and take a Master of Fine Arts Degree at California State University at Long Beach, before settling permanently in London. She has exhibited across the UK in group and solo shows, most notably her solo exhibition at the Queen’s Hall in Edinburgh. This is her first solo show at Signal Gallery.


Most likely some of you are aware of this news about the decision to close the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis, and to sell off their extensive collection.

If you haven't already seen this, and are so inclined, here is a petition circulating in opposition to the decision.

Before you sign the petition, read why Mike Licht doesn't see why everybody else has missed the positive side of the Rose Art Museum closure at Brandeis.

Opportunity for artists with disabilities

Deadline: April 30, 2009

VSA arts, is seeking artwork by artists with disabilities for display at the Smithsonian Institution’s International Gallery in the S. Dillon Ripley Center in Washington, D.C. from June through September 2010. Artists are asked to consider the theme “Revealing Culture” as it relates to their work. Accepted mediums include two- and three-dimensional art, craft, digital art, installation, and time-based media. Work that is not selected for this exhibition will be considered for alternative spaces throughout Washington, D.C. during the 2010 International VSA arts Festival.

VSA arts’ International Festival is the largest arts and disability event in the world attracting thousands of participants. The festival will take place in Washington, D.C., June 6–12, 2010. Venues across the city will play host to artists from all media—visual arts, performing arts, literary arts, and media arts. This signature event features the achievements of people with disabilities, as well as the diversity of the arts and cultures of the participants.

Visit their website for additional information.

Another look at Soderbergh's Che

Ernesto “Che” Guevara, the Cuban revolution’s grim executioner, put people to death and wrecked Cuba’s economy. Steven Soderbergh’s two-part epic puts people to sleep and wastes their time.
In an interview given to the London Daily Worker in 1962, Che Guevara said that "if the nuclear missiles had remained we would have used them against the very heart of America, including New York City... we will march the path of victory, even if it costs millions of atomic victims... we keep our hatred alive and fan it to paroxysm."

All of the dark side of the man who once urged "atomic extermination" for American "hyenas" is missing from the two current films about his life. I've got another review of the Che movies here.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Museum troubles

After splurging on new facilities, expanded staffs and blockbuster exhibitions that drew millions of new visitors, museums are now confronted by shrunken endowments, less-wealthy benefactors and cuts in government funding, experts say.

The roughly 17,500 museums in the United States receive 850 million visitors annually.
Read Andrew Stern on Reuters here.

Opportunity for Artists

Deadline: February 1, 2009

Therese A. Maloney Art Gallery/College of Saint Elizabeth. For an exhibition opening on March 15, 2009, The Maloney Art Gallery is interested in receiving digital (jpg) submissions of art in any medium that constitutes a response to Cuba, its art and culture, people, history, landscape, geography etc. Please send up to 5 jpgs labeled with last name and title of work, a one-page resume, an artist's statement about the submitted work, and an object list with title of work, date, size (h x w x d"), weight (if over 10 lbs), owner, location. Please send to Dr. Ginny Butera, Director, by email to:

Monday, January 26, 2009

An Old, Bad Idea for the Arts

Many will say (often in a testy voice) that the arts deserve a cabinet-level presence because they are just as important to the country as the Defense Department. While that's something of an apples and oranges comparison, the deeper problem is that it assumes that the country's defense and its arts can be furthered via the same sort of bureaucratic means. But while our nation's defense would collapse in the absence of the centralized power of our Defense Department, having a Department of Culture -- or even a "Cultural Czar," to use that awful label we've apparently become so fond of -- would be neither an effective nor necessary way to guarantee the health of cultural expression in America.
Read David Smith in the WSJ here.

Get Mannie Garcia's Photo at the NPG

By now the story on the fact that DC photographer Mannie Garcia was the uncredited original source for Shepard Fairey's iconic portrait of President Obama has been all over the internets (although curiously out of the dead tree mainstream press as far as I can detect).

Shepard Fairey's Obama at the NPG by Joe Tresh

The above photo by Joe Tresh captures the unveiling and installation of the Obama portrait by Shepard Fairey at the National Portrait Gallery on Saturday, January 17, 2009. Street artist Fairey is the gentleman in the sharkskin grey suit.

A while back I asked the NPG for clarification on its acquisition policy. It is my understanding that contemporary portraits could only be considered for acquisition if the portrait was done by the artist from the actual living subject. At least that's what I was told by an NPG curator a few years ago when I sold a portrait to the NPG. My recent question to the NPG has been elevated to the curator and I am waiting for a response. The NPG response should be an easy one. They can either say:

(a) Mr. Campello, you are right in that it is the policy of the NPG to acquire contemporary portraits only when the portrait has been done directly from the subject. However, because of the historical importance of this piece, the NPG made an exception to this policy as it would with any important contemporary portraits.

(b) Mr. Campello, you are incorrect when you ask if it is the policy of the National Portrait Gallery to only acquire those contemporary portraits which are done directly from the subject.

In any event, since the Fairey piece is now in the permanent collection of the National Portrait Gallery, through the generous donation of the DC area's ubercollectors Heather and Tony Podesta, I think that it is only fair that Garcia's photograph also hang next to Fairey's piece and that the wall text reflect the process via which the ubiquitous Fairey work was created.

After all, the piece is sort of a 21st century collaboration, right? And I bet that I can even help to get one an original photo for the NPG.

And this has nothing to do with any opinions on the issue of Fairey's use of Garcia's photograph. Artists have been "sampling" other artists' works and other people's images for generations (including me) and technically what the brilliant Fairley did is probably legal, as Richard Lacayo in Looking Around writes, "in lawsuits over image appropriation, judges commonly try to decide whether an artist's re-use of earlier material is 'transformative'. If the new image passes that test, the appropriation is protected by the fair use doctrine, which permits limited reproduction of copyrighted material."

And according to Michael Scherer:

"Garcia, who now works at the White House for Bloomberg, says he hopes to get in touch with Fairey so he can talk over the image that has exploded into a pop culture icon. 'Photographers are always getting ripped off,' said Garcia, who quickly added that he was not angry or seeking money from the artist who appropriated his image. 'You see it everywhere. You see it on everything.'

'I'd like to talk to Fairey,' Garcia continued. 'As gentlemen we can work this out. . . . I don't want it to get ugly.'"
It is also clear that at the time that he sampled the Garcia photograph, Fairey had no idea who the photographer was.

But is its also clear to the most casual observer that by now he must know!

That's between them; to me what is also clear, is that this 21st century artistic collaboration, unravelled by 21st century Internet sleuthing, are now and forever intermingled, and the story of the Obama poster now includes the name Mannie Garcia, and Tom Gralish, and Steve Simula, and several others.

