Thursday, April 30, 2009

Wanna go to an opening in DC tomorrow?

Loads of them at the many galleries around the Dupont Circle area... while there, do not miss Katya Kronick at Studio Gallery.

Katya Kronick

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Cy Twombly Drawing lost in NYC cab

Cy Twombly drawing

Cy Twombly, Untitled (2-sided drawing), 1957, graphite on paper, 13 3/4 x 19 in., signed and dated in pencil Cy Twombly, Roma, May 57

The above scribbly drawing by Cy Twombly was being taken by someone to the framing shop, when they either left it in the taxi or somehow lost it getting out of the cab somewhere in NYC.

The owner is offering $5,000 as a reward for anyone who finds it.

I am far from being a Twombly fan, but let's be honest... unless you are a big Twombly fan, the chances of anyone recognizing the pencil scribbles on the paper as an important work of art, even in a cultured city like NYC, are pretty slim to none. The fact that it is signed and dated in pencil may prove its saving grace, if someone did find it and took the time to actually examine it.

This is yet another reason why signatures are important when it comes to artwork, and begs the question as to why this is such a hard issue to grasp for so many artists who never sign their work.

If you had no idea as to the provenance or origin of this drawing and saw it, most of us would discard it as someone trying to sharpen up his pencil by running it back and forth across the paper a few times. Add a signature, location and date and immediately, with a little art history behind you, the finder may have a change to realize that he/she just found something very valuable as art.

But I still wonder if the cabbie just threw it out at the end of his shift when he was cleaning his cab. It wouldn't be the first time that someone thought that what some consider art, others see as trash.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Where are they now? Part II

You've heard this story before... I started to sell my artwork on a regular basis while I was at art school at the University of Washington in Seattle from 1977-1981. Back then I got myself a ten foot spot at the Pike Place Market, and once my school assignments were graded they were up for sale and through those years I sold hundreds, if not thousands, of art school assignments.

For almost four years, about three four times a week I would drive down to Pike Place, and later on when I was able to get some storage space for the art, take the bus... I loved those early morning bus rides, and the views of the mist rising from Montlake cut when the bus crossed the bridge from the University District where I lived, down to downtown Seattle are still some of the most wonderful memories of my life. Seattle is such a spectacularly gorgeous city.

And so I became a Pike Place Market "regular." One in the odd family of artists, craftspeople, hippies, farmers and oddfolk who made up the amazing tapestry of the market people. My prices for my student artwork were super good... most pieces went from around $20 and some were as cheap as $5. I think that the most expensive thing that I sold back in those years was probably around a couple of hundred bucks for a huge watercolor. I used to sell at the market two days during the week in order to qualify for a space on Saturdays, which was the best selling day for everyone.

The spaces were open, so in the winter it was cold and damp, and we used to get warmed by coffee from the original Starbucks, back when there was only one, or hot chocolate from the chocolate factory there.

But the bst thing that I received from my time as a Pike Place Market regular was the education in dealing with the public, presenting the work, and talking it up; that was priceless, and in a good way accounts for where I am today... I know this now.

Like I've said before, I often wonder where some of those pieces of artwork are... such as the very cool pen and ink wash piece below, which I actually did one day at the Pike Place Market itself... the subject was a Native American lady who was also a regular at the Pike Place Market, and she was nearly always knitting across from me (I think she sold knitted stuff and macramé - remember macramé?) ... and in some sort of surrealistic student path, I made her into a giant rock or massive statue... those are tiny Seattle sailboats under her. I also loved the spectacular shadow that she casts in the drawing, a shadows that demands a sun which never rises in gunmetal gray Seattle. It is a gray drawing, with a gray weather, in a gray land, with a non-existent black hole sun casting an amazing tropical shadow.

Seattle sailboats in a surreal world by F. Lennox Campello
Someone in the Pacific Northwest bought it and who knows where it is now.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Best of 2005

Since I'm on the road with little time for blogging... below is a reprint (or is it repost?) from one of the most emailed-about posts in this blog... originally posted in 2005...

Waste of Time

Since we opened our first gallery in 1996, we have rarely worked with "art consultants" or "interior decorators."

Overall, the experience (in the very few times that we've worked with them) has been quite a waste of time (such as the time that we wasted months dealing with Sen. Hillary Clinton's Georgetown-based interior designers to select a work by New York painter David FeBland.

Because the focus of our galleries is contemporary representational work ("realism with a bite"), it seldom agrees with the bland, "cannot afford to insult anyone," art selection process of most major corporate and business buyers (and public art projects).

But yesterday I bit again, and delivered work by several of our artists that had been selected by a very major law firm's art consultant to possibly hang in their new meeting room in a beautiful building in downtown DC. Come in, get a badge, drive to the loading dock and start delivering work to the 9th floor. As soon as I got there I knew that our chances were slim to none, as I saw a lot of this stuff.

And the very nice and professional art consultant was horrified to see that I had brought this piece by artist Javier Gil.

"Get that out of here before anyone sees it," she advised. "Nothing like that can even be considered and it may poison their minds about the rest."

Her favorite from our four artist selection was the work of our best-selling artist David FeBland. I explained that David's works have been selling very well, especially since the Europeans have discovered his work. Since his prices have been skyrocketing (law of supply and demand), we both doubted that they'd be interested in his work, since he was by far the most expensive artist in what was being presented.

But I schlepped all the work over, including a massive, framed Maxwell MacKenzie photo.

After a few trips I return to the gallery van, which had been parked in the loading dock, as directed, to find it blocked by a truck delivering paper supplies. I ask the guy nicely if he can please move a foot so that I can leave. He cusses me out.

I then waste 10 minutes of cussing and yelling and threatening the very large truck driver, near to a fist fight with a guy who looks like George Foreman, before another huge guy comes in and breaks up the argument... all that before I can leave, now in a total black mood.

Return to DC around 3:30PM to pick up the work. Back up into the tiny loading dock, where I manage to put a huge gouge on the left side of the new gallery van (less than 800 miles on it). Then I get a large smear of grease from one of the dumpsters on the back of my new suit, which I had naturally just worn for the first time this morning. Things are going great uh?

Up to the 9th floor, which for some strange reason, in this building is actually a few steps below the 7th floor.

Not too surprisingly, none of our work had been picked. And what was picked can best be summarized as "big, bold, large abstract art," mostly by names I had never heard of.

I can't say that I blame corporate art buyers, especially in selecting work for their public meeting spaces. We're at a juncture in our history where anything that could remotely be offensive to anyone, is not part of the PC art process. When was it the last time that you saw a nude in an American airport?

On one of the trips I run into a very tall woman who had been (I think) the head of the "art pickers" from the law firm; she sees me packing the David FeBland. "That was our favorite among all the artists," she says.

"He's our best-selling painter," I replied, too tired to inquire as to why he wasn't selected (I already know: price). On the massive table I see the work selected; around 20-30 pieces of mostly abstract, large, work.

Waste of my time; scratch on my new van; possibly a ruined suit; and near fist fight with a huge burly truckdriver... another day in the life of an art dealer.


On the road for a few days, but will keep up... meanwhile Craftweek in DC was a huge success last week as the collecting craft world big names descended upon the capital.

I've heard about the great talk at WPA on the distinctions of and issues raised by definitions of Craft vs Art - I am told that the moderator, my good friend Jeffrey Cudlin, a terrific artist and curator, and a superb critic who can be a bit of an egghead on art theory in my plebeian opinion, delivered quite a funny and thoughtful panel.

The tug o' war afterwards? The winner of the tug-o-war was craft.

On Thursday one of the events was the Smithsonian Journeys tour through the various artists' studio - bringing a national group of collectors to see our area artists.

