Saturday, March 21, 2015

Art Fair week!

Car renting in Miami

Waking up at four AM in order to make the 7:20AM flight to Miami from BWI is no way to start a weekend; but, sacrifices must be made in order to get there in plenty of time to take Anderson to visit his 92-year-old abuela, spend some time with his cousins and make it back to the DMV in time for him to make it to bed not too late on Sunday.

No matter where you land in Miami's gorgeous but enormous airport, it take a hike to get out, and a train ride to get your rental car. Renting a car in Miami must be disorienting to most people, but especially foreigners. And it is not just the somewhat complicated and surprising lack of good signage at the airport to direct you to the car agencies, but also the amazing cheapness of renting a car there.

I've rented cars in Miami for as little as five bucks a day (last March); the taxes were essentially as much as the car rental! In most of the world, auto rentals are pretty expensive, but it seems that competition has found an optimal environment in Miami in favor of the visitor.

The first thing that I always do (after renting the car) when I get to Miami to visit my mother, is to stop at Casablanca Bakery on 4th Street in Hialeah to get some Cuban pasteles, some croquetas, a couple of papas rellenas, some yuca rellenas, Cuban coffee, and a Cuban bread - all for for my mother.

After spending some time catching up with abuela, Anderson helps to eat some of the pastries, but waking up at 4AM is having the expected results in all of us, so we say our Adioses and head out to Little Havana, where we will be staking at my cousin's walled compound just a few minutes from Calle Ocho.

Friday, March 20, 2015


I'm not screaming!!! I'm Cuban-American!!! meme

Thursday, March 19, 2015

From the 90s: Michael Auld at Fondo del Sol

For TBT, this is one of my reviews originally written and published in the late 1990s. I've updated the links.
Michael Auld at Fondo del Sol: An Art Review
By F. Lennox Campello

Originally Published in Visions Magazine for the Arts
I remember as a little boy the story of Hatuey, told to me by my grandmother, who had been raised as a little girl in Cuba. Hatuey was a Taino Indian Chief from the island of Hispaniola who was a witness to the atrocities the Spaniards were committing upon his people. 

The Hispaniola Tainos had received Columbus and his fellow Europeans with open arms, and the Spaniards had brutalized the Indians in return. Hatuey sailed to neighboring Cuba and warned the Cuban Tainos about the Europeans. 

When Columbus and his ships showed up, they were received not with open arms but with armed resistance. Eventually Hatuey was captured by the Spaniards and prepared for burning at the stake. 

A Spanish priest asked Hatuey if he wanted to repent from his sins and be baptized before being burned at the stake. The baptism, promised the priest, would ensure that Hatuey go to heaven and live happily among the Christians. Hatuey asked if the bearded white men would go to heaven when they too died. The priest nodded yes and said that the Spaniards would go to heaven because they were good Christians. 

"In that case," replied Hatuey as the flames began to lick at his feet, "I want to go to hell."
Just like my grandmother, I have always believed and been told that the Caribbean Indians, comprised of the peaceful Tainos, the warlike Caribs and the Arawaks were all extinct as a result of mass suicide, murder, disease and Spanish enslavement. 

We were all wrong! The Fondo del Sol Visual Arts Center in Washington currently has on display an extraordinary exhibit by sculptor Michael Auld which not only pays homage to many of the Caribbean Indians' legends and stories, but also offers (via two fascinating videos), clear evidence that descendants of the Caribbean Indians still live in isolated, mountainous areas of the Caribbean islands. 

The exhibition's center piece is an extraordinary wooden sculpture of Itiba Cahubaba, the legendary Earth mother of Taino legend. This stunning piece depicts the Earth mother giving birth simultaneously to two sets of twins, who became the fathers of mankind. This is a gripping piece not only because of its artistic value, but more importantly because it marks the rebirth of Taino culture after nearly 500 years of being nearly forgotten, erased and virtually destroyed. 

