Saturday, December 05, 2015

ABMB Week: Saturday Report

In the morning we departed our cool hotel-by-the-beach at Ft. Lauderdale and that night, after the fair, we'll head to my cousin's fortress house in Little Havana, where we'll stay for the next couple of days.

As soon as we got to Context, yesterday's vibe continued today as the crowds (and the rain) continued to come and fall to Context Art Miami.

There seemed to be good sales all around, and there was definitely a continuation of yesterday's art-buying crowd.

Multiple sales of my work, plus a "come backer" disappointed to find that the piece he wanted was sold - so he ordered a commission.

Also first sale of a wondrous Simon Monk piece as well as multiple sales by Elissa Farrow-Savos.

Elissa also got attention from a press art critic, and we expect to see her mentioned when the review comes out.

The reports from DMV visitors and others about the other fairs also began to pour in - some not so good, but good reports about Scope, Miami Projects and others.

By the end of Saturday, a cursory look at the "numbers" showed that we were having the best fair (from a  financial perspective) ever!

We closed at eight and headed to Little Havana - less than four miles away - on the way we ran into a monster traffic jam in from of the Marlins' Stadium (there was a concert)... we actually stood at a red light on 7th and 17th for 20 minutes before the cops changed it to green.

Once at my cousin's house, his wife had dinner ready for us; a couple of wine glasses later, I punched out.

Friday, December 04, 2015

ABMB Week: Friday Report

Morning starts with the December issue of the super glossy Brickell Magazine, which has done a people focus piece on me! See it here (scroll down a little).

Rainy day again.

Part of being at the big dance in Miami is the fact that Miami weather has a big impact on the fairs. Context is no exception  and this morning there was ample evidence of rain damage to some booths from last night's torrential rains.

At 11AM good crowds begin to pour in, and yesterday's good art "vibe" continues. As the day progresses we get multiple sales by Elissa Farrow-Savos, who once again (this is her second exposure to Miami) is getting extraordinary attention (and 100s of photo-taking events).

 A sale to a New York collector of Alma Selimovic's "Hammer Girl" soon follows - this is Alma's first exposure to Miami.

Hammer Girl by Alma Selimovic
Hammer Girl by Alma Selimovic

My own work hits a good stride and I sell my latest video work (Mother Nature Observing and Upside Down World Version Two), which goes to a member of the board for the Birmingham Art Museum as he rushes out to the airport - several drawings follow - including two heading to Puerto Rico and one to Boston.

The Bostonian piece is my latest work - completed just minutes before the van had to leave for Miami: How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnets to the Portuguese)

How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnets to the Portuguese)

Later on, my 2012 video piece on Frida Kahlo finally finds a home with a local collector; this piece has been traveling around in various University shows in the west coast.

Fellow DMV art dealer Maurine Littleton comes by and we chat for a while - she reveals a great secret to minimize feet pain during an art fair: switch shoes several times a day!

Cell phones beep all over the place... we're all getting a weather warning for tonight...

ABMB Week: Thursday Report

There was definitely a different "vibe" today with the crowds at Context. For starts, there were a lot of art students floating around, plus several major collectors finally made their way over from Art Miami and from ABMB itself.

I dropped Audrey Wilson at the fair around 11AM and had her switch a couple of Elissa Farrow-Savos' sculptures. I then headed to Hialeah to visit my mother.

On the way back I stopped at Casablanca Bakery and stocked up on Cuban pastries, yuca rellena, croquetas (ham, cheese and chicken), papa rellena and pasteles de guayaba con queso for the crew back at Wynwood.

Brutal traffic back to the fair, but got there in time to avoid the monster Florida showers which fell all day.

Over the last couple of days we had sold two works by DMV painter Tim Vermeulen, and today he scored not one but four commissions (all from the same DC expat, now Florida-based collector).

I took a little walk to capture a good shot of a terrific piece by the DMV's Mark Jenkins (with Fabien Castanier Gallery).

Mark Jenkins

Back in our booth... hosted a Facetime call from Anderson, and the little dude always brings me good luck... then a visit by the DMV's super artist Akemi Maegawa, and she also always brings good luck.... and I finally broke my personal ice with a major double sale of my largest drawing in the booth and a second smaller drawing to a very beautiful and talented Miami Beach personal consultant.

