Friday, February 15, 2008

Images of Children at Widener University

"A Photographic Treasury: Images of Children by Master Photographers from the Reader's Digest Collection," currently at Widener University Art Gallery in Chester, PA (through March 1, 2008), is not only a very focused exhibition on the thematic subject of the title, but also an exhibition that really merits the use of the word "Master Photographers" in its title.

Disclaimer: My wife teaches at Widener, and I often eat at the school cafeteria, which makes really good cookies and has a top notch salad bar. I also own a Widener coffee mug.

Curated by Nancy Miller Batty, this 105-work survey includes many classic and familiar vintage photographs of children by major American, Latin American and European photographers from the late 19th century to the present.

The works are arranged thematically to present views about childhood that have existed over the last century or so. It begins with a romantic view of childhood, and then progresses to the relationships between children and adults.

This is definitely a Who's Who in world photography, and there are pre-WWI early works by Edward Sheriff Curtis, Alfred Stieglitz, Heinrich Kuehn and others. Post WWI photographers are also full of all the major names, such as Andre Kertesz, Imogen Cunningham, Henri Carrier-Bresson, Dorothea Lange, Aaron Siskind, Weegee, Paul Strand and many others.

The post WWI and contemporaries are equally well-represented by the likes of Sally Mann, Adam Fuss, Ilse Bing, Gary Winograd, Irving Penn, Diane Arbus, Nicholas Nixon, Robert Mapplethorpe, Carry Mae Weems, Sebastian Salgado and many others.

Adam Fuss' blank untitled photogram of a child in profile is one of the few failures in an otherwise show full of jewels in every frame. The minimalist white photogram, comes across like a collegiate art school assignment when surrounded by the works of the other masters; it just fails visually from the first glance and through the second and third opportunity for redemption.

Across from it is one of the reasons for its failure: the gorgeous "Pamela" (Plate 23) from Joel Meyerowitz's odd and highly successful series on redheads. The subject is radiant and full of color, smiles and the essence of happy childhood - it casts a bright and bold set of sunrays all over the room, essentially eclipsing Fuss' blank experiment.

Frederick Sommer's LiviaIt's tough to pick the brightest diamond when you are surrounded by the best photographic gems of the last 125 years, but some works stood out even among giants.

One such piece was Frederick Sommer's "Livia," a 1948 sensitive treatment of a very pretty child, where the girl's luminous blue eyes are like magnets not only to the camera but also to us. It delivers the sort of hypnotic quality that recent digitally enhanced shots sometimes offer.

I also like Robert Mapplethorpe's "Bruno Bischofberger's Daughter," a cousin photograph to Sommer's earlier work and a work that shows the occasional pornographer's talent as a portraitist of all ranges and types.

I was less interested in Tina Barney's claustrophobic "Marina's Room." Maybe there is some compositional success in delivering a photograph with fear of empty space.

But neither scale (48 x 40 inches), nor its horror vaccuii saves this piece from being a little puerile.

Tina Barney's Marina's Room
Marina's Room by Tina Barney

Carrie Mae Weems' untitled triptych depicting a tense mother-daughter-homework scene, whether posed or true, is powerful as a narrative piece can be - full of tension and questions. On the polar opposite of this internal spectrum is Sally Mann's "Virginia Asleep," from 1988.Seydou Keita

On the way out I was dragged back in by Seydou Keita "Untitled (Man with Baby)" from 1949, in which a giant of a man tenderly holds a baby. The man sits massive and Earth-like like a male African version of Michelangelo's Pieta.

His enormous circumference dwarfs the world and threatens to overfill the camera's lenses. It is a photograph heavy with fatherhood, happiness and presence.

Overall this is a very strong show and definitely worth a stop for anyone traveling through the I-95 corridor, as Widener is just a couple of minutes off exit 6 on I-95.

Wanna go to a Baltimore opening tomorrow?

Eureka: Happy Accidents & Exquisite Failures; a group exhibition curated by Suzannah Gerber at Load of Fun gallery in Baltimore. Featuring works by the following artists:

Liz Albertson, Julia Arredondo, Jordan Faye Block, Tom Brown, Ryan Emge, Rachel Faller, Andrew Farkas, Karly Hansen, J. Gavin Heck, Michelle Herman, Juliet Hinely, Katherine Mann, Greg McLemore, Katherine Nammacher, Michael Northrup, Christine Ricks, Reed Sayre, Kayla Shea, Brady Starr, Daniel Stuelpnagel, Vanessa Viruet, Jessica Wang, Todd Welsh, Monica Wuedel-Lubinski and more.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Joseph Mills Interviewed by George Hemphill

Joseph Mills Interviewed by George Hemphill

Call for DC "Aerosol" Muralists

Deadline: Friday, March 21, 2008 at 7:00pm

The DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities (DCCAH) in collaboration with the Executive Office of the Mayor (EOM), and DC Department of Public Works (DPW) seeks "artists, artist teams and youth organizations to design, create and install aerosol murals or aerosol inspired murals in identified locations throughout the District of Columbia for a new project entitled Murals DC."


"Murals DC has been created to replace illegal graffiti with artistic works, to revitalize sites within the community and to teach young people the art of aerosol painting. The goal of this initiative is to positively engage the District's youth by teaching proper art techniques, providing supplies, and a legal means to practice and perform their skill in a way that promotes respect for public and private property and community awareness. Site selection is based on areas of the District with high incidence of illegal graffiti as identified by the DPW, Mayor's Office of Community Relations and Services (MOCRS) and other agencies. Each mural will reflect character, culture and history of the neighborhood."
Download an application here. For further questions email Deirdre Ehlen at or call 202-724-5613.

Art Sculpture Walk throughout Downtown Wilmington, NC

Sculptor Carl Billingsley is having two simultaneous exhibitions for his work in the Wilmington, NC area -- "Sculpture: Concept to Creation" at the Art Gallery, Cultural Arts Building, UNCW and also “The Carl Billingsley Exhibition” Pedestrian Art Program in downtown Wilmington public spaces.

For the latter, on Saturday, February, 23rd, 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM, the artist is leading a "Pedestrian Art Sculpture Walk" throughout Downtown Wilmington. During this event you can meet and talk to the artist about his large scale sculptures which are on exhibit throughout downtown Wilmington from January – July 2008. There will also be a trolley available to travel between the sculptures.

There's also an opening reception for "Sculpture: Concept to Creation"
an exhibition of drawings, models, and maquettes for large scale sculptures by Carl Billingsley at the Art Gallery, Cultural Arts Building, UNCW on Friday, February 22nd, 6:00 - 8:00 PM.

This is in North Carolina NOT Delaware!

Broken Art

Kriston over at the WCP polices the artDC cancellation with some words from a couple of DC dealers.

More later on just how to make an international art fair work in DC and start setting the new standard for art fairs of the future, to bring 100,000 not 10,000 visitors to the fair; and the District is the perfect setting for it!

Bailey has a problem

Bailey takes issue with this post at the SI's Eyelevel blog; read his issue here.

Hess on Sex

The WCP's Amanda Hess has a fascinating review and discussion of the Sex Workers’ Art Show, a "traveling pastiche of cabaret, spoken word, and performance art put on by prostitutes, porn stars, burlesque dancers, and drag queens."

At the Sex Workers’ Art Show, exploitation is the real fun, and I’ve snagged the best spot in the house. The sold-out crowd has pushed me flush against the stage, setting my sightline precisely at crotch level. Over the course of the night, I come face to face with Dirty Martini’s patriotic vagina; burlesque comedienne The World Famous Bob’s pink-tasseled and rhinestone-decalled vagina; ex-stripper Erin Markey’s American Apparel gold lamé-pantied vagina; and Krylon Superstar’s self-described “duct-taped, dick-back, transsexual queen” package.
Read the review here.

artDC cancelled

Just got the email that artDC, the District's only international art fair, has cancelled for 2008; email said:

artDC logo

artDC has made the tough decision to cancel its 2008 show due to uncertainty in the current economic climate. Although dozens of galleries had signed on to attend, this decision has been made in the best interests of exhibitors.

