Sunday, May 27, 2012

First Artomatic Impressions

I spent about six hours at Artomatic yesterday. I started on the 11th floor, which means that the top 3-4 floors got good attention, but the other floors were rushed. Therefore, as usual, I will return a couple of times more for more extended visits before I write my final impressions and recommendations for this year's version of the planet's greatest all-open arts extravaganza.

Yesterday the huge building was packed with families and kids and peoples of all sorts. When I left around 6PM, large crowds of people were filing out of the nearby Metro stop less than a block away and heading to AOM. The Metro is by far the best way to get to AOM.

 The real reason that most art critics hate Artomatic is that they get visual overload very quickly. After all, how does a writer cover a visual art show of the size of Artomatic once the eyes and mind become numb after the 200th artist, or the 400th or the 600th? Or in this year, the 1300th?

I have visited and written about every single AOM since the original one, including the recent one in Frederick, MD, and thus I feel that I am uniquely qualified to make some judgemental calls on this year's version as an evolving comparison to past years' AOMs, and after my first six hours there I can pass some hi level impressions:
  • Every year the overall "quality" of AOM improves and this year is noticeably better looking and more professional-looking than any other year.
  • There's a lot less porn in AOM this year. In fact, there's a lot less nudes of all kinds.
  • The range of the quality of the work, even in a postmodern world where everything is art, still ranges from the mind-boggling bad to the artistically sublime.
  • There are several brand new (at least to me) artists in AOM who can show anywhere right now.
  • There is a lot of art about The Beatles and blues musicians.
  • There's more video art than I expected.
  • There are a lot more well-known DMV area "gallery" artists in this AOM than any previous one (except the first one in 1999).
  • There's a lot of artists working with discarded computer boards and parts.
  • There are a lot of glass artists and every single one of them is really good.
  • There are a lot of dark room style galleries and a lot of "blue light" art.
  • There is a lot of artwork about Obama.
  • There is a lot of left-wing nuttery artwork.
  • There are a lot of really good sculptures.
  • There are a lot of artists who make it really hard for someone interested in buying their work to get the basic details (how much is it and how do I buy it?)
I will be returning soon, and hopefully by next week I will have my review in as well as my recommendations for my choices for the best of AOM this year, as well as the Campello awards in the various categories that I invent as I go along. Meanwhile below are links to the last three AOM reviews:

Here's my 2009 review of AOM.

Here's my 2008 review of AOM.

Here's my 2007 review of AOM