Thursday, March 31, 2005

Gallery Openings

Tomorrow is the first Friday of the month and thus the extended hours for the Dupont Circle area galleries.

Some key Dupont Circle shows not to miss are Maria Friberg's exhibition at Conner Contemporary, Laura Fayer at JET Artworks, William T. Wiley at Marsha Mateyka, Maxine Cable's room installations at Gallery 10 and Gabriel Jules at Washington Printmakers.

In Georgetown, Anne C. Fisher Gallery also has an opening titled "Resonance" for John M. Adams' paintings and Frances Sniffen's sculptures. From 6-8PM.

It's a tough call, but tomorrow I will be heading for the Arlington Arts Center to see the unfortunately named "Art with Accent: Latin Americans in the Mid-Atlantic States," curated by Susana Torruella Leval, Director Emerita, El Museo Del Barrio, New York.

That opening is from 6-9PM, and the exhibiting artists selected by Ms. Torruella Leval are: Aldo Badano, Juan Bernal, Gute Brandao, Mark Caicedo, Ana Cavalcanti, Irene Clouthier, Pepe Coronado, Gerard de la Cruz, Felisa Federman, Luis Flores, Eva Holz, Tamara Kostianovsky, Rosana Lopez, Carolina Mayorga, Lara Oliveira, Alessandra Ramirez, Victoria Restrepo, Helga Thomson, and Maria Velez.

I love the diversity of names, helping to smash the stereotype of "Hispanic" as a cultural segregator. The curator will also lead a round table discussion with participating artists, "Latin American" Art: Expectation and Reality, on Thursday, April 21 at 7PM. My vociferous views on this issue here.

The Thursday Reviews

In the WaPo, Jessica Dawson reviews Mark Dell'Isola at Govinda Gallery in Georgetown, and also reviews Prof. Peter Charles at Irvine Contemporary and has a little blurb on American Icons at Robert Brown.

At G.P., Kriston has an excellent review of Molly Springfield at JET Artworks.

In the City Paper, Louis Jacobson reviews Valeska Soares at Fusebox, while Jeffry Cudlin reviews Shimon Attie at Numark.

The CP also has a letter from J.W. Bailey coming to the defense of curator Annette Polan in the wake of the hubris caused by the "Faces of the Fallen" exhibition.

And finally, the CP has a great feature on painter Erik Sandberg. By the way, since the article doesn't mention it, Erik Sandberg is represented locally by Conner Contemporary Art, which has done a huge amount of work to promote his career and continues to do a superb job in giving Sandberg's name the recognition that it deserves; Erik is lucky to have such a hard working gallery representing his work.

These artist features, which the CP does rather regularly, is one of the key things that makes this paper such a great asset to our cultural tapestry, since none of the other area newspapers does anything remotely similar (unless it is a late obituary).

For the record, I think and have thought for many years, that Sandberg is without a doubt one of the best painters in our area, and I own two of his paintings.

Also for the record, his statement that he left our gallery because "They lost my damn number five times, or they never had my number," differs from my own recollections as to the reasons that he gave us (in a voice mail) for leaving the gallery, one of which was that "he had decided to be on his own and not be represented exclusively by any gallery." This was a couple of days after his very successful first solo show had closed. To this date, he remains the only artist who has ever "left us" voluntarily since we opened our first gallery in 1996.

We gave a very young Erik Sandberg his first solo show in Washington, sold nearly all of his work, and whatever didn't sell was then sold through Sothebys, to collectors in Europe and Japan. Nonetheless, for a variety of reasons, Erik chose to leave our gallery.

I remain a huge fan of Erik Sandberg's work.

Opportunities for Artists

Deadline: April 1, 2005

"In Focus: Photography Techniques and Trends." Juror: Sarah Kennel, Assistant Curator, Department of Photographs, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. This exhibition is open to artists working in all photographic processes. Artists are encouraged to expand parameters and traditional definitions. Award amounts up to $500. Exhibition dates: June 9 to July 17, 2005. Submission fee: $25 for images of 3 works. Deadline: Friday, April 1, 2005. For prospectus, email Clare here or send SASE to:
Target Gallery
105 North Union Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
or Phone: 703.838.4565

Deadline: April 8, 2005

The Bethesda Arts & Entertainment District is accepting submissions for The Trawick Prize: Bethesda Contemporary Art Awards. The 3rd annual juried art competition awards $14,000 in prize monies to four selected artists.

Deadline for slide submission is Friday, April 8, 2005 and up to fifteen artists will be invited to display their work from September 6, 2005 - September 30, 2005 in downtown Bethesda at Creative Partners Gallery.

The competition will be juried by Olga Viso, the Deputy Director at the Hirshorn Museum and Sculpture Garden; Andrea Pollan, an independent curator, fine arts appraiser and art consultant and Dr. Thom Collins, Executive Director of the Contemporary Museum in Baltimore, MD.

Deadline: April 8, 2005

Call for Entries for Artscape 2005. Complete application information is available at

Two exhibitions: One at the Baltimore Museum of Art Drawing Show/Juried Show Thalheimer Gallery and a second: The Baltimore Museum of Art and the Meyerhoff Gallery, Fox Building, MICA, Curated by Gary Simmons (A New York artist).

Application deadline: April 8, 2005. The BMA exhibition will focus on drawing based ideas. The Fox building show will cover all media.

Deadline: April 8, 2005

The Halpert Biennial 05, a national juried visual art competition and exhibition, is open to all two-dimensional visual artists, who are over the age of 18 and currently residing in the United States. Awards totaling $5000. Mary Agnes Beach (Museum Curator City of Coral Gables, Florida) will serve as juror. The Halpert Biennial is a part of An Appalachian Summer Festival-a multi-arts festival featuring music, dance, theatre and visual arts. Deadline for entries is April 8, 2005. Send SASE to:
Halpert Biennial 05
Attn - Brook Greene
Box 32139
423 West King St, Boone NC 28608

Deadline: April 11, 2005

Juried Annual Small Works Exhibition. Seeking works on paper no smaller than half of a dollar bill, no larger than a full dollar bill. Entry fee. No commission; insurance. $1000+ in awards.

Send SASE to:
Jacksonville State Univ.
Art Department
700 Pelham Rd N
Jacksonville AL 36265

Or call 256-782-5626.

Deadline: April 12, 2005

The Spectrum Gallery in Georgetown, DC is jurying for new members on April 12. For more information please call 202.333.0954 or visit

Deadline:April 15, 2005

"What's So Terrible About Being Beautiful?" A modern art exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art/A+M Galleries in Washington, DC which is looking for an artist to join three other prominent artists in its June exhibition. All media will be considered for this competition. The show will run from June 3 to July 1. Please email: for a prospectus or
mail a request to:
Peter Photikoe
Museum of Contemporary Art/A+M Galleries
1054 31st St NW
Washington DC 20007

Deadline: April 18, 2005

"Containers/Contained." Juror: Twylene Moyer, Managing Editor, Sculpture magazine. This exhibition is open to all artists working in all media, both two-dimensional and three-dimensional. Works can explore both the literal and the conceptual parameters of containers and containment. Artists are encouraged to think broadly and to expand traditional definitions. Award amounts up to
$500. Exhibition dates: July 22 to August 28, 2005. Submission fee: $25 for images of 3 works (slide or JPEG). Deadline: Monday, April 18, 2005. For prospectus, email
Target here or send SASE to:
Target Gallery
105 North Union Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
Or Phone: 703.838.4565

May 1, 2005

22nd Annual Art Competition sponsored by The Artist's Magazine. More than $25,000 in cash prizes will be awarded, and Top Award Winners will be featured in the
December 2005 issue of The Artist's Magazine.

Plus, 13 finalists will be featured in The Artist's Magazine's 2006 Calendar. There are five categories for artists to compete: Portrait & Figures, Still Life, Landscape, Experimental and Animal Art. Plus, there's a Special Student/Beginner Division for new artists.

For details and an entry form visit: or email them at: this email address or call Terri Boes at:513-531-2690 x1328.

Deadline: May 20, 2005

Call For Erotic Artists! Juried show: Art @ Large, New York City's Erotic/Figurative Art Gallery. 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 2006. Either download the prospectus from this website or send SASE to:
Art @ Large
630 Ninth Av #707
New York NY 10036

Deadline: June 3, 2005

9th Annual Georgetown International Fine Arts Competition. With $1,000 in cash prizes and a solo show in 2006 for the Best of Show winner, the Annual Georgetown International has a call for artists. See details online here to download the prospectus or send a SASE to:
Fraser Gallery
1054 31st Street, NW
Washington, DC 20007

Deadline: September 15, 2005

i found your photo National Call for Submission of Donated Found Photographs. This is a unique Art exhibition of found photographs to raise money to fund a Photography Scholarship for an at-risk High School Senior aspiring photographer from the Washington, D.C. Area to attend Art School.

According to Bailey, this exhibition will feature donated found photographs submitted from across the country by both artists and non artists who have discovered or found a photograph somewhere that interests them: "I’m issuing a national call for submission for one found photograph to be donated to the exhibition from anyone interested in participating. I’m asking each finder of a submitted found photograph to include an index card with their submission that includes a personal statement about where the photograph they have submitted was found and what meaning it holds for them."

After the exhibition closes in late 2005, the original found photographs, index cards and other curatorial items from the exhibition will be collected and placed into an original one-of-a-kind handmade photography book. This book will be designed by photographer and handmade photography book artist, Melanie De Cola, of Reston, Virginia. To complete the project, the book will be auctioned on Ebay in early 2006 and the proceeds of the auction will be used to fund a the photography scholarship through the League of Reston Artists, a not for profit artist collective based in Reston.

Mail the original photograph, along with an index card that offers your thoughts on the meaning of the photograph and a description of where you found it by September 15, 2005 to:
James W. Bailey
Force Majeure Studios
2142 Glencourse Lane
Reston, VA 20191
Website: here

Wednesday, March 30, 2005


To Behroo Bagheri, who is the winner of the fourth annual Evolving Perceptions (EP) Iranian-American Fine Arts Scholarship.

In 1998, Behroo finished law school in Iran, soon thereafter she decided to move to California. Behroo decided that the paintbrush would be a more effective tool in exposing the exploitation, corruption and injustice that she observed and experienced. She shares, "It was painful to observe my fatherland going down, and not being able to speak out."

EP, which is a local DC area organization, is expanding the scholarship program and is seeking sponsors to donate to the fund. If interested in donating a tax deductible gift to Evolving Perceptions (a 501(c)3 organization), please contact EP at or call them at 202-607-0754.

Donkeys, Elephants, Pandas and... Piggybanks

From a just received news release:
"Recognizing the success of statue events around the world such as the Cows in Europe and Chicago, the Peanuts characters in Saint Paul, the Donkeys, Elephants and Pandas here in Washington D.C., we are proud to be creating Piggybanks in Washington, DC.

The display of the Piggybanks as a form of public art will coincide with the Stash Your Cash program in Washington, DC Public Middle Schools.

Stash Your Cash teaches Middle School students hands on lessons in money management through their schools. The piggybanks will promote awareness of the campaign and will create public art throughout Washington, DC.

The campaign will feature a limited number of 4 feet tall, 5 feet long, and 3 feet wide piggybanks custom designed by middle school students with the assistance of Washington, DC artists. The piggybank statues will be on display throughout Washington, DC from the end of April to June. In June, the piggybanks will be auctioned off and proceeds will go to participating schools."
The organizers have a call for artists and are hereby inviting artists to participate in this event by assisting local middle school students in designing and painting a piggybank statue. A website will soon be up, but in the meantime, to request more information please call Sara Higgs at (703) 741-7500 by Wednesday April 6, 2005.

Also on Thursday

One of the most beautiful art venues in our area is The Art Museum of the Americas, and tomorrow they will host extended hours from 6-8 PM for a viewing of the exhibit "Art of the Print."

This is an encapsulated survey of the museum’s print collection ranging in time from Jose Guadalupe Posada (1852-1913) to contemporary printmakers, Art of the Print brings together the work of artists who have dedicated the greater part of their careers to printmaking, as well as artists best known as painters or sculptors who, at different points in their careers, have been drawn to printmaking’s versatility and sensibility.

Among the artists in the exhibit are Antonio Berni, Jacobo Borges, Claudio Bravo, Rimer Cardillo, Jose Luis Cuevas, Juan Downey, Enrique Grau, Mauricio Lasansky, Matilde Marin, Leopoldo Mendez, Carlos Merida, Oscar Muñoz, Naul Ojeda, Jose Clemente Orozco, Alejandro Otero, Sonnylal Rambissoon, Omar Rayo, Diego Rivera, Jose Sabogal, Lasar Segall, David Alfaro Siquieros, Luis Solari, Fernando de Szyszlo, Rufino Tamayo, Francisco Toledo, Julio Zachrisson, Francisco Zuniga, among others.

Of note among these giants of world art, is Naul Ojeda, who passed away last year, and who lived for many years in the Washington area, where he was an enthusiastic participant in past Art-O-Matics.

For further info for further information call (202) 458-6016.

Wanna Go to an Opening Tomorrow?

print by Clay-RobisonBodies: Prints by Matthew Clay-Robison is an exhibition of over 25 woodcut and serigraph prints commences tomorrow with a lecture by Clay-Robison on Thursday, March 31, 4-4:45 PM at the Margaret Brent Room, Stamp Student Union and is immediately followed by an Opening Reception from 5:00 - 6:30PM at the Union Gallery, Stamp Student Union at the University of Maryland.

Clay-Robison is a printmaker, University of Maryland alumni and assistant professor in the Department of Art and Art History at Bloomsburg University. The works' subjects include highly charged political critiques of the current administration to the depiction of a fight the artist witnessed while living in Washington, D.C.,

The Union Gallery is located on the first floor of the Stamp Student Union on the campus of the University of Maryland. Hours are 10:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

work by Wm ChristenberryIf you'd rather stay in the District, then Hemphill Fine Arts hosts the opening of one of Washington's best known and most respected artists: William Christenberry.

Christenberry needs no introduction and this exhibition promises to be one of the most interesting shows by a key member of ours arts community.

The opening reception is from 6:30 to 8:30PM.

The show will be on exhibit until May 14, 2005.

Arts Management

Debra Smyers wrote a paper for a Master of Arts Management class assignment at George Mason University describing a gallery reception.

She chose our Lida Moser opening last Friday and her eloquent paper can be read online here.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

DCistTuesday Arts Agenda

Read it here.

MAP is Out of Order!

Maryland Art Place

The Maryland Art Place
in Baltimore has a call for all artists to join them for their 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 (i.e. hangers and wire securely attached.)
MAP provides all hardware for installation.
Call ahead for special needs—pedestals and electricity access is limited.
Work must be priced to sell!
Proceeds will be split 50/50 between the artist and MAP.
MAP reserves the right not to exhibit work deemed unacceptable.

Hanging Dates and Times: 24 Straight Hours (That’s Right—24 hours nonstop!) beginning 9 am Wednesday, April 6th, and ending 9 am Thursday, April 7th, 2005.

Silent Auction and Gala: 8 pm-1 am Friday, April 8th. This will be a special evening of entertainment by Abby McGivney and Michael Patrick Smith, along with music by Chris Pumphrey and electronic fun by Snacks; and of course, they’re will be food, beer, and wine! And artists who donate works will receive a free ticket to the auction and gala night.

