Tuesday, June 30, 2009

My Artomatic picks

Now that I have visited Artomatic three times, I have finally managed to cover all nine floors of art of that mega art exhibition, easily the largest group art show on planet Earth.

Nine floors of artwork and 1,000 artists; not an easy task for anyone to review and interpret, much less critics used to gallery-sized art shows.

Last year's AOM set a new record with over 70,000 visitors, and I found out a few days ago that they are about 12,000 visitors ahead of last year's pace at this time. The show ends July 5.

This year I decided not only to pick my usual group of Top 10 artists there, but to isolate and keep that coveted list to ten "new" artists, or at least new to me, or newer. So I will skip all the blue chip artists in the show who obviously stand out. People like Laurel Lukaszewski, Kelly Towles, Tim Tate, Michael Janis and a Hamiltonian Fellow or two.

Instead, my focus will be ahhh... focused on a newer set of fresh artwork and names. But first, some special mentions to other people who caught my eye for other various and sundry reasons (including some who also made the Top 10 List).

Best Installation Award - Easily won by Deb Jansen's "Catharsis & Karma: An Open Thank You Letter to a Homewrecker" installation, dedication and not-a-revenge discussion of the world's most expensive blow job as Jansen thanks the "other" woman who freed her from an allegedly abusive and destructive marriage. This alone is worth a visit to AOM.

Best Female Nude Photography - There are dozens and dozens of female nude photographers at AOM, and curiously not so many male nude photogs. The vast majority of these female nudes pics are mildly interesting, some almost cross the soft porn border (unlike past AOM's where hardcore porn was almost always present), but most are in the OK category. The best in this vast offering of female flesh, and best by far, is the newer work of Fierce Sonia, an artist whose work I hadn't seen since I included her in "Seven" more than four years ago. Sonia's work has grown and matured into not only a seductive celebration of the female body, but also an intelligent marriage of digital manipulation of the figure that while still revealing that subtle erotic nature which is a key part of all of her work, it also begins to substantiate her work as photography that is pushing the boundaries of eroticism into a new digital valley of visual surprises.

Second Best Female Nude Photography - Abbie Miller; superbly sexy work.

Best Glass Artist - David D'Orio's latest from his "Feeder" project stands out in an Artomatic showcasing the work of some very good glass artists. It is no secret that the Greater DC area has become one of the great fine art glass magnets in the world, and in this abundant sea of glass talent, D'Orio's glasswork stands out in a singularly unique way. This is no small accomplishment when one also looks at the breath taking work of the British glass artists participating in this year's AOM as well as the many Washington Glass School artists and students in the show. Glass was possibly the strongest category in this year's AOM and D'Orio's work still managed to stand out.

Best Use of Aluminum - Clearly a homerun for Eve Hennessa's cool and clever sculptures. Also hottest-looking robot on "Meet the Artists" Night.

Steven JonesWeirdest Art - Steven Jones's oddly and slightly macabre human-chicken babies (is that what they are?). They've caught my eyes two years in a row and they fascinate me in a very odd way.

Best Monotypes - Jenny Walton's monotypes are elegant and deceptively minimalist.

Best Marriage of Genres - I don't know for sure. but I think that what Rania Hassan is doing in her marriage of knitting and painting is unique, maybe in the world. And it is not only clever, but also visually intriguing and breaks a very difficult three dimensionality aspect.

Most Blasphamous Art - Dana Ellyn's art takes no prisoners and her caustic observations though her skilled brush are always a sure pick. This year she takes on The Christ in many of her pieces. Now I want to see her bring Allah down a notch or two.

Second Most Blasphemous Art - "The Passion of Snoopy" by Will Mallon.

Best Portrait of Che Guevara - Yay for Matt Sesow, who brings the Argentinean psychopath to a very scary level as he tackles the 20th century's most famous face.

Best Portrait in General - Joe Granski.

Freshest New Portrait Artist - Greg Scott's portraits are very cool.

Worst Signature - Greg Scott; smaller Hancock's dude!