Soon afterwards, the very talented Audrey Wilson breaks her personal ice with a sale of her electric glass work from her Collection of Abstuseness series to a DC collector!

Collection of Abstuseness: Operation Big Bugs by Audrey Wilson
Pate de verre, kiln formed tempered glass, refractory glass, found objects
Soon afterwards I get a commission from one of the board members of Site Santa Fe based on my works that embed digital components... Five commissions on one day must be a Context Art Fair record!

As the skies continue to fall with thunderous rain (which in these giant tents sound like monstrous WWI trench gunfire), we begin to pack to head off as the fair closes, when one of those magical moments happens when a collector approaches a piece, looks at it and says: "I'd like to buy that."

The "that" is my largest work in the fair.

Nice way to close the day.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

ABMB Week: Opening Day

First of all... good morning Atlantic!

We leave Hollywood Beach around 9:30AM (the fair opens to the public at 11AM)... it's a 15 mile drive, which in this area's unpredictable traffic, today takes almost an hour and a half! Last night the drive from Wynwood took over two hours as 95 North was essentially closed - all four lanes closed for miles and one slow row of cars driving on the side of the road - It was because of construction.

The word "construction" is used here ironically, as there was one guy - yep, one dude - with a small painting machine - not the kind that you drive to paint the road stripes, but like a hand held one... and a second dude with a potent flashlight, while the first "worker" was repainting the road's traffic lines.

Miles of closed 95 North for this...

Several DC folks come by (yesterday JT Kirkland and John Adams); today Judy Berman, Gabby from Strathmore Hall, the immensely talented Sharon Moody, as well as other interesting people, such as uber collector Ardis Bartle and blue chip artist Sandra Ramos.

The Lenster with Sandra Ramos
Jodi Walsh's work at Context
Sometime in the late afternoon the horrible news about the terrorist attack in California begin to filter in, casting a shadow on the day.

View of one of the aisles at Context Art Miami

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

ABMB Week: VIP Opening night

After a dozen hours of so of intensive work... we're ready for opening night: 5-10PM. Photos by J. Jordan Bruns.

The crowds, booze and small food begins to circulate, tightly-dressed women in lethal-looking six inch heels begin their improbable strolls with plastic wine glasses in their manicured hands; third generation Cuban-American girls, four or five inches taller and 25 pounds lighter than their political refugee grandmothers, and slim as rifles, shoot selfies in front of the artwork and languages from all over the world comment on the art.

We almost immediately sell Dulce Pinzon's very last Superman photo. It is followed by a sale of one of DC artist Tim Vermeulen.

Sculpture by Alma Selimovic
Tim Vermeulen at Context
Outside one of the five giant tents that make up Art Miami and Context Art Miami in Wynwood

Monday, November 30, 2015

ABMB Week: Day before the VIP Opening

The key art fairs from the two dozen or so which make up Art Basel week in the Greater Miami area have theor VIP opening tomorrow... so for many galleries, including us, Monday is debarkation time and hanging time.

Thus the dance of the vans and trucks begins as parking space is sought for unloading operations; we get there early and find a Doris Day spot right across from Context Art Miami.

Soon afterwards artist Jodi Walsh shows up and she also finds a good parking spot. Jodi trekked from Texas, and with her husband Ron, will help man the booth.

A few hours later and many sheckels spent in parking fees, the booth looks like this:

Around 4PM exhaustion takes over and we all head our separate ways... during the day we've run into fellow DC area gallerists Adah Rose and Gabriella Rosso.

Back in Hollywood, the piggies get some Jacuzzi love...

Sunday, November 29, 2015

ABMB Miami - VIP Opening Night Minus two

Miami's always growing skyline... tomorrow is the van dance of trying to find a parking spot close enough to unload the van... and then installation begins...

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Art Basel Week: Big View at ABMB Day minus 3

View from the Hotel Room
(Designed to make the DMV jealous of November)

Airborne today

Heading to Miami for planet's biggest art dance... We will be at Context Art Miami for the third year in a row; this time at booth CTX63.