Friday's demos of work by the artists in the Mt Rainier studios along the tracks went well and the gala - Venetian Carnivale - went very well - actually was quite a bit of fun I am told. Highlights included the full on, three-act, choreographed fire spinning performance (don't know the name of the local group of fire people) and having the party crashed by Mount Rainier Mayor Malinda Miles (not too often do you get your party crashed by the local Hizzoner).

My sources tell me that members of the James Renwick Alliance said that the event was the most fun they had in the 15 years that they have gone to these annual galas. They loved the interaction with the artist studios - the work, the spaces - it was all fun and fresh.

The heart and soul of a working artist, standing on the shoulders of giants can best be told by the exchange with an ubercollector and a DC area artist. The artist tells me that the collector

"had bought a piece of mine a year or so ago, and was telling me about where it was located in her home. She said that she put it next to the work of a 'famous sculptor' - but could not remember his name. Someone very famous... deceased... but could not remember his name. She was a bit flummoxed and tried to remember other things to jog her memory - he was Asian... but still could not remember. So I tossed out the most unlikely name I could think of - Noguchi?

That was it - Isamu Noguchi.

Talk about being gobsmacked. My work next to a Noguchi. I thought you being a Frida-phile would appreciate the story.
There's something simple and innocent and appreciative in that story that makes me proud to know such artists.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


Prints & drawings by Sidney Lawrence, opening Thursday, April 30, 5-7 p.m. at Leopold’s Kafe & Konditorei (3318 M St, NW (Cady’s Alley) in Georgetown). Show continues through July 6, 2009.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Party time

"In Washington, you'll never know who you'll meet on the social circuit. We gathered some of the interesting people we'd want to run into at a party, and got them on video talking about what they love about Washington, what makes a good party, and more."

Jessica Sidman
See the video here.

Artists' Websites: Jessie Lehson

Jessie Lehson is inspired, hard-working, focused, and moving forward fast and she's been in a ton of activities lately.

Dirt Shrine by Jesse Lehson

She will have a focus exhibition opening soon at the Greater Reston Art Center (Exhibition: April 25- June 6, 2009, Reception: May 2, 2009); she is a Sondheim Prize finalist and will be in an exhibition at the Baltimore Museum of Art (Exhibition: June 20- August 16, 2009); and she was a 2009 recipient of the Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award.

She also had work featured recently in Once again, again; Rhythm and repetition, at the McLean Project for the Arts, McLean, VA; I Heart Art Auction & the 2008 Under the Bridge Festival, DUMBO Art Center, Brooklyn, NY; A Clean Break, curated by Angela Jerardi at Minima Gallery (off-site), Philadelphia, PA; and Bright Shin , New Paperwork Gallery, Baltimore, MD.

That's what you call an artist that everyone needs to keep an eye on. Visit her website here.

Where are they now?

I started to sell my artwork on a regular basis while I was at art school at the University of Washington in Seattle from 1977-1981. Back then I got myself a spot at the Pike Place Market, and once my school assignments were graded they were up for sale and through those years I sold hundreds, if not thousands, of art school assignments.

Mind you, the prices were good... most pieces went from around $20 and some were as cheap as $5. I think that the most expensive thing that I sold back in those years was probably around a couple of hundred bucks. I used to sell at the market two days during the week in order to qualify for a space on Saturdays, which was the best selling day for everyone.

But the education in dealing with the public, presenting the work, and talking it up, was priceless, and in a good way accounts for where I am today... I think.

Sometimes I wonder where some of those pieces of artwork are... such as the rather large viscosity print below, which I created in some long forgotten printmaking class, using my finger on the plate to create the female pear figure.

F. Lennox Campello monoprint
I got a pretty good grade on that piece... I kept changing its name... it was once titled "Hot Flashes." And who knows how much I sold it for, but someone in the Pacific Northwest bought it and who knows where it is now.

Friday, April 24, 2009


The NYT's Holland Cotter won a Pulitzer for art criticism, which is a good (if rare for art criticism) thing... but deep in the weeds of this post about Cotter, in the updates between two clashing bloggers, is the news that for the first time the Pulitzer jury committee took the entry fee from an online visual arts blogger and reviewed the entry.

That's a good thing.

It is easy to predict that sometime in the near future, when the wheel of fortune clicks on art criticism again, that we may see a Pulitzer handed out to a blogging critic/reporter somewhere on the internets.

The power of the web.

Road trip

Starting tomorrow I will be on the road through the end of next week... two cities in six days... more later.

Newspaper bleeds

The Chicago Tribune has laid off a ton of people, including its art critic. Details and list here.

Wanna go to an opening Saturday?

Black and White, the art of three local artists (Tyler Matthew Oyer, Shawn Martinbrough and Anthony Patrick Jones II) opens at Art Whino on Saturday April 25th, from 6pm-Midnight.

More art scam artists

Beware of these email scam artists trying to rip you off:

Calos David

Hi how are you doing,i will like to buy your art work (name of work) to my new apartment in Copenhagen,so let me know if we can a have deal on it Thanks
Penn Cage

Please Let me know your artworks that are still available for sale. Penn Cage.


Steve Adams

Hello to you out there. I am so excited that I came across of your work on internet search,I am interested in purchasing some creative artworks from you let me know their various prices.and how much discounts are you going to give? I will be happy to have these selected artworks hanged in our new home in South Africa. As well, I want you to take out the shipping cost.I have been in touch with a shipping firm that will be shipping other house decoratives, We are travelling from our Dallas home to our new apartment as soon as possible.On Paying for the artworks,I will be glad to pay you with a Cashier check or Money order from the U.S Bank that can be easily cashed at your local bank,please let me know on how to proceed, Have a wonderful day. Take Care, Mr Steve Adams....


Jane Francis

Happy New Year. Hope this message finds you well. I saw these creatives works on your web site and i will like you to get back with more details if they are still available for purchase.
I will appreciate an urgent reply.

Best Regards,


Jesse Cohen and his crew will be hanging a show at their new space to coincide with the Hyattsville Arts Festival on May 16 11am-5pm.

They're going to hang a 12x12 show and they're looking for art that can fit 1ft x 1ft spots. All art must have a wire, capable of hanging on a hook, and be less than 10 pounds. Painting, printing, photography, 2-d sculpture, reliefs, and more. Each slot will be sold for $12.00, and all artists must be members. They will hang at least 100 works of art, and slots will be first come first serve. All works from paid slots will have 0% commission and 100% of those sales go towards the artist.

Details here.

So far the following artists will be exhibiting work:

Tammy Vittale
Cheryl Edwards
Susan Crane
Sherill Anne Gross
Michael Auger
Jennifer Maben Bishop
Edward Hahn
Andrew Hendricks
Genevieve Lynn
Heather M. Schmaedeke
Paul Farley
Michael Woodward
Mara Odette Guerrero
Kimberly Stark
Matt Sesow
Dana Ellyn
Ric Garcia
Jennifer Verrier
John Grillo Lucien
Lisa Rosenstein
Jessica Hensley
Lynne Venart
Judith Kim
Meghan Taylor
Angela Kleis
Caren Quinn
Sean Welker
Jennifer Beinhacker
Jeannette Gordon
Julianne Fuchs-Musgrave
Liliane Blom
Loretta Thompson
Tara Kocourek
James Landry
Henrik Sundqvist
Laurie Breen
Eric Ginsburg
Steven Dobin
Jason James Cresswell
Davin Tarr
Liliane Blom
Deborah Winram
Roy Utley
Robert Fox
Caroline Dolan
Juan Pineda

Can art prices be negotiated?

