Wednesday, September 30, 2009

This Friday in Norfolk

Mayer Fine Art - Matt Sesow
My good bud Matt Sesow opens in Norfolk's best art gallery, Mayer Fine Art. The opening reception is from 7-9PM.

Phillips after 5

One more reminder: tomorrow, as part of Phillips after 5 in DC's Phillips Collection, three local art bloggers have been invited to share their perspectives about some of their favorite works in the museum’s permanent collection on October 1st, and I will be discussing the work of one of my former professors at the University of Washington, Jacob Lawrence.

Jacob Lawrence, The female workers were the last to arrive north

Jacob Lawrence, The Migration Series, Panel no. 57: The female workers were the last to arrive north., 1940 -- 1941, Casein tempera on hardboard; 18 x 12 in.; 45.72 x 30.48 cm.. Acquired 1942.

The schedule looks like this:

5:30 p.m.: Panel no. 57, Jacob Lawrence
Lenny Campello, Daily Campello Arts News

6:30 p.m.: The Open Window, Pierre Bonnard
Kriston Capps, Grammar Police

7:30 p.m.: Six O’Clock, Winter, John Sloan
Julia Beizer, Washington Post’s Going Out Guide.

Phillips after 5 is a "lively mix of art and entertainment on the first Thursday of the month. Other October highlights include a screening of selections from the Washington Project for the Arts annual Experimental Media Series."

WHEN: Thu., Oct. 1, 5–8:30 p.m.
COST: Museum admission and all programs, by donation. Cash bar
WHERE: The Phillips Collection, 1600 21st St., NW. Metro: Dupont Circle (Q St.)
PUBLIC INFORMATION: or 202-387-2151

See ya there!

Sixties Chicks

Sixties Chicks, Elise Campello
Left to Right: LaVone Hardison, Elise Campello, Jenny Shotwell, Melissa Fleming

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

For tonight

The D.C. Commission on the Arts & Humanities is currently crafting its next strategic plan. The next important step in the process is to open the dialogue to DC citizens who care about the arts in our community. At this Public Input session, they will talk about central themes that have emerged from the research to date, show you how things are being done in other relevant communities, and ask for ideas regarding three key areas: support of artists and arts organizations, arts education, and arts advocacy.

Tuesday, September 29, from 6:30 to 8:30 PM at the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, 1371 Harvard Street, NW.

New Acquisitions at University of Maryland

Yesterday I dropped by the UM's Stamp Gallery to see the work from:

In the spring of 2008, five gifted students were selected to be part of a committee that was taught the intricacies of contemporary art and sent on trips to New York City and Washington D.C, where they visited multiple galleries and artists ’ studios. The program concluded with the committee of students purchasing a number of pieces of contemporary art to be added to the collection of The Adele H. Stamp Student Union, Center for Campus Life.
The committee’s selections are currently on exhibition in The Stamp Gallery, located on the 1st floor of the Stamp. The exhibition runs through October 1st, 2009.

I'll have more to say once I discuss the acquisitions and this cool program with some of the students and the advisers. Stay tuned, as I've already got a major piece of advice for the program sponsors/faculty.

Art in Windows today

Take a walk through the DC Convention Center and see new art in their windows. The ribbon-cutting ceremony for this unusual exhibit with Mayor Adrian M. Fenty will be at 4:30 PM on Tuesday, September 29 at 7th & M Streets outside of the Mt Vernon Sq/7th St-Convention Center Metro entrance. At that time, young students from the New Community for Children will be finishing their three-panel art piece that shows their pint-size view of Shaw and awesome musician Kuku will perform.

The artists are: Beth Baldwin, Jason Clark, Tim Conlon, Liani Foster, Amber Robles-Gordon, Eve Hennessa, Michael Dax Iacovone, Anne Marchand, Cory Oberndorfer, Michael Platt & Carol A. Beane, Kelly Towles, Aneikan Udofia, Colin Winterbottom and featuring The New Community for Children.

At Flashpoint tonight

Celebrate the new season at Flashpoint. RSVP required.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009 . 6 - 8pm
Flashpoint . 916 G Street, NW

suggested donation $35.00

live theatre performances . visual art exhibition
tasty treats from Jaleo
Barefoot Wine . Southampton Publick House Beer


Let them eat cake

Ayr Hill Gallery will feature a special two-day exhibit of a large “cake canvas,” on Friday, October 2nd, 11 AM-5 PM, and Saturday, October 3rd, 11 AM-4 PM.

Following his popular exhibit last year, David Supley Foxworth, chef and cake artist at MallowDrama in Reston, will be creating a hand-painted reproduction of Claude Monet’s Woman with a Parasol - Madame Monet and Her Son, for this exhibit. Mr. Supley Foxworth will recreate this master work on a large fondant-covered cake, which will be cut and served at 4 PM on Saturday, October 3rd. Slices of this chocolate-cherry cake will be available for free, while they last.

The gallery is located at 141 Church Street NW, in Vienna, Virginia. For more information, visit or call 703-938-3880.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Fall 2009 solos at the Arlington Arts Center

David Page

Untitled, found implements, by David Page

Seldom does a visit to a multi-gallery space, such as the Arlington Arts Center is, yield so many different art exhibitions with one thing in common: they are all excellent shows in their own unique way.

By the way, this is a testament not only to the creative and technical talent of the artists whom I am about to discuss, but also to the superlative changes that the team of Jeffery Cudlin as curator and Claire Huschle as Executive Director have been able to effect upon the Arlington Arts Center during the relative short period that they have been there. Succinctly put, they have brought the Center to the 21st century dialogue of the visual arts at warp factor speeds.

David Page
The main level's Meyer Gallery hosts the work of Trawick Prize winner David Page, an artist of ultimate technical skill and living proof that this sometimes derided ability, when married to intelligent creativity, and in Page's case with a Gillespian sense of uneasy recognition, results in work that sets an artist apart from the rest.

As one enters the gallery, Page offers a table full of found implements that he collects as a way to trigger ideas in his unique mind; it is the found object that often kindles a reconstructed shape, often larger, with expanded properties. It is a fascinating and surprisingly attractive collection of "things."

Objects that when viewed individually are mostly common and innocuous. Here we see a set of ice tongs, there a planting scoop, here a metal spoon. The sort of objects that we'd expect to find in an artist's studio if that artist draws inspiration from them.

Objects that when viewed together seem dangerous and macabre. Here we see a stabbing knife, there a squeezing instrument, here an eye-popping scoop. The sort of objects that we'd expect to find in Hannibal Lechter's terror studio as his instruments of torture and death.

And the end result of Page's transmorphication of the images of the found objects into the fine art objects in this exhibition have a lot of profound artistic pedigree and creative intelligence, but also a healthy dose of Lechterian genetics. In fact I am told that Page was once commissioned to create some objects for one of the movies in the Hannibal Lechter series.

David Page
Page is a consummate technician, and what adds to a sense of unease that comes from a very deep and primitive place inside us, is the fact that he is able to take a very common object (a brush, or a wooden handle) and add a very refined leather extension or addition to it, and almost like magic that common object not only becomes a very beautiful work of art, but also projects a sense of alarming threat, depending on who is the user of the object, and who it could be used on.

Adding to this hard to describe uneasiness we return to the highly refined technical skills employed to transform the object. In doing so Page is so good that he delivers a sense of mass production in these unique pieces. It is as if there was a whole industry out there churning out leather-pointed ax handles for a consuming segment of the public where the exploration of the human body has few limits.

Page's neighbor on the other side of the Meyer Gallery is Cynthia Hron, who offers two untitled floor sculptures and several drawings of the same sculptural forms. It is the two floor pieces, the undercarriage made of wire and the "skin" made of thousands of black cable ties that are notable.

Hron's sculptures are both visually organic and also peculiarly recognizable in an odd way. The work clearly fits in the Dan Flavin school of artists whose supplies come from your local Home Depot, and seldom have cable ties been more elegantly employed as they are in these two pieces.

