Friday, April 30, 2004

Later on today I'm heading down to Richmond for Arts in the Park.

More often than not, most conceptual art, and nearly all video art, has a problem with the fact that often the idea behind it all is more interesting than the real or "delivered" art.

There seems to be a new sort of conceptual "art" out there developing among the popular mass of reality in places such as Ebay.

In projects such as this one, the mass participation, and concept behind the project is as interesting as anything that one sees in a highbrow museum.

Thanks to Martin Allen for bringing it to my attention.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Washington's first Art BLOGger, Tyler Green, looks at Jim Dine at the NGA and makes a good point about the NGA being a "living-artist-adverse institution," although his logic on Dine is a bit thin, as I don't think that Dine is a "safe, serviceable artist" but in fact one of the most boring artists to have put graphite or charcoal to paper.

The Post's Paul Richard had earlier reviewed this show and had some different conclusions.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

If you're going to pretend to be knowledgeable about DC art galleries and the DC art scene, then you have to get out and go to galleries - not to their websites and not to museum lectures - but to galleries and museums and lectures and artists' studios and university shows, etc.

It takes a lot of time, and a lot of gasoline, and a lot of patience. But then, and only then, can one honestly say that one can write about a city's art scene.

Tonite I went to a well-attended opening at Strand on Volta Gallery in Georgetown, where I saw an excellent and really groundbreaking show by one of our key area artists, Margaret Boozer.

Boozer is one of those area artists whose work immediately grabs you with the thought: "WOW! Just when I thought there was nothing new left in art."

More on that later, as I plan to review her show...

The opening was quite good and well-attended, with many DC area artists in attendance as well as the Post's Chief Art Critic and his lovely wife (my kudos to Blake and we hope to see him at more gallery openings and we hope that his editor (John Pancake) makes him write more about DC area art galleries and terrific DC area artists like Margaret Boozer, so that they can have a chance to go from "DC area artist" to just "American artist" at a national level. Gopnik and Pancake can do it via the Post - but they (and it) have to align to make it happen.

Also present was Dr. Jonathan Binstock, the Corcoran's Curator for Contemporary Art... it's good to see Binstock visiting local galleries and seeing what we're showing... he's a great breath of fresh-air over his predecesor. Binstock wrote his thesis on the art of DC's best-known painter, Sam Gilliam, and hopefully the Corcoran will soon announce when Gilliam's well-deserved and first-ever perspective is held there.

Just had to post this, sent to me by British artist and DCARTNEWS reader Martin Allen

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Trawick Prize for Area Artists...

The Trawick Prize: Bethesda Contemporary Art Awards. Deadline for slide submission is Friday, May 21, 2004. The 2nd annual juried art competition awards $14,000 in prize monies to four selected artists. Up to fifteen artists will be invited to display their work from September 7, 2004 - October 2, 2004 in downtown Bethesda at Creative Partners Gallery. The 2004 competition will be juried by Jeffrey W. Allison, The Paul Mellon Collection Educator at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts; Peter Dubeau, Associate Dean of Continuing Studies at the Maryland Institute College of Art and Kristen Hileman, Assistant Curator at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. The first place winner will be awarded $10,000; second place will be honored with $2,000 and third place will be awarded $1,000. A "young" artist whose birth date is after May 21, 1974 will also be awarded $1,000 (donated by Fraser Gallery). Artists must be 18 years of age or older and residents of Maryland, Virginia or Washington, D.C. Original painting, drawing, photography, sculpture, fiber art, digital, mixed media and video (VHS tapes only) are accepted. For more information, please contact Stephanie Coppula at or call 301.215.6660 ext. 20. Website:

Need to make slides from your digital files? Visit

Cultural Development Corporation is currently accepting applications to the Flashpoint arts incubator for residency beginning between June 2004 and January 2005. First priority will be given to applications received by May 14, 2004.


Flashpoint is an arts incubator designed to assist small, emerging organizations and businesses develop the administrative infrastructure and financial capacity necessary to transition to more permanent facilities. Resident organizations housed at Flashpoint have access to state-of-the-art facilities and greater visibility in downtown. In addition, the residency program encourages professionalism among emerging artists and arts administrators. Residents grow their businesses in a collaborative office space with access to shared office equipment and administrative services.

Flashpoint’s resident organizations have access to technical assistance in key management areas such as administration, fundraising, finance, marketing, and board development. In addition, resident organizations have priority access to onsite rental venues, including a 900 square foot contemporary art gallery, a flexible 80-seat theatre lab, and a dance/rehearsal studio.

Application is available at

Please submit completed applications to:
Flashpoint Residency Program
Attn: Julianne Brienza
Cultural Development Corporation
916 G Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001

Monday, April 26, 2004

Adam Bradley and Please For those of you who think there's nothing interesting currently being offered by Washington area galleries my only piece of advice is to get out and actually go visit some galleries.

In Canal Square, Parish Gallery has an excellent sculpture exhibition (runs until May 18) of Argentine sculptor Miguel Van Esso.

Parish next door neighbor to its left is MOCA, and Clark has mounted an interesting exhibit of early work by David Lynch, perhaps the Corcoran's most famous graduate.

Parish next door neighbor to its right is us (The Fraser Gallery) and we also have a very interesting sculpture exhibition by one of our area's most innovative young sculptors, Adam Bradley, whose work we've been showing since he was an undergraduate student at GMU (where he now teaches). Bradley works with found objects, and there's one particularly amazing piece in this show titled "Please" made completely out of discarded objects.

The life-size sculpture has open arms that beckon you for a hug. As you hug the sculpture, two levers on the back control her arms, which pull you in a tight grip and impale you on a host of knives, sharp objects and files which emerge from her stomach.

A couple of blocks up M street is Hemphill Fine Arts where George has another very interesting show: "Vote" - a show of Presidential Campaign photographs featuring work by Abbas, Bob Adelman, Eve Arnold, Cornell Capa, Raymond Depardon, Burt Glinn, Erich Hartmann, Hiroji Kubota, Constantine Manos, Wayne Miller and Alex Webb and also "The Hole Shebang" - with Eduardo Del Valle and Mirta Gomez's works on the subject of the Florida Ballots from the 2000 Presidential Election.

Kathryn Cornelius will be doing a performance piece in which she will "speak" on Postmodernity and Language.

Title: “Theory Will Eat Itself: Notes on Postmodernity from A – Z”
Date: April 29, 2004
Time: 7:30-9pm
Location: Georgetown University, Reiss 103 Lecture Hall

A couple of weeks ago I went to the grand opening of Baltimore's newest art gallery, Light Street Gallery. Two area photographers, Danny Conant and Grace Taylor will have work in The Male Nude Group Show, the gallery's second show, which opens May 8, 2004 with an opening reception on May 15 from 5-10 PM.

That same night, Conner Contemporary hosts the opening reception and return to DC of acclaimed New York based media artist Leo Villareal, whose first show at Conner I reviewed and was quite impressive. Reception from 6-8 PM.

And the night before, on May 14, Marnin Art on 7th street is hosting an opening reception for Giuseppe Maraniello, who is an Italian artist who lives and works in Milan and in Europe. Reception 6 - 8:30 PM.

And G Fine Art, which is operating out of a temporary space while their new space on 14th street is finished, has a group show opening on May 7th, 2004 from 6:30-8:30pm. The show includes work by gallery artists and others. Artists in the show will be Noah Angell, Iona Rozeal Brown, Astrid Colomar, Linn Meyers, Maggie Michael, Team Response, Jose Ruiz, Luis Silva and Jeff Spaulding.

NY Times reports that Lawrence Rinder, curator of contemporary art at the Whitney Museum of American Art for four years, has resigned to become Dean of graduate studies at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco.

Rinder was just in town over the weekend.

Washington area artist Stuart Gosswein's letter to the Sunday Arts in yesterday's Washington Post discusses the important fact that the salvaged facades of the World Trade Center - which in many people's opinion, including mine, became the key symbol of the 9/11 attack - are to be "chopped up and displayed in an underground museum" rather then re-used in a final WTC monument, as it was originally envisioned.

And Stuart has thus started a campaign to reassemble the facades around the Tower footprints. For more information or to help, contact:Stuart Gosswein at (202) 783-6007, ext. 30 or email him at

Friday, April 23, 2004

Tomorrow I'll be at the Celtic Festival and Highland Gathering of Southern Maryland .

Singing Butler by Jack Vettriano This is the kind of review that gets written, when elitists write the reviews.

Popularity doesn't always mean bad.

