Thursday, December 31, 2009

Opportunity for artists

Deadline: Januray 15, 2010

Art of the Soul: A Woman’s View of Sexism & Oppression

If oppression was art, what would it feel like? If sexism was art, what would it look like? Art of the Soul is an exhibition of the feelings, thoughts, and prejudices of those often unheard, in this event, women! Since the Victorian age, women have been a target of sin and disgracefulness, an oppression that has affected our sexuality, self-esteem, and character. Through the collaboration of fashion and visual arts, this event will educate the public on issues affecting women that are often deemed “inappropriate” to talk about.

This 18 day exhibit will explore the prevalence of female injustice present in our community. Our collaborative event will strive to facilitate communal dialogue surrounding female related issues and explore ways we can contribute to overturning these injustices, both collectively and individually. Art of the Soul will highlight and discuss the topics of self-esteem, judgment, sexism, AIDS, beauty, domestic violence, FGM (female genital mutilation), and many other issues affecting women.

What we are seeking are visual artists of all disciplines; painting, sculpture, photography, film, etc. to take part in this movement. Art of the Soul will be featured in a unique space in downtown Washington, DC with over 1200 sq ft. of wall space, large windows for display, and heavy foot traffic. We have paired up with local and national organizations, Hamiltonian Gallery, and Albus Cavus organization/artist collective, to gear this exhibit towards success.

Be a part of something great by becoming an Art of the Soul featured artist. You have the option to sell or auction your art and take part in our opening reception with over 150 expected guest where you can discuss your work, network, or explore future opportunities in the DC metropolitan area. With programming scheduled within the space throughout the life of the exhibit, Art of the Soul is more than just a collection of art but a voice for women and all others that have been oppressed.
If interested or if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please feel free to contact Kaira Johnson at Also, if you know any organizations or persons that would like to organize a program or workshop under the Art of the Soul, please forward this information to Kaira as well.

Art of the Soul
Feb 12-28, 2010
486 K Street, NW
Washington, DC

Presented by Fever Couture and Sponsored by Hamiltonian Gallery and Albus Cavus.

Opportunity for Artists

Deadline: Feb 28, 2010

The M-NCPPC space in the Gateway Arts Center is actively seeking both exhibition proposals for the 2010-11 season, as well as craft artists interested in showing & selling work at the center.

Craft proposals are being reviewed immediately and on an ongoing basis.

The next deadline for exhibition proposals is Feb 28, 2010.

The Gateway Arts Center (formerly called the Brentwood Art Center) will celebrate it’s grand opening on March 19, 2010. The center, located at a gorgeous space at 3901 Rhode Island Ave. in Brentwood, is dedicated to presenting and promoting the visual arts.

It is home to a dozen artists’ studios (Studio rents are starting at $13 s/f, plus utilities. For more information or to make an appointment to see the studios call John Paradiso at 301-864-3860 ext.3.), a gallery operated by the Gateway CDC, and the Prince George’s African American Museum & Cultural Center and certainly the heart of a new area home to many artists studios and several emerging art galleries.

The Maryland-National Capital Park & Planning Commission occupies approximately 1/4 of the building, featuring a gallery, a contemporary craft store, and an arts class/meeting room. It is a place for people of all ages to meet, engage and learn about art, purchase one of a kind craft objects, and explore new talents.

Proposals/applications should include:

* A résumé or CV
* Appropriate digital documentation with a list of images that includes titles, media, size, and dates.
* Exhibition proposals should include and artist/curator’s statement.

Send to:

Attn: Gateway Arts Center
Arts & Cultural Heritage Division, M-NCPPC
7833 Walker Dr. Suite 430
Greenbelt, MD 20770

If you have any questions, would like additional information or a full prospectus, please contact:

Phil Davis,

tel. 301-277-2863; tty. 301-446-6802; fax. 301-277-2865

Museum woes in 2009

So, what's a museum, with all its fixed costs, supposed to do at a time when people have less money (or less confidence) to give? One solution may be to just give up. The Gulf Coast Museum of Art in Largo, Fla., the Claremont Museum of Art in California and the Las Vegas Art Museum all closed for good. North Carolina's Fayetteville Museum of Art, with a $400,000-plus debt and no funds coming from the Arts Council of Fayetteville-Cumberland County, is on life support and its building is listed at $1.2 million. Add also to the list the Fresno Metropolitan Museum in California, which defaulted on a $15 million loan (as part of a $28 million renovation) and is expected to close "in the very near future," according to a statement by the bankruptcy lawyer representing the museum.
Read the WSJ article here.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Kirk Waldroff at NVCC

Kirk Waldroff

Saint Funiculus | 2009
left: woodcut on unryu | 3.5" x 24" | edition of three
middle: glass, oak, flourescent lighting | 9" x 30" x 6"
right: concrete, grout, gold leaf | 3.5" x 24"

Kirk Waldroff, a DC-based printmaker and sculptor who uses traditional woodcut techniques to create non-traditional prints in glass, concrete and on paper has been for quite sometime one of my favorite up-and-coming artists around here.

Why? It helps that we seem to share an interest in some of the same subject matter that interests me as his work often depicts invented saints and never-told fables.

He invents the saints in the same way that I invent medals and ribbons for non-existing conflicts and he invents new or non-existing fables while I often draw inspiration from the real ones.

Kirk Waldroff

Candy for Sachiko | 2009
left: woodcut print on Rives BFK | edition of one | 7" x 32"
right: glass and oak | 11" x 36" x 6.5" (closed) | 22" x 36" x 6.5" (open)

He has a show opening this coming January at Northern Virginia Community College's Waddell Gallery in Sterling, VA and the reception is Friday, January 22, 6:30pm - 8:30pm and there's also a gallery talk on Wednesday, January 20, at noon.

Saints and Fables
Prints and Print-based Sculpture
January 11 - February 12, 2010
Waddell Art Gallery
Northern Virginia Community College
1000 Harry Flood Byrd Highway
Sterling, VA 20164

Gallery Talk: Wednesday, January 20, noon
Reception: Friday, January 22, 6:30pm - 8:30pm

Tapedude Update

Mark Jenkins on Flavorpill.

Empty wine glasses

Philippa on Gopnik:

Blake Gopnik began a series in this morning's Washington Post on his experiment with "extreme connoisseurship," which entails looking at "a tiny corner of one work. If the art is really good, there will be at least a morning's worth of looking in a few square inches of it." In his first foray, he visits The Phillips Collection to look at the wine glasses on the table at the center of that collection's most famous work, "Luncheon of the Boating Party," by Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Gopnik admits that, "It isn't how most of us look at pictures. It's not even how most critics or scholars get to look at art, most of the time. But give it a chance, and it's the best kind of looking there is."
Read the whole thing here.

I'll have to re-read the Gopnik piece, which at first reading just sounded like art jargon semantic kabuki to me. But a closed mind is just as bad, so I'll give it a try again. The WaPo readers' comments (as usual) are also precious!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Opportunity for Artists

Deadline: January 14, 2010

Searching for God at The Ohio State University at Marion. This exhibition focuses on the visual appearance of, the manifestations of, or the individual explorations of God. Works should address what is the visage of God? How do we search for God? What do we find? And what do these findings reveal? This exhibition is open to traditional and non-traditional systems of belief and also seek those beliefs that challenge the notion of God and religion.

