Friday, February 21, 2020

Art Scam Alert!

Beware of this mutant trying to rip off artists!
Captain Charles (charlesk300300@gmail.com)
Top of the Morning to you, I actually observed my wife has been viewing your website on my laptop and i guess she likes some of your art piece, I must also say you are doing a great job. I would like to know what inspired that work. I am very much interested in the purchase to surprise my wife. Regards Captain Charles { charlesk300300@gmail.com }

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Wanna a local residency?

Due: March 16, 2020

The Visual Arts Department at Montgomery College, Takoma Park/Silver Spring Campus, is pleased to announce the following opportunity:

Artist in Residence Program: A semester-long program including personal studio space, opportunity to interact and collaborate with students, and honorarium. Applicants can specify Fall or Spring semester. Access to department art facilities can be arranged. Please note: housing is not provided. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Isla Llorona for Queen's University

An alumni of Queens University of Charlotte in Charlotte, NC just donated the below 1978 painting of mine to the University!

"Isla Llorona" Oil and Acrylics on Gessoed Paper. 1978 F. Lennox Campello, 37.5 x 50 inches (framed)
"Isla Llorona"
Oil and Acrylics on Gessoed Paper. 1978 F. Lennox Campello, 37.5 x 50 inches (framed)

This 1978 painting is from my Cuba series, which I did for a class assignment while a student at the School of Art at The University of Washington and brooding, green Seattle.

This series, which I actually started in 1976, before I was even a college student, uses the brutalized island of Cuba to deliver textual and visual messages about the sad fate of the continent's longest running dictatorship.

On this piece, I painted the words "Cachita, si puedes tu con Dios hablar, preguntale por que razon, al Caribe, con mis lagrimas quiere llenar."  

This translates to: The words in Spanish translate to: “Cachita, if you can talk to God, ask Him why with my tears the Caribbean He wants to fill…”

Cachita is the familiar Cuban slang for the Virgin of The Charity of El Cobre, the Patron Saint of Cuba.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Opportunity for artists

Due: March 22, 2020

The Visual Arts Department at Montgomery College, Takoma Park/Silver Spring Campus -- Applications for Open Gallery Themed Exhibition Series, Transcending Borders.
For the 2020/2021 season, we invite artists to work with real or perceived restrictions, containments, rules, or labels in such a way as to push beyond their limitations. These borders could be self-imposed, cultural, societal, physical, or natural divisions. This exhibition would be an opportunity to challenge, question, conform, or break these constraints.
https://www.montgomerycollege.edu/academics/departments/visual-performing-arts-tpss/tpss-gallery-call-for-entries.html

Monday, February 17, 2020

Frida at auction

This 1981 proof just showed up for auction at an auction house in Florida - as I recall, I did this work for portrait class at the School of Art at the University of Washington... I did it as a lithograph edition of ten, and thus with one work I also got credit for it at Printmaking class! Two birds with one stone!


Bid for it here.

Friday, February 14, 2020

From HumanitiesDC

Some good opportunities here:
The deadline is one month away to submit your application for the Humanities Vision and Humanitini Curator grants:

The Humanities Vision Grant provides financial and capacity building resources to community organizations interested in creating innovative interpretations of humanities scholarship for public audiences. The grants are driven by the proposed final product; each grant will produce an educational resource that will be added to a publicly accessible, online archive. Deadline: March 13, 2020.

Learn more about the Humanities Vision Grant and how to apply by registering for one of our upcoming webinars .

The updated Humanitini Curator Grant provides opportunities for graduate students and others conducting and presenting original humanities research. Each Curator will create a public humanities program based on their research or area of expertise. The public programs will follow HumanitiesDC's successful Humanitini model that brings thoughtful humanities discussions to Washington, DC's happy-hour scene. Deadline: March 13, 2020.

But there's more!
  • We are proud to announce a new grant partnership opportunity! The Youth Media Literacy Grant is for organizations to develop media literacy curricula that can be used for either an in-school or out-of-school time program for students ages 12 to 18.
  • Last year's debut DC Documentary Short Film Partnership Grant (DC DOCS)  is back. DC DOCS supports documentary film projects that record the District's history, people or places. 
  •  Soul of the City Partnership Grant encourages the development and execution of a high-quality, national model level, Humanities-driven, youth engagement program for young people, ages 14-19.
  •  DC Community Heritage Project Grant will afford communities, neighborhood organizations, churches and others the change to tell their stories through public humanities projects.

