Friday, January 16, 2009

Andrew Wyeth

Chadds Ford, PA January 16, 2009--Andrew Wyeth, often referred to as America's most famous artist, died in his sleep at his home in Chadds Ford, surrounded by his family early this morning, after a brief illness. Wyeth, 91, was painting until recently, with some new works exhibited at the Brandywine River Museum in 2008.

Wyeth ignored the preferences of the art establishment during the heyday of abstract expressionism but nonetheless won international acclaim with exhibitions throughout the world, received many awards, and inspired countless imitators. His work brought some of the highest prices for a living American artist. His painting, Christina's World (1948), is one of the best-known images of the 20th-century.

"The world has lost one of the greatest artists of all time," said George A. Weymouth, a close friend and chairman of the board of the Brandywine Conservancy.

Andrew Newell Wyeth was born in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania on July 12, 1917, a son of the internationally renowned painter and illustrator N.C. Wyeth and his wife Carolyn Bockius Wyeth. Theirs was a creative family: Henriette Wyeth Hurd, Carolyn Wyeth and Andrew were painters; Ann Wyeth McCoy was a composer; and son Nathaniel was an engineer and inventor with many patents to his credit.

At age 15, Wyeth began his academic training in his father's studio. In that year, on one of his boyhood walks, he discovered the Chadds Ford farm of Karl and Anna Kuerner. Wyeth was intrigued by Kuerner, a German immigrant and World War I veteran, developing a close relationship with him over the years. Wyeth has found subjects in the Kuerner farm's people, animals, buildings and landscapes for hundreds of works of art over more than 75 years.

The Wyeth family spent summer months in Maine, and Andrew Wyeth's early watercolor landscapes, much influenced by the work of Winslow Homer, met with enormous critical acclaim at his first one-man show at the William Macbeth Gallery in New York City in 1937. An exceedingly self-critical artist, this immediate success did not reassure him. Feeling that his work was too facile, he returned to his father's studio for further concentration on technique.

Wyeth soon began working in egg tempera, a technique introduced to him by his brother-in-law, the painter Peter Hurd. Tempera became his major medium. He said that it forced him to slow down the execution of a painting and enabled him to achieve the superb textural effects that distinguish his work. His other mediums were watercolor and drybrush watercolor.

In 1940, Wyeth married Betsy James, whom he had met in Maine the previous summer. It was Betsy who introduced Wyeth to her long-time friend Christina Olson, who had been crippled by polio. Olson's character represented "old Maine" to him, and she became his model for many works of art, including Christina's World.

Wyeth caused a sensation in 1986 with the revelation of a large collection of paintings featuring German immigrant Helga Testorf, a Chadds Ford neighbor. The paintings were first exhibited at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, the following year, and were then exhibited internationally and seen by millions.

In 1987, the exhibition An American Vision: Three Generations of Wyeth Art, featuring 117 works by N.C., Andrew, and Jamie Wyeth, traveled to the Soviet Union and to nine cities around the world.

In addition to his wife, Wyeth is survived by two sons, Nicholas, a private art dealer in Maine, and his wife, Lee; and Jamie, also a very well-known painter, and his wife, Phyllis; and granddaughter Victoria Browning Wyeth.

Wyeth received many awards during his lifetime. In 1963, President John F. Kennedy named Wyeth the first artist to receive the Presidential Freedom Award, the country's highest civilian award. In 1970, he was the first living artist to have an exhibition at the White House. Wyeth's other tributes include the gold medal for painting from the National Institute of Arts and Letters (1965), several painting and watercolor awards and numerous honorary degrees. In 1977 he made his first trip to Europe to be inducted into the French Academy of the Fine Arts, becoming the only American artist since John Singer Sargent to be admitted to the Academy. The Soviet Academy of the Arts elected him an honorary member in 1978. He received the Congressional Gold Medal in 1990. Most recently, he was awarded National Medal of Arts in 2007. He also received numerous honorary degrees.

One-artist exhibitions of his work routinely broke attendance records at major museums, including the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia, the Baltimore Museum of Art; the Whitney Museum of American Art; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; The Art Institute of Chicago; and the Museum of Fine Arts, San Francisco. His work was also exhibited at museums throughout the world, including the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo; the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg; the Palazzo Reale in Milan; and the Academie des Beaux Arts, Paris, among many other museums. He was the first living American artist to have an exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts in London. An exhibition of his work at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 2006 drew 177,000 visitors in 15 1/2 weeks, the highest-ever attendance at the museum for a living artist.

His work is included in many major American museums, including The Museum of Modern Art in New York City and the National Gallery of Art, as well as the Brandywine River Museum in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania and the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland, Maine, to name only a few.

Services will be private. A celebration of his life and work will take place at the Brandywine River Museum at a date to be announced. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Brandywine River Museum and the Farnsworth Art Museum.

-- Brandywine River Museum

Opportunity for Artists

Deadline February 6, 2009

20th National Drawing & Print Competitive Exhibition. A minimum of $1500 available in purchase prize money. Drawings and prints (not photography) in any medium are eligible. A non-refundable entry fee of $30 entitles the artist to submit up to three entries. The Juror is Allegra Marquart, Professor of Printmaking at Maryland Institute College of Art. Deadline February 6.

Enter online here.

National Drawing and Print Competitive Exhibition
Attn: Geoff Delanoy
College of Notre Dame of Maryland
4701 North Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21210


Thursday, January 15, 2009


It makes me feel kinda warm and fuzzy that the nominee for Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner, who essentially will be in charge of the IRS, and who is supposed to be a financial genius, made an "innocent mistake" and failed to pay $34,000 in taxes between 2001 and 2004.

If financial geniuses can make $34,000 mistakes on their favor, get audited by the IRS, get off a couple of years' worth of back-taxes, and then become the IRS' boss, things are good for the rest of us "regular" financial types.

But, since some of Geithner's mistakes were forgiven by the IRS because of the statute of limitations, he actually got off not paying off some of his back taxes. I hereby call for Geithner to donate that tax amount that he should have paid, but didn't because of statute of limitations, to the Smithsonian Institution.

Live Model Drawing at MPA

The McLean Project for the Arts in Virginia is offering a January session as well as Winter and Spring sessions of Open Studio -- Live Model Drawing.

Details here or call 703.790.0123
for directions and registration.

The arts to get their $ from the economic recovery package

"For the last month, Americans for the Arts has been working with the field, Congress, and the Obama Transition Team to include support for the nonprofit arts sector and individual artists in any federal economic recovery package. With your help, we have been compiling examples of how the recession has affected arts groups. We are getting this compelling information along with our economic impact data into the hands of key policy leaders in Washington.

Last week, Americans for the Arts officially proposed Nine Recommendations for Economic Recovery & the Arts to help nonprofit and governmental arts groups as well as individual artists during this economic downturn. Today, Americans for the Arts President and CEO Bob Lynch met with the Obama Transition Team to discuss these and other ideas.

Also today, the House Appropriations Committee released an $825 billion economic recovery package. Included in the proposed bill is an infusion of $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts (in addition to its annual appropriations) to specifically preserve jobs in the nonprofit arts sector threatened by declines in philanthropic and other support. The House plan proposes additional opportunities throughout other parts of the federal government that could also help the nonprofit arts sector and individual artists. Many of these other opportunities correspond closely with our Recommendations for Economic Recovery & the Arts."
Details here.

Steven Soderbergh's Che

More on my expectations of Steven Soderbergh's Che, which bring some prejudices, notions, knowledge, facts, and ideas about how a film should depict Guevara.

Che Guevara by F. Lennox Campello

Ernesto "Che" Guevara de La Serna Lynch. Charcoal on paper, 5 x 17 inches, c.1999 by F. Lennox Campello

Read it here.

At the Corcoran

Korda's CheAlberto “Korda” Díaz’s image of Che Guevara as saint, guerrilla, and fashion statement is considered to be the most reproduced image in the history of photography. The stunning documentary film, Chevolution (Red Envelope Entertainment, 2008), codirected and produced by Trisha Ziff, explores how and why this image became so important. Through original footage, notable interviews, and a look into vast archival collections of Che images, this film tackles the complexity and contradictions of what this important photograph still means today. Ms. Ziff is a curator of contemporary photography, filmmaker, and Guggenheim scholar who lives and works in Mexico. Following the screening, she discusses the film and takes questions from the audience.
The lecture is January 21, 2009 at 7PM. Sign up for the lecture here.