For more details or to become a member of MAP call them at 410-962-8565 or visit their website.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Artwork Needed for Auction

Two dimensional artwork is needed between the sizes of 8x10 inches and 24x24 inches for the American Red Cross' DC Bandaids/Tsunami Relief Silent Auction and Concert to be held at DCAC next Monday night, April 4th, 2005.

This is a great opportunity to have your artwork help lives that have been devastated by the tsumami, and also donate to the American Red Cross all at once.

For more info, including where to donate your artwork and when, please email the Silent Auction coordinator Mare Meyer here or visit this website for more details.

click here to visit ArtKrush is back! Visit them often.

Block that Quote

MAN has an interesting post on misused quotes in reference to Matisse.

Nothing to do with Matisse, or DC art, but the trouble with misused quotes is also one of my pet peeves, which in a Woody Allen moment, I was able to "fix" (in a very specific case) a few years ago on national television when I was a talking head in a TBS documentary called "Women of the Ink."

The documentary was about female tattoo artists, and I was the talking head discussing the ancient history of tattooing in European culture, specifically focused on the ancient Picts of current day Scotland.

For almost two centuries historians had debated the issue of tattoing among the Pictish kingdoms north of Hadrian's Wall in Roman Britain. A few lines from a poem by Claudian:
"Venit et extremis legio praetenta Britannis, Quae Scotto dat frena truci ferronque notatas Perlegit examines Picto moriente figuras"
Which means:
"This legion, set to guard the furthest Britons, curbs the savage Scot and studies the designs marked with iron on the face of the dying Pict"
Add a few more sparse descriptions (which are actually the first surviving mention of the Picts dating from 297 AD), in a poem praising the emperor Constantius Chlorus, by the Roman orator Eumenius. And then by just repeating the same partial quote over and over, historians get into a debate about tattoo or painted? What does "marked with iron mean?"

Matrilineal (Royal House of The Seal) a drawing by CampelloEven the name is confusing: Pict (Pictii) is actually probably a derrogatory nickname given by the Romans to their tattooed enemies; it could mean "Painted."

The ancient Greeks called them the "Pritanni" (which some people think is the origin of the word Britannic). Pritanni means "the People of the Designs" as does the word "Cruithnii," which is what the Gaelic Celts called them.

So I actually went and researched the source and text of some of the original documents which mentioned the Picts and discovered that the quotes were but a small part, and once expanded not only confirmed that the Picts were tattooed, but described the process (they used sharp iron tools (needles?) and a natural plant-based ink called woad, which is apparently (in some forms) highly hallucenic by the way... sort of a very strong PCP type drug).

Most of the misquotes were taken from books 9 and 14 of the Etymologies of Isidore of Seville (560-636).

In the Chronica de Origine Antiquorum Pictorum (The Pictish Chronicle), an otherwise confusing text, he writes:
"Picti propria lingua nomen habent a picto corpore; eo quod, aculeis ferreis cum atramento, variarum figurarum sti(n)gmate annotantur."
Which means:
"The Picts take their name in their own tongue from their painted bodies; this is because, using sharp iron tools and ink, they are marked by tattoos of various shapes."
Painted and tattooed!

When I bring this up to a very smug historian in the "Women of the Ink" documentary, you can actually see his proper British jaw drop.

Mark Jenkins

Mark Jenkins is at it again... check out his latest outdoor installations at the reflecting pool here and at the Mall here.

Beck's Futures

Blake Gopnik pens a really superb look at the London Institute of Contemporary Arts' "Beck's Futures" exhibition of emerging British art.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

The 48th Corcoran Biennial

In discussing the 48th Corcoran Biennial with the curators, one encounters the words "traditional" and "earnest" quite often, and after a couple of rounds through the exhibit, it may be a bit if a head scratcher for some to try to figure out exactly where "tradition" fits in.

But like those color dot eye tests that are given to determine color blindness, once the clever thread that holds this exhibition together is discovered, then and only then can one see what co-curators Stacey Schmidt and Dr. Jonathan Binstock have accomplished in the 2005 version of the Biennial.

Titled "Closer to Home," the exhibition gathers fifteen artists from an initial field of around 150 artists initially considered by the curators. The title is both a metaphor for what Binstock and Schmidt attempt to accomplish (a return to more traditional artwork) as well as a signpost to show that the curators are proud of the fact that four of the fifteen artists selected are from our area (that’s three more than the sole DC area artist included in the previous Biennial). Our kudos to the curators for this sensitivity and awareness of Washington area artists.

But finding and examining the thread that unifies this exhibition is the prime objective of my discussion of the show. The second issue is the discovery that seldom has a genre (in this case photography) imposed itself so quickly and firmly, heads above the rest of the other forms of art included in this show. To tip my card early: photographers stole this show.

Sculptural Offerings and Other Oddities

Start by not missing the huge sculpture by Chakaia Booker on the extreme right wall of the ground floor.

Made of torn black tires, it is surprising organic and even visceral when you get right close to it. In the catalog, Schmidt writes that "the worn treads are particularly evocative, and Booker emphasizes their rich textural quality through her deft deployment of repetition." I don’t know about that, but in more plebian language, the artist (by the way, who could walk into any Star Wars movie or any Star Trek set in the world) has morphed the qualities of the discarded rubber into a believable sculpture support system, that (like Michelangelo’s David) seems almost alive and able to move. It was a good choice for inclusion in this show, and it was one of my early favorites in the exhibition, although I wish it could have been placed somewhat closer to the rest of the works, as I am afraid that its present location may make some visitors miss by the Rev. Acres

Then walk through the Rev. Ethan Acres inflatable and brightly colored yellow... uh... things, and examine the preaching pumpkin-headed sculpture surrounded by black felt birds in the Corcoran’s second level rotunda, and it takes a bit to gather the first subtle hints of what ties this exhibition together. And no, it isn’t Stephen King’s The Stand.

So where’s the traditional connection here? Meet the Reverend, a likable and vocal young man who truly has the charm and voice qualities of a street preacher, and he’ll let you know about how he’s been preaching since he was a child, and will soon be starting the "Church of Having Fun" (I think that church's name is in constant flux) in Los Angeles; I have dibs for the first outlet in our area.

For the Biennial, Schmidt and Binstock chose a series of inflatable contraptions, which using some sort of noisy blowing motor, keep the yellow plastic works inflated, sort of like an artsy version of those dancing air men one sometimes sees at outdoor concerts or a children’s bouncy castle. They are covered in writing extolling the virtues of what the Reverend likes to preach.

Therein lies the first hint of where tradition exists within the trying-to-be-outrageous work of the Reverend and our first hint of what the curators are going after.

Go up one level, and upon entering the main exhibit area, one runs into the balls of yarn and the cardboard and yarn floor sculpture of Kathryn Spence, strangely reminiscent (at least to me) of something almost identical that I saw at the last Art-O-Matic.
work by Kathryn Spence
There are also paper towels that have the decorations on them stitched by the artist, as if she’s underlining the quilting impression that Madison Avenue pushes when advertising paper towels. The quilted paper towels are displayed on a shelf, a bit of a heavy handed metaphor for the home, but also one which helps us bridge the "traditionality" of the artist’s work (quilting) to a modern context (the paper towels as the support medium).

Take something "traditional," and marry it with something more "modern." And the thread is now becoming a rope (or in this case yarn).

The paintings by Monique Van Genderen are displayed also in this area, and of all the work in this show, these were the one that I would characterize as most forgettable – they are the kind of sixty-year-old-looking work that one sees almost everywhere artwork is ever exhibited, from the most plebian of community centers in Manassas to the most hoity toity of art galleries in New York. I lost the thread there.

The thread is brilliantly pulled back into focus by the delicate and somewhat puzzling collages of Austin Thomas. Technically anchored by a set of tiny, flower-shaped paper forms, the collages float back and forth between the realm of geometric abstraction, to the illusionist viewpoint of one looking at aerial views or building and airports.

What Austin has cleverly done is fool us into becoming intimate examiners of her work, traditional in the sense that she’s just assembling paper on paper, while at the same time puzzling us with questions as to the significance (and identity) of what she’s trying to, or not to, represent.

Thomas also has a couple of sculptural pieces in this show, that even after a few close looks, still seem to me like nothing more than a glorified gazebo. I will admit that the bench that is now in the last room of the exhibition (looking strangely out of place in a gallery full of early American portrait paintings) is an improvement over the ordinary bench that it replaced and I encourage the Corcoran to buy it; but it's just a fancy bench.

A couple of floor sculptures by area stalwart Jeff Spaulding (a Trawick Prize finalist last year) hark back to the halcyon days of found-object assemblage and return us to tradition, especially with the bike seat sculpture. As soon as Picasso married a bike seat with the bike’s handlebars to create the head of a bull, back in the early years of the last century, those objects entered the pantheon of tradition, while at the same time remaining modern-looking parts for generations of sculptors to come.

The Triumph of Photography

The next room reveals the true great find of this Biennial: the daguerreotypes of Adam Fuss. And it was Fuss, during my first walk-through, who provided me with the key to unravel the unifying force of the exhibition.

What can be more traditional that a 19th century photographic process? And is there a geekier group of people in the fine arts than techno photographers, with their love of wet plates, pinhole cameras, and even daguerreotypes. Some people think that digital photography will soon eclipse the dark room and film.

To them I say bull! As long as there are Adam Fusses in the art world, there will always be bridges between the old and the modern.

Couple a modern-looking image (in this case wave-like forms made -- I think -- by a drop of water), repeated in multiple instantiations with the technical beauty of a daguerreotype, and then present it in a super clean, barely-there minimalist clear frame, and you have a room of photographs that are the essence of post-modern hi-fallutinism but owing their birth to one of the most traditional of photography’s ancestors.

This is what the 48th Biennial is all about -- Bravo Fuss; you rule this show!

And I think that Binstock and Schmidt know this, because as we sail past Fuss' photographs, the next few artists (all three of them area residents) all seem to get it, and better still offer it back.

That is if you skip Matthew Buckingham’s slide show. This is the one piece that truly fails by trying too hard.
slide show by Buckingham
Like an awful lot of conceptual art, Buckingham’s entry in the Biennial suffers from conceptualititis, that strange and common disease where the conceptual idea is a lot more interesting than the actual visual project. In this case, Buckingham bridges the road between the traditional and the new by re-visiting the 1910 project by photographer Rudolph DeLeeuw, who photographed every building on both sides of Broadway (from Bowling Green to Columbus Circle) in New York City.

Buckingham returns to the scene of the original photography, re-shoots the exact same views, and tries to bring it to a modern setting through the pseudo installation process of showing fade-away slides in a dimly lit room.

And it doesn’t just fail because the interesting concept is just that (interesting as a concept), but it also fails because Buckingham’s photos are some of the drabbest, plainest, fill-in-the-blank-with-a-negative-word "est" photos that I’ve seen since I last attempted to take photographs (in an eerily similar project) as an art school student in Seattle a couple of decades ago.

Locals to the Rescue

But the local boys rekindle the show. We first encounter Colby Caldwell (represented locally by Hemphill Fine Arts), and who is easily one of the most innovative photographers in our area. Caldwell has two bodies of works on exhibition – both of which reinforce what Binstock and Schmidt are trying to assert.

In the first series of works, he displays the 8mm film of his friends (shown in modern looking video monitors). The traditionality of the 8mm film, which has been a key part of Colby’s work for the last few years, is married to the modernity of the video as art (although this form of art is getting a bit long in the tooth now -- it’s in its 40s).

The 8mm film is scratchy and color-flooded enough, and short enough (three minutes each) to warrant attention (as opposed to the interminable bores of Tacita Dean for example).

Caldwell left individual friends alone with the 8mm camera running, and let them choose what to say and do. It works well in this exhibition – underline another artist who solidifies the exhibition premise.

example of the Caldwell work I am discussingCaldwell’s other pieces are enlarged color works derived from single frames from old 8mm film. He has chosen various frames, but it is the "error" frames, where perhaps the rastering of the 8mm has gone off, which are the most interesting.

Once these colorful raster images are gigantized to the proper Teutonic scale required by modern day museum curators, and presented on the walls, it is easy to handcuff them to the tradition of the Washington Color School.

Yes, yes, I know that no stripe painter ever painted anything like Caldwell’s old family movies have birthed, but if they’ve had the visual idea, they would have done so and Caldwell’s modern works would have fit right into the painting dialogue of the Color School (not to mention that Colby’s would have been "thinner" than the "thinnest" of paintings).

I love it when intelligence, technical ability and historical glue all come together to deliver great artwork. Bravo Caldwell!

And the rest of this room belongs to our own, for Caldwell’s neighbors are James Huckenpahler (represented locally by Fusebox and also a Trawick Prize finalist) and Baltimore’s John Lehr, who is not represented by anyone locally, but who I am sure will soon be in the stable of a good local gallery and a powerhouse LA or NYC gallery.

John Lehr is a very young photographer whose work came through the attention of co-curator Jonathan Binstock through the jurying process for the Trawick Prize (are we seeing another thread here?). Two bodies of work are exhibited, but it is the first set, a series titled Sound and Fury that truly identify young Mr. Lehr as someone to keep an eye upon.

And let me be frank and tell you that Lehr’s photography is that sort of photography that does not speak to me personally; I don’t like boring, blasé photography, but an awful lot of important contemporary art world voices do, and thus I predict good things for this likeable young man, who is not yet 30..

About his work: start with the "everyone is photographing empty streetscapes" formula, but then add something compositionally (and contextually) different. In this set of photographs, Lehr has skillfully bisected the large, drab images with a neat view of the slim side of a large sign. Imagine your typical billboard, or neon advertising sign, etc. When viewed from the side, Lehr denies us (and the sign sponsors) the message. All that’s left is a bisecting line that divides the landscape into shapes, sometimes eerily unrelated.

But after that's over and done with... what then? That is the biggest challenge for young Mr. Lehr. In fact, his second body of works in this exhibition, aligned to the left of the Sound and Fury photographs, are just another set of common, colorful, poster-like photos. The challenge then for young John Lehr, even before he pops into the national stage, is the curse of the "what's new?" crowd... after all, one can't photograph signs sideways for the rest of your life (can they?).

Iñigo Maglano-Ovalle Cloud Prototypeno.1A blob of silver suspended from the ceiling directs us to the computer-generated work of James Huckenpahler.

The blob of silver is by Iñigo Maglano-Ovalle, although for a minute there I thought that perhaps Huckenpahler was trying his hand at sculpture and was taking one of his computer-generated works into the third dimension.

As any Washington area art junkie knows, Huckenpahler’s palette is the laptop, and his art are the computer manipulated images that he distills from the original input files, in this case forms and parts of the body that eventually yield amorphous forms and designs that struggle to leave the two dimensional trap of the flat surface though the intelligent use of highlight to give the illusion of three dimensions. They are beautiful, almost sensual images, and yet, after seeing Huckenpahler push his laptop to the limit, one but gets the feeling that he’s beginning to accomplish all that can be done with the avenue that he has so well explored.