Across the hall in the Chairmen's Gallery, Philadelphia-based artist Roxana Perez-Mendez has delivered one of the best set of video installations that I have ever seen.

I am not a big fan of segregating artists by ethnicity or race, and yet in this case, Perez-Mendez employs her Puerto Rican ethnicity like a ferocious weapon that add a singularly Latina flavor to her works.

You can't hide from it. As soon as you enter the darkened space, your ears are filled with the salsa sounds of a decades old hit by Willie Colon (my favorite Willie Colon hit of all time is here). To the left is a video installation playing the Willie Colon record over and over. On the screen, Perez-Mendez dances uninterrupted and unable to stop, a treadmill is her dance floor, and while the Willie Colon orchestra's Hector LaVoe sings "Todo tiene su final, nada dura para siempre" (or "Everything has an ending, nothing lasts forever"), Perez-Mendez dances forever on the video, one sensual never ending salsa routine after another. It's a fascinating play on the words of the song that I suspect is only discernible to Spanish speakers, and then maybe even to just those of a Caribbean nature.

Todo Tiene Su Final (clip), Roxana Perez-Mendez. Pepper's ghost hologram, table, record player, record and sleeve, DV performance and mixed media. C. 2009

The two other video installations extend an artistic homage hand to the artist's fellow Latin American ancestry artists. One hand is extended southwest to Mexico and one south to Cuba. Both videos honor desperate people looking for a better life.

One is very easy to decipher. In "De Noche Sueño Contigo" (At Night I Dream of You), we see a toy truck in a desert scene, while a Pepper's Ghost Hologram disembark countless versions of the artist from the opened rear of the truck. They jump out of the truck, and run north to a better life. It is a never ending flood of illegal immigrants rushing out of the bowels of the truck. In the background we still hear LaVoe's voice crooning that everything has an end.

Roxana Perez-Mendez, De Noche Sueño Contigo (clip)

The other takes a lot more conceptual and historical depth to figure out. In this elegant video installation, a framework holds a small wood dingy, while a fan blows some bits of green shredded materials under the boat, giving the impression of water. On the rear screen, a Pepper's Ghost hologram of Perez-Mendez rows and rows and rows without end. Plastic bags at her feet are the luggage of the rowing woman on the screen.

When I first saw this installation, and before I knew of the artist's ethnic background, I immediately and incorrectly thought that she was Cuban, as over the last few decades Cuban artists such as K'Cho and Sandra Ramos have all but appropriated the subject of the boat or raft to represent the never-ending flow of balseros (raft people) that have been draining out of Cuba for decades now and drowning by the tens of thousands in their attempt to escape from that prison island.

The title gives it away.

It is titled "Caridad," the straight translation of which is "Charity."

And yet there's more there that takes a good dosage of Cubanosity to decipher. You say to a non Cuban person of Latin American heritage the word "Caridad" and they will think "charity."

You say "Caridad" to a Cuban and they know that you're are talking about Cachita (the nickname for the proper name of Caridad), or La Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre; Cuba's patron saint and its own unique incarnation of the Holy Mother.

And here Perez-Mendez gets even deeper into the clue-giving intelligence of the classic marriage of imagery with a perfect title. Dan Brown could learn a few new tricks from this artist!

The legend of the apparition of La Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre dates to 1604 or 1606. It is said that The Virgin appeared one day in the Bay of Nipe near Santiago de Cuba, in the Oriente province of the island, to two white brothers, Rodrigo and Juan de Hoyos, and to a ten-year old black child appropriately named Juan Moreno (Moreno in Spanish means "dark-skinned"). The three Cubans were out fishing in the Bay when a sudden storm began to toss their boat. Alarmed that they were about to capsize and drown, they prayed for divine intervention. Suddenly they heard a celestial voice that said "I am the Virgin of Charity." Then they saw Mary float above them and in one hand, the Virgin carried a baby Jesus; in the other, she held a cross. Because race has always been an issue in Cuba (and remains to this day), the racial attributes and compositions of all the players in this religious drama is important; essentially, it covers the entire racial makeup of the Cuban population. Just like Mexico has a mestiza native Virgin, Cuba has a Virgin who tends to both racial groups of the Cuban people. Since the Virgin of Charity had earlier appeared in Spain, the Cuban re-apparition was named after the nearby mining town of El Cobre. In the Afro-Cuban religion of Santeria, the Virgin is named Ochún and depicted as black, so Cachita is essentially a Holy Mother for all Cubans.

The three males on the boat (known in Cuba as "the three Juans", even though only two of them had that name) were saved from drowning by the Virgin, and they returned ashore and told everyone about the miracle at sea.

In the video installation, Perez-Mendez sails north, hoping for a miracle and a new life. Soon she may get to Florida, and if she's lucky she'll set feet on land and be allowed to stay. If she's caught at sea by the Coast Guard, she will be returned to Cuba, where she will be imprisoned for trying to escape. It is the hideous Clintonian "feet dry, feet wet" policy. In the background LaVoe's voice reminds the balsera that everything must end. Even her voyage ends one way or the other.

These two pieces are narrative art at its best. Perez-Mendez's work can transform and seduce people who usually do not enjoy video art in a way that I had not experienced before. This is an artist to follow and keep an eye on.

On the hall walls of the first floor of the Center, a set of elegant drawings by Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum caught my eye when I first walked into the Center. As a lover of drawing, and specifically of representational drawing, this was not unexpected. The works are technically flawless and fresh and vibrant, and show the artist in a series of almost mythological perspectives.

But the real gems are the site specific works that Phatsimo Sunstrum created on the walls of the Tiffany Gallery.

The Center's Tiffany Gallery must be the most beautiful small gallery in the US - a set of large original Tiffany windows will do that to any art space. This gallery is also, easily, the most difficult place to hang art in the planet. Why? The beauty of the stained glass casts a never ending cacophony of dancing colors on the walls of the gallery space. Whatever hangs in this gallery better look good with a tint of purple here, a blaze of yellow there, always playing and shifting on its surface.

Phatsimo Sunstrum conquered the Tiffany Gallery and the real shame here is that all that beautiful site specific work will be destroyed when this exhibition is over.

There is a sensuality to the line in drawing that no other genre has. When in the hands of a talented and skilled artist, like this one, the line can tell stories like no brush can deliver.

It twists and grows and shrinks and expands; it dances on the surface to which it is being applied and reveals secrets about the artist creating the work. Through the stories gossiped by the line we learn about how the artist felt and reacted at that precise instant. The line in Phatsimo Sunstrum's wall drawings capture the moment in time when something went very right for this artist. We look and study the fluidity and sensuality of the line and we can almost smell the scent of the artist, face and eyes inches away from the wall, all visual perspective all but impossible, relying only on memories of size and scale, as her gifted hand dances on a once blank wall to create a work of ephemeral beauty that will only last for an exhibition.
Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum

Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum, audax/viator. site specific drawing installation (detail), 2009.

Witness the results. In the panel above, a life sized (or larger) version of the artist takes us through three specific moments in time as she approaches the pond, gingerly dips her feet in it, and then stands to the right.

The color line that defines this drawing against the flatness of a rich black background that would otherwise absorb the figure is a triumph of minimalism and skill. Note how a simple line defines the erotic turn of the woman's stomach or the dainty turn of the ankle as she explores the water's temperature. Our own toes feel the coolness of the dark water as Phatsimo Sunstrum dips her toes into its primeval black wetness - it is a magical moment where a simple line has enchanted our logical brain into believing a two dimensional image.

The Center's lower level galleries host the sculptural works of Christian Benefiel and Jenn Figg.

Figg offers a sculptural installation made up of many cut-prints mounted on corrugated plastic. They give us a theatrical impression which feels as if we're behind the theatre's screen, peeping on a performance taking place. The subtle lighting applied to the works also project the sculptures onto the rear wall, reinforcing this theatrical experience.

Benefiel's large floor sculptures use a lot of cast iron, handsomely welded to host fragile insides that use blowers to inflate and deflate them. It is a successful marriage of fragility with strength.