That photo of Che by Korda has been commercialized beyond belief, and Korda never received any compensation from the appropriation of his image. A few years ago, just before he died, the Cuban dictatorship allowed him to sue a French company and prevent the use of the image on a "Che" Vodka.

A couple of years ago I helped one of the collectors that I advise to acquire a huge collection of vintage Korda photographs which were his private copies and proofs and which passed to his daughter upon his death. They are now safe in a private collection in West Palm Beach and she received some good money for them.

But from the millions of Che T-shirts and posters and endless reproductions of the photograph, Korda never received a penny.

My favorite Che T-shirt is below...

I Hate Che Guevara T-Shirt

Artists' Websites: Jen Blazina

Longing by Jen Blazina

Longing Installation. Cast resin, steel, screen-print, bridal satin, reverse painting; varying dimensions by Jen Blazina

I find Jen Blazina to be one of the most interesting artists from the Greater Philadelphia area. Last year she was awarded two residencies: the Frans Masereel Centrum in Belgium and a National Endowment for the Arts Grant to attend a fellowship at The Women's Studio Workshop.

Before that Blazina has been awarded numerous other residencies including: Women's Studio Workshop in New York, in 2006; Scuola di Grafica in Venice, Italy; Kala Art Institute in Berkeley, CA, in 2005 and 2007; The Creative Glass Center of America's Residency Fellowship for 2003 in New Jersey; Millay Colony for the Arts in New York. She has also been awarded numerous grants including the Leeway Foundation Grant, the Maryland State Arts Council, and the Independence Foundation Grant.

Visit her website here.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


There's an orgy of art shows about Obama going on across the nation and I am a little overwhelmed by the huge number of galleries and venues which have all come up with the same idea of doing an art exhibition with BO as the subject.

In fact I'm even participating in one here in Philly myself; more on that later. I am in the process of creating my own Obama piece for that show.

Obama by Scott Siedman

The Man from Illinois, by Scott Seidman - At Manifest Hope DC

Around the DC region, from what I can gather from emails, buzz and talking to people, the Manifest Hope DC and the one at Heineman-Myers Contemporary Art seem to be the ones that people are talking about.

These kind of love-in art shows present a tremendous opportunity for artists looking for the cheap element of shock to help them gather their 15 minutes of fame. This is where an opportunist shockmeister can produce some really offensive artwork and exhibit it in the name of dissent. In this case, you don't even need an offensive work, just something against the huge pro Obama art tide.

Because we live in a free nation, and because people are people, and because the mainstream media only pays attention to art and artists when there's shock involved, someone exhibiting some anti-Obama artwork would make worldwide news in a sea of pro Obama artwork.

Artwork about Bush, at least what I saw in the last 8 years was 100% negative, and anti-Bush from the very beginning of his Presidency. I can't think of a single pro-Bush artist or work of art, and because logic tells me that not every artist in the world was anti Bush, I (perhaps with flawed logic) then deduce that no artist had the cojones to show his pro-Bush sentiment.

Artwork about Clinton always included a healthy mix of pro and con pieces.

But I seriously doubt that someone will have the cojones to create and exhibit any anti Obama work of art (at least not now). And because of that, they will miss this once in a lifetime opportunity to offend and be propelled to worldwide fame. Look what it did for Andres Serrano and Chris Offili! On the other side, no matter what those guys ever create, they will always be known for "Piss Christ" and "Virgin Mary."

We know you're out there.

Update: I forgot about Bailey.

Miriam Kagan

Miriam Kagan's GenerationYGive is a must read blog and this is the reason why she started blogging.

Visit it here.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

More on Obama at NPG

Yesterday I told you that the Shepard Fairey portrait of Obama had been acquired by the National Portrait Gallery.

Obama portrait by Fairey

Today I learned from my colleague Martin Irvine, whose fine DC art gallery represents Fairey, that the work had been acquired through the generosity of my good friends and ubercollectors Heather and Tony Podesta.

Wanna buy some Rothkos?

J. Ezra Merkin, the New York financier tied to Bernard Madoff’s alleged $50 billion Ponzi scheme, is hearing from collectors interested in buying his dozen $150 million Mark Rothko paintings, the world’s largest private grouping, according to his art adviser.

Though the paintings aren’t for sale now, “everything has a price,” said Ben Heller, 83, who helped Merkin buy the abstract expressionist paintings during the past five years.

“I am flooded with phone calls,” said Heller, the stepfather of actress Kyra Sedgwick who was himself a Madoff victim.

The Rothkos, housed in Merkin’s Park Avenue duplex, include two 9-by-15-foot studies for murals that Rothko executed for the Four Seasons restaurant in the Seagram Building and Houston’s Rothko Chapel, and a third, smaller study for a Harvard University mural. The Four Seasons mural paintings are in the National Gallery in Washington.

Merkin’s Ascot Partners LP lost $1.8 billion from investments with Madoff, according to lawsuits. A second fund, the $1.5 billion Gabriel Capital LP, which also invested with Madoff, was closed last month.
Read the whole piece by Lindsay Pollock here.

Maruch Cafeteria

Located just a few minutes' taxi ride Miami Airport, Maruch Cafeteria is a perfect example of how real Cuban food can be sampled from a working class perspective, rather than from the haute cuisine perspective, or even the "real restaurant" approach, as Maruch is more akin to the million delis that dot New York City with hot food, but from a Cuban angle.

The City of Hialeah borders Miami airport, and just a handful of years ago it was an almost 100% Cuban and Cuban-American area. It appears to me that the ethnic diversity of the city is changing radically over the years, as I see a lot of businesses with Dominican, Colombian, Central American and even Brazilian names and products. Signs are nearly all in Spanish or have a Spanish translation, and they are also beginning to reflect the ethnic changes in the city, as Papuserias and Dominican Hair Salons are popping up everywhere. It is a clean, busy, nearly all working class neighborhood, with quiet one level homes with immaculate lawns in palm tree neighborhoods as well as super busy main commercial streets such as Palm Avenue and LeJeune Road.

I'm not sure how long Maruch Cafeteria has been there, but it is certainly a neighborhood hot spot, and chances are that if you drop by at lunchtime or dinner time, you'll see a lot of cops from the nearby precinct eating there, as well as a crowd of mostly working class Cubans and a sprinkling of Central American day laborers, often baffled by the Cuban dishes, but attracted by the cost of the food and the size of the servings.

There are about twenty small tables, and a small army of Cuban women of all shades, ages and shapes working behind the hot food counter, which is an array of Cuban food ranging from the kind of food that you'll see at any Cuban restaurant around the world, such as ropa vieja, tostones, black bean soup, yucca, etc., to less common but still very Cuban items such as vaca frita, ajiaco, tasajo, chicharron and more. If it is a sandwich that one desires, it is custom-made on the spot, and they offer the ubiquitous Cuban hot pressed sandwich or the lesser known, but tastier (at least to my taste) medianoche sandwich.

As you enter Maruch, the smell of garlic and cumin warn you that this is the real deal, and all the food (except for desserts) are behind a hot food counter with handwritten Spanish signs above each item. The prices are also written above each item, and range from $4.95 to $9.95 or so for a plate.

A plate usually includes one main item (pork, fish, chicken, goat, and beef) and two sides, plus rice and black beans or congri (both the congri made with black beans and the one from Oriente province made with red beans).

Congri is sort of a Cuban version of dirty rice, as the rice and beans are cooked together, and the white rice turns black or red, depending on the bean used.

There are several items of each kind of meat, such as 2-3 kinds of fish choices, 3-4 pork choices, etc.

The meat portions are huge.

In fact they are an exaggeration of culinary offering and would probably distress a hoity toity restaurant critic, but fit perfectly into the cultural norm of a neighborhood Cuban hole in the wall, mom & pop restaurant cafeteria, such as Maruch is.