Somewhere in some lab in Silicon Valley, some techy geek is now inventing holographs for the masses, so that our kids can play their Xbox games in three dimensions. As soon as he does that, Huckenpahler can probably explode his formidable artistic vision away from the wall, but for now I think that he is dangerously close to becoming trapped by his own ability and success. He does well in this show, and his work is by far some of the best in the Biennial, as he was clearly pushed by Binstock and Schmidt to stretch the boundaries of his art, but I think he’s now reached max speed and needs to invent a new acceleration scheme.

The Failure of Painting

As I mentioned earlier, Van Genderen's paintings left me in a complete state of apathy, and the other two painters in the show also fail miserably to impress anything memorable for the "ancient medium."

The curators do try to impress upon visitors that there’s no irony in any of the works selected; these are artists working in "earnest," and perhaps while not at the vanguard of the irony-driven front lines of the art scene, they are nonetheless an important and serious part of it.

But if George Condo’s paintings are not supposed to be ironic, then what the hell are they supposed to be about? I suppose that with enough art jargon anyone could coat these silly, cartoonish, badly painted works with a certain sense of decorum and purpose; I for one, lack that much talent.

The imagery itself is puzzling: distorted heads and community college night school surrealism. And although the catalog describes them as "exquisite, painterly portraits," this is not true. In fact, they are (technically) badly painted by someone who makes tones and hues by mixing everything with white (the unfortunate and common pseudo technical weapon of choice of self-taught Sunday painters).

The lack of technical skill as a painter is not the only thing that makes these works fail, although if Condo’s works are truly to be seen as "earnest," then a few painting classes wouldn’t hurt.

But the imagery itself is just plain... uh... silly! Not "bizarre," just silly. Like what would come out if you commissioned Zippy to create a new series of paintings for Sears. I can see it now: Thomas Kinkade: Painter of Light and Zippy the Pinhead: Painter of Silliness.

Dana Schutz's paintings have been in a lot of Biennials all over the world since this young painter got her MFA at Columbia in 2002. And they are an improvement over Condo’s, but they are nonetheless still somewhat of a surprise to me, simply because, when viewed in person and up close, they seem so pedestrian and art school assignmentish.

Surgery by Dana SchutzWith the sole exception of "Surgery," which earns some respect by employing that powerful trump card of representational painting that will always keep it as the king of the fine arts: the ability to capture our attention by offering an unusual (in this case slightly gruesome) scene.

In "Surgery" a female figure is being dissected by a set of other figures around her. It is the most memorable of paintings in the show, but fails to rescue painting from the bottom of the pile in this exhibition.

Finally, the Richard Rezac sculptures left me without a deep opinion. They are minimalist enough, and simple enough, a colorful enough, so that they could easily (if anyone wanted to) be mass-produced into a "make your own modern sculpture" kit. Perhaps the "tradition" here could be a "family art night" where family members could all re-arrange the clean, elegant pieces into different shapes to create modern sculptures.

Well Done!

The 48th Corcoran Biennial is a clever and interesting show, which by design and intention delivers an intelligent marriage of what is seen as traditional, but often able to cross into what we now perceive as modern.

As with any group show, the failures are jaw-dropping in their lack of presence, but the successes, led by Fuss, Caldwell, Lehr and Huckenpahler, more than make up for the weak links in this top notch group show. It is well worth the two-year wait and well worth a visit.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Airborne today

In a futile attempt to avoid the fiasco of my flight west, I'll be heading to the airport about four hours early, hoping to avoid the Easter rush, which coupled with a massive snowstorm being predicted to hit this area tomorrow, will make for an interesting flying day.

Today was another gorgeous day in Seattle, and I had dinner with a few Seattle area gallery owners (ahhhh... the Power of the Web), a local star artist who's an old friend of mine, and even a critic for a local paper who happens to be a schoolmate from my U-Dub days.

After a lot of good seafood and a lot of beer and wine, it's interesting to me to see how the two Washingtons share a lot of the same bitching topics about the visual arts, newspaper coverage, grubs, etc.

Seattle is definately a "wired" city... I can't believe the number of emails that flooded my inbox after I posted the Seattle gallery walk-through; all of them from Seattlelites either agreeing or disagreeing with my notes, and more than one gallerist asking why I skipped his/her gallery.

My daughter Elise finished High School in three years, and so for the last year or so she has been attending college, all the time waiting for her formal graduation ceremony, which takes places in June.

I think that means that "I'll be bek" [pronounced in an Austrian accent].

Friday, March 25, 2005

Lida Moser and the Biennial in the WaPo

There's a great review by O'Sullivan of our current Lida Moser exhibition at Fraser Gallery Georgetown.

The exhibition is well on its way to become our best selling photography show ever.

O'Sullivan also reviews the Corcoran Biennial and picks up on the whole "earnest" issue which was a key component of how the curators discussed the show.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

The Thursday Reviews and Faces of the Fallen

The WaPo's Jonathan Padget has a take on "Never Mind The Corcoran" at Warehouse Gallery.

In the City Paper, Louis Jacobson reviews our current photography show in our Bethesda gallery and also reviews Andrea Way at Marsha Mateyka.

Also in the City Paper, Jeffry Cudlin delivers on a hard assignment: William Basinski and Richard Chartier's live electronic sound art at G Fine Art.

And there's also a very good piece by someone named Deborah Burand, who writes a really readable story on how her portrait came to be painted.

But it is the CP's Christ Shott who's got the best art story/review of the week, in discussing "Faces of the Fallen," a massive exhibition co-chaired by Annette Pollan.
A total of 1,678 American military personnel have perished so far in ongoing missions overseas, according to the Pentagon’s latest U.S. Casualty Status update. That’s 1,519 reported dead in Operation Iraqi Freedom plus 118 killed in and around Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom and another 41 in other locations.

"Faces of the Fallen," a massive outpouring of portraiture intended "to honor the American service men and women who have died," has room for only 1,327 of them. "There are that many of the fallen represented," says exhibit co-chair Annette Polan, a professor at the Corcoran College of Art & Design who recruited nearly 200 volunteers to memorialize each of the deceased through individual portraits.
The issue that is the core of Schott's article, is that some works have been pulled from the exhibition "on account of their content." This issue has not been (so far) discussed by anyone else from what I can find on the web.

Trying to keep an exhibition (homage?) like this apolitical, as Pollan has apparently tried to do, has to be one of the hardest tasks a curator has to face. She takes quite a bit of heat in the article.

And yet, exploiting a dead soldier's portrait to convey a political point of view (which may not have been shared by that soldier or by his family) is also a very difficult thing to swallow.

If you disagree, then reverse the sentiments of the artists discussed in Shott's article.

Imagine that a couple of the artists were "sooooo pro-war" that they would have submitted imagery glorifying war... say a portrait of one of the dead American soldiers with the inscription "avenge my death and kill 1,000 Iraquis for me and let God sort out the bad guys from the good guys."

We would all of course be horrified and probably no one would protest having that piece removed from the exhibition.

Two sides of a very dividing issue. You cannot support one without supporting the other.

There are no winners in a situation like this, and no art world Solomon can solve this issue. As much as anyone may disagree with the pro or anti war leanings of the artists, we must all support their right to express it; but as much as we may agree or disagree with the task and decisions of the curator, we must also all support his or her right to choose what is included, what gets pulled and how the exhibition ends up.

Read the CBS story here. According to CBS:
"This is to honor these men and women who have died, period," says portrait artist Annette Polan, who organized a couple of hundred artists to paint the portraits.
Read the Seattle Post Intelligencer story here. According to the PI article:
The artists were told to "use your own style" and "be respectful for the soldiers and their families," said Anne Murphy, a volunteer organizer and president of Linkages, a consulting firm specializing in public policy and the arts.

"There will be someone who is unhappy" with a portrayal of their lost loved one, predicted Murphy, also a member of the acquisitions and exhibitions committee of the Corcoran Museum [sic] of Art.
Read the New York Times story here. The Times writes:
Jean Prewitt of Birmingham, Ala., looked for the date of April 6, 2003, so she could find the picture of her son Kelley. He was her baby, all of 24, when he left for Iraq, she said. He was the soccer player, the Auburn University fan, the mischief maker.

Ms. Prewitt said she came to the exhibit with no expectations, but she was touched that someone cared enough to do this for her and the other families. Then, through the jostling in the warm hall, she saw Kelley's portrait.

"I don't like it," she said. She got closer. She took out the photograph the portrait seemed to be based on, and the resemblance between it and the painting by the artist, Tom Mullany, appeared faint at best.

Her voice cracked. "This upsets me a lot," she said of the painting. Then she looked around at the crowd. She had said earlier that she knew everyone else at the hall would be from a family that had been destroyed, too. "But just being here upsets me, too."

The painting of Specialist Gregory P. Sanders, who was 19 when he was killed by a sniper on March 24, 2003, disappointed his family, too. His face is shadowy and gaunt in the portrait by Christine Chernow. His cherished big blue eyes are indeterminately dark.

But guided by the adamant cheerfulness of his mother, Leslie Sanders, his relatives remained gracious. "It doesn't matter," said Pat Knight, Specialist Sanders's grandmother. "It's the thought that counts."
Lots more reviews from across the country here.

The WaPo's jack-of-all-trades cultural writer Phillip Kennicott suddenly becomes a visual arts critic when he wrote about the exhibition yesterday and challenges the notion that if you "take a humble snapshot, turn it into a painting, or a sculpture, or a collage, and [then] it is somehow more than a photograph, more serious and honorable and respectful to the subject portrayed." Kennicott then goes on to get on a high pulpit and preaches to the readers; and in the process he misses the point completely.

But Kennicott's colleage, Libby Copeland, who is not a critic at all, sees what Kennicott's imperial view of art fails to see from the viewpoint of the plebian masses.

Copeland writes (bold effect is mine): "Painted portraits seem not only archaic but also impractical compared with photographs, which are taken in an instant and never drip. A portrait takes devotion, which is why painting a person can be an intimate process, even if you've never met your subject, even if the person died before you ever heard his name."

Bravo Copeland!

It's the thought that counts.

Seattle Gallery Walkthrough

On Tuesday I spent most of a gloriously sunny day in downtown Seattle walking through several of the area's art galleries.

Seattle trafficOne thing that Seattle and DC share (other than the "Washington") is some of the worst traffic on the planet, and thus after making my way downtown, I parked my car in one of the many multi-story parking lots downtown, and started the day by dropping by the William Traver Gallery, where I had an appointment to talk about Tim Tate with Bill Traver.

The William Traver Gallery has been a Seattle mainstay for over 40 years, and I think it is the largest in the city. In fact, the gallery could easily swallow DC's three largest galleries inside its mammooth second floor space on Union Street, right across from where the addition to the Seattle Art Museum is being built.

I had a most entertaining time with the owner as we were both hypnotized by the construction of this massive skyscraper right in front of the gallery's large windows. I don't know how anyone in the gallery gets anything done with the constant spectacle of seeing a skyscraper being built, one bolt and nut at a time, right in front of their eyes.

One doesn't last that many years in the art business by being a dummy, and it only takes a few minutes of talking to Bill Traver to realize that this is one sharp mind, already well in tune with the revolution being caused in the art world by the growth of the Internet and the guaranteed demise of the newsprint media.

Coming from DC, with our unexplicable lack of a large collecting base in one of the world's largest concentrations of wealth, it is astonishing to see red dots on sculptures that approach the $55,000 range (and more than one). This first visit was one that would set a trend for galleries to follow: Seattlelites appear to be buying art and lots of it.

Traver (like us) has two galleries, one in Seattle and one in Tacoma. The Seattle gallery was featuring the work of local artist Nancy Worden, which consisted of a series of most unsual jewelry (see them here) spectacularly displayed in a ring of beige maniquins in the center gallery. It was a very pleasant visit with a true professional and an opportunity to drool over a truly gorgeous gallery space.

From there I went to get lunch at the Pike Place Market where from 1977-1981 I sold all of my UW art school assignments plus hundreds of local watercolors and drawings, and first cut my teeth on the business side of the arts. At the northern end of the market I went to the Lisa Harris Gallery, which opened a few years (1985) after I left Seattle, and has been doing brisk business since then by concentrating on Pacific Northwest artists and art about the Pacific NW.

Waterfall by John Cole at Lisa Harris GalleryOn exhibition were painterly landscape works by British-born (and now a local) painter John Cole. The works focused on Northwest landscape imagery, but also brilliantly married a Marsden Hartley "abstract look and feel" to them, so that they became more about the palette and brushwork than truly about the subject, which was elegant enough. There were maybe 25 paintings on exhibit, and I think that all but one or two were sold.

And just like my previous visit, both the gallerina on duty and gallery owner were friendly and warm, immediately joining in a conversation about the local art scene. I also noticed a fact which was to become a trend in nearly every Seattle gallery that I visited, including William Traver: labeling.

It has always been a mystery to me why in some galleries (most NYC and DC galleries by the way), it takes an act of Congress to get a price list or a way to identify the works on display. In our galleries, we always label each and every piece with a wall label by the work itself. Most other DC area galleries do not - prefering the little pin with a number, a minimalist way of making you go and find a master list somewhere, or worse still, no identification at all. Not here; in fact a trend that I noticed is that nearly every gallery that I visited had a wall label by the piece, thereby making it easy to discover title, media, artist and price.

Lisa Harris Gallery is currently celebrating its 20th anniversary, succssfully achieved by focusing on local artists, local collectors and Northwest themes.

I visited a few more galleries along this area, including a huge awful place full of paintings of whales and fish, but the gallery that next sticks in my mind was a very clean, minimalist space called Solomon Fine Art which has two levels, including a beautiful space facing the street on First Avenue.

sculpture by Nik Tongas at Solomon Fine ArtOn exhibit on the ground floor was a group show titled Small Tales, which included works by Ellen Garvens, Chris St. Pierre, Nik Tongas, Peter Stanfield, and Linda Welker. Of these, Tongas' wall sculptures stood out, although I also really liked the frenetic drawings of St. Pierre.

The second level gallery had a show titled Evolution featuring a series of really gorgeous abstract paintings by local Seattle artist Fred Holcomb.

This was the first place that I saw abstract work, and I realize that one visit to a limited number of galleries isn't enough to generalize, but at the end of the day I came away with the distinct impression that the Seattle art face that I saw has a definite representational art focus.

Another artist in this group show of interest was Ellen Garvens, whose marriage of technology and art may be of some interest to my business partner Catriona Fraser, who is currently curating a "Art and Technology" exhibition.

A few blocks' walk to Pioneer Square, which when I was an art student here, was home to art galleries, drunks and pigeons. And it's still home to a lot of galleries and pigeons - don't know about drunks.

There are a few gift shop type spaces here, but also a terrific set of spectacular spaces. I walked down Occidental Avenue South, and there are seven or eight good galleries in a row. First was Calix Fine Art, which had an exhibition titled "Happy." According to the text on the invitation, this is a "show of Toys, Girls & Boys, Blooms & Things that Vroom!" - I kid thee not.

There were some silly and badly worked paintings by Dave Howard, but what I liked were the hyper realist oils of Barbies by Judy Ragagli. There were also a couple of minimalist pieces on slim wood panels by an artist named Garland Fielder that J.T. Kirkland would love.