That is one of the most common questions that newbie art collectors ask me and one that pops up all the time at the ubiquitous expert panels on collecting art, selling art, making art or whatever art.

My first warning is to always advise everyone to beware of "art galleries" that have "art sales." Although art is a commodity, a reputable art gallery doesn't have "sales" with drastic price reductions. All that would accomplish is to destroy the price base of an artist. Leave the "sales" approach to rug stores.

A collector can always try to negotiate prices, as some dealers are open to it and some aren't. Most dealers automatically give known or returning collectors a "collector's discount," and artists should be aware of this industry policy, and it should certainly be specified in the contract.

Most reputable dealers will try to accommodate a client's requests and will often consult the artist on specific pricing issues, such as the case (in my own experience), where a collector wanted to acquire 40 paintings at once from an artist, but clearly also wanted a major discount.

If you are a collector, beginning or not, and really want that particular piece of art, but because of your financial issues cannot afford the offered price, be honest and say so and see where that leads. Often the dealer can offer you other work by the artist in your price range.

Be weary of price reductions of more than 10% as huge discounts hurt the artist's sales record and most reputable dealers will not do them. It is also perfectly reasonable to ask for a small discount if you are buying several pieces of art at once.

And the most common mistake made by artists themselves: selling their own work directly at vastly reduced prices from the gallery price. This is perhaps the most fatal mistake that any artist can do to destroy his/her work's price base. Prices should be aligned and essentially the same regardless of where they are sold, at the gallery, at the studio or at the art fair.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

2009 Top 25 Arts Destinations

New York City, which was the No. 1 Big Cities arts destination in 2008, came in at No. 1 again with almost double the number of votes over second-place winner Chicago, which also held the No. 2 spot last year. And Washington, D.C., which placed third on the Big Cities list in 2008, is third again this year.
Read the American Style Magazine poll here and see how Alexandria, VA beats Miami, FL... okeedokie.

MFAs at MICA this Friday

Work by Katherine MannFriday, April 24, from 5 to 7 PM is the last of the three Maryland Institute College of Art MFA thesis shows.

If you are in the Baltimore area, go see these shows.

The shows take place in the Fox Building, at MICA, 1300. W. Mt. Royal Ave, Baltimore, MD. Guaranteed are great art, good food and fun people! Artists include:

Amita Bhatt
Nina Glaser
Kat Rohrbacher
Katherine Mann
Scott Shanley
Karla Cott
Clarissa Gregory
Judy Stone
Pete Cullen
Alan Callander
Robby Rackleff
Emily Wathen
Sandy Triolo

Wanna go to an art lecture tonite?

click for larger image and details

An open $250,000 art prize

ArtPrize is a radically new open competition and perhaps the shape of things to come. It is open to any artist in the world who can find space in one of the exhibiting venues in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Open to a vote from anyone who attends.

It does cost $50 to participate. Registration ends July 31, 2009. Details here.

London Overtakes New York

In 2008, New York's auction market produced only $2.9 billion, down approximately 23 percent from a year ago and falling behind London, the new global leader in art auction sales.
Details here.

Meanwhile, some are predicting that as the economic slump continues, art collectors will be turning their attention more and more to the basics of art collecting and looking more closely at emerging artists and more affordable art.

That is the concept behind the international Affordable Art Fair, and the New York version of that fair takes place May 7-10 in New York City.

If you want to score a couple of free tickets to that fair, send me an email and I'll set you up.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Million Little Pictures

Deadline: July 1st 2009

Art House is looking for 1,000 people from around the world to receive 1000 disposable cameras. They'll mail you the camera for to you to document your life in 24 exposures and then you simply send them back the prints. Not only will they have an exhibition in Atlanta, but they say that they will also travel to the city with the most participants. The exhibition will be home to 24,000 photographs of 1,000 peoples lives all over the world.

For more information on the project go to this website. Postmark Deadline: September 1st 2009.

This Thursday in DC

An art show collaboration with Willco Residential, urbanpace and The Pink Line Project.

Artists: DECOY, Eve Hennessa, Susan Noyes, Mary Ott, Cory Oberndorfer, Andres Tremols, and Colin Winterbottom.

Two tri-plex lofts and a one bedroom filled with artwork in all mediums. Two Washington DC collectors will be placing works from their collection on the secondary market for the first time.

The Providence 11th Street Lofts
Thursday April 23rd 6:30pm-9:00pm
1515 11th Street NW (near P st)

Artists' Websites: Katherine Mann

Katherine Mann is about to have her MFA exhibit at MICA this coming Friday, April 24 from 5-7PM (Details later this week).

Work by Katherine Mann
She writes about her work that her "paintings depict ever-changing fantasy worlds where blood cells, rainforests and coral reefs collide and intertwine. Each piece functions as a man-sized porthole into a landscape alive with minute details, patterns and interlocking systems. This is achieved through the conglomeration of minutia piled and cobbled together to create larger, overarching systems that define the whole painting. I work with ambiguous shapes that could function as elements in radically different environments in the real world—a scabby circular shape could be a marsh object covered with barnacles, a white blood cell, or a cratered moon."

Visit her website here.

Conservation lecture tomorrow

Join Amber Kerr-Allison, Paintings Conservator and Lunder Conservation Fellow at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, for a gallery talk where she discusses the conservation treatments of several paintings in preparation for the Smithsonian American Art Museum's exhibition 1934: A New Deal for Artists, currently on exhibition through January 2010.

Learn more about the paintings themselves as you become acquainted with the techniques, methodology, and tools used by conservators in the treatment and care of the collection. Ms. Kerr-Allison will be joined by curator Ann Prentice Wagner. In tandem, they will explore the technical and visual components of the artwork, elaborate on the historical context of this period, and dialogue about collaboration between curators and conservators.

Thursday, April 23, 2:00 p.m. Meet at the entrance of the 1934 exhibition.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Open Studios in DC

On April 25 & 26, 2009, 52 O St. Studios will host their annual Open Studios event.

You can view the working and living spaces of over 20 DC artists at one of the largest and oldest buildings dedicated to the practice of Fine Arts in Washington D.C. Artists range from painters to graphic designers, sculptors to musicians, mixed-media artists to furniture makers. The O Street Studios hosts this Open Studio for a rare peak into their process and creative influences. Meet the artists and discuss their work over refreshments, music and interactive activities.

The building will be open from 11 AM - 5 PM both days. Free and open to all

52 O St., NW
Washington D.C. 20001

Featured Artists:

Stevens Jay Carter
Matthew Scott Davis
Department of Furniture
DJ Natty Boom
Adam Eig
Thom Flynn
Cianne Fragione
Gallie Hendricks
Andrea Haffner
Peter e Harper
Matt Hollis
Andy Holtin
Dean Hutchinson
Rebecca Kallem
Micheline Klagsbrun
Raye Leith
Michael Mansfield
Kendall Nordin
Holly & Ashlee Temple
Lisa Marie Thalhammer
Ben Tolman
The Tuesday Night Group
Zach Vaughn

Trevor Young at Flashpoint

Trevor Young returns to present his second solo exhibition, curated and produced by my good friend Annie Adjchavanich at the Gallery at Flashpoint, with 100 paintings in homage to non-places. The exhibition addresses generic spaces, such as freeways, hotel rooms, airports and supermarkets, which are familiar and safe, but often make us feel like we do not belong. Trevor Young: Non-Places, runs through June 6, 2009 and has an opening reception on Saturday, April 25, 6-8pm.

Trevor YoungIn Marc Augé’s Non-Places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity (1995) he coined the phrase "non-place" to refer to spaces of transience that do not hold enough significance to be regarded as "places." Young says, “We survive with the greatest of ease in non-places. That is the point. There is no need to travel from village to village when one store has everything we need. The non-place neutralizes individuality. ‘Place’ is filled with history and identity. Non-place is void of history and identity.”