As usual, daily reports coming... The fairs open a day early, as the VIP receptions are on Tuesday... This will make for a very long week.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Campello heading to Miami

How do I love thee? 2015 Charcoal by F. Lennox Campello
"How Do I Love Thee?"
(Sonnets to the Portuguese)
20x16 inches, Charcoal and Conte on Paper
2015 by F. Lennox Campello

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Haze gray and underway...

As we head out to spend Thanksgiving with our families, a salute to all to men and women of our armed forces all over the world, especially those who are away from their families today, with a special shout out to all the American sailors and Marines out to sea... We've got your back.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

No more art for Blake Byrne!

A well known Democrat Los Angeles art collector has vowed to stop contributing to Democrats because they joined with Republicans in a bipartisan vote last week.

LA art collector Blake Byrne "sent an email to several Democrats Monday, including California Reps. Julia Brownley (West Lake Village), John Garamendi (Walnut Grove) and Scott Peters (San Diego), saying he is “greatly disappointed” they voted with Republicans and that he will no longer donate in any way to their campaigns."

The LA Times reports that Byrne also sent the letter to the Los Angeles Times,  Echo Lake Entertainment President Andy Spaulding, and others in the entertainment industry.

Cough... Cough...

Here's the thing: no one can dispute Blake's zeal and dogma... And I will defend his right to give his Samolians to whomever he wants to... But this "news release angle" (guaranteed to make the news, especially when the rare bipartisan vote takes place) to what most of the times is a private matter, really smells of a Hollywood dude looking to see his name in Google News... 

Good for you Blake! Next time, keep it to yourself. 

As a result of your Hollywoodesque action, and the way in which it came to my attention... I will no longer sell you any artwork for your collection!

Sorry dude - no more art for you!

Van loaded and headed to Miami

Load van with artwork - Check
Have Audrey Wilson pick up van - Check
Head South - Check

We'll be at CONTEXT Art Miami next week (booth CTX63) for the Art Basel week arts extravaganza as the visual arts world comes to the Greater Miami area.

We'll be showcasing the following DC area artists:
Also showing work by:

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

New Foundation Creates 100K Prize for Women Artists

The New Foundation, founded by Shari D. Behnke, has created a prize of $100,000 to be given every two years to "an influential, U.S.-based woman artist in honor of her exemplary artistic achievements and enduring commitment to her practice."
Read the whole article by Jen Graves here. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

DC Arts Studios Open House

DC Arts Studios (DCAS) invites the public to join them for their annual Holiday Open House on December 13, from Noon to 5pm.

Tour artists’ studios and take a peek behind the scenes into their creative process. You’ll be able to purchase original artwork and other handmade gifts directly from the artists. In addition, there will be refreshments, music, and holiday cheer throughout the building. The event is free, and fun for all ages!

Participating Artists include: JoAnn Block, Becky Borlan, Eric Celarier, Martha Crawley, Pam Eichner, Madeleine Finley, Bradley Gay, Justin Gellerson, Sue Grace, Paula Greenberg, Leslie Goldman, Marta Gutierrez, Chantel Hampton, Amanda Kates, Stana Benesova Kimball, Andrew Watson Kirk, Knock on Wood Tap Studio, The Lab Breakdance Studio, Betsy Kraft, Sara Levy, Megan Maher, Jim Maio, Sonnie Mason, Bill Mitchell, Nancy McNamara, Craig Moran,  Dominie Nash, Nikkia Redd, Nicole Salimbene, Ed Savoir, Maria Simonsson, Jared Soares, Hillary Steel, Anna Stockdale, Charlie Visconage, Jenny Walton, Sarah West, Jordann Wine, Saaraliisa Ylitalo and Ariel Zambelich.
12-5pm: Self guided studios tour and exhibition opening in the Willow Street Gallery (35 artist studios will be open!)

1-2pm: Cape Breton Dance Class at Knock on Wood Tap Studio (downstairs). Drop-ins Welcome! Class is $20 and taught by Agi Kovacs
Directions to DCAS:
6925 Willow St NW, Washington, District of Columbia 20012

Via Metro: Take the Red Line to Takoma. Walk on Carrol Avenue towards the CVS Pharmacy. Take a right onto Willow Street, we are about halfway down the block.
If driving, there is 2hr parking on Willow Street and surrounding streets. There is also a paid lot on Carroll Ave, behind Republic and the Ace Hardware
For further information, contact Managing Director, Becky Borlan, at

This event is free, open to the public, and handicapped accessible.