Barack Obama photograph by Mannie Garcia

Barack Obama photograph by Mannie Garcia

I plan to write Martin Sullivan, the NPG director a letter on this subject and I hope that some of you do as well. Or you can email Mr. Sullivan at

Write to:

Martin Sullivan
National Portrait Gallery
Smithsonian Institution
PO Box 37012
Victor Building–Suite 4100 MRC 973
Washington, DC, 20013-7012

Sunday, January 25, 2009

New Conservator at VFMA

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts has named Stephen D. Bonadies to be its chief conservator and deputy director for collections management, VMFA Director Alex Nyerges has announced.

A 27-year veteran of museum work, Bonadies comes to Richmond from the Cincinnati Art Museum, where he held positions including chief conservator, director of museum services, deputy director and interim co-director. He will begin work at VMFA March 2, 2009.

I am fascinated by the conservation process and at the same time shocked how little many art schools spend teaching its art students about conservation materials (or about art materials period).

My favorite read on this subject is Jonathan Harr's superb The Lost Painting. The book is the story, told by Harr masterfully as an art detective story of sorts, of the discovery of Caravaggio's The Taking of the Christ in a Jesuit residence in Ireland.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Digital Change

Now that Barack Obama has officially assumed the presidency, the nation anxiously anticipates his fulfillment of his promise of change.

But before the new legislative agenda takes shape, several transformations have already occurred. Former visual representations of our presidents rarely ventured beyond press photos or political cartoons. But Obama artwork has already encroached upon new realms.

For the first time in history, Obama's official presidential portrait was captured by a digital camera. Pete Souza, the White House's new photographer, snapped the shot on Jan. 13. He used a Canon 5D Mark II and took the picture without using a flash.
Read the article by Jennifer Gambrell in The Davidsonian here.

It doesn't make sense to me

The Washington Post's erudite chief art critic is Blake Gopnik, the brother of New Yorker magazine art critic Adam Gopnik.

For some reason, the Washington Post's editors allow their chief art critic to ignore the Greater Washington area art galleries and only focus on museums. By now Washingtonians have grumbled about that odd process for years, but are resigned to it.

But when Gopnik goes through New York City galleries and provides an entire page of mini reviews of NYC galleries, each with a nice color image, something which he has never done for his own hometown art galleries, the message is very clear to the Washington area art galleries.

The message is: "You are not good enough for my time."

And the message that the Washington Post sends to its core readers and hometown is: "Your art scene is not worthy of Blake Gopnik's time."

Shame on the Washington Post, you suck.

Opportunity for Artists

Deadline: February 15, 2009

The Hoyt Institute of Fine Arts in New Castle, PA is currently seeking artists to fill its 2010-2011 Solo Exhibition Schedule. Artists living in the Mid Atlantic region (PA, OH, NY, NJ, MD, VA, W.VA, DE and Washington DC) are invited to apply. Please submit a proposal that includes contact information, exhibition statement, 10-20 images on CD(jpeg format 500kb max) or slides, image list (including title, media and dimensions), resume or curriculum vitae, SASE for return of materials and $30.00 review fee to:

Solo Exhibition Proposals
Hoyt Institute of Fine Arts
124 East Leasure Ave
New Castle, PA 16101

Register for Artists' Boot Camp

Friday, January 23, 2009

Mannie Garcia's Source Photo of Obama Poster Found

First we thought that the below item had solved the mystery of the source of Shepard Fairey’s image of President Barack Obama that became an icon and is now in the permanent collection of the National Portrait Gallery.

Michael Cramer Obama mismatch

"Blogger Michael Cramer created the composite photo above after sifting through countless images to find a match. The poster has Obama facing the opposite direction; Cramer flipped it to correspond with the original source photo."
Read the Reuter story here.

However Philadelphia Inquirer photographer and blogger Tom Gralish then found another potential source discovered by Steve Simula here!

Obama match by Simula

And in the comments section of Simula's Flickr page, Cramer writes "You definitely found the right one. My match was close, but you got it spot on. Congrats."

Good detective work by Simula.

It gets better; after Simula identified the photograph (it was reproduced in this blog without any references so no one knew who the photographer was), the Inky's Tom Gralish began diggging around and he found that the original photograph was "made by freelance photographer Mannie Garcia who was on assignment for the AP in April of 2006." Details here.

Good detective work by Gralish.

Mannie Garcia is a DC-based photographer!

So Mannie Garcia is the uncredited source for Fairey’s artwork now at the NPG.

I think that Mannie's photograph should accompany the artwork and that the NPG should exhibit them side by side.

And thus I hereby call for the National Portrait Gallery to acquire the original Mannie Garcia photograph.

And kudos to Gralish and Simula.

Update: Brian Sherwin, Senior Editor at Blog has some words on how this whole issue relates to copyright and Orphan Works Legislation.

Update 2: Mannie Garcia writes in his website: "The Danziger Gallery which represents the artistic works of Mr. Fairey contacted me on the 21st of January 2009 to inform me that my photograph was in fact the basis for the artwork that has become better known now as the “HOPE” and “PROGRESS” posters"

Virginian Waves

New Waves 2009 is the title of the exhibition of Virginia artists at the Contemporary Art Center of Virginia which says that "New Waves 2009 is an opportunity for CAC to support the work of Virginia artists by assisting them in garnering recognition from the public and nationally recognized galleries and collectors."

The opening reception is from 7-9pm on Friday, January 23, 2009 and the New York and Atlanta gallery-owner jurors selected Susana Almuina, Clover Archer, Nicole Baumann, Stephanie Bingham, Mikael Elliot Broth, Travis Childers, RJ Clark, Derek Cote, davmo, Miriam Ellen Ewers, Peter Geiger, Kirsten Kindler, Lisa McCarty, Megan Mueller, Michael Ohgren, Kristen Rego, and Rainham D.M.H. Rowe.

Because from of all those names I recognize only two (and I think that I have a pretty good handle on a lot of Virginia artists) I am really curious as to whom the jurors selected. In fact, I'm going to visit this show and see what the works looks like.

As outsiders, the two jurors would have brought in a couple of fresh, unprejudiced eyes to the selection process, rather than a priori knowledge to the process.

I'm a little surprised in that I think that this is a good thing.

In fact, the more that I think about it, the more that I think that other jurying processes or award processes that are regional in nature, should employ as jurors qualified outsiders who look only at the work and its visual and collective merit, rather than "recognize" the work and thus the artist and thus bring in immediate opinions and prejudices to the contest.

The drawback would be when an outsider fails to recognize a copycat artist. In the card below I see at least someone channeling Dan Steinhilber and half a dozen Art0matic artists of the past.

New Waves 2009

But I think that the gains from clear, unprejudiced eyes, outweigh the occasional copycat from getting into the list. It could even be a case of remarkable confluence.

The reason that I have been able to predict a lot of direct hits at such major regional awards such as the Trawick Prize is because that very prestigious award employs local jurors for their process, and so far it has been my impression that many, not all, of the jurors bring in too much knowledge, and too close a relationship in a few cases, with some of the award winners.