Breezed through a huge gallery with heavy handed surrealism and then at Grover/Thurston Gallery I came across a set of naive paintings by Michael Nakoneczny and a show titled "Cigar Boxes" by Patrick LoCicero, who shows in the DC area with the Ralls Collection and who is a professor at the UW. The works (other than the boxes) consisted of paintings of bikes, cars and tricycles on big canvases with other stuff collaged onto it.

Next was the Glasshouse Studio, which is Seattle's oldest glassblowing studio and shows a wide range of glass artists with an emphasis on Northwest artists.

11AM Seattle by Art WergerThe huge Davidson Galleries have an emphasis on printmaking, and their antique print gallery upstairs has a superb Kathe Kollwitz exhibition worthy of a small museum show.

The exhibit focuses attention on Kollwit's works that concentrate on faces and figures. In the main gallery, I was pleasantly surprised to run into Art Werger's third solo at Davidson.

Werger, whose work we've exhibited several times in the DC area, most recently at the Printmakers Only exhibition, is in my opinion one of the best figurative intaglio printmakers in the country, with an astounding eye for detail and the sort of technical skills in a demanding media, that few schools teach anymore.

At the first gallery of the ground floor, there were some interesting lit boxes by Jill Weinstock which deliver an interesting marriage of "Dan Flavin meets the Washington Color School."

The second gallery hosted Sally Cleveland with (what else?) technically well-done landscape paintings of the Northwest.

Spectra 3 Blue by Tom Burrows at Foster WhiteNext came Foster/White Gallery, where I went to many an opening when I was an art student, and where one of my professors (Alden Mason) used to (and still does) exhibit.

Yet another very large space, Foster/White had several concurrent exhibits, including the uniquitous Dale Chihuly room.

The main exhibit was Mark Rediske, who failed to leave an impression on me.

It was however, the glowing and beautiful polymer resin works by Tom Burrows, especially a piece titled "Spectre 3 Blue," that knocked my senses with that unexpected punch to the part of the brain that falls in love with a work of art. Another Northwest artist (but from across the water in Vancouver), Burrows minimalist use of color and his technical wizardry in wedding it to polymer to create these luminous two-dimensional pieces really became a high point for the walk-through. As far as I can tell from his resume, he has never exhibited in the East Coast.

Shadow Series: Bicycle - Solo by Katina Huston

A couple more forgettable (but large) galleries later I came across the Bryan Ohno Gallery, where I spent quite a bit of time chatting with its pleasant young owner, discussing the Seattle art scene, advertising, the art market and art. On exhibit were the ink on mylar paintings of California artist Katina Huston, which were elegant, large pieces that at first tend to be seen as very abstracted pieces, until suddenly the visual clues of a bicycle appear and the theme of the works pops into focus. These works were the second pleasant surprise discovery of the walk for me.

Feet aching I backtracked my way to the Linda Hodges Gallery, another two-level gallery. On the ground floor were the odd paintings and sculptures of Brad Rude, whose super-realistic sculptures seem to take those weird Dali works that put elephants and zebras and such on stilt-like legs and distort them. Rude doesn't do that, but he does create a strange reality where animals walk on bones and sticks and other skinny things. I found the sculptures a little too past cute for me, but I thought that the paintings were quite extraordinary. This is a strange case where an obviously multi-talented artist makes a stronger impression in his two dimensional approach to the same problem. The paintings were superb, while the sculptures (many of which were sold) were just a little too Jumanji for me.sculpture by Brad Rude at Linda Hodges

The upstairs gallery had an exhibit of works by Roy de Forest, which appeared to be an awful Crumbesque amalgamation of gaudy-colored stuff with glow-in-the-dark colors and adult-playing-child works that just do not speak to my visual agenda.

One last gallery before I headed for the nearest pub to try some of the local brews, and I stepped into Gallery 110, where yet another pleasant gallery director discussed with me the two photography shows on exhibit: Cindy Bittenfield and Gary Oliveira. Gallery 110 is a cooperative gallery, and Bittenfield's photographs pay homage to her father's service in WWII, while Oliveira's photos, while technically adept, are unfortunately, because of its subject matter (stuff around a hotel room), some of the most boring images that I saw all day.

I eventually ran out of time and energy, as I wanted to visit the Greg Kucera Gallery, where an old friend of mine (Ross Palmer Beecher) exhibits. So I headed to Contour for happy hour, enjoying a couple of pints of some excellent Seattle microbrew and a plate of Calamari.

A beautiful city, great art, great beer and great Calamari; life is good.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Corcoran Biennial Reviews

Thinking About Art has a first hand candid review of the Biennial and J.T. and I agree on two of the top three picks as the best of the Biennial.

Blake Gopnik has another one that makes my top picks, in a somewhat surprising (to me) review by Gopnik.

I wrote my review on the flight here, but will have to wait till I get back to DC and to my computer to finish it, as I don't have the images, etc.

I'll tip my hand by saying that I think that photography stole this Biennial.


Dr. Claudia Rousseau reviews Elaine Langerman and Willie Marlowe at Gallery Neptune.

DCist Arts Agenda

DCist Tuesday Arts Agenda is here.

Seattle first impressions

the obligatory shot of the Space NeedleSpent Tuesday visiting my old alma matter (University of Washington School of Art, Class of 1981) and hoofing it around fifteen or so downtown Seattle art galleries and the Seattle Art Museum (SAM).

More on them later, let's just say that I am dumbfounded at the huge size of most Seattle art galleries (cheaper rent I discovered), the depth and breadth of its art scene, some of the common complaints that we share, and the wealth of its local art collecting scene (red dots everywhere).

And I've been rediscovering what an absolutely beautiful place this city is; today was a bright, sunny day (well, they do get them here once in a while) and the Olympics and Mount Rainier were out in full splendor.

the Olympics as seen from UW's Red Square

More later...

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Walter Hopps

Walter Hopps, a legendary name in the art world and a person who left a deep footprint upon our art scene, died last Sunday.

Update: The WaPo's Paul Richard pens a very eloquent, first-person piece about Hopps here.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Gig Harbor Gallery Walk Through

My daughter Elise lives in picturesque Gig Harbor, a beautiful waterfront small town about 45 minutes from Seattle, and yesterday I walked through its waterfront business district to see what the locals offer in the form of art.

Gig Harbor, WashingtonI will admit that I expected to find what one finds in Annapolis: a couple of galleries and other artsy venues selling watercolors of sailboats, sunsets and seagulls.

And I found some of those, but I also found a surprising, and obviously vibrant, local art scene.

For starters, the galleries all have a 20 page full color publication called Art Gig Harbor that puts anything that we have (actually we don't have anything similar) in the DC area to shame.

The second thing: everyone knows that the Pacific Northwest is the center of the universe for fine art glass. And even in a small town like Gig Harbor, in the smallest of galleries located inside a quaint B&B, one finds terrific selections of glass.

The third thing: Sales. In talking to the various gallerists, it is obvious that around here, people are actively buying art. In fact, since most of the art galleries are withing walking distance of each other, during my Sunday afternoon walkthrough, I kept running into the same four or five sets of people. I asked one couple if they were locals, and they answered that they were, and that they came to the galleries once a month or so to buy a piece of original art.

The first place that I visited was The Harbor Gallery, located on the waterfront and kind of the mix of various artists and framing and gifts that one expects in a touristy town.

Almost across the street there's a really nice B&B and inside as one enters there's a tiny gallery called Fire N Light, and here's the first place where one finds some first rate artwork. This is the Pacific Northwest, and this tiny gallery represents and briskly sells the work of Tim O'Niell, whose "Dory Dreams" series made from gaffer glass was an unexpected find in a genre dominated by vessels. O'Neill is the casting coordinator at nearby Pilchuck.

Down the street, Gallery Row is a co-op representing 14 artists. My favorites among these were some of the works of Barbara Patterson and Rebecca Baumgartner.

The Ebb Tide Gallery is also a co-op of 22 local artists, and a naive artist named Emilie Corbin stands out from the work that I saw.

S.C. Elliott Fine Art is probably the best looking gallery in town, in the sense that it doesn't have that cluttered, horror vaccuui sense to its presentation, and the first place that I recall seeing an abstract artist. Here the artists who stood out were W.F. Stone, Jr., some of the landscapes of Mark Farina and the Rothkoish abstracts of Laura Taylor.

Every gallery that visited (there are a few more) had original fine art glass, even the cluttered Birdnest Gallery, more of the typical framing-shop-become-art-gallery space that I had expected to find everywhere. And yet Birdnest Gallery offers a pretty decent range of original glass by an Iraqui artist named Hassan, who apparently is now a local and is currently in Iraq searching for a bride.

Overall a very pleasant and unexpected series of surprises in the art scene in this beautiful seaside town. Their art walk is called "First Saturday Art Walk" and takes place once a month on the first Saturday (duh!) of the month from 1-5PM.

There are also some great cafes and restaurants in the area, and where else can one get a double expresso for 99 cents? (At Kelly's).

My daughter will soon be moving to a new house, and thus to finish the day, I went to a place called Art & Soul Pottery and Painting Studios, one of those pottery and ceramic studios (in this case co-located inside a nice cafe) where anyone can create a piece. I made Elise a ceramic plate for a housewarming gift; my first attempt to ceramics since I finished art school!

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Airplanes, Booze and Teenage Drivers

Arrived in Seattle last night after a travel day that started horribly, got a bit better through the introduction of free alcohol and ended in an adrenaline rush.

By the way, in response to my request for anyone with Seattle area gallery knowledge, I've received three emails from local Seattlelites willing to share a beer and a walkthrough of some of the area's galleries. I went to art school here in the 80's but haven't been back here since 1993.

Anyway, I arrived at Dulles yesterday morning at 6:30AM, a little over two hours before my 8:43AM flight to Seattle, only to find the airport packed with families and kids all heading south for the spring break. Although one would figure that the airlines would have by now the a priori knowledge to predict this surge, they hadn't, and it took me nearly two hours just to check in and another 45 minutes to go through security and take the bus to the gates.

Of course I missed my flight (gate C1) and then I had to go to Customer Service (gate C22, on the other side of Northern Virginia), where there's another huge line.

While waiting in the line listening to horror stories about missing ship's movement for all the families going on cruises, I removed my new glasses to clean them, only to have them come undone, and one lens falls out and that miniscule screw disappears into the carpet of Dulles' floors.

Using the camraderie that had developed between the suffering passengers waiting in line (sort of an Airport Stockholm Syndrone, which I've dubbed Airport Stick-it-to-them Syndrome), about four or five of us got on our hands and knees to try to find that tiny screw so that I could attempt to put my glasses back together.

And through a miracle of someone in tune with quantum mechanics, the screw was found and glasses repaired by someone with a lot more finger dexterity than I.

Eventually I make my way to a Customer Service Representative, actually feeling a bit sorry for the hell that these people must catch on a daily basis. I tell her so, and she smiles and tells me how her throat is already sore from talking, and so I hand her a stick of gum, which will have a huge payoff for me later.

As she listens to my story, she taps into her keyboard and with the intensity of a doctor peering into an X-ray, and spends at least ten minutes tapping and searching.

"Mmmm," she says, sounding more and more like my medical analogy.

"What is it Doc, uh I mean miss?" says the patient worried.

"Well.... want the good news first or the bad news first"?


"Bad news first," says I bravely.

"The only available flight doesn't leave until 5:45PM, but the good news is that they have one seat left."

Seven hour wait.

"I'll take it," I respond.

I thanked her and ticket in hand I now proceed to finish a couple of books, write a huge review of the Corcoran Biennial (which I had intended to do this week anyway, but I forgot the catalog at home, so unless the Corcoran can FEDEX me one here at my hotel, it will have to wait until I get back for publication) and eat crap food all day.

When finally the boarding takes place, to my surprise I discover that my sore-throated angel has upgraded my cheap seat to first class on a cross country, non-stop flight.

A bottle and a half of a good Sonoma Merlot later, I arrived, tired and boozy, to a gray, rainy and fresh-smelling Washington state night, where my daughter Elise picked me up and immediately revived me thanks to the wonders of the adrenaline charge caused by being driven at night, in the rain, by a 17 year-old-driver.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Airborne today

Somewhat emotionally and physically stressed, I am heading West to spend a week in Seattle for some much-needed rest and relaxation in America's cleanest (and wettest) city, where people don't tan but they rust.

I will keep posting and may even deliver a Seattle gallery walkthrough. If anyone from Seattle reads this BLOG, and would like to email me some info: I'll buy you a beer!

On the flight there I am reading The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Friday Round-up

In the WaPo, O'Sullivan reviews High Fiber at the Renwick and also Andrea Way at Mateyka.

Principle Gallery in Old Town Alexandria has an opening tonight from 6:30-9PM.

In Georgetown, Addison/Ripley has Patricia Tobbacco Forrester' opening tonight from 6-8PM.

And a few blocks away, the five Canal Square Galleries have their joint openings/extended hours from 6-9PM tonight as well.

I received a really solid kick to the side of my jaw last night in Martial Arts class, so it really hurts to open my mouth (yeah, yeah...), so if I sound funny or am not too vocal tonight, now you know why!

See ya there!


Cancer StampI've just found out that our own Ethel Kessler of Bethesda, Maryland designed the stamp "Fund the Cure" to help fund breast cancer research.

The usual 37 cents for an ordinary stamp instead costs 40 cents for this stamp.

But the additional three cents goes to breast cancer research. To date, the stamp has raised more than $34 million for breast cancer research.

Is that super cool or what?

Opportunities for Artists

Mary's Center for Maternal and Child Care Annual Art Exhibition
Deadline: April 29, 2005

For the fifth straight year, Mary's Center for Maternal and Child Care is hosting its annual art exhibition, featuring the works of local, national, and international artists. They are seeking paintings, photographs, sculpture, textiles, pottery, jewelry, and more for the 2005 Kalorama Artists' Fair, to be held at Mary's Center at 2333 Ontario Road in Adams Morgan from Friday, May 6 through Saturday, May 7, 2005. There is no charge to participate.

This non-juried show includes an Opening Reception for artists, friends, family, and the public. All works are for sale, and proceeds will go to artists and Mary's Center (health care, social services, and education for low-income DC families).

If you are interested in participating, please call Lisa at (202)-483-8319, ext. 226 or send an email to her here.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Opportunity for Photographers

The Washington School of Photography presents the Third Annual Mid-Atlantic Regional Photography show.

Slides are due April 8, entry is $25 for four entries. Photographers must reside in: DC, MD, PA, VA, DE, or WV. Cash prizes will be presented.

Entry forms can be found here or with SASE to:

4850 Rugby Avenue
Bethesda, MD 20814

Art Job

The Washington District of Columbia Jewish Community Center is looking for a Gallery Director for the Ann Loeb Bronfman Gallery (a 600 square foot space in an urban Jewish Community Center).

The Gallery Director will curate three to four shows annually, work collaboratively with other arts professionals to bring related public programming and classes, oversee fundraising, oversee all administrative aspects of the gallery, and develop a long-term exhibition plan. Previous gallery experience required. Knowledge and understanding of Jewish traditions and history preferred. Position start date is April 15th, 2005.

This is a full-time position that includes benefits and free gym membership.

Email resume and cover letter describing experience to or fax 202-518-9420. No phone calls.

