Saturday, November 12, 2016

Artomatic 2016: The Review

Artomatic, the planet's greatest open visual arts show is back, this time in Montgomery County, Maryland, which is part of the Greater Washington, DC area, or as I dubbed it over a decade ago, the DMV (District-Maryland-Virginia).

And, because this is the smallest Artomatic ever (by Artomatic standards anyway) since it only has about 380 artists, it is perhaps the easiest to see, since it would only require 2-3 visits to see all the artists on the 5th and 6th floor of the Park Potomac building where it is being staged.

I'll start with work that caught my eye, my usual Artomatic "Best Awards" and finish it with my top ten picks, perhaps the hardest job that any art critic, or opiner on the arts ever has, since the trite saying "art is in the eyes of the beholder" has never been more applicable than after a visit to any Artomatic.

I'd also like to brag that (as many of you know) many of my past Artomatic Top Ten picks have gone on to become recognized, blue chip artists around the DMV; and some, such as Tim Tate, around the nation, and some, such as Frank Warren around the planet! 

On the 6th floor I liked the paintings of William Tinto (great deals by the way - all around $300-$400), Nils Lofgren, Nancy Abeles and Praveen Thaivalappil. I also liked some very unusal paintings by Yumiko Hirokawa - I note "unusual" because they're on a substrate of aluminum paint and boast superb technical skills (as do all the previously noted painters) with a hard-to-pin-point sense of macabre to them. I also liked Joyce McCarten and Laurie Breen. I also liked the works of Chris Meer, who is unknowingly channeling Anne Cherubim and should probably meet her and see her paintings on the same floor!

I also liked Doug Stern and Roger James. Their locations on the 6th floor, next to each other is artist placement genius... enough said, you'll have to go see it to ... cough, cough... see what I mean.

On the 5th floor I liked the sculptures by Daniel Aaron Stuart, and many other artists which are mentioned below.

And now, the awards!

Artist Most Likely to Attract Gallerists: Kathy Lindert... I can't find a website for her, so I'm assuming that this talented painter is unrepresented... Get a website!!

Best Naive Art: Schroeder Cherry - this artist, located close to the elevators on the 5th floor, initially fooled me into thinking that he was a self-taught artist (he's not), until on my third visit to his booth, I did a closer examination of his works, and realized that he's perfectly accomplishing one of the most difficult tasks in the visual arts, which is to use a naive visual approach to deliver intelligent and resonant works of social commentary and narrative complexity. Cherry focuses on African-American themes that reflect powerful imagery, augmented by striking presentation (chopped frames, etc.), found objects, etc.

Angel Can #42 by Schroeder Cherry
Best Animal Art: Sandra Perez-Ramos - She also gets the "Coolest Use of Pocket Protectors" award.

Best Mono-Chromatic Art: Alex L. Porter - Impressive what Porter can do with just black and white.

Best Portrait Artist: George Carr - He also gets the "Best Figure Painter" award - not an easy double award to get in two very hotly contested categories!

Best Textile Art: Diane Tuckman - a master of the craft!

Best Wall 3D Art: Erin Antognoli - Amazing 3D piece, right on the wall by the side of the elevator.

Best Furniture Art: Daniel Good - Overtly busy paintings in the shape of furniture... Dude it is 2016: Get a website!

Best Illustration Art: Annie Lunsford - She also "illustrated" her booth's drywall! This was a highly competitive category, as there is a lot of high quality illustrative work in this iteration of AOM.

Best Installation: Liliane Bloom - Her "Pink - A Cherry Blossom Fantasy" is not only mesmerizing to the eyes, but also a perhaps unintended tip of the hat to DMV installation artist Dan Steinhilber.

Best Glass Artist: Sherry Selevan - Opaque and mysterious works that stand from the usual glass menagerie of bowls and vessels. She shares the award with Trish Kent's very cool fused glass dresses (get a website!!).