It would be interesting to see the Trawick employ three jurors this year from other neighboring states, rather than a Virginia, Maryland and DC juror. In fact, they could switch off every year.

One year DC, MD and VA jurors; the next year other states, and so on.

I bet that more interesting results would come out, instead of the usual suspects getting the award almost every year.

Chia Obama


You can buy it from Chia for $20 bucks...

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Grants for Arlington County, Virginia artists

Deadline: Tuesday, January 27, 2009 at 9:00 PM

Spotlight Grants are intended to encourage Arlington-based Visual, Media and Performing Artists to develop and present innovative new arts projects or programs that benefit Arlington County and its residents, increase access to and involvement in arts experiences for Arlington residents, and respond to diverse community needs.

Details and application here.

Christina's World on view

Andrew Wyeth, Christina's World

The family of Andrew Wyeth and the Brandywine River Museum invite the public to a celebration of the life and work of Andrew Wyeth, who died on January 16. This special event will be held Saturday, January 31, from 9:30 to 4:30 p.m. Complementary admission will be offered to all visitors on this day.

Andrew Wyeth's most famous painting, the iconic Christina's World, will be on view at the Museum for the celebration.* On loan from The Museum of Modern Art in New York, this is the first time the painting has been on view in the region. It is rarely seen outside New York City. The Brandywine River Museum currently displays 38 other paintings and watercolors by the artist.

"Andrew Wyeth once told an interviewer that 'Painting has been my one interest, nothing else but art,'" recalled Jim Duff, Director of the Brandywine River Museum. "The finest way to honor him is to enjoy the art he created."

The documentary film, Self Portrait: Snow Hill, produced by Betsy James Wyeth and narrated by Stacy Keach, will be shown in the Museum's Lecture Room every hour on the hour starting at 10 a.m. Incorporating many of Andrew Wyeth's works of art along with family photographs, home movies, personal letters and footage of Andrew Wyeth, this moving program provides insight into his private world.

In addition, memory books in which visitors can leave their thoughts will be located in the museum.

Exhibiting American art in a 19th-century grist mill, the Brandywine River Museum is internationally known for its unparalleled collection of works by three generations of Wyeths and its fine collection of American illustration, still life and landscape painting.

The Brandywine River Museum is located on U.S. Route 1 in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. The museum is open daily, except Christmas Day, from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Visit the museum's website here.

Tim Tate at the LA Art Show

Shasta McBride at the LA Art Scene Examiner reviews the LA Art Show and highlights DC artist Tim Tate.

Read it here.

Call for Fiber Artists

BlackrockThe Washington D.C. metropolitan area has some of the finest national and internationally known fiber artists in the country. BlackRock Center for the Arts is proud to present the 2nd Annual “Tribute to Fiber Art” Juried Exhibition. Their goal is not only to support our local area fiber artists but to give East Coast collectors an exhibit of exceptional quality.

Juror Jodi Walsh first started this exhibit at APEX Gallery on 7th Street in Washington DC. “Tribute to Fiber Art” was reviewed by the Washington Post and grew into an outstanding exhibit that was supported by the Smithsonian by giving annual tours to their collectors.

Because of her extensive travels overseas Jodi understands the importance of fiber art to the art world. Waslh says that “fiber artists have given new life to their medium by exploring new techniques and media. Combining the old and the new creates art work that is both stimulating and highly collectable. With the support of BlackRock Center for the Arts fiber artists have a new home to exhibit their work and fiber art collectors will enjoy visiting this pristine gallery to view an exceptional exhibit.”

Eligibility: Open to all fiber artists residing in Maryland, Virginia and Washington DC over the age of 18. Fiber Art: artwork that is created of fiber material. Please note that they will not be accepting clothing pieces. Fiber artists interested in the exhibition should contact Lee Stern at or call Lee at 240-912-1050 for a copy of the prospectus.

Award: As in the tradition of the original “Tribute to Fiber Art” Juried Exhibition a solo exhibition the following year will be awarded.

Dates and Deadlines 2009
Saturday, January 31 - Deadline postmarked or delivered by 2:00pm
Thursday, February 5 - Jurying
Week of February 9 - Notification
Thursday, February 26 - Delivery: between 9am – noon
Tuesday, March 3 - Installation of work
Friday, April 10 - Pickup 9am - noon

Exhibition Timeline
Exhibition - March 4 thru April 9
Reception - Saturday, March 7, 5:30 – 7:30pm
Gallery Hours - Mon – Fri: 9am – 5pm, Sat: 10am – 2pm

Art of Obama

Art of has an ever growing collection of pro Obama artwork online. You can submit your own Obamart by emailing it to with all the appropriate details.


To the capital region's Michael Janis, who has just been selected as the Outstanding Emerging Glass Artist 2008-2009 - from the Florida Glass Art Alliance.

Janis was nominated by Myrna and Sheldon Palley (uber glass collectors whose glass collection makes up Miami's Lowe Art Museum via the just opened Palley Pavillion).

For years I've been telling you: buy Michael Janis now!

Congrats Mike!

Ronaldus Magnus

Nearly 38 million Americans watched inauguration coverage of President Barack Obama on Tuesday, the most popular inauguration day on television since Ronald Reagan took office in 1981.

Nielsen Media Research said Reagan's 41.8 million remains the record.
Details from the HuffPost here.

Also in the HuffPost is this story about MSNBC's poor ratings. I can understand that; during the election year, I was an avid MSNBC watcher.

But somehow now that the election is over, and we're all trying real hard to support the new president, and unity is the word in the air, MSNBC (especially the once fun Keith Olbermann, whose feud with Bill O'Reilly has gone from funny to stupid) seems boring, repetitive and divisive, and more and more a self-licking ice cream that is more and more the exaggerated ying to the FoxNews' yang.

So part of my "change" resolution for 2009 is to stop paying attention to those from the extreme right and the nutty left who profit by feeding us division as the only solution.

And to create more art.

Flying Pigs

The WaPo on flying pigs; read it here.

Christie's woes

“We have begun to implement a companywide reorganization, which includes significant staff reductions, not renewing many consultants’ contracts and the continuation of other cost-reduction initiatives, that will ensure we remain competitive and profitable in 2009,” Christie’s said in a statement on Monday, without saying how many positions might be cut or giving any further details.

In the last months, auction prices dropped together with financial markets, ending a decade-long boom in the art market that was buoyed by record bonuses paid to financial executives.
Read the NYT article here.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Latest from Pink Line Project

Art Market

...we look at the effect the credit crunch is having on the art world as the new year begins. In the art market, there have been a few early victims of the crisis, including the 18 employees sacked by PaceWildenstein in New York, and the 17 “fabricators” of pill cabinets, butterfly paintings and pickled animals axed by Damien Hirst. “I want to make sure that we are the best swimmers on the block. The luxury of carrying under-performing employees is now a thing of the past,” warned Mr Gagosian, in a similar vein, in the same memo to his staff.