The Fall Solo 2009 shows go through November 7 2009.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Artists' Websites: Kris Kuksi

When Fraser Gallery showed the works of Kris Kuksi in his first DC solo several years ago, the Washington Post wrote about his show that "...Painter Kris Kuksi's work, on exhibit at Fraser Gallery under the pretentious moniker "The Within," is masterfully rendered figurative art (Fraser's stock in trade). Ranging from full-color hallucinations inspired by medical illustrations, religious iconography and surrealism to straightforward (if oversize) black-and-white portraiture, Kuksi's images seem contrived to disturb and confront the viewer, which is probably why they don't..."

Kris Kuksi Sculpture

Through Death United (detail). Mixed Media Assemblage, 84x34 inches

They say that revenge is best served cold, and since those early days, Kuksi's stock in the art world has soared and later this year he will have his second major New York solo exhibition from November-December, 2009, at the Joshua Liner Gallery as well as being showcased in last year's Scope Art Fair in Miami.

Check out Kuksi's amazing artwork here.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Gedalio Grinberg

Movado WatchToday is the birthday of a very famous Cuban watchmaker, Gedalio Grinberg, born in born in Quivicán, Cuba on September 26, 1931.

Grinberg escaped from Cuba soon after the Castro revolution became a dictatorship of its own and he settled in New York, where he began to sell watches.

After reading Vance Packard's 1959 book, The Status Seekers, and its message of how American's were increasingly looking to project their status, Grinberg realized that he could convince Americans that wearing a quality watch was as much of a status symbol as owning a Cadillac in one's driveway. A 1988 Forbes profile cited by The New York Times described how "Grinberg helped make Americans conscious of their watches and made the glint of gold on a male wrist a status symbol" changing the American perception of a watch as a gift one received for their high school graduation.

As part of an effort to combat Japanese watchmakers, Grinberg invested in ultrathin quartz watches, culminating in 1980 with the Concord Delirium IV, which at 0.98 millimeters thick was the first watch thinner than one millimeter.

After acquiring the Movado in 1983, the firm was renamed the Movado Group. Under Grinberg, Movado heavily promoted the "Museum Watch" a modernistic markless black face with a single gold dot at the 12 o'clock position based on a design by Nathan George Horwitt in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, selling millions of the watches in dozens of different versions.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Opportunity for Artists

Deadline: October 26, 2009

BlackrockIf you read this blog then you know that I've been always very impressed with the BlackRock Center for the Arts gallery's 1500 square feet of exquisite gallery space. With its high white walls and beautiful windows strategically placed, this gorgeous gallery allows in just the right amount of natural light. BlackRock Center for the Arts is located at 12901 Town Commons Drive Germantown, MD in upper Montgomery County, about 20 minutes from the Capital Beltway (495).

They currently have a call to artists and the call is open to all artists residing in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC over the age of 18.

Original artwork only. All work must be ready for sale and to be presented in a professional manner to the public at the time of delivery.

This call will cover exhibits in the gallery from September 2010 through August 2011. An exhibit may include one applicant or a combination of applicants, based on the judgment of jurors (i.e., 1 or 2 wall artists may be combined with a pedestal artist). A jury will select the artists and create eight exhibits to be included in the exhibit year. The jury panel is comprised of my good friend and gallerist Elyse Harrison, Jodi Walsh, and yours truly.

Jurying: First Week of December
Notification: Early January
Exhibit Year: Sept. 2010 – Aug. 2011

How to apply: All correspondence will be done by e-mail, so contact Kimberly Onley, the Gallery Coordinator at and ask her to email you a prospectus.

Don't wait to the last minute! Get the prospectus now!

Touchstone Gallery also moving

I am told that Touchstone Gallery will be also announcing a new location soon.

Tonight they are having Silent Auction from 6 to 8pm - 100% of the proceeds from which will go towards the move. Details here.

Civilian on the move?

I'm told that DC's Civilian Art Projects may have a deal and be moving soon.

Talking about Lawrence at the Phillips

As part of Phillips after 5 in DC's Phillips Collection, three local art bloggers have been invited to share their perspectives about some of their favorite works in the museum’s permanent collection on October 1st, and I will be discussing the work of one of my former professors at the University of Washington, Jacob Lawrence.

Jacob Lawrence, The female workers were the last to arrive north

Jacob Lawrence, The Migration Series, Panel no. 57: The female workers were the last to arrive north., 1940 -- 1941, Casein tempera on hardboard; 18 x 12 in.; 45.72 x 30.48 cm.. Acquired 1942.

The schedule looks like this:

5:30 p.m.: Panel no. 57, Jacob Lawrence
Lenny Campello, Daily Campello Arts News

6:30 p.m.: The Open Window, Pierre Bonnard
Kriston Capps, Grammar Police

7:30 p.m.: Six O’Clock, Winter, John Sloan
Julia Beizer, Washington Post’s Going Out Guide.

Phillips after 5 is a "lively mix of art and entertainment on the first Thursday of the month. Other October highlights include a screening of selections from the Washington Project for the Arts annual Experimental Media Series."

WHEN: Thu., Oct. 1, 5–8:30 p.m.
COST: Museum admission and all programs, by donation. Cash bar
WHERE: The Phillips Collection, 1600 21st St., NW. Metro: Dupont Circle (Q St.)
PUBLIC INFORMATION: or 202-387-2151

See ya there!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Armed Robbery at Museum

Stolen Magritte

An artwork valued at $1.1m (£675,000) and entitled Olympia by the surrealist painter Rene Magritte has been stolen this morning during a daylight robbery at a museum in Belgium. The nude portrait was stolen from the artist's former home in Jette, a museum dedicated to Magritte's life and work.

Although entry to the museum is by appointment only, two armed men forced their way into the building and ordered staff to lie on the floor while they made off with the painting. No shots were fired. The painting depicts the painter's wife, Georgette, lying on her back with a shell on her stomach.

He's baaaaack!

It dawned on me yesterday, during a visit to the Arlington Art Center, that he who is all about spreading information has completely forgotten to tell anyone here that I have moved from the Greater Philadelphia area and I am now back in the Greater DC area!

All the galleries and artists who snail mail me press releases, etc., please email me a note and I will send you my new address.

We forgot!

A lost Renaissance masterpiece by Italian artist Mazzolino has been rediscovered after being left in a packing case for nearly 60 years.

Experts from the National Gallery in London identified the painting, which depicts the Madonna and Child with St Joseph, as dating back to 1522.
Read the BBC article here.

Craftiest Bastard

I voted for "goshdarnknit" - vote for them here.

Or someone else below...

Gopnik on Yo

WOW! What a surprise in the WaPo

If Yo were shooting, say, in 1972 -- just when her technology was fiercely up to date -- she'd be on the cutting edge, as good as anyone, and her future would seem certain. All she'd have to do is keep developing the skills that nature gave her. Nowadays, however, to fully realize her promise, she'll have to aim at redefining what a photograph can do, not just at taking yet another telling shot.

Yo is acutely aware of the predicament that she, and her entire art form, is in. "The future is scary," she says. But she trusts in her vocation.

"I love photography, and I will be an addict until the day I die."
That newspaper's chief artc ritic, Blake Gopnik has a very glowing article on Corcoran student Michelle Yo.
I recently caught up with Yo in the house she's sharing just up from the bars of U Street. She showed me a portfolio that's amazingly mature.
The article does make Yo's work sound interesting (the compliments from Andy Grundberg and Terri Weifenbach confirm her photographic presence) and also puts her forth as a really nice kid as well.

Shot on a Corcoran trip to El Salvador, Yo's image of a local woman seems perfectly "straight." Yet it achieves a quietly artistic balance between zones of leaf-green (two well-groomed shrubs) and of pale blue (the woman's skirt and a patch of mural). To complicate its vision and temper any artiness, it also throws in some out-of-focus branches that are almost illegible. That makes it all the more artful. -- Blake Gopnik (By Michelle Yo)
I also find interesting the need to disclose that Gopnik's wife (the superbly talented and elfin-like Lucy Hogg) "teaches in fine arts at the college, but does not know Yo." Call that the Tyler Green policing effect on the world of fine arts writing.