Also on display are three large wooden totemic sculptures depicting three stories in the Spanish conquest of the islands. The Hatuey story is here, as well as the story of the rape of a Carib woman by Spanish Conquistador Miguel de Cuneo, recorded in his own words: "I captured a very beautiful Carib woman, who the Admiral gave to me... I conceived a desire to take my pleasure... but she did not want it... I beat her with a rope...Finally we came to terms...She seemed to be brought up in a school of harlots."
The third piece represents the drowning of a Spaniard by Cuban Tainos. The Spaniards had passed themselves as Gods, and the Cuban Indians decided to test this claim, and one day submerged one of the Conquistadores under water in a river. When he died, the Indians realized that he was a mere human, and the word quickly spread to other Indians on the island and the Europeans had to fight from there on. 

There are many great pieces on exhibition at the Center, and the show establishes Michael Auld (who was born in Jamaica) as one of the best sculptors in the city, but it equally re-affirms the importance of a place like the Fondo del Sol, which gives artists like Auld an opportunity to exhibit work which most commercial galleries and museums would ignore. 

Furthermore, the evidence recorded in video by Auld (during a visit to the island of Dominica in 1992), which depicts visual evidence of a supposedly "extinct" people holding on to a remote enclave in the north of the island, is a visceral reminder of a people nearly destroyed, almost erased and yet shouting to be heard. 

This is an extraordinary, seminal yet important show, which for the first time in art history presents a people's cultural ancestry being rediscovered via contemporary art. Mr. Auld, and just as importantly, the Fondo del Sol Visual Arts Center are to be complemented and honored for delivering this exhibition, and I hope the Smithsonian anthropologists and historians are listening! 

The Fondo del Sol (which is run by its exuberant, Havana-born director Marc Zuver), is an artist-run alternative museum located at 2112 R Street, NW in the Dupont Circle area of Washington, D.C. The exhibit closes on February 10, and the museum can be reached at (202) 483-2777.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Come join me tonight

Covering the Arts
6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Wednesday March 18, 2015
VisArts at Rockville
Kaplan Gallery
155 Gibbs St.
Rockville, MD 20850
Details here.

Come and pick my brain about developing your resume, art fairs, dealing with art galleries, the press, curators, documenting your work, grants, residencies, contracts, etc. Free!

Call For Submissions: UnBound4!

Deadline:  April 17, 2015

No entry fees!

Candela Books + Gallery announces their fourth annual invitational and juried exhibition: UnBound4! The summer group exhibition will feature work from a wide range of fine art photographers. 

An UnBound4! gala (as in good times) event, will raise funds to purchase select works from the exhibition. Works purchased by Candela through this event will subsequently be included in the Candela Collection.

The Candela Collection mission is to support photographers through the purchase of their original photographic work and to actively pursue future opportunities to donate said works to notable permanent collections.
UnBound! generates opportunities and exposure beyond the traditional group or juried show. Our hope is that photographers will support us with their active participation just as we hope to support their work and careers in return. All accepted photographers will have their artwork featured at Candela Books + Gallery, a gallery space in the downtown arts district of Richmond, Virginia.
For a look at last year’s exhibition, go here: Unbound3! 2014

To celebrate the opening of the exhibition, on Saturday, July 11th, Candela will host its annual UnBound! event which will include food & drink, live music, and curious entertainment …along with incredible photography. The ticket and raffle sales from this event will be used exclusively to purchase work from the exhibition for the Candela Collection.

All artwork accepted for exhibition will be selected by the Candela founder, Gordon Stettinius, and Associate Director, Ashby Nickerson.

Details here.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Tomorrow night

Covering the Arts
6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Wednesday March 18, 2015
VisArts at Rockville
Kaplan Gallery
155 Gibbs St.
Rockville, MD 20850
Details here.

Come and pick my brain about art fairs, dealing with art galleries, the press, curators, documenting your work, grants, residencies, contracts, etc. Free!