All media considered. Submit work on a CD or DVD and include
1. 10-12 image slideshow in PowerPoint only, each slide labeled with number, artist, title, medium, date, and dimensions.
2. JPG files of each image, 1mb+.
3. For video, submit up to 3 videos as Quicktime files. 10 min max per video.
4. A statement explaining how your artwork relates to the concept of the show, 500 words max, and one-page CV.
5. image/video list.

Searching for God
Kuhn Fine Art Gallery
Attn: Sarah Weinstock
1465 Mount Vernon Ave.
Marion, OH 43302

614-292-5072. Email:

Opportunity for Artists

Deadline: March 5, 2010

The Visual Arts Committee at the University of Minnesota organizes nine solo, group, or theme-based exhibitions per year at the St. Paul Student Center's 520 sq. foot Larson Art Gallery. It also organizes four solo exhibitions at Coffman Memorial Union's Coffman Art Gallery.

To be considered: Please make sure to include all of the following: Note which Gallery you are applying for (Coffman or Larson). 3-5 slides of your artwork or digital images in jpeg format. Artists' statement and contact information. Self-addressed stamped envelope for return of images. Send proposals to:

Visual Arts Committee
University of Minnesota
Coffman Memorial Union RM 126
300 Washington Ave SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Miami International Art Fair

Just purchased the tickets and I'm heading back to Miami for the Miami International Art Fair, held at the Miami Beach Convention Center in Miami Beach.

I'll be showing (along with DC's own Tim Tate, Michael Janis and others) with Philadelphia's Projects Gallery. We'll be at booth 520 and also at NG-13.

If you are in Miami anytime from 7-10 January, let me know and I'll see if I can get you a couple of free tickets to the fair.

Opportunity for Artists

Deadline: January 11, 2010.

The Public Trust of Jacksonville, Florida seeks artists. All participants will electronically submit a detailed pencil drawing of one of the three Le Moyne/de Bry original works, together with 4 other examples of your past paintings so the judges can select the ten best artists to be commissioned.

Artists must also submit an entrance form which may be downloaded from their menu under "Art Contest Entrance Form." No entry fee.

If you are selected as one of the ten commissioned artists, you will complete a painting (sized 24" by 30") by June 11, 2010. At that time you will be paid your $2,500 commission and shortly afterward be featured with your fellow top ten artists in showings of all the new art work at two premier art galleries in Jacksonville.

For complete guidelines, please visit this website. Questions? Contact Andrew Miller at or call (904) 247-1972 ext. 418.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Fee free opportunity for artists

Deadline: January 17, 2010

This is the kind of opportunity that I like: absolutely no fees to submit and zero commission on sales: click here for the prospectus.

And, O yea... I'm the juror for the prizes (artists are selected for the show by a separate panel).

Friday, December 25, 2009

Feliz Navidad!

Family Tree by David FeBland

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

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Home cooking

Since tonight is Nochebuena, I've been preparing a classic Nochebuena Cuban feast for the in-laws. One of the key ingredients in the 24 hour marinade for Cuban roast pork is orange juice.

When I was looking for the orange juice (I swear we had some) and couldn't find any, my wife suggested that I substitute it with some diet Pineapple soda that we happened to have in the cupboard.

As I dug out some oranges to get the juice out of them the old-fashioned way, I thought to myself that it is no wonder that one doesn't see too many Swedish restaurants around.

The fare for tonight:

Cuban Roasted Pork
Mariquitas with Mojo Sauce for Dipping
Sweet Corn Tamales
Broiled Yucca with Garlic Mojo
Broiled Ňame with Olive Oil
Moros y Cristianos (Rice and Black Bean Soup)
Cuban Nochebuena Salad

And from our family to all: a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a Terrific 2010 to all!

Cudlin on The Year in Museums

The disconnect comes when one considers the exhibitions that D.C. museums actually offered this year. These mostly reflected the artworld’s fascination with cranky homebodies, curious characters, and misunderstood geniuses—no interactive cafes or love-ins by the balloon tent to be found. 2009 was a year full of retrospectives for artists who stayed home, keeping their distance from the larger discussions that were shaping life and culture around them. These are artists who seem to suggest that art is necessarily a private experience, meant for those who are sensitive to an extraordinary degree.
Jeffry Cudlin offers a very interesting article on our area's museums. Read it in the CP here.

On the subject of the City Paper: I have been stunned to see the huge difference in visual arts coverage that happened to the CP in the three years that I was gone from the DC area.

When I left, one could count on the CP to deliver a constant flow of reviews and mini reviews every week; Cudlin and others covered museums and galleries, and Jacobson covered photography shows.

Now Cudlin does 2-3 articles a year on museums, and the rest of the visual arts coverage has been decimated to a trickle. It is sad to see this happen, because the CP once filled the huge void that is the visual arts coverage by the WaPo and the Times.

Maybe I'm being myopic, but I've noticed no less coverage of music, bars, movies and theatre in the CP, so as usual, I wonder why coverage of art galleries and museums has been reduced so much?

Call For Artists

Hamiltonian Artists is now accepting applications for the So-Hamiltonian Fellowship program 2010.

The application Process opened on December 14th, 2009 and closes on February 28th, 2010. For more information on how to apply, please visit this website.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Wanna see Tim Tate's apartment?

From the Washington Post: Click here.

Dialogues on Mexican Photography at the Mexican Cultural Institute

By Bruce McKaig

The title, Dialogues on Mexican Photography applies to both exhibitions currently at the Mexican Cultural Institute. On the ground floor, there is a sampling of earlier and recent historical works from the Museum of Modern Art in Mexico City. On the fourth floor, there is a selection of contemporary works by artists represented by the Galeria OMR also in Mexico City.

Considered independently, each show examines photographic explorations of place and identity in Mexico. When considered in tandem, they also set a stage to reexamine identity at a more ambitious level.

The ground floor galleries present an exhibition of 60 works by over thirty artists from the collection of the MOMA in Mexico City. Given the vast and deep photographic explorations in Mexico since the advent of the medium, it is no surprise that Osbaldo Sanchez, Director of the MOMA, and Inaki Herranz, co-curator of this exhibition, had access to ample works from which to chose. Nearly 60 works by five contemporary artists are displayed on the fourth floor, curated by Patricia Ortiz Monasterio, director of the prestigious Galeria OMR.

Graciela Iturbide, Mujer Angel

Graciela Iturbide, Mujer Angel c.1980

These hors d’oeuvre exhibitions, independently curated and structured, do not try to exhaustively cover the topics they introduce. When initially shown in Mexico City, the MOMA exhibit included some works that for various practical considerations did not travel to DC. Monasterio curated the contemporary works not from the at-large art world in Mexico but from the pool of artists that her gallery represents.

Both self-sufficient exhibits pack a substantial amount of visual and intellectual dialogue in to just a few rooms. However, an additional dialogue arises if we take a minute to compare and contrast the two exhibitions. The juxtaposition explores more than how photography or Mexico – or Mexican -- has changed over the past one hundred years. It explores how the very concept of identity has shifted from geographically based to time based, a temporal not spatial sense of self.