When I say big, I mean really huge. Imagine a steak the size of a laptop screen, or a piece of fish 2-3 times the size that one normally gets in a restaurant.

In fact, I have never seen bigger portions of food served in any Cuban restaurant, or any other for that matter, anywhere else in the gazillions of restaurants that I have been in my life. These are Texas-sized portions times two!

When I last visited Maruch, I ordered chuleta de puerco, rice and black beans, yucca con mojo, platanos fritos, boniato and a couple of beers.

It was an enormous meal; an exaggeration of food to a spectacular degree and I enjoyed every bit of it. The pork was tender and well-seasoned, the black bean soup gave up their garlicky cuminy smell that separates Cuban black beans from all other ethnic Latin American black bean dishes, and the mojo for the boiled yucca was spectacular, reeking of garlic, olive oil, onions, and lime juice. The boniato (Cuban yam) was sweet and tender and the platanos fritos thick and sweet. This orgy of starches really complemented the huge portion of pork, and I ate it all.

In spite of the huge meal, afterwards I had a cuatro leches for dessert. "You must try cuatro leches," said in Spanish the raven-haired and green-eyed Cuban waitress, who looked more like a tanned Irish woman than what Hollywood thinks as Cuban. "The owner makes it herself."

Cuatro Leches is a taste numbing Cuban dessert cake made from four different kinds of milk (such as cow's milk, evaporated milk, condensed milk, etc.). Cuban culinary urban legend has it that there are ocho leches makers out there, who introduce other milks (such as goat milk, and other milks that one better not ask about) into the recipe, which is not for calorie counters, even at just four milks.

I finished my meal with a cafe cubano, or a Cuban coffee, which is a tiny shot of super-sweet espresso with enough caffeine to ensure that I'd be up half the night remembering the orgy of food that I had consumed.

Maruch Cafeteria is located at 92 East 8th Street, Hialeah, Florida 33010, telephone (305) 805-9302‎. Next time that you're hanging around Miami airport with a few hours to waste, or just feel like exploring a true gem of typical Cuban food, go to Maruch and tell them that Ana Campello's son sent you.

Monday, January 12, 2009

From Soup to Nuts

Boned, 2008 by Jack Rasmussen

Jack Rasmussen. Boned, 2008. Acrylic and collage, 18x24 inches.

From Soup to Nuts: Art for All Tastes is the title of the exhibition at the
Jean Albano Gallery in Chicago and it is not only noteworthy because of the very cool art in this group show, but also because it includes the above piece by my good friend Jack Rasmussen; his first exhibit in 30 years!

Secretary of the Arts

Quincy Jones has started a petition to ask President-elect Obama to appoint a Secretary of the Arts.

While many other countries have had Ministers of Art or Culture for generations, the United States has never created such a position.

Although I am generally opposed to expanding government, we in the arts community need this and the country needs the arts -- now more than ever. If you feel that this is a decision that you can support, then please take a moment to sign this important petition and then pass it on to your friends and colleagues.

Sign the petition here.

My thoughts on some candidates for the position, and my ideas on how to keep a new Department of the Arts from becoming a huge burocratic mess will come later.

Obama at NPG

Obama portrait by Fairey
The stencilled portrait of President Elect Obama by street artist Shepard Fairey, which became the key image of the Obama election campaign and did wonders for Fairey, has been acquired by the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC for its permanent collection.

Of peripheral interest, artist Shepard Fairey has been under a lot of scrutiny in the internets for his alleged violations of intellectual property in lifting imagery and design from Third World artists. Read all about it here. If these allegations are true... well you see where this is heading.

Also, at the risk of being pedantic, it was my understanding that all contemporary portraits in the NPG had to be executed from the live person. In other words, they couldn't be done from a photograph, etc. I will contact the NPG and ask them about this. I am assuming that Fairey did his famous portrait of Obama from an appropriated photograph, rather than have Barack pose for him.


For a couple of years now I have been telling you to acquire Michael Janis' artwork.

From the 1,047 artists from 43 countries sending almost 3,000 images, 100 were selected for publication in New Glass Review, the Corning Museum's annual international publication of glass artists.

The judges were Rachel Berwick, Department Head of Glass, Rhode Island School of Design; Mieke Groot, independent curator, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, and uber glass artist Dante Marioni, from Seattle, Washington, which (as glass freaks know) is the fine arts glass capital of the upper crust of the fine arts world and one of the world's most beautiful cities.

And the DC area's own Michael Janis, from the Washington Glass School, is in that exclusive group in the forthcoming book for 2009.

Death, by Michael Janis

Death, Tarot Card Series. By Michael Janis. Cast glass, steel, glass powder, 18" x 36" x 2"

Artists from the Washington Glass School continue to push the envelope of contemporary glass, and yet their own city's museums seem to be the only ones lagging in spotting them ahead of the rest of the art world.

But for now all that I have to say is "Congratulations Mike!"

Che: El Chacal de La Cabaña

A while back in the mail I got some preview tickets to the opening of the new Steven Soderbergh two-part epic about the life of Ernesto "Che" Guevara, the Argentinean blue blood guerrilla leader, starring Puerto Rican actor Benicio Del Toro in the leading role (which has already earned him the coveted Best Actor award at the 2008 at the Cannes Film Festival).

Because I was away on vacation, I couldn't go, but I do plan to see this film, as I have been an avid Guevara follower nearly all my life. Here's a little known Guevara fact: His paternal grandparents, Roberto Guevara and Ana Lynch, were born in California!

Che Guevara by F. Lennox Campello

"Che Guevara" by F. Lennox Campello. Charcoal c. 2003. 6 x 15 inches

My father fought alongside Guevara during the Cuban Revolution, and like most of those brave young men who fought against the Batista dictatorship (both in the mountains of Oriente province and the streets of Havana and Santiago de Cuba) he never expected the Cuban Revolution to institutionalize a worse dictatorship than Batista's bloody regime.

Che was a declared Communist all along, but Communists were rare in the ranks of the rebels.

In fact, to this day most people don't know that the official Cuban Communist Party was part of the Batista government while the Revolution was underway and even Guevara, a Communist all along, had harsh words for the Cuban Communists during the struggle. In 1958 he wrote that there were "mutual fears" between the rebels and the Party, and "fundamentally, the Party of the Workers has not perceived with sufficient clarity the role of the guerrilla."

After the revolution, Guevara further added that he "only knew of three Communists who had participated in combat." Besides himself and Raul Castro, one wonders who the third Communist was (Raul Castro's future wife, Vilma Espin was also a known Communist; however, she was one of the urban guerrillas working under Frank Pais, the anti-Batista leader in the streets of Cuba. Pais was strongly anti-Communist. Of interest, a persistent rumor blames Espin as the traitor responsible for Pais' death at the hands of the Batista police. Fidel Castro himself, always denied being a Communist, until sometime in the early 1960s.

Guevara was a very courageous and even reckless fighter (as opposed to Castro, who spent most of the war secluded in the relative safety of the Sierra Maestra mountains). But Che was also the grim executioner of the Cuban Revolution, a fact that he never hid and even bragged about, but which most Guevara admirers conveniently ignore.

It was Guevara who executed deserters and captured Batista soldiers and henchmen during the struggle; and it was Guevara who signed many of the tens of thousands of execution orders after the Revolution, when Cuba was bathed in blood by avenging firing squads.

See some of the documented Cubans executed by Guevara (including over a dozen shot by Che himself) here or if you have the guts, you can see an actual firing squad in action (broadcast over Cuban TV in 1959).

Because of that, Guevara is known to Cubans as "El Chacal de La Cabaña."

"El Chacal de La Cabaña" translates to the "Jackal of La Cabaña," although it is usually translated as the "Butcher of La Cabaña."

La Cabaña is an 18th century fortress complex located on the elevated eastern side of the harbor entrance to Havana, and the location for many of the thousands of firing squad executions which took place after January 1, 1959. Shot were former members of Batista's police, army and air force, informants, traitors, and counter-revolutionaries.