Visit our Partnership Grants web page or view/download the 2020 Grants Flyer for more information.  Thanks for helping us share these exciting opportunities!

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

CARL ALEXANDER: The Last Unknown Washington Color School Painter


CARL ALEXANDER:  
The Last Unknown Washington Color School Painter
view exhibit
Show dates: February 14 - March 21, 2020

Meet the Artists Receptions:

Thursday, February 13, 5-8 pm and Saturday, February 15, 2-6 pm

  Closing Reception: Saturday, March 21, 2-6 pm


Few among us have had the pleasure of seeing the color field paintings of artist Carl Alexander, most of which were created in the 1950's. Many of these handsome abstract works were painted when Carl was a student of art at Howard University working under the tutelage of Washington Color School artist Morris Louis. Carl and I shared the rare experience of being among the few students working with Louis in 1953. Importantly, six decades later, Carl's beautifully executed paintings hold their own in the company of the highly regarded color field paintings by other Washington artists done in the 1950's and 1960's. Carl, like his friend and colleague, Kenneth Young, worked quietly as artists/designers at the Smithsonian Institution here in the nation's capitol until their retirement.                                                         - David C. Driskell

Primary Color Geo by Carl A. Alexander
Primary Color Geo by Carl A. Alexander
The 1953 meeting of artists Morris Louis (1912-1962), and Kenneth Noland (1924-2010), set off a new movement known as the Washington Color School. They expanded on Abstract Expressionism with a heavy focus on the role of color and its application. New York art critic Clement Greenberg promoted it in his landmark exhibit Post-Painterly Abstraction in 1964. The Washington Color School subsequently reached international fame, and remains the DMV's "key" artistic movement.

Carl A. Alexander (b. 1930), a native Washingtonian, attended Howard University in the mid-1950's when Morris Louis was appointed an instructor there. Alexander was exposed to the early stages of the Washington Color School. Through his connection with Louis he met and socialized with other notable Color School painters, such as Gene Davis, Howard Mehring, Thomas Downing, Alma Thomas, and James Hilleary. This influenced, Alexander's paintings, especially his treatment of color, have a certain resemblance to Louis' notable veil paintings. His friendships with Downing and Mehring are also evident by his use of the circle motif. After graduating Howard, Alexander worked at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History until he retired.

Monday, February 10, 2020

An Art Critic Accidentally Shattered a $19,000 Glass Sculpture

... she placed a Coke can on one of the stone elements in order to take a picture as a critique of the work.
L├ęsper, who is known as a provocateur, defended herself, telling Milenio, the Mexico City newspaper she writes for, that she placed the can near, but not on, the sculpture when it shattered. “I had an empty can of soda, I tried to put it on one of the stones, but the work exploded,” she said. “It was like the work heard my comment and felt what I thought of it.” She denied deliberately endangering the work, or attempting to leave the scene of the accident.
Read the whole article by Javier Pes here. 

Sunday, February 09, 2020

Artists and Makers Studios Parklawn - 5th Anniversary Celebrations!

Artists and Makers Studios on Parklawn Drive in Rockville is proud to feature the work of Resident Artists for their 5th Anniversary Celebration in March of 2020 in two galleries with sculpture, jewelry, paintings, fiber, mixed media, printmaking and more. 

David Amoroso exhibits a new series in the large gallery – “Raised by TV”. David’s fondest childhood memories are of the times he spent drawing or watching TV. Meet his favorite characters in his signature larger-than-life portraits. These exhibits will open for their 5th Anniversary First Friday festivities on March 6th between 6pm and 9pm and will showcase Resident Artists’ open studios for browsing and shopping, and acoustic guitar with David Ziegele.
“5th Anniversary Resident Artist Exhibit”
“Raised by TV” with David Amoroso
Opening Reception
6:00 PM – 9:00 PM, Friday, March 6th, 2020
Artists & Makers Studios11810 Parklawn Dr., Suite 210
Rockville, MD 20852

Friday, February 07, 2020

Call to Artists for Paint It! Ellicott City 2020

Deadline for entry: April 12.