In Miami, the trendy French dealer Emmanuel Perrotin has shuttered his gallery, and now will only reopen it for Art Basel Miami Beach next December. Sotheby’s is also trimming its workforce, and has announced it has abandoned guarantees for the foreseeable future. The firm, and its arch-rival Christie’s, were badly hit by the collapse in art prices during New York’s sales of impressionist, modern and contemporary art in November, which garnered only half the expected totals. Those sales were prepared before the autumn, when art prices were still riding high. Some works sold in November for half their low estimates, and up to 75% of the works in some sales were bought in.
Read Georgina Adam at the Art Newspaper here.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Age of Obama

Congratulations to President Obama on his spectacular and history-making achievement. And now, regardless of where you stand on the political spectrum, let's see if we can set aside our differences and get behind this man regardless of what the extreme left wing nuts and the extreme right wing nuts do and say.

World History - Age of Obama by F. Lennox Campello

World History Series: The Age of Obama
F. Lennox Campello
Charcoal on paper, c. 2009
13 x 9 inches matted and framed to 24x18 inches
In a private collection in Dublin, Ireland

This is my first drawing of 2009 and it will be on exhibition at Projects Gallery in Philadelphia next month. More on that show later.
Update: Sold by Projects Gallery to a collector in Ireland.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Opportunity for Curators

Deadline: March 1, 2009

The Philadelphia Museum of Art seeks applicants specializing in modern and contemporary art for a post-doctoral fellowship, funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and offered beginning June 2009. Available to outstanding scholars who wish to pursue a curatorial career in art museums, this two-year fellowship, with a possible third year renewal, will provide curatorial training while also supporting scholarly research related to the renowned collections of modern and contemporary art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Details here.

Photography Collecting Tip

Most newspapers have a process via which you can buy their photographers' photographs for a very reasonable cost.

If you're in the market for a historic photographic memento of the Obama inauguration, I suggest acquiring whatever the Washington Post will make available here.

And if you got a little chutzpah in you, then you can call the photographer at the WaPo and see if you can talk them into meeting you at the lobby and have them sign the photograph.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Art of Change

Obama ball
Artomatic, Inc. and Playa del Fuego, Inc. – institutions of the mid-Atlantic arts community – have joined together to create this year’s most distinctive inaugural celebration, The Art of Change (, on Jan. 20, 2009 at 8pm.

With the generous support of corporate sponsor Scion ( and location sponsors The Warehouse Arts Complex ( and Douglas Development (, this event brings Washington, D.C., a unique opportunity to celebrate the inauguration of Barack Obama as President.

Tickets are available immediately for $50 at

Occupying three separate venues on the 1000 block of 7th Street, NW in downtown Washington D.C., The Art of Change will feature visual and performing arts, multiple dance floors, fire dancing and live music. DJs from across the mid-Atlantic region will be spinning an eclectic mix of musical styles on two dance floors, and in The Art of Change Galleries, displaying artworks created for this celebration. The Variety Stage will showcase performances all night long, including live music, comedy, belly dancing and spoken word poetry. And outside, attendees will enjoy fire-dance performances while dancing to up-and-coming DJs in the heated White Tent.

George C. Koch, chair of Artomatic, Inc.: “The Art of Change is an example of the collaborative spirit within the creative community and it speaks to the desire of artists to be a full partner in the change that is taking place in our country and our community. The Art of Change brings together the progressive and creative communities to support a new vision for our creative economy.”

For more information visit

Che: Early Look

It all started at 7PM and by 11:30PM it was all over, and I must report that there were some deserters, but I went to see Steve Soderbergh's "Che" last night. I have four separate publications which have asked me for reviews, so I'll be doing those first, but meanwhile a quickie for you guys:

- Movies are way too long and too many fighting skirmishes in both of them and zero plot to them.

- Benicio del Toro does a great job as Che, but supporting actor Santiago Cabrera steals part one as Camilo Cienfuegos.

- Part one and two delivers Che as a champion of the poor, the illiterate, the peasants and generally everyone who is shoeless. Even a light reading of Che's own writing and memoirs would reveal that this simplistic offering of this highly complex figure is incomplete and perhaps even dishonest. A more balanced approach should have included the Guevara who was judge, juror and executioner, and the inexperienced post-revolution Guevara who helped to destroy the Cuban middle class, the island's business infrastructure and its agricultural base.

- Part two is a huge disappointment in its lack of character development or even the slightest explanation why the storyline jumps from Cuba to Bolivia. Che's Bolivian guerrillas, which never numbered more than 51, included 17 Cubans who went along with Guevara in his effort to "export" revolution to the Americas after secret failures in Africa and Venezuela. The Cubans, who looked and talked very different from most Bolivians, held nearly all the command positions, but they were unable to speak the local Quechua or Aymara languages of the indigenous local Indians. This doomed the effort.

More later! I gotta go watch some football!

Obama and the Arts

Though Obama hasn't made any arts or humanities appointments yet, he has signaled that he regards culture seriously. During the campaign, he took the unprecedented step of forming an Arts Policy Committee, which produced a thorough list of policy objectives. (Rare are the campaigns that can boast a statement of principles drafted by a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist—in this case, Michael Chabon.)
Read Jeremy McCarter in Newsweek here.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Opportunity for Artists and Curators

Deadline: February 20, 2009

VSA arts seeks exhibition proposal(s) that include artists with disabilities for consideration to be displayed at the Kennedy Center Terrace Gallery from May-June 2009. Proposals will also be considered for programming in advance of and during the 2010 International VSA arts Festival. VSA arts encourages curators and researchers from the cultural, university, and museum communities, including those with disabilities, to incorporate the work of artists with disabilities into their exhibitions. We welcome proposals that address, challenge, and expand the discussion about disability and culture.

Exhibitions may include a wide range of media such as digital art, drawing, installation, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture, and video.

VSA arts is committed to expanding the understanding, development, and appreciation of contemporary work by artists with disabilities.

For more information visit this website.

This weekend in DC

Obama Manifest Hope
Irvine Contemporary is the exhibition manager of Manifest Hope:DC, a celebration of art and artists who were motivators of the national movement that helped bring Barack Obama to the presidency. Manifest Hope:DC is produced by EMG and Shepard Fairey's OBEY group, and is also sponsored by and the SEIU.

Details here.

January 17-19
3333 M St., NW
Washington, DC

Saslow on Ellyn

The WaPo's Rachel Saslow on Dana Ellyn at H&F Fine Arts.

Half a day

I'm setting half a day to go see the "Che" movie today... the protests and picketing of the film have already begun.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Frank Warren at Lisner

One of the world's greatest art ongoing projects is PostSecret, and its creator, my good friend Frank Warren, will be at Lisner Auditorium at George Washington University on January 23rd discussing the project.