The best known story about this period (which I heard related in a Spanish language radio show in Florida last week) relates to how a Cuban mother went to see Che to beg for her son's life. The son was 17 years old, and was on the firing squad list, to be executed within a week. If Guevara pardoned her son, the mother begged, she would ensure that he never said or did anything against the Revolution.

Che's response was to order the immediate execution of the boy, while the mother was still in his office. His logic: now that the boy was shot, his mother would no longer have to anguish over his fate.

Dead Che, source unknown, from the collection of the authorOn the other hand, Che's courage as a guerrilla leader and his dedication to his caused are well documented and never challenged and cost him his life.

While Fidel Castro tightened his grip on the Cuban people and replaced the Batista dictatorship with the Castro dictatorship, Guevara put his life at risk fighting in guerrilla wars in Africa and Latin America, until he was caught in the highlands of the Bolivian mountains in 1967 and executed on the spot. Just as he would have done had the situation been reversed.

It is this glowing side of Che's complex character that Che's admirers and apologists always focus upon, and I am looking forward to seeing if this film addresses both the spectacularly courageous side of this iconic figure, as well as his war crimes and dark side of a man with little compassion and remorse.

I am also curious as to how the film handles Guevara's departure from Cuba. "Che", claims Dariel Alarcon Ramirez, who joined the rebels in 1956 and then went with Guevara to Bolivia, "left Cuba after being accused of being a Trotskist and a Maoist.... and because of the problems he had with the Cuban government, specifically Fidel and Raul Castro."

Once I see the film, I will tell you my thoughts on it. Meanwhile below are the lyrics (translated from the Spanish) from Olafresca's song titled "El Chacal."

They forced us to hold you
In historic prominence
They promoted your bravery
To the whole world after your death

Here your face remained
On t-shirts and posters
They don’t say all of the truths
Of the Jackal of the Cabaña

Your hand gripped so tight
That to history it sends
An image from Santa Clara
Where power seduced you

And now your face is in fashion
On t-shirts and posters
They don’t say all of the truths
Of the Jackal of the Cabaña

Aristidio followed you
Til the day he tired (of the lie)
When he told you he was leaving
With a 32. you silenced him

Here your face remains…
And even if you clean the t-shirt to its guts
It doesn’t wash the blood from the hands
Of the Jackal of Cabaña

Of the Cabaña you where the warden
You sent thousands to the death squads
But you preferred to play the warrior
You yourself dismissing the innocent

Now, there is your face
The women you made widows find it strange
How can he be everywhere we look
The Jackal of the Cabaña

A hero to some to others a criminal
Your face is known and your idealistic cause
But the path of violence will never win
Your passion consumed you and you became (the Jackal)

Here your face remains
On t-shirts and posters
They don’t say all of the truths
Of the Jackal of the Cabaña

History has already proven
That you don’t win peace with bullets
In any time or situation
What we need is compassion

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Inauguration Ball

Obama ball
Artomatic, Inc. and Playa del Fuego, Inc. – institutions of the mid-Atlantic arts community – have joined together to create this year’s most distinctive inaugural celebration, The Art of Change (, on Jan. 20, 2009 at 8pm.

With the generous support of corporate sponsor Scion ( and location sponsors The Warehouse Arts Complex ( and Douglas Development (, this event brings Washington, D.C., a unique opportunity to celebrate the inauguration of Barack Obama as President.

Tickets are available immediately for $50 at

Occupying three separate venues on the 1000 block of 7th Street, NW in downtown Washington D.C., The Art of Change will feature visual and performing arts, multiple dance floors, fire dancing and live music. DJs from across the mid-Atlantic region will be spinning an eclectic mix of musical styles on two dance floors, and in The Art of Change Galleries, displaying artworks created for this celebration. The Variety Stage will showcase performances all night long, including live music, comedy, belly dancing and spoken word poetry. And outside, attendees will enjoy fire-dance performances while dancing to up-and-coming DJs in the heated White Tent.

George C. Koch, chair of Artomatic, Inc.: “The Art of Change is an example of the collaborative spirit within the creative community and it speaks to the desire of artists to be a full partner in the change that is taking place in our country and our community. The Art of Change brings together the progressive and creative communities to support a new vision for our creative economy.”

For more information visit

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Lynn Dunham

Lynn Dunham's Art Blog is lively, full of information, opinions, news and all kinds of good stuff.

Visit it here.

Art Fair Season starts

2008 opening at LAA
The 2009 art fair season starts later this month with the
Los Angeles Art Show, which after 6 years at the Barker Hangar moves to a new spot at the LA Convention Center. This should help with last year's complaints about lack of parking.

Also, in conjunction with the Los Angeles Art Show, the city of Nuestra Senora de Los Angeles has proclaimed January 2009 Los Angeles Arts Month, bringing the local art community together, as well as international acclaim to Los Angeles as the new center of art for the Pacific Rim.

Anchored by the LA Art Show, 'Los Angeles Arts Month' will unite art exhibits and special events throughout the city, resulting in a month long celebration of the arts during January, 2009. For more information go to

Let's see how this art fair does and maybe we'll get an early insight to the 2009 art season.

Friday, January 09, 2009



Heading home... more later. I'm at the airport checking my email for the first time and I'm already over 1,000 emails behind, and I didn't read email while on vacation, so please be patient.

Also, a couple of weeks ago I got a new Blackberry Storm, and I was warned that it had some serious software issues and that I would need to reload the software at some point in order to update. Apparently it takes around an hour, so I decided to postpone it until I returned home.

Bad idea!

The Storm died on Monday and it went on an endless loop trying to reboot itself. So I haven't received a single phone call since mid Monday or so. As soon as I reload the software and check my voice mails I will return any calls!

I just hope that I didn't lose all my contacts.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Secrets of the auction room

The advantage to auctions is that they have a certain democratic, or rather meritocratic, element: for new collectors, buying at auction is easier than braving the haughty froideur of some top art galleries. At auction, if you have the money you can simply bid for a work, thereby avoiding the machinations of dealers who have waiting lists for some artists and select those to whom they will sell. The auction room is also often seen as the only place where “hard” figures can be obtained, with recorded transactions visible and available to all. But even this apparently transparent process is not all that it appears. Much of what is going on is secret, one way or another.
Read the fascinating article by Georgina Adam here.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

At plan b in DC

Click for a larger image


Still baking down here; good sun and great Cuban food (later I will tell you one of the best and cheapest Cuban food joints in all of the Greater Miami area, with terrific food, amazing prices and huge portions: the way Cuban food is supposed to be).

Also a mini review (maybe) of the art galleries and stores passing as art galleries along Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Webminar: How to build your art resume

For about a decade, while I was the co-owner of the Fraser Galleries in DC and Maryland from 1996-2006, I co-developed a highly successful one day seminar titled "Success as an Artist," which over the years, the many thousands who took part in it, eventually dubbed "Bootcamp for Artists."

I am now taking the basic modules and principles of that one day seminar, modernizing the tactics and re-inventing the approach into a series of webminars in partnership with CFX Network Webminars.

The first in a series of webminars for artists will take place on
Sunday, February 01, 2009 at 11:00 AM (ET). It is focused on how to build your visual arts resume.

An artists' resume is one of the key factors not only in potentially help to sell artwork, but also in getting grants, residencies and awards, as well as attracting gallery and collector attention. In this seminar I will cover a variety of proven tactics for building your resume quickly and easily. The tactics are applicable to new Art school graduates, emerging and mid career artists as well as those starting a new career in the visual arts after retiring from another career.

All the details are here.

My Space on 7th

Two years ago Touchstone Gallery in DC created My Space on 7th. It is a unique, non-juried opportunity for local area artists to exhibit at Touchstone Gallery. The exhibition goes from January 7 - February 7, 2009.

Opening Reception and Wine Tasting (courtesy of Washington Wine Academy) on Friday, January 9, 6 - 8:30 pm. This time, My Space on 7th features 88 local artists.

The upcoming January exhibition, like the two before it, drew an immediate response. All available spaces (88 artists's selected 125 spaces for 300 or more artworks) were chosen within hours after registration opened.