The wall text for the MOMA exhibit (there is little to no text in the contemporary show upstairs) enlightens the viewer to thoughts, trends, dynamics over the past century that unite or divide artists as they worked and public as they observed. The MOMA images are organized thematically rather than chronologically or geographically. The Language of Pure Forms mentions how photographers sought innovative ways to explore identity and propose, new ways to represent place. The Portrait as Symbolic Act explains that the basic function of a portrait is to introduce ourselves to the larger world. The Eternal Reinvention of the Landscape groups photographs that use the landscape to reflect the intellectual ferment of the time, the existential and political expressions of the era, to nourish codes of identity or geographic mythology. Other themes point out the use of purity versus propaganda, of the photo-story, of performance.

Carry the structure, images, and texts of the MOMA works upstairs to look at the contemporary works and a dialogue between the two exhibitions, and between the past and current centuries, begins. On one level, the contemporary works display a continued international influence, innovative ways to explore identity and purpose, to nourish codes of identity, to use psychology or performance. On a different level, the contemporary works illustrate an international presence not limited to changing content, technique or aesthetic. They also illustrate how international influence itself has become the contemporary reference material for place and identity, how international connectivity provokes more thought about time than place.

Mauricio Alejo, Pinzas

Mauricio Alejo, Pinzas, c.2005

The contemporary artists use photography, but only as one ingredient in a multipart recipe of art, technique and thought. Mauricio Alejo’s staged and ephemeral sculptures demonstrate an individualistic gesture in various quotidian spaces, but the works are apparently made to last just long enough to be photographed. These images are not of monuments that exemplify an era’s achievements or failures. They are moments when an individual manifested, as if such a moment is itself monumental, or good enough, self-sufficient. The assumption that none of those spaces persist in that state provokes thoughts on time and how things – the artist, the place, the viewer – have changed since the manifest moment’s demise. Laureana Toledo’s time-lapse videos of building facades certainly do not emphasize the significance of any individual. The pieces do not explore who people are, they explore moments people live – or, better stated, suggest that people are the moments that they live. Period. Rafael Lozano-Henner’s use of surveillance cameras and anonymous performers, while infused with humor, relegates an individual’s presence to a fleeting effort to be seen -- not heard, not counted, just seen. Briefly. “Portrait” here does not introduce oneself to the larger world, it splices oneself into it. Briefly. If one of the many dialogues in the ground floor MOMA works is over purity versus propaganda, both thoughts have slipped through the cracks by the fourth floor, melting into an amorphous foundation whose principle interest is now explored by how it moves, not what it is.

Dialogues in Mexican Photography, in juxtaposing these two exhibits, becomes a dialogue in historical identity, a dialogue more about time than a dialogue over time. Twentieth century artists in Mexico left a rich visual legacy, sometimes stereotypical, sometimes poetic, sometimes prescriptive as much as descriptive, of what made Mexican not, for instance, Bosnian. The contemporary artists’ works are more an exploration of what it is to be in the here-and-now and not, for instance, lasting.

Where: Mexican Cultural Institute 2829 16th Street, NW Washington, DC 20009

When: November 13th 2009 – January 30th 2010, M-F 10am – 6pm, Sat 10am

New Richmond, VA art gallery

Former DC gallerina Heather Russell will be opening Russell/Projects in Richmond, VA this coming January with a show titled VANITAS, the gallery’s inaugural exhibition.

This exhibition acts as the first solo exhibition for emerging artist Helena Wurzel. The artist’s oeuvre includes oil paintings on canvas and handcut paper collages. Wurzel explores the physical and emotional demands and influences of popular culture placed on young women to ‘be perfect’ by transforming every-day moments of herself and her friends into both contemplative and celebratory glimpses of private rituals and relationships.
Receptions for the artist will be on Thursday, January 21st & Friday, January 22nd, 2010.

work by Helena Wurzel

Do I Look Expensive? by Helena Wurzel

What is disability? An International Call for Postcards

The deadline for receipt of postcards is February 5, 2010.

VSA arts invites your participation in a collaborative art project. They’re taking a creative approach to investigate the different ways people interpret the same word: disability.

The call is open to everyone around the world—people of different cultures, ethnicities, geographic locations, and abilities. You do not have to consider yourself an “artist” to participate. VSA arts will curate an exhibition, both online and in Washington, D.C., to represent the submissions as part of the 2010 International VSA arts Festival held June 6-12, 2010.

Please contact Liza Key, Visual Arts Coordinator, at to receive a shipment of printed calls for the project (available while supplies last).

Additional copies of the postcard and alternative formats are uploaded to the site:

The Camargo Foundation Academic and Artistic Fellowships

The application deadline is January 12, 2010. The Camargo Foundation is now accepting applications from composers, writers, and visual artists pursuing specific projects.

The interdisciplinary residency program is intended to give Fellows the time and space they need to realize their projects. The Foundation's hillside campus overlooks the Mediterranean Sea in Cassis, France; it includes fully furnished apartments, a reference library, and art/music studios. Fellows are provided with self catering accommodation on campus. A stipend of $1,500 is also available. Fellowships are from mid-September to mid-December, or mid-January to mid-April. Qualified candidates from all countries and nationalities are encouraged to apply; proficiency in English is a requirement. For more information, please consult their web site here or write to

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Do artists feel isolated in DC?

Good discussion going on the above subject here, with loads of good points and ideas.

In one of the posts in the above subject, a bit of news revealed by Kriston when he posts:

"Regarding the Corcoran: Corc curator of contemporary art Sarah Newman says that the Corc's new contemporary gallery, which opens in the fall with a show of work by Spencer Finch, will not feature DC-area artists as a part of its mission."
There you have it.

Monday, December 21, 2009


That's the view in our backyard during the snow storm of '09. And darn it, somehow the Soviet Socialist Republic of Montgomery County got a plow through around midnight on Sunday and now the streets are cleared and I have no excuse to hang around the house all day.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


One the artists visited by Mera Rubell during her 36 studio visit has stated that "When she went on about how hard it must for me to be working without a community she said 'by community I mean working without several writers writing about your work'"

See what I mean? This woman already knows one of the key ailments of the DC art scene.

The hottest new thing in painting is 94

After six decades of very private painting, Ms. Herrera sold her first artwork five years ago, at 89. Now, at a small ceremony in her honor, she was basking in the realization that her career had finally, undeniably, taken off. As cameras flashed, she extended long, Giacomettiesque fingers to accept an art foundation’s lifetime achievement award from the director of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.

Her good friend, the painter Tony Bechara, raised a glass. “We have a saying in Puerto Rico,” he said. “The bus — la guagua — always comes for those who wait.”

And the Cuban-born Ms. Herrera, laughing gustily, responded, “Well, Tony, I’ve been at the bus stop for 94 years!”

Since that first sale in 2004, collectors have avidly pursued Ms. Herrera, and her radiantly ascetic paintings have entered the permanent collections of institutions like the Museum of Modern Art, the Hirshhorn Museum and the Tate Modern. Last year, MoMA included her in a pantheon of Latin American artists on exhibition. And this summer, during a retrospective show in England, The Observer of London called Ms. Herrera the discovery of the decade, asking, “How can we have missed these beautiful compositions?”
Read the New York Times story about Cuban-born Carmen Herrera, the newly-discovered wunderkind of painting.