Online link to buy tickets for the Lisner event is here. Also check out this video.

American Hero

Chesley B. Sully Sullenberger III

Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger III

The right guy, at the right place, at the right time. This 57-year-old former Air Force fighter pilot has been flying for more than 40 years, and has been with US Airways since 1980.

Andrew Wyeth

Chadds Ford, PA January 16, 2009--Andrew Wyeth, often referred to as America's most famous artist, died in his sleep at his home in Chadds Ford, surrounded by his family early this morning, after a brief illness. Wyeth, 91, was painting until recently, with some new works exhibited at the Brandywine River Museum in 2008.

Wyeth ignored the preferences of the art establishment during the heyday of abstract expressionism but nonetheless won international acclaim with exhibitions throughout the world, received many awards, and inspired countless imitators. His work brought some of the highest prices for a living American artist. His painting, Christina's World (1948), is one of the best-known images of the 20th-century.

"The world has lost one of the greatest artists of all time," said George A. Weymouth, a close friend and chairman of the board of the Brandywine Conservancy.

Andrew Newell Wyeth was born in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania on July 12, 1917, a son of the internationally renowned painter and illustrator N.C. Wyeth and his wife Carolyn Bockius Wyeth. Theirs was a creative family: Henriette Wyeth Hurd, Carolyn Wyeth and Andrew were painters; Ann Wyeth McCoy was a composer; and son Nathaniel was an engineer and inventor with many patents to his credit.

At age 15, Wyeth began his academic training in his father's studio. In that year, on one of his boyhood walks, he discovered the Chadds Ford farm of Karl and Anna Kuerner. Wyeth was intrigued by Kuerner, a German immigrant and World War I veteran, developing a close relationship with him over the years. Wyeth has found subjects in the Kuerner farm's people, animals, buildings and landscapes for hundreds of works of art over more than 75 years.

The Wyeth family spent summer months in Maine, and Andrew Wyeth's early watercolor landscapes, much influenced by the work of Winslow Homer, met with enormous critical acclaim at his first one-man show at the William Macbeth Gallery in New York City in 1937. An exceedingly self-critical artist, this immediate success did not reassure him. Feeling that his work was too facile, he returned to his father's studio for further concentration on technique.

Wyeth soon began working in egg tempera, a technique introduced to him by his brother-in-law, the painter Peter Hurd. Tempera became his major medium. He said that it forced him to slow down the execution of a painting and enabled him to achieve the superb textural effects that distinguish his work. His other mediums were watercolor and drybrush watercolor.

In 1940, Wyeth married Betsy James, whom he had met in Maine the previous summer. It was Betsy who introduced Wyeth to her long-time friend Christina Olson, who had been crippled by polio. Olson's character represented "old Maine" to him, and she became his model for many works of art, including Christina's World.

Wyeth caused a sensation in 1986 with the revelation of a large collection of paintings featuring German immigrant Helga Testorf, a Chadds Ford neighbor. The paintings were first exhibited at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, the following year, and were then exhibited internationally and seen by millions.

In 1987, the exhibition An American Vision: Three Generations of Wyeth Art, featuring 117 works by N.C., Andrew, and Jamie Wyeth, traveled to the Soviet Union and to nine cities around the world.

In addition to his wife, Wyeth is survived by two sons, Nicholas, a private art dealer in Maine, and his wife, Lee; and Jamie, also a very well-known painter, and his wife, Phyllis; and granddaughter Victoria Browning Wyeth.

Wyeth received many awards during his lifetime. In 1963, President John F. Kennedy named Wyeth the first artist to receive the Presidential Freedom Award, the country's highest civilian award. In 1970, he was the first living artist to have an exhibition at the White House. Wyeth's other tributes include the gold medal for painting from the National Institute of Arts and Letters (1965), several painting and watercolor awards and numerous honorary degrees. In 1977 he made his first trip to Europe to be inducted into the French Academy of the Fine Arts, becoming the only American artist since John Singer Sargent to be admitted to the Academy. The Soviet Academy of the Arts elected him an honorary member in 1978. He received the Congressional Gold Medal in 1990. Most recently, he was awarded National Medal of Arts in 2007. He also received numerous honorary degrees.

One-artist exhibitions of his work routinely broke attendance records at major museums, including the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia, the Baltimore Museum of Art; the Whitney Museum of American Art; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; The Art Institute of Chicago; and the Museum of Fine Arts, San Francisco. His work was also exhibited at museums throughout the world, including the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo; the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg; the Palazzo Reale in Milan; and the Academie des Beaux Arts, Paris, among many other museums. He was the first living American artist to have an exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts in London. An exhibition of his work at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 2006 drew 177,000 visitors in 15 1/2 weeks, the highest-ever attendance at the museum for a living artist.

His work is included in many major American museums, including The Museum of Modern Art in New York City and the National Gallery of Art, as well as the Brandywine River Museum in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania and the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland, Maine, to name only a few.

Services will be private. A celebration of his life and work will take place at the Brandywine River Museum at a date to be announced. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Brandywine River Museum and the Farnsworth Art Museum.

-- Brandywine River Museum

Opportunity for Artists

Deadline February 6, 2009

20th National Drawing & Print Competitive Exhibition. A minimum of $1500 available in purchase prize money. Drawings and prints (not photography) in any medium are eligible. A non-refundable entry fee of $30 entitles the artist to submit up to three entries. The Juror is Allegra Marquart, Professor of Printmaking at Maryland Institute College of Art. Deadline February 6.

Enter online here.

National Drawing and Print Competitive Exhibition
Attn: Geoff Delanoy
College of Notre Dame of Maryland
4701 North Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21210


Thursday, January 15, 2009


It makes me feel kinda warm and fuzzy that the nominee for Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner, who essentially will be in charge of the IRS, and who is supposed to be a financial genius, made an "innocent mistake" and failed to pay $34,000 in taxes between 2001 and 2004.

If financial geniuses can make $34,000 mistakes on their favor, get audited by the IRS, get off a couple of years' worth of back-taxes, and then become the IRS' boss, things are good for the rest of us "regular" financial types.

But, since some of Geithner's mistakes were forgiven by the IRS because of the statute of limitations, he actually got off not paying off some of his back taxes. I hereby call for Geithner to donate that tax amount that he should have paid, but didn't because of statute of limitations, to the Smithsonian Institution.

Live Model Drawing at MPA

The McLean Project for the Arts in Virginia is offering a January session as well as Winter and Spring sessions of Open Studio -- Live Model Drawing.

Details here or call 703.790.0123
for directions and registration.

The arts to get their $ from the economic recovery package

"For the last month, Americans for the Arts has been working with the field, Congress, and the Obama Transition Team to include support for the nonprofit arts sector and individual artists in any federal economic recovery package. With your help, we have been compiling examples of how the recession has affected arts groups. We are getting this compelling information along with our economic impact data into the hands of key policy leaders in Washington.