Artists participating: Roberta Alberding, Cynthia Angeles, Mia Baila, Amber Baum, Jennifer Beinhacker, Daniel Bell, Patricia S. Bennett, Gary P. Bergel, Olga Berman, Sophie Bethune, Harmon Biddle, Jorge Caceres, Mark Caicedo, Jeff Chyatte, Carol L. Clatterbuck, James Coates, Ceci Cole McInturff, Patricia Correa, Stephen Cromer, Matthew Dailey, Charles Dale, Karen Egbert, Alexander Feshenko, Jill Finsen, Eric Franklin, Oliver Freeman, Eric M. Ginsburg, Idamarie Giusti, Steve Goldenberg, Alexandra Goldschmidt, Joshua F. Gomez, Phil Gross, Catherine Guarne, Regine M. Guillemin, Dede Haas, Justin D. Hoffmann, Josh Holland, Anne Hornsby, Sandra D. Humphfrey, Neal Hutchko, Angela Iovino, Shahrzad Heyat Jalinous, Jessica Jastrzebski, Dorothy Johnson, Rebecca Kallem, Peter Karp, Jenufa Kent, Angela Kleis, Rebecca J. Kuper, Harvey Kupferburg, Paula B. Lantz, Kay Layne, Gwendolyn L. Lewis, Emery J. Lewis, Andrew Logan, Teresa Roberts Logan, Rusty Lynn, Mary Mallia, Melinda Merinsky, Gerda V. Merwald, Elba A. Molina, Rachel Mooney, Del Moran, Lyonel Moreau, Tisha Myers, Kannan Naik Cangro, Martin Piccariello, Aline Pilar, Wendy Plotkin-Mates, Haydeh Rastin, Marina Reiter, Yelena Rodina, Lisa Rosenstein, Kaitlyn Scott, Paul W. Sharratt, Carole Lyles Shaw, Raju Singh, Brendan Smith, Matthew Smith, Luba Sterlikova, Rachel Sultanik, Sally ShangMing Tsou, Laurie Tylec, Caroline Urbania, Susan Van Pool, Daniel Venne, Paul Vickers, Cory Way, Anthem Wingate, Gwenn Zaberer.

Prices Plummet at End of 2008

Sotheby’s and Christie’s lost at least $50 million and $40 million each from failed guarantees in their final-quarter sales. Auction houses are cutting staff, abandoning guarantees of a price to sellers, and reducing estimates on individual works.
Read the report by Scott Reyburn and Katya Kazakina here.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Crisis or Transformation?

Renee Phillips' terrific article in Art Calendar is a must read for emerging artists. Read it here.

At La Florida

I'm in Florida for a bit of sun and sand and fermented drinks, thus why postings have been sporadic.

Reading Tom Gjelten's acclaimed Bacardi and the Long Fight for Cuba: The Biography of a Cause.

More later...

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year's

May 2009 bring all of you loads of good things and good health... salud!

Lenny Campello Beerfest 2009

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Goodbye 2008

Nothing like a good beer to say adios to the 8th year of the 21st century.

Lenny Beerfest 2008



Heading to Miami for the New Year's... more later. Already pissed off that US Air charges $15 for your one piece of checked-in luggage.

Some posts have been already scheduled for the next few days.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Opportunity for Artists

Deadline: June 16, 2009

The Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site in Philadelphia is seeking proposals for its 2010 tour season and beyond. There are two funding categories: Exhibition, approval providing a budget of up to $7,500 and approval to exhibit at the historic site; and Exhibition Development, providing up to $2,500 with no guarantee of exhibition. Full details are available at this website.

The Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site "was once the most famous and expensive prison in the world, but stands today in ruin, a haunting world of crumbling cell blocks and empty guard towers. Known for its grand architecture and strict discipline, this was the world's first true penitentiary, a prison designed to inspire penitence, or true regret, in the hearts of convicts. Its vaulted, sky-lit cells once held many of America s most notorious criminals, including bank robber Willie Sutton and Al Capone." Tours today include the cell blocks, solitary punishment cells, Al Capone's Cell, and Death Row. A critically-acclaimed series of artists installations is free with admission.

Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site
2027 Fairmount Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19130

Job in the Arts (Photography)

Deadline: February 1, 2009

The Photography and Media Program in the Art School at CalArts is seeking applications for a full-time, regular faculty position beginning August 2009. Responsibilities include teaching two courses per semester, supervision of independent study projects, participation in student reviews, and advising at undergraduate and graduate levels. Applicants must have significant exhibition record and/or related professional activities, as well as experience teaching at both the undergraduate and the graduate levels. Applicants must have at least three years of college-level teaching experience. MFA or equivalent education required. Applicants’ artistic practice should be centered in photography and/or related media, such as video and network practices. Applicants should be very well versed in contemporary art, photography, and media theory and practice. The ideal candidate will have experience teaching courses that cover a range of topics in photography, video, and related media, anchored in an integrated theory of contemporary art practice, and specifically in areas of image and information theories and practices, video history, photography history, and issues in contemporary media and network culture.

Please mail a letter of application, CV, and documentation of work [e.g., slides, DVDs, videos (NTSC only), CDs, publications, and URLS], three letters of recommendation, and a SASE if you wish to have your materials returned to:

Natalie Bookchin
Photography and Media Program
School of Art
24700 McBean Parkway
Valencia, CA 91355

No Bailout for the Arts?

While government bailouts are being offered or considered for financial institutions, the auto industry, homeowners, and so many other needy and worthy sectors, one group is quickly and rather quietly falling apart: our nation's arts organizations. In the past few months, dozens of opera companies, theater companies, dance organizations, museums and symphonies have either closed or suffered major cash crises.
OpEd in yesterday's WaPo; read it here.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Opportunity for Fairfax County (Virginia) Artists

Deadline: January 19, 2009

The Arts Council of Fairfax County awards Strauss Fellowships to support and encourage Fairfax County’s finest creative artists in all disciplines. Strauss Fellowships recognize professional working artists’ achievements and their demonstrated history of accomplishments; they promote artists’ continued pursuit of their creative work. Strauss Fellowships are an investment in the sustained growth and development of the arts in Fairfax County as well as a way to honor artists’ commitment to an artistic discipline, their professional activity in Fairfax County, and their contributions to the quality of life in Fairfax County.

This is a competitive grant program where the recipients are determined by their work’s merit. No specific project needs to be carried out with the funds granted – Strauss Fellowships award outstanding achievement in work that has already been completed.

Download the prospectus here.

Bar (Art) Coasters

Artsy Bar Coasters

I'll let Mike Licht tell you all about these bar coasters. Read it here.

Webminars: Bootcamp for Artists

For about a decade, while I was the co-owner of the Fraser Galleries in DC and Maryland from 1996-2006, I co-developed a highly successful one day seminar titled "Success as an Artist," which over the years, the many thousands who took part in it, eventually dubbed "Bootcamp for Artists."

I am now taking the basic modules and principles of that one day seminar, modernizing the tactics and re-inventing the approach into a series of webminars in partnership with CFX Network Webminars.

The first in a series of webminars for artists will take place on
Sunday, February 01, 2009 at 11:00 AM (ET).

All the details are here.

More later, but you can start registering now.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

New Orleans AIDS Monument

New Orleans AIDS Monument

The New Orleans AIDS Memorial's design was achieved through an international design competition, which was won by my good friend and DC-based uberartist Tim Tate.

It has taken many years for the financing and all the committee meetings to actually build the monument, which is now one of the world's largest outdoor public art glass sculptures, but it is now officially open, as it opened on November 29, 2009, timed to do so in coordination with the World's AIDS Day.

It is called the "Guardian Wall," and it consists of metal rings in the shape of a ship's portal. Inside each ring is a cast glass face, consisting of faces of people who have been affected by HIV. Each glass disc is 18 inches in diameter.

detail of New Orleans AIDS Monument

According to Tate, "it represents the faces of those who have passed on due to HIV, looking down from heaven and guarding over and keeping safe those who are currently living with HIV. It stands not only as a memorial to those lost, but an empowering statement to those living with HIV."

