Monday, August 31, 2015

The Road to the Isles

A far croonin' is pullin' me away
As take I wi' my cromak to the road.
The far Coolins are puttin' love on me,
As step I wi' the sunlight for my load.

Sure, by Tummel and Loch Rannoch
And Lochaber I will go,
By heather tracks wi' heaven in their wiles;
If it's thinkin' in your inner heart
Braggart's in my step,
You've never smelt the tangle o' the Isles.

Oh, the far Coolins are puttin' love on me,
As step I wi' my cromak to the Isles.
It's by 'Sheil water the track is to the west,
By Aillort and by Morar to the sea,
The cool cresses I am thinkin' o' for pluck,
And bracken for a wink on Mother's knee.

It's the blue Islands are pullin' me away,
Their laughter puts the leap upon the lame,
The blue Islands from the Skerries to the Lews,
Wi' heather honey taste upon each name.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Headin' South today

Gonna be shark bait for a few days while a friend watches the homestead...

Friday, August 28, 2015

Dead man's float

The kid has it down pat - he can now officially qualify to join the Navy when it is his time to serve!

Today he is six years old!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Call for artist entries!

Applications for the 2016 Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival are now open!  Join them as they celebrate the 25th anniversary of this top-ranked outdoor festival, visited by over 30,000 patrons each year. 

Presented in Reston Town Center, a suburb of Washington, DC, the festival attracts art lovers, affluent homeowners, corporate executives, and design professionals in addition to the broader community. The Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival has built a reputation for showcasing talented artists and high-quality work.  Don't miss your opportunity to be a part of it in 2016!

I've both done this festival many times and juried it once, and I highly recommend it!

Details and application here.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

You can’t eat art

This is still one of my favorite art-related articles ever published in the WaPo in 2001.
The van is parked at the CVS drugstore on Spout Run Parkway. Artist John Grazier huddles inside, eating rice pudding from the all-night grocery and downing it with Busch beer. He’ll sleep here tonight, scrunched up on the brown shag rug on the floor, though he knows he won’t get much rest. “I keep worrying I’m going to roll over on the paintings.”
The paintings are why he’s here. They’re why, a week ago, he drove 220 miles from his home near State College, Pa., where the rent is due, his two children need to be fed, and he’s got less than $13 in the bank. He has no other job, no other paycheck to meet the bills. His entire income, what little of it there is, comes from his art.
He needs to sell a painting.
Read it here.

And ten years later, in 2011, the WaPo did this update.
Ten years ago, John Grazier was a struggling, self-taught surrealist, driving his 1966 GMC Handi-van (which also served as his sleeping quarters) 220 miles from his central Pennsylvania rental to the addresses of Washington’s elite to sell his paintings
The eccentric artist had worn out his welcome with District art dealers and struck out on his own — peddling his work door-to-door to law firms and entrepreneurs — when reporter Darragh Johnson shadowed him for a 2001 Washington Post Magazine story. He swung from bouts of homelessness to pulling in $100,000 commissions.
You can see some of John's works here. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Marion True

The reporters staked her out. The investigators said she conspired with crooked dealers. And her museum colleagues seemed content to watch her disappear, as if one of the world’s most powerful, respected and sought-after art historians deserved to be the only American curator brought to trial.
Read about  Marion True (former curator of antiquities for the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles) here. 

Studio in Bethesda

Deadline: Sept. 15, 2015
Studio Available October 2015
  • Studio is 215 sq. feet.
  • Rent is $405 per month, inclusive of all utilities.
  • Artists are required to be in the space during retail hours of Wed. - Sat., 12-6pm and during the monthly Bethesda Art Walk.
  • Artist has 24/7 access to Studio B and their personal studio space.
  • Artist may sell artwork and there is no commission taken on artist sales.
Members of the Bethesda Arts & Entertainment District and arts professionals will review the applications and select the Studio B artist. If necessary, an interview may be requested. Applicants will be notified about whether their applications have been selected. Bethesda Urban Partnership will perform credit and criminal background checks and execute leases with the tenants. Once maximum occupancy is reached, applicants will be placed on a waiting list until a studio becomes available.

Complete this application and submit the following:
  • Curriculum Vitae (CV)
  • Artwork Samples
  • Proof of Income
  • Proof of Identity
  • $30 fee per applicant for credit and criminal background checks
QUESTIONS? Please email


Monday, August 24, 2015

Three artists at MPA

McLean Project for the Arts presents three new exhibitions featuring contemporary artworks by prominent local DMV artists. Curated by Nancy Sausser, the exhibitions display three intriguing artistic approaches that will captivate gallery visitors.
* Robin Rose Presents Scriptronics: An Art for the Future – This innovative exhibition in the Emerson Gallery features both abstract, encaustic paintings and a series of interactive “sound drawings.” The drawings are created through a method which amplifies the sound of the pen on paper and adds a performance element. Demonstrations are scheduled for Sept. 30 at 7 pm and Oct. 15 at 12 noon.  
* Equilibrium: Works by John M. Adams – The artist’s site-specific drawings in the Atrium Gallery incorporate the angles and planes of the space, while his paintings merge with the gallery walls, blending and interacting with their location.  
* Color Riffs: Paintings By Barbara Januszkiewicz – Inspired by American Blues music, the artist’s vibrantly colored, abstract paintings reflect melodies, harmonies, harmonic progressions, and chord structure. A musical soundtrack and music app accompanies this exhibition in the Ramp Gallery.
McLean Project for the Arts (MPA) is a nonprofit contemporary visual arts center located within the McLean Community Center at 1234 Ingleside Avenue, McLean, VA. For more information, visit or call (703) 790-1953.  