Saturday, November 21, 2015

Transformer Auction Tonight

Perhaps the crown jewel of the Greater Washington DC visual arts scene, and easily one of the top museum art spaces in the nation, is the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center

Under the brilliant leadership of Jack Rasmussen, who will forget more about regional DC area artists than all other DC art museum curators put together will ever learn, the museum has forged a singularly unique presence in a capital city full of museums and art centers.

Rasmussen has crafted an intelligent array of national, international and regional art exhibits that manage to cover such a wide area that AU’s Museum is hard to paint into a corner. This is not easy to do, and thus why most museum curators avoid it like the plague, and instead flood the DC art scene with either “hand me downs” exhibitions curated by other museums (like the Morris Louis exhibition a few years ago, which should have been a DC-museum based initiative), or “safe” exhibitions of second tier blue chip artists.

Yesterday I headed to the Katzen to look at the exhibitions there and to meet Ms. Carolyn Alper, an AU alumna who has established the Alper Initiative for Washington Art. 

The Alper Initiative will support the creation of a space on the museum’s first floor for display of work by DC artists and for a digital archive of Washington art. The initiative will sponsor lectures, films, and other events as well. If you are a DC area artist, you have got to visit this page and become aware of the process and sign up now!

However, once I got to the museum, I got distracted.

Another precious jewel of the area’s visual arts tapestry is Transformer, a nonprofit art space located on P Street, NW, and truly a gift to the area's visual arts scene.

For the past 12 years Transformer has been conducting a fund raising art auction, and when I arrived, a small army of professional art hangers, decked out in black T-shirts and black jeans was in the process of installing the donated artwork on the hall walls of the center, as it was the day before the auction.

The temptation was too much! Here was a chance to view and write about a show without any labels, any artists’ names, any information; the reactions would be purely triggered by the artwork.

This is somewhat futile. Since I’ve been writing about area artists for over two decades now, by now I can easily recognize many of them via their artwork.

The gorgeous drawing by Ben Tolman is one of the first things that you see when you started looking at the walls on the left, and Tolman’s magic with the black line steals this show almost right away. His obsessive attention to the minutest of details fools the eye in the sense that Tolman actually tricks your perception of what is reality by atomizing the subject into his tiny handwork to deliver exceptionally and super busy realistic drawings. 

Ben Tolman's work at the Transformer auction
Five gets you ten that his work will be one of the ones at the top of the bid scale tonight.

Any donated, fund raising art auction is a bit like a mini Artomatic: You usually see work by the area’s blue chip artists, lots of work by emerging artists who are relatively unknown, and a lot of really bad, amateurish work (in this case maybe by “well known” artists? Oh Dear! What are you doing Lenster?).

The Transformer auction was no exception.

But it is all original artwork, and the worst original work of art is always better than any reproduction. And this is auction is for a great cause.

The artists whose work I thought that I recognized (unless someone is channeling them) were Margaret Boozer (update: seems someone is indeed channeling her) as there was one of those gorgeously black and organic wall tar pieces that Boozer debuted at the old Strand on Volta Gallery in Georgetown in 2004, a super busy elegant print by Linn Myers, the usual sexy boots by Carolina Mayorga, a haunting photo by Holly Bass (one of the few good photographs in a sea of mediocre photos), a superbly elegant piece by Rania Hassan continuing her reinvention of what painting + sculpture + knitting is… Hassan has invented a whole new art genre all by herself!

Mixed media piece by Rania Hassan
I recognized Matt Sesow’s frenetic work (easily the DMV's hardest working artist), a refreshing abstract piece by Anne Marchand, Jessica van Brakle, Bridget Sue Lambert (again, standing out as one of the few strong photographic images), a superbly minimalist and elegant piece by Irene Clouthier (whose work has matured into one of the region’s coolest work), Dana Ellyn's boxing painting, and someone possibly channeling Dean Kessman (I wasn’t sure if it was DK).