Best Large Work - The gorgeous wood work by Sergio Martinez.

Best Wall Sculpture - Leila Holtsman was my top AOM pick last year and since then her career has blossomed and her return to AOM this year didn't disappoint. Her large wall sculpture at AOM is the price steal of the show. One of you needs to go buy this piece right away.

Best New Painter - Although she doesn't have a very good spot at AOM, Jessica Van Brakle will be in 2-3 galleries around the Mid Atlantic by this time next year. Her refreshing work will also sell well at art fairs. Buy her paintings now.

Best Abstract Painting - I like the geometrical, textured work of Jorge Caligiuri.

Best Monochromatic Realist Painter - Superb works by James Halloran rank amongst the best paintings at AOM and showcase what a very good painter can do with a very restricted palette of colors.

Best Sculpture - Megan Van Wagoner's "Comforts of Home" are elegant and sophisticated works by an artist who is completely new to me. They showcase a level of skill in both delivering the art commodity itself as well as its presentation (a set of skills that many AOM artists need to learn desperately). This is an artist to keep an eye on.

Best Printmaker - Johanna Mueller's prints showcase an enviable set of printmaking skills married to a very active visual imagination. I am buying one of her pieces; her work is one of the best deals at AOM. She is a very talented artist and we will keep an eye on her work.

Artist Most Likely To Get Sued - Wait until the Dora, The Explorer people find out what Andrew Wodzianski's brilliant but disturbed mind has done to adorable Dora. Someone needs to buy that piece of art now, before it is confiscated by cartoon moguls.

Best Minimalist Sculpture - m. gert barkovic's refreshing employment of everyday objects, in this case sheets (I think), deliver a new twist on artists who re-use common objects to invent intelligent art forms. But in barkovic's case, they look like art, rather than cleverly titled junk in a gallery.

Best Barbie Art - This is a very tough category, as nearly all the Barbie artworks at AOM are clever and well-done. But Michele Banks' "Army of Terracotta Barbies" will one day, 100 years from now, befuddle and astound the art experts of the Antique Road Show. For now, I like it a lot! Hey Michelle: Wanna trade?

Sean WelkerBest Repetitive Artwork - When I first saw Sean Welker's drawings, I thought that they were prints. When I returned and talked a little to Sean, I discovered that they were each an individual drawing expressing Welker's interest in sugar skulls, matryoshka dolls, maneki neko figures and other odd elements. Welker would have easily also won the "Best Skeleton Art" category, but it wouldn't be fair to give him two awards. This guy is one of the best artists at AOM.

Best Digital Manipulator - Suffice it to say that Mark Parascandola had me fooled. This guy belongs in the next 10 DC landscape photography shows; the photographs are clever and refreshing!

Best Neon Artist - Sarah Blood has some of the most memorable work in AOM this year. Her work is elegant and sophisticated, and easily amongst the best 3D work in the show, but she is in an universe by herself when it comes to the marriage of neon to glass and sculpture. Buy Sarah Blood.

Best Drawing - Tie between Rita Elsner and the amazing Ben Tolman.

Largest Penis Artwork - Easily won by many inches by the very skilled "Bip" Diggs.

Best Erotica - J.R. Harke.

Worst Erotica - Too many to mention!

Best Lovecraftian Artist - Jeannette Herrera has a wall full of gems and she's easily one of the key finds at AOM. Her Cthulhu reference gets her extra points.

Best Portrait - Margaret Dowell's portrait of Joseph Barbaccia runs away with this very competitive category.

Best Fruit Painting - "Fruit Bowl" by Nabila A. Isa-Odidi; the way the banana absorbs the space is terrific.

Best Pastel Artist - Ellen Cornett has superb mastery of this most difficult genre.

Best Small Oil - A series of georgeous small nudes by Christine Bailey.

Best Robot Art - This was not an easy category to win, as there are a lot of robots at AOM this year! But the best ones are the cute ones by Candace Keegan.

Best Skeleton - OK, so I lied and Jeannette Herrera wins this category too and wins two awards.