Sunday, August 23, 2015 A Curated Art News Site has Launched.

From the folks at Arts Law Journal:
Orangenius is pleased to announce the launch of Art Briefly (, a new website featuring curated news focusing on the business of art. Readers of the Art Law Journal have often remarked on the lack of timely, accurate news and information on the business and legal side of the art industry, so we set out to fill that demand, creating a site that identifies important art business and law news from around the web and aggregates the content into one site. At Art Briefly, you won’t find tutorials, software or hardware reviews, critiques or other creative-centric content. Instead, the site will feature content that can help members of the art community to better understand and grow their business. 
Using special software, Art Briefly scours the web, identifying articles and news items that may be of interest to our readers. Content that meets our criteria is forwarded to our editors who read each article, and select the best for posting. Art Briefly is not intended to be a substitute for the underlying source, and we offer only the first paragraph or two of an article along with a link back to the original source.  Ever supportive of creators of all types, our goal is to serve the market with aggregated content of interest to our readers, while also ensuring the original creators are fairly credited and compensated, as appropriate, from their efforts. 
This is only the beginning for Art Briefly. Orangenius plans to make Art Briefly the “go to” place for news about the legal and business environment of the art community.  Our goal is to make this site not only a place to quickly find stories of interest, but also a forum for discussing innovative art business ideas, a place to find answers to legal questions, a destination where writers and bloggers can be the first to find trending stories, and eventually, a site where our members can control the content. 
Until then, click to enjoy Art Briefly 1.0

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

The Emmett Till Project commemorates the 60th anniversary of the 1955 murder and trial of Emmett Louis Till that helped spark the Civil Rights Movement - check it out here.

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Batman Brooding

The Batman Brooding, shown below both in process and as a finished drawing, will be part of the Supernatural: In the Face of Danger show at Goucher College’s Silber Art Gallery in the Sandy J. Unger Athenaeum from September 8, 2015 through October 11, 2015.

The Batman Brooding by F. Lennox Campello

The Batman Brooding by F. Lennox Campello

The Batman Brooding
c. 2015
Charcoal and Conte on Paper

Framed to 26x21 inches

The show features works from artists Rick Garcia, Carla Goldberg, Jeannette L. Herrera, Simon Monk, Dulce Pinzón, Richard Schellenberg, Andrew Wodzianski, Nick Zimbro and myself.

This exhibit, which is free and open to the public, can be viewed Tuesday through Sunday from 11a.m. to 4 p.m. An artist’s reception will be held Friday, September 18th, 2015 from 6 to 9 p.m., with an artist talk at 7:30pm in the Silber Art Gallery. 

Please visit or call 410-337-6477 for more information.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Dulce Pinzon at Goucher College

Dulce Pinzón is a Mexican artist currently living in Puebla, Mexico. Her work is influenced by feelings of nostalgia, questions of identity, and political and cultural frustrations. Her Superheroes project consists of 20 color photographs of Mexican immigrants dressed in the costumes of popular American and Mexican superheroes. Each photo pictures the worker/superhero in their work environment, and is accompanied by a short text including the worker’s name, their hometown in Mexico, and the amount of money they send to Mexico each week. 
BERNABE MENDEZ from the State of Guerrero works as a professional window cleaner in New York. He sends 500 dollars a month.
  Superheroes: The Real Story, a solo exhibition featuring Dulce Pinzón’s photographs, will be presented at Goucher College’s Rosenberg Gallery in the Kraushaar Auditorium from September 2nd through October 11th, 2015.

This exhibit, which is free and open to the public, can be viewed Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. An artist’s reception will be held on Friday, September 18th, 2015 6-9pm. 

Please visit for more information.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Another Dolezalian alleged fibber outed

Here we go again with this Shaun King dude! I wonder if this guy is also an "artist..." Check it out here.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The curious case of Cuba's racism

Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr.'s excellent PBS series Black in Latin America addressed Cuba in an unique segment, and when you read the comments to this episode, it is apparent the immense cultural ignorance that most people have about the toxic racist nature of the Cuban dictatorship.

Much has been written about racism in Cuba, and it was one of the earliest subjects addressed by the WaPo's Eugene Robinson upon his arrival to the DMV. In his article Cuba Begins to Answer Its Race Question, Robinson tried hard to find excuses for the dictatorship, but nonetheless admits that
Academics say that black Cubans are failing to earn university degrees in proportion to their numbers--a situation to which Castro has alluded publicly. The upper echelons of the government remain disproportionately white, despite the emergence of several rising black stars. And while perceptions are difficult to quantify, much less prove true or false, many black Cubans are convinced that they are much less likely than whites to land good jobs--and much more likely to be hassled by police on the street, like Cano's husband, in a Cuban version of "racial profiling."
But how about some Cubans discussing the subject?
In primary [Cuban] education, skin color is not mentioned," ... If we are still living in a society where white people have the power, and we don't mention color in education, we are in practice educating [Cuban] children to be white.