Created in his studio in Silver Spring, MD and during a 45 day painting fellowship in Los Angeles, Young’s new works are a departure from his mail art series, Trevor Young Has Gone Postal, in which he mailed more than 500 number ten sized envelopes to his friend and curator Annie Adjchavanich. These elaborately decorated envelopes were exhibited at the Gallery at Flashpoint in 2004.

My good friend Al Miner has written about this show:

Trevor Young: Non-places

On the road between here and there are anonymous structures, mere rest stops for most of us, but not for Trevor Young. Where some see purgatory, he sees and paints an oasis, and a portal becomes a destination. Young’s “non-places,” coax us down the highway with their seductive smell of familiarity and french fries. His paintings are composites made of a lifetime of mental snap shots taken on countless trips through the drive-thru. We are simultaneously drawn to their slick veneers and repulsed by their lack of history. Young’s gas stations, retail mega chains, fast food restaurants, and airline terminals capture the conflict we feel about such shrines to modern capitalism.

Brightly colored and backlit, they snap us out of highway hypnosis like dazzling beacons on a bland horizon. Young renders their flat, artificial surfaces in luscious oil, rich with the evidence of his hand. In Washington, Tokyo, Buenos Aires, and beyond, non-places all essentially look the same, and that is comforting. To the artist, airline terminals serve as a gentle transition between the security of home and the shock of flight and then foreign soil.

However, non-places have a sinister side. While we may speak their language fluently, Young cautions against blind trust with his haunted, cinematic night scenes. Hotel rooms might feel like homes away from home, but who and how many slept there before? And how clean is that shiny fast food tabletop when we invoke the five-second rule?

Like all great love affairs, Trevor Young’s relationship with non-places is a complex one. His use of a traditional medium imbues them with the history they inherently lack, while his prolific practice reminds us that they are a dime a dozen. At once devotional images and mug shots, they marry optimism and cynicism. Lucky for us they make a beautiful couple.

-Al Miner

Monday, April 20, 2009

Artists' Websites: Nina Glaser

Nina Glaser is a superbly talented young painter about to do her MFA exhibit this coming Friday at MICA (details on all of those Frida MFA shows later this week).
Nina Glaser

Alyssa. Oil by Nina Glaser. 36x24 inches.

Her work is not only superbly crafted (she's a painter's painter) but also has that hard-to-describe inner quality to it that adds a sense of depth and mystery to the work which immediately separates her from the pack of technically savvy painters. There is youth and narrative in her work, and more importantly, immense promise.

Nina Glaser postcard

Visit her website here. This is an artist which should be snatched by regional galleries now!

International Art Affairs 2009

Three Big Parties and five important Lectures + Wine Receptions...More on this later, but meanwhile click here.

Aqui Estamos comes to Philly

As I've written many times, as result of the decades-long Cuban embargo, the work of contemporary Cuban artists has been noticed for many years by many important museums and curators around the world, but often remains a mystery to American collectors and art enthusiasts. And those who write about the commoditization of art, such as the Wall Street Journal, have been telling art collectors who buy art in the hope those prices will rise, to buy contemporary Cuban art.

The WSJ wrote:

"With art from Asia and Russia in demand, some in the art world are betting on Cuba to be the next hot corner of the market. Prices for Cuban art are climbing at galleries and auction houses, and major museums are adding to their Cuban collections. In May, Sotheby's broke the auction record for a Cuban work when it sold Mario Carreño's modernist painting "Danza Afro-Cubana" for $2.6 million, triple its high estimate.

Now, with a new president in power and some hope emerging for looser travel and trade restrictions between the U.S. and Cuba, American collectors and art investors are moving quickly to tap into the market. Some are getting into Cuba by setting up humanitarian missions and scouting art while they're there. Others are ordering works from Cuba based on email images and having them shipped.

The collectors are taking advantage of a little-known exception to the U.S. trade embargo with Cuba: It is legal for Americans to buy Cuban art."
This suggestion and idea is simple, and has been proven recently by the super hot rise of Chinese artists: when a closed society is opened up a little, its top artists see a substantial rise in exposure and thus in demand, and of course, in prices!

And it makes sense (if you buy art as an investment strategy rather than love of art).

Generally speaking, when an artist is in certain major collections around the world, such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Tate in London, and other such giants of the museum world, it attracts a certain level of collector interest, and it is almost always associated with a certain price range.

And there are many contemporary Cuban artists whose work has been in those and many other important museums around the world for a very long time, and whose work continues to attract curatorial, critical and savvy collector interest, but because of their lack of exposure to the American market in general (often created by their closed societies), their price range is not in par with their colleagues from other nations in the same level.

Several years ago, almost by accident, I became involved in the curatorial process of contemporary Cuban art, in an effort to help with fundraising efforts by the Havana Hebrew Community Center. Since then I have become an experienced curator in this genre and have acquired a wealth of good knowledge about the artists from that unfortunate and imprisoned island.

Aquí Estamos (Here We Are) is my latest curatorial project and after an initial showing in Norfolk, Virginia, it traveled to to H&F Fine Arts and the Greater Washington, DC region and now travels to Philadelphia's Projects Gallery with an exhibition of recent work by several important Cuban artists working out of Havana as well as Cuban artists from the Cuban Diaspora.

How can this be done?

It’s a brutal, labor intensive touch and go process, as although art and books are the only two items exempt from the Cuban embargo, the heavy hand of the Communist dictatorship that runs everything on that unfortunate nation touches all aspects of life, including the creation and destination of art. Bypassing and escaping the government is not easy, but it can be accomplished if the artist is willing to risk it.

In the works that you’ll see at Projects Gallery we find narratives and imagery that represent many of these artists’ historical dissidence to the stark issues of contemporary Cuban life. The works are images that offer a historical and visual sentence in the history of an island nation behind bars with a powerful world presence in the arts and events of world history.

Larva by Sandra RamosIn Sandra Ramos’ works we see one of the most important contemporary Cuban artists in the world continue to visit themes dealing with racism in her homeland, the physical and intellectual drain caused by mass migration, and other austere realities of daily Cuban life. Ramos uses her body and her figure in many of her paintings and mixed media etchings to narrate the daily issues that confront her life in Havana. In her drawing "Larva," Ramos anticipates a future Cuba where she may be allowed to spread her artistic wings to full capacity, without fear of how her visual imagery may be interpreted by her own government.

Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons, who escaped from Cuba in the early 1990s, also uses her image and body to deliver powerful biographical and observational elements of the realities of being a black Cuban woman in America. She has been called “one of Boston’s most prominent artists,” and as evidence it has been submitted that the Cuban-born artist has shown at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, Minneapolis’s Walker Art Center, the Smithsonian, the Venice Biennale, and many other prestigious venues around the world.

And last year the Indianapolis Museum of Art hosted “Everything Is Separated by Water,” a mid-career retrospective of Campos-Pons’ paintings, sculptures, photos, and installations. And as an Afro-Cuban woman, Campos-Pons has used her cultural and racial background as the initial key theme of her own work, with long ties to her Cuban homeland, but also with a powerful influence of her evolving Americanosity.
Cirenaica Moreira

"Consume preferably before age 30." Gelatin Silver Print. Cirenaica Moreira

Both Cirenaica Moreira and Marta Maria Perez Bravo also employ their bodies to become the canvas of their photographs, although in each case with a different goal. Moreira has been called “woman as vagina dentata” for the ferocity via which her images depict her themes of loss of freedom, feminism, and being a Cuban woman in a land of unabashed machismo.