Update: WCP's Capps polices the cancellation with some words from a couple of DC dealers.

More later on just how to make an international art fair work in DC and start setting the new standard for art fairs of the future, to bring 100,000 not 10,000 visitors to the fair; and the District is the perfect setting for it!


WOW! Well deserved congrats to HooGrrl who was recently picked as the primo blogger in Washington, DC by DC Modern Luxury Magazine.

You Won't Believe Your Eyes

The 2008 Corcoran Print Portfolio Show, You Won't Believe Your Eyes: The 23rd Annual Printmaking Portfolio opens on Friday, February 15, 2008, 7-9 pm at Civilian Arts Projects in DC.

Civilian has partnered with the Corcoran College of Art & Design's Print Department to present the works of 31 artists who have made prints for the 2008 Corcoran Print Portfolio under the theme You Won't Believe Your Eyes.

You Won't Believe Your Eyes features lithographs, etchings, screen-prints, letterpress, papermaking, relief and digital prints by: Aimee Anthony, Meaghan Busch, Patricia Correa, Dane Austin Criner, Tracey Cullen, Georgia Deal, Bridget Dwyer, Elizabeth Grusin-Howe, Melissa P. Hackmann, Bethany Hansen, Carolyn Hartmann, Hedieh Ilchi, Ema Ishii, Carolee Jakes, Elizabeth Klimek, Eric Klug, Andrew, Kozlowski, Pepa Leon, Kate Libcke, Kerry McAleer-Keeler, Pierrette Montone, Manuel Navarrete, William A. Newman, Dennis O'Neil with Alexander Djikia, Dan Payn, Tracy Pilzer, Lynn Sures, Paula Wachsstock, Ann-Cathrine Wasmuth, Randolph Williams, and Amy Zaiss.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Artist Studio Spaces Available at Glen Echo Park, Maryland

Deadline: March 28, 2008

The Glen Echo Park Partnership for Arts and Culture, Inc. is seeking visual artists and non-profit visual arts organizations to join the Park’s Resident Artists and to lease studio space in the refurbished Chautauqua Tower. Two studios will be available for a 1-3 year lease starting on June 1, 2008. For further details about Glen Echo Park, its resident artists, and to download the Request for Proposals, please visit Responses to the Request for Proposals are due on March 28, 2008.

"Frida and Me - Common Threads," at Projects Gallery

A quick minute video walkthrough of the exhibition that I reviewed here.

Carlos Luna

Carlos Luna: El Gran Mambo opened at DC's beautiful American University's Katzen Arts Center and runs through Monday, March 17, 2008.

Luna is a Cuban-American artist who is "a storyteller and social chronicler, merging themes of fables and mysticism, eroticism and prejudice, and religiosity and anthropology, all of which are organized, disbanded, interwoven, and reorganized in the iconographic discourse he creates."

This Saturday, Feb. 16, AU Museum curator Jack Rasmussen will lead a conversation with artist Carlos Luna about his work and his exhibition beginning at 5 pm. The conversation is free and open to the public.

True Believer
True Believer by F. Lennox Campello

True Believer, Charcoal and Conte on Paper, 11 x 7 inches.
c. 2008 by F. Lennox Campello

New Alexandria, Virginia gallery

New to me anyway, but open since June of last year is DelRay's Blueberry Gallery (gallery website coming soon I am told) in Alexandria, VA.

The gallery is having a closing reception for their current exhibit of works by Nihal Kececi on Feb. 29 from 5:30-7:30PM.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Art League's Patrons Show

people lining up for Patron Show
If you were crazy enough to be hanging around Old Town Alexandria about 4 AM on a cold morning last month you would have noticed people forming a long line in the brutal cold outside the Torpedo Factory. They were waiting for a chance to get original art for their collections – or perhaps some brave souls starting to collect art.

"A line for art?" you must be asking, "who is crazy enough to freeze lining up at Oh-dark-thirty just to buy artwork?"


They were lining up for one of the great art deals of the year: the Annual Patrons' Show. It's very simple: artists donate original artwork to the Art League, who inspects it, selects it and often frames it. It is quality stuff, ranging from huge abstracts to delicate pencil drawings. The Art League represents nearly 1,800 artists in the area, so there's plenty of possible sources of art donated by generous artists.

It is one of the largest art events in the country, with around 600 original works of art finding a new home in one day.

people lining up for Patron ShowUsually about 600 pieces are donated and hung salon style in the Art League’s gallery on the first floor of the Factory. Then raffle tickets go up for sale at 10 AM, and they usually disappear within an hour or two; and each ticket equals a guaranteed a work of art.

And on Sunday, February 17 at 5PM, people who have a ticket begin gathering into the main floor of the Factory and they bring chairs, tables, food and loads of booze (this is like an art pic nic) as it will be a long, loud, fun, cheery and boozy evening as the tickets are drawn at random; and as they are called, ticket-holders select a piece of art from the work on display on the walls.

Everyone with a ticket is guaranteed a work of art. The tickets cost $175 each - an amazing deal once you see the work that you can get.

The first ticket called gets the first choice and so on - you get to pick the best piece (to you) from around 600 works of art). You better pick one quickly, or the crowds begin to shout and whistle and demand a choice be made.

It is without a doubt, the most sought after art ticket in town, and often incredible acquisitions are made... and I hear that there are some tickets left!

Call the Art League at 703/683-1780.

Curatorial Fellowship in Philly

Deadline: March 28, 2008

The Philadelphia Museum of Art has announced the two-year (first year renewable) Dorothy J. del Bueno Curatorial Fellowship in the Department of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs, beginning on July 1, 2008.

An M.A in art history or related field is required; the Fellow should have demonstrated a commitment to scholarship in art history and an ability to work collaboratively. The fellowship provides firsthand experience with curatorial work in the graphic arts. Fellows participate in all activities of a large, active curatorial department with a collection of over 160,000 works of art on paper: exhibition and loan preparation; object research and cataloguing; study room supervision and daily administrative tasks. Fellows have the opportunity to organize an exhibition from the permanent collection during the second year of the fellowship. Travel stipend and benefits.

Fellowship for Philly Artists

Deadline March 8, 2008

The Center for Emerging Visual Artists and New Courtland Elder Services (NCES) are offering Philadelphia area artists the opportunity to participate in a new community-based fellowship. Through the New Courtland Artist Fellowship, eight artists will be selected to bring innovative/engaging art-making to residents of NCES.

Artists are asked to develop an intergenerational project that brings NCES residents together with school age children/teens to create an exciting artistic project. Work created during the fellowship will be exhibited with the work of the artists in a large, well publicized exhibition. For more details contact CFEVA at 215 546-7775 x11 or email

Grant for Artists

The Pollock-Krasner Foundation invites painters, sculptors, mixed media, installation artists, and artists who work on paper to apply for grants ranging from $1,000 to $30,000. The sole purpose of the foundation is to provide financial assistance to individual working artists of established ability. For more information, contact:

Pollock-Krasner Foundation
863 Park Ave.
New York, NY 10021

Fax (212) 288-2836; email:

Sculpture NOW 2008

DC opening reception for this key Washington Sculptors Group show is on Thursday, February 14, 2008 6:00pm to 8:30 pm and the awards presentation by David Furchgott, President of International Arts & Artists, is to take place at 7:15pm... where did you ask?

Washington Square, located at 1050 Connecticut Avenue NW (18th and L Streets)in Washington, DC.