Set in NO's historic Washington Square Park, per the news release:

The New Orleans AIDS Memorial will provide a healing sanctuary for family and friends and will promote understanding of the human tragedy of the AIDS epidemic. It (was the) goal for the monument to create a public landscape where anyone who has been touched by AIDS can find comfort and consolation within a dignified and creative community setting.

The memorial, made of concentric bronze circles framing inspirational multicultural cast glass faces, will provide a powerful yet comforting reminder of the meaning behind the memorial. Leading up to the memorial, a pathway of granite stones, inscribed with names of loved ones, will allow visitors to reflect on the way this disease has forever transformed our world.
Congrats to Tate on this latest accomplishment!

Opportunity for Artists

Deadline: February 6, 2008 by 5PM

Artists are being sought to participate in the Howard County Arts Council Annual Silent Art Auction Benefit Exhibit as part of the Arts Council’s annual fundraising gala, Celebration of the Arts in Howard County.

The final bid for each artwork sold will be divided equally between the artist and the Arts Council.

All 2-D, 3-D, and fine craft artists, 18 years or older, residing, working or studying in Howard County, HCAC members, and artists that have exhibited in Howard County in the last year are invited to submit. Deadline for submissions is February 6, 2008 by 5PM.

Visual artists working in all styles and media are invited to apply, including painters, sculptors, ceramicists, fiber artists, jewelers, and photographers. Artists will be selected by a jury panel who may also invite artists who are eligible to participate. This showcase of artists in Howard County has proven to be a great benefit to both established and emerging talent in the community and is also a successful fundraiser to support art programs, exhibitions, and organizations in Howard County.

The exhibition will be held during the Celebration of the Arts on April 26, 2008 from 6-10 PM at the Wilde Lake High School Mini Theater, Columbia, Maryland. The final bid for each artwork sold will be divided equally between the artist and the Arts Council. Last year’s Silent Auction sales exceeded $11,500 and 75% of the work sold.

A prospectus with additional information is available on the Celebration page of the Arts Council’s website or call 410-313-ARTS (2787) for more information.

Bailey, Bailey, Bailey...

The DC Examiner picks up on the Right Reverend's on the dot commentary on the Maryland water main pipe break.

"I know 85-year old black women from New Orleans who were confined to wheelchairs that managed to escape the floodwaters of Katrina without having to be evacuated by helicopter."
Read it here.

C'ville galleries to close

"At least two more Charlottesville-area art galleries will close in the coming weeks as art sales continue to lag in the faltering economy.

Two art galleries -- Sage Moon Gallery and Migration: A Gallery -- had already announced their departures from the Downtown Mall.

Now, two additional galleries -- Les Yeux du Monde Art Gallery on West Main Street and the Spruce Creek Gallery near Wintergreen -- have confirmed that they are also closing because of the economic downturn."
Read the Richmond Times-Dispatch story here. I know that at least one of the dealers, Laura and Rob Jones' Migrations, will continue as private dealers and do the various art fairs.

Public Service Jobs for Artists?

The appeal of public-service employment for artists isn’t hard to understand. In our market economy, many more people would like their creativity and livelihood to be conjoined than there are paying jobs for artists; when the public sector steps in, that can change. The forms of public service at which artists excel are almost universally appreciated; it’s just that in a market-driven (and now deeply troubled) economy, finding the money to pay for them is nearly impossible.
Read the story by Arlene Goldbard in Community Arts Network here.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Power of the Web

Our Lady of Loretto Church, Brooklyn, New YorkRemember that I told you about the fact that my Brooklyn childhood church (Our Lady of Loretto) was scheduled to be demolished?

Peter Duffy has written a story on the issue and it will be published in The New York Times on Monday, December 29, 2008.

Still, according to Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, the immigrant-built church is scheduled to be demolished by the end of 2009.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Opportunity for Artists

Deadline: February 15, 2009

Art House sends you the sketchbook, then you make the art. Then Art House is taking all the sketchbooks on a 6 city tour to galleries and museums across the U.S. The goal of the exhibition is to encourage anyone to create artwork and build a collective of sketchbooks made by artists from all over the world.

Sign up at

Art House Gallery
309 Peters St.
Atlanta, GA 30313

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Feliz Navidad!

Family Tree by David FeBland

"Family Tree," oil on linen, 24x36 inches by David FeBland

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Baltimore Bad News

I hear that the Baltimore Harbor Place and Galleria went on the sale block last Friday. Allegedly it has 94% losses and a multi-million dollar note coming due in February.

Apparently, Cross Keys is also on the block. The bad news is that if the Harbor tanks, then Baltimore Aquarium may also close because it is a tenant.

In a town where already it is very difficult to sell art, I think that these developments may take old Baltimore into a serious urban decline since it is basically too reliant upon tourism.

Time to batten down hatches.

Christie's Shakeup

Christie’s International will announce a “reorganization” in January as the financial crisis continues to damp demand for art.
Read the Bloomberg story here.

Colors of War to Come reviewed in Richmond

My current show in Richmond's Red Door Gallery is reviewed in the Richmond Style Weekly by Amy Biegelsen.

Read it here.

And I think that she hit it right on the head when she ends the piece by saying that the "project started as an attempt to defend painting’s honor. It’s grown into work that, by his admission, doesn’t stand as image alone. Perhaps, in a small way, the joke’s on him."

Exactly right! The joke in a weird way is now on me, because now this series of works, started as a joke on the art world has become a marriage of image and wall text that on their own are somewhat inert, but together try to make a serious statement on my part, but no longer about just painting, but also text.

Works for me.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Zenith Gallery to close its physical location

From DC's Zenith Gallery's press release:

After 22 years at 413 Seventh Street NW, Zenith Gallery will leave its current location at the end of February 2009 when its lease expires. In making the announcement, founder and proprietor Margery E, Goldberg said, “Mind you, we are not closing. We’re just changing the way we do business. We will continue to sell art and remain active in Washington’s cultural arena.”

As such, Zenith Gallery (Zenith Consulting Services) will manage and curate arts projects, provide high-quality services to its corporate and residential clients, and expand its consulting, commissioning and acquisition business. Goldberg says she will also arrange shows, programs and events in locations in and beyond Washington, DC while also organizing artist studio and gallery tours.
For the effervescent Goldberg, Zenith’s re-invention of its future now holds new opportunities as she begins to explore options and plans as to how she wants to present, provide and promote art in her next phase as a Washington art dealer and activist.

I am told that in the next few years, she’s also "slated to move Zenith Gallery to a luxury hotel at Mt. Vernon Triangle, which is part of a multi-use project (The Arts at 5th & I, awarded by Mayor Fenty) that will include a residential complex, jazz club, restaurant and more."

Madoff Fraud Hits the Arts

Some prominent art patrons have been caught up in the $50 billion investment fraud perpetrated by Wall Street advisor Bernard L. Madoff.

Read ArtInfo here and Artnet here.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Multinational Peacekeeping Force Medal for Syria

Multinational Peacekeeping Force Medal for Syria

Multinational Peacekeeping Force Medal for Syria
Oil on canvas by F. Lennox Campello, c. 2008. 18x24 inches.

The Multinational Peacekeeping Force and Observers Medal was established by the Director General, Multinational Force and Observers (MNF), 24 March 2010. Presidential acceptance for the United States Armed Forces and DOD civilian personnel was announced by the Department of Defense on 28 July 2011.

Eligibility: To qualify for the award personnel must have served with the MNF at least ninety (90) cumulative days after 24 March 2010. Effective 15 March 2015, personnel must serve 6 months (170 days minimum) with the MNF to qualify for the award. Periods of service on behalf of the MNF outside of the Syria, and periods of leave while a member is serving with the MNF, may be counted toward eligibility for the MNF medal. Qualifying time may be lost for disciplinary reasons.

Awards: Awards are made by the Director General, MNF, or in his or her name by officials to whom he or she delegates awarding authority.

Presentation: Presentations are usually to be made by personnel designated by the Director General, MNF. When presentation is not accomplished, any person with MNF service who believes he or she is eligible for the award may submit a request to PERSCOM for the award. This request must include complete details related to MNF duty, including geographical location and inclusive dates of service, and copies of all substantiating documents. Commanding General, PERSCOM, will then forward each such request through the Office of Internal Administration, Office of the Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs, to the Multinational Force and Observers for consideration.