Marta Maria Perez Bravo - Esta en sus ManosPerez Bravo is considered by many to be the preeminent Cuban female photographer in the world, and her work addresses the fabulous rituals and images of Santeria, the unique Cuban mixture of Catholicism and African religions brought to the island by African slaves.

Kcho (Alexis Leyva Machado) is also considered by many to be among the leading Cuban artists in the world, and he first attracted international attention by winning the grand prize at South Korea's Kwangju Biennial in 1995.

Other artists in the show include work by Alejandro Mendoza (winner of the Best in Show 2006. IX Exposición de Arte Latinoamericano y del Caribe, Museum of the Americas) and Alex Queral. Also Roberto Wong, whose powerful paintings develop intelligent ways to showcase ways in which freedom is restricted and Aimeé Garcia Marrero, considered by many to be among Cuba’s most talented new crop of painters. Her technical skills are married to intelligent interpretations of daily Cuban life and even the influences of the giant to the North.
Concavo by Aimee Garcia Marrero

"Concavo" Digital Print by Aimee Garcia Marrero

The opening, free and open to the public is on May 1st, 2009 from 6-9PM. Projects Gallery is located at 629 N 2nd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19123, tel: 267.303.9652 and on the web at The exhibition is open through May 29, 2009.

More on "Achilles Heel"

On my post Achilles Heel a few days ago, I noted the below comments by gallery owner Carrie Horejs:

"I often wonder how other galleries are dealing with artists who have gallery representation but continue to self-promote. I have been known to secret shop gallery represented artists. I contact them through their emails on their personal websites and inquire as to whether they have any studio pieces available. Not once has an artist directed me to his or her galleries for purchases.

I fear galleries will dry up if they don’t smarten up. Then where will collectors go to see art in person?”
The above from comments by gallery owner Carrie Horejs. Read them here.
My good friend and terrific DC area artist John M. Adams, whose show opens at the Greater Reston Arts Center on April 25 added some excellent comments on his blog:
"She has good point, but I have a few questions about her perspective.

I checked out the gallery website, and it is a "membership gallery" - where the more you pay per month, the more you get to show.

That doesn't seem to indicate that it is traditional commercial gallery representation, and yes you have to be accepted, but it does seem to be more of a vanity gallery.

Why would the "rules" of traditional gallery representation apply to them if it's a pay to show situation? As an artist, it seems strange to "pay" for exclusive gallery representation.

My first question is what does their artist contract look like? Does it state that once you join, that all work sold from any venue must include their commission? (It does look like that from their website) That does not seem like a good deal and far from the norm of most exhibition contracts.

In addition, they have over 100 artists on their site, so really how much effort are they putting forth to promote each artist, other than putting them on their website or hanging a piece of artwork in the corner of a jam packed gallery? That's not real promotion. Artists work incredibly hard to publicize their own work. In the bulk of the places I have shown, I brought in the crowds, They are my connections and patrons that have been following my work for quite some time. I have looked around the gallery and realized that 95% of the people there were people I emailed, sent postcards to , etc. These are the people who buy my work.

Now I don't undercut or by-pass the gallery that is showing my work, I want to sell it there. (my experience has mostly been with non-profits and art centers). Most Artists would love to have gallery representation with a Gallery that actually did all of that promotion, I would.

I can understand why she is ticked off and no doubt in a "traditional" gallery representation setting that kind of behavior is just wrong and undermines the artist/gallery relationship, but really, given the structure of her gallery, if someone actually found the person's work in another venue that has nothing to do with her gallery, would the artist be so far off base (once again, I would like to see the contract)?

I would never undermine a gallery owner if I had traditional representation, or created a bunch of work for a show at a venue but then sell the work behind their back, I would of course direct them to the gallery, it only makes sense. Any thoughts? "
John is of course, right on target.

Some comments of my own now... these only apply to the traditional and reputable commercial gallery model, not to vanity galleries, which are in a league of their own.

The key to all secrets here is the contract and how well artists and galleries communicate with each other.

The relationship between a gallery and its artists should always be a complimentary relationship: they both need to work together to ensure that both the gallery and the artist succeed.

An established artist who "hides" his established collector base from his gallery and the gallery which does not give the artist the name and contact info of new collectors who acquire the artist works are really saying to each other: "I don't trust you." The artist is saying "why should I pay you a 50% commission on a sale to a collector that I bring to you, when I can have him come directly to me and I keep the full 100% of the sale? The gallery is saying "why should I give you the name and address of the client that I sold your work to, when all you're going to do in the future is approach him directly to try to sell work to him and bypass me?"

That's a relationship doomed for failure and constant suspicion.

There are galleries which demand citywide, statewide or even worldwide representation of the artists' works. In return the artist should be able to ask the gallery: "what are you doing for me and my work in between the 2-3 years that I have a solo show with you?" The answer for most artists may be a combination of things, such as placement in group shows in other venues, web development, alternative marketing, taking the artist's work to art fairs, etc. For a small group of artists the answer may be that the solo show every 2-3 years does so well in sales, that it keeps the artist a wealthy and happy camper in the interim period.

I know many artists who voluntarily give their art galleries a 10% cut of all sales made by that artist, regardless of the gallery's involvement in that individual sale. In the positive angle for gathering the logic for this scenario is related to the excellent work that the gallery has done over the years in building up the artist's presence in the arts community, is adding to the artist's resume, in placing the artist's works in known collections and/or museums. The opposite would be a gallery which demands a 10% commission on all sales made by the artist, when that gallery does nothing to promote and disseminate the artist's work. See the difference?

That's why contracts and communications are important.

Imagine that you (the artist) gets picked up by the gallery and they offer you a solo show. The gallery then spends a considerable amount of time, effort and money (if they're doing their job right) in promoting your work and giving you and the art an opening reception and then manning the space for a month while your show is up, taking care of rent, salaries and continued communications and arm twisting with curators and newsmedia critics to come see the show. Let's further imagine that, especially in this austere fiscal environment in which we live these days, that nothing sells. At the end of the month, the artist walks away with all his work, and perhaps (if the stars have aligned and the gallery has spent a couple of golden bullets) with a review. In any event, the artist walks away with at least one more line in their resume. Plus all the "invisibles" that are so hard to account for, but also so important in developing an art career. Key amongst these invisibles is the exposure of the work to a diverse set of eyes which otherwise (had it not been for that gallery show), may not have been exposed to the work: collectors, writers, curators, etc.

The potential pay-off (a sale, a review, etc.) may still be years in the future, but the seed has been planted into what at first sight appears to be a failure of a solo. It is only a failure in sales; no solo show is a full failure; it is always in fact, a positive accomplishment - even one with a bad review.

Let's make the above scenario a bit more complex. Now let's say that a couple of months after the solo has closed, a client comes in to the gallery and is still interested in the artist's work, and so the gallery either refers him to the artist's studio or has the artist bring some work to the gallery in order to show it to the client. What happens as far as commissions in either of these two cases?

See what I mean about contracts and communications?

It gets more complex as the degrees of separation between the sale and the relationship between gallery and that sale spread, and that is why it is important for communications to be clear and constant, but more importantly trust.

Years ago, when I was a Sotheby's Associate Dealer, I managed a sale of a painting by a Louisiana artist to a collector in Texas. This all happened online and I never met the collector or even saw the painting in person, but the artist was under contract to my gallery and understood all the various parts of that contract.

Months later, someone visited the collector, saw the painting that I had sold, and liked it. He then contacted the artist directly and explained that he had seen the painting at the Texas' collector's home and was interested in seeing more work.

Question to the readers: If the artist makes a sale directly to this collector, would the artist owe me a commission?