Mera Rubell in my Studio (Last Part)

Part I here and Part II here and Part III here.

As I noted yesterday, the studio visit was done, and Mera Rubell and her entourage was about to leave (I think I was the last studio visited), when she turned around just outside the door and asked "So what do you think of the Washington art scene?"

If you are a reader of this blog you already know the answer that that immense question, and I began to answer her. I told her how DC area artists were very lucky in many aspects and that (in the opinion of a world traveler and frequent flyer with an interest in art scenes) this region had one of the most vibrant and best art scenes anywhere in the world. I also told her about how diverse the artwork and artists were, and I told her about Art-o-Matic as a magnet for gathering artistic energy. I told her about the wealth of exhibiting opportunities that abound in our region. I told her about the many artists' groups that deliver support and community and advice to local artists. I told her about the strong sense of artistic energy that soaks into everything around the nation's capital.

She asked me about the local museums and I began to peel the scab from the other side of the coin, the negative side of the DC art scene; the side that outsiders see; the side that many focus on; the side that symbiots feed upon.

I then submitted my opinion, based on my observations and discussions with artists and dealers over the years, about the lack of attention that local museum curators give to our area's artists.

I suggested that it was easier for a local museum curator to take a cab to Dulles to catch a flight to Berlin to go see the work of an emerging artist than to catch a cab to Georgetown to do the same. I offered that this was perhaps because our museums saw themselves as "national" or "international" museums rather than a city museum and thus ignored their own back garden.

I also offered that the new Katzen Arts Center was a refreshing change from that and that it was the only local museum to have a connection to the local art scene. Several entourage voices agreed with me and explained to Mera about Jack Rasmussen's (Katzen Director and Curator) deep DC area roots.

She asked me about the Washington Post and about specific writers there. "This is an informed person beyond one's wildest guess," I thought to myself as I unloaded with all cannons on the local newspaper.

I described for her how the Post has decimated its visual arts coverage in the last few years. She asks me informed questions about specific writers. I realize that this is a woman who already knows more about many of the inside parts of the DC art scene than most of the writers tasked with writing about it.

I give her my opinions and back it with specific events: the critic who once wrote about a print without realizing that it was a copy of a well-known Picasso painting - I give it as an example of that critic's suspicious art history background; or the writer whose snarky writing has improved over the years, but still betrays the writer's scant training in writing about art. I talk about the writer who got caught discussing a show that he'd never been to; I mention the ones that got fired because of ethical issues. I mention the art critic who covers New York galleries but seldom DC galleries.

DC is a small town and everyone knows about all that happens here. And you reap what you sow and right now some pens filled with apathy and ennui and snarkyness are reaping the caustic results of my opinions. I'm back in the groove on a different, if favorite subject of mine, and I've got the ears of one of the world's most influential art persons.

I'm talking too fast, but I know that she's absorbing it all. She asks me about a specific critic and wants to know what I think of the critic's writing. I give her an honest answer, which comes out somewhat more positive than I would have expected.

"Is that writer the best one to write about what goes on in DC and about DC artists?" comes the question, at least I hear it that way.

"No," I answer very quickly.

I predict her next question when she asks, "then who?"

I give her a name, and I am pleased that several voices in her entourage, agree with me immediately.

"Then why isn't that writer covering this event?" she asks of them, not me.

Someone explains about the writer recusing from covering the event because of a relationship with one of the artists. "That's stupid," she opines, "the critic could have just recused from covering that artist." [Update: Since then I have been told that this wasn't the case and that the critic in question didn't recuse himself].

I keep to myself how in DC it is a certain impossibility for writers and critics not to have some sort of relationship with some of the artists they cover.

Someone adds that the writer in question is the only one who really has a finger on the pulse of DC area artists.

She soaks it all in, but I suspect that she may be asking questions to which she already knows the answer.

They leave and I'm on Cloud 9 and I play the Beatles' White Album with a smile on my face.

This electric person is going to do wonders for DC artists and erase decades of neglect from our press and from our museums... Helter Skelter baby!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Mera Rubell in my Studio (Next to the last Part)

Part I here and Part II here.

And so I was in the position where I suspect every artist on this planet would love to be: Ubercollector Mera Rubell and a small entourage were in my studio, waiting for me to show them my art work.

But I am of Cuban ancestry, so rather than showing work right away, I started talking about it.

And because I am of Cuban ancestry, before I started to talk about the artwork, I talked about what led to the artwork.

I told them that when I found out on Thursday that I had been selected to be visited by Rubell, I was ecstatic and glowing with anticipation.

And then I told them that I had immediately realized that I had no current work to show them, because all of my work is in storage in Miami waiting to be shown at the Miami International Art Fair.

"Do you know about that fair?" I asked possibly the world's leading art fair goer. She said yes.

"So I thought that maybe I could ask you to visit me at the fair and see the work." I paused, and everyone looked a little alarmed, mostly me at seeing them a little alarmed.

"You have nothing to show us?" Someone asked.

"Yes, I do." I answered. "Because what I decided to do when I realized that I had no work to show you, was to create as many drawings as I could between then and now. And so between Friday at 3:30 AM and this morning at 9:00 AM I created everything that you will see today."

Rubell looked a little amazed. "You mean that you did all the work in the last 36 hours?" She asked.

I said yes.

"You see," she turned to the entourage, suddenly filled with vigor and energy, "this is the first artist who crated new artwork just for the visit!"

"Ahhh..." I stammered a little embarrassed. "I had to! I had nothing to show you." But I was inwardly feeling that things were going well now.

"What have you got to show me?" She said, the studio suddenly bristling with her energy. "This is a dynamo in human form," I thought to myself.

And yet, I delayed a few precious moments more, and then really started talking about what drives my imagery.

I talked about how I had discovered the Picts in my childhood reading and then re-discovered them in Scotland when I lived in that breathtaking nation from 1989-1992.

I told them about the research that I had done as an amateur historian on them and their tattoos, and I showed them some examples of Pictish artwork that I had pinned to my studio wall.

Mera Rubell by Jenny Yang
In this photo by Lisa Gold, Rubell is looking at me describing the tattoo artwork of the ancient Picts, as I weave a artistic genetic line to my current work.

I described how a few years ago I had a show where it was all about Pictish art. And then I led the discussion, minutes gone by, to the trail of that artwork to my current work.

I'm a good talker, and I think that they were all interested in this historic genetic line that I was weaving. No one was yawning, and the room was still charged with electricity.

I explained how the tattoos married with my interest in narrative art, and art that tells a story or makes a point, backs up an agenda or delivers a social commentary.

And then I turned over the gigantic drawing of Che Guevara with the writing on the wall behind the Argentinean icon.
Che Guevara by F. Lennox Campello

"Asere, Si o No?" 19"x48" Charcoal on Paper

As I've described before, this is a huge charcoal drawing of Ernesto "Che" Guevara de la Serna Lynch. Che is to the left in a very Christ-like pose. behind him, a slogan or graffiti on the wall asks the question in Cuban slang: "Asere, Si o No?" which means "Friend, Yes or No? The capital letters answer the question by spelling out ASESINO or assasin. I explained all these Cuban nuances to the Spanish language and my agenda behind it.