Sculptures by Christian Benefiel, Brent Crothers, Joel D'Orazio, Pattie Porter Firestone, Frank Fishburne, Breon Gilleran, Michael A. Guadagno, Len Harris, James Kessler, Jin Lee, Carol Gellner Levin, Mitra M. Lore, Phelan Meek, Judy Sutton Moore, Bill Moore, Lincoln Mudd, Mahasti Y. Mudd, Pokey Park, Tom Rooney, Richard Schellenberg, Mike Shaffer, Craig Schaffer, Bo Simeon, Frances Sniffen, Pamela Soldwedel-Barrett, George Tkabladze, Ron van Delden, Raymonde van Santen, Sarah Wegner, Elizabeth Whiteley, and Joyce Zipperer.

Also congrats to Brent Crothers, who is also a Sondheim Prize semifinalist!


This is one of the best art conservation articles that I have read in a long time.

photo of Degas being restored by Matthew Worden

Read the Washingtonian article by Harry Jaffe here.

ArtClash Fun-A-Day in Philly

What is Fun-A-Day? The event grew out of a December 2004 potluck dinner in West Philly, where artist Kara Schlindwein and three friends were searching for some mid-winter inspiration.

Drawing on an idea that had taken hold among comics creators, they dared each other to create one artwork each day during the month of January. To seal the commitment, they planned a show in mid-February. Then they started spreading the word.

"We thought we'd get maybe 14 people," Kara said. Instead, 47 people brought their creations to her friend Nick's living room, and those were just the participants. "We had about 200 people come -- not all at once, thank God."

The success of the first show spawned Artclash!, a West Philly-based artists' collective established, essentially, to keep Fun-A-Day going.

Four years later, the Fun-a-Day concept has spread beyond Philadelphia: this year, artists in Houston, Pittsburgh, and even Amsterdam will hold Fun-A-Day events. In Philly, some 70 people -- professional artists and casual funlovers alike -- signed up to participate in 2008.

"That usually means about 50 to 60 projects will make it to the show," Kara said (See some photos from 2006's Fun-a-Day 2 here).

This year's creations run the gamut from thirty-one haikus composed on SEPTA, to a daily leaf-quilt-square, to a month of different breakfast pastries. Others are entitled "neon paper cut designs," "a walk and a photo," and "flowchart-a-day."

The Fun-a-Day show has moved from a living room into Studio 34 Yoga | Healing | Art, a new 5,000-square-foot space at 4522 Baltimore Avenue in West Philly.

Named for the adjacent trolley line, Studio 34 offers yoga and Pilates classes, massage and other healing services, and community spaces for meetings, art shows, and live performances.

Its grand opening will be in March, but the Fun-a-Day show will offer a "sneak preview" of the KBAS-designed studio.

What: The 4th Annual Fun-a-Day Show, hosted by The Artclash! Collective

When: Saturday, Feb. 16, from 7 to 11 p.m.

Where: Studio 34

Neon for Obama

I guess we know who DC area neon sculptor Craig Kraft is voting for...

Barack Obama neon work by Craig Kraft
Don't forget to vote today if you are in the MD, DC and VA region...

Laurie Lipton Can Draw

I'm a sucker for artists that can really, really draw well. Laurie Lipton in an American artist based in London. Her work will be on view in a group show entitled Pop Surrealism at the Robert Berman Gallery, in Santa Monica, CA that opens March 28.

And Laurie Lipton can draw with the best of them...

"I had been trying to teach myself how to paint like the early Renaissance masters, but failed miserably. Then I decided to try to draw the way the masters painted, using tiny little lines to build up areas of tone. It was crazy and took ages. It was worth the effort, though. The detail and clarity of the images became luminous. I got excited. I drew and drew until I made myself ill, but I didn't care."
Visit her website here.

2008 Presidential Campaign Positions on the Arts & Sciences

I had no idea where the current Presidential candidates stand on the arts, and a while back I emailed all of them asking for some positions, but so far they have farted me off.

However, Marc Molino over at the RP Muse has done his homework and has the campaign's positions -- where there is one -- on those subjects here.

Monday, February 11, 2008

More Bad Things Artists do to Galleries

This actually happened to a gallery in Georgetown, in Washington, DC in the 1990s:

Back when there were eight galleries in Canal Square, one of the galleries had given a show to a local -- at the time "hot" artist -- who was a painter (I say "was" because I haven't heard of the dude in years).

The artist was supposed to deliver and help hang all the paintings on a Wednesday, in order to be ready for the Georgetown third Friday openings. He did show up on Wednesday with about 50% of the work, and brought some more (freshly finished) on Thursday and to the gallerist's horror, even brought some more on Friday, and even as the show was opening at 6PM, was adding the last painting touches to several of the works.

Needless to say, several of the oils were actually wet when people starting showing up. On opening night, it was crowded, and someone apparently rubbed against one of the paintings and smeared some of the oil paint.

Now the gallerist was faced with a very irate person, demanding that his suit be cleaned (it eventually had to be replaced) and with a furious artist, demanding that the gallery pay him in full for the damaged painting.

If I am to believe the gallerist, the case actually went to court, where the judge threw it out.

More Bad Things Galleries do to Artists

This has happened to artists several times in my memories, both in the US and in Europe:

Artist and gallery owner agree to do a show of the artist's work. The gallery, like many all over the world, also has a side business as a framing shop, and tells the artist that they will take care of the framing.

The artist agrees on a handshake, and never asks for a contract, or costs, assuming that the gallerist knows what he is doing.

On opening night the artist shows up and is not too keen about the framing, but it's too late for any real discussions, as people are beginning to show up. Several pieces are sold, and the artist is very happy with the opening.

At the end of the show, the artist gets a letter in the mail from the gallery. Excited to see the payment for the sold work, the artist opens the envelope and finds a framing bill.

The bill details the cost of the framing, substracts from that amount the artist's commission from the sold work, and bills the artist for the remaining amount, as framing is very expensive.

Anger follows...

More bad things that (a) galleries do to artists or (b) artists do to galleries or (c) galleries do to collectors here, and here and here.


To all the semi-finalists for the $25,000 Sondheim Prize:

Becky Alprin, Laura Amussen, Rachel Bone, Ryan Browning, Mandy Burrow, Linda Day Clark, Brent Crothers, Melissa Dickenson, Eric Finzi, Laurie Flannery, Shaun Flynn, Dawn Gavin, Geoff Grace, Maren Hassinger, Kay Hwang, Courtney Jordan, Bridget Sue Lambert, Youngmi Song Organ, Beverly Ress, James Rieck, Christopher Saah, Lynn Silverman, Molly Springfield, Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum, Calla Thompson, Edward Winter, and Erin Womack.

DC area artist Eric Finzi is having an opening for his latest works with a show titled "My Double Life: Musings on Sarah Bernhardt" at Bethesda's Heineman-Myers Contemporay soon. The opening is March 1, 2008 from 6-9PM. See the exhibition catalog here.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Never seen this before...

Amongst the most spectacular sights that I have ever, the Northern Lights, which I saw for a couple of hours during a magical night in Scotland in the early 90s, as well as seeing snow paint the ocean white, and then coming up to the Arctic ice edge -- which I did one summer in 1988 and then again in 1989 while aboard an icebreaker somewhere North of Novaya Zemlya -- are right up there.

But last night in the Poconos I saw and heard something new and wondrous to me: Lightning and thunder in the middle of a snow storm!

Freaky and beautiful and a little scary.

Tim Tate pre-Heart Day Talk

Wednesday, February 13, 5 p.m.

Join artist Tim Tate as he discusses his work Sacred Heart of Healing and other artworks inspired by romance and commitment.