For more info:

DC Jewish Community Center
Joshua Ford, Washington DCJCC
1529 16th Street NW
Washington, DC 20036
f: 202.518.9420 or

The Thursday Reviews

The WaPo's Jessica Dawson does her 3rd Thursday mini-review thing today in the Style section.

In the WCP, Louis Jacobson's review of Joe Ovelman at Conner Contemporary brings intelligent humor to the review.

Also in the City Paper, Mark Jenkins looks at The Art of Memory/ The Memory of Art at the Goethe-Institut’s Gallery.

Secrets in the WaPo

Frank Warren, whose Post A Secret project at Art-O-Matic was a huge success, is highlighted today in the WaPo's Metro section.

Send Frank your secrets here.

Gallery Openings

Tonight is the 3rd Thursday gallery crawl around the 7th street corridor. From 6-8PM in most places. Especially interesting seems Carolina Sardi: Over/Under, curated by Rody Douzoglou at Flashpoint. Also Numark Gallery has Shimon Attie: The History of Another, which is well-worth the visit tonight.

Tomorrow, it's the turn of the Canal Square Galleries in Georgetown, as we will all have our new shows opening or extended hours and the openings will be catered by our Canal neighbor, the Sea Catch Restaurant. Elsewhere in Georgetown, Addison Ripley will have the wonderfully busy watercolors of Patricia Tobacco Forrester.

Especially interesting in the Canal Square Galleries is MOCA's Erotic Art Show, a jumble of dozens of artists exploring the moist avenues of erotica.

We will have the brilliant photographs of Lida Moser. This is probably our most important photography show of the year.

Opening tomorrow night and through April 13, 2005, our Fraser Gallery in Georgetown will be hosting the first ever Washington, DC solo exhibition of legendary American photographer Lida Moser, who now lives in retirement in nearby Rockville, Maryland.

This 85-year-old photographer is not only one of the most respected American photographers of the 20th century, but also a pioneer in the field of photojournalism. Her photography is currently in the middle of a revival and rediscovery, and has sold as high as $4,000 in recent Christie's auctions and continues to be collected by both museums and private collectors worldwide. In a career spanning nearly 60 years, Moser has produced a body of works consisting of thousands of photographs and photographic assemblages that defy categorization and genre or label assignment.

Additionally, Canadian television is currently in the process of filming a documentary about her life; the second in the last few years, and Moser’s work is now in the collection of many museums worldwide.

A well-known figure in the New York art scene of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s,a portrait of Lida Moser by American painter Alice Neel hangs in the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum in New York City. Neel painted a total of four Moser portraits over her lifetime, and I believe that one of them will be included in the National Museum of Women in the Arts' "Alice Neel's Women" coming to Washington, DC this October.

Man Sitting Across Berenice Abbott's Studio in 1948 by Lida Moser

Lida Moser's photographic career started as a student and studio assistant in 1947 in Berenice Abbott's studio in New York City, where she became an active member of the New York Photo League. She then worked for Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Look and many other magazines throughout the next few decades, and traveled extensively throughout the United States, Canada and Europe.

In 1950 Vogue, and (and subsequently Look magazine) assigned Lida Moser to carry out an illustrated report on Canada, from one ocean to another. When she arrived at the Windsor station in Montreal, in June of that same year, she met by chance, Paul Gouin, then a Cultural Advisor to Duplessis government. This chance meeting led Moser to change her all-Canada assignment for one centered around Quebec.
Quebec Children, Gaspe Pen, Valley of The Matapedia, Quebec, Canada by Lida Moser
Armed with her camera and guided by the research done by the Abbot Felix-Antoine Savard, the folklorist Luc Lacourcière and accompanied by Paul Gouin, Lida Moser then discovers and photographs a traditional Quebec, which was still little touched by modern civilization and the coming urbanization of the region. Decades later, a major exhibition of those photographs at the McCord Museum of Canadian History became the museum’s most popular exhibit ever.

Construction of Exxon Building, 6th Avenue and 50th Street, New York City by Lida Moser c.1971She has also authored and been part of many books and publications on and about photography. She also wrote a series of "Camera View" articles on photography for The New York Times between 1974-81. Her work has been exhibited in many museums worldwide and is in the permanent collection of the National Portrait Gallery, London, the National Archives, Ottawa, the National Galleries of Scotland, National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC, the Library of Congress, Les Archives Nationales du Quebec, Corcoran Gallery, Phillips Collection and many others. Moser was an active member of the Photo League and the New York School.

The Photo League was the seminal birth of American documentary photography. It was a group that was at times at school, an association and even a social club. Disbanded in 1951, the League promoted photojournalism with an aesthetic consciousness that reaches street photography to this day.

This will be her first solo exhibition in Washington, DC and it will run from March 18 through April 13, 2005.

An opening reception for Ms. Moser will be held tomorrow night, Friday, March 18, 2005 from 6-9PM as part of the third Friday openings in Georgetown. The reception is free and open to the public.

See ya there!

Koons Job

Courtesy of Todd Gibson's wit, this great gem of a job opportunity for artists:
Computer design
Jeff Koons LLC
(New York NY)

Computer design expert wanted to work with leading contemporary artist. Excellent color correction skills and mastery of mac based design programs including Photoshop and Illustrator required. 3-D rendering skills a plus. Please send resume with images of work to with "Computer" in subject line.

Salary: Based on experience.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Style Editor Answers Questions Online

Deborah Heard, the WaPo's new Style section editor, answered questions online today.

Unfortunately I was at the Corcoran press preview today and missed the opportunity to ask Ms. Heard anything, and since I didn't know ahead of time about her online schedule, I missed the opportunity to announce it here ahead of schedule.

Someone did ask this question:
Washington, D.C.: When are gallery reviews going to start running every week again? Are you currently seeking a new freelance galleries critic?

Deborah E. Heard: Reassessing our coverage of art galleries is on my list of things to do. I've already heard from quite a few folks about this so I know it's a pressing issue for some. But give me some time; I've only been in the job for a few months.
That's the most reassuring thing that I've heard on this sore subject in a long time from the WaPo.

Read all the questions and answers here.

Biennial Part II

Last night's preview of the The 48th Corcoran Biennial, which opens to the public next Saturday at the Corcoran Gallery of Art and runs until June 27 was fun, and a veritable Who's Who in the rarified upper crust and middle layers of the Washington art scene, at least most of our scene's universe which wears ties.

Today I am heading back to cover the Biennial press preview for ArtsMedia News TV, and will interview the co-curators: Stacey Schmidt, the Corcoran's Associate Curator of Contemporary Art and Dr. Jonathan P. Binstock, the Corcoran's Curator of Contemporary Art.

More later on my impressions of the artwork chosen by Schmidt and Binstock.

DCist Arts Agenda

The DCist Tuesday Arts Agenda is here.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

The Biennial is Coming

The 48th Corcoran Biennial opens next Saturday at the Corcoran Gallery of Art and runs until June 27.
Courtesy Corcoran Gallery of Art
I will cover the Biennial press preview on Wednesday for ArtsMedia News, and will interview the co-curators: Stacey Schmidt, the Corcoran's Associate Curator of Contemporary Art and Dr. Jonathan P. Binstock, the Corcoran's Curator of Contemporary Art.

I am really looking forward to this exhibition, as it marks a return by the Corcoran to looking in "its own backyard" for talented artists. Included in the exhibition are our own area's Colby Caldwell, James Huckenpahler, and Jeff Spaulding - and it's no coincidence that two of those three artists have been finalists in the Trawick Prize.

By the way, the deadline for the 2005 Trawick Prize is April 8, 2005.

My kudos to Schmidt and Binstock for taking the time to look close to home; more later as I see what they have chosen.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Moral Soup

Kriston over at grammar.police is stirring the moral soup pot again with a posting where he expresses uneasiness about my contributions to DCist.

Kriston feels that "you really can't don the critic's cap when you're a producer in the community." In other words, that because I am the co-owner of two galleries in the Greater Washington area, I shouldn't write art criticism (other than in my own DC Art News).

Because I have been writing about art for nearly three decades now (and specifically about the Washington, DC area since I moved here in 1993), when we opened the first Fraser Gallery in Georgetown in 1996, and because of the huge void that existed in visual arts coverage (and it's worse now), I felt that I could and should continue to write about Washington area art and artists. I thought and still think that this can be done without it being a conflict of interest with my co-ownership of the galleries.

I feel that the best thing for art galleries is more art galleries; the best thing for artists' success is more artists being successful, and in order for that to happen, there has to be writing about what our artists and our galleries are doing. And thus I continued to write in as many as 20 different magazines and newspapers, and talk on the radio, and now on TV, about our area's galleries and artists.

And everyone of those editors knows who I am and what I co-own, and no issue was ever raised before. And judging by the monumental number of emails that I get from fellow gallerists, artists and other media, no one has so far seen this as an issue before.

But it has been raised now, and I respect Kriston's opinion, which has now been echoed and endorsed in the comments to the posting by Tyler Green, who adds that "sites/publications that publish criticism/show promotion by gallerists have a serious integrity problem."

So a stone has been cast by Green, and now suddenly there is a "serious integrity problem" as an added spice in Kriston's moral soup.

When DCist and I first started discussing how we could work together to raise awareness of the visual arts scene in our area through such regular postings as the Tuesday Arts Agenda, the issue of my co-ownership of the galleries was immediately raised and discussed, and we all felt that by being completely open with a full disclosure at the masthead of any postings that included my contributions, everything would be clear and above reproach.

Apparently not, for Kriston writes "It's bitchy of me to say—and I don't know the extent to which Lenny Campello of DC Art News contributes or what Cyndi Spain has to say on the subject—but I twitch whenever I see a feature with Lenny's name attached on DCist about work on display at the gallery he operates."

I think that in editing the Tuesday Arts Agenda, the editors at DCist obviously realized that if you mention the second Friday gallery openings in Bethesda, it would be unfair to their readers to always exclude any mention at all of Fraser Gallery.

It bothers me that a question about the integrity of DCist (and by inference, every magazine, newspaper and site that has published or echoed my writing since 1996) has been raised because of me, but especially gnawing since DCist's editors were so adamant and careful to take specific steps to avoid it, and as a result of these comments I will cease to contribute directly to DCist.

DCist is a powerful and strong new voice in our area, and I sincerely believe that they are reaching the kind of public that our ignored visual arts community truly needs to reach.

Now, there's no excuse for their integrity to be questioned.

But... about "art producers as art critics," as I noted in the comments to Kriston's posting:
"And it was and is quite clear to me that what Kriston meant to say, and what Green now re-affirms, is that gallery-owners should not write criticism or about art, because any publication that would then publish that writing would have a have a serious integrity problem.

Sort of like a guy who owns a bookstore, or an editor in a publishing house, or a literary agent reviewing books.

I guess we could also extend this so that people who create art shouldn't also write art criticism? After all, they're often connected to a gallery, and it would appear a tenuous link in logic implies that the same integrity issues could be raised.
In any event, DCist is looking for new voices to help them augment the coverage of our area's visual arts. Contact Mike Grass if you are interested; I really hope some of you are motivated and start contributing to DCist and help to create an important digital footprint about our artists, our galleries and our art scene.

Sunday, March 13, 2005


Connie Imboden stopped by the gallery today to pick the prizewinners from the 4th Annual Bethesda International Photography Competition. Here they are:

Best in Show
best in show by Bulisova
Maria - Mother of a Chernobyl Liquidator
by Gabriela Bulisova

First Prize
1st prize by John Borstel
Sex Education No. 4
by John Borstel

Second Prize
by Tim Castine
Deer Pelvic Bone No. 1
by Tim Castine

Third Prize
by Rita Maas
by Rita Maas

Honorable Mention
by Elena Volkov
by Elena Volkov

Honorable Mention
by Linda Lester-Slacks
by Linda Lester-Slacks

Honorable Mention
by Leah Oates
Blue Wall, Taipei
by Leah Oates

Three new mags

A few days ago DC Style magazine had its launch party, and the new glossy will be available soon. I have been asked to contribute to this new magazine and will do so randomly as time allows.

Two other magazines are launching later this year: DC from the Chicago-based Modern Luxury group and Capitol File, published by NYC's Jason Binn, who is the brother to our own Jonathan Binstock, the Curator of Contemporary Art at the Corcoran.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

It's Important that we all do this

I am pleased to report that the artists' bill making it possible once again for artists to receive a fair market value deduction for donated works is making its way through the legislative process. The bills have been reintroduced in both the House and the Senate and we once again need everyone's help to enlist co-sponsors for both bills.

Currently, when an artist donates a work of art, the artist can deduct the cost of the materials; however, if anyone else (but the artist) donates the work, they can deduct the actual fair market value of the work.

We need everyone to contact your Congressman and Senators.

BILL NUMBERS: HOUSE BILL H.R. 1120 "ARTISTS' CONTRIBUTION TO AMERICAN HERITAGE ACT" Introduced by Congressmen Jim Ramstad (R-MN) and Ben Cardin (D-MD).

SENATE BILL S. 372 "ARTIST-MUSEUM PARTNERSHIP ACT" Introduced by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Robert Bennett (R-UT).

If you do not know your legislators' name go to this website and at the top of the page is a link to House and Senate.

Below is a sample letter, feel free to cut and paste and edit:
I urge you to become a cosponsor of [insert House or Senate bill number and name], which would allow artists to deduct fair-market value for self-generated works donated to a non-profit institution.

Passage of this legislation would enable museums, libraries and archives to solicit original works from artists, writers and composers who are both regional and national and help us strengthen the collections in [name your community or institution].

Currently, an artist, writer or composer can only deduct the cost of materials to create the work, which is not a large incentive to donate, particularly since the majority of artists, writers and composers in this country earn very little. Since the law allowing artists to deduct the fair-market value of self-generated works to a museum or library was repealed in 1969 there has been a dramatic decline in the number of such gifts offered to institutions.

Many national and important regional artists, writers and composers sell their original works to private collectors or abroad, which effectively keeps them from ever being seen by the American public. We are, in essence, deprived of part of our cultural and artistic heritage.

I look forward to hearing that you have become a cosponsor of this most important cultural legislation.

For Monday Night

The Americans for the Arts Emerging Leader Council is hosting an Emerging Leader Reception in order to to meet and network with other young and/or emerging professionals working for arts or other culturally minded organizations.

Monday, March 14, from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m., Biddy Mulligans Bar, Jurys Washington Hotel, 1500 New Hampshire Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20036. Free admission. Cash bar.

In conjunction with Arts Advocacy Day, the Emerging Leader Reception will follow the 18th Annual Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts and Public Policy, given by Ken Burns. For complimentary tickets to this lecture at The Kennedy Center, please visit this website.

Buses will be available to take attendees from The Kennedy Center to the Emerging Leader Reception. The Emerging Leader Program seeks to identify and cultivate the next generation of arts leaders in America. For more information on this program, please visit this website or contact Mia DeMezza at

Booksigning Today

You are invited to a booksigning for Family, History, and Memory: Recording African-American Life by Deborah Willis.

Date: Saturday, March 12, 2005
Time: 3-5 pm
Location: Parish Gallery - Georgetown
Canal Square
1054 31st Street, NW
Washington, DC 20007

Collected for the first time are Deborah Willis's one-of-a kind photo quilts, her provocative and moving photo essays, and her important and revelatory critical essays about the vital contribution African American photographers made and continue to make to the advancement of photography. Willis is a winner of the MacArthur Award and a Professor of Photography and Imaging at New York University, Tisch School of the Arts.