"You did this in the last 36 hours?" Someone asked a little quizzical.

"You see!, You see!" beamed Rubell, this is what I'm all about!" she gestured at the piece as I discussed my historical affinity to Che Guevara, both as a hero to some and as a mass murderer and racist to others. Rubell noted that I had captured a strong sense of the zealous Maoist in his eyes and face.

"What else is there?"

The next few pieces went fast. With each I explained what the drawing was all about. I discussed the intimacy of drawing the viewer close. I discussed humor in art when I showed them the Superman drawing. I discussed being very tired and possibly hallucinating when I did the "Fuck Elections" Obama drawing. I discussed the nuance of words when I showed them the "Age of Obama - Nobel Peace Prize" drawing.

"Is that Catherine Opie?" Asked Rubell when she looked at "True Believer." I told her no (the model is actually a local Sunday School teacher). "She really looks like Catherine Opie!" she commented. Note to self: contact Catherine Opie and see what she thinks of the likeness.

I was in a groove, and I can't remember why, but there was a lot of laughter all the time. I think that I asked them if they were laughing so much because they were delirious from lack of sleep. They exploded in laughter at that. I laughed too, because I was indeed super tired from the last 36 hours, but I was also feeling quite on track.

I could sense that Rubell really liked my drawings, but that she also liked the reason for them, the "why I draw this" idea. Somewhere in there I talked about conceptual art and how often the idea is more interesting than the final product and people agreed with me.

More talking, more good vibes.

"Awright," she says, "can you step out for a minute?"

I leave them and go upstairs. "How's it going?" asks my wife.

"I think it's going great," I answer as a series of raucous laughter blasts emanate from the basement. My wife, Little Junes and I look at each other and wait.

An eternity goes by before I am called down to the basement.

"We were wondering," says Rubell with a devilish look in her eyes - this woman is not tired, at least not now, after a grueling 36 hours marathon of studio visits; that much is clear to the most casual observer.

"We were wondering if..." she pauses, "considering that you were a Naval intelligence officer... if you had done some intelligence preparations ahead of time and had all these drawings in your flat files and just pulled them out just before we came?"

I could see a glint of devilishness in her eyes and I wasn't really worried that they thought that was the case, and so I easily denied the issue. Nothing like having the truth on your side.

"Raise your right hand!" ordered Rubell, her Russian-ness suddenly coming to the front. I did.

Next I was made to swear that all the work had been created in the last 36 hours, while Jennie Yang recorded the event with her camera. For a moment there I flashed back to my days in the Navy, with the myriads of re-enlistments and ceremonies where oaths are taken.

But I was in a good place, and my tired bones and eyes were testament to the truth of my creation of these works in the last 36 hours. The swearing was easy, with the relaxing backing of the truth.

We all filed out of the studio. On the way out she looked at a handmade Valentine Day's card from my wife that I pinned by the door. "This is a love nest," she stated, "another love nest..."

"We'll let you know soon," said the WPA's Lisa Gold, efficient and precise to the last minute, and reading my mind as it wondered "Am I in?"

We got upstairs, and started to say goodbyes... it all felt good. And at this point I was just glad that this electrical woman had decided to work her tuchus off and charge up the artists of the DC area.

"So what do you think of the Washington art scene?" asked Mera as she prepared to leave the house.

She turned and looked at me, and I began to answer her.

More tomorrow...

Friday, December 18, 2009

Dawson on Rubell

The Washington Post's Galleries art critic, Jessica Dawson (whose writing role, as explained to me by the Post, has expanded a little, and will allow her to cover more art-related events such as this one, instead of just having Dawson do gallery reviews) followed Mera Rubell around to a few of her 36 studio visits and has the Dawsonesque take on the event here.

You could call it a Hanukkah miracle. Or the arrival of intelligent life from another planet. Last Saturday at 5 a.m., while the rest of us slept, megacollector Mera Rubell walked among us, hunting local art.
Read Dawson's report on the Rubell visit here.

As usual, Dawson adds her own bitter Debbie Downer flavor to a spectacularly positive event and tips her hand, when she introduces her log of the visits by writing: "Mera's troll through Washington's art warrens was akin to Santa visiting the Island of Misfit Toys."

What a putz... or maybe I'm the putz for just seeing just all the positive things that Mera and her interest has generated and will generate, and ignoring some of the things that Dawson highlights. And for the record, I know which Misfit Toy I would be...

As commenter "fisher1" noted in the Post's website in a comment about Dawson's article:
Jessica Dawson tactfully didn't mention one major reason artists in Washington feel neglected and isolated and that is the lack of any consistent critical voice. Any thriving art scene needs good critics as well as collectors and venues willing to take chances. We might have the latter two but certainly not the critical voice. Jessica Dawson might review one art show in ten if we're lucky; the Post's major art critic, Blake Gopnik is usually found wandering through New York's galleries ( admittedly, recently he has noted that art is going on in Washington)and people like Andrew Sullivan and occasional pieces in the City paper try to fill the gap but gap it remains and that's been the situation for many decades.
Unfortunately that wasn't "tact" on Dawson's part, after all, she's one of the critical voices in question.

You can see all the comments, or add your own, here.

Sweet 16

See the artwork chosen by Mera Rubell, who picked 16 artists, here.

Mera Rubell in my studio Last Sunday, around noon or so, when the doorbell rang, as chance would have it, I was carrying Little Junes around. I went and opened the door; Mera's Rubell's "36 studios in 36 hours" posse was at my door-step, the 36th studio of the grueling tour. She was here at last. All through the last couple of days my email inbox had been buzzing with artists reporting what was happening during their studio visit. "I think I'm in! said one email, "But even if I'm not, I'm feeling pretty good about my artwork!" it finished. "Mera Rubell..a total life force!!!! My studio still vibrating with her energy, dialogue, quick take on everything.....her bowler ha t-- 'The Unbearable Lightness of Being' bowler hat. I haven't felt such positive power in DC for so many years!!!!" shouted out another email from a very talented DC area artist. And now she was in my house. It all happened fast, but soon we were talking about the artwork on the wall, with one of the visitors commenting that she had some Sandra Ramos' works in her collection. The photographer documenting the visit was meanwhile admiring the photographs of Cirenaica Moreira and asking about her. The eyes and attention turned to Ramos as people looked around my first floor. Someone of the locals recognized an early Tim Tate sculpture, which I had acquired at his very first solo show. Meanwhile the wife offered fresh coffee, which was accepted by the tired, bleary eyed group. Little Junes, of course, was a big hit with everyone. Someone poked him on the side and he let out a big grin. "Everyone in the Campello household is working this visit except me," I thought to myself. "So, who's the artist in this house," asked Ms. Rubell, looking at me and Alida. "I am," I responded, but quickly added that Alida also had a formidable arts background, after all the Professor studied art at Colgate, Corcoran and MICA and was in the graduate program in printmaking and photography at the Art Institute of Chicago before she decided to focus on special education. Frida Kahlo by CampelloBefore I knew it, we were looking at the only piece of my artwork that hangs in my house: the 1981 collage of Frida Kahlo that I did while a student at the University of Washington. I almost panicked when I realized that we were discussing a 28-year-old piece of art done as a class assignment under Jacob Lawrence. "Maybe we should get down to the studio and see the work that I have for you," I said. We went down to the basement and Ms. Rubell looked to a wall full of certificates, photos and framed paperwork. "Who's got all these degrees?" she asked, a little amazed. I laughed and explained that I was a former Naval officer and all that stuff is what we call in the Navy the "I love me wall." There, framed for all to see was my entire Naval career: ships, submarines, medals, certificates, photographs, Arctic Circle papers, Equator crossing certificates, Suez Canal certificates, etc. She looked with interest at a photo of a massive Soviet Typhoon submarine, which I had taken from a British helicopter that I'd been riding at the time somewhere over the Kola Gulf. I identified the huge sub to her. "I was born in Russia," she stated. None of us knew that. I told her that Admiral Hyman Rickover, the father of the US Nuclear Navy had also been born in Russia. She thanked me for my service, told everyone that she had her Naturalized US citizen certificate framed and on her wall, and then we all entered the well-lit mess that I call my studio. "Show me what you got," she said, settling down on a stool.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Mera Rubell Picks