Cuban history as we teach it is a disgrace, because it is predominantly white history, and explaining the role of black people and mulattoes in building this society and its culture is not given its due importance.

Esteban Morales
University of Havana
Centre for the Study of the Hemisphere and the United States
A lot of hopes have been pinned by many people (who know little about Cuba and the repressive nature of its government) on President Obama's recent monumental decision to re-establish diplomatic relations with the unfortunate Caribbean island prison of Cuba; but first another Cuban quote: carry on "hiding" the issue [of racism in Cuba] would lead black people to think that "they belong to another country, and that there are two Cuba’s as there were in the 19th century, a black Cuba and a white one."

Roberto Zurbano
Casa de las Américas publishing house
And thus, it is curious to me that in re-establishing diplomatic ties, our socially conscious President (and his cadre of advisors) appear to know little or nothing about the way that Afro-Cuban citizens are treated in their own country.

In reference to the President's visit, Odette Casamayor-Cisneros, an associate professor of Latin American and Caribbean literatures and cultures at the University of Connecticut and a scholar at Harvard University notes that “The images of the meetings, the agreements, they’re all shameful for many black Cubans — I’m including myself in this — because it’s difficult to feel represented.

Will the expected flow of American tourists help? Zurbano writes in his 2013 New York Times article that:
Most remittances from abroad — mainly the Miami area, the nerve center of the mostly white exile community — go to white Cubans. They tend to live in more upscale houses, which can easily be converted into restaurants or bed-and-breakfasts — the most common kind of private business in Cuba. Black Cubans have less property and money, and also have to contend with pervasive racism. Not long ago it was common for hotel managers, for example, to hire only white staff members, so as not to offend the supposed sensibilities of their European clientele.

That "not long ago" is still the case, as anyone who has been to Cuba recently can testify to - it is very rare to see a black face in any of Havana's "tourist only" hotels and nearby beaches. Discussing those lucrative jobs, Yusimí Rodríguez López, an Afro-Cuban independent journalist, said in a 2016 New York Times article that there were job listings on Revolico — sometimes called Cuba’s underground Craigslist — “where they say they only want whites.”

In the same NYT article we read:
“They talk a lot here about discrimination against blacks in the United States. What about here?” said Manuel Valier Figueroa, 50, an actor, who was in the park on Monday. “If there’s a dance competition, they’re going to choose the woman who is fair-skinned with light, good hair. If there’s a tourism job, the same.”

He added: “Why are there no blacks managing hotels? You don’t see any blacks working as chefs in hotels, but you see them as janitors and porters. They get the inferior jobs.”
One would hope that our President's dealings with a nation with one of the world's worst human rights records, where Amnesty International has been denied access to (except to that bit of Cuba where the Guantanamo Naval Base is located); a nation where gay people were once given lobotomies to "cure" them; and where HIV+ Cubans were detained and segregated in guarded colonies away from the general public, could at least receive a little attention on the status of blacks in their nation.

Fact: Twice as many African slaves were brought to Cuba than to the United States... twice!

And what really bugs me, in my own pedantic hell, is how a bunch of historically and socially clueless American negotiators orchestrate deals with the leaders and the government of one of the world's most racist dictatorships (a government which talks a talk of equality while walking a walk of institutionalized racism against its own black population) without even mentioning the issue of racism.

Cuba has a long and agonizing history of racial issues, starting with its long bloody history of slavery, which didn't end on the island until 1886, and continuing through its freedom from Spain, birth of the Republic, and the triumph of the Castro Revolution in 1959. It continues to this day.

Cuba even had its own race war.
Antonio Maceo

General Antonio Maceo, known as "the Bronze Titan." He was the true warrior leader of the Cuban Wars of Liberation. His father was white of French ancestry; his mother was black, of Dominican ancestry. After the first Cuban Liberation War ended in a truce with Spain, some say that Maceo was so disillusioned with the realities of life in Cuba as a black man, that he left Cuba and lived in Panama, until he was called back to lead the Cuban rebels in a new rebellion in 1895. He returned to Cuba and was killed in battle against the Spanish Army in 1896.

In 1912, black Cubans in Oriente province had enough of the new Cuban government's racist practices and the degrading treatment of Cuban black veterans, who had been the bulk of the Cuban rebels in the wars of independence against Spain. The Cuban government moved on a path of genocide and eventually the United States had to send in troops to end the war between the white Cuban government and the black rebels in Oriente.

As I recall from the CIA Factbook of 1959, on that year the island was about 70% white, about 20% black and mixed, and the rest Chinese, Jewish and other. The Cuban Diaspora which started a few months after the Castro takeover and continues to this day, with the exception of the Mariel boat lift of the 1980s, saw a mass exodus of mostly white Cubans, and as a result the island's racial balance shifted dramatically that although 65% of Cubans self-identified as white in the last census, many experts estimate that today the island is about 60% black or biracial.