The Howard County Arts Council is seeking artists to take part in the juried portion of Paint It! Ellicott City 2020. The annual plein air paint-out will be held June 25-29 in picturesque and historic Ellicott City, Maryland, with a minimum of $1,000 in total awards given to participating artists. The event will culminate in a gallery exhibit at the Howard County Center for the Arts from June 29 - August 14. Juror: TBA. 

 https://www.hocoarts.org/2020-02-call-to-artists-paint-it-ellicott-city-2020-juried-exhibition/ 

Thursday, February 06, 2020

Apply for 2021 Solo Exhibitions in the Gibbs Street Gallery, Common Ground Gallery, and Concourse Gallery

Deadline: April 5, 2020. 

VisArts invites artists working in all media to apply for 2021 Solo Exhibitions in the Gibbs Street Gallery, Common Ground Gallery, and Concourse Gallery. Exhibitions in each of the galleries explore the breadth of contemporary art featuring emerging to mid-career artists. Exhibits reflect a wide range of media and experimental approaches that offer the viewer unexpected interactions with art. 

The Gibbs Street Gallery is approximately 1,100 square feet with 16 ft. ceilings. It is on the street level with floor to ceiling windows along one wall. International, national and local artists are welcome to apply. The Common Ground Gallery is located on the second floor and is approximately 300 square feet. 

Artists must live in the Mid-Atlantic region to apply for a solo exhibition in this gallery. 

The Concourse Gallery is located on the second floor and is approximately 500 square feet.  

It has curved windows along one wall. International, national, and local artists are welcome to apply. 

Applicants who have participated in a solo exhibition at VisArts within the past two years are not eligible to apply. 

All application materials must be submitted online through their website no later than 11:59 pm EST on 04/05/2020. 

Click here to submit.

Wednesday, February 05, 2020

Christie’s Tried a Sale of Art Starting at Just $100. It Paid Off Big Time

Christie’s bet that an online-only sale of lower-priced art would attract new buyers seems to have paid off big time. The sale, dubbed Christie’s 100, featured 92 lots by many well-known contemporary artists, with bids starting at as low as $100. Certain works even sold for considerably less than the average New Yorker’s monthly rent, including a Louise Lawler print for $1,000, and a John Bock work on paper for $750.
Read the whole article by Eileen Kinsella here.

Opportunity for Artists

Deadline: March 2, 2020

Up to four artists are awarded annually with a solo gallery exhibition in one of two gallery spaces (each approximately 13' x 25') at the Misciagna Family Center for Performing Arts at Penn State Altoona. 

Open to all visual artists in any media. Entries must have been completed within the last two years. 

Artists will be selected from on-line submissions by a faculty committee. Artists creating original works of art in any media are encouraged to apply. If awarded, artwork must be suitable for installation and must not exceed 84" in any firm dimension. 

Two-dimensional works must not weigh more than 60 lbs., including frame and must be ready to hang with the appropriate attached hardware. Three-dimensional works weighing over 80 lbs must have a base that can be rolled or composed of elements that can be easily moved.

 Digital and non-traditional media will be considered. 

There is no submission fee. 

More info., visit: https://altoona.psu.edu/academics/divisions/arts-humanities/misciagna-family-center-performing-arts/application-ivyside-juried-arts-competition  

Contact: ehf10@psu.edu or call 814-949-5451.

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

Wanna go to an opening?

CARVED IN STONE | PAINTED WITH LIGHT 

Exhibit Dates: January 21, 2020 - April 4, 2020

MEET THE ARTISTS ReceptionWednesday, February 5, 5-8 pm

1111 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington DC 20004

Featured Artists

David Therriault, Carolyn Goodridge & Hubert Jackson 

New Members Show Opens Tomorrow at Foundry

Courtney Applequist and Sheila Blake - New Members Show

February 5 - March 1, 2020
   
       Reception and artists' talk:  Saturday  February 8, 5 - 8 pm


Courtney Applequist
My work draws inspiration from the seen world.  I seek the use of found geometries and colors to depict the feeling of a moment, finding a degree of tension: beauty and dissonance.  I work primarily in oil paint, interjecting charcoal, pastel and other media as the moment requires.  The thoughts I start with are nothing more than a beginning, and I am driven to a new place as the piece unfolds.