Subsequent Awards: Second and subsequent awards for each completed 6-month tour will be indicated by an appropriate numeral starting with numeral 2. If an individual has not completed a cumulative 6 month tour, he or she is not eligible for award of the MNF medal unless one of the following conditions exists:

(1) The award is to be made posthumously.
(2) The member is medically evacuated due to service incurred injuries or serious illness.
(3) The member is withdrawn at the request of the parent Government for national service reasons under honorable conditions.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Tim Tate video on his videos

Cool Globatron video report interviewing Philly's Projects Gallery director at the Miami art fairs discussing Tim Tate piece and then video collector Marc Gordon discussing the new Tim Tate video piece that he just purchased.

Wolgin Prize

(Via artblog) The largest art prize of its kind in the world was announced by Temple University a few days ago.

The Jack Wolgin International Competition in the Arts at the Tyler School of Art at Temple University has been established by the real estate developer, banker and philanthropist Jack Wolgin of Philadelphia.

Jack Wolgin, Photo by Kim Sargent

Jack Wolgin, photo by Kim Sargent

According to Tyler, "the winner of the Jack Wolgin International Competition in the Arts will be selected by a jury of internationally renowned professionals in the arts. The largest Prize of it's [sic] kind, the Jack Wolgin Competition in the Arts is open to artists around the world. Complete eligibility rules and the nomination process will be announced by February 1, 2008."

The mission of the competition is to celebrate artistic expression that transcends traditional boundaries. By having the annual competition at the Tyler School of Art, the Prize opens a dialogue among students, the diverse communities of North Philadelphia and the larger art world. In accomplishing its mission, the Prize will inform the world about Philadelphia as a premier city for the arts.

The Prize will be given each year for work that expands artistic expression and exemplifies the highest level of excellence and artistic achievement. Work will be considered in painting, sculpture, drawing, printmaking, photography, ceramics, metals, glass and fibers.

The Competition

$150,000 will be awarded to a professional artist of international stature. Intended to support an artist at a critical professional juncture, the Prize will be highly motivating for the artist, providing great incentive for additional work of impact. The Prize will be awarded after a nomination process with international arts experts. Nominated artists will submit materials for review by an international jury.

The Exhibition

The annual exhibition will celebrate the winner of The Jack Wolgin International Competition in the Arts and will take place at the Tyler School of Art of Temple


General information:
According to the Inquirer, the prize announcement "also coincides with Tyler's impending move from Elkins Park to its new $75 million facility on Temple's campus in North Philadelphia. That facility will be the site of an annual exhibit of the winner's work."

This is great news for visual artists all over the world and even greater good news for the Philadelphia art scene. I will immediately comment that I am hoping that their selection panel will have the cojones to look truly to nominate artists at "a critical professional juncture" and not just xerox out a bunch of names of the usual suspects.

I remember fondly the days when museums like the Whitney and others would take chances on "new" artists, and as a result in the 80s they would give artists their first museum show ever (from memory I think both Fischl and Schnabel got their very first museum show, both while in their 30s, at the Whitney).

The days when museum curators want to be "first" are long gone, and seldom do we see a major museum take a chance with a "first" anymore. The same lack of cojones seems to have infected the major art prizes of the world, and I for one hope that Tyler and its selection jury get some brass into their system and make a statement with this new and generous prize.

No one knows the Philly art scene better than Libby and Roberta, and according to them, "Wolgin... has a history with art that pushes limits and breaks through boundaries," so I suspect that a radical departure from cookie-cutter prizegiving would be attractive to him. Done correctly, the Wolgin Prize can be a catapult for an artist who needs a critical push, rather than a re-affirmation for an already well-known name.

And I second Roberta and Libby's nomination for the inaugural prize: Philly's own Zoe Strauss!

You get what you pay for

The mechanics of buying and selling conventional objets d’art—paintings, sculptures, even photographs—are fairly straightforward. You pay the artist a certain sum, and he or she hands over the object. But how does one sell a work that exists in largely, or even purely, abstract form?
Read this very interesting article by Jay Gabler in the Daily Planet here.

Saturday, December 20, 2008


Two years ago someone gave me an iPod as a present, and a few days ago I actually opened it for the first time and started using it... I know, I know...

Impressive to say the least.

First album loaded onto it? Black Sabbath's "We Sold Our Soul for Rock 'N' Roll."

First song played on the new toy? "Ironman."

Has he lost his mind?
Can he see or is he blind?
Can he walk at all,
Or if he moves will he fall?
Is he alive or dead?
Has he thoughts within his head?
We'll just pass him there
Why should we even care?
He was turned to steel
In the great magnetic field
Where he traveled time
For the future of mankind
Nobody wants him
He just stares at the world
Planning his vengeance
That he will soon unfold
Now the time is here
For Iron Man to spread fear
Vengeance from the grave
Kills the people he once saved
Nobody wants him
They just turn their heads
Nobody helps him
Now he has his revenge
Heavy boots of lead
Fills his victims full of dread
Running as fast as they can
Iron Man lives again!

Liberta Awards

Uberbloggers Roberta and Libby have their 2008 Liberta Awards here.

Is the end of the one gallery-in-control near?

Artists are taking an increasingly independent role in the management of their work, taking back some of the control from their dealers. Just a few years ago, when the art market was a less complicated place, the artist-dealer relationship was relatively straightforward. Only the extremely successful worked with more than one gallery and overall it was left to an artist’s dealer to handle the business side of things. But in today’s increasingly complex art scene, where many artists are represented by several galleries worldwide and where production costs can spiral, artists say that they are having to ensure they are at the centre of the decision-making process by employing independent agents or setting up their own companies.
Read the Art Newspaper article by Louisa Buck here. This, of course, only applies to uberartists at the top of the art world's food chain... generally.

Friday, December 19, 2008

And another one down...

New York art dealer Christoph Van de Weghe had eight works by Damien Hirst in his booth at the Art Basel Miami Beach fair earlier this month. He sold only two.

The small “spin” and “butterfly” paintings went for $160,000 each, compared with the asking price of $185,000. The unsold works included an $850,000 cabinet filled with cigarette butts and a blue canvas with 15 butterflies...

...Three months after Hirst sold more than 200 of his works for 111.5 million pounds ($199 million) at Sotheby’s in London, his market has contracted dramatically.

At the bellwether November sales in New York, 11 out of 17 Hirst lots failed to find buyers at three auction houses...

...“the feeling is that the Hirst market has been stretched a bit too far, almost as if it snapped and backfired.”
Read the Bloomberg story by Katya Kazakina here.

Another one bites the dust

Reflecting the recent nose dive in confidence in the art and antiquities markets, the International Asian Art Fair held each spring in Manhattan has been canceled.
Read the NYT story here.

Lino Tagliapietra

(Via DCist) The Lino Tagliapietra in Retrospect: A Modern Renaissance in Glass exhibition at the Renwick Gallery:

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Bouguereau for VFMA

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts board of trustees has approved the acquisition of "The Battle between the Centaurs and Lapiths," a heroic Academic painting by French artist William-Adolphe Bouguereau, a beaded buffalo mask from the Bamum kingdom of Cameroon, three versions of French artist Antoine-Louis Barye’s “Pheasant” sculpture, and 29 fine, decorative and ceremonial objects given in memory of the museum’s late curator of 20th-century art.

Also added to the VMFA collection were two works by Virginia sculptor Leslie Garland Bolling, a collection of 21 gold and semi-precious-stone earrings from ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern cultures and a trade-bead necklace collected in Ghana.

Battle of Lapiths and CentaursThe Bouguereau painting, “The Battle between the Centaurs and Lapiths,” is an 1852 oil on canvas measuring 49 by 68-5/8 inches. The large-scale work depicts a central element of the story of a mythological battle as recounted by the Greek poet Homer in the Iliad. The Lapiths and the Centaurs were longstanding pre-Hellenic enemies. In a peacemaking effort, the Lapiths invited the Centaurs to a wedding feast at which the Centaurs got drunk and attempted to abduct the bride.