Also noticeable was work by Adrienne Gaither (whom I mentored a while back), Joan Belmar's elegant abstract, and a cute piece by Akemi Maegawa’s of her very famous pet Chikkun. I suspected possible work by Dan Steinhilber: there was a couch-like sculpture on the wall, but it looked kinda like an ice cream sandwich, so maybe that was Cory Oberndorfer... there was also a flashlight with a light bulb?

There was also a possible Yuriko Yamaguchi vinyl tubey organicky sculpture on the wall. Also I possibly sighted a Robin Rose, as there was an elegant abstract piece on those honey-combed aluminum panels that Rose likes to work on.

All these works and several others for which I didn't recognize the artist (such as a striking porcelain piece with gold spiky teeth) make this auction a winner for those who will get these pieces.

Because I am a Kahlophile, I also couldn't help but notice the below Kahlophilia drawing, where the artist (have no idea who it is) has married Kahlo with Velazquez's Las Meninas (possibly the greatest painting ever produced by Western Civilization). It is an interesting work, but just as the Washington Post once described my drawings as "heavy handed," what distracts me from this otherwise unusual drawing (other than some issues with proportions) is how "light handed" it is! It is so ephemeral, that I was afraid The Infanta would disappear in front of my eyes!

Khalo, Spain's Infanta, and the Kahlodeer
When I first got there none of the videos were running, but by the time I finished walking through the exhibit for the third time, a very circa 2002 wall of TVs was playing a series of multiple videos like you used to see at the entrance of the major art fairs a few years ago.

This was a really good exercise to prove that art is in the eyes of the beholder. At the risk of possibly insulting some well-known artists, the images below are of those pieces that would even be considered at the low end of the scale, even by Artomatic free-for-all wonderful policy. Whoever was the member of the Artist Nominating Committee who recommended these guys/gals… ahhh…

I have no idea who these artists are:

This is almost straight out of Collage 101 class: busy, message-less and
so full of (possibly) inside meanings that it lost me at the tiger leaping below the stripper,

This just looks... well... unfinished - Reminds me of Rachel Dolezal's "real" work.

A huge thank you to all the artists who donated work to this superb cause! Please go to the auction and buy art!

12th Annual Transformer Silent Auction and Benefit Party
Saturday, November 21, 2015
8 – 11 pm
American University’s Katzen Arts Center

 Visit to purchase your tickets today! 
Update: Just told that tickets are sold out!!!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Manta the Robot at AOM

Manta is a robot that has been transformed into a piece of art by Liliane Blom and can be seen on the move and/or operated remotely and communicated with during Artomatic 2015 - AOM is the planet's largest group art show and it happens in the DMV!

AOM is running through Dec 12th 2015 in New Carrolton Maryland. 

The goal of this art work is to connect art show visitors on a local, national or international level with each other through the assistance of a remote controlled robot that has been modified as a piece of art. The artwork touches on questions of community - and connections created though the bridging of distance through cyberspace. 

Liliane Blom has called her piece Manta for the robot company Mantaro in Germantown, MD ( that built the robot. The robot ,"before" being transformed, consists of a wheeled base with a pipe and a tablet at the top. It was designed as a communication device for the homebound elderly and as a mobile teleconferencing device. 

Liliane created an artwork around this skeleton. She believes Manta enables conversation and creates links between people who would otherwise not connect. The controller interacts with viewers through Manta and can travel through and experience the exhibit without ever physically being present . She believes that Manta can be an interaction facilitator, helping bridge and break down the social conventions (or geographical locations) that keep people from interacting. She believes people will react positively to this colorful, humanoid art piece that talks - operated by a real live person.... somewhere. 

On her fist foray Manta was operated from Norway as well as locally and was a big hit with visitors. 

How to Drive Manta:
To operate Manta remotely Liliane Blom needs to be contacted in advance so she can help the operator log on to the software and access Skype. 

Technical Information:
Manta is a papier mache and plaster sculpture built around a pvc pipe threaded around the conduit pipe connecting her tablet head with the base. The head communicates and sees the world through the help of Skype and the base is controlled separately through a proprietary software. The base has been altered with "training" wheels to keep her more stable. 

To see videos of Manta on her maiden voyage:

For more info contact:
Liliane Blom
TabulaRasa Art Studios Phone: (301)518-5312