Sheila Blake
I’ve been a painter all my life. Creating the illusion of space and light with paint is what thrilled me from the beginning, and it thrills me now.  I went to Cooper Union in New York, lived in California, then moved to Durham, where I taught art at Duke University.  After moving here I taught at the Corcoran.  Now I have a studio in Takoma Park, and keep the demands of life to a minimum so I can paint full time, every day.  There’s so much in these paintings: the light, the mood.  The subterranean menace.

Monday, February 03, 2020

Last week to see this cool show!

Small Treasures  
On display now through February 8, 2020 
At 1429 Iris Street NW, Washington DC 20012  

ARTISTS: Caroline Benchetrit, William Buchanan, F. Lennox Campello, Lea Craigie-Marshall, Elissa Farrow-Savos, Susan Freda, Carolyn Goodridge, Ibou N'Diaye, Peter Hansen, Stephen Hansen, Hubert Jackson, Mihira Karra,  Anne Marchand, Kristine Mays, Hadrian Mendoza, Nancy Nesvet, Carol Newmyer, Keith Norval, Katharine Owens, Suzy Scarborough, Gavin Sewell, Patricia Skinner, Bradley Stevens, Paul Martin-Wolff, Marcie Wolf-Hubbard... 

Artists New to Zenith Gallery: Nina Benton, Najee Dorsey, Lisa Meek

Sunday, February 02, 2020

Frazetta and me

When I was a young teen, I ran across the book covers of the late, great master Frank Frazetta.  To say that his artwork made an impression upon me would be the second greatest understatement if all of human history.

I became a Frazetta collector. I bought books, magazines, fanzines, posters, and later on in life, when I could begin to afford it, original artwork.

I met the artist a couple of times in my life, and both times I was essentially hypnotized by what a nice guy he was, and how generous and open.

When I decided to apply to art school at the University of Washington, my application portfolio contained nothing by Frazetta-style works, and comic book style panels.  As my counselor noted during the interview, my application package was not what the review panel was "used to seeing" and thus the interview was going to be "more important that usual."

I was accepted, and in my subjective... cough, cough... opinion, I am currently the second greatest graduate ever from that school... cough, cough.

Two Washington Huskies: Chuck Close and Lenny Campello
Two Washington Huskies: Chuck Close and Lenny Campello
But I digress - a well documented Campello habit, which I call "meandering." In the years since, my respect and awe for Frazetta has continued to grow, and he will always be a key part of my artistic footprint.

A few days ago, while searching for something else, I found a couple of the Frazetta style drawings which I created in 1977 for that epic proposal. They are the work of a 20-year-old seeking to imitate a master artist.

I was clearly no Frazetta (by far), and clearly I was soooo lucky that the university's selection panel saw something in these Napoleon Dynamish amateur drawings... Notice how my "art" signature is even in the style of his iconic signature -- but here they are for posterity:

Frazetta style 1977 drawing by F. Lennox Campello

Frazetta style 1977 drawing by F. Lennox Campello



Monday, January 27, 2020

The curious case of the broken Bisque

As most of you know, starting a few years ago, and kindled by a happy accident that I had while creating a piece for a fundraiser for the Smith Center for Healing, I discovered the joy of creating original artwork by recycling broken Bisque, which otherwise be discarded and would fill more landfills somewhere.

Let me digress: I was once told that one of Rome's seven hills is nothing but broken pottery that accumulated over the milennia.

Back to the curious case at hand.  In order to do this, I contacted several of the local DMV area "do it yourself" pottery places - I actually wrote most of them a snail mail letter, asking them to save me their broken Bisque.

Nearly all ignored my letter, except for Color Me Mine in Rockville, which told me that it would take them a few months to accumulate enough broken Bisque that would make it worth for me to take the trip. A couple of weeks later they called me and I came back with two boxes full of broken Bisque.