But Cuba's black population has not seen a proportionate share of the power and a quick review of the governing Politburo/Parliament reveals few black faces in the crowd. In fact, "the Cuban cultural journal Temas published studies by the governmental Anthropology Centre in 2006 that showed that on average, the black population has worse housing, receives less money in remittances from abroad and has less access to jobs in emerging economic sectors like tourism, in which blacks represent barely five percent of managers and professionals, than the white population."
"I think silence is worse. The longer nothing is said, the more the racism fermenting underground is rotting the entire nation..."

Gerardo Alfonso
While the Cuban constitution of the 1940s (since then abolished by the Communist government) outlawed segregation and racism, and the current Cuban Constitution guarantees black Cubans the right to stay in any hotel and be served at any public establishment, as it has been documented by many foreign journalists, black Cubans will tell you in private that those rights exist only on paper.

The harsh Cuban reality today, they claim, is that "black Cubans won't be served" and that Cubans, regardless of race are in general barred from places frequented by tourists.
Unfortunately, these things [disparities in the treatment of blacks and whites] are very common in Cuba.

Ricardo Alarcón Quesada
President of the National Assembly of People's Power
Cuban Parliament
Do these Cuban voices from within Cuba itself sound like the subjects of a government whose murdering tyrants' atrocities should be dealt in silence?, especially in view of our nation's own racial history? Would we be silent in dealing today with the criminal government leaders of the apartheid South Africa of the 20th century?
We have practically apartheid in this country sometimes... racism is deeply rooted in Cuba's history and will not disappear overnight.

Rogelio Polanco Fuentes
Cuban Communist Party-owned Juventud Rebelde newspaper.
Human rights and racism should be at the top of the agenda (if there's one) in our diplomatic discussions with the Havana tyrants.

What will this "change" bring to the "permanent and shameful police harassment of young Cubans of African descent in our streets..." - Leonardo Calvo Cardenas, Cuban National Vice-Coordinador of the Citizens' Committee for Racial Integration (Comité Ciudadanos por la Integración Racial (CIR))?

Monday, August 17, 2015

Why copyright infrigement is hard to prove for artists

Art is inherently subjective – what constitutes art or what makes art “good” is left entirely up to the viewer. So too is the decision of whether you feel like you’ve seen it before – plenty of artists are influenced by their predecessors and contemporaries alike. But that’s precisely why it’s so difficult to allege copyright infringement in a work of art – adopting a style or technique doesn’t constitute infringement. While there have been a great deal of photographers that have found themselves caught up in copyright infringement suits, it’s even harder to prove in paintings.
Read the article by Nicole Martinez here.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Tentacles (A man, an axe and a doctor: A tale of pain and art)

One of the blog posts that I get the most emails about is this horror story from 2005. Here it is again:
Someone who was raised in Brooklyn shouldn’t own, and much less, try to use an axe.

What follows is a true tale of horror, of entropy and the second law of thermodynamics, of chaos and order, of the laws of the universe, of near death, of irony, of music, and ultimately of a new form of art. All of the characters are real, and if I could remember their names, I would name them.

I begin.

The back of my house has a rather wooded large area with many trees, and it also backs into an even larger wooded common area that I share with my neighbors. I am really a big fan of warm cozy fires, and during the winter I usually light one up every fireplace

A while back I went around and collected a lot of wood from fallen branches and also a lot of wood from a tree that had fallen months earlier. This wood had been cut, but needed splitting, so I bought an axe to split the wood myself.

How hard could this be? After all, I remember how President Reagan, while he was in office, was so fond of being filmed splitting wood in his ranch in California. If an 80-year-old President could do it, and make it look so easy, then surely a virile 40something could do it as well.

So I went to my local hardware store and bought an axe.

Act One, Scene I

It was a day much like many other balmy December days we’ve been having this winter. There was a little chill in the air, but more like a spring day than a winter day. I had gathered quite a haul of neatly cut sections of the tree trunk, each about nine to twelve inches in diameter, and I had placed them to the side of a large tree stump, which I planned to use as the base to split the firewood. the tree stump

The ground was wet and the grass was moist, as it had been raining the previous few days, but although the radio had announced that there would be rain later, I thought that I would have a couple of hours to split all the wood before it began to rain.

I would be good exercise as well.

Gloves in hand, I placed the first piece of wood on the stump, took one or two slow –motion practice tries, just to get the motion and aim right, and then took my first mighty swing of the axe.

There are some instances on this planet, when the laws of gravity seem to take a couple of nanoseconds off. Like when one is walking down a path, and a rock, as if by magic, jumps from the ground and lands inside your shoe. How does that happen? Is it evidence of magic? Time travel? Even if one considers a viable explanation, the most common of which is that the other shoe kicks the rock into the partner shoe, it takes some extraordinary physics and flight acrobatics to imagine a rock being kicked by one shoe, flying sideways through the air as you walk on and sliding into the other shoe. I prefer to believe that the rocks jump straight up and floats into the shoe.

the axe of this taleAnyway... back to my story.

The violent action of swinging the axe to split the firewood must have caused a ripple in the time space continuum, for otherwise I cannot imagine or recreate what followed next.