Update: By the way, Gopnik doesn't mention it, but the exhibition where he saw Yo's work was curated by Terri Weifenbach and the very hard-working gallerist Jayme McLellan from Civilian Art Projects.

Job in the Arts

The Washington Printmakers Gallery located on Connecticut Avenue in Dupont Circle's prime arts district is offering a part-time position to a qualified candidate with an arts background, familiarity with printmaking, strong writing and computer skills, marketing savvy, office administration, and sales proficiency. This is a 25-hour a week job offering salary and commission on sales, plus a two-week vacation.

This 24-year very successful gallery consists of 40 professional highly skilled printmakers, a board of directors and several robust committees.

Salary: $12,000/year. Commission: 20% of sales. Health Benefits: None. Hours: 25 hours per week - Wed & Thurs Noon to 6 pm; Fri Noon to 7 pm; Sat 10 am to 5 pm. Vacation: 2 weeks.

Please send them: 1. Your resume. 2. A cover letter explaining what you would bring to this position, and. 3. A one-page press release describing a two-person exhibition featuring the work of two of the WPG artists whose work appears on WPG's website

Details here.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


There are some potential steals in this auction in Philly on October 3rd.

Fulbright grants

Fulbright grants are available for artists for 2-6 week lecturing and research abroad. No application fee, stipends are available. How to Apply: Contact:

Fulbright Senior Specialist Program
Council for International Exchange of Scholars
3007 Tilden St NW, Suite 5L
Washington, DC 20008-3009

Phone: 202/686-7877; email:; website:

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

New DC gallery

Studio H, a new Washington, DC art space, is located in the burgeoning and energetic H street corridor on the North end of Capitol Hill.

The grand opening is Saturday, October 17 with an opening reception from 6-8PM for Sarah Griffin Thibodeaux.

Founded by Washington, DC native and Capitol Hill resident Philip Hutinet, Studio H Gallery and Workshop will serve DC residents through interdisciplinary artistic, cultural and social events. The gallery at Studio H will feature monthly art exhibits from local artists and expand to show national and international artists from the mid-Atlantic region, Europe and Latin America. Studio H Gallery and Workshop will present lecture series open to the public at no cost. As a working space, Studio H also provides various services including website design, custom illustrations, portrait paintings and public murals.

Art tax woes in PA

The budget deal reached late Friday in Harrisburg, which includes an extension of the state sales tax to cultural performances and venues - including museums - has stunned and angered the arts community.
Read all about it in the Inquirer here.

At Parish Gallery in Georgetown

I've been hearing a buzz about the current exhibition at my former next door neighbor in Canal Square, the Parish Gallery, which has been in business for 18 years now, which in gallery years in like a 100.

Twenty-seven artists are featured in the current exhibition and this group exhibition is honoring the work of Dr. Margaret Burroughs, the living founder of the National Conference of Artists (NCA).

The NCA, established in 1959, is the first professional organization devoted to the creation, promotion and education of art by African American Fine Artists.

The show goes through October 13, 2009 and it includes the following artists:

This exhibition will include the following artists:

Ana Maria Allen, Kwabena Ampofo-Anti, Daniel T. Brooking, Gloria A. Bradley, Dr. Margaret T. Burroughs, Dr. Floyd Coleman, Dr. David C. Driskell, Dr. Sandra Epps, Claudia “Aziza Gibson-Hunter, Margo Humphrey, Larry B. Joseph, Gloria C. Kirk, Serenity Knight, E. J. Montgomery, F. Magruder Murry, Bruce McNeil, Norman Parish, Donte Player, Rachel Pope, Amber Robles-Gordan, Malia Kai Salaam-Steeple, Emma Smith, Frank Smith, George “Shoman” Smith, Willard Taylor, and Derrek, Vaughn

Opportunity for Artists

Deadline: October 1, 2009

The City of Bowie, Maryland is seeking artists for two public art projects: one, a kinetic sculpture, $80,000, and the second a large working sundial, $100,000. The RFQ call is nationwide and artists may apply for one or both projects. To view the Call for Artists, please visit and click on "Call to artists to design artwork for the new City Hall." For more information, contact Annette Esterheld, Arts Specialist, at 301.575.5601 or

Electrifying nature

"Forget the notion of a reverent nature photographer tiptoeing through the woods, camera slung over one shoulder, patiently looking for perfect light. Robert Buelteman works indoors in total darkness, forsaking cameras, lenses, and computers for jumper cables, fiber optics, and 80,000 volts of electricity. This bizarre union of Dr. Frankenstein and Georgia O'Keeffe spawns photos that seem to portray the life force of his subjects as the very process destroys them."
Read the cool article in Wired here, but for an even cooler perspective, check out his work currently on display at Artists Circle Fine Art in North Potomac, MD.

Buelteman, Eucalyptus.jpg

Robert Buelteman, Eucalyptus

I love it when artists take their subject matter and change their perspective by the use of technology, such as Buelteman does by using electricity, or Andrzej Pluta does with submergence and ink dyes.

Buelteman, Clematis

Robert Buelteman, White Clematis

This is a terrific show that readers of the Washington Post will never be aware of because their gallery critic (Jessica Dawson) rarely, if ever, gets outside the District, unless it is to bash the Bethesda art scene with her silly un-comparison to Brooklyn.

So don't expect her to get to North Potomac, wherever that is...

Cola nut, un-Cola nut...

Monday, September 21, 2009

Wanna go to an Alexandria opening this week?

Gabriel by Thomas BuechnerRenowned American painter, Thomas S. Buechner will be sharing work spanning 60 years of his career in his upcoming solo exhibition: ‘A Retrospective: 60 Years of Painting, 1948-2008’ at Alexandria's Principle Gallery. Featured paintings will include figurative, still life, and landscape pieces. The 83-year-old painter has had three Retrospective Shows in prominent American museums, but this will be the first time paintings that he has held in his private collection will be available for acquisition through a independently owned commercial fine arts gallery.

Mr. Buechner’s paintings can be found in collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American Art, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Arnot Art Museum. The artist’s remarkable career also includes being the first Director of the Corning Museum of Glass (1950-1960), Director of the Brooklyn Museum (1960-1971), President of Steuben Glass (1972), and later Vice President of Corning Glass Works. He helped establish the Rockwell Museum in 1972. He is also an accomplished author who wrote the glass section for the Encyclopedia Britannica, founded the Journal of Glass Studies and the New Glass Review, and wrote books, Norman Rockwell, Artist and Illustrator, How I Paint, and Seeing A Life.

This exhibit will begin with a reception open to the public on Friday, 25 September 2009 from 6:30-9pm. The artist will be in attendance to meet with collectors, discuss the inspiration for his paintings, and sign books.

Anderson Pooper

I call this short video "Time for Formula!" - starring Anderson Pooper. He is hungry and not fooled by the pacifier.

Animal rights and visual imagery

"Nitsch, an Austrian artist, uses animal entrails, blood and carcasses in his performances to embrace Dionysiac orgy and catharsis. A show including Abdessemed’s Don’t Trust Me at the San Francisco Art Institute was cancelled in March 2008 after animal rights activists threatened museum staff with bodily harm. An exhibition of the video was also closed in Turin, northern Italy, in February, after protests and questions of legality, although the show subsequently reopened.

Meanwhile, animal rights groups and 26 states have filed or joined briefs in support of the 1999 law, which makes it a crime to create, sell or possess depictions of animal cruelty with the intent to sell them in interstate commerce."
Details here.

Fun with the Internet(s)

TellerI was screwing around the Internets a while back, as I was trying to see if there was anyone out there (besides Batman) named Adam West, who was also married to a woman named Mae.

Instead I discovered that Philly-born Teller of Penn & Teller fame is half Cuban!