Tim Tate Sculpture
Sacred Heart of Healing by Tim Tate

At the Smithsonian American Art Museum's Luce Foundation Center for American Art in DC — Third Floor.

Friday, February 08, 2008

When galleries go bad

Check out this horror story in Atlanta's Creative Loafing.

Touchstone opening and wine tasting is tonight

Touchstone Gallery's opening for their "10th Annual All-Media National Exhibition," which also features a wine tasting courtesy of the Washington Wine Academy, is tonight from 6-8:30PM and the show goes through March 8, 2008.

"Frida and Me - Common Threads," at Projects Gallery

"Frida and Me - Common Threads," currently on display through February 23, 2008 at Projects Gallery in Philadelphia, showcases the work of four contemporary Philadelphia area artists of Latina/Hispanic heritage.

Organized by Helen Meyerick, Project's director, as a prequel and inspired by the massive Frida Kahlo exhibition which opens at the Philadelphia Museum of Art on Feb. 20, this interesting exhibition gives these four local artists an opportunity to display work which although not executed in a "Kahlo style," nonetheless touch on many of the issues of culture and identity and iconic portraiture that Frida Kahlo so successfully delivered through her own work in the last century.

The exhibit features work by Doris Noguiera-Rogers, Michelle Angela Ortiz, Marilyn Rodriguez-Behrle and Marta Sanchez. All four artists work in radically different styles and media, but all four manage to find -- at least in their words -- a thread back to Kahlo as a source of inspiration.

Marilyn Rodriguez-Behrle mixed media works on found objects -- and paper bags affixed in some cases to what appears to be some form of tree bark -- at first appear to fit neatly the category of "outsider art."

That is until one starts gathering information about the artist and her environment, and we find out that there's more than that.

Marilyn Rodriguez-Behrle
Sacred Haunting Images VI, Mixed Media on Paper Bag
by Marilyn Rodriguez-Behrle

The images, such as Sacred Haunting Images VI, are harsh and disturbing, and often done in the iconic portraiture composition of Kahlo's best-known works. But that's where the visual relationship ends and Rodriguez-Behrle's talented vision takes over. In this artist's works, everything matters and everything tells a story and is related to itself -- like a recursive sequence of art.

Rodriguez-Behrle works in a psychiatric medical environment, and the imagery of her works is directly influenced and stamped by her experiences with patients and co-workers. Even the substrate is related to her environment: the bags upon which she paints are the bags given to patients when they check in and out to contain their personal property.

It's a fascinating mixture of additional hints that she offers the viewers; in her work there are clear signs of religious portraiture, evidenced by the gold leaf background of several of the images. The use of bark immediately reminded me of some of the Santeria pieces of Ana Mendieta, and together the two seemed to cement the fact that perhaps Rodriguez-Behrle is subconsciously (or on purpose) elevating her subjects to a higher place in her canon.

Although the cultural backgrounds of the four women on this show are different (as I recall Puerto Rican, Colombian, Argentinean and Mexican-American), it was easy to pick the powerful influences of Mexican art upon Marta Sanchez.

Marta Sanchez
La Virgin y Las Corpus Oil and enamel on metal
by Marta Sanchez

Painting on metal is a traditional Mexican media, and for many years Mexican artists painted -- and continue to do so -- religious retablos on tin, often by taking a tin can, cutting it open, hammering it flat and then painting or cutting it into a religious portrait.

Sanchez carries the retablo tradition to the 21st century, elevating it both in scale and in imagery. Raised on the Texas side of the Mexican border, her works are full of narrative imagery and powerful colors influenced both by her childhood memories and the cultural ties to a Mexican palette. In La Virgin y Las Corpus we are flooded with narrative imagery: we see the iconic Virgin as the central focus of the piece, surrounded by a swirling world of color, information and history. The train that goes back and forth between Mexico and the US is there; so is a man dancing at a wedding - or is it a young girl's "quince" celebration? Is that Diego Rivera poking his "El Sapo" face at the top of the painting?

It has been said by many that Argentina, as a nation, belongs more in Europe than in South America, and that complex and diverse nation is home not only to the largest Italian migration in the world, but also home to more Cymri people than Wales. In Doris Nogueira-Rogers' works more of an European footprint -- than a Latin American one -- emerges.

It's OK; Frida Kahlo was three quarters European and one quarter Mexican, but no one has ever worn her Mexicanity more furiously and proudly than La Kahlo.

Of Lace and Layers VII, mixed media on paper
by Doris Nogueira-Rogers

Doris Nogueira-Rogers' contributions to the exhibitions are coolly crafted and beautifully presented - they also walk a different path from an already diverse group, perhaps aiming more to an interest in pattern and color than in narrative and information.

Let me not mix words here: the stand-out in this exhibition is Michelle Angela Ortiz.

Michelle Angela Ortiz
La Madre, La Hija, Esperito Buscando Acrylic on wood
by Michelle Angela Ortiz

In her large triptych La Madre, La Hija, Esperito Buscando, Ortiz flexes not only superbly honed painting skills, but also succeeds in bringing together a marriage of the already discussed religious and iconic portraiture that tie her work to both Kahlo and a Latin American culture, to a contemporary dialogue.

The generations of her family are represented: we see her mother and her grandmother and also Ortiz. The older generations offer gifts to the viewer in their hands, while Ortiz's hands, held in the same position, await her gifts or perhaps her destiny.

It's also a story of family strength and power; these are not supplicants, but strong women with strong faces, and Ortiz's face, more than the others, also show a proud footprint of native indigenous bloodlines taking over, through the generations, from the invading European genes.

She awaits her gifts, but will not beg for them; she will make her own destiny.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Bad things galleries do to artists

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

Bad things artists to do galleries

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

What's Your Problem?

I really, really like this new series of articles at the Washington City Paper by Amanda Hess titled What's Your Problem?

Lisa Brotman Interview

Bethesda Art Blog has a really good interview with artist Lisa Brotman.

Read it here.

Tomorrow in Bethesda

Tomorrow, Friday, February 8th, is the second Friday of the month and thus it's the Bethesda Art Walk with 13 participating art venues and with free guided tours.

Don't miss "Closer" at Gallery Neptune, and always a great photography show is the VII Annual Photography Competition at Fraser Gallery.

M. Queensberg by William Atkins
M. Queensberg by William Atkins at Fraser Gallery

From 6-9PM - go see some artwork!

Wanna go to a DC opening and wine tasting this Saturday Friday?

Touchstone Gallery in the District has been an artist-owned gallery since 1976, which in gallery years is several centuries.

This Friday they're hosting an opening for their "10th Annual All-Media National Exhibition," juried by well-know DC area curator and often an advisor to the DC Commission of the Arts and Humanities, Vivienne M. Lassman.

The opening also features a wine tasting courtesy of the Washington Wine Academy. The opening is from 6-8:30PM and the show goes through March 8, 2008.

Wanna go to a DC opening on Saturday?

The Capitol Hill Art League (CHAL) will open “Fascinating Rhythm,” Saturday, February 9, 2008, 5-7 PM at the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, 545 7th Street SE. The show continues through February 29th.

The juror for “Fascinating Rhythm” is David C. Levy, who was the President and Director of the Corcoran Gallery of Art and its College of Art and Design from 1991 to 2005.

Wanna go to a Baltimore opening this Saturday?

Light Street Gallery in Baltimore presents "Panoramic Photography from Around the World," a group show featuring the winning photographs of The Third Annual Juried Competition of the International Association of Panoramic Photographers.

Opening reception Saturday, February 9th, 2 - 6 PM. The Competition drew entries from forty one panoramic photographers from seven countries and The United States, Australia, England, Belgium, Poland, Spain and Germany. Through March 29th, 2008.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Murder Revealed?