“I certainly feel more connected to artists working in DC. These 36 hours were a beautiful, focused and intense time. Please express my thanks to the artists who took this ride with us. How amazing and magical were all the visits! The artists invited us into their studios and gave us a real understanding of their personal creative world. It was truly life altering for me. What an experience! And now, our efforts can only present a small sample of the many brilliant working artists in DC. It's a much larger scene than I ever imagined--how exciting!”
The artists chosen by Ms. Rubell and whose work will be featured in her Auction Exhibition section include: M.G. Barkovic, Holly Bass, Judy Byron, Rafael Cañizares-Yunez, Adam de Boer, Mary Early, Victoria Gaitán, Carol Brown Goldberg, Pat Goslee, Jason Horowitz, Barbara Liotta, Patrick McDonough, Brandon Morse, Dan Steinhilber, Lisa Marie Thalhammer and yours truly!

Mera Rubell by Jenny Yang

Mera Rubell in my studio. Photo by Lisa Gold

Congrats to all the selected artists, and I know that I am not the only one who feels that Ms. Rubell has added a significant new spice to the Greater DC area art scene's soup that will kick it up a hundred notches and perhaps help to crack the apathy that our local curators and media have towards DC artists.

Meanwhile here's a video note to all the Debbie Downer crabs of the Greater DC art scene, who now must focus on something positive for a change:

Tough jury duty

Jurying the Blackrock Center for the Arts coming gallery exhibition season was really, really hard! There were loads of good entry proposals from both artists and groups. Once the gallery director makes the final decisions and computes the voting and announces the selected shows, I'll let all of you know.

Mera Rubell Studio Visit

Background: As announced here:

"the Rubell Family Collection is one of the leading collections of contemporary art in the world. Started in 1964, soon after Don and Mera Rubell were married, the Rubell Family Collection operates as a non-profit organization based in Miami where it presents rotating, curated exhibitions and hosts a variety of educational and community outreach programs.

Mera Rubell will be one of eight esteemed curators selecting works for Cream, the WPA 2010 Art Auction Exhibition. Building upon the popular Experimental Video Series at the Rubells’ Capitol Skyline Hotel, Rubell has determined to see the work of as many DC-area artists as possible and select up to twelve to be included in the WPA exhibition and auction. Her visits to DC are typically 36 hours long, and she has devoted her next trip to this project.

For 36 Studios – Part 1, Mera Rubell and a team of curators and writers will conduct 36 studio visits over the course of 36 straight hours. Each studio visit will last approximately 15-20 minutes and will take place starting at 5:00am on Saturday, December 12 and continuing until 5:00pm on Sunday, December 13."
Got it?

So as all of you should have done, I threw my name in the hat for this spectacular opportunity to show my artwork to one of the world's leading art collectors, and the same person (me) who once missed a 160 million dollar lottery grand prize by one number, hit it this time and I, along with 35 other lucky DC area artists, was selected to be visited by "Mera Rubell and a team of curators and writers."

To say that I was ecstatic is the understatement of the year. I was dumbfounded and left a little speechless for the second time this month. An opportunity like this doesn't happen very often, if ever.

When I returned to Earth, to my horror I realized that... ahhh... I had no work to show Rubell.

All of my work is still in Miami, safely stored awaiting for it to be displayed again at the coming Miami International Art Fair at the Miami Beach Convention Center from 5-10 January 2010.

Best known art collector in the world is coming to my studio and I have zip to show her.

Effing Great...

The Grand Admiral of the Soviet Fleet, Sergei Gorshkov once stated that the "reason that the American Navy is so good in time of war is because war is chaos and the US Navy practices chaos everyday."

Thus, as a former Naval officer I have been well trained in dealing with chaos and once my heart slowed down I sat down to consider my options.

Should I put together a binder full of available work in Miami and pass it to Ms. Rubell in the hope that she would agree to check them out once she returned to Miami?

Should I sit her in front of a large flat screen TV and flash her digital images of my available work?

Or should I lock myself in the studio and create as many new art pieces as possible before her visit on Sunday afternoon?

Usually the hardest and most difficult path to an answer is the solution, and I decided to lock myself in the studio and create new art.

As a new father, this is not easy, and I discussed it with my wife. With her support, I chose the last option.

I spent the rest of Thursday doing and finishing up all of my chores, many of which had piled up while I was in Florida the previous week. I went to bed around midnight on Thursday night, with my head buzzing with ideas.

By 3:30AM on Friday, I was up, essentially unable to sleep and ready to create some artwork. This being the digital age, before I entered the studio I logged onto Facebook and began Facebooking the events about to take place.

Nine hours later, after a dozen sketches and several discarded starts, I had finished my first new drawing, a large portrait of Ernesto "Che" Guevara de la Serna Lynch, known to the world as "Che" and perhaps the most iconic figure in modern history.

Che Guevara by F. Lennox Campello

"Asere, Si o No?" 19"x48" Charcoal on Paper

When I finished I had something special. The appropriated image of Che from a photograph by a Commie photographer somewhere (ironic that Communists always nationalize and appropriate private stuff, so I have no issues appropriating their imagery) is to the left in a very Christ-like pose. Behind him, a slogan or graffiti on the imperfect wall asks the question in Cuban slang: "Asere, Si o No?" which means "Friend, Yes or No? in Cuban street dialect and is meaningless to all other Spanish speaking peoples. The capital letters answer the question by spelling out ASESINO or assassin. This is the second version of this ASESINO concept.

It is now well into Friday. More Facebooking and by now friends and family are encouraging me. Art critic Kevin Mellema advices me that "Sleep is for the weak. 72 artist hours is like a week and a half of work for 9 to 5'ers.... Of course you do want to be awake and coherent when they show up on Sunday..."