Trawick Prize

The Trawick Prize: Bethesda Contemporary Art Awards is a visual art prize produced by the Bethesda Arts & Entertainment District that honors artists from Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Virginia. 
The annual juried competition awards $14,000 in prize monies to selected artists and features the work of the finalists in a group exhibition.
Best in Show - $10,000
Second Place - $2,000
Third Place - $1,000
Young Artists* - $1,000
*Young Artist whose birthday is after April 7, 1985 may be awarded this prize. 
The Jurors will select up to 9 finalists who will be invited to display their work in a group exhibition at Gallery B in downtown Bethesda in September 2015. 

Deadline to apply is April 7, 2015.  Click here for more info & to apply.

Questions?  Please send an email to

Monday, March 16, 2015

Mujertrees Number Three

Signed vintage prints from my "Mujertrees" series have sold at auction as high as $500... this 1992 vintage piece is opening at Ebay for less than $50 bucks!!!

And I believe that this is the original drawing from which the 100 prints were pulled, so this would be a steal at the current opening price! It is being listed as a print!

Bid for it here.

Arts Job: Carroll Community College in Westminster, MD

Deadline:  4/3/2015   
Description:   The position of FACULTY MEMBER OF FINE ARTS/DISCIPLINE COORDINATOR OF FINE ARTS is available in the Academic AffairsDivision. This position is on a full-time 10 month basis, reporting to the Chair of Visual Arts.
FUNCTION: Serves as faculty teaching a reduced load to perform Discipline Coordinator duties. The Faculty Member/Discipline Coordinator is responsible for: planning and making available appropriate study materials; conducting educationally valuable activities in the classroom or laboratory; making assignments of student work; evaluating and grading student progress; collecting and analyzing outcomes assessment data; reviewing and revising curricula; attending departmental meetings; general faculty meetings and College-wide meetings as required; serving on appropriate College committees; hiring, mentoring and handling promotion reviews of adjunct instructors; searching and contracting artists for gallery exhibitions throughout academic year; writing and submitting copy and relevant images to the Publications Department for exhibit related materials; invitations and brochures within the required timelines; receiving and hanging artwork for all exhibits and arranging and attending gallery receptions for openings; creating wall-text, title cards and ancillary materials for exhibits (including student shows), contacting and/or responding to news media requests for interviews and information concerning exhibits; purchasing gallery supplies and caring for and protecting the College’s art collection as needed; and responding to the need for a full appraisal and accounting of its contents every four years; and performing other duties as assigned.
REQUIREMENTS: Master's degree or higher in the teaching discipline or Master's degree or higher with a concentration in the teaching discipline. Two years of demonstrated teaching experience at the college level and evidence of exhibit/curatorial experience outside of one’s own artwork. Candidate should have both studio and art history knowledge with the ability to teach either if necessary. Administrative/managerial experience is required.
SALARY: Instructor rank on the 10-month Carroll Community College Salary Scale. Actual salary placement based on education and experience. Position includes excellent fringe benefit package.
APPLICATION PROCESS: Interested applicants must submit a cover letter, resume, a one- to two-page statement of teaching philosophy, ten images of applicant’s professional work, and ten images of applicant’s student work postmarked by April 3, 2015, to the Human Resources Department at Carroll Community College, 1601 Washington Road, Westminster, Maryland 21157 or email In order to qualify for employment, candidates must successfully complete a criminal background check.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION FOR FACULTY APPLICANTS: Generally, the College places new faculty at the rank of Instructor, where the minimum based salary is $38,356. One-half of reasonable travel expenses are paid by the College for the first visit. The entire cost of travel for the second interview is paid by the College. The College does not pay for relocation expenses, nor does the College have tenure. However, following a one-year probationary period, year-to-year contracts are provided until three years of satisfactory service are completed, after which time 3-year contracts are provided.
 “An Equal Opportunity Employer”

Wanna a great deal for a great signed print?

Signed vintage prints from my "Mujertrees" series have sold at auction as high as $500... this 1992 vintage piece is opening at auction for less than $50 bucks!!!

Bid for it here. And it is for a GREAT cause!

At the Affordable Art Fair next week...