Art Jobs

Artists Circle Fine Art (located at 11544 Spring Ridge Road, Potomac, MD 20854), a consulting firm, is looking for a part-time gallery aide to assist with art inventory, filing and organizing and special art projects. Computer literacy is required. $10-$12 per hour depending upon experience. Please send resume to Stephanie Gleichsner at or call 301-921-0572.

Rockville Arts Place is hiring teachers for Summer Classes. Please e-mail Debra Moser at or call 301-869-8623 if you are interested in teaching.

Create Arts Center, 816 Thayer Avenue, Silver Spring, MD 20910, is looking for part time teachers for school age children. Opportunities available to teach the visual arts at Create Arts Center, and to teach for Create visual arts at other schools. 301-588-2787.

The Cultural Development Corporation (CuDC) is currently seeking a highly organized, detail-oriented Gallery Associate to coordinate the Gallery at Flashpoint. Knowledge of contemporary art, experience in a related field, and the ability to efficiently manage multiple tasks is required.

As part of CuDC's mission to engage artists and arts organizations in community development and economic revitalization, Flashpoint is dedicated to nurturing arts professionals. Hourly salary commensurate with experience. 30–40 hours/week, Tues–Sat.

Responsibilities: Coordination of exhibition selection process and liaison to curatorial advisory panel; Coordination of all gallery exhibitions, including season schedules,- exhibitor contracts, exhibit installation, special events, sales and de-installation; Management of marketing and publicity for exhibits; Reception of Flashpoint visitors and gallery patrons; Gallery upkeep and maintenance; Coordination of monthly 3rd Thursday event; and General administrative support, as needed.

Qualifications: Bachelor's degree in Art History or Arts Administration preferred; Knowledge of contemporary art and experience mounting visual art exhibits; Comfortable working in a cooperative environment that represents a broad range of artistic, cultural and social points of view; Willingness to work in every aspect of gallery management and maintenance, including receptions and evening programs; Excellent written and verbal skills, strong computer skills.

To apply, submit a resume with cover letter to: Cultural Development Corporation Gallery Associate Search, 916 G Street, NW Washington, DC 20001 or Fax 202.315.1303

Expressive Arts Programmer.

This position, in the Recreation Division of Arlington County is responsible for the development and leadership of recreational expressive arts programs, with an emphasis on drama, movement, music. In this setting, Expressive Arts is used as a tool for community building and not clinical purposes.

The communities served are diverse in age, culture, economic status, language and ability. Duties include program planning, design, leadership & delivery; purchasing & budget oversight; coordination, oversight & training of staff, interns, volunteers; and program evaluation. Work involves high level of collaboration with other program leaders within the agency.

This position is part of a team of recreational art programmers and requires the ability to work well in both team situations and in a self-directed manner. For a more complete description, salary and application info, go to this website.

In spite of the rain

Last night's opening and the art walk was packed! We actually ran through two batches of Sangria (each is 6 gallons). This is always the key marker of attendance, at least for us.

And as previously discussed, the previous Friday's openings at the Dupont Circle galleries was also packed.

Next Friday is the Georgetown Canal Square galleries' openings; let's see how that goes.

Friday, March 11, 2005

DCist First Friday Walkthrough

By Cyndi Spain
DCist Arts Editor
DCist headed out on Friday with F. Lennox Campello of DC Art News to check out the new exhibits in the Dupont Circle area galleries. We were particularly impressed by Peter Charles' new work at Irvine Contemporary Art.

sculpture by Peter CharlesA professor at Georgetown University, Charles is from the D.C. area and received his arts training at Yale and Rhode Island School of Design. His new show includes miniature houses outfitted with their own LCD televisions.

We were surprised to find out that each screen shows live television, chosen and controlled by the owner of the artwork via remote. Like those on the larger scale, the televisions dominate the houses they inhabit and can be seen from outside the home by the all-too familiar and enticing blue glow.

The exhibit of abstractions by Andrea Way at the Marsha Mateyka Gallery was also well worth the visit. This show is Way's fourth solo exhibition at the gallery. Her meticulous work - created through an intense process of dropping colored inks into blobs of water on a level surface or by dripping colored water onto the paper - is evidence of
her patience and attention to Zen practice.
Never happen but anyways by Molly Springfield
We were also pleased to see the exhibit of Molly Springfield's art at JET Artworks, located at Elizabeth Roberts' old space at 2108 R Street. Springfield, a superbly talented painter, last wowed area visual art lovers a couple of years ago with a spectacular show at the Arts Club.

Her work combines the technical wizardry of trompe l'oeil ("fool the eye") painting and drawing with intelligent compositions based on collected objects, notes, and word imagery. We really enjoyed the way the exhibit continued from one floor to the next through the text written directly onto the wall.

First Friday Walk Through

Last Friday, DCist Arts Editor Cyndi Spain and I visited a few of the Dupont Circle area galleries, which were having their usual First Friday extended hours.

We started our visits at Washington Printmakers Gallery where Rosemary Cooley's hangs until March 27, 2005. As with the vast majority of the gallery's cooperative members, Cooley is a master printmaker, with elegant dual-themed prints, usually associated in some form with fish or marine imagery.
Ovelman's Snow Queen
Next we walked a few steps on Connecticut Avenue to Conner Contemporary, where Leigh Conner, as usual, greeted us with a bright smile in her even brighter gallery (Leigh paints the gallery with a fresh coat of white before every opening).

Conner is showcasing Joe Ovelman's "Snow Queen" series, which are also framed in white and brightly lit, lending them a sequential, out-of-sequence film look as the images of a drag queen's antics (Ovelman) in the snow in a New York park, develop before our eyes.

17 StrangersIn the back room, Conner has also arranged Ovelman's earlier "17 Strangers," where the photographer has caused himself to be photographed from the back of his head view, as he gives oral pleasure to 17 strangers that he met in a park.
LC: "So Joe, we noticed that all the men that you are giving a blow job to are wearing the same coat."

JO: [Somewhat agitated, but barely whispering] "Yes?"

LC: "Is that important? I mean, what is the relationship or story behind that jacket?"

JO: [Very quietly] "It's very important."
Ovelman is a very young, very shy, and very brave photographer, with a clear vision of where he wants to take his work, and as usual Conner Contemporary proves why they're not only one of the best galleries in the area, but certainly one of the most courageous as well.

We followed the crowds that were now beginning to form and gathered at Irvine Contemporary Art where Prof. Irvine has assembled one of the first great surprises of the night: A really memorable exhibition showcasing the marriage of technology and intelligent thought to create really interesting work (by the way, check out this really good photo of the gallery by Fur Cafe).

On exhibit at Irvine Contemporary Art are the interactive sculptures of Peter Charles, who is a is Professor of Art at Georgetown University.sculpture by Charles

When I was a kid, my family was one of the first families in my neighborhood with a TV, and every night, around 8PM people from around the neighborhood, would gather in our living room to watch TV. Additionally, there were always a few neighborhood street ruffians who would watch the TV from the outside, through our windows.

Charles has constructed these clever small, house-like sculptures, and inside each one is a real mini-TV screen, actually working and with an antenna, so that the finished sculpture smartly marries the technology of the mini TVs with the creativity of the sculpture, and the interactivity of the user (each sculpture comes with a remote). It is a very good exhibition and an intelligent show. Also, Prof. Irvine told me that he intends to switch from a four week show format to a six week show format in the near future.

While at Irvine we ran into Kristen Hileman, the talented Assistant Curator for Contemporary Art at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, who introduced us to the fair Rachel Coker, who is the assistant to Hirshhorn Chief Curator Kerry Brougher, who wasn't there. It is great to see our local museum curators visiting our galleries.

Bravo Hileman and Coker!

Walked to R Street, and by now the crowds are definitely larger as we make our way into Marsha Mateyka's narrow doorway to see the new works by District powerhouse artist Andrea Way.

In her fourth solo exhibition at the Marsha Mateyka Gallery, Andrea Way returns to working on paper in the intricate detailed beautiful abstractions for which she has made herself a name as one of our area's best abstract painters.

Nebular Hypothesis by Andrea WayBut unlike her past work, Way is now creating, deliberate, controlled work, as opposed to the beautiful and luminous paintings that became her trademark in the 90s. In these new works, a controlled artist emerges, and the results are almost Moorish, Arabesque mosaics of colors and lines and works that easily fit into the most modern of postmodern collections as well as on the wall of the Alhambra at its height. I was totally enamored and seduced by her new works, and this show ranks as one of the best I've seen so far this year.

From the sublime to the BLOGsphere, and we ran into J.T. Kirkland and Bren; Kirkland told me not to miss Molly Springfied's debut at JET Artworks (Duh!). Props to Kirkland for visiting the shows, as he routinely does; if you're going to write about Washington art, you got to go see Washington art!

The next surprise of the night came at Alex Gallery.

Jackson Pollock at AlexOn exhibition at the main gallery is a set (from a private collection) of small (around 8x10 or 11x14 inches) paintings by Jackson Pollock from 1950 and 1951. These paintings are a Pollock I never knew; an unlikely and unusual "small" Pollock, working in canvasses so small and intimate that his large signature (oddly enough signed in gaudy silver or gold pen) often takes half or a third of the bottom of the paintings, causing a bit of distractive damage to the actual paintings.

And these small Pollocks are like miniatures of the massive Pollocks that we all love or hate. But they are all painted with the paint so diluted and thin, almost like 90% turpentine and 10% paint... so "thin" in fact, that if Saint Clement ever saw them, it could have been the springboard for his famous "painting should be thin" nonsense that gave birth to the Washington Color School.

And guess what else is hidden amongst these tiny Pollocks? A drip painting that offers us a representational Pollock, using his formulaic drip paint method, to deliver a small painting of a tree.

But the surprises don't end there! Go to the back of the gallery, and we discover a Keith Haring from the period when Haring was an art school student. It is a painting of a bird, as one sees in most Florida and Annapolis galleries; and yet, there's a certain visual smell of Haring already there.

And for probably the first and only time in the Universe, Haring shares the back gallery with several small Norman Rockwell watercolors and sketches. It is yet another proof of the veracity and tenacity of Chaos theory.

And old Norman manages to deliver a few surprises of his own.

Only Nixon could go to China and only Rockwell could document in his artwork the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, as we all discovered in the huge mega hit Rockwell retrospective that swept the nation a few years ago. But I have never seen a nude by Rockwell.nude sketch by Norman Rockwell

And in the Rockwell exhibit back there, we discovered a small watercolor sketch, where several women (all nude) do the Can Can a-la-Rockettes, and as the Brits say, are showing their "bits." Bawdy Old Norm!

We then headed to see Molly Springfield's long awaited debut at JET Artworks, where we met Erin (who is the "E" in "JET" - her husband and her business partner are the "J" and the "T").

And Molly Springfield did not disappoint! In fact, this is painting like no few painters can deliver or have painted before; the closest that I can up with is Richter, but there's no Richter that looks like a Springfield; she's creating new illusionism by taking trompe l'oeil to a new road.

How to explain?

Let's start by saying that a couple of years ago I reviewed Springfield when she exhibited at the Arts Club. This is a different, more profound Springfield.

Springfield new work is supposed to be all about "notes."

Words passed on paper between furtive hands in High School; perhaps a love note, or a cheat crib for Algebra. We never know, because Springfield has cleverly hitched her formidable painting skills to the latest war wagon in the painting dialogue: the marriage of abstraction with realism.Please don't show this note to anyone by Molly Springfield

But Springfield brings this dialogue to a sensual whisper. These are hyperealistic paintings that deny us the ultimate voyeurism: to be able to read the notes. In fact, the folded papers can, at the right aspect, become muted abstractions, suddenly popping into maddening realism, but never yielding their ultimate secrets.

Much like their creator, they are delicate, waif-like works, softly speaking visual words into our senses, denying categorization, and also offering an intelligent beauty that restores that maligned adjective to its proper context when describing art. This is without a doubt one of the best painting shows of the year.

Bravo Springfield!

Warning Cyndi that we were about to enter a time warp, in the sense that once Marc Zuver got a hold of us, it may be hours before we escaped his loquacious and warm personality, we entered Fondo del Sol, but the hard-working Zuver wasn't there (he's in New York).

So we walked downstairs to the Studio Gallery, and found that the talented Michael Janis has joined that artists' cooperative and has a few pieces on display. They are very good work, already showing the imprimatura of the Washington Glass School. Janis is definitely a sculptor to keep your eyes on.

Cyndi had to leave, and as 8PM was approaching, I headed for a quick visit to Kathleen Ewing and then to Gallery 10 for a quick peek at the latest work of Mary Virginia Langston.

Overall, the crowds were quite large, and I came away quite impressed by new discoveries offered to me by two masters and two new emerging would-be masters.

The best thing for art is more art.

The Friday Openings

No lame excuses tonight... time to go see an art show!

Second Fridays belong to Bethesda, where the Bethesda Art Walk takes place, now with two separate free guided tours.

These are the Bethesda art venues that participate. Most of the artists are present, openings are catered and it is all free - 6-9pm.courtesy Zenith

Elsewhere, if you want to stay in the District, then Zenith has an opening honoring the 25th anniversary of neon art (congrats Margery!). From 6-8pm.

Across the street, Touchstone also has an opening of Sonya A. Lawyer's photographs from 6-8:30pm.Untitled No.2 by April Wilkins

We will host the Bethesda International Photography Competition, juried and curated by Connie Imboden and featuring the work of 27 photographers from around the nation and the world.

Imboden will do a gallery talk at 7pm and then award the competition's cash and exhibition prizes.

See ya there!

Thursday, March 10, 2005

The Thursday Reviews

The Washington Post has nothing.

The Washington City Paper has Louis Jacobson on Max Hirshfeld at Hemphill Fine Arts and Jeffry Cudlin is back with an excellent take of "The Drawings of Ed Ruscha" at the National Gallery of Art.

The Georgetowner has a new critic (Robin Kohlman Fried) who looks at Seth Rosenberg at District Fine Arts, Andrea Way at Marsha Mateyka and Max Hirshfeld at Hemphill.

Thinking About Art has Joe Ovelman at Conner and yesterday Kirkland had Andrea Way at Mateyka.

Art Bloggers Making News

Philly art bloggers Roberta Fallon and Libby Rosof making news in their hometown.

Read their BLOG here.

Hypertemporality: A Discussion of Internet Art

On Tuesday, March 15th, 2005, the University of Richmond Museums will host a panel discussion titled "Hypertemporality: A Discussion of Internet Art" to accompany their hypertemporality exhibition.

The panel discussion will be webcast live, then archived for later viewing. The address to watch the webcast is here.

The panelists will be Whitney Museum of American Art curator Christiane Paul and hypertemporality artists Peter Baldes and Alexander Stewart.

Heading North
photo by John Borstel
I'm driving back to DC on Thursday night... more later. Loads of great openings this coming Friday in Bethesda (see DCist).

If you are a photography fan, then you'll enjoy the 27 photographers selected by Connie Imboden, who curated the 2005 Bethesda International Photography Competition. Imboden selected about 40 photographs from over 1,000 submitted for her review.