People say that Castro is the only Cuban in the world who doesn't dance. I think that Teller is the only Cuban in the world who doesn't talk.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Bow Down to Washington

After losing 15 in a row, the Washington Huskies are back and yesterday they beat number three USC.

TV Heaven

First The Office finally came back funnier than ever, and now Curb Your Enthusiasm, by my standards the funniest show on TV, comes back tonight.

Now if they still had Blackadder shows on, I'd be in TV heaven.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


Ofrenda - Art for the Dead is an art exhibition of local artists' shrines, altars, paintings, music, dancing, and spoken word based on the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) tradition.

Ofrenda remembers the dead and celebrates life (the two emphases of the holiday) with artist-made Dia de los Muertos altars and ofrendas (offerings) that venerate the beloved dead, and draw them to visit their loved ones, feast on their favorite food and drink, and listen to their favorite music.

This year marks the third annual Ofrenda Show and Art Outlet will partner with the Torpedo Factory Art Center for the show.

The event will begin Saturday, October 31 and run though November 3. On Saturday Oct 31, there is a parade starting at 7pm and a mask ball with multiple performances at 8pm during the reception.

This presents an opportunity for artists: Create and show your personal altars, icons, shrines, and offerings (ofrendas). They are seeking 2- and 3-D artwork (any media), which fits the Dia de los Muertos tradition. Art Outlet will curate 1152 square feet of wall exhibition space (18 panels, courtesy of Artomatic) and space for sculpture/media on the first floor of the Torpedo Factory Art Center. They estimate this space will hold 36 two-D and 20 three-D artworks.

Art may include candles or incense, but these will not be burned during the show. There will be a public altar outside the Torpedo Factory that will include candles and incense. They especially welcome 3-D works and installation. The art and activities of traditional El Día de los Muertos celebrations look warmly and humorously on life, death, and the departed. When considering your submission, please be respectful. Art displayed at Ofrendas—Art of the Dead will take place in this same tradition.

Details here.

Fighting over Kahlo

Policing the legacy of artists can be a tough business. Nowhere is it tougher than in Mexico, where the magnetic, self-mythologizing painter Frida Kahlo (1907-54) shot from relative obscurity to iconic status only in the last quarter-century.
The LA Times Christopher Knight with an entertaining article on the fight of Frida Kahlo's newly discovered assortment of work(s). Read it here.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Here's the coffin

Andrew Wodzianski coffin

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Andrew Wodzianski: House

Now I know what the tiny coffins are all about... if you didn't get one: suffer!

A lot more on this later, but pencil in Thursday, October 8, 2009 and Friday October 30, 2009 at Flashpoint. Opening Reception: Thursday, October 8, 6-8pm, House Party: Friday, October 30, 9-12pm.

Andrew WodzianskiAndrew Wodzianski: House opens on the 8th of October and his paintings will lift imagery from William Castle’s b-movie horror flick from 1959, House on Haunted Hill, but this is going to far from just being another "painting" show.

OK, OK, this may be a "painting exhibition in its own right," but House will also incorporate the gimmickry and audience participation for which director Castle was legendary for movies. Around DC Wodzianski has becoming an "opening night legend" on his own right (such as showing dressed up as a ninja to an opening reception one time).

Andrew as a Ninhja
Six foot five Andrew Wodzianski as the world's tallest Ninja.

In this exhibit you will see thirteen artworks (not a coincidence), nine of which will be paintings. All nine paintings depict interior sets and props used in William Castle’s cult campy film House on Haunted Hill, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. The paintings are a triumph of technical and creative visual minimalism as still images from the film are manipulated and juxtaposed onto tinted canvas, and obfuscated by multiple layers of white glaze and velaturas [literally, there is only white titanium oil paint on a pastel ground]. Much like the 1959 film, the paintings themselves appear veiled and slightly threatening and unresolved.

Visitors to the gallery will be invited to participate in a scavenger hunt (the scavenger hunt, House Hunt DC, will begin October 8 during which the artist will release a series of five clues via Twitter ( and hunters will ultimately have the chance to win paintings from the exhibition. Scavenger hunt winners will redeem their findings to win actual paintings from the exhibition on October 30, during House Party, a costume party and gallery fundraiser.

There will also be a funerary performance by Wodzianski on the opening night of the exhibition (thus the tiny coffins as invites!). I will also have an essay on Wodzianski.

Abra Cadaver, an exhibition of Wodzianski's drawings will be on view concurrently at Fraser Gallery in Bethesda, MD. The exhibition opens October 9 from 6-9pm and runs through November 14.

Again, House Opening Reception: Thursday, October 8, 6-8pm and House Party: Friday, October 30, 9-12pm at Flashpoint.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

What Pulse said...

This is what the selection committee at the Pulse Art Fair Miami said to me:

Oh well... there are 24 other fairs to apply to... sigh.

Tiny coffin

I just got a tiny coffin in the mail... will investigate.

Hirst versus the world

And nu... there's an ongoing fight between once poor artist-who-got-famous-real-quick and is now a multimillionaire marketeer Damien Hirst and a 16-year old teenager named Cartrain that he had arrested in a feud that started because the the kid had created some collages, and some of them included an image of the by now famous jewel-encrusted skull that Hirst had made and then sold (for what has been reported as £50 million British pounds which is a fucking lot of US Samolians)), and then Cartrain walked away with some Hirstonian artsy pencils.

Breathe deeply...

Hirst, who is apparently super sensitive about the "issue" (pronounced in BBC British as "easy-uh") that (like the Disney copyright police), he threatened to sue Cartrain and then forced the kiddie to hand over the artwork and to pay £200 British pounds (the British refuse to use Euros because, as explained to me by a drunk Brit in the high seas, they think of "Europeans" as WOGs) to Hirst.

But then a lot of artists got pissed off at Hirst and started creating more artwork using the Hirstonian skull as the subject matter in protest.

And now the whole "issue" gets more more bizarre lately, as Cartrain, probably seeing an Warholian moment, drops by a Hirst exhibition and walks away with a box of pencils that were in one of Hirst's works and leaves a ransom note (is this the DC Collector?) demanding his own artwork be returned.

Has Hirst been "played"?

How much is a box of pencils worth? Fifty pence? £3.99 if the pencils have rubbers on the ends? Well, if they're part of a Damien Hirst art installation, the value is £500,000. That is what 17-year-old graffiti artist Cartrain discovered when he pilfered some pencils from Hirst's sculpture Pharmacy. And that wasn't all – he was arrested, released on bail, and is waiting to find out if he will be formally charged with causing damage to an iconic artwork worth £10m.
And so... the constables now have valued that artsy box of pencils at £500,000 and then arrested the kid.

As the artworld turns...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Think Small 5

THINKSMALL5 the fifth biennial International Miniature Invitational Exhibition at art6 and artspace galleries located in Richmond, Virginia.

500 local, national, and international artists who have been invited to consider this challenge by the co-curators, Shann Palmer, Gallery Coordinator, art6 Gallery and Jessica L. Sims, Vice-President, artspace Gallery.

Exhibition Dates: Friday, November 6 through Saturday, December 20, 2009
Preview Reception: Thursday, November 5, 2009, from 7 to 10 pm
Exhibition Opening: Friday, November 6, 2009, from 7 to 10 pm

Some of the Participating Artists include Alan Entin, Anne Savedge, Annette Norman, Beth Beaven, Burton Tysinger, Cary Loving, Catherine Johnson, Chuck Scalin, Debbie and Andrew Campbell, Diego Sanchez, Emma Lou Martin, Foust, Gloria Blades, Hazel Buys, James Miller, Jane Vaught, Jessica Sims, Judy Anderson, Kathleen Westkaemper, Margaret Buchanan, Marian Hollowell, Martin McFadden, LRPS, Matthew Lively, Mim Gulob Scalin, Nancy Smith, Noah Scalin, Page Moran, Paul Kehrer, Rob Tarbell, Robin Ryder, Santa Sergio De Haven, Shelia Gray, Susanne Arnold, Tricia Pearsall, Virginia Tyack, Yvonne Cook and yours truly.