But when the critics and high art curators ignore an artist (as they have with this British self-taught ex-miner) and yet that artist nonetheless becomes famous, and rich, and then strikes huge auctions prizes at Sotheby's in the world of high art - the critics (now proven wrong by their own standards) have to spout theory and ignorance to desperately attempt to prove that they are still right.

Comparing Vettriano to Damien Hirst or Tracey Emin is perhaps the stupidest comparison that I have ever read and shows breathtaking ignorance of the power of the Saatchi PR machine to "create" those artists as opposed to a poor ex-miner from Scotland rising through the maze of modern art, while being ignored by the arts establishment, to become the best-selling artist in the world and now a secondary art market name to reckon with!

And so what if his paintintgs are overtly sexual, or overtly romantic, or overtly fill-in-the-blank.... perhaps he's been painted into a corner because there's no irony in his works, but just the honest brush of a working class, smoking, womanizer, hard drinking Scot who could give a fuck as to what an art critic thinks about his paintings.

By the way... the Vettriano painting that sold at Sotheby's for £744,800 (that's over $1.5 million) was sold by the artist in 1991 for a mere £3,000!

But don't cry for Jack, as apparently, the royalties from all the posters and postcards and other crap made from the painting earn him about half a million dollars a year!

Keep them cooking Jack!

Opportunity for artists...

The League of Reston Artists has a call for artists for its 11th Annual Juried Fine Arts Exhibition.

This exhibition will feature $1,500 in prize monies, including the $500 Jo Ann Rose Award in honor of the LRA's past president, Jo Ann Rose.

Ms. Trudi Van Dyke, the brand-new Director of the Torpedo Factory (and former director of Ellipse Arts Center, will serve as juror for this exhibition.

This call for entry is limited to a maximum of three works of art in any 2-D media from each artist. The entry fee for LRA members is $20 ($25 at the door) and $25 for non-members ($30 at the door).

All entries must be post marked by May 28, 2004. The entry form can be downloaded from the LRA's website. Send completed entry form to:

PO Box 2513
Reston, VA 20195

New Museum Show Opening...

The Art Museum of the Americas is hosting an opening reception for ABCDF: portraits of a city - (Contemporary Photography of Mexico).

The opening reception is on Thursday, April 29 at The Art Museum of the Americas (201 18th Street, N.W.). For more information, please call (202) 458-6016, or e-mail

Museum hours following the opening are Tuesday-Sunday, 10 AM-5 PM.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

photo by Nestor Hernandez I've written before on the subject of race and art and also on the stupifying American notion of Hispanics and/or Latinos - a totally made up "ethnicity" from a widely diverse set of nations made up of immigrants from all over the world (just like us in the USA).

And there's an art show coupled with a thesis project by George Washington University student Christina Hayes that underscores my beef with this force-fed notion of "Hispanicity."

The exhibition is called "Walking to their own beat: Afro-Cuban Musicians and the Black Identity." It consists of an exhibit by photographer Nestor Hernández dedicated to the contributions of Afro-Cuban music and its musicians, both in Cuba and in the Washington DC metropolitan area. The exhibit compliments Hayes' thesis project and should be an interesting one, as Hernandez is without a doubt one of Washington's great photographers, and who has been pursuing and discovering his 50% Cuban bloodlines with an artistic ferocity that can only kindle great results.

Nestor was part of "De Aqui y de Alla," our 2003 exhibition of Cuban artists from Cuban and the Cuban Diaspora around the world.

The exhibit has an open reception this coming Thursday, April 29th, 2004 at 6 pm. It's at the Latin American Youth Center, located at 1419 Columbia Road NW,Washington DC 20009 (202) 319-2225.

For more information, contact: Christina Hayes at (202) 448-0581 or email her at

Jessica Dawson reviews one of her favorite art venues in today's Post. Read it here.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Heard from Kathryn Cornelius that the Georgetown University Festival of Fine Arts got off to a good start.

I've been swamped with a house closing and now the exhausting task of moving.

Don't forget that MAP's Free-Hung Exhibition starts hanging art tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

The below info thanks to Malik Lloyd of Find Art Information Bank

Government Opportunities for Artists
For years now in the Washington DC area, and perhaps in yours as well, there has been this commercial on cable TV about free money available from the US Government. Although I never gave much credence to the ad, the man featured in the commercial has always amused me.

He dons a suit, a throwback to the Joker seen in the "Batman and Robin" TV show. He is Matthew Lesko and walks on the Washington Mall excitedly declaring that the government is giving away free money--to get a better job, to begin a new career, to get an education, to start or expand your own business, etc. Most people, like me, however, amused probably view his claims with a little suspicion. Since I like being amused, his ads usually capture my attention. The catch is to purchase his book and a person's life could change for the better.

Recently, I borrowed this book from a friend "creatively" titled "Free Money to Change Your Life." Actually, I discovered that there is information beneficial to artists. For example, it includes the amount of grants that state arts programs award annually, as well as contact information for each state art agency.

The chapter, "How Artists, Designers, and Photographers Can Get Freelance Government Contracts," list artists whom received contracts along with the amount of the contract. Nearly thirty government agencies utilize freelance artists. The Department of Labor hires outside art contractors to do editorial illustrations, book cover designs, stationery and newsletters. The U.S. Postal Service employs freelance artists to support many of their projects, including posters, brochures, and stamps. The Food and Drug Administration contracts graphic artists and designers for editorial illustrations, exhibit designs, posters and photographic projects. The U.S. Geological Survey awards about $100,000 in graphic arts contracts annually. Even the IRS gets in on the act, spending approximately $650,000 annually on contracts with various artists. Not only do we learn the types of artwork agencies use, but the book provides gives step-by-step instructions on how to obtain freelance work from the government, including contractual points of contact and application deadlines.

In addition, there is information on how to obtain contracts in video production and voiceovers as well as for freelance writers and editors.

Based on the information read, I would say that his book is an excellent start for anyone considering freelancing for the government. However, with a $60 price tag, I am pleased that I borrowed "Free Money to Change Your Life." I was informed by a friend that "Lesko is a sharp and funny guy who has made a living for at least 20 years by compiling government information buried in public documents and enthusiastically sharing it with people in a way they can really use it."

The original documents aren't secret, they're just boring. I think Lesko would be delighted if someone saved $60 on his book by borrowing it from the Government - from the local public library.
You can also order the book from Amazon.

Monday, April 19, 2004

NYC apple Some think it's cheesy when DC does it, but every major city is doing it... Anyway.... New York City has a call for artists for a public art project....

Big Apple Fest: Artists to Decorating Oversized Apple Sculptures.

Deadline: May 1, 2004

Big Apple Fest is inviting artists to submit designs for decorating more than 300 oversized apple sculptures that will be on display throughout New York City this summer as part of an art project that has been well-received in many other cities (such as DC and LA) and which benefits charities in Gotham.

There are two versions of the 4-foot diameter apples: opaque fiberglass, which allows the artist to decorate the skin of the apple; clear acrylic, which allows the artist to create a 3-D image inside the apple as well as decorate the exterior. Apples sponsored by corporations, civic groups, cultural institutions, and other organizations and designed by professional artists and school children, will be on display from mid-August through mid-October.

Professional or amateur, youth, or adult-all are welcome to create imaginative designs, celebrating the international spirit of New York City. Artists whose designs are selected for exhibition will be paid a $1,500 honorarium. After the conclusion of the exhibit, Sotheby's will hold a live auction of the Big Apples; a portion of the proceeds will benefit the Police Athletic League, City Harvest, and the NYC & Company Foundation.

For more information, including artist submission requirements and sponsorship opportunities, contact the managing director, Jon Clay, at 212-599-0409 or visit the website at

Call for Proposals...
From Find Art
Deadline: May 1, 2004.

The Hoyt Institute of Fine Arts is reviewing exhibition proposals for their 2005-2006 season. Solo and Collaborative Exhibitions, 6-8 week exhibitions. Open to US resident artists 21+ of Mid Atlantic States including PA, OH, NY, NJ, MD, DE, and Washington DC. 30% Commission. Insurance. Send SASE for a prospectus to:
Bob Karstadt
The Hoyt Institute of Fine Arts
124 E Leasure Ave.
New Castle PA 16101

P.S. A lot of these announcements (and more) can be delivered to your email address (free) by just signing up for them. To sign up.... visit: Find Art

Wanna go to an opening tomorrow?