Post some comments and thoughts and then I will tell you what happened and why.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

First time

See the first annual internet exhibition of the Art Dealers Association of Greater Washington now through June 30 2009 online here.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Wanna go to a gallery reception in Alexandria tomorrow?

Multiple Exposures

Mellema on art

Kevin Mellema writes about shows, including the Reclaimed show at Target Gallery in Alexandria's Torpedo Factory.

Nice plug for seminal DC area green artists Erwin Timmers and Adam Bradley in the article here.

Campelloing on...

Proud papa bragging on:

Elise CampelloPeople who work with Campello say her desire to take on challenging roles is evidence of another essential quality among successful actors. It’s why she landed a recent role with the Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre’s Touring company, and why she has upcoming roles with theaters in Issaquah and Olympia.

“She has a lot of drive,” said Jon Rake, managing artistic director of TMP. “She’s gonna go places. She has a lot of talent. She takes it seriously.”
Read a profile on my daughter Elise Campello by Paige Richmond here.

I'd like to see her audition for some roles in Washington, DC soon.

Before Robinson there was Estalella

We all, not just athletes or baseball fans, owe a tremendous debt to Jackie Robinson. Not only because of Major League baseball integration, but more importantly, because of the significant advancement of race relations worldwide that was the real aftermath of his actions during and after his baseball career. His sacrifices must never be forgotten or diminished, and Robinson was and will always be a hero, not just for Americans, but for mankind.

But sooner or later history must record that he wasn't the first black man to play in the Major Leagues. I've discussed this here before, and have this entire project ongoing on the subject. That website always gets me interesting emails, and in a most recent one I received this terrific poem on the subject:

Roberto Estalella
By Joe Hernandez

Before Jackie Robinson came to the Majors
Roberto Estalella was already there
Before you argue and want to wager
Let the historical facts make you aware

Roberto played for the Washington Senators in 1935
His ancestry were of white and black folks
That is twelve years before Jackie "arrived"
This is the plain truth, this is no hoax

Powerfully built Cuban slugger was he
With a lifetime batting average of .282
Played as an outfielder for all to see
The first black in the Majors that no one knew

How ironic that a black foreigner first played
In the Major Leagues in front of all
This is the truth historians evade
A truth that must be admitted by Major League Baseball

Roberto Estalella broke the color barrier
We need to recognize this and say
Although Jackie was the carrier
Of all the hatred that was on display

But baseball must be honest about its past
With no intention of deceit
This dishonesty cannot last
If it expects to deal with those that cheat

Tell the truth of Roberto Estalella
Jackie Robinson will still have his place
You need to remember this "fella"
And not lie about him or his race

Jackie and Roberto would think of it as a disgrace
That their true story has not been embraced
That they were both of the Negro race
And this lie of who was first must be erased

Laurel Lukaszewski

"When you're working in clay," says Laurel Lukaszewski, "you'd have a tough time if you worry about breakage."
Read the WaPo profile on DC artist Laurel Lukaszewski here.

Achilles Heel

"I often wonder how other galleries are dealing with artists who have gallery representation but continue to self-promote. I have been known to secret shop gallery represented artists. I contact them through their emails on their personal websites and inquire as to whether they have any studio pieces available. Not once has an artist directed me to his or her galleries for purchases.

I fear galleries will dry up if they don’t smarten up. Then where will collectors go to see art in person?”
The above from comments by gallery owner Carrie Horejs. Read them here.

A Window on Fine Craft

Yesterday's Washington Post's Weekend section had the kind of arts coverage that a city can only dream of... it covered the coming Crafts Week DC extravaganza that I mentioned last week.

Details here.

P.S. "The Crafts Whisperer..." (sounds of Lenny laughing...)

Wanna go to a Maryland opening tomorrow?

Opening Reception, Sunday, April 19th, 6-8 PM at Photoworks Gallery, in gorgeous Glen Echo Park, MD. Work by Rob Grant, Gary Jimerfield, and Scott Grant. Through May 17, 2009.

Photoworks Gallery
7300 MacArthur Boulevard
Glen Echo, Maryland 20812

Friday, April 17, 2009

And your art for free...

Australian artist Hazel Dooney is celebrating the 500th posting in her cool art blog by giving away a free Dooney original: a small, limited edition, color photographic study from her Lake Eyre series, titled Study for Modern Strategies For Survival : Resized For Mass Consumption.

Each print is stamped, signed, dated and numbered on verso. The image size is around 2" x 3" on 4" x 6" paper. Details here.

Want to win an original Damien Hirst painting?

Only if you are an UK resident... but details here.

Wanna go to a gallery opening in Arlington tonight?

The AAC's Spring solo shows 2009, featuring work by Jason Lee, Joseph Lupo, Gregory McLellan, Christopher LaVoie, and Steve Frost, opens tonight with a reception from 6-9PM.

Wanna go to an opening in Baltimore tomorrow?

off the wall

Thursday, April 16, 2009

If you wear a Che Guevara T-Shirt

Unless it is like the one on the left, you are wearing the image of a man whose own racist writing and actions are full of negative, racist remarks about Mexicans and Blacks and Native Americans.

By the way, "Comemierda" is an almost unique Cuban insult...

Call to Artists: In the Spirit of Frida Kahlo

Deadline: June 6, 2009

Frida Kahlo remains one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, but her spectacular life experiences, her writing and her views on life and art have also influenced many artists throughout the years.

From July 1 - August 29, 2009 The Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery at Smith Farm Center in Washington, DC will be hosting Finding Beauty In A Broken World: In the Spirit of Frida Kahlo.

Photo of Gallery by Michael K. WilkinsonThis exhibition hopes to showcase the work in all mediums of artists influenced not only by Kahlo’s art, but also by her biography, her thoughts, and her writing or any other aspect in the life and presence of this remarkable artist who can be interpreted through artwork.

This will be the third Kahlo show that I have juried in the last decade and we are seeking works of art that evoke the prolific range of expression, style and media like that which Frida Kahlo used as an outlet for her life’s experiences.

Get a copy of the prospectus by calling (202) 483-8600 or email or download it here.


Through the wonders of mass emails, I received the below image yesterday:

Priceless, author unknown
In the process of trying to identify the source of the image (to give him or her props and credits in the ALT tag), I typed "Priceless" in Google image search and got a ton of these type images.

It's almost like the parody of the Mastercard commercial has spawned a new form of internet art, where the results can be funny, sick, nasty or downright historical.

See them here.

DC Arts Commission Open House
Click to see a larger image with more details

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Black Caucusian Bone Picking

I've got a bone to pick with the Congressional Black Caucus members' remarks after their recent trip to Cuba; but first a quote from a source within Cuba:

In primary [Cuban] education, skin colour is not mentioned," ... If we are still living in a society where white people have the power, and we don't mention colour in education, we are in practice educating [Cuban] children to be white.

Cuban history as we teach it is a disgrace, because it is predominantly white history, and explaining the role of black people and mulattoes in building this society and its culture is not given its due importance.

Esteban Morales
University of Havana
Centre for the Study of the Hemisphere and the United States
My bone has nothing to do with President Obama's recent (and curiously announced by his press secretary) monumental decision to change a major visiting policy to the unfortunate Caribbean island prison of Cuba; but first another Cuban quote: carry on "hiding" the issue [of racism in Cuba] would lead black people to think that "they belong to another country, and that there are two Cuba’s as there were in the 19th century, a black Cuba and a white one."

Roberto Zurbano
Casa de las Américas publishing house
What my bone deals with is the spectacular lack of historical background that the various Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) members' showed when commenting about their meeting with the Castro brothers.