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Salon: A Conversation with me

Covering the Arts
6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Wednesday March 18, 2015
VisArts at Rockville
Kaplan Gallery
155 Gibbs St.
Rockville, MD 20850
Details here.

Come and pick my brain about art fairs, dealing with art galleries, the press, curators, documenting your work, grants, residencies, contracts, etc. Free!

Yoani Sánchez to talk at GMU

Yoani Sánchez is an acclaimed Cuban blogger, journalist and founder of 14ymedio, Cuba’s first independent daily digital news outlet. She is currently the Yahoo! Fellow at Georgetown University in Washington, DC.

A University of Havana graduate in Philology, she emigrated to Switzerland in 2002 to build a new life for herself and her family. Two years later, she returned to Havana, promising herself to live there as a free person. In 2007, she began Generation Y, her personal blog about daily life in Cuba. She has been arrested and detained by the Cuban government for starting her activities.

In 2009 U.S. President Barack Obama wrote that her blog “provides the world a unique window into the realities of daily life in Cuba” and applauded her efforts to “empower fellow Cubans to express themselves through the use of technology.” TIME magazine listed her as one of the World’s 100 Most Influential People, stating that “under the nose of a regime that has never tolerated dissent, Sánchez has practiced what paper-bound journalists in her country cannot: freedom of speech.” Foreign Policy magazine has named her one of the Top 100 Global Thinkers.  
She will be speaking at GMU on Tuesday, march 17, 2015 from 4:30pm - 6:15pm. RSVP here. 

I will be there to listen to a true hero, who can teach some lessons here in the US to some wanna-be "victims."

I also plan to give her a gift of a watercolor that I did in 1977 while I was a student at the University of Washington School of Art in Seattle, Washington. This piece was the second in a series of works all focused around the island of Cuba as a prison. It has followed me all over the planet and lived in Seattle, San Diego (CA), Spain, Monterey (CA), Bowie (MD) twice, Scotland, Sonoma (CA), Dumfries (VA), Media (PA), and Potomac (MD) thrice.
CUBA "Isla Prisión" (Prison Island)  Watercolor on Paper by F. Lennox Campello, c. 1977  2x4 inches
"Isla Prisión" (Prison Island)
Watercolor on Paper by F. Lennox Campello, c. 1977
2x4 inches

Hopefully, she will accept it and it will then live with a real life hero. 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

New ceramics prof. at UDC

Artist Derek Thomas Hambly has just been appointed a professorship at the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) where he will teach ceramics and develop its arts program. Derek was one of the artists that helped the Washington Glass Studio create the DCCAH public artwork sculpture “Community Gateway“.
Check out the full article in East City Art here.

Call for Artists

Deadline: July 10, 2015
The UMW Galleries will host the tenth edition of their juried painting competition. It is open to artists 18 years of age and older living in Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. Entries will be judged by a guest juror. Cash prizes and a purchase award are also available. The exhibition will be on view January 15- February 28, 2016. 
For more information, visit

Friday, March 13, 2015

Alchemical Vessels 2015

Alchemical Vessels 2015

March 27 - May 22, 2015

Opening Reception: Friday, March 27 | 7-9pm

Benefit: Friday, May 1 (By Contribution Only)


The Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery at Smith Center for Healing and the Arts recently announced the return of the super-popular Alchemical Vessels Exhibition and Benefit in 2015! 

This year's exhibition will run from March 27 - May 22, 2015, with the special by-contribution-only Benefit on Friday, May 1st, where everyone who makes a $150 Benefit-Vessel contribution (beginning Tuesday, March 10th at 10am) can select one of the works in the exhibition to add to their collection! The vessels are selected in the order contributions were made, so the earlier you make a contribution, the earlier you can select your work of art! Below is my piece in the show.