The opening reception starts at 6PM at Fraser Bethesda, and Imboden will discuss the selected works and award the prizes at 7PM. Join us this coming Friday!

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Opening Tomorrow

Wanna go to an opening tomorrow? Over/Under presented by Carolina Sardi and curated by Rody Douzoglou. Opening Reception: Thursday, March 10 at Gallery at Flashpoint, 916 G Street NW, Washington, DC 20001. Nearest metro: Gallery Place/Metro Center. Tel: 202.315.1310.


Kim Ward will be the Interim WPA/C Director when Annie Adj. leaves at the end of this month.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Advise to fellow gallerists

Kriston, over at grammar.police notes in a recent posting that "tell a gallerist in the know that you're a blogger and more often than not she will visibly recoil. God in His Seat in Heaven forbid that you mention you're there to review a show, at which point the scornful glances are likely to make a greater impression than the art on display."

For a gallerist to react like that to a blogger (or for that matter to anyone else trying to get some publicity for an art show, even a High School newspaper editor), is both ignorant and shows lack of understanding of how the media has been revolutionized in the last handful of years.

As Art and other general BLOGs mature and develop, and make mistakes, and get scoops, and generally spread the word and gain readership, I believe that they/us/we stand at the brink of becoming (actually have become) a powerful new voice, adding diversity and volume, to our art scene.

And some gallerists do get it; last Friday as DCist Arts Editor Cyndi Spain and I made our rounds of the Dupont Circle area galleries, for the most part she was warmly received in all but one gallery, where usually anyone can see their own breath anyway.

In one gallery, the director actually pulled out a stack of color copies of the DCist's Arts Agenda from a couple of Tuesday's ago and gratefully thanked Spain for mentioning the gallery and the artist online. "Where can I send you news releases?" she then asked.

I think DCist is getting around 10,000 visitors a day and growing, and sites like this one and grammar.police, and J.T. Kirkland's Thinking About Art and Tyler Green's MAN and Jesse Cohen's Art DC have a loyal readership of hundreds of daily visitors interested in art.

And so, any smart gallerist worth his or her salt should not have to be advised or cajoled into treating a blogger with any less courtesy and interest than any other potential source of publicity, opinion and most important: a digital fooprint.

New Interim WPA/C Director

Congrats to Kim Ward, who has been selected to replace Annie Adj as Interim Executive Director of the WPA/C.

Ward is currently listed as Membership and Finance Director for the WPA/C.

DCist looking for arts contributors

DCist is looking for contributors to augment its coverage of the visual arts. Email Mike Grass if you are interested.

The more voices we get discussing our area's art scene, the better for all of us.

Meanwhile, check out the Tuesday Arts Agenda here.

We hear that there may be a job opening at the WPA/C soon.

Update: I have a second, independent confirmation and I am told that Annie Adj, Executive Director of the WPA/C will be departing at the end of the month for a new job in the Left Coast.

We wish her the best of luck!

Monday, March 07, 2005

Kirkland Looks at Springfield

Thinking About Art has a review of Molly Springfield's debut at JET Artworks.

I'm working on a multi-review of several Dupont Circle galleries at once; it will be published soon. Meanwhile read JT's thoughts on Springfield here.

On the Road Again

I'm driving down to the Tidewater area today and will be there for the rest of the week for a couple of panels and lectures.

Keep coming back; there will be hotel-based late night posting!

And since I'll be passing through Richmond, a cyberspace wave to ANABA's Martin Bromirski, who lately has been trading posts and comments in a BLOGoversy created by his post on painter Alison Fox and her one-woman show at the East Village’s ATM gallery that sold out before opening night, and Martin's opinion that it sold out because of her husband's (gallerist Zach Feuer) hidden influence.

Zach Feuer
has courageously come to the defense of his wife, and so far 38 comments (and a second posting) have been traded back and forth as this has developed into a BLOGoversy. Read it here and here.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

New Gallery in the District

DC Art News welcomes a new gallery in the District: Shigeko Bork MU Project, which is dedicated to contemporary Asian art.

And the new gallery has a reception for Hiroshi Kobayashi next Tuesday, March 8 from 6-8PM. The new gallery is at 1521 Wisconsin Avenue, NW #2 in Georgetown and can be reached at 202/277-2731. Hours are Tues-Sat from 11-5PM.

Welcome! Get a website soon!

Saturday, March 05, 2005

The New Factory Artists

Once a year, the Torpedo Factory in Old Town Alexandria puts out a call for artists who wish to be considered for a studio space in Alexandria's most famous and popular artists warren.

This year 72 applicants entered the annual jury process, and of those, seven were accepted. The jurors for the 2D work were Jeffrey Allison (Virginia Museum of Fine Arts), Walter Kravitz (George Mason University Prof. of Art) and Lee Newman, a superb printmaker and a member of the Fine Arts Faculty at the Holton Arms School.

The 3D jurors were Bruce Hoffman (Director, Snyderman Gallery in Philadelphia), Lenore Miller, (Director of the GWU Galleries), and Winifred Owens-Hart, a Prof. of Art from Howard University.

Joining the wait list for a studio space at the Torpedo Factory in 2005 are Xiao Sheng Bi (Ceramics), Christine Cardellino (Painting), Judith Coady (Printmaking), Rebecca Cross (Ceramics), Janae Michelle (Fiber), Kathy Udell (Photography) and Donald Viehman (Enameling). A representative sample of their work is currently on exhibit at the Target Gallery, on the ground floor of the Torpedo Factory.
Orange Bowl by Rebecca Cross
Of these seven new Factorists, two immediately stand out: Rebecca Cross, who is already one of the best known multi-talented (not just ceramics) artists in Washington, with a long string of succesful exhibitions at Addison-Ripley Gallery and the Ralls Collection most recently, and her work is in the collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum's Renwick Gallery; and a newcomer (at least to me), Christine Cardellino.

Rebecca Cross' work needs little introduction; she's a painter who has mastered her skills and conquered a second genre by being one of the region's premier ceramicists for the last 25 years. The three pieces on exhibit are samples of Cross' platters and shaped ceramic objects.

A couldn't find a website for Christine Cardellino (tsk, tsk...), but the work that I saw on display immediately tells me that Cardellino may be the keystone to the "future" of the Torpedo Factory "artist." In her paintings I saw elements of what I would commonly associate with a "more modern" flavor to the king of the fine arts genres.

I mean that in the super positive sense of a painter, clearly at ease with her genre, superbly trained, with a good eye for the sensuality of the paint and its direct associative qualities with the brushwork plus a clever eye for marrying representation and abstraction to deliver fresh new offerings to the dialogue of painting.

Geez... was that art babble or what? My kingdom for an image!

Suffice it to say that I hope Ms. Cardellino gets a studio space at the Factory within the next hundred years; with all due respect to many of the present Factorists whose work I superbly admire, they could still use some new blood.

New Art BLOG

Matt Hollis has a BLOG!

Visit Enough for All often.

For Matt: You better start posting more!

The Shape of (Some) Things to Come

The Art League Gallery is currently (until Monday) having their annual Student/Faculty show, which is a perfect opportunity to look at the work of art students of all levels, ages and backgrounds in one of the area's largest galleries, and certainly one of the more popular art schools.

I decided to focus on the work of the students, at the expense of not discussing the work of superbly talented teachers such as Danni Dawson, Jacqueline Saunders, Scott Hutchison (represented by us) and many others.

Instead, I turned my eye for quite a while to the students, hung salon-style on all three of the The Art League Galleries on the ground floor of the Torpedo Factory.

The first piece that stood out was a small, superbly painted self portrait by Marjorie Forgues (taught by Danni Dawson). I don't know Forgues' formal background, but in this small elegant piece she shows brushwork and technical skills that will revive feelings of envy from painters of all levels of expertise and experience. It is a delicate and yet vigorous application (and understanding) of paint, and light, which makes Ms. Forgues small self portrait jump out from a sea of 2D work.

Two drawings caught my attention next: An untitled pencil drawing of a difficult subject (a seated, clothed bearded man) by Leslie Chekin (taught by Priscilla Treacy) and an elegant female nude charcoal by Linda Wharton titled "Horizontal," from a class taught by Robert Liberace. They both show remarkable understanding of that most diverse of subjects: the human figure.

A small, delicate painting titled "Pear Pairs" by Cathy Messina (taught by Joe Kabriel), a watercolor titled "Evening Colors" by Meg MacKenzie (taught by one of my favorite area watercolorists: Susan Herron) and an amazing chalk drawing by Laura Kipple titled "Claire," (taught by Liberace again), completed my selections as the best from a very good crop of student artwork.

Prices are incredibly low for the most part, starting at $60 for a framed original watercolor!

Monday is the last day of this show... hurry!

Wanna Go to an Opening Tonight?

Gallery West is having an opening reception tonight from 6-9PM. On exhibit is Elsa Gebreyesus' "Meditations," a solo show of mixed-media paintings by Gebreyesus, whose work combines modern materials and techniques with universal themes and ancient African symbols.

Gallery West is located at 205 South Union Street, in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia. Tel:703-549-7359.

See ya there!

Bethesda Magazine

The new glossy Bethesda Magazine has a multi-page spread on the gallery scene now developing in Bethesda. Written by Virginia Myers Kelly, it is armed with interesting observations such as "Bethesda is home to more than a dozen galleries - but fewer art buyers than you might expect."

There's a large panoramic photo of one of our openings which captures some of the Art-O-Matic artists that we had a couple of months ago, including a great shot of one of Chris Edmunds' sculptures and background images of Mark Jenkins "Pubic Hair Tapestries," John Bata's landscape of New York City and a Michal Hunter painting.

On page 103 of the same issue there's a terrific profile (by Dr. Claudia Rousseau) of legendary photographer Lida Moser, now in her late 80s and retired in Rockville, and whose first ever DC area solo show will be our next Georgetown show, opening on March 18.

Gallery visits

Yesterday I dropped by the Art League Gallery in Alexandria to look at their Student Show, and then to the Target Gallery to see their crop of new Torpedo Factory artists, and finally Factory Photoworks (now re-named Multiple Exposures) to see their current membership show.

Later that night, Cyndi Spain, Arts Editor for DCist, and I visited most of the Dupont Circle Galleries, which were having their extended First Friday hours; several terrific surprises there!

More on both later today.

Friday, March 04, 2005

The Usual WaPo Bashing

Today's Style section has a large and bright article by WaPo fashion critic Robin Givhan.
models walk funny
It's one of nearly 100 fashion reviews a year that Givhan produces for the Style section. Usually brightly accompanied by a color image of some gaunt, sour faced woman, wearing funny-looking clothes and walking oddly.

And yet, this same Style section, in the world's second most powerful newspaper, deems it acceptable to only offer their readers about 25 gallery review columns a year. That's from a potential pool of around 1,000 visual art gallery exhibitions that occur per year in the Greater Washington, DC region.

If you don't get it, you don't get it.

I sincerely hope that the new Style editor gets it. Her name is Deborah Heard, and her email is

And the Rare WaPo Praise

An editor who does get it for the most part, is Joyce Jones, who is the editor of the Weekend section of the WaPo.

In fact, I submit that Weekend now offers a much better view of the area art scene than Style. And Michael O'Sullivan certainly is the only WaPo art critic who is actively involved and an integral and knowledgeable part of our area's art scene. By the way, read his excellent take on "Modigliani: Beyond the Myth" at the Phillips here.

Although... Weekend... ehr... could be better. I mean, they do capsule mini reviews for theater, and for movies; why not visual art shows?

Why not?

First Fridays

Tonight is the Dupont Circle Gallery Crawl, with extended hours from 6-8PM.

See ya there!

Donation Well Worth It!

MAP’s annual free hung benefit exhibition and auction returns. It is titled "Out of Order" (OOD) and it is open to all area artists, who are invited to hang one piece of artwork during a 24-hour installation period. Artwork will be available for sale (50%/50% split with MAP) in a silent auction during the gala.

Exhibition Dates: April 6-8, 2005

Hanging Dates: 9 am, April 6 through 9 am, April 7, 2005.

Gala Event and Party: Friday April 8, 8 pm-1am at Maryland Art Place (party time or what! At 8 Market Place, Suite 100 in Baltimore)

Visit for more information about tickets and information for exhibiting artists.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Gossage on the Cover

Denise Wolff points out that the current issue of Photo-Eye, in addition to her superb interview with Chan Chao, also features a cover by DC area photographer John Gossage, and there's a nice "About the Cover" piece by Jim Stone here.

It discusses Gossage's new book Berlin in the Time of the Wall.

The Thursday Reviews

The WCP's Louis Jacobson reviews our current Mary Lang show in Georgetown and makes some excellent points on Lang's tranquil photography.

Over at the Gazette, Dr. Claudia Rousseau delivers a superb review of Metro Clay at the Rockville Arts Place, and lauds Margaret Boozer, whose show at Strand on Volta last year was one of my Top Ten Shows of the Year. Dr. Rousseau writes:
Among the 57 pieces by 13 artists who live and work in the metro area (hence the exhibit title "Metro Clay"), Boozer's work is probably the most dynamic. "Out of the Fire" is set into a large wooden box frame hanging on the central wall of the gallery, its dark brown color easily dominating the space. The piece is part of a larger series of clay wall works entitled "Land/Marks." These show the results of a working process that deals as directly as possible with the medium's essential nature. Boozer begins by spreading mounds of clay on the floor, then stomping, tearing, carving and otherwise pounding it. Buckets of slip are then splashed onto the broken surface. Thus set into motion, the natural processes inherent in clay take over. As the medium dries, it warps and cracks, taking on the appearance of earth as geologic material.

It is a fascinating idea, with unforeseeable outcomes. When the artist moves these pieces from the floor to the wall, they project the process they record, emphasizing the idea of the persistence of the earth and a sense of memory. There is, as Boozer herself has said, a visceral appeal to these works, connecting directly to the viewer's own identification with clay as earth.

For the exhibit, Boozer has launched another of these works in the gallery space. "In Process Porcelain Landscape" is a thick slab of creamy white porcelain clay, carved and manipulated, and set on a low base. Over it, the artist has poured slip of the same medium that collects in a pool on top and drips onto the floor. It is cool and moist to the touch at this writing, but by the end of the exhibit, will have changed into a craggy moonscape of dried clay.
Over at the WaPo, Jessica Dawson has an excellent review of Mexican Report at the Cultural Institute of Mexico. Miss Dawson prefers the video artists, but also makes an excellent point on the issue of the adjective "Mexican." This is sort of the same arguement that I have been making for years now about art and ethnicity, specifically the so-called "Hispanic" ethnicity, which I submit is a cultural and not an ethnic or racial term.

In her penultimate paragraph, it's apparent that Dawson has missed the memo that painting is hot again when she slams the "predominantly retrograde cache of paintings and drawings [that] hangs at Meridian International Center" and states that their the "predictable and anachronistic work that results is particularly forgettable."

Overall an excellent review of a show that I still have to go see and is in my "must see" list.

Bravo Dawson!