Piero della Francesca

Did the above painting expose the murderer of Oddantonio da Montefeltro?

Read this.

Opportunity for Artists

Deadline: April 6, 2008

Red Bull Art of Can is a national juried exhibition featuring artwork in a variety of media that has one thing in common: they are all inspired by Red Bull or crafted from the iconic blue and silver cans that 20somethings suck up like water.

Registration is free and open to artists nationwide through April 6, 2008.

Sculptures, paintings, digital/graphic designs and various forms of mixed media will all be considered. Registration forms and details can be downloaded here.

Peace Now!

The last Peace show is coming up at Warehouse Gallery in DC...

The show runs from Feb 22 – April 6, 2008 and will be up for the observance of the 5th anniversary of the Iraq War and during the “March for Peace” in Washington and other cities around the country.

Warehouse will also schedule some peace events during the show and Molly tells me that they welcome ideas.

If you want to participate in the show, send Molly Ruppert an email with a JPG image and details to

Wanna go to a Maryland reception this Saturday?

Carroll Arts Center

Don’t miss this one: Erwin Timmers (DC's leading "green artist"), Jennifer Lindstrom and Alison Sigethy are featured in SiO2, a glass showcase at the Carroll Arts Center in Westminster, MD.

It’s a beautiful drive, so drive up there for the artists’ reception on Saturday, Feb. 9, 2008, 2pm – 4pm.

Disclaimer: I've driven through Maryland and used to live there.

Wanna go to a Philly opening tomorrow?

Tomorrow, Thursday, February 7 at the Print Center in Philly: Moon Studies and Star Scratches: Sharon Harper , Dakar Portraits: Vera Viditz-Ward and That’s Women’s Work: Laura Wagner with gallery talks by the artists at 5:00pm.

Oh yeah... the opening reception is from 5:30-7:30pm.

Trevarrow at the Arts Club

I've been hearing good things about the shows currently on exhibition at the beautiful Arts Club of Washington, specifically about the work of DC artist Ruth Trevarrow and Bethesda's Marilyn Banner.

bison plate by Ruth Trevarrow

Bison Plate by Ruth Trevarrow

The shows are on through 23 February 2008.

Digital Sequences

The WaPo's art critic Michael O'Sullivan had an interesting review here of an exhibiiton over at the Montpelier Arts Center in Laurel, Maryland that sounds really interesting as well, and perhaps a new page in the ever growing "green art" movement which seems to have found an epicenter around the Greater DC area region.

Read the review here.

Digital Sequences: Chris Jordan, Running the Numbers, and Gail Rebhan, Room and Jessica Braiterman: Veneer runs until February 29, 2008 and on Saturday, Feb 23 at 3:30 pm there will be a lecture by Shannon Perich, Associate Curator at the Smithsonian Museum of American History on the Emerging History of Digital Photography from the curator's point of view. Free.

Bell on Frida and Me - Common Threads, at Projects in Philly

Jessica Bell is a student in Colette Copeland's critical writing class at the University of Pennsylvania, and in artblog Bell reviews Common Threads at Projects Gallery in Philadelphia.

I'll be visiting this show soon; read her review here.

Cirenaica Moreira

Cuban photographer's Cirenaica Moreira's photographs have been described as "vagina dentata," and she's one of my favorite photographers in the world (Disclaimer: As a Moreira superfan, dealer and collector, if Moreira's photos climb in price I stand to make a huge fortune).

The below video by Nicaraguan poet Yolanda Blanco appropriates Moreira's photos to make Blanco's poetry sing.

If Cuba ever regains its freedom, and its talented artists are then able to travel the world, then expect talented artists like Moreira to be discovered by a whole new set of American curators and collectors, and to truly blosom out.

Cirenaica Moreira was born in Havana, Cuba in 1969 and graduated from the Instituto Superior de Arte (ISA) in Havana with a focus in the performing arts, which is strongly reflected in her tableau-like photographs, with the artist herself playing the lead role. She is considered by many to be one of the most influential Cuban photographers of her generation. Her work has been displayed in many galleries, museums, art fairs (ARCO, Art Basel, etc.) and biennials around the US, Latin America and Europe.

Art critic and writer Armando Suárez-Cobián has written that:
"Cirenaica is not only the physical protagonist of her work but also the metaphor for those she dreams. Cirenaica has constructed a being that transcends her, she has converted her body into a place where all the women she is, gather together to knit and conspire. That duality has become destiny. The created characters have profiled her femininity in a way that fluctuates between the quiet knitter spinning thread who dreams and waits, and, at the same time, is being dreamed of and is exposed. And dreamed of in her delirium, she is diluted in the grace of the water. She is revealed in the silent violence of the light that burns and darkens when it falls directly, and is converted into sharpened metal that united with the dreamed bodies, cuts when they are caressed."
Buy Cirenaica Moreira now.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008


For the man who thinks that Terry Gilliam's Brazil is one of the top ten films ever made, it is quite a surprise to reveal that I think that Juno is one of the best movies that I have seen in the last decade.

Starring Ellen Page, rapidly becoming one of the best young actresses on the planet, and who was the terrifying star of 2005's Hard Candy -- the movie most likely to make men cross their legs.

Seriously, Hard Candy was a brutal and intelligent movie, and there are scenes in the film where the character played by Page causes men to squirm and the audible rustle from legs being crossed throughout the theatre becomes a weird sensurround to the smartest revenge movie in ages.

But this is a review of Juno and not Hard Candy.

Get back on track Campello!

Juno is witty, funny, sarcastic, sometimes a little scary and definately has that magical cult ingredient like Napoleon Dynamite did.

Page plays the sarcastic, snappy and very pregnant Juno, a 16 year old kid with a razor-sharp mind and a huge belly. The movie is the story of how she deals with her pregnancy and it is full of surprises, turns and bends and very good acting on the part of Page and the supporting cast, especially by J.K. Simmons, who plays her dad.

The movie grows as it develops, and before Juno's snappy comebacks and one liners become tiresome, she suddenly becomes a scared little girl before our eyes and just as fast turns into a strong decision maker.

I liked this movie a lot and Page is a sure bet for the Oscar for best actress; go see Juno.

The Five Senses

Recently I juried a competition for Alexandria's Target Gallery for an upcoming exhibition titled The Five Senses.

The Five Senses will be an all media exhibition that features artwork which must incorporate two or more senses (touch, taste, see, smell, hear). The physicality of this exhibition aims to engage and stimulate the viewer through works that address all aspects of human sensation.

I was surprised by the diverse range of work submitted, including many conceptual and new media pieces that really stretched the envelope both in technology and in visual intelligence.

The submissions came from all over the country and I selected 23 entries. Since the artists' names were hidden, I don't know who I picked, but through the magic of the web, I know that these thought simulators by Texas artist Gary Schott are in the show.

Show dates: March 6 – April 6, 2008
Reception and Gallery Talk: Thursday, March 13, 6-8pm

See ya there!

Interns: Washington Glass School Mentor Program

The Washington Glass School is looking for an intern/apprentice to work with a glass artist and studio. This offers an opportunity for someone to learn the business of art while broadening the scope of their material knowledge.

The School offers experience in public art, arts administration, creation of art in a very busy and successful studio, and of course learning the techniques of creating glass art.

The intern will be making molds, cutting glass, and casting glass among other duties. Prior knowledge of these techniques are not necessary. Hours are flexible but most work must take place between Monday and Friday between 10 and 5pm.

They are looking for someone to do at least 2 or 3 days a week. This is not a paid position, but a great opportunity for the right candidate. Experience in glass, electronics, computers are all helpful but not required. Please contact Tim Tate at and list your qualifications for consideration.