Not that their highly complimentary comments about two bloody, murdering dictators would offend me. It does and it should offend anyone and everyone who loves and admires liberty. One would think that any comments about a nation with one of the world's worst human rights records, where Amnesty International has been denied access to (except to that bit of Cuba where the Guantanamo Naval Base is located); a nation where gay people were once given lobotomies to "cure" them; and where HIV+ Cubans were detained and segregated in guarded colonies away from the general public.

But what really bugs me, in my own pedantic hell, is how a bunch of historically and socially clueless African American legislators would praise the leaders and the government of one of the world's most racist dictatorships, a government which talks a talk of equality while walking a walk of institutionalized racism against its own black population.

Cuba has a long and agonizing history of racial issues, starting with its long bloody history of slavery, which didn't end on the island until 1886, and continuing through its freedom from Spain, birth of the Republic, and the triumph of the Castro Revolution in 1959. It continues to this day.

Cuba even had its own race war.
Antonio Maceo

General Antonio Maceo, known as "the Bronze Titan." He was the true warrior leader of the Cuban Wars of Liberation. His father was white of French ancestry; his mother was black, of Dominican ancestry. After the first Cuban Liberation War ended in a truce with Spain, some say that Maceo was so disillusioned with the realities of life in Cuba as a black man, that he left Cuba and lived in Panama, until he was called back to lead the Cuban rebels in a new rebellion in 1895. He returned to Cuba and was killed in battle against the Spanish Army in 1896.

In 1912, black Cubans in Oriente province had enough of the new Cuban government's racist practices and the degrading treatment of Cuban black veterans, who had been the bulk of the Cuban rebels in the wars of independence against Spain. The Cuban government moved on a path of genocide and eventually the United States had to send in troops to end the war between the white Cuban government and the black rebels in Oriente.

As I recall from the CIA Factbook of 1959, on that year the island was about 70% white, about 20% black and mixed, and the rest Chinese, Jewish and other. The Cuban Diaspora which started a few months after the Castro takeover and continues to this day, with the exception of the Mariel boat lift of the 1980s, saw a mass exodus of mostly white Cubans, and as a result the island's racial balance shifted dramatically to where most people estimate that today the island is about 60% black or biracial.

But Cuba's black population has not seen a proportionate share of the power and a quick review of the governing Politburo/Parliament reveals few black faces in the crowd. In fact, "the Cuban cultural journal Temas published studies by the governmental Anthropology Centre in 2006 that showed that on average, the black population has worse housing, receives less money in remittances from abroad and has less access to jobs in emerging economic sectors like tourism, in which blacks represent barely five percent of managers and professionals, than the white population."
"I think silence is worse. The longer nothing is said, the more the racism fermenting underground is rotting the entire nation..."

Gerardo Alfonso
While the Cuban constitution of the 1940s (since then abolished by the Communist government) outlawed segregation and racism, and the current Cuban Constitution guarantees black Cubans the right to stay in any hotel and be served at any public establishment, as it has been documented by many foreign journalists, black Cubans will tell you in private that those rights exist only on paper.

The harsh Cuban reality today, they claim, is that "black Cubans won't be served" and that Cubans, regardless of race are in general barred from places frequented by tourists.
Unfortunately, these things [disparities in the treatment of blacks and whites] are very common in Cuba.

Ricardo Alarcón Quesada
President of the National Assembly of People's Power
Cuban Parliament
Do these Cuban voices from within Cuba itself sound like the subjects of a government whose murdering tyrants should be hugged and complimented by our African American legislators, in view of our nation's own racial history? Would they hug the criminal government leaders of the apartheid South Africa of the 20th century?

We have practically apartheid in this country sometimes... racism is deeply rooted in Cuba's history and will not disappear overnight."

Rogelio Polanco Fuentes
Cuban Communist Party-owned Juventud Rebelde newspaper.
Shame on you CBC Chairwoman Barbara Lee (D-Ca.), shame on you Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Il.), shame on you Rep. Laura Richardson (D-Ca.), shame on you Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), and whoever else of you historically ignorant bobos praised the leaders of that unfortunate prison island.


I've been on the road since 4AM on Tuesday morning, and driving in the rain sucks...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Fair use

Richard Prince and his dealer Larry Gagosian have responded to a copyright-infringement suit filed by French photographer Patrick Cariou, saying that Prince's use of Cariou's work falls under "fair use," the Art Newspaper reports.

At issue are 22 paintings in Prince's "Canal Zone" series, which borrow photographs from Cariou's 2000 book Yes Rasta, shot over a decade in the mountains in Jamaica, and combine them with brushwork or pornography. According to Gagosian's filing, eight were sold when they were exhibited at the gallery last November and December, at prices ranging from $1.5 million to $3 million.
Details here.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Bienal de La Habana

All of the action -- the unofficial venues, the public-art installations and sculptures -- coupled with Tania Bruguera's daring performance last week in which Cubans and some foreign visitors took to a podium, clamored for freedom, and mocked the once-sacred figure of Fidel Castro -- make this Biennial, which runs through April 30, one for the books.

''Tania's [performance] has been the most provocative gesture in all of Cuban art history,'' Cuban art critic Hector Antón Castillo says from Havana. ``Any veteran from the 1980s will tell you the same
Read Fabiola Santiago's report on the Biennial here.

Wanna go to a museum opening in DC this week?

OAS Museum

Guilty plea

The director of a New York art gallery whose proprietor has been charged with stealing $88 million from investors, collectors and Bank of America Corp. has pleaded guilty to falsifying business records
Details here.

Why don't they?

Lots of arts organizations have blogs on their websites. Most aren't very good, and they're difficult to maintain well. There are many out-of-work critics. And less and less arts coverage in local press. So why not critics-in-residence?

Yeah independence. But let's suspend for a moment the idea that criticism's highest calling is simply to inform consumer choice. If instead the idea is to promote informed and interesting commentary, then who has more of an interest in this than artists and arts organizations? If readers knew that a critic was in residence rather than being paid by a local news organization, they might read the commentary differently, but so what? Would you rather read PR boilerplate that nobody believes or the observations of someone trying to engage with the art, even if they're paid to do so by the institution?
Read Douglas McLennan's excellent point here.

Craft Week DC

From April 22 - 26, 2009 it will be Craft Week DC with major events such as the James Renwick Alliance Spring Craft Weekend “Crafts Around DC: A Capital Celebration!” and the Smithsonian Women’s Committee's Smithsonian Craft Show.

Craft Week DC is organized by Washington, DC area artists, galleries, and the James Renwick Alliance (JRA) to recognize the growing community of artists in the Washington DC area working in ceramics, glass, fiber, metal, and wood.

In a postmodern world where everything is supposed to be art, we stubbornly hang on to the traditional segregation of art vs craft, but from just a quick sampling of what's going to be offered to a DC audience next week, it is certain that the line will be blurred.

There are tons of events and the whole schedule is here.

For Artists: copyright, trademark, and contract issues

Hamiltonian Artists in DC is hosting their next talk in the Artist Speaker Series Tomorrow, Tuesday, April 14, 2009, at 7:00pm at Hamiltonian Gallery.

Copyright questions? Art legal issues? John D. Mason has got your answers! Mason is an art and entertainment attorney and intellectual property attorney at The Intellectual Property Group, PLLC, and is on the Board of Directors of the Washington Area Lawyers for the Arts. He will be discussing legal matters related to art and artists, including copyright, trademark, and contract issues.


Chawky Frenn and Lenny CampelloMy good friend Professor Chawky Frenn is one of the recipients of the Teaching Excellence Award at George Mason University.