For one thing, I completely missed the firewood waiting to be split and barely nicked the edge of the tree stump. But this bare touching of the tree stump must have caused a tremendous vector change in the arc of the axe swing, and to add more physics to the event, the brand new axe, (with its nice slippery handle, aided by my brand new - and even more slippery - cotton gardening gloves (I should have used leather work gloves)) slipped away from me.

And aided by the wet grass under my feet, I lost my footing and slipped towards the oncoming axe. At some point, I suspect that both the axe and I were completely airborne and approaching each other in perfect flight synchronicity.

And in some incomprehensible act of flying physics, the axe went in a perfect flight pattern back towards me and between my legs.

Act One, Scene II

The axe blade missed my family jewels – barely.

I know this because I still have balls and because the tip of the blade nicked the small of my back. But I came as close to being a eunuch as anyone in the history of mankind has come; but the blade missed.

But the top of the handle didn’t miss and it crushed my balls.

Before I describe the pain, let me tell you that I've been kicked in the balls more than once. I have been an avid student and practitioner of the martial arts since I was 13 years old, and have competed in many full contact tournaments, and have been accidentally kicked in the balls many times. I have also had my share of juvenile and drunken sailor fist fights, where someone's foot or fist has delivered a painful blow to my genitals. And it does hurt intensely!

But this axe handle crushing my privates was a new dimension in pain.

And this new pain took on a new meaning as I collapsed onto the wet, muddy ground.

It was an almost exquisite pain, with shape, form, smell and incredibly enough, fireballs of vivid color dancing to music. During this time, I had a vision of how Christ and Jimmy Hoffa truly died; in fact I learned how every fucking thing in the Universe has died, and how every living entity in this Universe and the other infinite Einsteinian numbers of Universes will die. And in all cases, their death involved or will involve an axe.

Time ceased to flow, or perhaps it simply slowed down in order to make my agony more intense, which by the way, would have been impossible, as I had already maxxed out the agony scale for mankind.

And I know this is silly, but I swear that I heard the music from Guns n Roses’ Sweet Child of Mine emanating, in perfect tune to the pain, from my brutalized gonads; especially the part where the bag pipes come in.

Thus I do not know how long I agonized on the forest floor. A wet tongue belonging to Yoda, my neighbor’s dog, whimpering as he obviously felt my pain, resuscitated me.

I opened my eyes for the first time since I fell, and looked at Yoda’s handsome face. "Yoda," I whispered between clenched teeth, "kill me." He looked at me with his intelligent eyes and licked my face again. "Please bite my neck," I begged. "Kill me now!"

Yoda twisted his head in that almost human way in which dogs do, and walked away. For a minute there I thought that the stupid beast had gone to fetch a stick to play with, as he loves to fetch sticks. Had he done this, I would have kicked him in his balls. But he just vanished from my sight and then started to bark outside my neighbor’s back door.

By now the pain had diminished to a white searing pain on a planetary scale equivalent to a thermonuclear device being exploded at the core of the Earth, so the word diminished is quite bogus in this sentence. But, I sincerely wanted to find out how much damage I had done, and since by now my pants were quite soaked from the wet ground and the mud, I needed to check to see if I was bleeding.

Act One, Scene III

So I unbuttoned my pants, lowered them in agonizing ecstasy, and reached down to feel the state of my boys.

Which is precisely the moment that my neighbor, apparently being brought to the scene by Lassie-wannabe Yoda’s barking, made her appearance, as I am feeling my bruised sacs.

my neighbor lady My neighbor is a very nice old lady who has a remarkable likeness to Grandpa Munster, and I think that she’s originally from Sweden, and she has a lovely and thick accent, and from the expression on her face, I realized that she was slightly concerned at finding a muddy man, laying on the wet ground, pants down to his ankles and fingers probing around his privates.

So I rationalized (the brain is an incredible asset) that I'd better explain, although the last fucking thing that I wanted to do at that moment was to chat with this Grandpa Munster look-a-like. But I figured that if I didn’t explain, she’d make a bat-line to her phone and report me to the vice squad.

And being the super nice lady that she is, she tried to hide her laughter, and understood, and asked me if I wanted her to call an ambulance. "Tentacles," she said (and she did say "tentacles" instead of "testicles"), "are very fragile."

"No shit Grandpa Munster,"
I felt like saying, but instead I moaned to her that it was OK, and that I’d drive myself down to the hospital.

It had begun to sprinkle, so she wished me luck and went back to her house.

And then it really began to rain; hard, cold rain.

And then the act of crawling back to my house became another exercise in agony, as I discovered that (a) I couldn’t walk because of the pain and (b) I couldn’t crawl on my knees, because of the pressure on my jewels.

So I sort of "rolled" towards my house, and then developed a sort of walking on all fours, legs quite widespread and putting most of the weight on my hands, as the rain fell on me.

So I finally make it to the house, thoroughly soaked and quite covered in mud. And (of course) the day before I had cleaned my house from top to bottom, and the thought of the irony of this alignment of misfortunes dawned on me as I muddied the floor of my pristine home.