Heard on MSNBC this morning as political pundits discuss why Hispanic/Latino/Chicano households may be swinging towards the Obama candidacy because of Teddy Kennedy's endorsement:

"After all, what do you see on the walls of every Hispanic household? A picture of the Virgin Mary and a picture of JFK!"


To Jesse Cohen's, which broke 1,000,000 hits for the month of January. They're growing at an amazing pace. Check out the Washington, DC Metro Arts team here.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Virginia Beach police seize photos

seized ad photo
Butt crack showed, so the VAB cops seized the pictures photos; read the story here.

Update: Charges dropped! But mission accomplished - this story made headlines all over the world and made Virginia Beach look really moronic!

artDC returns this May
artDC logo
artDC, the District's only major international art fair, returns for its second year on May 16-18, 2008, with an opening night VIP Preview scheduled for May 15.

Read my review of artDC 2007 here.

The New Media section, which I helped to curate last year, also returns for a second year and "this small group of exhibitors will display a variety of digital, sound and installations of mixed-media works, along with other gallery artists."

artDC 2008 will also feature "Art W," which is described as "a project paying tribute to contemporary and historical women artists. As an invitational, Art W will highlight select women artists whose work merits special recognition. Art W will additionally be spotlighted in on- and off-site seminars addressing the topic of women in the arts and in special events with partner institutions in Washington."

They're also featuring SLICE, a special section featuring galleries who focus on "cutting edge art - a slice of the market not normally exposed to the international art market."

I suspect that we will see a lot more Mid Atlantic area galleries represented in this second year, as the relative success of the first year insures some sort of safety net for galleries with a limited art fair budget to do a "new" fair. I know this because one question that I get all the time as I wander through Philly's galleries is "how was artDC?"

And I know that we will see a lot more DC area galleries as well, as the fair's first year success now gives some sort of degree of assurance about the art being exposed to a large body of attendees and collectors.

Details and applications, etc. here.

Opportunity for Sculptors

Deadline: March 15, 2008 (postmark)

"Global Warming at the Icebox" - Philadelphia Sculptors is offering a great opportunity for artists interested in making artistic statements about environmental issues. They are sponsoring a major sculpture exhibition on the theme of global warming during Fall 2008.

"Global Warming at the Icebox" will be exhibited at the large and uniquely appropriate Icebox Project Space in the Crane Arts Building in Philadelphia. They are seeking submissions from artists working in three dimensions who can present original ways of approaching the theme and exploring the diverse ramifications of climate change. Interactive, multi-media, and installation works are encouraged.

The show will run from October 5, 2008 - November 15, 2008. All work must be submitted digitally. Selected artists will receive an honorarium of $750. The jurors are Adelina Vlas, Assistant Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Cheryl Harper, independent Curator. The entry fee is $15 for Philadelphia Sculptors members and $25 for non-members (or discounted membership and entryfee of $45 for new members.) For prospectus and more information, go to this website or contact Leslie Kaufman at 215-413-9126,

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Call for Artists

A splendid group of jurors -- including Dr. C. Everett Koop, Dr. Gary Vikan, Mr. Fred Lazarus, myself and others -- will be jurying the artwork for the The Innovators Combatting Substance Abuse Program next month in Baltimore.

The Innovators Combatting Substance Abuse Program has a call out for artists for original art to appear in a forthcoming book on art and addiction to be published by Johns Hopkins University Press.

Open to all artists and all media, including video on the subject of drug addiction, including alcohol, and recovery. A panel of jurors will select finalists, and each finalist will receive a $200 honorarium, with the top five receiving an additional $500, copy of the book, and inclusion in exhibitions in Maryland and Puerto Rico.

No entry fees!

Download entry form here.

McCabe on Bailey

The Baltimore City Paper's Brent McCabe closes the chapter on the recent furor over the Bailey-as-Ober appropriation issue and writes that "Bailey's outright copying of a local artist in her peer group is the first of many undercooked choices that makes New Work a brilliant idea with atrocious execution."

Bret makes some excellent points on the issue. Read the review here.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Ass Backwards

My series of works based on real and imaginary military ribbons and medals has created the complete opposite effect in the mind of at least one person who writes in YouTube:

Do you want to kill more innocent Americans with your ribbons. Why don't you campaign for peace?
See the offending work in the short video below...

And here it is finished.

Iranian Campaign Medal by F. Lennox Campello

"Iranian Campaign Medal", Oil on Canvas, 24 x 48 inches, c.2007
By F. Lennox Campello (from the Digitalia series)

Interesting show at Salve Regina

Salve Regina Gallery at the Catholic University of America has a really interesting show opening next Thursday Feb. 7, from 6-8PM.

On exhibition will be works by DC area artist Kurt Godwin, and the exhibit promises to be quite interesting, especially in view of the recent furor over the Bailey-as-Ober appropriation issue.

Work by Kurt Godwin
Godwin has been working on a series of "assisted ready-made" mixed media paintings for the last year and a half that works with the appropriation concept on a very different level.

Godwin tells me that because he was temporarily without a proper studio, he came up with the idea of downloading obscure old paintings (19th c. and earlier) by various (often Russian) artists

Finding separate scenes by two different artists with some sort of visual connection - a horizon line, trees that could match up, etc. - two different paintings can be then "fused" into a third situation.

The colors are matched with a variety of materials to solidify the connection; yet perspectives are at times skewed. Godwin says that what appears to be normal -- "looks like art" -- turns out to be oddly disjointed and perhaps eve unsettling at times.

Things don't "add up" in the newly reconstituted works. Inserting rusted out cars, planes, power lines and other sorts of junk into the placid landscapes bring these seemingly antiquated, traditional compositions into our day and age - for better or worse.

Godwin says that in the process of making these things it occurred to him that "over the millions of landscape paintings produced over the years what really is the point in starting from scratch?"

He continues, "with so many to choose from, one just needs a bit of a foundation as a jumping off place to add their own two-bits."

With this accelerated process there was clearly a high production level as the show will feature about 75 - 80 of these 8"x10" works. The show opens next Thursday Feb. 7, with a reception from 6-8PM.

The Salve Regina Gallery
Catholic University of America
620 Michigan Ave NE
Washington, DC 20009

Go Home Already

DCist all but calls for the WaPo's Chief Art Critic to quit. Read that here.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Shauna Lee Lange on Honfleur

By Shauna Lee Lange

Southeast DC's Honfleur Gallery celebrated their one year anniversary with an exhibition of fine art and culture last weekend.

The show featured work by artists such as Alison Spain, Jonathan French, Justin Couch, Seneca Wells, Renee Woodward, Jonathan Royce, and Darren Smith. Some of the artists are members of the ARCH Artist in Residence Program and they all expressed their thanks to the gallery staff for their hard work in bringing to light new cultural beginnings and in helping to make the gallery a success.

The celebration featured a fine buffet table, thoughtful door prizes, open artists studios, and an energetic electric spark in tune with a wonderful jazz trio. Support for the Gallery seems to span age, race, artistic interest, and status. One of the ways we like to measure the health of a gallery is in the culture of open reception to children and youth. The anniversary celebration welcomed a young teen enjoying blackberries, an older teen wearing a "Make Music Not War" t-shirt, and a young man sitting patiently on black leather couches with his guardian.

When children are welcomed to explore art, and not kept at arms length from art gallery openings, it makes our world all the richer. Honfleur Gallery invites you to come in and meet the work of artists who are exploring photography, oils, woodworking, stitched canvas, and collage mosaics.

Happy Anniversary, Honfleur - may we be with you at year 5, 10, 25, and 50!

Early Look

I've been retained by the Longview Gallery of Washington, DC to curate an exhibition for them focused on student work.

The exhibition hopes to deliver a survey of the best artwork by undergraduate art students working in accredited art school programs in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, District of Columbia and Virginia.