Then head to Georgetown to Hemphill Fine Arts, where George has "Vote" - a show of Presidential Campaign Photographs featuring work by Abbas, Bob Adelman, Eve Arnold, Cornell Capa, Raymond Depardon, Burt Glinn, Erich Hartmann, Hiroji Kubota, Constantine Manos, Wayne Miller and Alex Webb and also "The Hole Shebang" - with Eduardo Del Valle and Mirta Gomez's works on the subject of the Florida Ballots from the 2000 Presidential Election.

The opening is from 6:30 - 8:30 PM, tomorrow, April 21st. See you there and don't forget - if you want to write about/be part of/know about the "DC art scene" then you have to do things like actually go to galleries and not just look them up on the internet...

Salvador Dali once said: "If you can't paint well, then paint big."

It's about photograpy, but size matters when it comes to art. Read the NY Times on the subject.

I call it acreage art.


Opportunity for artists...

April 22-24 - All artists are welcome to join Maryland Art Place (MAP) for its 8th Annual Free-Hung Exhibition, Silent Auction, and Gala Out of Order.

All 2-D and 3-D artwork is welcome, as well as jewelry, ceramics, media, etc. One original work per artist with maximum dimensions of 5’ x 5’. Work must be ready to hang. MAP provides all hardware for installation. Work must be priced to sell!

Proceeds will be split 50/50. Hanging dates and times: 48 Straight Hours (beginning 9am Thursday, April 22, ending 9am Saturday, April 24). $10 for participating artists. For more details: Visit their website or call 410-962-8565.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Ferdinand Protzman, the Washington Post's former galleries critic will discuss his new book and sign copies at Fraser Gallery Bethesda on Sunday, April 25, 2004 from 1-3 PM as part of the Bethesda Literary Festival.

The book is Landscape : Photographs of Time and Place and signed copies will be available at the gallery.

Among the photographers included in the book are masters like Ansel Adams and Alfred Stieglitz, along with contemporary photographers, such as Richard Misrach and Sally Mann.

Richard Polsky on Why Some Artists Never Make It Big.

Henry Allen, the Washington Post's Pulitzer-prize winning critic (and one whom I wish would write more often about the visual arts) has an exceptional article in today's Sunday Arts discussing salon-style hanging and the Renwick's Grand Salon.

A few years ago I curated a huge show for the Athenaeum in Alexandria. It was "Survey of Washington Area Realists." We hung nearly 200 artists in that beautiful Greek building - it was a terrific show that showcased the work of nearly every painter in this region, both well-known and emerging working in a realist style. It was (and remains) the Athenaeum's best-attended exhibition.

It was a massive undertaking to fill that space, floor to ceiling with work, but in the end it was such an impressive sight, that I truly understand Allen's words in today's piece.

Saturday, April 17, 2004

The Soviet Socialist Republic of Montgomery County, which is apparently already one of the highest per capita taxed counties in the entire United States, and also has the highest income tax allowed under the law, and without a doubt one is of the richest counties in the country, still cannot find enough money to fund everything that is on the slate, and not enough money to fund the Arts and Humanities, of course.

Leave it for private enterprise to come to the rescue of the Arts and Humanities in one of the nation's richest counties. The county's Commissar and his Politburo has proposed an Arts and Humanities Partnership Fund, which would require the already heavily-taxed private sector to match county dollars.

Well, they have: Mr. John Hendricks, Founder and Chairman of Discovery Communications, Ms. Cheryl Kagan, Executive Director of the Carl M. Freeman Foundation and Bill Rickman, Jr. have pledged their support for the $2.5 million proposed Arts and Humanities Partnership Fund. Mr. Hendrick's and his wife Maureen pledged $1,000,000 and the Carl M. Freeman Foundation pledge their support of $100,000 toward this effort.

I applaud them, but still question why one of the richest and highest taxed counties in the entire country (and they've already maxed out what they can legally tax residents' incomes), still operates at a deficit when it comes to the arts. I also want to know: where's your contribution Lockheed Martin? Where's yours Comcast? Where's yours Chevy Chase Bank? And so on with many of the County's giant (and rich) corporations.

And although the county has a well-run Arts and Humanities Council, political shananingans common to these Soviet-style county/states still happen - even when it comes to the Arts.

Both the County and its wealthy residents, and its many wealthy corporations should be ashamed that in one of the nation's richest counties there's not a single major visual arts center (although theatres seem to be popping up all over the place).

This is especially shameful in the Bethesda-Chevy Chase-Potomac trangle - one of the highest concentrations of income-earners in the world, and yet not a single true Visual Arts Center anywhere in that area, and yet Rockville has one and so does Germantown.

The Blackrock Center for the Arts in Germantown is an interesting example of perhaps how to worm your way into county funding. It was initially established as a non-profit, private organization and built with a loan from Sandy Spring Bank.

It apparently almost immediately ran into funding problems (which at least to me means that they irresponsibly decided to build it before they had the funding to actually run it) and immediately went to the Montgomery County Politburo (I mean Council) for help.

So essentially, a private non-profit organization decided that Gaithersburg needed this Arts Center, applied and received a loan, built the Center, and then faced fund-raising difficulties that threatened to shut down the newly opened center right from the start.... follow me so far?

So then the staff of the Center cries for help from the Montgomery County Council, who then votes to purchase the Center and although BlackRock will remain a private organization, the county will own the building and assume maintenance costs, similar to an arrangement with Strathmore Hall in North Bethesda (and no, this beautiful house is not what I mean as an "visual arts center").

If I am wrong about any of the story so far, I welcome a clarification from either the Politburo or BlackRock executive director Nancy Petrisko.

So, Potomac-Chevy Chase-Bethesda: Do you get the model to follow?

Friday, April 16, 2004

Georgetown University is hosting a "Festival of Fine Art." Below are some interesting panels and performances - unless otherwise noted, they are all at:

New South Building, Riverside Lounge
Georgetown University
37th & O St.
Georgetown, Washington DC

Monday, April 19th - 6:30-9pm

Panel Discussion
“Georgetown University and its Relationship with the Washington DC Art Scene”

Dr. John Brough, Professor, Philosophy
Calvin Custen, Professor, Studio Art
Kathryn Cornelius, Graduate Student, Artist
Jessica Eagan, Graduating Senior, Fine Art
Martin Irvine, Assistant Professor, Gallery Owner
Stoff Smulson, Alumnus, Artist

Performance 8-9pm
“Mythology Machine / Chain Value” Kathryn Cornelius and collaborators

Art Exhibit
Monday April 19th – Friday April 23rd, 2004 12-6pm
Work by Students, Faculty and Alumni

"Theory Will Eat Itself: Notes on Postmodernity from A - Z." A performance by Kathryn Cornelius.

Thursday, April 29, 2004
Georgetown University
Reiss 103 Lecture Hall

Some comments: In the decade that I have been writing about the DC art community, owning two galleries, being a member of the Art Dealers Association of Greater Washington, been a local artist, a member of the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities Advisory Panels and generally deeply involved in our arts community, I cannot recall ever hearing, dealing, being involved, or reading anything dealing with Georgetown University and art.

In fact, if it hadn't been for the initiative of Kathryn Cornelius, who emailed me - I wouldn't have heard about this "Festival of Art." In fact there's nothing in the University's website about it (at least that I can find).

I applaud the panel “Georgetown University and its Relationship with the Washington DC Art Scene” - but .... who in that panel is not from Georgetown? Shouldn't there be someone in the panel from... "the Washington DC Art Scene?" Seems to me that by having an all-Georgetown panel discuss the university's relationship with the art scene around it, and not really having a couple of outsiders to discuss it from an outsider perspective, and hopefully provide some constructive criticism, that the panel is a bit tunnel-visioned.

In fact (and I could be wrong since I do not know anyone else on the panel), the only people in that panel that (I am aware) are in some sense "involved" in the DC arts scene are Kathryn Cornelius, who currently serves as a Contemporaries Steering Committee Member for the Phillips Collection and also works at G Fine Art Gallery in Georgetown (the neighborhood - not the University), and Martin Irvine, who serves on the Board of Directors of the Contemporary Museum in Baltimore and on the Board of the Friends of the Museum of the Americas in Washington, DC and recently opened a nice gallery in the larger front room of Troyer, and Stoff Smulson, who was one of the key founders of Decatur Blue, which unfortunately folded from its location in the Shaw neighborhood, although they remain a vibrant presence in DC (In fact, another one of the founding members (Jose Ruiz) was the winner of our "Young Artist" award which is part of the Trawick Prize).

But they are all "Georgetowners."