I used those pieces to create the work which then I exhibited in 2017 at my solo show at Artists and Makers Studio in Rockville and which got this nice review in The Washington Post.  This is what the wall of those pieces looked like:


I was on a roll! Not only creating innovative new artwork which was really catching on well with the public ar art fairs in New York, Houston and Miami, but it was essentially recycling and re-purposing a substrate which otherwise would end up in our landfills.

. Lennox Campello's Bisque wall at Pulse Art Fair Miami Beach 2019
Campello Bisque wall at Pulse Art Fair Miami Beach 2019
A good all around story... right?

When I was offered another solo show last year at the Stone Tower Gallery in Glen Echo, I contacted all the same local places and even spread out a little further out in MD and VA.  This time I didn't get a single response, so I decided to drop by Color Me Mine in Rockville and All Fired Up in Bethesda, and personally ask for them to save for me their broken Bisque.

Bethesda said they'd have to ask their manager, who wasn't there at the time... since I hang around that area a lot, I came by a few days later and did speak with the manager, who agreed to collect the broken Bisque. I then returned in a few weeks, only to be told by the attendant that she had no idea what I was talking about, and that I needed to talk to the manager... again. I did so a few days later, and was once again reassured that they'd save the broken Bisque for me. A couple of weeks later I stopped by and, as you may be already guessing,  I was once again told by the new attendant that she had no idea what I was talking about, and that I needed to talk to the manager. This cycle, because I'm around that area often, continues to repeat months and months later. It has become almost a like a never ending game for me.

I even received an email from their manager which said: "Hello thank you for contacting us here at all fired up. We don't have any extra bisque ceramic shards that are scheduled to be thrown away. If we do come across any I will keep you in mind."

But zero (so far) there has been broken Bisque ever collected from All Fired Up.  As far as I know, all their broken stuff ends up in their dumpster, and I'm not into dumpster diving where there are so many restaurants that share the dumpsters.

Rockville was a different story. When I stopped by, their manager informed me that she needed to get permission from "corporate" before she gave me the broken Bisque.  When I informed her that they had given me broken Bisque before, she informed me that the shop was under new owners. I smiled and told her that I'd be back.

A few weeks later I was in the area and dropped in. "Corporate said no," informed me the store manager. I was surprised, and asked her if she knew the reason. She passed on that "corporate was concerned that if the store gave me broken Bisque and I cut myself with the broken Bisque, that I would sue them."

I was a little stunned, and just looked at her for a while in silence. As she was noticeably becoming uncomfortable, I thanked her and left.

I then researched who "corporate" was, and found them, and wrote then a letter.

I didn't hear back from them... so I wrote them another letter. After being ignored twice, I sighed in exasperation and looked online placed an order from Chesapeake Ceramics in Baltimore. When their carefully box arrived full of beautiful Bisque, I broke all of them and created new work -  you can see it here.

Then it dawned on me that they must have tons of broken Bisque, and that dumpster diving in their warehouse might yield a treasure. And thus, after I came back from Miami in December, I wrote them a letter.

To my delight, a nice lady named Gina called me right back in a few days. This angel from the Baltimore regions told me that they'd be delighted to save broken Bisque for me, and that they'd be glad to be part of re-purposing the broken material for an art project. She followed it all up with an email.

Superb customer service from someone who is really good at her job.

A few weeks later Gina called me - she had saved a couple of boxes for me, and today, when I drove up to their warehouse, I finally met this very nice lady, and gave her a hug.  When I backed up to their loading dock, the nice gent there even helped me to load up, not one, but about half a dozen boxes full of beautiful broken Bisque!

Thank you Chesapeake Ceramics! You untangled what seems like a winning proposition for everyone and which for some reason became the curious case of the broken Bisque.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Opportunity for Artists

Deadline: February 17, 2020. 

The Delaplaine Arts Center, 40 South Carroll St, Frederick, Maryland, introduces Graphic Era, a celebration of the graphic arts by digital design professionals and artists from around the U.S. 

This exhibition will feature a selection of artists who are using illustration to engage larger audiences via social, digital and print media. 

Graphic Era introduces visitors to the digital arts and artists who adapt this artform to a new generation and their interests. 

Exhibition dates: April 4 – 26, 2020. 