I will curate the exhibition from both a submission process as well as visits to schools and studios. All selections and invitations will be made at my discretion.

Through this process, the exhibition also hopes to educate the selected students on the process of participating in a commercial gallery art exhibition, including advance preparations, presentation and delivery of artwork, opening receptions, dealing with the press, etc.


May 5, 2008 - Deadline for receipt of entries to me

May 10, 2008 - Invited Artists Notified

June 5, 2008 - Deadline for Delivery of Art to Gallery

June 7, 2008 - Opening Reception

July 5, 2008 - Exhibition Closes

July 6, 2008 - Pick-up of Unsold Work

This exhibition is open to all art students 18 years and older who are enrolled in an accredited undergraduate art school program in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, the District of Columbia and Virginia. At my discretion, the exhibition may also include a piece by the selected students' art professor. All work selected must be for sale and framed and presented professionally to conservation standards. Open to all two and three dimensional media. The size of the submitted artwork cannot exceed 40 inches in any one direction (excluding frames).

There are no fees or charges associated with this exhibition and process. Accepted artists are responsible for any costs associated with delivery and return of unsold work. All preliminary judging will be done from digital entries.

A formal opening and reception for the accepted artists will be held on Saturday, 7 June 2008 from 6-8 p.m. at the Longview Gallery. The gallery is located at 1302 9th street, NW, Washington, DC 20001, Tel: 202.232.4788.

All the details and prospectus can be downloaded here. Art professors desiring to contact me to set up a school visit should contact me directly via email:

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Wanna go to a DC opening tomorrow?

DC's Aaron Gallery has been around for a long time, but recently its direction has been taken over by a new generation of Cabadas, and the two Cabada sisters have already made a huge improvement not only in the way that the gallery looks, but also in completely making a whole new start for the gallery.

Look for this gallery to begin adding its contribution to the capital region's artistic dialogue.

And it may start this Friday, with the opening of a new exhibition by Chilean artistJoan Belmar and and talented DC area glass artist Kari Minnick. Join the gallery and artists on Friday, February 1st for an opening reception at 1717 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Washington DC at 6:30 to 8:30 pm. Contact for further details.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Vanity galleries

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

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

An interesting fact, at least here in Washington, is the fact that I have seen "reputable" galleries which sometimes cross the line and become "charge the artist" galleries or vanity galleries once in a while, as the mighty dollar (or lack thereof) calls.

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

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

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

And it's not just commercial art spaces. Several years ago, the WCP profiled a then a local non-profit, which inadvertently admitted charging a multinational corporation a hefty fee to put up an art show at the "reputable" non-profit art spaces.

One can even make the case that even some museums sometimes cross the line and become "vanity museums."

A few years ago I was astounded when a Culture Minister from one of the embassies in DC told me that they had finished a deal with a local museum to host the first ever retrospective of one of that country's artists for a fee of four million dollars! To him, it was "business as usual," while to me it was distasteful and dishonest and left a bad taste in my mouth about that museum for the longest time.

Opportunity for Artists

Deadline: March 28, 2008 (postmark date)

Ragan Cole-Cunningham, Director of Exhibitions and Education at the Contemporary Art Center of Virginia (CAC), is the Virginia Art Education Association’s (VAEA) 2006 Art Educator of the Year/Museum Division is the juror for the 2008 Arts Council @ Grace Competition.

Last year’s winners were: Linda Hesh (1st place), Kathryn Cornelius (2nd place) and Charles Westerman (3rd place).

The exhibition is June 21–August 1, 2008 and has awards of $2000.

To download the 2008 entry form click here.

Opportunity for Artists

Established by the United States Department of State in 1964, the Art In Embassies Program is a global museum that exhibits original works of art by U.S. citizens in the public rooms of approximately 180 American diplomatic residences worldwide.

To submit images to its staff for consideration in upcoming exhibitions please email .jpg or .gif images of your works no larger than 50k in size, to:

Lucelia Artist Award winners

Are you curious about how the Lucelia Artist Award winners were selected? Join Sidra Stitch, former executive director of the Lucelia Artist Award and guest curator of the current exhibition, as she discusses each of the artists featured in Celebrating the Lucelia Artist Award, 2001--2006 and current issues in contemporary art.

McEvoy Auditorium — Lower Level Saturday, February 2, 3 p.m. Questions can be directed to (202) 633-1000 or

Michael Janis

No objectivity here, but more evidence of why DC area artists who use glass as their means to deliver visual art are creating a new art movement centered on the Greater DC area...

Recently his public art glass and steel sculpture for the Hotel Palomar received "Best Artwork Award 2007" from Boutique Design Magazine, and The Onion singled out that sculpture as one of the reasons that Washington, DC is becoming a cool arts center. He's also been selling a ton of work at the major art fairs.

Michael Janis
Lobby Sculpture Hotel Palomar, Washington, DC
Michael Janis, c. 2006 . Cast glass and steel - 4.5' x 6'

Michael Janis is represented in the Greater DC area by Gallery Neptune, in Richmond, Virginia by Red Door Gallery, and elsewhere by Maurine Littleton Gallery.

Janis will be in a three person show at Gallery Neptune titled "Closer" which is opening February 6, 2008.

Buy Michael Janis now.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Ober, Bailey, McNatt, Gopnik, and now Capps

Kriston Capps from the WCP confirms that there appears to be a dealer angle on the whole "Bailey as Ober" exhibition controversy in Baltimore and even makes a good case for the potential "adjustment" of the context and focus and word-spin of this show after the fact; here's the original news release on the show - there's nothing on Ober.

Read Capps here.

Here's an idea: how about some institution in DC or Baltimore sponsor a panel where Bailey, Block, Gopnik, McNatt, and Ober all sit down and chew this out and respond to the good questions raised by the visual arts blogsphere and take questions from the audience?

Maybe the BMA, or MICA, or School 33, or MAP, can step up and offer the place to host the discussion?

I'll moderate it for free.


Between January 2007 and December 2007, this blog received 715,265 visits/page views, an all time new record for DC Art News, Mid Atlantic Art News, Daily Campello Art News.

Evidence of the huge thirst that exists for information and writing about the visual arts.

"If you don't get it, you don't get it"
- Washington Post ad slogan
Thank you!

This Saturday

On February 2, O'Neill Studios will be hosting a Party, Art Show and Silent Auction to benefit Autism Speaks. Their past events have attracted hundreds of people and raised thousands of dollars for important charities, all while showcasing the best of the DC art community. Around nine artists will be painting live as attendees party around them. All guests are invited to eat, drink, dance, buy artwork, and bid on some cool items. Special performance at 9 p.m. featuring the legendary DC band, the LivelyStones.

WHO: Art lovers, partygoers, charitable contributors, DC metro community

WHAT: Post-Holiday Party, Art Show and Silent Auction to raise money for Autism Speaks

WHEN: Saturday, February 2, 2008 6 p.m.- midnight

WHERE: LeftBank, 2424 18th St, NW, Washington, DC 20009

CONTACT: Christine Hamershock,, tel: 301.530.9030

On Museums

Opinions are like assholes; everyone has one.

And depending on everyone's points of view and depth of knowledge, and agendas, and interests, when you're wrong, you're wrong, but also, when you're right, you're right, and this one is right on (thanks Rosetta!)

Luna & Summerford

Carlos Luna: El Gran Mambo opens today at DC's beautiful American University's Katzen Arts Center and runs through Monday, March 17, 2008.

Luna is a Cuban-American artist who is "a storyteller and social chronicler, merging themes of fables and mysticism, eroticism and prejudice, and religiosity and anthropology, all of which are organized, disbanded, interwoven, and reorganized in the iconographic discourse he creates. "

Also beginning today is work by Ben L. Summerford a Professor Emeritus from AU. "Ben Summerford has been a major influence on Washington art for over 50 years as an artist, teacher, and cofounder of the Jefferson Place Gallery."