The next time that I sit down to draw I hit a groove and deliver five new drawings in about four hours. I'm employing a lot of charcoal dust to cover large areas and create a minimalist drawing concept. "Superman flying naked and close to the ground in order to avoid NORAD radar" is such a drawing. We barely see the naked superhero, but we do see his elongated shadow on the road below. The lane dividers are just erased charcoal, now showing the not so pure white Arches paper underneath. I toy with the idea of rubbing more charcoal dust onto the drawing to create the impression of the car oil stains one always sees in the middle of the lanes. I abandon the idea; it is a pure and clean highway under the Man of Steel.

Superman Flying Naked

"Superman flying naked and close to the ground in order to avoid NORAD radar"" Charcoal on Paper. 20x24 inches.

"True Believer" and "Woman who thinks that the tattoo that she just got on her back reads 'Bring Bush Back'" come out next. Both are very quick drawings and the first one is a highly worked drawing with an almost fanatical message. I'm not satisfied with the charcoal aspect of the dripping blood from the newly finished tattoo and so I bring out colored pencils and apply a subtle sense of color to the piece. This is rare for me.

Now there's red blood dripping down her arm. The second piece is the opposite: a rough almost unfinished drawing with a harsh, funny message. It is inspired by a cartoon I saw once which showed a burly sailor's back. A tattoo on his back reads: "Don't tell this guy what this tattoo says, he thinks he has a battleship."

True Believer, Obama in 2012

"True Believer" 22 x 14 inches. Charcoal and Colored Pencils on Paper.

Make Obama King

"Woman who thinks that the tattoo that she just got reads 'Bring Bush Back'" Charcoal and Conte on Paper. 14"x10"

I had set aside a nice vertical piece of dark paper and "Fallen Angel" materializes on it as I work furiously. It is the most minimalist of the pieces and it is finished in less that 15 minutes from beginning to end.

Fallen Angel

"Fallen Angel." Charcoal on Paper. 21 x 11 inches.

On the radio, the pundits are discussing Obama's speech at Oslo accepting the Nobel Peace Prize. I take a break and do some more Facebooking and I come across Mary Coble's profile picture on Facebook and it triggers an idea in my head. Coble and Nobel seem to align and "Age of Obama - Nobel Peace Prize" is created. This is the second "Age of Obama" drawing that I've done. In the first, done while Obama was a candidate, the figure is canvas to a history of the candidate in the early days of the election. It is now in a private collection in Ireland.

In this second "Age of Obama" drawing, the figure is host to selected portions of the Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech.

Age of Obama - Nobel Peace Prize

"Age of Obama - Nobel Peace Prize" Charcoal on Paper. 16x12 inches.

I want to have some coherence to the work that I want to show Rubell, and many of these pieces have a seminal beginning in my historical interest in the Picts. And so out comes a Pictish drawing.

Pictish Woman

"Pictish Woman" Charcoal on Paper. 14 x 9 inches.

The Pictish drawing is the one that worries me the most. It is almost fantasy in nature. Will Rubell understand my historical interest in the subject and how it is the seed to the more contemporary work?

I take a break as I am tapped out and on Saturday afternoon we all visit some open studios and drop by the Washington Glass School, Red Dirt and Flux Studios. Rubell has already been to her designated visits there and excited artists tell me about her and her entourage. I sense some disappointment, some hope and certainly a lot of excitement.

I begin to gather another aspect of the impact that this influential person's tiring and superhuman effort (36 studios in 36 hours) is causing on the DC art scene. Even the Washington Post, well-known amongst DC area artists for its apathy and indifference towards the local visual art scene has sent the Post's freelance art critic along, and she has overcome her ennui about the DC artists and galleries that she is tasked with covering and is following Rubell to some of the studio visits, but soon drops out.

I'm angsty about the whole thing and can't wait to get back to my studio and create some more work. I want to make sure that I make an impact.

On the drive home I pass by at least three Vietnamese restaurants and wonder why all the Pho places have a number after it (such as PHO 95, PHO 301, etc.).

My head has been filled by my visit to the studios with a need to be "shocking" in order to stand out. I waste precious hours struggling with a shocking idea. I visualize a man crawling away into the horizon perspective. We see his body clearly from the back, his buttocks clear and white, and his penis dangling between his legs as he crawls away. A tattoo with an arrow points to his anus and letters instruct "Insert Penis Here." Another tattoo on his penis states "Suck This." His butt cheeks sport tattoos that say: "Spank Here."

The tattoo on his back says "Pat here" and the tattoo on his feet soles says "Tickle here."

The title would have been "Man with Directions" but it never came about. It just wasn't me. I'm no Chris Offili, taking a schlocky short cut to shock in order to gather attention. I feel guilty enough as it is about the drawing of the woman with the Obama tattoo on her back.

Instead another Che Guevara drawing begins to emerge. Much smaller, almost the opposite of the first piece. For almost a whole day the drawing looks like this:
Che Guevara
A long-haired Che is to the left of the drawing (where else), with a vast empty space to his right. Long hair years before the Beatles and hippies, aloof and alone as an adventurer in a foreign land so much different than his native Argentina.

That night I can't sleep much between fighting a nagging cough acquired while in Miami and racing ideas about how to finish the drawing.

On Sunday I wake up, calm and ready for the visit. And the last drawing crystallizes suddenly.

Che Guevara's betrayer

Finalmente Denunciamos a el que traiciono al Che (Finally we denounce he who betrayed Che). 4 x 24 inches. Charcoal on paper

The Spanish words announce that "finally we denounce who betrayed Che." The capital letters answer the statement: FIDEL. I now have two of these... the circle is complete and I am ready for Rubell. It is 9:00AM on Sunday and I get a phone call from the WPA's Lisa Gold.

Is it OK if they come around noon instead of the originally scheduled time of 2PM? She asks. I will be either the last studio visited or the penultimate one.

I tell them that I am ready.

Next: What happened during the visit.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Look into my eyes...

Anderson Lennox Campello
Anderson Lennox Campello, also known as "Little Junes" while doing some open studio visits last weekend.

Mera Rubell Visit

Part one of the Mera Rubell visit to 36 DC area studios in 36 hours is up tomorrow morning... this was great for the DC art scene if a little chaotic for me.

The Grand Admiral of the now defunct Soviet Fleet, Sergei Gorshkov, once stated that the "reason that the American Navy is so good in time of war is because war is chaos and the US Navy practices chaos everyday."

As a former Naval officer, I'm good at dealing with chaos...

Studio Visiting

In the last few days, between visiting open studios and the terrific show at Gallery Neptune in Bethesda, I've acquired quite a few of the Xmas presents that I intend to give. Problem is that I'd really like to keep the cool Glenn Friedel photograph and/or the great Sean Hennessey sculpture.

And a little secret: both were great deals for excellent art.

Give art for the holidays.

Below is Little Junes in his cool puppy hat that will embarrass him forever on the Internets as we dragged him along studio and gallery visiting.

Anderson Lennox Campello at 3 months

Emerging Artists at Museums

The Guggenheim Museum has Intervals and in 2010:

Through January 6, 2010
Berlin-based Kitty Kraus has been invited to exhibit her work for the second installment of Intervals, a new contemporary art series designed to showcase experimental projects by emerging artists and reflect the spirit of today’s most innovative practices. Kraus works in a spare, elegiac vocabulary of monochrome forms and humble materials such as lightbulbs, ice, mirrors, and glass. For Intervals, Kraus has installed two sculptures in the Annex Level 5 gallery of the museum. This exhibition is organized by Nancy Spector, Chief Curator; Joan Young, Associate Curator of Contemporary Art and Manager of Curatorial Affairs; and Katherine Brinson, Assistant Curator.
How come none of our DC area museums offer an exhibition series for "emerging artists"?