Awards: Grand Prize $500; Gold $250; Silver $150; Bronze $100. 

For additional information, visit: https://delaplaine.org/exhibitions/opportunities/graphic-era/

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Shirley Chisholm and me

Shirley Chisholm, who was also the first woman to seek the Democratic nomination as president, will be honored with a statue at Prospect Park.
Read the article about Congresswoman Chisholm here.   She was the Congresswoman who nominated me to the Naval Academy in 1976! When I got an appointment, she called me to congratulate me!


Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Old Van Gogh certified as new real Van Gogh

For 50 years, a self-portrait of Vincent van Gogh was called a fake due to its apparent break from form. Now, experts from the Van Gogh Museum believe the painting might be the only known work by the addled artist completed in the throes of psychosis.
Read the story here. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Worst phishing email ever?

Awright - it's not an art scam email, but this mutant has a long way to go... it's also their line spacing...
MR CHRISTOPHER A WRAY usa@fbi.com
Tue 1/21/2020 9:28 PM
FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION
  UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
  WASHINGTON, D.C. 20535

 We the High Commission received a report of fraudulent acts
  against you and in a meeting held with
  the Government and the world high commissions against fraudulent
  activities by Citizens, Your are among those scammed, as listed by the
  Financial Intelligent Unit (NFIU). A re-compensation has been issued
  out in the form of an ATM DEBIT CARD of $2,316,000USD (Two Million,
  Three Hundred and Sixteen thousand United States dollars)  and has
  already been in distribution to you as a Victim.

  Your ATM CARD was among those that was reported undelivered as we wish
  to advise you to follow the instructions of the Committee to make sure
  you receive your ATM CARD immediately for your usage. NFIU further
  told us that the use of the Couriers  was abolished due to
  interception activities noticed in the above mentioned courier
  services in which the Financial Intelligent Unit have made a concrete
  arrangement with the Courier Company for a safe delivery to your
  door-step once the beneficiary meets up the demand of the conveyance.

  We advise that you do the needful to make sure they dispatch your
  recompense on time. You are assured of the safety of your ATM CARD
  availability,also be advised that you should stop further contacts
  with all the fake lawyers and security companies who in collaboration
  have a scam deal with you immediately to check if the delivery date
  suits you.

  You have to stop all contact with any other company emailing you
  online concerning Money, and make sure you forward to them all thier
  email and mobile numbers and you will contact Mr. David Beardsley for
  your ATM DEBIT CARD through his email:
  (americadeliverycomapny1300@gmail.com) Let us know immediately you
  receive it there.
  Yours truly,
 MR CHRISTOPHER A WRAY
    DIRECTOR
  FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION
  UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
  WASHINGTON, D.C. 20535

Hemphill has moved

Hemphill has moved!

After 15 years on 14th Street, the gallery has relocated to 434 K Street NW. In a few weeks, they open to the public with an exhibition of paintings and sculptures by Linling Lu. The Lu show follows her move into an expanded studio space in a historic Baltimore factory and a year of producing large-scale commissions. 

Sunday, January 19, 2020

John Anderson on Washingtonian magazine article on DC galleries

I had my say here a few days ago on the recent article in Washingtonian magazine on DC art galleries.  Below is what former DMV art critic, artist, art historian, and curator John Anderson adds to my observations:
I’m going to argue your point about the halcyon days, Lenny, and say it was during the 1970s..There were about 120 galleries in DC (not DMV) at one point, and GREAT coverage in the Post and Star. (I can’t recall if Washington Daily News was still active, or the Virginia Morning Sun; the area had 4 dailies going into the 1960s, though). Hopps was absorbing DC artist works into the NCFA (now SAAM). Slade made the Corcoran healthy (and did so without breaking anyone’s nose). The Phillips was actively exhibiting local artists. The WPA opened and had three floors of crazy going on. The Hirshhorn opened. The NEA supported several area artists. There were the women’s artists conferences. The Bicentennial. Artists fighting for rights on The Hill. Rockne was shooting his lasers everywhere. The Art Now (1974) scandal. Yuri Schwebler’s Sundial. Exciting times! I won’t disagree that the 80s, 90s, 00s were all interesting, exciting, or brimming with potential. But I think the 70s was peak awesome in DC art history, and it was predicated by a scene that was growing in the 1950s and 1960s (something Andrew Hudson recognized in an exhibition he curated for the Edmonton Art Gallery in 1970, and something another curator in Baltimore recognized for a similar exhibition at the BMA: both opening in 1970, I believe).

