Monday, October 03, 2011

Kennicott on 30 Americans

I've been digesting Philip Kennicott's ‘30 Americans’: A challenging study of identity, currently on exhibit at the Corcoran.

As Kennicott is not the easiest writer to read, this digesting process has taken me a few days and at least one trip to the dictionary, an odd thing, I think, for someone with three degrees and a MENSA-qualifying perfect SAT score many years ago.

My thoughts on the article start with the issue that I think that because nearly every writer in this town, including art writers, are somehow cast in the shadow of Woodward and Bernstein, almost every writer in this town approaches nearly every story in this town as a possible Watergate. I like the way that I managed to sneak "in this town" multiple times in that sentence.

Because the DMV is a "town" in the smallish sense of that word; no Gotham or Metropolis like word will be used ever to describe the DMV, where everybody and everyone knows your name... right? Cheers...

But I meander.

It was sooooo predictable to see the mouth-watering effect upon art writers such as Kennicott (and others to come), to try to find a less than ethical reason for this exhibition.

And thus we get:

And that raises the issue of the second problem with “30 Americans,” the appearance of a conflict of interest in presenting a private collection at a prominent museum, especially when a financial transaction has happened between the parties. Is this a quid pro quo between the Corcoran and the Rubells that serves to boost the value of a private collection?
Never mind that:
The Rubells have categorically denied any quid pro quo, and Kristin Guiter, spokeswoman for the Corcoran, says “the two are completely unrelated.” Discussion of the “30 Americans” show began well before any plans to sell the Randall School, she says.
But Lenny, some of you are probably saying, he also admits that
A few things militate against a cynical view of the question. First, the work on display is important and needs to be seen. Second, the Rubells probably bring more prestige to the relationship than the Corcoran, which has been damaged by financial and institutional mismanagement over the past decade. Third, museums would hardly exist without courting the favor of private collectors.
Militate? ahem...

This is such a challenge for so many people around here: to write an art review about the art or artists, without a need for militation (ahem, ahem) of any sort. And if one militates (ahem, ahem, ahem) against this particular writer's cynicism, what else is there?

Envy, elitism, rancor?

See where this led? Now I need to militate my own nastiness, which is the result of a visceral reaction that screams: Not everything has a hidden, unethical root! (Note to PK: Observe how I avoided the temptation to use "Raison d'ĂȘtre" - in other words, I militated the temptation to sound like a cultural egghead.

Not every story is a potential Watergate.

Read PK's article here.


Heading to the Left Coast today, and armed with the almost 1,000 page-long A Dance with Dragons: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book Five by the "American Tolkien" George R.R. Martin.

Funny thing is that I could never stomach Tolkien, but absolutely devour this guy's writing. In my eyes Tolkien is the British G.R.R. Martin.

At the Arlington Arts Center

First and foremost, a warm welcome to Stefanie Fedor, the new Executive Director of the Arlington Arts Center. Ms. Fedor comes from the Katzen, where she was an Asst. Curator, and now takes the helm of one of the leading non profit art venues around the DMV.

And AAC's annual call for entries gave 14 emerging artists the opportunity to have solo exhibitions at the Center. This year's crop was selected by DC collector and curator Michael Pollack and independent international curator Melissa Keys, formerly of the Perth Institute of Contemporary Art. All of the artists will be on hand at the opening reception, which is Thursday, October 6, 2011, 6-9 pm. The artists are:

Chloe Watson: Chairmen's Gallery
Stephanie Elaine Robbins: Experimental Gallery
Arden Bendler Browning: Meyer Gallery A
Jason Irla: Truland Gallery
David D'Orio: Meyer Gallery B
Matt Dunn: Tiffany Gallery

I'm particularly looking forward to seeing the work of the three artists in this group whom are new to me, as well as the always fascinating photography of Matt Dunn (whose "bearded dude riding the chicken" photo at (e)merge was - in my opinion - the defining image for that terrific art fair).