"Eve, Running Away from Eden"

This year's exhibition and benefit features works from over 100 new artists hand-selected by 20 prominent curators. See below for a list of this year's incredible line-up of artists & our invited curators, and visit to learn more.
David Alfuth, Beth Baldwin, Rhoda Baer, Emily Biondo, Ed Bisese, Julia Bloom, Raya Bodnarchuk, Joseph Bradley, Judy Byron, Lenny Campello, Jessica Cebra, Mei Mei Chang, Hsin-Hsi Chen, Patterson Clark, Billy Colbert, Susan Cole, Paula Crawford, Michael Crossett, Sarah Dale, Catherine Day, JD Deardourff, Jennifer DePalma, Robert Devers, Jessica Drenk, Patricia Dubroof, Pam Eichner, Dana Ellyn, Margo Elsayd, Susan Finsen & Michael Holt, Sharon Fishel, Kathryn Freeman, Marcia Fry, Adrienne Gaither, Michael Gessner, Carol Brown Goldberg, Pat Goslee, Matthew Grimes, Andrea Haffner, Courtney Hengerer, Jeff Herrity, Maurice "Mo" Higgs, Ryan Hill, Joseph Hoffman, Jeff Huntington, David Ibata, Martha Jackson Jarvis, Njena Surae Jarvis, Rose Jaffe, Mike Johnson, Mariah Anne Johnson, Wayson Jones, Maria Karametou, Sally Kauffman, Elizabeth Kendall, Joanne Kent, Hana Kim, Micheline Klagsbrun , Kitty Klaidman, PD Klein, George Koch, Yar Koporulin, Peter Krsko, Bridget Sue Lambert, Maria Lanas, Toni Lane, Khanh Le, Jun Lee, Kyujin Lee, Nate Lewis, Mimi Logothetis, Steve Loya, Akemi Maegawa, Alex Mayer, Donna M. McCullough, Kathryn McDonnell, Maggie Michael, Vanessa Monroe, E.J. Montgomery, Lucinda Murphy, Ziad Nagy, Leslie Nolan, Frederick Nunley, Cory Oberndorfer, John Paradiso, Elena Patiño, Miguel Perez Lem, Brian Petro, Thomas Petzwinkler, Jeneen Piccuirro, Michael B. Platt & Carol A. Beane, Pattie Porter Firestone, Tom Raneses, Red Dirt Studios, Ellington Robinson, Carolyn Roth, Bonner Sale, Jean Sausele Knodt, Matt Sesow, Foon Sham, Janathel Shaw, Lillian Shaw, Bernardo Siles, Steve Skowron, Jeffrey Smith, Anna Soevik, Langley Spurlock, Stan Squirewell, Rebecca Stone Gordon, Lynn Sures, Tang, Lisa Marie Thalhammer, Valerie Theberge, Michael Torra, Kelly Towles, Dan Treado, Ruth Trevarrow, Tariq Tucker, Pamela Viola, Ellyn Weiss, Lee Wheeler, Catherine White, Sharon Wolpoff, Sue Wrbican, and Jenny Wu

Sondra N. Arkin, Artist & Independent Curator | Philip Barlow, Associate Commissioner, DC Department of Insurance, Securities & Banking; Board Member, District of Columbia Arts Center & Millenium Arts Salon | Chuck Baxter, Artist | Robert Devers, Professor of Fine Arts and Ceramics, Corcoran School of the Arts + Design, George Washington University | Thomas Drymon, Curator, doris-mae | Charlie Gaynor, Realtor and Photographer, member of the Mid City Artists | Aneta Georgievska-Shine, Lecturer in Art History, University of Maryland and Smithsonian Institution | George Hemphill, Gallery Director, Hemphill | Francie Hester, Visual Artist | Don Kimes, Professor, Director Studio Art Program, American University Department of Art; Artistic Director, Visual Arts at Chautauqua Institution | Zofie Lang, Artist | Mary Liniger, Executive Director, Art Enables | Akemi Maegawa, Artist | Jayme McLellan, Director and Founder, Civilian Art Projects | Twig Murray, Gallery Director, Athenaeum Gallery | Victoria Reis, Co-Founder, Executive and Artistic Director, Transformer | Nancy Sausser, Curator and Exhibitions Director, McLean Project for the Arts | Andy Shallal, Founder, Busboys and Poets | Stan Squirewell, Artist

Wanna go to an opening tonight?