Anyway - I am glad that Georgetown is doing this - and, from an outsider's perspective: This university needs to kick-start its "relationship with the Washington, DC art scene." It doesn't really exist now. If it does, then I am not aware of it, and that by itself - especially since I've co-owned a gallery in the University's neighborhood since 1996, is an alarming issue.

This is not just a slam against Georgetown - in fact one can practically fill in any of our area's universities art programs and the discussion on what they all do for our area's art scene could probably be generalized as marginal, although some are better than others. A while back I suggested a way in which our area's universities could become a driving force in our art scene.

Nobody asked me, just my opinion....

P.S. - For all in Georgetown.... tonite is the Georgetown Canal Square Gallery openings... come by and I'll buy you all one a glass of our world-famous Sangria.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Sculpture by Bradley Tomorrow is the third Friday of the month and thus the Canal Square Galleries (31st Street NW and M Street in Georgetown) will have their monthly openings. We will have an exhibition of new found object sculptures by area sculptor Adam Bradley.

This is Bradley's third solo show with us; we started showing him while he was a student at GMU, later while he was an MFA candidate at MICA and now that he's an Adjunt Professor at GMU and NVCC.

The openings go from 6-9 PM and are catered by the Sea Catch Restaurant. They are free and open to the public.

See ya there!

The Smithsonian American Art Museum has elected James F. Dicke II of New Bremen, Ohio as Chair and Samuel G. Rose of Bethesda, Maryland as vice chair of the museum's Board of Commissioners.

Dicke is also a respected artist and photographer who exhibits locally with the Ralls Collection in Georgetown. It's always good to have an artist in charge of groups such as this very important board.

Boo Hoo ©2000 Kara Walker - Courtesy MOMA
Kara Walker has won this year's Lucelia Artist Award, worth $25,000. The award is a Smithsonian's prize, funded by the Lucelia Foundation, a New York-based institution devoted to supporting the visual arts.

You mean you've never heard of this art prize managed by one of our local museums?
"Walker is the fourth artist to receive the Smithsonian's prize, funded by the Lucelia Foundation, a New York-based institution devoted to supporting the visual arts. Her selection is in line with previous winners, all of whom have been on the challenging end of contemporary art. Jorge Pardo, the 2001 Lucelia winner, makes slick design objects he presents as art; Liz Larner, the winner in 2002, has shown photographs of petri dishes full of molds; Rirkrit Tiravanija, who won last year, is a performance artist whose work often involves cooking and serving food."
I'd love to know who the "jury of experts" in the committee to select the award winners are. Congratulations to Ms. Walker.

This $25,000 Lucelia Art Award is a national level prize - locally, DC, MD and VA artists can compete for the $14,000 Trawick Prize.

Vanity galleries...

A vanity gallery is an art gallery that "rents" its space to artists in order for the artist to have a show. Thus, the main driver in having a show at a vanity gallery is not necessarily the quality of the artwork, but the artist's ability to pay the gallery to host his/her artwork.

New York is crawling with vanity galleries, and the vast majority of European galleries are vanity galleries. In the US however, vanity galleries are often looked down upon by everyone, since they are essentially a "rental" gallery. A knowledgeable art critic or curator knows which galleries in his/her town are vanity galleries, and often ignore them, much like book critics ignore most self-published writers, who use "vanity publishers."

An interesting fact, at least here in Washington, is the fact that (being on the inside), we often see "reputable" galleries which sometimes cross the line and become "charge the artist" galleries or vanity galleries once in a while, as the mighty dollar calls.

Sometimes we'll get a phone call from an embassy, or from the agent of a Hollywood actor who's also a "painter" or "photographer," and they'll ask us how much would we charge to host a show by their "artist."

When we inform them that we do not rent the gallery for artists to have shows, they thank us and hang up. Then a few months later we see that "Hollywood artist" or "embassy artist" exhibiting in one of our local "reputable" art galleries, and immediately recognize that - at least for that month - that gallery is making ends meet by renting the space to someone.

While I understand that most galleries are labors of love, and often run by the skin of one's teeth, I still find it somewhat distasteful, and dishonest - to appear (on the surface) to be a gallery that shows work based on merit, while at the same time showing work based on an artist, or a corporation's ability to pay.

And it's not just commercial art spaces. A while back, a story by Robert Lalasz in the Washington City Paper even exposed a local non-profit which admitted charging a multinational corporation a hefty fee to put up an art show at the "reputable" non-profit art spaces.

One can even make the case that even some museums sometimes cross the line and become "vanity museums." A few years ago I was astounded when a Culture Minister from one of the embassies in our city told me that they had finished a deal with a local museum to host the first ever retrospective of one of that country's artists for a fee of four million dollars! To him, it was "business as usual," while to me it was distasteful and dishonest and since then has left a bad taste in my mouth about that museum.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Do you want to know what Magdalenian Art is?

Charles Downey, at Ionarts, has the best review that I've read so far on The Passion of The Christ.

A strategy for saving money on framing costs...

According to some stats I read a few years ago in a framing trade magazine, the average cost of framing in the Greater DC region was $67 an hour. It’s probably more than that now.

Other than time, framing two-dimensional work is often the most expensive step in organizing an exhibition (to the artist), and it’s astounding how little most art schools prepare students (and faculty) for avoiding the trap of spending a lot of money on framing.

There are some steps that artists can take to significantly reduce the cost of framing. Here I will try to list the most common mistakes, how to avoid them, and more importantly, how to get your artwork framed for a lot less than taking it to a framing shop to get it framed.

First and foremost: Prepare! Do not leave your framing to the very last minute. Having said that, I know that most of you will leave the framing to the last minute and then panic – go to your neighborhood framing shop, and drop way too much money to get custom frames made for your artwork. If you can afford it, and the price history of you artwork can sustain it – then skip this posting. But if you want to save a lot of money on framing, then prepare!

Do not, under any circumstances let the gallery or a second party take care of your framing unless you have the full costs ahead of time and in writing. Otherwise you will get stuck at the end of your exhibition with a framing bill rather than a commission check.

First of all: If (and only if) you can, work in standard sizes. Most photographers and painters already do. But unless your compositional demands call for it (like mine do), avoid working in one of a kind sizes. American and European standard sizes are different, but US sizes cover a huge range of sizes, such as 5x7, 8x10, 11x14, 12x16, 20x24, etc. If you can work within one of those sizes – i.e. do your watercolor on a sheet in one of those sizes, or print your photo on paper that size, etc. then half the battle is won, as then you should be able to buy ready-made frames that will automatically accommodate your matted work. This is important, as a good frame from any craft store, or from any art catalog, is usually a lot less than having one built from scratch! For example, a 16x20 metal molding frame, back metal brace/clips, wire, glass, pH-balanced acid free mat, hanging wire and acid free foam core backing is anywhere from $20 - $30 in any art catalog or locally from Apex in Alexandria. Having the exact same frame hand-made in a frame shop is around $100.

If your work, because of composition or whatever, doesn’t fit into a standard size mat or frame, then another tactic is to go and shop for a ready-made frame that is larger than your artwork – at least three inches all around the diameter of the artwork. Then take that frame and your artwork to a frame shop and have them cut the mat for you. Now you are only paying for the labor and materials to cut a mat – not to build everything from scratch.

If you can’t find a frame in a shop that fits your unique sizes, then shop through art supply catalogs and have them make you one. The savings over storefront framers is still significant. I personally buy a lot of frames from this place. Once you sign up, you get their catalogs as well, and then I hit them when they have a sale going on! From any supplier you can order moldings in one inch increments, so if your work is 18x30 inches, then you'd order a set of 18 inch molding, a set of 30 inch molding and it will be delivered with the hardware needed to assemble it - all you'll need is a screwdriver. Then visit your local glass shop for a piece of glass.

Because most solo shows involve a larger number of works, you should start thinking way ahead of time as to the number of frames that you will need. If you can decide that you will need twenty frames for your show, and you know what size they will all be, then go shopping for ready-made frames in any of our local area arts and crafts stores, or other stores that stock frames, such as IKEA or Bed, Bath and Beyond. Once you find a frame that you like, turn it over and see who makes them. Write the manufacturer’s information down, and when you get home, call the manufacturer of the frame and place an order for the number of frames that you will need. You are now buying the frames wholesale and saving yourself the entire store mark-up!

Don’t let the process of establishing an account with the frame manufacturer scare you. They may require an Employee Identification Number (EIN) – you can give them your social security number-- and they will have a minimum purchase (usually $250) – but by the time that you purchase 20-25 frames, that will be easy to meet. All you are doing is ordering the frame directly from the manufacturer rather than buying them through a store – it’s perfectly legal and saves you a considerable amount of money.