Best Erotica: Jenny Wallace - She runs away with this coveted award, although I must also add that this Artomatic doesn't have the usual large numbers of erotica as part of its roster of artworks. I also noted that most artists working erotic themes have been cleverly located in corners of the spaces, with the images usually facing away from the main walkways. Wallace also wins the "Sexiest Image Award" with her photo titled Resignation. Wallace could be the best fetish-focused artist that I have ever seen. The second place for sexiest image goes to Julia Mazur's photo of a nude woman sitting on a window sill. The image is back-lit and highlights every single hair on her body, each one seductively outlined by the light.

Photo by Julia Mazur

Best Erotic Fruits: Tara O'Neil - Her sliced peaches got me all fuzzy! 

Peach by Tara O'Neil

Best Flag Art: Blue Robin and Lindsey D. Vance share this award. Blue Robin's use of the coqui on the Puerto Rican flag is genius!

Best "I Already Knew He Was Good" Award: Ric Garcia

Best Technical Skill: Branch School of Art

Best Color Pencil Artist: Amanda Spaid - Wonderful control and intelligent employment of color - really, really good at a very difficult technique..

Best Clay Artist: Kasse Andrews-Weller - Busy and intelligent! Another artist without a website...

Best "Is it Abstract or Not" Award: Anne Cherubim is one of the most interesting painters around the DMV, and her dream-like paintings are deceptive images which showcase her formidable painting skills - they leave the viewer wondering as to the subject matter, while all along Cherubim has been hypnotizing them with her mastery of the subtle psychological effects of color!

Best Standing Stones Photography: Peter del Toro - I know, I know... pretty slim category, but I love standing stones imagery, and as such I read once that I was one of the world's top authorities on the subject (I wrote it, then I read it.. cough, cough), and therefore I know good when I see it, and del Toro's photos are really superb!

Best "Painterly" Cars (or is it "Best Car Painter"?) Award: Michael Kent

Best Mobiles: Rita Mortellaro - This is a spectacular departure for this award, which is usually the domain of someone channeling Calder. Mortellaro rocks this category with mobiles made out of tiny metal and/or fiber hoodies with rocks and found objects!

Mobile by Rita Mortellaro
Best Frida Kahlo Art: Marily Mojica - The Washington Post once called me a "Fridaphile" and I know my Fridas, and having curated two worldwide international homages to the Mexican icon, I really know artists working the Frida angle. And Mojica is easily one of the best that I have ever seen! Her approach is a clever re-invention of how we see Kahlo depicted (many times in her salon style hung booth).

Best Found Object Art: Seemeen Hashem... try to find it!

Is This Art? Award - Actually I have no idea is this is a sculptural installation, or just part of the construction on the floor, but it is kinda cool anyway! (see below image) Update: This installation is by artist Greg Braun!

Best "Better not have fallen asleep in Art History class" Award: Roger Cutler - This is not a surprise, as Cutler is a master of his genre, and his Duchamp's Bike Repair sculpture should be included in the next edition of Janson's!

Duchamp's Bike Repair by Roger Cutler

Best Action Painting: Kim Foley - One can almost feel the energy pop out of her works!

Best Bug Art: Emily Uchytil - Surprisingly, although not for most AOM's, this was a highly contested award! The very talented Uchytil also gets second place in the "Best Birds Art" category; she has enviable painting skills!

Coolest Idea Award: Victoria Thompson - In her booth "Object", this photographer takes old vintage photos and then modifies them, exposing breasts here and there; a clever depiction of the objectification of women.

Object by Victoria Thompson
Best Horror Vacui Award: Rachel Ann Cross - Elegant wall sculptures that employ guitars, etc. fully adorned in full kenophobic splendor!

Best Flower Art: Malathi Jayawickrama - Superb use of light and very painterly - this is one of the toughest categories at AOM, as there are many flower aficionados.