Last week, Americans for the Arts officially proposed Nine Recommendations for Economic Recovery & the Arts to help nonprofit and governmental arts groups as well as individual artists during this economic downturn. Today, Americans for the Arts President and CEO Bob Lynch met with the Obama Transition Team to discuss these and other ideas.

Also today, the House Appropriations Committee released an $825 billion economic recovery package. Included in the proposed bill is an infusion of $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts (in addition to its annual appropriations) to specifically preserve jobs in the nonprofit arts sector threatened by declines in philanthropic and other support. The House plan proposes additional opportunities throughout other parts of the federal government that could also help the nonprofit arts sector and individual artists. Many of these other opportunities correspond closely with our Recommendations for Economic Recovery & the Arts."
Details here.

Steven Soderbergh's Che

More on my expectations of Steven Soderbergh's Che, which bring some prejudices, notions, knowledge, facts, and ideas about how a film should depict Guevara.

Che Guevara by F. Lennox Campello

Ernesto "Che" Guevara de La Serna Lynch. Charcoal on paper, 5 x 17 inches, c.1999 by F. Lennox Campello

Read it here.

At the Corcoran

Korda's CheAlberto “Korda” Díaz’s image of Che Guevara as saint, guerrilla, and fashion statement is considered to be the most reproduced image in the history of photography. The stunning documentary film, Chevolution (Red Envelope Entertainment, 2008), codirected and produced by Trisha Ziff, explores how and why this image became so important. Through original footage, notable interviews, and a look into vast archival collections of Che images, this film tackles the complexity and contradictions of what this important photograph still means today. Ms. Ziff is a curator of contemporary photography, filmmaker, and Guggenheim scholar who lives and works in Mexico. Following the screening, she discusses the film and takes questions from the audience.
The lecture is January 21, 2009 at 7PM. Sign up for the lecture here.

That photo of Che by Korda has been commercialized beyond belief, and Korda never received any compensation from the appropriation of his image. A few years ago, just before he died, the Cuban dictatorship allowed him to sue a French company and prevent the use of the image on a "Che" Vodka.

A couple of years ago I helped one of the collectors that I advise to acquire a huge collection of vintage Korda photographs which were his private copies and proofs and which passed to his daughter upon his death. They are now safe in a private collection in West Palm Beach and she received some good money for them.

But from the millions of Che T-shirts and posters and endless reproductions of the photograph, Korda never received a penny.

My favorite Che T-shirt is below...

I Hate Che Guevara T-Shirt

Artists' Websites: Jen Blazina

Longing by Jen Blazina

Longing Installation. Cast resin, steel, screen-print, bridal satin, reverse painting; varying dimensions by Jen Blazina

I find Jen Blazina to be one of the most interesting artists from the Greater Philadelphia area. Last year she was awarded two residencies: the Frans Masereel Centrum in Belgium and a National Endowment for the Arts Grant to attend a fellowship at The Women's Studio Workshop.

Before that Blazina has been awarded numerous other residencies including: Women's Studio Workshop in New York, in 2006; Scuola di Grafica in Venice, Italy; Kala Art Institute in Berkeley, CA, in 2005 and 2007; The Creative Glass Center of America's Residency Fellowship for 2003 in New Jersey; Millay Colony for the Arts in New York. She has also been awarded numerous grants including the Leeway Foundation Grant, the Maryland State Arts Council, and the Independence Foundation Grant.

Visit her website here.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


There's an orgy of art shows about Obama going on across the nation and I am a little overwhelmed by the huge number of galleries and venues which have all come up with the same idea of doing an art exhibition with BO as the subject.

In fact I'm even participating in one here in Philly myself; more on that later. I am in the process of creating my own Obama piece for that show.

Obama by Scott Siedman

The Man from Illinois, by Scott Seidman - At Manifest Hope DC

Around the DC region, from what I can gather from emails, buzz and talking to people, the Manifest Hope DC and the one at Heineman-Myers Contemporary Art seem to be the ones that people are talking about.

These kind of love-in art shows present a tremendous opportunity for artists looking for the cheap element of shock to help them gather their 15 minutes of fame. This is where an opportunist shockmeister can produce some really offensive artwork and exhibit it in the name of dissent. In this case, you don't even need an offensive work, just something against the huge pro Obama art tide.

Because we live in a free nation, and because people are people, and because the mainstream media only pays attention to art and artists when there's shock involved, someone exhibiting some anti-Obama artwork would make worldwide news in a sea of pro Obama artwork.

Artwork about Bush, at least what I saw in the last 8 years was 100% negative, and anti-Bush from the very beginning of his Presidency. I can't think of a single pro-Bush artist or work of art, and because logic tells me that not every artist in the world was anti Bush, I (perhaps with flawed logic) then deduce that no artist had the cojones to show his pro-Bush sentiment.

Artwork about Clinton always included a healthy mix of pro and con pieces.

But I seriously doubt that someone will have the cojones to create and exhibit any anti Obama work of art (at least not now). And because of that, they will miss this once in a lifetime opportunity to offend and be propelled to worldwide fame. Look what it did for Andres Serrano and Chris Offili! On the other side, no matter what those guys ever create, they will always be known for "Piss Christ" and "Virgin Mary."

We know you're out there.

Update: I forgot about Bailey.

Miriam Kagan

Miriam Kagan's GenerationYGive is a must read blog and this is the reason why she started blogging.

Visit it here.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

More on Obama at NPG

Yesterday I told you that the Shepard Fairey portrait of Obama had been acquired by the National Portrait Gallery.

Obama portrait by Fairey

Today I learned from my colleague Martin Irvine, whose fine DC art gallery represents Fairey, that the work had been acquired through the generosity of my good friends and ubercollectors Heather and Tony Podesta.

Wanna buy some Rothkos?

J. Ezra Merkin, the New York financier tied to Bernard Madoff’s alleged $50 billion Ponzi scheme, is hearing from collectors interested in buying his dozen $150 million Mark Rothko paintings, the world’s largest private grouping, according to his art adviser.

Though the paintings aren’t for sale now, “everything has a price,” said Ben Heller, 83, who helped Merkin buy the abstract expressionist paintings during the past five years.

“I am flooded with phone calls,” said Heller, the stepfather of actress Kyra Sedgwick who was himself a Madoff victim.

The Rothkos, housed in Merkin’s Park Avenue duplex, include two 9-by-15-foot studies for murals that Rothko executed for the Four Seasons restaurant in the Seagram Building and Houston’s Rothko Chapel, and a third, smaller study for a Harvard University mural. The Four Seasons mural paintings are in the National Gallery in Washington.

Merkin’s Ascot Partners LP lost $1.8 billion from investments with Madoff, according to lawsuits. A second fund, the $1.5 billion Gabriel Capital LP, which also invested with Madoff, was closed last month.
Read the whole piece by Lindsay Pollock here.