If you work on canvas, you may not even need to frame them. Ask the gallery owner – a lot of galleries will be happy to hang canvasses that are “gallery dressed.” That means that the edge of the canvas wraps to the back and that’s where it is stapled – rather than the side. We actually prefer to show canvas paintings that way.

Do not cheapen your artwork by choosing cheap materials. At all costs avoid using acidic mats (use only pH-balanced, acid free mats) and do not use cardboard to back the work – use acid free foam core. Using cheap materials not only damages the work eventually (as the acid migrates to the artwork) but also tells a potential collector that you are not serious as an artist to properly display your work. I am shocked at the number of badly hand-cut mats in acidic mats that I see in galleries all over the country – a lot of time is just plain ignorance of the business side of the fine arts – and the importance of presentation of artwork in a professional environment – such as a reputable fine arts gallery should be.

If you are an artist that moves a lot of work a year, then you should seriously consider learning how to cut your own mats. A sheet of museum quality archival 32x40 inches mat board is around $6-8 and you can get four 16x20 inches mats from it. To have one 16x20 archival mat cut in a frame shop will be around $20. You can buy a decent mat cutter for around $150, and it comes with a video to teach you how to cut mats.

The bottom line is that minimizing framing costs not only reduces the amount of money that an artist has to invest in offering a show, but also reduces the price point of the artwork – a very important issue, especially for young, emerging artists without a sales history track.

OK, OK no more emails about my posting on how artists can save money on framing their artwork.

Rather than answer each one individually, I will post the suggestions here later. By the way, I teach that as part of the Success as an Artist seminars. There's one coming soon (date will be announced soon) - they book up almost immediately and there's already a waiting list.

Check later and I'll post a series of steps that will reduce your framing costs by 80%.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

I've received a deluge of emails (in addition to the usual ones trying to sell me Viagra, Cialis and dates with bored housewives) from people who want me to post more on Bad Things Galleries/Artists do to each other.

OK.... here's some more:

Bad Things Galleries Do to Artists: A young emerging artist approaches a "gallery" that is also a framing business. The "gallery" agrees to give the artist a show and has the artist deliver the work to the place. The gallery tells the artist that they will do the framing. At the end of the show, the artist expects a check from the gallery for his 50% commission on all sales, but instead gets a bill for the framing. This is because the "gallery" has framed all of the artist's works - but maybe only 2-3 pieces have sold - and yet the artist is stuck with the framing bill for all of the work. This is another reason why artists must have a written contract prior to exhibiting work, specifying who and to what standards the work must be framed to. And, whenever possible avoid galleries that "offer" to frame your work as part of the exhibition. The average cost of framing artwork in the DC area is $67 an hour just for labor! If are an artist that has a show coming, you can plan your framing ahead of time and save about 80% of what a framing shop or store would charge you by following a simple set of steps... if you want to know what those steps are, email me.

Bad Things Artists Do To Galleries: A gallery offers an artist a show, and trusting the artist, operates on a handshake, rather than a written agreement. As most galleries plan their shows months in advance, the gallery plans the year several shows in advance and expects the artist to deliver the artworks for the show at the specified date. The gallery keeps in touch with the artist, who assures the gallery that everything is on track. A few months before the show, the gallery requests some images for publicity purposes, which the artist dutifully provides. However, a week before the show, the panicked artist calls and says that "he doesn't have enough work for the show" and, by the way, that he has also already sold some of the works that he had provided images to the gallery earlier (and which the gallery has used to advertise the show). On the night before the show opening, the artist shows up with a lot less work than expected, and the gallery discovers that the work is presented in less-than-professional standards: badly-cut acidic mats backed by brown cardboard, scratched framed and scratched plexiglass, and canvasses with nailed on pine boards. An hour before the opening, the artist is still finishing up painting touches on some of his oil paintings. As a result, some of his pieces are still wet at the opening, and someone accidentally brushes up against one of the wet paintings and smears it. The scandalized artist makes a scene, and later sues the gallery for "failing to protect his painting." It all goes to court, to great expense to the gallery and the artist, until the judge throws the case out as ridiculous. The artist is blacklisted by art dealers and never shows in town again.

By the way.... the above is a true story and happened to one of our Canal Square neighbors.

Gallery jurying for artists...

Touchstone Gallery will be jurying for new members on April 28th.The gallery is located at 406 7th Street, NW, 2nd floor, Washington, DC 20004. (202) 347-2787 - fax 202-347-3339. Please call the gallery for details or send an e-mail to

Open Studios...

The artists of NoMA (for North of Massachusetts Ave.) open their studios to the public only twice a year. During this Open Studios Weekend on Saturday and Sunday May 1-2 from noon-5pm, artists meet with the public, discuss their work and offer art for sale directly to their visitors. The Open Studios, which include live music and refreshments, take place in four buildings - 57 N Street NW, 443 I Street NW, 52 O Street NW and 411 New York Avenue NE.

Senior Exhibit at the Corcoran...

The Corcoran School of Art All Senior Show features work by Rahshia Linendoll, Djkarta, and Katie Donegan. Reception for the artists on May 6, 6-8 pm at the Corcoran. The work is on exhibit May 5 - 17, 2004.

Georgetown Third Friday Openings...
The four Canal Square Galleries (MOCA, Fraser, Alla Rogers and Parish) will be having their joint openings/extended hours this coming Friday, April 16 from 6-9 PM. The openings are catered by the Sea Catch Restaurant and are free and open to the public. The Canal Square is at 1054 31st Street, corner of M Street, NW in Georgetown.

Alastair Bolton at St. Elmo's

British ex-pat Alastair Bolton has an exhibition of his work currently in the back gallery of St. Elmo's Fire Gallery in Bethesda.

Emergency Grants to Visual Artists...

Change, Inc. provides one-time $1,000 emergency grants to visual artists of any discipline who are facing possible eviction, unpaid bills, fire damage or any other emergency the Change board deems worthy. Applicants must be professional artists who can demonstrate need. Send a letter of need, proof of inability to pay bills or rent, a resume, any reviews or press releases of past exhibitions, photos or slides of work and two reference letters from others in the field. Grant applications should be sent to Change, Inc, PO Box 54, Captiva, FL 33924 (212) 473-3742.

Trawick Prize for Area Artists...

The Trawick Prize: Bethesda Contemporary Art Awards. Deadline for slide submission is Friday, May 21, 2004. The 2nd annual juried art competition awards $14,000 in prize monies to four selected artists. Up to fifteen artists will be invited to display their work from September 7, 2004 - October 2, 2004 in downtown Bethesda at Creative Partners Gallery. The 2004 competition will be juried by Jeffrey W. Allison, The Paul Mellon Collection Educator at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts; Peter Dubeau, Associate Dean of Continuing Studies at the Maryland Institute College of Art and Kristen Hileman, Assistant Curator at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. The first place winner will be awarded $10,000; second place will be honored with $2,000 and third place will be awarded $1,000. A "young" artist whose birth date is after May 21, 1974 will also be awarded $1,000 (donated by Fraser Gallery). Artists must be 18 years of age or older and residents of Maryland, Virginia or Washington, D.C. Original painting, drawing, photography, sculpture, fiber art, digital, mixed media and video (VHS tapes only) are accepted. For more information, please contact Stephanie Coppula at or call 301.215.6660 ext. 20. Website:

Need to make slides from your digital files? Visit

I'm rushing around today - trying to tie some loose knots in closing a house for me. Check later...

Monday, April 12, 2004

I've been asked to serve as a juror for the 2004 Ida F. Haimovicz Visual Arts Award. It is always an honor in being asked to jury artists, and jurying artwork is one of the best ways to learn not only about the diversity of art, but also about the interesting manner in which art selection committees work.

Museum Exhibition Opportunity for Artists...

Deadline May 1, 2004

The Contemporary Crafts Museum and Gallery in Oregon is accepting applications for its 2005 exhibition schedule. In order to be considered for a solo exhibition, please submit: Cover letter stating your interest in a solo exhibition; Current Resume; Artist Statement; 10-20 slides; SASE for return of slides.

The Exhibition Planning Committee meets twice a year to review portfolios and schedules are usually completed one to two years in advance. Please forward applications to:

Lisa Conte
Exhibition Coordinator
Contemporary Crafts Museum & Gallery
3934 SW Corbett Avenue
Portland, OR 97239

Just when you think there's nothing new in art...

I received an email from British artist Martin Allen. In the email, Mr. Allen points me to an Ebay page, and once you go to that page, the page itself is the art!