Best Record Keeper Award: Greg Benge - His "Vinyl Countdown" series is very attractive and could also get the "Recyclable Art Award." Benge notes that he "found a really great deal on hundreds of scratched unplayable discs (don’t worry, I haven’t ruined any rare finds)." For older readers: "disc" = "LP" or "record."

George Carlin by Greg Benge
Best Sculpture Award: Gloria Chapa - Her Placebo Pinata did it!

Best Encaustic Art: Marcie Wolf-Hubbard - easy pick when a master of the genre is in the show.

Best Art Deal Award: Suz Podrasky - At around $80 for original work that is intelligent and well presented - buy it! The award is shared with Rambo, Inc. on the 6th floor by the Artomatic office; they have artwork as low as $10 and it is superbly talented work. Also shared with Michael Auger; his very cool artwork can be acquired for around $50!

Best Steam Punk Art: Studio Detritus - They (Marcia and Randall Fry) also get the "Best Title Award" for Planck's Doorway 2!

Best Veggie Painter: Kathleen Carroll - Do not be deceived by the focus of the work; this is a really good painter!

Must See Award: Eeshan V. Melder - Do not miss the Eliot's Lunch installation and make sure that you read the wall text!

Scariest Painting Award Josh Gorsky - The angry mandrill did it!

Mandrill by Peter Sibrin
Angry Art Award: Artist Unknown - No name to the angry art with black fist and spent bullet casings.

Best Breast Award (try saying that three times in a row): Shanna Casey's ceramic vase, perhaps an homage to G√ľnter Grass' The Flounder?

Breast ceramic vase by Shanna Casey

Best Student Art Award: Dionnia - From Holy Trinity Catholic School 7-2A class! Her use of color, and replay of the color on the ground, on the pyramids and in the sky is playful and attractive!

Untitled by Dionnia
Best Landscape Artist: Sarah Wardell - Elegantly muted plein air landscapes, where one can feel the sunlight and smell the grass.

Top 10 Artists (in alphabetical order)

Shiri Achu - Powerful African art in a marriage of contemporary skills with strong African imagery from this Africa-born new American artist.

Ralph Baden - His ridiculous paintings are over the top!

George Carr - Spectacular painting skills! A total master of the figure and of the portrait.

Shanthi Chandrasekar - Over the years she has developed her own style of painting that is almost magic in context.

Schroeder Cherry - Read what I raved about him earlier.

Ellen Cornett - A spectacular artist! I'm so jealous of her drawing skills!

Ric Garcia - Continues to invent and define a new genre of Latino pop art.

Glen Kesler - An easy pick... and I think that I've picked him before in previous AOMs!

Kathy Lindert - Get a website!

Phyllis Mayes - Another repeat pick for me - one of the best painters around the DMV.

Artomatic 2016 is on through December 9, 2016.


November 3 – December 9

Noon – 10:00 PM

Fridays & Saturdays:
Noon – 12:00 midnight

Noon – 6:00 PM

Closed Monday Wednesday & Thanksgiving Day


12435 Park Potomac Avenue, Potomac, MD 20854

Floors 5 & 6


George Koch said...

Lenny, you have succeed in covering the waterfront! Love the humor and insights on the work you have target. Thanks you do a great service to our creative community.

Thalia Doukas said...

Thanks for this great mini-tour of Arto 2016 at Poto! Very exciting that we DMC artists have this evolving, traveling home. Bigly appreciate your deep dive into what's to see & your astute awards categories & esteemed awardees. Will share ...

Anonymous said...

FYI the winner of the "Is This Art?" Award is Greg Braun....and he seems quite pleased that many people aren't sure if his installation is art or not:

- Roger Cutler

Anonymous said...

Heading there tomorrow to buy that vase before it is sold!


Anonymous said...

Spaid! It's Amanda Spaid! I'm the colored pencil Artist! :D Sorry I keep going back and keep finding my space bereft of business cards