Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A Public Thank You to Kim Ward

As we all know by now, the WPA's Kim Ward will soon leave as the head honcho for that terrific artists' organization.

I can’t exactly recall the first time that I met Kim Ward, but the first time that she made a distinct impression on me was back when she was one of the several WPA people working under Annie Adjchavanich’s leadership and the WPA was at the Corcoran and they had just published their first Artists Directory.

They were distributing boxes of the books through galleries in the District and Greater DC area, and I was working that day at my old and first gallery in Canal Square in Georgetown. We had asked for a couple of boxes, and Ward came into the gallery carrying one of the boxes, with that huge smile that she always seems to have.

“I’m illegally parked!” she announced in her hypnotizing Southern accent.

“You’ll get a ticket,” I predicted. “Let me go back with you to the car and I’ll bring the second box over.”

Kim WardI walked with her across the street and picked up the second box from her car. She zipped away to her next delivery spot.

“Damn,” I said as I struggled with the weight of the box of books, “How’d in the hell did that tiny thing carry this box?”

It was the first of many instances where Kim Ward would show me and others the toughness, resiliency and hard working ethic of a woman in love with her job and the huge number of artists that the WPA represents. I’ve seen this woman scrubbing floors, painting walls, patching up holes, washing dishes, hammering at walls, cleaning spills, serving food… hanging artwork, all the stuff that makes the life of the director of an artists’ organization a glamorous job.

Ward worked her way up the WPA ladder until she became the executive director and new leader of the WPA, and in the five years since that happened she re-crafted that organization into a very important part of what makes the Washington, DC art scene “tick.”

Ward’s accomplishments at the helm of the WPA have been nothing short of spectacular; all the way from guiding the organization to the digital age to guiding it right out of the heavy shadow of the Corcoran Gallery of Art.

It can be probably argued that the Corcoran provided a life line to the WPA after several directors almost ran the organization into extinction. The Corcoran relationship allowed the WPA to rediscover itself, and to breathe a little easier in financial terms.

First under the dizzying leadership of my good friend Annie Adjchavanich and then under Kim Ward’s strong and steady hand the WPA began to rise again, and eventually it regained its independence last year.

And once again, it would be hard to imagine Washington, DC without a WPA. And hard to imagine a WPA without Kim Ward.

I am proud to call her my friend and on behalf of the thousands of WPA artist members, and of the Greater DC area art dealers, and every symbiot of the District’s art scene: Kim Ward, thank you!

If you wear a Che Guevara T-Shirt

Unless it is one like the one on the left, then you are wearing the image of one of the 20th century's worst psychopaths, who (like Hitler) never hid his hate and goals in his writing and speeches, which if you took the time to read, you'd find jewels like this (on the subject of the Cuban missile crisis:

"If the missiles had remained we would have used them against the very heart of the United States, including New York. We must never establish peaceful coexistence. We must walk the path of victory even if it costs millions of atomic victims."

             -- Che Guevara, Interview in London Daily Worker, 1962