Frenn is without a doubt one of the toughest political painters of his generation, and his beautiful classical paintings use the brush of the masters to bring forth devastating political and social commentary on paintings often too controversial (as Dartmouth found out a while back) for galleries and museums to offer in a conventional way.

“The classroom is a place of dialog, learning, trust, and growth. I find in teaching an experimental field to develop strategies that promote critical thinking and creative research. At the heart of my teaching performance is the enthusiasm I share about life, art, and the development of self and identity. My comments bridge the understanding of art and life, and my critiques provide intellectual and emotional insights into the purpose, meaning, and value of self-discovery and development through one’s art and work.

I am fortunate to do what I love: teaching and painting. I am also fortunate to work with amazing students with diverse disciplines, cultures, goals, and passions. Their creativity and commitment continue to inspire the best in me.

I present the award to my students, my teachers, my family, and my friends who believed in me when I could not believe in myself. As a teacher, I am a gardener who nurtures and cares for the seeds and passions in my students’ soil. I encourage and help them to develop and grow and bear their finest fruits.”

- Chawky Frenn

New York art dealer accused of being Bernard Madoff's middleman

A prominent New York financier and art collector, Ezra Merkin, has been charged with a $2.4bn fraud for collecting money from clients under false pretences and secretly handing it to the jailed fund manager Bernard Madoff.
Read the NYT story here.

2009 Guggenheim Fellowship Winners Announced

The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation has announced the recipients of the 2009 Guggenheim Fellowships.

Ranging in age from 29 to 70, the hundred and eighty U.S. and Canadian artists, scientists, and scholars were selected from a group of almost three thousand applicants on the basis of outstanding achievement and exceptional promise for continued accomplishment.

For a complete list of this year's fellows, visit the Guggenheim Foundation Web site here.

Artists Websites: Sophie Tuttle

Sophie Tuttle is one of those hard-working artists who puts her creative energies into every facet of art: sculpture, drawing, painting, photography, illustration, etc.

Chest, by Sophie Tuttle
You can check out her stuff online here or see it in person at the Warrenton Wine and Arts Festival in Warrenton, VA. There are going to be lots of artists selling their work and prints there (including Sophie)... in fact they're still looking for artists, so contact them if you are interested. It's allfor a good cause (benefiting St. John's School). It's going to be on April 25th and 26th and details are here.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Gray Arm of the Law

If you take a photograph in a public place, and then publish it commercially, can the people in the photo successfully sue?
See the answer (or lack thereof) here.

Painting Bread Correctly

If you ask the guards at the NGA which painting in the collection they think is the most popular, often you will hear many of them point out Dali's The Sacrament of the Last Supper.

"People are always asking 'where is it?'"

The reason for this could be that the Last Supper, in a typical act of perhaps arrogance, for many years was hung in the NGA's coat check room, and currently is at the exit of the old wing, just before the connecting tunnel to the newer East wing.

Dali Last Supper
I say arrogance because I once asked a guard (often the best sources of info in any museum) the reason for the placement. "This wing is for masters," he said, "and this Dali painting was donated to the NGA as part of the Dale Bequest in the 1960s, but with the condition that it had to be placed with the old masters."

The NGA complied, but couldn't or wouldn't cross the line and instead of hanging the Dali in one of the galleries, for years hung it in the coat room, where it attracted too many crowds and made that room a mess, and subsequently moved it to its present location, technically in the West building, but not really "in it."

A few years ago I asked the NGA for confirmation of this story, but my request was never answered.

But this post is not about Dali or the NGA, but about most "Last Supper" paintings that I recall seeing. More specifically about the bread in the paintings.

This week I was invited to a Seder meal by a friend who is also quite a well-known Philly area artist and an even better known curator. Somehow the conversation turned to Christ's Last Supper, which of course was a Seder meal and she observed how most paintings depicting The Christ's last meal showed regular bread instead of the unleavened bread required by Jewish tradition to celebrate the passover.

This is very interesting to the pedantic part of me, already troubled by the fact that nearly every depiction of The Christ that was presented to me in art school depicted mostly Northern European-looking Christs, rather than the Semitic Middle East Israelite that He was.

And now I wonder, are there any contemporary depictions (or any depiction) of the last supper which depict this last Seder for Christ in a more historically correct perspective? I want to see The Christ as a Semite and I want to see the middle of the matzot on the Seder plate broken in two with the larger piece hidden, to be used later as the afikoman.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Artists' Websites: Denee Barr

Denee Barr is a fellow art blogger and an award winning and very hard-working Maryland photographer.

Aquarium, Baltimore Inner Harbor, Maryland, by DeneeB Barr
Aquarium, Baltimore Inner Harbor, Maryland, by Denee Barr

In she was a 2003 Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award Grant Recipient for artistic excellence in photography. In 2006 Two photographic images captured on Kent Island, Maryland's Eastern Shore inducted into the Heart of DC: John A. Wilson Building City Hall Public Permanent Art Collection (3rd floor east), Washington, DC. Also in 2006 Denee Barr received the 1st Place Award in Bethesda, Maryland at the Washington School of Photography/Washington Photography Gallery 4th National Photo Competition for images captured in New York City. In 2007 the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities purchases two photographic images captured at Adkins Arboretum for the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities Public Art Bank Collection.

Visit her here.

No hot sauce allowed

When I was in my late teens, my parents took their first ever (and only one as far as I know) vacation, and went to Mexico City for a couple of weeks. They liked it so much that they ended up staying almost a month and I joined them for a week.

Besides my well-documented discovery of Frida Kahlo during that trip, I also recall my dad's first ever exposure to Mexican food.

There are many people in this great nation who (if you live in any American state except Florida, New York and New Jersey) think that all of Latin America is like Mexico, both in culture, appearance and culinary offerings.

Of course, nothing can be farther from the truth, and (for example) Argentina is as different from Mexico as Italy is different from South Africa. In fact, most of the twenty or so nations south of the border and in the Caribbean are not only vastly different from its two giant northern neighbors, but also quite different from each other.

And their national cuisines are also quite different. Not everyone in Latin America eats tacos, and if you order a couple of tortillas in Cuba, you'll get two omelets and an odd look at your excessive dining peculiarities.

Anyway, I recall my father working his way through the menus in his discovery of Mexican food, from his first experiments with huevos rancheros, the subsequent alarm at the heat of the hot sauce, followed by a trip to the restaurant's bathroom to rinse his mouth, to his delight in discovering the less fiery carne asada and carnitas.

If you read this blog regularly, then you know what a pedantic geek I can be at Hollywood's barbarity when it comes to cultural stereotyping (this one is the worst one ever). And these days, through the wonders of FiOs and DVR digital recording, I more often than not find myself in pedantic hell.

You see, I have my DVR set to record programs keyed on a variety of keywords, one of them being Cuban cooking.

Recently, my DVR picked up a segment of Louisiana chef Emeril Lagasse's entertaining cooking show. It was focused for that day on Cuban food.

He showed his audience how to cook a fish, ropa vieja and pork chops. And the processes involved in those three dishes seemed authentic enough, until the hot sauce came out for all three recipes.

I don't watch Emeril often enough to know if this Louisiana native resident puts hot sauce on all his dishes, and if he does, then maybe it's a Louisiana thing.

Perhaps he puts hot sauce on pizza, and matzoh ball soup and haggis, etc.

But no authentic Cuban recipe calls for the fiery, Louisiana or Mexican or Texan style hot sauces that brings tears to your eyes, torments to your tongue and sends Cuban men rushing to the bathroom to rinse their tongues.

So if you ever see that show, and follow the recipes, skip the hot sauce for an authentic taste, and then add it after a few bites, if you want to Mexicanize your ropa vieja.