It’s unclear from Bourland’s historical synopsis if he deemed the 70s as the hay-day, since he folds the 50s-60s Color School (WCS) in with Protetch, Moyens, Henri, etc... However, the omission of the Jefferson Place Gallery (JPG) struck me as interesting. I mean, if he’s going to mention WCS, he may as well credit the gallery that, at one time, supported Noland, Davis, Downing, and Mehring (the latter of which exhibited at the JPG at least through 1971). If he is going to mention Gilliam, again he may as well mention the JPG since Gilliam showed there from 65-74. In fact, every artist Bourland mentioned had some connection to JPG, whether being represented by or, in the case of Louis, eschewing invitation to do so.

The mention of “hard-edged abstraction of the Washington Color School anchored by Louis and Gilliam” also made me laugh. I mean, those are the two guys who are least hard edge (minus Gilliam’s first stripes). Come to think of it, Noland’s targets weren’t all that hard-edged, and Mehring’s best work—his dappled all-overs—also defied hard edges. The three who were most consistently hard edge were Downing, Davis, and most especially Truitt! Can’t get much harder-edged than the side of a rectangular prism.

There are other issues with his historical truncation, which make me wonder if it was just slap-dash editing, or some concession to word count. For instance, why was Bill Christenberry lumped in with the Color School guys? His stuff seems charged by memory, place, nostalgia, and time. In other words: content... which is something that isn’t present in a lot of the WCS stuff (although, Paul Richard will argue that Noland was doing targets because he was driving around L’Enfant’s traffic circles in his cabs way too much… and I really like that read!). When I think of Christenberry I think of photographs that follow in the footsteps of Walker Evans (at times, literally), his haunting Klan stuff, and ink drawings of pear trees. Maybe his assemblages of license plates and tin roofs were informed by WCS, but I think such a connection is a big stretch.

Also, Walter Hopps’ Washington Gallery of Modern Art? Hopps was the fourth director (5th if you count the hot minute Eleanor McPeck held down the fort between Breeskin’s resignation and Nordland’s appointment), and held the post for a smidgen over a year. Yes, he was doing great things. Great big expensive things. It’s partly why the Corcoran bought the property: WGMA couldn’t afford it any longer. Fortunately the Corcoran  had the sense to let Hopps continue doing interesting things there through late 68 and into 69. But, while Hopps may have had the most interesting tenure as director, WGMA was doing interesting things from its founding… back in the days when Alice Denney and Julian Eisenstein took their bar napkin sketch for a museum in 1960 and turned it into a museum showing a Franz Kline memorial retrospective in 1962. And then the Popular Image show, and Pop Festival months later. And, were it not for the Stern Family Foundation, everything that came before, during, and after Hopps wouldn’t have been possible: where’s Leni Stern’s credit?

What I think Bourland’s piece misses isn’t so much how a whimpering boom of three new galleries in the area can possibly excite the scene. Yes. It’s good they’re here. Quite possibly it creates an opportunity for a few area artists to show their stuff. Maybe, if those galleries are lucky, DC collectors will buy from them, too! And, while art is certainly a commodity, it is also one of the humanities. Art galleries are places that can ground us, give us insight into worlds unfamiliar to us, and spark meaningful changes in perception and opinion in the people who visit them. And that can lead to profound actual change in Washington. Were it not for the Jefferson Place Gallery, and the lectures and openings that John Brademus attended, perhaps he wouldn’t have been as successful whipping votes to make the NEA happen. Unfortunately, such touchy-feely things don’t pay the bills. But in a town experiencing such rapid change, having more galleries is a way to reconnect people to a variety of ideas in non-literary ways. Hopefully these three galleries, those that preceded them, and those that come to follow, will inspire.

And, God-willing, they all sell some stuff to go over a bunch of couches so that they can keep the lights on.