What I got for my birthday
And it is amazing from the world's greatest ever rock band! Get yours here.

Monday, September 14, 2009

New Acquisitions at Testudo U

From the University of Maryland:

In the spring of 2008, five gifted students were selected to be part of a committee that was taught the intricacies of contemporary art and sent on trips to New York City and Washington D.C, where they visited multiple galleries and artists ’ studios. The program concluded with the committee of students purchasing a number of pieces of contemporary art to be added to the collection of The Adele H. Stamp Student Union, Center for Campus Life.
The committee’s selections are currently on exhibition in The Stamp Gallery, located on the 1 st floor of the Stamp. The exhibition runs from August 31st-October 1st, 2009 with an opening reception on September 17th from 5-8pm .

This sounds like a really cool program and an art program that puts its money where its mouth is! I am already curious which galleries in DC they visited and if they also visited any other spaces in the Greater DC area.

For more information about the exhibition and the program contact the gallery at 301-314-8493 or

Lida Moser

I'm glad to report that photography legend Lida Moser was able to make it to her opening. This in spite of just being released from the hospital where she was as a result of a fall and associated bone fractures.

Lida Moser
That's one tough New Yorker and in the background that's curator Erik Denker, the Senior Lecturer, Education Division at the National Gallery of Art, who is also an authority on all things Moser.

The end of a blog?

"I'm still not 100% sure that this post is the end of the road for Thinking About Art. There are several unfinished projects that have stalled and there is certainly more to say. There is more to learn as well, but the thing I have found is that the blog can really put pressure on some relationships. There are art dealers who were once friends of mine who now ignore me. It has been suggested that some of my reviews from 5 years ago might have played a role in me not getting into some MFA programs. I know for a fact that I've been excluded from shows and other opportunities because of the blog. Knowing this, has the past 5 years been worth it? Absolutely, yes. I've learned so much writing this blog and interacting with you, the reader, that I feel I have grown astronomically as an artist. The relationships I have formed because of this blog have been enriching and I value them immensely."
Read Kirkland's post here. In reading JT's post, I readily understand his points, and it doesn't take much to visit a few once super-active and interesting blogs, both local and national, to see that most art bloggers seem to have reached blogexhaustion with content and posts declining in most of them while others have translated their writing skills, honed through blogging, into paid gigs with magazines and newspapers. And in some cases, the sensationalist ingredient of political blogging has so poisoned some blogs' wells, that now they are nothing but harbingers of the art world's bad news and dirty laundry.

I'll be here while I am still having fun.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Baby Art Gifts

Frida Kahlo Baby Bib by Bethanne Shannon

Just received the most wonderful set of three baby bibs by Massachusetts multi-media artist, workshop leader, safe sex education advocate and peace activist Bethanne Shannon. The pieces were commissioned for Anderson Campello by the amazing Manon Cleary.

Like me, Bethanne is an avowed Kahlophile, see her Kahloworks here. She's also the founder and creator of My Pet Sperm and made these two other bibs for Anderson:
My pet sperm bib by Bethanne Shannon

I made it! baby bib by Bethanne Shannon

My pet sperm bib by Bethanne Shannon

One in a million! baby bib by Bethanne Shannon

Check Shannon's artwork at these links:

For sperm:

For Frida: look in "SETS" find Frida.

An artist's true woe tale

The below true tale is from the Washington Glass School blog:

A True Story That Happened To Tim Tate From Several Years Ago

The Worst New York Gallery Experience in History

I fully realize that beginning with that title is tantamount to throwing down a gauntlet to every artist who reads this, but bear with me.

In the end, you'll be the judge.

For the sake of this article the events and the gallery discussed here. This is not an effort to protect the gallery, but an attempt to make this experience a little more universal. Remember, this could have happened to you. This was several years ago.

My tale begins with a common enough event... a charity auction. As artists, we participate in many such events. This one was particularly prestigious and national in scope. As luck would have it, my piece ended up in the live auction section and with spirited bidding created quite a stir. It was at this point that I was first approached by the "New York Gallery."

"Your work is incredible!" they said, "We would love to represent your work in our Chelsea gallery and also take you to SOFA New York! ( A large art fair in NYC)

What a fantastic opportunity... finally New York representation... and at SOFA NY to boot! All seemed right with the Universe.

As a non-New York artist I share a commonly held belief that if I could just procure gallery sponsorship in the Big Apple that my career would definitely take a big leap forward. No longer would I be a regional artist; I would become nationally known. Naive perhaps, but I entered this ordeal with these rose-colored beliefs.

My first hint of unease came when the gallery insisted that I do an "Installation." I knew that SOFA NY was not about installation work and neither was I at the time, but hey, what the heck? It's about time I moved in that direction. Don't all great artists? The gallery also claimed to have many clients who were museum curators who bought installation work. Ok.....done!

And video..... they want a video from me. Not just a bio.... but a video art piece. Great again! I've had a video I've wanted to do in my head for years, so here at last was my chance. The gallery owners say that they had numerous clients for videos who pay from $5,000 to $7,000 dollars for a single copy.


Ok..... sure... I was skeptical, but I wanted to believe so badly! Here I was heading to New York as a video and installation artist. Pretty cool, huh? Obviously, New York was just waiting for me!

Unfortunately, the Universe has a tendency to punish such hubris. Lessons need to be learned the hard way. Let me also clarify. This story is not about money... it is about the validation that a New York gallery can impart to those of us outside of New York.

I spent the next 6 weeks making all the components for the big day. My regular art is quite labor-intensive. Throw in the video and I was kept very busy until the day I left for New York.

Now the fiasco begins.

Day One

My team gets to the SOFA space an hour ahead of me and calls to say that no one from the gallery is there, and that all the artists are confused as to where to install.

We knew the exact size of the space for our installation, so they have measured and decide that only one space is the correct size. They begin to install.

I arrive to SOFA..... not as an observer as in years past, but triumphantly as an honored participant! I get to the space and discover that my space is the only space in SOFA that actually faces the wall... not the aisle where the people are.

The owners arrived about this time and tell me not to worry. Everybody sees everything at SOFA. "Jeez," I think, "but what can I do? At least I'm at the show....and it won't be the first time I've overcome bad placement in a show." I’m just happy to be invited to this party.

Now that the owners have arrived it is clear that they have had a huge fight. They are a couple going through a painful and public divorce. For the purposes of this story we will know them as Joe Young and Joe Old.

Not surprisingly, Joe Old is the one with all the money, but Joe Young is the one with all the power. For some inexplicable reason Joe Young (and I mean young) has been given total control over the gallery, without a clue how to accomplish this. He is on a mission to become the cutting edge gallery in Chelsea. (see prior notes regarding hubris).

By this time my team and I have installed my work..... a little tight and very hard to find, but I'm at SOFA . So Joe Young says, "Hey, before you guys leave, could you help us move a pipe? Its another artists work, but its over at the gallery and we have to move it here."

"Ok, sure. We'd be happy to help!" and besides, I'm dying to see the gallery space. (I know.... and no, I hadn't ever seen the gallery).

It turns out there are six of us riding down in an SUV. Wow...this must be some pipe! This could not have been truer, as the pipe is 4ft high, 2ft. wide and 1/2 inch thick. This is one heavy pipe! With all of us helping (except the owners...who have strangely disappeared again), we get the pipe in the SUV. Now we enter the gallery.

It is in a wonderful building, filled with wonderful galleries. This is a good sign. This is a building I have always wanted to show in. Ok.... they have the smallest and most buried space in the building, but they are still here. We enter the gallery.

Standing in the middle of the gallery is a coat rack filled with coats and a picnic table covered in trash. Trash also covers the floor. Empty Coke bottles, mustard jars, Boone's Farm, Cheez-Whiz...... it's seems like some exploded leftovers from a Tennessee picnic.