The Arlington Arts Center Studios

The Arlington Arts Center is currently accepting applications for a space in the group studio. Applications are due by December 21 and artists will be notified on December 24.

The studio is available as of January 1, 2010. For eligibility requirements, process information, and to download an application, please visit this website.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Change in the air

For the last several months the newly appointed director of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Richard Koshalek, has been quietly at work on a plan to erect a 145-foot-tall inflatable meeting hall that would swell out of the top of the internal courtyard of the museum, which sits on the Mall midway between the White House and the Capitol.

Designed by the New York firm Diller Scofidio & Renfro, the translucent fabric structure, which would be installed twice a year, for May and October, and be packed away in storage the rest of the time, would transform one of the most somber buildings on the mall into a luminous pop landmark. It could be the most uplifting work of civic architecture built in the capital since I. M. Pei completed his East Building of the National Gallery of Art more than 30 years ago.

But it is what the project is intended to house, and to represent, that has the potential to shake up Washington. For decades government power brokers have dismissed much of contemporary culture as a playground for elites. Mr. Koshalek’s vision would challenge that mentality by using performing arts, film series and conferences to foster a wide-ranging public debate on cultural values.

Mr. Koshalek, who is known for his bubbly enthusiasm, has been a champion of architectural causes since his days as the director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, in the late 1990s, when he helped lead the drive to build the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Later he worked behind the scenes with the city’s government agencies and cultural institutions to hire respected architects for their new buildings rather than the kind of politically connected firms that were then the norm.

He arrived at the Hirshhorn last April with a dual agenda: to raise the museum’s national profile and to put Washington in closer touch with creative life around it.
Read the NYT report here.

Lawrence on Wiley

During the 1970s in New York, artists working in the West Coast and Chicago—including H.C. Westermann, Robert Arneson, Robert Colescott and Peter Saul—raised hackles and gained fans for their cartoonish, jittery and emotionally direct works loaded with offbeat materials and associations. The earnest ethos of East Coast art was not in their DNA; minimalist purity and the high-minded musings of conceptual art were anathema.

Among this group was a slightly younger artist from northern California, William T. Wiley, who was being noticed for his skillfully drawn, pun-loaded and casually enigmatic work, often subverting modernism's language of geometric abstraction and assemblage with a glut of personal meaning. Already credentialed by exhibitions in his home state, as well as Chicago, Paris, Milan, the Netherlands and Germany, this "Huckleberry Duchamp," as an Art News reviewer called him in 1974, soon emerged as a national figure.
Read the Wall Street Journal review by Sidney Lawrence here.

Rocco Landesman on the line

The DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities is hosting an Art Works roundtable discussion with National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Rocco Landesman on Wednesday, December 16 from 9:30 – 11:30 AM. The location is Busboys & Poets at 2012 14th St. NW.

DCCAH Executive Director Gloria Nauden and Chairman Landesman will be joined by Busboys & Poets founder and owner Andy Shallal and DC Office of Planning Director Harriet Tregoning in a conversation before an invited audience of DC arts leaders.

That conversation will focus on, “How do the arts work in DC?,” the central question behind Art Works, Mr. Landesman’s leitmotif for his tenure as chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. Art Works is a triple entendre incorporating the Art Works created by artists such as paintings, dances, and music; the arts as part of the economy with art workers having real jobs, paying taxes, and spending money; and how Art Works on us as human beings with its capacity to inspire people and change lives. Chairman Landesman is spending the next six months visiting neighborhoods and towns all across America, seeing and spotlighting all the ways that art works.
After initial comments from the panel, the session will turn to the guests for their observations on how the arts do or don’t work in the District.

When: Wednesday, December 16, 2009 from 9:30 – 11:00 AM

Where: Busboys & Poets, 2120 14th St. NW

Contact: Marquis Perkins, DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities (202)286-5797

Go See This Show

Monday, December 14, 2009

Jury Duty

BlackrockAt the BlackRock Center for the Arts to select the exhibits for the gallery for September 2010 through August 2011.

The jury panel is comprised of my good friend and gallerist Elyse Harrison, Jodi Walsh, and yours truly.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Mera Rubell Studio Visit

Later today, Ms. Mera Rubell, one of the world's best-known art collectors, and whose Miami space, The Rubell Family Collection, features her and her husband's well-known art collection, will be making a studio visit to my studio in Potomac.

This is of course, both an honor and a spectacular opportunity to expose my work to one of the world's premier art collectors.

One fly in the ointment.

When I discovered this on Thursday afternoon, I was ecstatic. Then I realized that all of my work is in storage in Miami as it will be featured by Philadelphia's Projects Gallery in the Miami International Art Fair in January.

I had no current work to show Mera Rubell.

So from 3:30 AM on Friday to 9:00 AM this morning (with the exception of a Xmas shopping visit to the Gateway Arts District Open Studios yesterday), I locked myself in my studio and produced the below drawings to show Rubell later this Sunday.

Che Guevara by F. Lennox Campello

"Asere, Si o No?" 19"x48" Charcoal on Paper

This is a huge charcoal drawing of Ernesto "Che" Guevara de la Serna Lynch. Che is to the left in a very Christ-like pose. behind him, a slogan or graffiti on the wall asks the question in Cuban slang: "Asere, Si o No?" which means "Friend, Yes or No? The capital letters answer the question by spelling out ASESINO or assasin. This is the second version of this concept.

Che Guevara's betrayer

Finalmente Denunciamos a el que traiciono al Che (Finally we denounce he who betrayed Che). 4 x 24 inches. Charcoal on paper

The Spanish words announce that "finally we denounce who betrayed Che." The capital letters answer the statement: FIDEL.

Age of Obama - Nobel Peace Prize

"Age of Obama - Nobel Peace Prize" Charcoal on Paper. 16x12 inches.

In this piece, the figure is tattooed with the text of Pres. Obama's acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize. Selected parts of the speech tell a story.

Make Obama King

"Woman who thinks that the tattoo that she just got reads 'Bring Bush Back'" Charcoal and Conte on Paper. 14"x10"

I couldn't resist doing a humorous piece. That's just the way that I am.

True Believer, Obama in 2012

"True Believer" 22 x 14 inches. Charcoal and Colored Pencils on Paper.

Click on the image for more detail, but the tattoo in her arm, the updated part still bleeding, tells the whole story.

Superman Flying Naked

"Superman flying naked and close to the ground in order to avoid NORAD radar." Charcoal on Paper. 20x24 inches.

So I couldn't resist another touch of humor. This is from my series of naked superheroes.

Fallen Angel

"Fallen Angel." Charcoal on Paper. 21 x 11 inches.

Pictish Woman

"Pictish Woman" Charcoal on Paper. 14 x 9 inches.

That's it! I'm exhausted but happy. Wish me luck!