There's several other shows opening early next month, including work by William Christenberry (his Klan Room Tableau makes their first appearance in DC), Roger Brown, Elena Sisto, and others.

An opening reception for all of the above shows will take place on Saturday, Feb. 16, from 6 to 9 p.m. All shows will be open for viewing. In addition to the artist’s reception, a Gallery Talk on Roger Brown with Curator Sidney Lawrence will take place on Saturday, Feb. 16, at 4 p.m. and then a second Gallery Talk with Carlos Luna will take place the same day at 5 p.m. as American University Museum's Director Jack Rasmussen leads a conversation with artist Carlos Luna about his work.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Afghanistan Has World's Oldest Oil Paintings

Buddhist images on the walls of central Afghanistan's Bamiyan caves are the world's first oil paintings, Japanese researcher Yoko Taniguchi says. Taniguchi, an expert at Japan's National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, and a group of Japanese, European, and American scientists are collaborating to restore the damaged murals, the Daily Star reports. The Los Angeles-based Getty Conservation Institute analyzed 53 samples from the murals that date back to about 650 A.D., concluding that they had oil in the paint. "My European colleagues were shocked because they always believed oil paintings were invented in Europe," Taniguchi said. "They couldn't believe such techniques could exist in some Buddhist cave deep in the countryside." The Bamiyan Valley is known for two huge 1,500-year-old statues of the Buddha that were destroyed by the Taliban in 2001.
Read the whole story here.


I'm down South for a few days... more later.

But meanwhile, if you are a DC area sculptor looking for a great bunch of creative folks to hang around with, the Washington Sculptors Group is having a Sculptors Happy Hour, tomorrow, Tuesday, January 29, 7:00 pm at Busboys and Poets in DC.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Gopnik, Ober and Bailey

The WaPo's Chief Art Critic has an interesting angle on the debate caused by a Baltimore exhibition by an artist copying the distinctive style of Baltimore artist Cara Ober (Disclaimer: I have never met Cara Ober, nor do I own any of her works, but I have been to Baltimore).

This is one of Gopnik's most successful articles to date, at least judging by the intense debate that it caused at dinner with my in-laws; the sparks were flying as people took sides. He writes:

Baltimore artist Christine Bailey tests an almost equally strange notion. What if one artist were to suddenly start working in the very different style of a local colleague -- not simply copying specific works, but fully inhabiting that colleague's trademark way of painting? "Christine Bailey: New Work," on show in a corporate lobby in Baltimore, is the experiment. Its results can be seen in the tempest that it caused on the Baltimore art scene.
The artist being copied is Cara Ober.
Bailey's paintings capture all of Ober's telltale tricks and tics. Nostalgic imagery is pulled from older sources. Bird books, old encyclopedias, decorative wallpapers? Check. Tender, pastel colors -- soft washes of pale yellows, blues and pinks -- with brooding splashes of black on top? Check. Scraps of dictionary definitions, presented in old-timey fonts? Check. An overriding sense of capital-P Poetry, without ever making clear quite what that poetry's about? Check.
Gopnik, of course, takes the predictable side; he writes: " it's hard to imagine that a cerebral artist such as Bailey would like Ober's work enough to want to truly claim it as her own."

That's a zinger against Ober, earned (I think) because in Gopnik's own words, she is a "rather successful female painter."

That description could be compliment, I think, maybe... Why the maybe? because in the obsessive, theory-driven art brains of talented writers, but one-sided and one focus critics like Gopnik, I think that often ideas are much more important to them that the art itself. Success with commodifiable art is not necessarily a good thing to the theory mafia (la Cosa Teorista).

And thus, often it's a negative thing to be successful in that weird one-sided art upper world. And if an artist is successful, then that's often seen by these single vision soldiers as a negative.

I think that the right mix is probably a mix of creative ideas together with some degree of artistic success; not all artists have to be just Van Goghesque victims, or Pointdexters, or commercial geniuses (although the latter really helps... money is not everything in the world, but it's damned well ahead of whatever is in second place).

Notice how Gopnik tears at Ober's success: he insinuates that her artistic output is common and it is so "especially when it's one that's been out there for a decade or two already, and is shared by painters working all around the globe."

OK Blake, can you name three of those artists? Any country will do. I'm not saying that you're wrong, but as someone well-travelled, who has lived in three continents, and goes to a gazillion openings and art fairs, I'm wrecking my brains trying to think or remember a single artist in the last decade or two years whose work is similar or reminds me of Ober's? I just need an example to back up such a hugely broad commonizing statement.

Words count.

But we'll give Gopnik an A+ in making a clear case that Bailey is not really trying to just "copy" Ober's work as a forger or an imitator would. It's a good point and certainly does make up for an interesting and provocative idea for an exhibition.

But then again, in the theory-only OCD brains, the need to diminish the "other side" emerges no matter how well the case has been made for the theory side. He stabs Ober's work in the heart by writing that "in this case it's hard to imagine that a cerebral artist such as Bailey would like Ober's work enough to want to truly claim it as her own."

Not needed - Blake already made a solid case as to why Bailey is doing this; this is just an attempt to diminish Ober's work. It's not malice, but just an example of being unable to co-exist with the "other side." Gopnik can't help himself - he must elevate the idea above the work, and then attempt to bury the work.

But then, this erudite Anglophile steps over the edge with his exuberance over what Bailey has clearly accomplished with her idea. He joyously writes that
Most artists make an object and barely feel a ripple when they go public with it. It can seem a useless act, or at least an impotent one. So, Bailey says, she asked herself a question: "Can I make a picture -- a benign object -- and really make it function socially?" Judging from the heated responses to her project, the answer's clearly yes. It's made "Christine Bailey: New Work" one of the most stimulating local shows I've seen in ages.... Four of the lobby pictures are on their way to being sold, but it's hard to know if they're being bought for their tasteful, Oberesque good looks or their hard-hitting Baileyan brains
If it is the latter, then I think that those words begin the commodification of the idea into a commercially successful object; this is slippery ground for the theory only mafia. A "made" soldier like Gopnik should know better.

Congrats to Gopnik for delivering one of the most stimulating local reviews that I've read in ages; congrats to Bailey for not only delivering an interesting show and idea, but also an apparent commercially successful one; and congrats to Ober for simply being a damned good painter and good enough to be the target of this project.

Ahh... one last thing, and someone correct me if I am wrong, but I seem to recall that Jordan Faye Block, Bailey's current dealer and the dealer who set up this exhibit, used to be -- used to be -- Ober's dealer as well; but I am working from memory here and it is Sunday.

I am curious if there is a dealer part in the Ober selection process? I wonder if this issue had anything to do with Bailey's choice, and this is my open question to her, which I wish I could ask her directly rather than asking here.

If her dealer suggested Ober, then the dealer deserves a "well done" as well - after all, if we're gonna pick on an artist's style, we might as well pick on one whose work has a good sales track record, uh?

This is all good for art.

OK... one more last thing: Gopnik describes Baltimore's scene as "conservative." This adjective seems to be applied to every city's art scene on the planet, and it may be the right adjective, but then again, can someone send me an example of where a critic or writer has ever described any city's art scene on this planet as "progressive" or "liberal"? I'm sure some are, but I just want to be educated as to where, and with facts to back up such a sweeping statement.

Read Gopnik's article here and read Cara Ober's blog here - it has a lot more info on this interesting issue, including a statement by Bailey. And for a different take, read the Baltimore Sun's art critic's take on the issue here and artPark's here, and Mango & Ginger here and Bethesda Art Blog here.

Update: Kriston Capps from the WCP confirms my memory that there was a dealer angle to this story.