"Oh my God!", I say, "What on earth happened!?!?".

"What do you mean?" they say, "This is an installation. Its all about consumerism."

Oh Lord.... I remember when kids would put a box of S.O.S. pads on a pedestal and called it consumerism art.... is that fad back again? I sincerely hope not. Maybe I'm just out of touch; I mean after all, I'm a non-New York artist. What do I know?

My work has been thought out for weeks. Every piece has been scrupulously made and the installation subtly and thoughtfully tells a story common to us all. Maybe this heavy-handed consumerism approach is back again. I hope that I haven't made a mistake!

OK.... home to bed... I want to get lots of sleep before the big day.

As I walk into the booth the next day, I see that the other artists showing with my gallery have had time to install their work.

Boy have they!

I should say that there is a glass artist, a wood artist and a ceramic artist sharing my booth (and who also share my fate).

In front of the booth they have forced the ceramic artist to put her work into a structure that looks like a puppet theater.... complete with red velvet curtains.

Next to me is another pile of picnic refuse as well. It seems that it is the brainchild of the gallery owner.

It's what he thinks the wood guy should be doing. "It's all about chaos theory," he says. Well... I agree about the chaos part.

On the other side of me is a huge installation titled "Dictator." This consists of two walls completely crammed with coffee mugs, t-shirts, pillows, thongs and boxer shorts with the word "Dictator" on them. Again..... its about consumerism (Ok..I get it).

The giant pipe is also there.

Well..... it's now very very tight to get into the booth..... maybe five feet of entry space left. Let's see..... how can they close it off more?

I know!...... let's paint a foozball table grey and completely cover four of the last five feet of entry space.

And let's put DVD players right at that last opening (although they never show the video that they had claimed they would show to curators).

The booth looks like a grocery store and a Thrift shop have mated. If you manage to wiggle in to see my work, it's extremely difficult to see it at all because it is surrounded by so much stuff.

The owners have also hired three youngsters to "sell" at the gallery. One seems to know what she is doing.... the other kids just talk about who's getting laid by whom while all the while congregating at the only one foot entrance into the booth.

Its now 5PM and the big black tie opening event has started.

All the big collectors, museum curators, etc. are there....... but not the owners of my gallery….they’ve been missing all day.

At 5:15; however, another 20-year-old kid runs in and says he's supposed to be hanging there too.

He's a painter..... and this is definitely not a painter's show..... but up go his paintings.

Nothing makes sense in this explosion.

There is no theme, there is no order (and there is no way to get into the space).

The owners finally arrive towards 6PM. In the meantime the painter has begun to drink heavily.

The owners have decided that their space was too simple, so in order to create a "happening" they have hired a performance artist. She is from Italy. It is her job to walk around the entire event and put red dots on all of everyone else's artwork. This is intended to create a buzz.

And buzz it creates…… people are getting very upset.

So upset that the security director escorts her out of the event. The security director believes that I am to blame because I am the only one at the booth (the owners and other artists are again no where to be found).

I assure him I am not; though this is not our last contact.

The painter.... very upset over the gallery's seeming inability to sell even one painting, has really started drinking. In fact he has had five large wine glasses filled with Scotch.

Straight Scotch.

The security director comes over to me again. "Is this your boy? " he asks. "He's peeing on the ground right over there. We are going to put him out for good."

Dear God……he is certainly NOT my boy!

I had better at least try to get him into a cab. After all, he is one of my fellow artists from the gallery (The owners are still invisible).

I go outside and try to talk some sense into him and send him home to his girlfriend. He is immediately hot headed..... so I start to go inside. At this moment, finally, one of the gallery owners comes outside; Joe Old.

Bad timing.

The painter is really wound up about promises not kept by the gallery. The painter takes a swing at the gallery owner and knocks his cell phone into traffic. The painter dives for it, narrowly missing being hit by a passing cab.

The painter grabs the cell phone, and throws it onto the roof of the neighboring building. He then turns around and punches the gallery owner full in the face. The gallery owner runs inside. Now I am left with a screaming, flailing kid on the middle of Lexington Avenue.

I'm holding him back as he rants.

It looks like I'm having a huge lover's quarrel with my child bride.

As this thought crosses my mind, I look up.

There... on the corner... is the entire staff of the most prestigious gallery for my kind of work in New York. They do not look amused.

Great! .... perfect.... just what I needed to boost my career.

How on earth could this get any worse?

I know.... let's have the cops join us, who have arrived on the scene with flashing lights.

Ok...that's worse!

The cops don't know what's happening; they are just responding to a call.

Their belief is that he and I are both creating a disturbance. I tell the cop that I barely know this kid, I'm just trying to get him a cab. The cop says that I have one minute to do so or he will run us both in.


I hail a cab and pay the driver $40 out of my pocket to get this kid to Brooklyn; why I will never know. The cops finally say that I can go.

By this time the huge black tie party is over... my collar is torn... and I'm out 40 bucks. Time to go home, lick my wounds, and try again the next day. Thus ended the longest day in my art career.

Day Two

Day two started off much better. I was full of hope and determined to cast off the bad mojo from the first day. I arrived on time, and again... no owners.

But hey....who needs owners? I'm at SOFA NY... I can sell my own work. Which I did almost immediately. Three pieces in fact. Alright.... this is gonna be great! Then in comes the three staff members.

Now the booth is too packed to get into again. This is when the testimonials begin.

All throughout the day artists keep coming up to me and pulling me aside. "Get your stuff out while you can!" they'd say, or "I had to sue them to finally get my money!" This happened six times that day.

And these are artists I respect; Where were all these guys when I was asking about this NYC the gallery in the first place?

And it's not just artists.

Its other gallery owners. They look at me consolingly and tell me how sorry they are for me. They, without exception, advise me to get my work out of there before the train wreck occurs. I sold nothing more that day; I left with a sick feeling.

Day Three

Day three continues along those lines, only today it's the other artists and gallery staff that offer tales of terror.

The most lucrative artist they show there tells me that while he has sold lots for them, he has yet to receive money. He is told his work is hanging in a millionaire's home and that the gallery hasn't been paid yet.

This was three months ago.

He also tells me that the owners are furious with me. "Why?," I ask.

"Because you sold three pieces of artwork."


Seems that if you sell artwork and they don't, they get upset...supposedly because it points out they can't sell.

Huh? They hadn’t even come to work that day till 4pm.

The woman whom they have hired to run the gallery is pretty sharp. She tells me the ship is sinking... try to get your work out ASAP.

She says that they are the laughing stock of the Chelsea art scene. This is their employee.

Lord knows we are a laughing stock here; except to the art collector who came into the booth to loudly accuse the owners of stealing a 100 dollar bill off of his dresser while they were in his home.

Day Four

Day four is known as "Skank Day."

The owners have decided that they need more attention. They decide to hire two 20-year-old girls and have them dress in thongs and skimpy t-shirts and hand out water bottles with the booth number on it.

Being that the average age of collectors attending the event is 65, you can imagine how well this is received. Enter my new friend (the security director); Out they go.

Today the owner yells at the staff, "We are NOT here to sell artwork.... we are here to sell the gallery!,"

That sure explains a lot.

Wish they had told me that going into this. I am standing in the middle of a three ring circus, and there is nothing I can do about it.

Last Day

Word has gotten out about this train wreck. Everyone comes by to offer advice. Unfortunately, I can't leave with my artwork because I have a contract with the gallery. People tell me to break my contract, but I know I can't. I check into the booth before heading to the train station. Since before I'd arrived and all during this event I have told the owners how to move my work when they de-install.

Now as I leave they start freaking out... they are uncomfortable moving it. God knows what will happen.

I am writing this on the train returning home. I have no idea if I will ever see my artwork or my money ever again. The general consensus was that they will shortly file for bankruptcy and fold me into that. So much occurred that I didn't even report here (in the interest of brevity). Suffice it to say they lied to me daily and obviously.

So..... you non-New York artists out there: Let this be a lesson to you all.