Thank You Artist Friends on Facebook

by Akemi Maegawa 

March 13 - June 21 


Opening Reception: Friday, March 13, 7-9 pm
Gallery Talk: Sunday, June 21, 5 pm 
"Majority of my Facebook friends are artists and art related people whom I have met before or artists whom I would love to meet in person one day. Facebook has become a virtual art salon to me. Of course I would prefer to meet friends and discuss things face to face but everyone's busy schedule and different location (many of them are international friends) won't allow us to meet face to face easily.
Because of the Facebook I feel so close to far away friends and family as getting everyday information is so easy. We can discuss our concerns or social issues anytime and pass around important news instantaneously. It is the biggest power of social media and I think artists are playing an important part in supporting our freedom of speech and expression through social media like Facebook.  
My “Thank You Artist Friends on Facebook Project” allowed me to look closer at each of my artist friends. This project made me think about our crazy everyday life and let me take a longer time to reflect and question how we process any single image from the Internet.
I decided to reproduce a small profile picture of each of my artist friends on a small ceramic tile to be able to feel his or her presence real and make the moment permanently frozen in time. I was hoping that those portraits, being the physical images on tiles, would remain to be “real” despite being shared only virtually with friends. I had looked thoroughly at each of my artist friend profile picture on my cell phone and when I finished making a tile portrait I got a feeling that each time I learned something new about this person.  
I had made porcelain tiles and sketched/etched each artist profile picture directly on them. There was no eraser or pre-sketch practice tiles. I prepared only one tile for each friend and used only a needle tool to make each sketch. I had really stayed focus and be careful not to damage their "face" which they chose to share with public on Facebook. As an artist and an art supporter, I tried my best to focus- during etching of each artist portrait- on our time together and concentrating my thoughts on the person and how to show my appreciation and respect for each of them. I am very happy to have a chance to show those portraits at the exhibition and share my admiration to their persistence and achievements. I plan to keep adding the tiles as I make new artist friends on Facebook."
                      - Akemi Maegawa, February 4th, 2015

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Art Scam Alert

Beware of this mutant trying to rip off artists! 
From: Sally Riding (
Am Sally Michael,

Am interested in buying artworks from your esteemed organization for my new apartment and you still have for sale and i will be glad if you can Send me recent art work you have for sale with the asking prices,also my method of payment is by (BANK CHECK) as means of payment.

 Kindly email me some of the artwork you have in stock with the name and prices now. Looking forward to an early response.

Regards, Sally Michael

Amy Marx on Phyllis Plattner at The Katzen

Amy Marx reviews Phyllis Plattner at The Katzen Center at American University - hurry to see this show, as it ends March 15!
 In 1770 Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”  These words are as relevant today as they were then.  There are, in the history of the visual arts, many examples of artists “doing something”, speaking in images rather than words.    

     In 1830 Eugene Delacroix painted “Liberty Leading the People.”  He renders “Liberty” in feminine form leading the people over the dead bodies of the old order, in one hand holding aloft the tri-color flag of the French Revolution, the epic violent battle for freedom, and in the other hand she carries a bayoneted musket.  This iconic painting of the July 1830 Revolution depicts the overthrow of King Charles X of France.  Delacroix wrote his brother:  “If I haven’t fought for my country at least I’ll paint for her.”   