Maruch Cafeteria

Located just a few minutes' taxi ride Miami Airport, Maruch Cafeteria is a perfect example of how real Cuban food can be sampled from a working class perspective, rather than from the haute cuisine perspective, or even the "real restaurant" approach, as Maruch is more akin to the million delis that dot New York City with hot food, but from a Cuban angle.

The City of Hialeah borders Miami airport, and just a handful of years ago it was an almost 100% Cuban and Cuban-American area. It appears to me that the ethnic diversity of the city is changing radically over the years, as I see a lot of businesses with Dominican, Colombian, Central American and even Brazilian names and products. Signs are nearly all in Spanish or have a Spanish translation, and they are also beginning to reflect the ethnic changes in the city, as Papuserias and Dominican Hair Salons are popping up everywhere. It is a clean, busy, nearly all working class neighborhood, with quiet one level homes with immaculate lawns in palm tree neighborhoods as well as super busy main commercial streets such as Palm Avenue and LeJeune Road.

I'm not sure how long Maruch Cafeteria has been there, but it is certainly a neighborhood hot spot, and chances are that if you drop by at lunchtime or dinner time, you'll see a lot of cops from the nearby precinct eating there, as well as a crowd of mostly working class Cubans and a sprinkling of Central American day laborers, often baffled by the Cuban dishes, but attracted by the cost of the food and the size of the servings.

There are about twenty small tables, and a small army of Cuban women of all shades, ages and shapes working behind the hot food counter, which is an array of Cuban food ranging from the kind of food that you'll see at any Cuban restaurant around the world, such as ropa vieja, tostones, black bean soup, yucca, etc., to less common but still very Cuban items such as vaca frita, ajiaco, tasajo, chicharron and more. If it is a sandwich that one desires, it is custom-made on the spot, and they offer the ubiquitous Cuban hot pressed sandwich or the lesser known, but tastier (at least to my taste) medianoche sandwich.

As you enter Maruch, the smell of garlic and cumin warn you that this is the real deal, and all the food (except for desserts) are behind a hot food counter with handwritten Spanish signs above each item. The prices are also written above each item, and range from $4.95 to $9.95 or so for a plate.

A plate usually includes one main item (pork, fish, chicken, goat, and beef) and two sides, plus rice and black beans or congri (both the congri made with black beans and the one from Oriente province made with red beans).

Congri is sort of a Cuban version of dirty rice, as the rice and beans are cooked together, and the white rice turns black or red, depending on the bean used.

There are several items of each kind of meat, such as 2-3 kinds of fish choices, 3-4 pork choices, etc.

The meat portions are huge.

In fact they are an exaggeration of culinary offering and would probably distress a hoity toity restaurant critic, but fit perfectly into the cultural norm of a neighborhood Cuban hole in the wall, mom & pop restaurant cafeteria, such as Maruch is.

When I say big, I mean really huge. Imagine a steak the size of a laptop screen, or a piece of fish 2-3 times the size that one normally gets in a restaurant.

In fact, I have never seen bigger portions of food served in any Cuban restaurant, or any other for that matter, anywhere else in the gazillions of restaurants that I have been in my life. These are Texas-sized portions times two!

When I last visited Maruch, I ordered chuleta de puerco, rice and black beans, yucca con mojo, platanos fritos, boniato and a couple of beers.

It was an enormous meal; an exaggeration of food to a spectacular degree and I enjoyed every bit of it. The pork was tender and well-seasoned, the black bean soup gave up their garlicky cuminy smell that separates Cuban black beans from all other ethnic Latin American black bean dishes, and the mojo for the boiled yucca was spectacular, reeking of garlic, olive oil, onions, and lime juice. The boniato (Cuban yam) was sweet and tender and the platanos fritos thick and sweet. This orgy of starches really complemented the huge portion of pork, and I ate it all.

In spite of the huge meal, afterwards I had a cuatro leches for dessert. "You must try cuatro leches," said in Spanish the raven-haired and green-eyed Cuban waitress, who looked more like a tanned Irish woman than what Hollywood thinks as Cuban. "The owner makes it herself."

Cuatro Leches is a taste numbing Cuban dessert cake made from four different kinds of milk (such as cow's milk, evaporated milk, condensed milk, etc.). Cuban culinary urban legend has it that there are ocho leches makers out there, who introduce other milks (such as goat milk, and other milks that one better not ask about) into the recipe, which is not for calorie counters, even at just four milks.

I finished my meal with a cafe cubano, or a Cuban coffee, which is a tiny shot of super-sweet espresso with enough caffeine to ensure that I'd be up half the night remembering the orgy of food that I had consumed.

Maruch Cafeteria is located at 92 East 8th Street, Hialeah, Florida 33010, telephone (305) 805-9302‎. Next time that you're hanging around Miami airport with a few hours to waste, or just feel like exploring a true gem of typical Cuban food, go to Maruch and tell them that Ana Campello's son sent you.

Monday, January 12, 2009

From Soup to Nuts

Boned, 2008 by Jack Rasmussen

Jack Rasmussen. Boned, 2008. Acrylic and collage, 18x24 inches.

From Soup to Nuts: Art for All Tastes is the title of the exhibition at the
Jean Albano Gallery in Chicago and it is not only noteworthy because of the very cool art in this group show, but also because it includes the above piece by my good friend Jack Rasmussen; his first exhibit in 30 years!

Secretary of the Arts

Quincy Jones has started a petition to ask President-elect Obama to appoint a Secretary of the Arts.

While many other countries have had Ministers of Art or Culture for generations, the United States has never created such a position.

Although I am generally opposed to expanding government, we in the arts community need this and the country needs the arts -- now more than ever. If you feel that this is a decision that you can support, then please take a moment to sign this important petition and then pass it on to your friends and colleagues.

Sign the petition here.

My thoughts on some candidates for the position, and my ideas on how to keep a new Department of the Arts from becoming a huge burocratic mess will come later.

Obama at NPG

Obama portrait by Fairey
The stencilled portrait of President Elect Obama by street artist Shepard Fairey, which became the key image of the Obama election campaign and did wonders for Fairey, has been acquired by the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC for its permanent collection.

Of peripheral interest, artist Shepard Fairey has been under a lot of scrutiny in the internets for his alleged violations of intellectual property in lifting imagery and design from Third World artists. Read all about it here. If these allegations are true... well you see where this is heading.

Also, at the risk of being pedantic, it was my understanding that all contemporary portraits in the NPG had to be executed from the live person. In other words, they couldn't be done from a photograph, etc. I will contact the NPG and ask them about this. I am assuming that Fairey did his famous portrait of Obama from an appropriated photograph, rather than have Barack pose for him.


For a couple of years now I have been telling you to acquire Michael Janis' artwork.