I debated whether to change clothes or not, and decided that it would be impossible for me to physically remove my shoes, as my boys had by now begun to swell to an impressive size, and any pressure on them caused me to yelp like a newborn child. So I grabbed a towel from the laundry room, crawled to my van, put the towel on the seat, and climbed in to an internal symphony of new pains.

And I began the drive to the hospital emergency room.

Act Two, Scene I

Sometimes the lights on Democracy Boulevard align in timing so that one can go all the way from Seven Locks to Old Georgetown Road without hitting a single light.

Other times, a driver hits every god damned light on the road.

Guess which of these two cycles of light synchronicity was to be my fate on that painful day?

Yep! Stop at every light, and to make matters worse, I couldn’t really "sit down" and was actually driving while holding most of my weight on one hand pushing against the car seat in order to attempt to float me above it, all the while leaning forward, sort of the way that scary old people in Florida drive.

I eventually pulled into the parking lot of the hospital, and of course there is not one single parking spot available on the ER area, so I have to park in the lot across the street, and do my crawling on all fours routine, in the rain, across the road, which as some of you may know, is quite a busy road. However, since Yoda had failed to kill me, I was somewhat hoping that I’d get run over by a car, and mercifully have it put an end to my agony.

But no one ran me over, although several cars did slow down, but I suspect it was so that they could get a look at the idiot crawling on all fours across the road, in the rain.

But in due time, I did arrive at the entrance to the ER, and at the very last minute I almost did get run over by an ambulance, bringing in someone with a medical emergency.

And so I finally enter the ER, muddy, wet, cold and still in spectacular pain.

Act Two, Scene II

I imagine that most ER personnel have seen just about everything that humankind has to offer in terms of shock, but by the alarmed expression on the male nurse at the check-in station, it was clear that he was somewhat concerned by my appearance and by my manner of movement on all fours; I also noticed that the security guard was also somewhat alarmed (and armed).

He asked me what the problem was, and as I explained what happened, both this Gaylord Focker wannabe and the guard, who had drifted within earshot, actually had the gall to burst out laughing.

And I made a silent promise to myself that in a few weeks, if I survived this ordeal, I would hunt Nurse Focker-wannabe and kick him in the nuts.

So after the whole delay of data input and insurance verification, Nurse Focker tells me to have a seat, and wait, as the doctors (plural) are all attending the patient who had just come in via the ambulance.

"What’s his problem?" I asked, not out of concern, but thinking that there are precious few emergencies in the world that could take precedence over my distress.

And Nurse Focker explains that the patient is a 96-year-old-man who’s having a heart attack.

And I’m really close to start debating that at 96, he’s had a good life, and he's probably caused his own heart attack because of Viagra, so let this geezer go and assign me a doctor, preferably well armed with a needle full of painkiller. But I hold my tongue, and wait in my own private water puddle.

Several ice ages later, Nurse Focker says that I am to be seen, and asks me if I have a preference for a doctor. In retrospect, I think that he was asking me if I wanted a male or female doctor, but by now my social graces had completely vanished, and I told him that I’d like Dr. Kavorkian. He didn’t laugh.

I am then taken to the back, and told to undress, put one of those silly robes that show your ass, and sit on the bed and wait for the doctor. Somehow I managed to undress on my own, and laid on the bed, with my legs bent and wide open, much like a woman waiting for her gynecologist.

A little while later, the curtains open and the doctor comes in: A female doctor, of course, probably picked by Nurse Focker to make my life more miserable.

And not just any female doctor, but probably the only female doctor who had also been a body extra in Baywatch. And to my utter amazement, in the middle of this intense agony, my sick male brain still finds time to align a couple of thought patterns that whisper inside my head: "WOW, she’s hot!" before resuming sending new and novel pain patterns to my groin area.

"What have we got here?" she asks using the imperial "we" that annoying doctors like to use.

"We, doc," says I, devoid of any social skills by this point, "have a serious fucking case of smashed balls, and an even more serious need for some potent pain killer." And I begin explaining what happened.

And just like Nurse Focker and the rent-a-cop a few minutes earlier, Dr. Carmen Electra, Medicine Woman bursts out laughing while she’s probing and feeling down there, hands encased in latex gloves.

Laughter induced watery-eyes and all, she then tells me that it looks like there’s no internal injuries, but that she’ll order a scan to double check, and that I need to ice down my groin area in order to reduce the swelling. "You’ll be OK in a few days."


I thank her, and ask about a shot for the pain. To my astonishment she says that just a couple of Tylenols should do the trick. "Doc," I plead, "I am in really in some aggravating bad pain here."

"Don’t be such a baby," she responds, "You should try childbirth if you want to know what real pain is."

She’s lucky she’s a woman; otherwise I definitely would have kicked her in the balls.

Act Two, Scene III

A few days later, and things appear to be back to normal; I’ve been telling people that I have a back pain, and thus the strained walk.

And at some point, it dawns on me that the whole sequence of events, with the improbable occurrences, the diverse set of characters, and the Three Stoogian physicality of the act, is a new kind of art; a new kind of performance art that is, where really spectacular true events of common daily life assume astronomic personal presence and thus cross the border into a personal artistic quality, the like of which will never be repeated by any other soul on this planet.

So my performance piece is over: I call it Tentacles (not Testicles).