In other words, the Ebay page is a work in progress, and by visiting the page, all visitors help to change and create the work of art by changing the Andale counter at the bottom of the page.

Allen writes:
"You are bidding to purchase this page - my latest one-off REALITY ART piece, (which as I have already said, you are actually helping to create just by reading this!) The starting price is 1 penny - with no reserve - and the postage and packing is free, anywhere - worldwide.".
I think this is smart and new, and not only pushes the definition of art - just when we thought it couldn't be pushed any further - but also employs the "anything is art" postmodernist mandate to his own interpretation.

Well done to Martin Allen!

Opportunity for artists...

Deadline May 13
Creative Partners Gallery has openings for exhibitions for 2005. The next jurying of work will be May 13. If interested please request a prospectus by calling 301/718 8520 or 301/493 8830.

For Women Photographers...

Deadline: July 1, 2004

Women In Photography International (WIPI) announces an international call for entries for virtual * visual : people - places - things, an international juried online photographic exhibition of works by female photographers.

Deadline for entries is 1st July 2004 midnight PST. Exhibition will run from August 1- October 1, 2004 at this website.

Prizes will be awarded for Best of Show, People’s Choice, and Best Professional (USA and Foreign) and Amateur (USA and Foreign). Open to all female photographers using any photographic process.

Entries must be submitted as digital files via the online form available here.

For complete entry guidelines visit this site.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

Robert Hughes, perhaps the world's most influential art and eloquent art critic, recently wrote that Lucian Freud's new exhibition proves he is Britain's greatest living artist.

Statements like that are (of course) very subjective and attract immediate responses pro and con. I think that, as brilliant as Lucian Freud is, he wouldn't be my choice for the UK's greatest living artist - maybe number two. My top choice would be David Hockney.

But that's not the point of this posting. It got me to thinking... who would be our area's greatest living artist?

It seems a silly thought at first, and falls dangerously close to provincializing artists to a region or city or whatever. But it is an interesting and subjective question - loaded with close calls and ways of answering it.

There are a few of artists whose names float around as soon as this unanswerable question is asked... Manon Cleary, Joe Shannon, Anne Truitt...

But the answer, in my opinion is Sam Gilliam.

And yet, incredibly enough, this artist has never had a museum retrospective in his long, illustrious career, although there's currently one in the works and as soon as I have confirmation and dates, I will pass it along.

Saturday, April 10, 2004

Bad things galleries do to artists: Unethical galleries will take in a piece of artwork by an artist, and when the price is discussed, the gallery says: "What's the price?" and the artist says: "$1000" The gallery nods OK and the artist leaves, knowing that if sold, he'll get $500 (most galleries in the DC area charge 50% commission (in NYC some are as high as 70%). The gallery then sells the piece, but for $2,000, sends the artist a check for $500 and pockets the extra $1,000. That is why artists should insist on having a contract with a gallery, and the contract must specifically address that the artist will get 50% of the actual sale price.

Bad things artists to do galleries: A reputable gallery gives an artist a show, and goes through all the various expenses associated with doing so (rent, electricity, staff salaries, publicity, ads, post cards, opening reception catering, etc.) So far the gallery has put forth a considerable investment in presenting the artist's works. An interested novice collector meets the artist at the opening and expresses interest (to the artist) in buying some of his artwork. The artist, wishing to stiff the gallery for their commission says: "See me after the show and I'll sell it to you directly and save myself the gallery commission." This is not only unethical, but it's also guaranteed to ruin the artist's reputation in the city, as these things always come out in the wash, and soon no gallery will exhibit any work by this artist.

Friday, April 09, 2004

People who know me well, know that I am an absolute and devoted fan of Camille Paglia. In my prejudiced opion she's one of my contenders for the title of "Most Brilliant Human Being Alive On the Planet."

Passion aside, she has a brilliant essay that should be a must read for anyone interested in the arts and/or education, and especially for anyone who curates, organizes, teaches, or writes about the arts. The article is an expanded version of a lecture delivered at a conference, "Living Literacies: What Does it Mean to Read and Write Now?," at York University, Toronto, Canada.

It is titled The Magic of Images: Word and Picture in a Media Age and here's an insightful paragraph:
"Post-structuralism and postmodernism do not understand magic or mystique, which are intrinsic to art and imagination. It is no coincidence that since postmodernist terminology seeped into the art world in the 1980s, the fine arts have receded as a major cultural force."
Go read it now.

Our art scene is just bursting with activity!

There's a great profile of artist Mark Clark in this weeks Washington City Paper. Can't read it online, as WCP does not archive - so go get the paper while it's out this week. Mark Clark is in the middle of a really interesting project to document his neighbors. Mark is the brother of Michael Clark, who runs MOCA in Georgetown, and who I am told fell a few days ago and broke his shoulder.

Tonite is the Bethesda Art Walk from 6-9 pm featuring 14 downtown Bethesda galleries and studios.

Studio Gallery will jury for new artists on Thurs, April 15, 2004, at 6:30pm. $35 jury fee. For info, call Lana Lyons, Director, at 202-232-8734.

Austrian Photographs (The Estate of Inge Morath. Curators: Kurt Kaindl and Brigitte Blueml) Reading by Honor Moore: "The Photographer and the Poet: A Friendship" is opening Thursday, April 15, 2004 7:30 pm at the Embassy of Austria. At the opening of the exhibit, American poet, Honor Moore, will read poems about Inge Morath and talk about their mutually inspiring friendship. The exhibition will be on display until June 10, 2004, weekdays from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm at the Embassy of Austria, 3524 International Court N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008 (Van Ness Metro Stop). RSVP for opening reception required: (202) 895-6776.

Mark Jenkins has a nice review of Muriel Hasbun in the Weekend Section of today's Post. Hasbun, who teaches at the Corcoran College of Art, has "Memento: Muriel Hasbun Photographs," an exhibition at the Corcoran Gallery of Art. Hasbun, who is from El Salvador, represented her country at the last Venice Biennale. She is represented locally by Conner Contemporary. One of my pet peeves with the Weekend section is their lack of attention to DC art galleries. Their reviews, by a huge percentage, concentrate on museum shows, often repeating a review that the Style section critics have already covered. I really wish that Weekend section editor Joyce Jones was a bit more receptive (or firm) in letting her "On Exhibit" writer also write about DC area art galleries. Either Michael O'Sullivan (who is now reviewing movies) or Mark Jenkins (who is now freelancing the "On Exhibit" column on Weekend) are well-versed and quite knowledgeable about our area's artists and galleries, so c'mon Joyce!

The 2004 Senior Thesis Exhibitions at the Corcoran are on until May 17, 2004. They consist of a series of ten, week-long, rotating exhibitions featuring photography, fine art and graphic design produced by members of the Corcoran graduating class, grouped by major. They are at the Hemicycle Gallery of the Corcoran. I will soon be swinging by to look at the current exhibit and will discuss it back here.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Here's an early look at at book that I am working on on the subject of Cuban baseball. Have a couple of publishers interested, but still shopping.

How readable is art writing?

Thanks to Terry Teachout: Golden Rule Jones has run 17 arts blogs through an on-line tool that tests Web sites or WORD documents for "readability."

According to the creator of the tool in question, "The Fog index has been developed by Robert Gunning. Its value is a school grade. The "ideal" Fog Index level is 7 or 8. A level above 12 indicates the writing sample is too hard for most people to read."

DCARTNEWS received a Fog Index of 12. That means that you'd need at least a high school education to read and understand my writing. Just for fun I ran some other area art critics and writers through it and in order of easier readability (from requiring less education to read to requiring more education according to the Fog Index):

Tyler Green in Modern Art Notes: 9.7

Joe Shannon, Art in America DC critic: 9.9

Jessica Dawson's review today: 11.3

Ferdinand Protzman in the Post: 11.9

Michael O'Sullivan review in the Post: 12.2

Paul Richard in the Post: 12.5

Mark Jenkins in the Post Weekend: 13.6

Blake Gopnik's last review in the Post: 13.7

Sidney Lawrence in 13.7

Louis Jacobson in the City Paper: 14

Claudia Rousseau in the Gazette: 14.3

Joanna Shaw-Eagle in the Washington Times: 14.5

J.W. Mahoney, Art in America DC critic: 15.2

And at a whoopingly unreadable 19.3:

A Glenn Dixon review in the City Paper: 19.3

The Gazette newspaper (which is owned by the Washington Post) has an article on the subject of the tremendous success of the Bethesda Art Walk.