     In 1814 Francisco Goya painted “The Shootings of the Third of May 1808 in Madrid.”  It is a gut-wrenching portrayal of a man with arms upraised before a firing squad.  He has an expression of horror on his face.     His comrades lie in a bloody heap at his feet. Goya’s emotionally charged depiction of this man’s last minutes of life was unprecedented.  The painting graphically illustrates the Spanish resistance to Napoleon's invasion and occupation in the Peninsular War.  Art historian Kenneth Clark has said this is "the first great picture that can be called revolutionary in every sense of the word, in style, in subject, and in intention".
Chronicles of War/Saints and Martyrs
        Oil and gold leaf on linen on panel           
2007     40”x50”
     In 2001 Phyllis Plattner began the creation of a series of artworks in which she made meticulously rendered copies of art historical paintings in the style of the original artist, and photographs culled from newspapers and magazines.  In “Chronicles of War, Saints and Martyrs” she utilized Goya’s historic painting, mentioned above, and amplified its effect.  She placed Goya’s painting in the center of a sixteen-paneled piece.  To the left of Goya’s work is the arrow-pierced Saint Sebastian, an early Christian martyr (288 AD) from “ The Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian” by Andrea Mantegna, (1480).   On the right is Christ, blindfolded and bound, about to be scourged, painted by Van der Weyden, (1450).  Further heightening the effect of “Chronicles of War, Saints and Martyrs” is a horizontal row of images along the bottom, a format known as predella panels.  From left to right are painted the following: The Twin Towers ablaze on September 11, Christ’s feet nailed to the cross, the well known image of an inmate in Abu Ghraib, a World War Two survivor with a prosthetic leg, and finally the tangled heap of stainless steel, a ghostlike cathedral, the remains of the World Trade Center.  A cherub from Raphael’s Sistine Madonna glances heavenward atop all of this with additional angels on either side.  And there’s more, even in this one piece. 
Chronicles of War/Heads and Hands
          Oil and gold leaf on linen on panel           
2009     67”x 45”
     This is one of twelve complex pieces that make up “Chronicles of War,” the epic two-part show at The Katzen Center at American University.  The other half is entitled “Legends.”  The two together form “Gods of War!”  “Legends” details the Zapatista uprising in San Cristobal, Mexico, which Plattner witnessed.  She and her archaeologist husband later lived in Italy.  She tells the story of the Zapatista uprising utilizing Italian Renaissance paintings, substituting Zapatistas for the saints and apostles.  For example, “Legends, Deposition” is after a painting by Caravaggio, (1585), and “Legends, Mary Magdalene in Glory,” is after a painting by Domenichino, (1600). The succession of places in which they lived is reflected in the subject matter, style, and technique of the work.  Italian Renaissance meets Liberation Theology.

     The soft-spoken, long time professor at The Maryland Institute College of Art is profoundly anti-war.  In order to speak against war and violence she employs images of violence.  Though the images are deplorable, the overall effect is beautiful.  “Chronicles of War” is a pastiche of images of human violence borrowed from art historical paintings and photo-journalism across cultures and across time. She juxtaposes violent images with the bucolic and the divine, skies at sunrise and at sunset, cherubs and angels, Jesus and Mary.  Eight or more panels are assembled into one artwork.  She also adds borders of gorgeous motifs from a multitude of cultures and intricately carved and gold-leafed frames and borders. The overall shapes of each work are based on Renaissance altarpieces, copied directly from the Italian in the “Legends” half of the show, and more loosely based on Asian, German and Italian altarpieces in “Chronicles of War”.  Plattner has done all of this work herself.  It is a fourteen year project, to which she plans yet to add.  It represents an immense labor of love.

      Plattner enumerates the vast array of violence throughout human history.  From the guillotine to napalm, to a pyramid of human skulls, from child soldiers to suicide bombers, from Napoleon to the Samari, from Guernica to the Mayan Bonampak murals in Chiapas, Mexico.  Could there possibly be something she has left out?  Plattner’s work has a continuing relevance to  our present condition as the world is menaced by ISIS.  

    One might say that the destructive history of all humankind is represented here.  The forms of destruction are assembled by the type of destruction so that each artwork has a theme.  In “Chronicles of War, Heads and Hands,” 2008, the subject is beheadings.  In “Chronicles of War, Swords and Lances,” 2008, a pastiche of death by blade, the central image is the “Battle of San Romano” by Paolo Uccello, (1432).  Above fourteen panels of death and destruction, cherubs alight in the vault of heaven.  With fist-fulls of flowers  they rain rose petals over the bloody folly of humankind.