Saturday, July 04, 2009

The Final Artomatic Top 10 Artists of 2009

Happy 4th of July! I've been working on this list forever, and superbusy on other stuff (more on those news later); but here it is!

With around 1,000 artists at AOM, it is pretty difficult, if not truly impossible to pick a list of the top 10 artists there and immediately piss off 990.

To make things easier for me, this year I decided to limit my own personal recommendations to artists whose work I am/was not overly familiar with or whose work I had not see before; so no Tim T., no Laurel L., no Kelly T., no Michael J., etc. in this list.

Canpello's top 10 AOM artists are listed in alphabetical order.

Sarah BloodSarah Blood - Space 513 0n the 5th floor. This British artist 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.

When one views her work, the viewer is left amazed not only by the technical skill and dexterous facility with which she handles the medium, but also how she makes an inherent gaudy and repetitive component (such as neon is) seem fresh and cool each time. Hers is the best neon work that I have ever seen.

David D'Orio feederDavid D'Orio. His work is at space 909 on the 9th floor. Add him to the list of amazing glass artists who are reinventing the genre one piece at a time. The latest from his "Feeder" project (detail to left) stands out in the 2009 Artomatic already showcasing the work of some very good glass artists from the area and Great Britain.

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.

James HalloranJames Halloran - Space 809 on the 8th floor. I know that I am a sucker for technical skill in any genre, but technical skill alone does not a good artist make.

Halloran's paintings appear very simple in composition and color schemes at first view, but once you study them they rank amongst the best paintings at AOM that I have seen in years and showcase what a very good painter can do with a very restricted palette of colors. This is another artist whose work would sell well at art fairs.

Rania HassanRania Hassan - Space 903 on the 9th floor. I think that I know by now... and so I think that what Rania Hassan is doing in her ongoing marriage of knitting and painting is unique, maybe in the world. It sounds a little odd in words, so you need to see it to see what I mean.

It is not only clever, but also visually intriguing and breaks a very difficult three dimensionality aspect that many "painters" try to broach.

Jeannette Herrera's Blue Faced KillerJeannette L. Herrera - Space 210 on the 2nd floor. This blue face killer is all over the map with her artwork, and yet she covers that map very well. She makes and sells everything: T-shirts, buttons, stickers, skateboards, shoes, custom made frames, etc.

She is a GerhardtRichterian artist in the sense that her artwork is about what interests and makes her tick, not what the critics dictate. I love the energy and drive and zeal behind her work; it's like an artistic hurricane in violent motion at all times.

I know a lot of accomplished artists, now in the October of their careers (the best time for hurricanes) who wish they could find a way to rediscover 10% of the energy and intelligence that Herrera drives through your brain with paint-stained nails in each of her paintings.

Deb Jansen's installationDeb Jansen. Space 804 on the 8th floor. Seldom does a great artistic shout like Jansen's "Catharsis & Karma: An Open Thank You Letter to a Homewrecker" installation says it all for one artist, and as Jansen is a young artist, we have many years ahead to watch where she goes from here.

Having said that, her brilliant dedication and "this-is-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 was without a doubt, at least the multiple times that I visited AOM, the hit of the show, and it earns Jansen a top 10 ranking. I'll say it again: this alone is worth a visit to AOM.

Susan La MontSusan La Mont. Space 203 on the second floor. I know that I have mentioned this artist's work before, but AOM gave me the first opportunity to examine a lot of her work all in one place.

And while Dr. La Mont still has a lot of painting and examinations and thinking and work to create and do ahead of her, this Pratt Institute graduate's artwork shows the sophistication, elegance and artistic merit and weight that causes it to stand apart in the immense AOM world of painters.

Jessica Van Brakle - detailJessica Van Brakle. Space 916 on the 9th floor. When I was first exploring the 9th floor I almost missed Jessica's work.

Lucky for her, I was attracted by the work of Jenny Walton, and once that caught my eye, it was natural for me to be magnetized also by her neighbor's work. Vna Brakle's work is refreshing and very strong for such a young painter. If my fellow art dealers were to ask me about who to pick today and take to an art fair tomorrow and sell a lot of work, I would immediately send them to this new painter.

Megan Van WagonerMegan Van Wagoner is a prime example of what happens when you pass judgement on an entire show without taking the proper time to examine the show.

I've never seen her work before, and the first time that I walked by her booth I almost missed it, as my eyes and brain were beginning to hit overload. But it did catch my eye and on the second visit, following my notes I went straight to her space on space 811 on the 8th floor. Let me say it succinctly: this will be the artist whose work stood out as the most technically brilliant in AOM and whose presentation was the most professional.

It is ready for prime time and I bet that she goes places fast. I can dream of a show of her work next to Joshua Levine out in the Left Coast.

WelkerSean Welker. 712 on the 7th floor. This is an artist turning technology around on the viewer. 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.

Push the medium of drawing to a level where the artist says to the reproduction genre: I can do each one by hand. It is a novel twist on taking the short cut to everything. This artist will make DC look good all over the nation in the near future. Check out his sugar skulls here.

Tomorrow is the last day to see Artomatic; if you haven't been, and call yourself a member of the Greater DC area arts community, this is your last change to get there or have your membership in the community revoked.

You get a second chance of sorts in a gallery setting as my former gallery, Bethesda's Fraser Gallery continues a tradition started many Artomatics ago with Ms. Fraser's selection of her "Best of Artomatic 2009" with work by AOM artists Jennifer Bishop, Deb Jansen, Edward Johnston, Christine Keers, Andrew Livingstone, Brain Lusher, Joanne Mitchell, Molly Sheldon, Frank Turner and Andrew Zimmermann. An opening reception will be held in conjunction with the "Bethesda Art Walk" on Friday, July 10 from 6PM - 9PM.

I'm heading out West tomorrow... more from the California desert later, including my choice as the best artist in Artomatic for 2009.

Happy 4th of July! America rocks!