Learn the easy way for a change; not the hard way. Maybe being a regional artist is not so bad. And when you plan to stretch to the Big Apple, try and get a recommendation first. This was an incredibly costly mistake for me, but I won't stop trying. You can be sure though.... the next time I will have a lot more questions to ask.
A true horror story uh? I find it interesting and part of "get a New York gallery" goals of most artists that Tate, arguably one of the best-known, if not the best known contemporary artist in the Greater DC area these days, and represented by galleries in Los Angeles, Chicago, St, Louis, Miami, Santa Fe, Philadelphia, Bethesda, London and of course DC, and whose hi-tech self-contained video installations consistently sell well in art fairs, still has to find a good New York dealer (this NYC art critic has a suggestion for a NYC dealer).

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Major Andy Warhol collection stolen in Los Angeles‏

Between September 2 & 3, 2009, a home was burglarized along Angelo Drive in West L.A. owned by businessman Richard L. Weisman. The property taken included a multi-million dollar collection of (11) 40" x 40" original artworks by Andy Warhol. Ten of the artworks depicted famous athletes and were made between 1977-79. A Warhol portrait of Mr. Weisman was also taken.

A reward of $1 million has been offered for information leading to the recovery of the art. Contact the LAPD Art Theft Detail: Detectives Hrycyk or Sommer at (213) 485-2524 or (877) 529-3855.

You can view the stolen art here.

Weiss at Nevin Kelly

Ellyn Weiss' new work, titled "Dark Matter" will be shown at the Nevin Kelly Gallery from September 17 - October 17. I am told that it's all made of tar!

Opening reception, Thursday, September 17, 6 - 9 pm. Nevin's new space is right at the Columbia Heights metro.

Keeping a lid on cynicism and irony

... approach the art of seeing... in the spirit of an amateur... in the original sense of the word, as a lover, someone who does something for the love of it, wholeheartedly. The best amateur has the skills of a professional but true professionals stay amateurs at heart, keeping a lid on the cynicism and irony that can pass for sophistication in some circles. Skepticism is useful, and for critics, necessary. But in The Dehumanization of Art, in a section aptly titled "Doomed to Irony," the Spanish philosopher José Ortega y Gasset laments how our aversion to pathos and dependence on irony "imparts to modern art a monotony that must exasperate patience itself."

Michael Kimmelman
The Accidental Masterpiece

Friday, September 11, 2009

Tonight: Lida Moser at the Arts Club

Do this tonight!

Opening tonight and through Sept. 26, 2009, the Arts Club of Washington, DC (in the McFeely Gallery) will be hosting a solo exhibition of legendary American photographer Lida Moser, who now lives in retirement in nearby Rockville, Maryland. The opening reception is from 6:30-9:00PM.

This almost 90-year-old photographer is not only one of the most respected American photographers of the 20th century, but also a pioneer in the field of photojournalism. Her photography has been in the middle of a revival and rediscovery of vintage photojournalism, and has sold as high as $4,000 at Christie's auctions and continues to be collected by both museums and private collectors worldwide. In a career spanning over 60 years, Moser has produced a body of works consisting of thousands of photographs and photographic assemblages that defy categorization and genre or label assignment.

Additionally, Canadian television a couple of years ago finished filming a documentary about her life; the second in the last few years, and Moser’s work is now in the collection of many museums worldwide.

She was once called the "grandmother of American street photography" by an art critic, which prompted a quick rebuttal by Moser, who called the writer's editor and told him that she wasn't the "fucking grandmother of anything or anyone, and would he [the writer] ever describe Ansel Adams or any other male photographer as the 'grandfather' of any style."

Tough New Yorker.

I once sold one of her rare figure studies to a big famous photography collector from the West Coast (who collects mostly nude photography). There were four or five prints of the image, taken and printed around 1961, but one had all the markings and touch-up evidence of the actual photo that had been used by the magazine, and thus I sent him that one.

He called me to complain that although he loved Moser's work, that he wasn't too happy with the retouching, and could I ask Lida for one of the untouched photos.

Now, you gotta understand that these images were taken and touched-up by hand for publication in a newspaper or magazine (since they were nudies, the latter probably). They were not touched up for a gallery or an art show - they were "battlefield" prints of a working photographer.

I called Lida and explained the situation over the phone. "Sweetie," she said to me in her strong New York accent, "you call that guy right back and tell him that you talked to Lida Moser and that Lida Moser told you to tell him: Fuck You!"

I didn't do that, but just sent him an untouched vintage print.

Tough New Yorker.

Lida was a well-known figure in the New York art scene of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, and a portrait of Lida Moser by American painter Alice Neel hangs in the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum in New York City. Neel painted a total of four Moser portraits over her lifetime, and one of them was included in the National Museum of Women in the Arts' "Alice Neel's Women" exhibition.

Charles Mingus by Lida Moser
"Charles Mingus in his Apartment in New York City", c. 1965.

Among her body of works there are also loads of photographs of well-known artists and musicians that either hung around Lida's apartment in NYC or who were part of her circle of friends.

Man Sitting Across Berenice Abbott's Studio in 1948 by Lida Moser

Lida Moser's photographic career started as a student and studio assistant in 1947 in Berenice Abbott's studio in New York City, where she became an active member of the New York Photo League. She then worked for Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Look and many other magazines throughout the next few decades, and traveled extensively throughout the United States, Canada and Europe.

In 1950 Vogue, and (and subsequently Look magazine) assigned Lida Moser to carry out an illustrated report on Canada, from one ocean to another. When she arrived at the Windsor station in Montreal, in June of that same year, she met by chance, Paul Gouin, then a Cultural Advisor to Duplessis government. This chance meeting led Moser to change her all-Canada assignment for one centered around Quebec.
Quebec Children, Gaspe Pen, Valley of The Matapedia, Quebec, Canada by Lida Moser
Armed with her camera and guided by the research done by the Abbot Felix-Antoine Savard, the folklorist Luc Lacourcière and accompanied by Paul Gouin, Lida Moser then discovers and photographs a traditional Quebec, which was still little touched by modern civilization and the coming urbanization of the region.

Decades later, a major exhibition of those photographs at the McCord Museum of Canadian History became the museum’s most popular exhibit ever.

Construction of Exxon Building, 6th Avenue and 50th Street, New York City by Lida Moser c.1971She has also authored and been part of many books and publications on and about photography. She also wrote a series of "Camera View" articles on photography for The New York Times between 1974-81.

Her work has been exhibited in many museums worldwide and is in the permanent collection of the National Portrait Gallery, London, the National Archives, Ottawa, the National Galleries of Scotland, National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC, the Library of Congress, Les Archives Nationales du Quebec, Corcoran Gallery, Phillips Collection and many others.

Moser was an active member of the Photo League and the New York School.

The Photo League was the seminal birth of American documentary photography. It was a group that was at times at school, an association and even a social club. Disbanded in 1951, the League promoted photojournalism with an aesthetic consciousness that reaches street photography to this day.

photo by Lida Moser
"New York City, Office Building Lobby" c. 1965

If you are a photographer, do not miss this opportunity to visit the Arts Club (every DC area artist should visit this great place once in a while) and meet one of the women who set the path for all of you. If you just love the arts, Moser is also a walking encyclopedia of anecdotes and stories about the New York art world of the 50s, 60s and 70s.

The Arts Club show is curated by my good friend Erik Denker, the Senior Lecturer, Education Division at the National Gallery of Art, who is also an authority on all things Moser. The show is titled "The World of John Koch" and depicts Moser's portraits of the renowed New York portrait artist John Koch taken over a 20 year span from 1954-1974. These photographs are exhibited in Washington for the first time and are only one of two portfolios of the portraits ever printed by Moser (the other was given to the Koch widow once the painter died in 1974).

John Koch by Lida Moser

John Koch, Silver Gelatin print by Lida Moser, c.1970

Read the WaPo review of one of her DC solo exhibitions here.

The opening reception is from 6:30-9:00PM. Do not miss it!