By the way, tonight The Cultural Institute of Mexico will hold a roundtable discussion on trends in contemporary Mexican art starting at 6:30. Participants include exhibition curator Santiago Espinosa de los Monteros, art critic Anthony Harvey, Hirshhorn programs manager Milena Kalinovska and Curator's Office director Andrea Pollan. The Cultural Institute of Mexico is at 2829 16th St. NW, in DC. I wish I could make it tonight, but I have karate class on Thursdays!

bethesda painting awards

The deadline for the inaugural Bethesda Painting Awards is rapidly approaching, and painters from the DC, Maryland and Virginia region have until Friday, March 11, 2005 to submit their applications. With $14,000 in cash prizes, this is one of the largest painting awards in the country, thanks to the incredible generosity of Ms. Carol Trawick, who also sponsors The Trawick Prize (that deadline is April 8, 2005).

Once the jurors have selected the finalists, we will exhibit them in our Bethesda gallery, where the final four will be awarded $14,000 in cash prizes based on the actual work. $10,000 will be awarded to the top prize winner, $2,000 to the second place winner, $1,000 to the third place winner. Additionally, a "Young Artist" award of $1,000 (artists born after March 11, 1975) will also be given.

Elsie Hull at Spectrum

By John Anderson
M Street in Georgetown is a noisy place, bustling, and energetic. There are many bars and boutiques to duck into, if one wants to escape the hysteria. Another choice is Spectrum Gallery, around the corner on 29th street, where a very quiet exhibition of photographs by Elsie Hull are currently on display. The space is small and serene, and perhaps the perfect setting for these black and white images.

"Photography has always been my first love," Hull declares enthusiastically. Trained as a painter at the Corcoran, where she earned her BFA, Hull did not fully engage photography until beginning her MFA in film and video production at American University. "I took a photography class at the Corcoran, but I thought it was too easy... I didn’t fully engage it then," she admitted.

The body of work is easy on the eyes and inviting. The title of the show, Portals, lends nicely to the imagery. Each image appears as a window into another environment, partially from the quiet activity within each image, and also through the physicality imposed by the camera. Hull uses a Holga camera, a simple, inexpensive, medium format camera sometimes used by schools to introduce photography to students. The final image is circular, something uncommon with most forms of photography. "You never know what you are going to get; you might end up with double exposures or artifacts."

Through constant use, Hull’s familiarity with how the camera functioned gave her an educated guess as to the final product, but the lack of total control has kept the process fun for her.

But there is a dichotomy found within her process. Hull approaches her subject from behind digital cameras and Hasselblad medium format cameras. All three cameras share the same generic wide angle lens, impulsively purchased from a New York photo store. Through careful dissection of several Holga cameras, Hull was able to find a way to attach the lens to that camera, and eventually to all the cameras she uses in her work. All her images are later scanned into a digital format and manipulated in Photoshop. "I use very basic Photoshop stuff, dark room techniques. Photoshop allows you to be very specific whereas a darkroom doesn’t unless you are doing large prints." Beyond that, Hull prefers not to do any further manipulation beyond canceling out the black "vignette-ing" that occurs through the process of exposing medium format film.

Because the final image is circular, Hull has addressed each image with a unique presentation. Mounted on matte-board and Velcroed to multiple, small, primed canvases, Hull is able to arrange the framing of each piece in such an articulate manner that it neither distracts from the image nor questions specifically what is the correct way to frame a circular photograph; it is simply interesting.

work by Elsie HullThe supports alternate, sometimes depending on the subject of the photograph, sometimes related to a series of pieces. One wall possesses a rhythm of large and small support compositions that pull the viewer along the wall to examine each piece. Some arrangements address specific aspects of the form within the photograph. In the corner a man dives off a cliff into a pool below. In free fall, his body is erect, his arms hang casually against his sides, and his toes point straight outward. The canvases intend to enhance the verticality of the male subject, alluding to his descent into the water below. In one instance the support is a bit cliché, a cruciform supporting an image of a cemetery. "I don’t see a problem with that. Photographs of cemeteries are sort of cliché too." Such a comment suggests the artist willfully intended a bit of subtle wit.

photo by HullThe images Hull has chosen for her show are elegant, ranging from somber landscapes to playful images of children and dogs playing. Her body of work has been influenced by the work of French photographer Henri Lartigue (1894-1986), who spent his career photographing friends and family. "They’re full of life and exuberant," Hull adds.

Having studied some of his photographs through her painting earlier in her career, Hull draws similar influence through subject matter - capturing places she has been and images of friends. They are sensitive, not sentimental. They possess a sense of place that defies a sense of time. As a body of work, they allude to a sensation, a common story without beginning or end that all can relate to. "I don’t necessarily have a specific story in mind when I’m putting together a show; it’s more of an intuitive response to indicate a mood."

Elsie Hull’s Portals is on display through March 13, 2005 at Spectrum Gallery, 1132 29th Street NW. The gallery is open Tuesday–Saturday 12-6, Sunday 12-5.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Chan Chao Profiled in Photo-Eye
photo eye
Denise Wolff has a terrific discussion and interview with Chan Chao in the current issue of Photo-Eye.

Wolff discusses Chao's recent show at Numark Gallery, and almost right away makes an important point in placing Chao's elegant nudes within the always odd context of nudity in Washington, DC; Wolff goes as far as to describe Washington as a "town generally squeamish with nudity."

nude by chan chaoAnd (in my opinion) made even worse by a WaPo critic who is also "squeamish with nudity."

Among Wolff's many interesting questions to Chao (which revealed a few somewhat surprising facts - at least to me), I found this one particularly telling:
DW: As I looked at this work, I made a mental list of words that came to mind about the images. But I noticed later that my list didn't include the word erotic. Do you intend these photos to be erotic?

CC: No. I did not want these images to be erotic. I think it's too easy to create erotic photos. However, since they are nudes, the undertone is always there. And so even though I don't intend for them to be erotic, I do want to create some tension with it, or maybe even discomfort...
This is important, because I think that what makes Chao's display of the female nude stand out hinges on his ability to achieve precisely what Wolff identifies with this question: An ability to take an inherently sensual subject, present it in a manner that doesn't shout erotica, but retains a certain, unavoidable scent of eroticism; it can't be helped.

The first time that I saw these photos at Numark, I did not see them as erotic at all. And yet, a second visit to them left behind a slight footprint of eroticism in my mind; perhaps the direct gaze of the women - who knows? It's not important as to "why" but that it happened.

This Photo-Eye piece by Wolff leaves us watering at the mouth for more pieces (on national level magazines such as this one is) about some of our area artists; it a great start with one of our own art stars... but more please!

Bravo Wolff!

Olive Ayhens at Watkins Gallery

By John Anderson
Olive Ayhens was born in Oakland and studied at the San Francisco Art Institute during the tenure of Richard Diebenkorn, shortly after the reign of Rothko and Still influenced the department with their teachings of Abstract Expressionism. "I know abstraction well," she mentioned. "It’s all throughout my background."

Despite not using it directly in her work, she is aware that it has influenced her sense of plain, space and color. She recalled the climate of that period. "Berkley wasn’t hiring women at the time... until the Women’s Movement. When I was emerging I was in a lot of women shows." She pointed out how neither then nor now would one find a show entitled Eight Male Artists.

The sexism in the art world wasn't the only hurdle to overcome. Early in her career Ayhens also faced the challenge of racing two children as a single mother. Through various artist-in-residency positions throughout the Bay Area, other parts of California, Utah, Montana and Texas, Ayhens was able to manage artistic and familial obligations. Altering her medium to watercolor when her children were in their infancy forced Ayhens to approach her technique differently.

"I approached watercolor like an oil painter, moving the paint around opaquely. Eventually my technique loosened up." As a result, upon returning to oils, the paintings developed like watercolors, vibrant and juicy, nearly acidic in areas. Layers were constructed through thin washes in places, with thick impastos appearing intermitently. "I just love the paint, like my abstract teachers did. They reached me on that, and I hope that shows. They wanted me to give up my images as a young girl, and just move the paint around. But the images take me places."

In her current exhibition at Watkins Gallery, that place is New York City. "I’ve been in New York for nine years and I haven’t finished my work there." With both children attending college, Ayhens made the move to New York in 1996 after receiving the Marie Walsh Sharpe studio space grant - which afforded her a studio in Manhattan. Though she didn’t think she would stay in New York beyond that grant, she began experiencing modest successes, showing in galleries and having her work appear in Time Out and the New York Times. This was followed in successive years by a Gotlieb, her first Pollock/Krasner, and the World Views Residency through the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council on the 91st floor of the Trade Towers in 1999.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Missing Pentagon Art

Last July I wrote a posting on alleged missing Pentagon art and challenged local newshounds to follow the scent of the story. Although the story was picked up nationally by Arts Journal, no one has (to my knowledge) researched this story any further than what was posted here.

Because readers of DC Art News have more than quadrupled since last July, I am re-posting that story below in the hope that some enterprising soul will begin digging into the concerns raised herein:

This article in the Washington Post discusses how "a multimillion-dollar treasure trove of 19th- and 20th-century art has been discovered in basements, boiler rooms, closets and hallways in Philadelphia's cash-strapped public schools."

While the chances of DC area art schools having a hidden art trove is slim to none, let me tell you where I think there's a hidden treasure of artwork - not from the 19th century, but nearly all from 20th century (especially WPA period, and 50s and 60's): The storage buildings where the military's art collection (from the various services and mostly from closed bases all over the world) is "stored."

Not the significant and important art collection on display at the Pentagon, but the stored collection of thousands of works of art that a few years ago were stored in a couple of buildings at Andrews Air Force base. As I recall, there was some sort of investigation that discovered that the Department of Defense had little or no accountability or inventory for many of these works.

Sounds bad, but it is understandable. In fact I would submit impossible to have an inventory of artwork commissioned, donated, gifted, etc. to potentially thousands of U.S. military presences all around the globe in the last two hundred years.

As bases close, often things like artwork find their way back to this area, and they are/were stored at Andrews (at least ten years ago they were... not sure if they are still there). Sometimes they find their way to DLA and the various places where the public can buy anything being disposed of by the DoD (there used to be such as site around Fort Belvoir, Virginia).

But in any event, a DoD employee is/was resposible for maintaining accountability for this art collection, and in the mid 90s she was apparently fired/quit in part because a military Inspector General's team discovered that the works were generally unaccounted for and in many cases improperly stored (leaky buildings, rain, moisture, etc.).

All of these issues I am recalling from memory (I read the story initally in one of those air line magazines), but some things stuck in my head: the number of artworks mentioned in the story as being stored at Andrews (in the 100s of thousands) and the fact that there were many WPA pieces in the storage area, as well as possibly up to six unaccounted Norman Rockwell paintings.

Sounds like a good story for an enterprising Washington City Paper or Washington Post reporter to follow up on, uh? Maybe Teresa Wiltz? or Chris Shott?

I suspect that the accountability problem still exists. In fact I submit that the various services' art curators (each service has an art curator for its own art collection and they all have offices at the Pentagon) do not even have an accurate inventory of the artwork on display at the Pentagon today!

My suspicions were kindled when this story in Art News discussed the fact that US Army curator Renee Klish discussed the fact that four important paintings had been destroyed by the 9/11 attack, but says that eleven other artworks "may have been destroyed."

I am willing to bet that if the Andrews Air Force base artwork storage building still exists, that there are works in there worth hundreds of millions of dollars and maybe still being stored away in improper conditions. I hope I am wrong about the latter.

Update! An alert DCARTNEWS reader also recalls the story I mentioned (published in an air lines magazine in mid 90s) and she even recalled the name of the fired/dismissed/she-quit DoD Art Curator. I have it and will pass it to any enterprising reporters who want to follow up this story - in fact I even have contact info, since I recognized the name as someone still associated with the business of the arts in our area.

Today's Must Read Story

Joe Barbaccia sent me a link to this article in New York Metro and it is absolutely jaw-dropping. Read it here.

Is the child prodigy... a prodigy?

Remember 4-year-old Marla Olmstead, who is being touted as a painting prodigy, and who has gathered a lot of international attention, and whose large abstract paintings are selling as fast as she can finish them -- for as much as $24,000?

Well, it seems that 60 Minutes came a-calling and some issues and questions about this child have been raised.

In this report we find that Ellen Winner, who is a psychologist who has studied gifted children and specializes in visual arts was shown several of Marla’s works and was highly impressed, but noted that she had never seen such a young child working in an abstract manner. Her enthusiasm apparently turned to concern and suspicion when she was shown a videotape of the child painting:
"I saw no evidence that she was a child prodigy in painting. I saw a normal, charming, adorable child painting the way preschool children paint, except that she had a coach that kept her going."
Marla is currently having her first West Coast gallery show. It includes the painting captured on hidden camera by 60 Minutes, which has already been sold for $9,000.

Opportunities for Artists

2005 Photography Annual Competition
Deadline: March 15, 2005.

Sponsored by Communication Arts Magazine, is open to works first printed, produced, or aired for the first time between March 15, 2004 and March 15, 2005. The competition categories include: Advertising, Books, Editorial, For Sale, Institutional, Self-Promotion, and Unpublished. Winning entries will be published in the August 2005 Photography Annual. Entry fees range from $25-$40. For more information, contact:
2005 Photography Annual
Communication Arts
110 Constitution Dr.
Menlo Park, CA 94025

Phone: (650) 326-6040; Fax: (650) 326-1648; or email: Complete guidelines also available online here.

Produce Gallery's "First Year Out"
Deadline: April 15, 2005.

Produce Gallery is currently reviewing work by artists in their first post-graduation year from college, for a group show entitled: "First Year Out," to be held in the Fall of 2005. All submissions should be from artists who have graduated from school in 2003 or 2004. Please send Slides, Resume and SASE, or Web site info to:
Produce Gallery
Tyler Exhibitions
7725 Penrose Avenue
Elkins Park, PA 19027

Woman Made Gallery's "Got Quirk?"
Deadline: March 16, 2005

A juried exhibition sponsored by Woman Made Gallery. Open to all artists, women and men. Seeking representational art works that is expressed in unusual, odd, peculiar, fantastic, grotesque, whimsical, or wacky ways. All media accepted. Entries must have been completed within the last 2 years. Cash awards available. Exhibition scheduled June 24-July 21, 2005. Entry fee: $20 for up to 3 slides. For details, contact:
Woman Made Gallery
2418 W. Bloomingdale Ave.
Chicago, IL 60647
Phone: (773) 489-8900; Fax: (773) 489-3600
email: or visit their website

Radius 250
Deadline: April 30, 2005

Thanks to ANABA for this one. Radius250 is a juried competition that will feature artists working within a 250-mile radius of Richmond. The juror is John Ravenal. You can enter the show via slides or online here. There's a $25 entry fee and $2500 in prizes.

9th Annual Georgetown International Fine Arts Competition
Deadline: June 3, 2005

An opportunity to exhibit in one of the most established DC area fine arts competitions and hosted by our Georgetown gallery. This competition has served in the past as the springboard for many area artists and national artists. Details and prospectus can be downloaded online here or send a SASE to:
Fraser Gallery
1054 31st Street, NW
Washington, DC 20007

NEA Accepting Nominations

The National Endowment for the Arts is accepting nominations of exemplary artists and arts patrons. Deadline is April 11, 2005.

The National Endowment for the Arts is now accepting nominations from the public of exemplary artists and arts patrons for the 2005 National Medal of Arts. To nominate, please go to this website and complete the form.

The deadline for public nominations is April 11, 2005.

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