Saturday, August 15, 2015

The 7th Annual Expressions Portrait Competition and Exhibit Call for Art

Submission Deadline: 09/08/2015
Finalists in the competition will exhibit at ArtSpace Herndon in the Expressions exhibit, October 6 to November 1, 2015.  Competition judge Judith Peck will announce winners of the competition during the Awards Reception on Saturday, October 10, 2015, 7 p.m. $800 to be given out in prizes and honorable mentions at the judge’s discretion. 
The entry deadline is Tuesday September 8, 2015 at 2 p.m. Up to 25 finalists will be selected to exhibit their work at ArtSpace Herndon by Ms. Peck. The entry fee is $25 (non-refundable) for up to 2 entries.
Eligibility: Artists 18 years or older residing in Maryland, Virginia, the District of Columbia, West Virginia, and Delaware. Preference will be given to works adhering to the traditional definition of portraiture: “a painting, sculpture, or other artistic artistic representation of a person, in which the face and its expression is predominant. The intent is to display the likeness, personality, and even the mood of the person.” (taken from Wikipedia, March 2015).

Contact Name: Brenda Page
Contact Email:

Friday, August 14, 2015

Athenaeum Invitational

The Athenaeum Invitational: Prize Awards & Opening Reception Sunday, September 13, 4 – 6 pm

$2500 in Cash Prizes Provided by TTR | Sotheby’s International Realty

Exhibit: Thursday, September 10 – Sunday October 25
Inspired by Cole Porter’s classic, ‘Don’t Fence Me In,’ over thirty local artists created works that were accepted into the first Athenaeum Invitational. Eight artists who have previously exhibited in the Athenaeum Gallery were invited to create a work for the show, one of which will be selected for a $1500 prize. One of the regional artists who responded to the open call component of the competition will be awarded a $1000 prize.

Invited artists and open call submissions were selected by Athenaeum Gallery Director, Twig Murray. Director and Curator of the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center, Jack Rasmussen, will determine the prize winners. The prizes will be announced and Mr. Rasmussen will briefly discuss his judgement at the reception on Sunday, September 13 from 4 to 6.

The eight invited artists are:
Timothy J. Horjus
Jeff Huntington
Laurel Lukaszewski
Max MacKenzie
Ryan McCoy
Beverly Ress
Judy Southerland
Kazaan Viveiros

Artists selected from the open call are:
Nessie Alexander-Barnes
Daniel Brown
Laurence Chandler
Kathleen Cooper
Suzanne Firstenberg
Pat Goslee
Songmi Heart
Courtney Hengerer
Laurel Hausler
Michal Hunter
Lee Jaworek
Kay Layne
Linda Lowery
Carol Lukitch
Anne Marchand
Mike McConnell
Cindy Mehr
Caroline Minchew
Rebecca Moseman
Carol, Reed
Mary Ryder
Lynn Schmidt
Amy Varner

Details of the call for entry can be viewed

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

How to sign artwork

One of the most curious things that I have puzzled about in the many decades of making art, presenting art, selling art and dealing with both artists and art collectors (as well as art dealers) is how often artists anguish over a signature.

There are gazillions of ways to screw up a work of art with a signature - the most common one is where a work of art is marred by a giant signature in glow-in-the-dark silver color marker or some hideous color like that.

Even a tiny and elegant signature can distract from a work of art if placed in the wrong area of the work. Imagine an elegant abstract, such as a Mondrian, with a signature in the middle of one of the color geometric shapes.

And, the real truth is that if you care at all about art as a commodity, then I will tell you that most collectors, especially the savvy ones, will always ask about the signature, if one is not apparent at first inspection. You can give them all the certificates of authenticity on the planet, but they want that siggie somewhere.
"A Picasso with a signature may be worth twice as much as one without a signature," said Mark Rosen, former head of the print department at Sotheby's, which sells approximately thousands of prints per year with prices ranging from a few hundred dollars to over $100,000. "Chagall did a series of prints called 'Daphne and Chloe' and those that are signed are worth 10 times as much as those that are unsigned. Otherwise, they are the same prints."

By now you're itching to yell at me: "Lenster! What is this? Damn if you and damn if you don't?"

Nope - it's just damn if you don't; just do it in the proper place(s).

Some easy to remember DO NOT Rules when signing artwork
  • Never sign with a gigantic signature; a normal signature (or even smaller than normal) will do fine.
  • Never sign anywhere on the surface where it interferes with the composition.
  • Never sign with that glows, shimmers, is metallic or will fade.
  • No need to put the little "c" inside the circle "copyright" sign by your signature. You already own the copyright no matter what!
  • If you sign on the back (verso in Sothebyse), make sure that it doesn't bleed through!
  • Don't sign using inks that will fade in time, or worse, separate, such as "Sharpies" do after a few years, when they acquire a yellow border around the faded black ink.
You want to know where to sign, right?

Cough, cough...

By the way... I'm meandering all about signatures on two dimensional work; you sculptors are all on your own, as long as you don't pull a Michelangelo on the Pieta stunt.

Where to sign two-dimensional work

1. On the back (make sure that it doesn't go through and can be seen from the front); in fact, the more info that you can put on the back to help art historians of the future, the better.