We're described as showing "bold and sometimes bawdy work." Can't recall the last time I've seen a gallery described as "bawdy."

I do share Elyse Harrison's concerns that one problem with the Bethesda Art Walk is that there are a few too many decorative, chain galleries on the "walk" - the type of galleries that sell decorative art and also do exorbitant framing to tack onto their "gyclees on canvas" reproductions of artists well-worth their owner's desperate resell attempts at Ebay.

The next Artwalk is tomorrow, Friday April 9, from 6-9 PM. See you there.

In the Post, Jessica Dawson takes off her gloves and puts artist Leith Eaton in her place. Eaton claims that her work is a new kind of "ism" and Jessica doesn't buy it - I agree with Dawson. This is a very good review that shows that art criticism can and should have teeth - and when intelligently applied, as in this review, it shows passion and opinion! Leith Eaton is at Foxhall Gallery through April 17, 2004.

work by Sheep Jones Dawson also reviews one of my favorite DC area painters: Sheep Jones at Target Gallery. Jones' work at Target Gallery is a significant, if not huge, departure and new direction for Jones, whose work had previously concentrated in giving the viewer a sort of subterranean look at vegetables and roots. The new work opens a new path for this talented painter as we enter a dark and interesting door in her artistic discourse. I also agree with Dawson in Jessica's recommendation that Sheep lose the verbiage in her paintings.

Sheep Jones, is the Friends of the Torpedo Factory 2003 Artist of the Year. Washington printmaker Lou Stovall selected Jones as recipient of the award.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

File this one in the "Stupid Things People Do" category.

Why do these Hellboy movie stills remind me so much of (OMIGOD has he already been forgotten?) Matthew Barney's stuff?

bethesda fine arts festivalVolunteer Opportunity

The Bethesda Fine Arts Festival is currently looking for volunteers to help assist artists and patrons at this year's inaugural festival.

The event, with over 120 artists from all over the country, is expected to attract thousands of art lovers to downtown Bethesda, and will be held on Saturday May 15 from 10am - 6pm and Sunday May 16 from 10am - 5pm. For more information, contact festival Director, Catriona Fraser at or call 301/718-9651.

Washington Post photography critic Frank Van Riper has a good essay on the rekindling of his own art by his teaching of a photography course.

I've always noted that the best way to get your creative juices flowing is by being around artists, in fact art students are often the most fearless and enthusiastic, and enthusiasm and passsion about the arts is contagious.

Call For Erotic Artists...
Deadline: May 1, 2004

Juried show: Art @ Large, a New York City Erotic/Figurative Art Gallery, has a call for erotic artists. Juror: Grady T. Turner, New York based art critic, curator and author of "NYC Sex: How New York City Transformed Sex in America." All media and orientations in Erotic Art, Nudes, Sexuality - demure to explicit. Best of Show to receive solo exhibition in 2005. Send SASE for Prospectus to:

Art @ Large
630 Ninth Ave #707
New York NY 10036

Or download via web:

When everything becomes art...

Cory Arcangel is a New York-based artist who hacks Nintendo game cartridges and then changes their images and sounds under the name BEIGE. His piece Super Mario Clouds v2k3 (2003) is in the 2004 Whitney Biennial. Arcangel kept a diary for NYFA Current detailing the periods just before and just after the opening of the Whitney Biennial on March 9, 2004. Read it here.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Another new art venue in town...

Celebration of Women: Vision and Movement, curated by Gerald Malitz opens Thursday, April 8, 2004, with a reception from 6:00 - 9:00 pm at the new Pepco Art Center: Edison Place Gallery. This new space has been in operation since November 2002 and this exhibit will help launch it as another great addition the DC arts scene.

For more details, visit the exhibition website here. The show includes 81 pieces by 23 area artists. Included in the show are Susanne Carmack, Gloria Cesal, Victor Ekpuk, Patsy Fleming, Elsa Gebreyesus, Mina Hanig, Ahmed Kachmar, Barbara Kerne, Sofia Kifle, Sharon Killian, Lu Lan, Stephanie Lane, Susan Makara, Ruth Marcus, Andrea P. McCluskey, Leslie Oberdorfer, Muatasim Omer, Anna Otchin, Dot Procter, Anastasia R. Simes, Lida Stifel, Patricia Underwood and Helen Zughaib.

This coming Friday, April 9th is the second Friday of the month and thus the Bethesda Art Walk from 6-9 pm featuring 14 downtown Bethesda galleries and studios: paintings, sculpture, photography, pottery, jewelry and mixed media. Participating galleries showcase artwork created locally, nationally and internationally. Enjoy free refreshments. Art Walk attendees may walk throughout downtown Bethesda’s streets or take the free shuttle that will stop at each individual gallery. For more information, please visit or call (301) 215-6660.

We will have a group show of contemporary realism, featuring work by New York painters David FeBland, John Jacobsmeyer and Laurel Wells, plus work by our own area's John Winslow, Chawky Frenn, Heather Neill and others. We'll also have European artist Zigymantas Augustinas, a prizewinner in the 2002 BP Portrait Prize at the National Portrait Gallery in London.

Among the many excuses that the Washington Post has given me in the past for not having more extensive gallery coverage in our area is lack of printspace.

Today, their Chief Art Critic, who seldom writes about DC area art galleries' shows, gives us a review of a lamp show in London.

Monday, April 05, 2004

The 2004 Pulitzer Prize winners - Congratulations to all the winners!

Whitney Biennial Curator Lawrence Rinder will be in DC on Friday, April 23 to participate in a Hirshhorn Museum forum that "explores the artists' role in creating healing images and their power to influence a community. A process that starts with the artists' self-expression - continues with the individual viewers' response - and finally has the potential to inspire healing in a community."

The forum is on Friday, April 23,2004 at 2:00pm at the Hirshhorn (3rd Floor). In addition to Mr. Rinder, the forum also includes sculptor Tim Tate, Director of the Washington Glass School (and whose solo opens May 14 at Fraser Gallery Bethesda), and Curator Ken Trapp, former Curator of the Renwick Gallery.

This forum is part of a conference by the Society for Arts in Healthcare taking place in DC on April 21 - 24, 2004.

Exhibition Proposals Wanted...
Deadline: May 1, 2004

The Hoyt Institute of Fine Arts is reviewing exhibition proposals for 2005-2006. Solo and Collaborative Exhibitions. All Media. Open to US residents 21+ in Mid-Atlantic States including PA, OH, NY, NJ, MD, DE, and Washinton,DC.

$25.00 review fee. 30% Commission. Insurance. Send SASE for a prospectus to:

Bob Karstadt
The Hoyt Institute of Fine Arts
124 E Leasure Av
New Castle PA 16101

Or call 724-652-2882 or visit their website.

Mother of Peace by Robert ColeWashington, DC sculptor Robert Cole, whose piece "Madre DellaPace" (Mother of Peace) was exhibited at the 2003 Florence Biennale, and won the Lorenzo di Medici Gold Medal there, is having an open studio to allow people to view the 16 foot sculpture and other work. The sculpture will then be moved to Merriweather Post Pavillion, where it will be on exhibit along with several other pieces by Cole.

The Open Studio is April 17 and 18 , 2004 from 12-6 PM. The Cole studio is located at 1714 15th St., (rear) NW. See a map and more details on his website.

For Photographers...

Deadline: April 15, 2004
The Center for Fine Art Photography is hosting its International Fine Art Photography Exhibition that is open to professional and amateur photographers, for all forms of fine art photography created in black and white or color, using traditional or digital methods or elements of both processes. Total awards over $6,200. The Exhibition is from June 29 through August 21 in Fort Collins, CO. View and download the prospectus at this website and visit the Center's web site here.

Deadline: April 30, 2004

9th Annual Photographic Competition Exhibition. Title: Visual Proof, Juror: Roy L Flukinger, Senior Curator of Film & Photography, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, Univ. of Texas at Austin. Open to all photographers, all photographic processes and all themes.

Entry Fee: $25 (for first three slides), $5 for each thereafter-up to ten slides total. Awards: $1000, $500, $250. Exhibition in Seattle at PCNW July 16 - Aug 29.

Visit their website for submission guidelines and entry form or send a 6 x 9 SASE to:

Photographic Center Northwest
Attn - 9th Annual Contest
900 12th Avenue
Seattle WA 98122

Questions? Contact Gallery Director: Ann Pallesen, email her at or call her at 206-720-7222x102

Sunday, April 04, 2004

The artist that I'd like to highlight today is photographer Colby Caldwell, represented locally by Hemphill Fine Arts.