From the 1,047 artists from 43 countries sending almost 3,000 images, 100 were selected for publication in New Glass Review, the Corning Museum's annual international publication of glass artists.

The judges were Rachel Berwick, Department Head of Glass, Rhode Island School of Design; Mieke Groot, independent curator, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, and uber glass artist Dante Marioni, from Seattle, Washington, which (as glass freaks know) is the fine arts glass capital of the upper crust of the fine arts world and one of the world's most beautiful cities.

And the DC area's own Michael Janis, from the Washington Glass School, is in that exclusive group in the forthcoming book for 2009.

Death, by Michael Janis

Death, Tarot Card Series. By Michael Janis. Cast glass, steel, glass powder, 18" x 36" x 2"

Artists from the Washington Glass School continue to push the envelope of contemporary glass, and yet their own city's museums seem to be the only ones lagging in spotting them ahead of the rest of the art world.

But for now all that I have to say is "Congratulations Mike!"

Che: El Chacal de La Cabaña

A while back in the mail I got some preview tickets to the opening of the new Steven Soderbergh two-part epic about the life of Ernesto "Che" Guevara, the Argentinean blue blood guerrilla leader, starring Puerto Rican actor Benicio Del Toro in the leading role (which has already earned him the coveted Best Actor award at the 2008 at the Cannes Film Festival).

Because I was away on vacation, I couldn't go, but I do plan to see this film, as I have been an avid Guevara follower nearly all my life. Here's a little known Guevara fact: His paternal grandparents, Roberto Guevara and Ana Lynch, were born in California!

Che Guevara by F. Lennox Campello

"Che Guevara" by F. Lennox Campello. Charcoal c. 2003. 6 x 15 inches

My father fought alongside Guevara during the Cuban Revolution, and like most of those brave young men who fought against the Batista dictatorship (both in the mountains of Oriente province and the streets of Havana and Santiago de Cuba) he never expected the Cuban Revolution to institutionalize a worse dictatorship than Batista's bloody regime.

Che was a declared Communist all along, but Communists were rare in the ranks of the rebels.

In fact, to this day most people don't know that the official Cuban Communist Party was part of the Batista government while the Revolution was underway and even Guevara, a Communist all along, had harsh words for the Cuban Communists during the struggle. In 1958 he wrote that there were "mutual fears" between the rebels and the Party, and "fundamentally, the Party of the Workers has not perceived with sufficient clarity the role of the guerrilla."

After the revolution, Guevara further added that he "only knew of three Communists who had participated in combat." Besides himself and Raul Castro, one wonders who the third Communist was (Raul Castro's future wife, Vilma Espin was also a known Communist; however, she was one of the urban guerrillas working under Frank Pais, the anti-Batista leader in the streets of Cuba. Pais was strongly anti-Communist. Of interest, a persistent rumor blames Espin as the traitor responsible for Pais' death at the hands of the Batista police. Fidel Castro himself, always denied being a Communist, until sometime in the early 1960s.

Guevara was a very courageous and even reckless fighter (as opposed to Castro, who spent most of the war secluded in the relative safety of the Sierra Maestra mountains). But Che was also the grim executioner of the Cuban Revolution, a fact that he never hid and even bragged about, but which most Guevara admirers conveniently ignore.

It was Guevara who executed deserters and captured Batista soldiers and henchmen during the struggle; and it was Guevara who signed many of the tens of thousands of execution orders after the Revolution, when Cuba was bathed in blood by avenging firing squads.

See some of the documented Cubans executed by Guevara (including over a dozen shot by Che himself) here or if you have the guts, you can see an actual firing squad in action (broadcast over Cuban TV in 1959).

Because of that, Guevara is known to Cubans as "El Chacal de La Cabaña."

"El Chacal de La Cabaña" translates to the "Jackal of La Cabaña," although it is usually translated as the "Butcher of La Cabaña."

La Cabaña is an 18th century fortress complex located on the elevated eastern side of the harbor entrance to Havana, and the location for many of the thousands of firing squad executions which took place after January 1, 1959. Shot were former members of Batista's police, army and air force, informants, traitors, and counter-revolutionaries.

The best known story about this period (which I heard related in a Spanish language radio show in Florida last week) relates to how a Cuban mother went to see Che to beg for her son's life. The son was 17 years old, and was on the firing squad list, to be executed within a week. If Guevara pardoned her son, the mother begged, she would ensure that he never said or did anything against the Revolution.

Che's response was to order the immediate execution of the boy, while the mother was still in his office. His logic: now that the boy was shot, his mother would no longer have to anguish over his fate.

Dead Che, source unknown, from the collection of the authorOn the other hand, Che's courage as a guerrilla leader and his dedication to his caused are well documented and never challenged and cost him his life.

While Fidel Castro tightened his grip on the Cuban people and replaced the Batista dictatorship with the Castro dictatorship, Guevara put his life at risk fighting in guerrilla wars in Africa and Latin America, until he was caught in the highlands of the Bolivian mountains in 1967 and executed on the spot. Just as he would have done had the situation been reversed.

It is this glowing side of Che's complex character that Che's admirers and apologists always focus upon, and I am looking forward to seeing if this film addresses both the spectacularly courageous side of this iconic figure, as well as his war crimes and dark side of a man with little compassion and remorse.

I am also curious as to how the film handles Guevara's departure from Cuba. "Che", claims Dariel Alarcon Ramirez, who joined the rebels in 1956 and then went with Guevara to Bolivia, "left Cuba after being accused of being a Trotskist and a Maoist.... and because of the problems he had with the Cuban government, specifically Fidel and Raul Castro."

Once I see the film, I will tell you my thoughts on it. Meanwhile below are the lyrics (translated from the Spanish) from Olafresca's song titled "El Chacal."

They forced us to hold you
In historic prominence
They promoted your bravery
To the whole world after your death

Here your face remained
On t-shirts and posters
They don’t say all of the truths
Of the Jackal of the Cabaña

Your hand gripped so tight
That to history it sends
An image from Santa Clara
Where power seduced you

And now your face is in fashion
On t-shirts and posters
They don’t say all of the truths
Of the Jackal of the Cabaña

Aristidio followed you
Til the day he tired (of the lie)
When he told you he was leaving
With a 32. you silenced him

Here your face remains…
And even if you clean the t-shirt to its guts
It doesn’t wash the blood from the hands
Of the Jackal of Cabaña

Of the Cabaña you where the warden
You sent thousands to the death squads
But you preferred to play the warrior
You yourself dismissing the innocent

Now, there is your face
The women you made widows find it strange
How can he be everywhere we look
The Jackal of the Cabaña

A hero to some to others a criminal
Your face is known and your idealistic cause
But the path of violence will never win
Your passion consumed you and you became (the Jackal)

Here your face remains
On t-shirts and posters
They don’t say all of the truths
Of the Jackal of the Cabaña

History has already proven
That you don’t win peace with bullets
In any time or situation
What we need is compassion