In antiquity, the tale was seen as an example of the conflict between civilization and barbarism.

“Academic art dominated French painting of the period and is the school of art most often contrasted with Impressionism. Impressionist painting, known for having been painted from life and for its spontaneous brushwork, modern subjects and intense color, was a rebellion against Academic painting and the Salons, with its controlled brushwork, references to ancient sculpture and subjects from the distant past,” said VMFA Director Alex Nyerges.

Book on deaccessioning controversies at U.S. museums

When done well, she said, “pruning a museum collection so that the collection as a whole can become better and stronger” can be a good thing. When done inappropriately or for the wrong reasons, she added, the results can be “tragic.”
Read about here.

Dumas at MoMA

Since I got this really cool catalog sent to me in the mail, I figured that I better plug this show:

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Need to rent a house for the Obama inauguration?

I've got a couple of properties for rent, and like a good capitalist, I've just realized that they're both good locations for people looking for a home during the Obama inauguration week!

Pooks Hill Condo in Bethesda
First one above is a really nice condo in Bethesda in Pooks Hill, close to everything... see the listing here. Contact Sabine about renting that one in January for the inauguration. It is just a few minutes from the Bethesda Metro and a couple of minutes from the Beltway. Two upstair rooms and a finished basement and two bathrooms.

Bowie, Maryland house for rentThe other one is the very first house that I ever bought when I was Navy Lieutenant first assigned to Washington, DC back in the late 80s.

Last year I poured a ton of money renovating the house.

It is just a couple of minutes away from 50 and just a few miles from the District and less than a mile from a Metro park-and-ride if you want to take the Metro to the festivities. Three rooms and two and half bathrooms.

See that listing here. Contact Rich for that one.

Bourgeois Spider

That huge spider now greeting visitors on their way into the Hirshhorn Museum is a true testament to the power of representational sculpture, isn't it?

Standing at nearly 25 feet tall, Louise Bourgeois' large bronze and steel sculpture "Crouching Spider" is a like a magnet for Mall visitors, and because it is a Louise Bourgeois work of art, anti-representational art critics have to keep their mouths and poison pens shut as the public enjoys a public art piece.

Louise Bourgeois Crouching Spider, 2003, from a private collection. Photo by Lee Stalsworth.

The Hirshhorn says that "there is no need to be afraid, since the artist describes her spiders as iconic 'guardians,' a 'defense against evil.'" And they even work against the evil of post-modernism dogma and critics who instantly dislike a work of art that is liked by the masses.

And I am told by the museum that since its installation earlier this week, the work of art has become an instant attraction to visitors eager to be photographed with the huge arachnid.

I wonder how those Argentinean kids Carmen Ibanez, Dizzy Flores and Johnny Rico would have reacted to it.

"Crouching Spider" is now on view at the Independence Avenue entrance to the Hirshhorn in anticipation of the Feb. 26 opening of "Louise Bourgeois,"a major retrospective that includes more than 120 sculptures, paintings and drawings. The Hirshhorn presentation of "Louise Bourgeois"is the last chance for the public to see the exhibition that began its tour in London and ends here in Washington, D.C. The Hirshhorn presentation will include a number of works from the museum's own collection, not seen in other presentations on the tour. The exhibition will run through May 17, 2009.

New Art Blog

And off to a great start: check it out here; visit often!

Hire this model... please!

Need a Cuban-American fashion model? Hire my daughter Elise!

Elise Campello
Contact her here.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Artomatic 2009

Artomatic, the open art show that traditional art critics hate and that everyone else loves is coming back to the DMV in 2009 and they've got a party for new and returning volunteers.

The party to volunteer for Artomatic 2009 is December 20th, 1-3 pm at Onyx Apartments
(1100 First St, SE, Washington DC 20003).

Details here.

Monday, December 15, 2008


A while back I wrote about my absolute favorite TV show (Showtime's "Dexter") and how it puts me on a private pedantic hell because of the show's spectacularly lousy dialectic writing about Cuban Spanish.

Michael C. Hall as DexterTo recap, in the series, Michael C. Hall is absolutely brilliant as a serial killer who works as a blood expert for the Miami Metro Police while hiding the fact that he is also a serial killer. Dexter goes after bad guys, but he is still a truly disturbing psychopath pretending to be normal while killing bad guys left and right in a very orchestrated manner.

Because it takes place in Miami, there's a lot of Cuban stuff and characters going on, but whoever the writer(s) for the series is, they seem to believe that Cubans in Miami are indistinguishable from the Hollywood area Mexicans and Mexican-Americans that he or she "knows" as Latinos or Hispanics.

As a result some pretty amazing cultural blunders in the spoken language continue to occur in the show, and I discussed some here.

But now an even more egregious culinary blunder took places in the series finale that revealed to me that the writer or writers for this series have zero understanding of the diversity of cultures in their own continent, and now I am firmly convinced that they have never set foot in Miami.

Last night was the series' season finale, and it was very, very good, with Dexter almost being the victim of another serial killer being hunted by Miami police.

Let me set a different background for you. Imagine that you're watching a TV series and the characters walk into a restaurant in South Carolina and inside a big sign announces that the restaurant has the "Best Soul Food in the South." The characters sit down and then they order Egg Foo Young and a couple of egg rolls.

That would not make sense, right? Lousy script writing?

In the Dexter season-ending episode, actress Jennifer Carpenter, who plays Dexter's annoying and foul-mouthed sister and now Detective Debra Morgan, walks up to a food establishment, where a prominent sign displays that it sells "The Best Cuban Food in Miami."

She then orders a burrito.

A burrito?

There is no such food item in any Cuban restaurant in Miami, or Cuba or the entire planet Earth. Outside of a Mexican restaurant environment, you ask any Cuban what a "burrito" is and he will tell you that it is a small donkey. A "burro" is a donkey or ass, and a "burrito" is a small donkey.

Cuban food does not include any dishes called burrito, but Dexter's Hollywood-based writers, never having set foot in Miami or even a Cuban restaurant in la-la land, assume that Cuban food (and by default all Latin American food) consists of burritos, tamales, refried beans, enchiladas, etc.

We had a small "Dexter watching" party last night, and one of the persons in the group was a very good Puerto Rican friend. When Detective Debra Morgan ordered a burrito at a place selling "Miami's Best Cuban Food," we both burst out laughing.

However, inside: Showtime, you're killing me!

Robert Johnson's black art collection coming to DC

Johnson may be known for the low-budget comedy routines and booty-shaking music videos that drove the success of BET, the cable channel he founded and that turned him into America's first black billionaire in 2001. But in his private moments he is moved by art that documents the struggles and achievements of black people in America. Since the early 1980s Johnson, 62, has assembled some 250 pieces by 19th- and 20th-century African-American artists. Though Johnson's collection is probably worth only a couple of million dollars, it includes some of the most famous names of the genre: cubist-inspired collage artist Romare Bearden (1911--88); modernist Harlem painter Jacob Lawrence (1917--2000); and Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859--1937), who studied under Thomas Eakins in the 1880s and was the first black painter to gain international acclaim.
Read the article here, which also states that "Johnson, who plans to stage a Washington, D.C. exhibition of his art this February, believes the works should be displayed separately from those of white Americans."

The piece doesn't say where the exhibition will be, which is a little odd, since it will be in a couple of months.

But as I object to the segregation of artists by race, as Mr. Johnson apparently believes, or by gender (thus my opposition to the National Museum of Women in the Arts concept) or by ethnicity (thus my opposition to the Latino Museum idea).

Art is art.

Perhaps Mr. Johnson intends to add a specialty focus to his DC exhibition, such as "The Impact of African American Art on Contemporary Art," which would then make sense to have a "black Americans show only."

Otherwise I call upon Mr. Johnson to use his considerable influence to make more museums add deserving black American artists to American art museums. Or perhaps to call upon the Obamas to add more deserving black American artists to the White House collection, which only has three such artists in its entire collection, two of which were added by the Bushes.

Segregation doesn't work for art either.