2. On the lower margin of the piece (usually the right margin, but that's up to you).

3. Photographs can either be signed (and numbered in a small edition, cough, cough) on the verso (there's a million "special" photo-signing pens for all you photo geeks; they "write" on photo paper and dry in nanoseconds and don't smear, etc.) Or you can sign them if you leave a white border all around the printed photo. Even signing the mat in the lower margin in pencil was in vogue in the last century and is OK.

If you don't believe me about the power of a signature, then just go online and research the difference in price between a signed Picasso (most of them) and the two dozen or so fully validated, authenticated and documented unsigned Picassos (the ones that he gave to one of his ex-wifes that he hated).

That will learn y'all a lesson about signatures and art, Jethro...

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Good news for women artists

Nasher Sculpture Center announces the formation of a new fund for the acquisition of work by women artists: the Kaleta A. Doolin Acquisitions Fund for Women Artists. Established with the generous seed gift from the foundation named for author, artist, and arts patron Kaleta A. Doolin, the fund will provide an initial $750,000 toward the purchasing of work by women artists, helping substantially grow both the Nasher Sculpture Center’s collection of work by women artists and, with a keen focus on living artists, its contemporary art holdings.
Details here.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Guerrilla Framing Technique number one

Me: Custom framing is expensive!

You: Everybody knows that!

The average price for custom framing around the DMV is brutal - and sometimes complicated (or made complicated by frustrated designers posing as framers or artists who have seen too many Rococo framing in museums.

Unless you're Frida Kahlo, generally speaking, the job of a frame for a work of visual art is first and foremost to protect the art.


And in the 21st century, and most of the 20th, the simpler the better; the less noticeable the frame, the more that the art is noticed.

If you have plenty of shekels, then a good framer will do a great job.

For the vast majority of artists, a frame should not cost as much as repairing your transmission.

You: Can you get to the guerrilla technique part already?

Most artwork is done on geometric substrates; even if you cut paper or stretch your own canvas, most of the times it is either a square or a rectangle; ovals went out ages ago; in fact they were never really in.

In the USA, these art substrates come in standard sizes that apply not only to the substrates (paper, canvas, board, wood, etc.), but also to mats, frames, and glass.

Thus, if you work on a standard size substrate to start with, you're almost home, because then you can eliminate the middle man to getting your work on a wall: the custom framer.

An 8x10 substrate will fit into an 11x14 pre-cut mat and into an 11x14 pre-cut frame; and 11x14 substrate will fit into a 16x20, a 16x20 into a 20x24 and so on.

Around the DMV, both Ikea and AC Moore's have ridiculously affordable prices for acceptable, minimalist frames. With AC Moore's if you sign up for sales alerts, you'll be bombarded with coupons (the best one is their 25% off for your purchase - including sales items; otherwise you get their 55% off regular price coupon emailed to you every 30 seconds).  Practically every frame at Ikea is a minimalist frame, but be careful because many of them are European size standards, which are different from US; however, Ikea frames generally come with acid-buffered mats, with is a nice "bennie" to have.

By the way, if you need a lot of frames in the same size - let's say two dozen frames, then I suggest that you find the ready made frame that you like and that will accommodate tour work (this usually works for photographers), turn it over and see whoo makes the frame and then contact the manufacturer (if it's in the USA) and see if they will sell you the frames directly. There's usually a minimum order to "qualify" for this option, and thus situations may vary according to your needs.

If you want to do artwork in other than standard sizes, then more power to you, and framing just got a little pricier, but there's also a technique.

First find a ready made frame that is bigger than your odd shaped artwork and visualize the artwork inside the frame. If the proportions are agreeable to you -- let's say you have a rectangular work which can be matted with both sides and top the same and bottom "heavy" - that is perfectly acceptable.

Once you have the frame, go to a framer and have them cut you a mat that has the outside dimensions of your frame and have them cut a window that fits your work. Now you are only paying them to cut a custom mat, rather than paying them to do that as well as creating a custom frame and glass from scratch. It should reduce your costs by about 80%.

Then just bring your matted work home, pop it into the frame and as the Brits say: "Bob's your uncle."

Plenty more techniques later...

Saturday, August 08, 2015

A Celebration of Glass

A Celebration of Glass 

September 4–27 at the Glen Echo Park Popcorn Gallery Artists Reception Friday, September 4, 6:00–9:00 p.m. 

Join the Art Glass Center artists for A Celebration of Glass in the Glen Echo Park
Popcorn Gallery this September. Curated by Mary Wactlar, Sherry Selevan, and Virginia Hughes, the show includes more than 90 works that celebrate the art of glass in sculpture, wall hangings, vessels and jewelry. 

Twenty-two Art Glass Center artists have created pieces that explore the endless possibilities of the medium. The works embrace rich surface textures as well as deeply tonal glass, while the artists’ visions range from graceful organic visions and exciting geometrics to images of nature. 

The Art Glass Center is a school, resource center and gallery for kiln-formed glass serving the Washington metropolitan area for more than 30 years. The Popcorn gallery is open Saturdays and Sundays, noon–6 p.m. 

7300 MacArthur Boulevard
Glen Echo, MD 20812