Best Combo Skeleton-Robot Art - Todd Gardner.

Best B&W Artist - Everytime that I see Ben Tolman's art I am more and more amazed.

Scariest Art in AOM - Mark Eason.

Most Minimalist Art in Show - A brilliant installation work by JT Kirkland. No one will ever do better.

Second Most Minimalist - Lisa K. Rosenstein.

Best New Realist - Susan La Mont did not disappoint when viewed up close.

Best Male Nude - Geoff Ault.

Scariest Painter of Babies - The most excellent work of Phyllis Mayes; she's a very good painter.

Best Statuary - Brian Lusher is a riot.

Artist Most Influenced by WGS - The glass work of Carlos Rodriguez.

Best Bugs - Erika Rubel.

Best Vegetable - "My Dancing Red Chili Peppers" by Soline Krug.

Harshest Model Pose - The naked women with massive breasts stretched out with their legs grappling the rough bark of trees in Bert HeNe's photo.

Best Video - Tim Tate.

Best Sculptural Drawings - Laurel Lukaszewski.

Scariest Monkey Painting - Jared Davis.

Potential Arsonist - Paula Katharina Rylands... I bet her favorite song is by the Ohio Players.

Second Best Arsonist - Andrea Noble.

Best Metal - Hamiltonian Fellow Michael Enn Sirvet.

Best Obama Likeness - Roy Utley.

Worst Obama - Joshua Tiktin from planet YoMomma.

Best Obama Deal - Kimberly Keyes Stark; great deal at $150 a piece.

Lustiest Obama Portrait - Roger James' piece which has Obama breathing into Michelle's ear.

Scariest Nudes - Elizabeth Crisman' they're good but scary... a little.

Most Illegal Art - "Merry Hollow Days" by Gary Irby.

Best Nipple-less Boobs - Torso by Howard Connelly.

Sexiest Photo in all of AOM - There's an image by Julia Mazur that depicts a gorgeous and voluptous woman sitting on a fire escape ladder and she seems to be peeping on a nude, skinny woman who is sitting on a window sill. The back lighting on the skinny woman is so strong that all the delicate hairs on her body are highlighted to such a harsh extreme that they make her look like a nude beast. It is an amazing photo!

Most Fragile Work - UK artist Steven Revely's spectacularly delicate work is a wonder of glass.

Best Female Ass - One of the pics by Rodney Mickle.

Best Vagina Art - Kerry Britton.

Best Artist Channeling Dali - Dejan Roncevic.

Best Animal Art - Caren Quinn

Best Artist Channeling Van Gogh - "Smoking Skull" by Eric Jaeckel.

Best Portrait Photographer - Matt Dunn.

Best Religious Art - WOW Jen Dixon!

Best New WGS Artist - Paula Hoffman

Best Landscape - Kathryn Trillas.

Second Best Landscape - Michael Pierce.

Best Pen & Ink and WC - Emily Sloat; superbly refreshing!

Best Teapots - Laura Peery.

Next: My AOM Top 10.

Frida Kahlo inspired show opens tomorrow

Photo of Gallery by Michael K. WilkinsonThe Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery at Smith Farm Center in Washington, DC will be hosting Finding Beauty In A Broken World: In the Spirit of Frida Kahlo.

This exhibition showcases the work in all mediums of artists selected by me and whose work is influenced not only by Kahlo’s art, but also by her biography, her thoughts, and her writing or any other aspect in the life and presence of this powerful artist.

Frida Kahlo's artistic footprint in 21st century artists from all over.

Petalos Negros by Katya Romero
This is the third Kahlo show that I have juried in the last decade and I am floored by the range of work and interpretations that I selected. Wait until you see how an amazing Bulgarian photographer channels Kahlo! Or Katya Romero's gorgeous work (that's her Petalos Negros to the right).

You can start seeing the show on July 1st, and the opening reception & awards will be Friday, July 17, 2009, from 5:30 – 8:00PM.

See ya there!