I first came across Caldwell's work back in the early 90's, when I wrote this review for Visions Magazine for the Arts. Since then, I've reviewed him a few more times, although I've never met Mr. Caldwell in person yet.

Meanwhile, Caldwell has continued to push the frontier of photography, and he can almost no longer be classified as just a "photographer," as he has accomplished an extraordinary variety of methods to deliver visual art that, although connected to photography in some sense, is still novel in both concept and presentation.

In his most recent showings, Caldwell re-discovery of old super 8 movies became the catalyst for photographs derived from those old movies.

And as noted in Washingtonian Magazine's 100 People to Watch:
Colby Caldwell was 15 credits away from a history degree when his buddies started a band. Lacking musical ability, Caldwell took a photograph that became the band's poster and decided he wanted to be a photographer, not a history teacher. Caldwell transferred to the Corcoran art school and had his first show at the Kathleen Ewing gallery. Twenty-three shows later, Caldwell, 34, teaches photography and fine arts at his alma mater.
Colby has already done nearly all that he can do in Washington. He has exhibited in the best galleries in this city, and he has exhibited in many of the non-profit venues, and he has exhibited in his alma mater, and every art critic in town has copiously praised Caldwell's work. It is well deserved as this is one of Washington's top talents.

This is a visual artist that I feel would truly benefit now by having a foot print in New York and Los Angeles and more exposure in those cities - more exposure outside of Washington - would be the next logical step for this talented and intelligent artist.

I am NOT saying by any means that Caldwell should move or leave Washington, as Blake Gopnik once recommended that a young DC artist do, but I am thinking out loud about an artist at the top of his form, whose work should be on the radar range of influential curators and collectors. Colby is one of the talents that "our local" curators should be discussing with their fellow curators in other cities at their curator get-togethers...

You get my point?
PS - Colby Caldwell also really needs to get a stronger footprint on the Internet - After I Googled him all I could come up with was this image. Get some photos out there!

Saturday, April 03, 2004

The saying goes that if you "want to make a million dollars in the art market, then start with five."

Later tonight I'll be going to the grand opening of Light Street Gallery in Baltimore, which is being opened by my good friends Steve and Linda Krensky.

The Krenskys have (by far) the largest private art collection that I have ever seen in anyone's home in all my life. In fact, the Krensky house is so full of original artwork by DC area artists and artists from all over the world, so that nearly every inch of their ceilings are also covered in paintings, as they've long ago ran out of wall space!

Light Street Gallery will be a great addition to Baltimore's cultural tapestry and to our region. The gallery is located at 1448 Light Street in Baltimore, and can be reached at 410/254-0047 or on the web at

The love of art by collectors often leads to them opening art galleries, such as Cheryl Numark and Numark Gallery, and now the Krenskys with Light Street Gallery. This is all good news to our art scene.

Starting today, I will try to highlight one DC area artist every few days or so, and discuss his or her work, and tell you why I like or dislike their work, and put up an image of their work (and maybe of them if I can find one or get one) here.

Check later today for my first pick to start the roll call of the Washington area's visual artists that have made an impression on me and why.

Friday, April 02, 2004

Opportunity for artists...
Deadline: 1 June 2004

The 2004 Eight Annual Georgetown International Art Competition is an opportunity for artists to exhibit two dimensional art in our Georgetown space.

We have had tremendous success with the previous juried exhibitions, which were widely reviewed in various local art magazines and local and national newspapers. See some of our reviews here. This exhibition has in several cases also opened up additional exhibition opportunites for artists in the DC area, and we've also picked up several artists to represent from the work submitted.

The 2004 juror is Kristen Hileman, Assistant Curator for Contemporary Art at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Gardens.

Read the prospectus and download the entry from here.

Another beauty in the "someone shoot me now" category.

My message to Dan Castellaneta (Homer), Nancy Cartwright (Bart), Yeardley Smith (sister Lisa), Julie Kavner (family matriarch Marge), Hank Azaria (bartender Moe and Apu the convenience store clerk) and Harry Shearer (Homer’s tyrannical boss, Mr. Burns and Bible-toting neighbor Ned Flanders)......

Oh forget it... I guess you do deserve $8 million a season to do voice overs for cartoons....

Someone shoot me now...

I'll be goddamned if this is not what I've been bitching about for the last 11 years that I've been living in the Washington, DC area!!!!
"The failure to challenge is a fundamental flaw in US arts journalism..... And how did this happen? Because there are few cities with multiple critical voices."
I've been frothing at the mouth about having more than one writer reviewing all 200-plus art galleries, non-profit art spaces, embassies and alternative art venues in our area - and a freelancer at that! -- it's not fair to Jessica Dawson, and it's not fair to Washington Post readers, and it's not fair to artists, and it's not fair to gallerists! (I ignore the Washington Times because Joanna Shaw-Eagle is seldom allowed to review local area artists - although I do thank the Times (and bite the hand that reviewed the dog) because they gave me a great review in my last art show).

But --- the point is that we need more than one point of view when it comes to galleries criticism - why don't our Art Editors (in both the Post and Times) get that when it comes to the (galleries) visual arts criticism/reviews?

There's several movie critics, several music critics, several visual art museum critics, several dance critics, a whole pride, bevy, ton, tribe... of theatre critics.... why only one gallery critic? The Post has many talented and qualified writers already: Wiltz, Trescott, Frey, Lewis,... plus freelancers like Protzman, Jacobson, Shannon, Mahoney. There's no lack of qualified art critics! It's ironic that the only paper that article author Norman Lebrecht praises is the Washington Post - but then, from a music perspective, the Post does offer superb critical coverage of music.

And yes - I do realize that once in a blue moon Blake Gopnik, or Michael O'Sullivan (or his freelance replacement on Weekend), is "allowed" to review a local gallery - but the bottom line is that we need more than ONE point of view.

Nobody asked me, but my opinion nonetheless...

Thursday, April 01, 2004

We don't have a Artes Mundi Prize equivalent around here, but we do have the $14,000 Trawick Art Prize, and all Virginia, Maryland and DC area artists are eligible to apply for it. Visit this website for details. The deadline is May 21, 2004. Hurry!

The 2003 winners were Richard Cleaver, a sculptor from Baltimore, MD, who was awarded the top honor with $10,000; James Huckenpahler who was named second place and was given $2,000; Linn Meyers of Washington, DC who was bestowed third place and received $1,000 and the “Young Artist” award of $1,000 (and sponsored by us) was given to Jose Ruiz of Washington, D.C.

The 2004 jury members for the Trawick Prize are Jeffrey W. Allison, The Paul Mellon Collection Educator at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts; Peter Dubeau, Associate Dean of Continuing Studies at the Maryland Institute College of Art and Kristen Hileman, Assistant Curator at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.

Anyone wishing to add funds to this regional art prize structure should contact Stephanie Coppula at (301) 215-6660. Time for some of our area's megacompanies to step up.

Why most modern art sucks:

The winner of the first £40,000 Artes Mundi Prize is a message written in dust. Martin Gaylord, writing in The Telegraph wonders "What has art become? It's hard to answer that question, except to say, "Very weird."

And Ben Issario, writing in the NY Times discusses the fact that "Internet Art" is dead and has reached digital exhaustion. Yet it wasn't that long ago that curators and critics - enamoured of what's new rather than what's good - were labeling Internet Art projects as the "new king of art."

This is what happens when novelty (sometimes coupled with shock or gimmick) is allowed to rule exclusively.

Both above links thanks to

Jessica Dawson's "Galleries" column in today's Post "scraps the art criticism and talks religion instead."

Jessica reviews Lane Twitchell at G Fine Art, in Georgetown (Annie, please update your website!).

She asks: "After all, religion and art can't occupy the same conversational space, can they?"

Catriona pointed out to me: How about America's best selling "artist"? Now that Thomas Kinkade is having a solo at a "real" art gallery, we've all faced with the question of the legitimacy of America's best-selling painter as an artist. And isn't Kinkade's huge success because of his marriage of art and religion?

I do not like it, will never like it and don't understand people who amass Kinkade's "art," but now that the "artworld" has cracked the door open for him, the ensuing dialogue (and food fight) that will follow, will be both interesting and good for art.

In fact, if any gallerist in Washington (not us, thank you) wants to really make the national headlines, they should contact Kinkade and offer him his first solo in a commercial fine arts space. Then we'd let Blake and Dixon loose on him, and the rest would be great publicity and probably a sell-out show.

Hey! Maybe that's what those missing DC art collectors are buying?

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