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

Monday, November 16, 2015

Nudes and Porn

As you might have heard, a famous nude painting by Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani sold for $170 million at Christie's auction. Some people guffawed at the price tag attached to an early 20th century artwork, others just blushed at the naked female body contained within Modigliani's frame.

Take, for example, Bloomberg news. During a broadcast segment on Tuesday, Bloomberg censored the painting, blurring the areas of the painting depicting breasts and pubic hair. "Too racy!" the anchors exclaimed, a little embarrassed by the painterly brazenness of "Reclining Nude." 
The whole world seems to have discovered the goal of my 1996-1997 exhibition at the Fraser Gallery which focused on nude portrait of porn actresses and the then new phenomenon of online porn celebrities.

My question was essentially the same as Colbert's: If this woman shows a nude image of herself on the Internet, it's porn, but if I do a nude drawing of her, then it's art.

The opening was packed (many of the ladies attended the opening reception), and even the prudish Washington Post covered it (read the review here). 

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Friday, November 13, 2015

AOM: Meet the Artists Tomorrow!

This Saturday, November 14th, is ARTISTS NIGHT at Artomatic. Meet face to face with the talented people who make Artomatic shine.
Artomatic 2015 - the planet's largest open art show is happening! It is running from October 30th - December 12th at 8100 Corporate Drive, Hyattsville MD right by the New Carrollton Metro Station. 
Anyone can participate in Artomatic - there are no criteria to register, and space is allocated on a first come, first served basis. Artomatic routinely attracts more than 70,000 visitors to see work by more than 700 artists, and more than 300 performances. Their presenting partner, the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) Department of Parks and Recreation, is hosting Artomatic in a 90,000 sq ft building in Prince George's County. 
For more information please visit 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Heading to Miami next month!

"Supergirl Flying Naked"
Charcoal on Paper, 2015
10x36 inches by F. Lennox Campello

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

To all my fellow veterans...

Thank you!

U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class David Danals
To all US veterans, both those who have served and those who are serving in all corners of the planet while we're home with our families. A well-deserved thank you to all the soldiers, sailors, airmen/women, Marines and Coasties.

Below is Petty Officer Third Class Lenny Campello back in 1975 while stationed aboard USS Saratoga (CV-60) in Mayport, Florida.

Lenny Campello, USN
And then Lieutenant Commander Lenny Campello back in 1992 while assigned as the Executive Officer (XO) of NSGA Skaggs Island, California.

LCDR Lenny Campello, USN

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

An old friend makes an apperance in the UK

Below is "Marilyn Monroe Sees Her Last Visitor." This original charcoal drawing was done in 1999 and exhibited and sold on opening night at DC's Fraser Gallery during my December 1999 solo show there.

It was recently purchased at auction in London and now lives in the UK.

"Marylin Monroe Sees Her Last Visitor" 1999 Charcoal on Paper by F. Lennox Campello
"Marylin Monroe Sees Her Last Visitor"
1999 Charcoal on Paper by F. Lennox Campello

Monday, November 09, 2015

Curious Case of a Picasso and a Koch

A Picasso picture of a cabaret artist, which carries a second painting on the reverse, sold for $67.45 million in New York Thursday, scoring a windfall for American billionaire Bill Koch. 
Mr Koch, who is ranked 307 on the Forbes 400 richlist has a net worth of around $2.1 billion.  
The sale was the top lot of the season so far, proving a savvy investment for the Republican party donor who paid just $3 million for the canvas in 1984 and later discovered he got two for the price of one with a second painting on the reverse. 
Sotheby's had valued the canvas, 'La Gommeuse,' at $60 million. It was painted in Paris in 1901 when the artist was just 19 years old and grieving the suicide of a close friend.
But read about the secret in this painting that made it even more valuable! Click here. 

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Which one is which?

My daughter and her evil twin...
Elise Lenna Campello Strasser

Friday, November 06, 2015

MoCo 43rd Annual Faculty Exhibition

Montgomery College’s Department of Visual and Performing Arts has their 43rd Annual Faculty Exhibition coming up!

The exhibit opens December 3 at the King Street Gallery, with a reception from 6–8 p.m. This exhibition features artwork by notable emerging and established DC artists and at 43, in gallery/art years, that's like 200!

The prolific faculty and staff of Montgomery College’s Visual and Performing Arts department exhibit recent work in this annual exhibition. The show includes notable DMV area artists J. J. McCracken, Jake Muirhead, Renee Lachman, Jeremy Flick, Ellington Robinson, and Jenny Walton, among others.

McCracken and Walton are two of my fave DMV artists... but will definitely check out the others...
Representing varied interests and backgrounds, the College's faculty exhibits paintings, prints, photography, sculpture, and more. The 43rd Annual Faculty Exhibition includes pieces previously exhibited nationally, and never-before-seen artwork. 

The 43rd Annual Faculty Exhibition runs December 3– February 7 at the King Street Gallery. A reception will be held Thursday, December 3 from 6–8 p.m. 

The event is located at the Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation Arts Center. For more information, visit

Free and open to the public.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Ready for SOFA

Alida Anderson Art Projects, LLC booth at SOFA Chicago 2015
Alida Anderson Art Projects, LLC booth at SOFA Chicago 2015

Washington, D.C., Artists on Display

Joseph White: Paintings and Watercolors 1963-2008 is a retrospective showcasing the diversity of Joseph White’s work, including large-scale representational paintings, works on paper and his current paintings based on his post-it drawings.

Beverly Ress: The World is a Narrow Bridge features an exhibit of representational colored pencil drawings cut into, folded, and manipulated, so that they sometimes have a sculptural quality. The exhibit pairs with another drawing exhibit, Micheline Klagsbrun: FREE FALL FLOW, featuring the artist’s most recent body of work, ranging from ink and pencil drawings on vellum of various scale to large canvases and three-dimensional wall hangings and sculptural forms.

Two Designers and Their Art: Michael Graham and Marc Pekala. The artists, trained as graphic designers, have taken their visual training in applied art and used it as the foundation of their personal artistic explorations. The exhibit consists of drawings, paintings, collage and digital prints.

The American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Admission is free. For more information, call 202-885-1300 or look on the Web at Follow the museum on Facebook (, on Twitter (@AUMuseum_Katzen), or on Instagram (AUMuseum_katzen).

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Studio available in Bethesda

Available Artist Studio Space in Bethesda Arts & Entertainment District
  • Studio is 215 sq. feet. & can be shared by two artists
  • Rent is $405 per month, inclusive of all utilities.
  • Artists are required to be in the space during retail hours of Wed. - Sat., 12-6pm and during the monthly Bethesda Art Walk.
  • Artist has 24/7 access to Studio B and their personal studio space.
  • Artist may sell artwork and there is no commission taken on artist sales.
Members of the Bethesda Arts & Entertainment District and arts professionals will review the applications and select the Studio B artist. If necessary, an interview may be requested. Applicants will be notified about whether their applications have been selected. Bethesda Urban Partnership will perform credit and criminal background checks and execute leases with the tenants. Once maximum occupancy is reached, applicants will be placed on a waiting list until a studio becomes available.


Complete this application and submit the following:
  • Curriculum Vitae (CV)
  • Artwork Samples
  • Proof of Income
  • Proof of Identity
  • $30 fee per applicant for credit and criminal background checks
QUESTIONS or want to make an appointment to see the space? Please email

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Personal Patterns

11.5.15   4-5 p.m.
Moderated by Claudia Rousseau, curator

featuring: Susan Goldman, Joan Belmar, Amber Robles-Gordon, Jessica Beels, Helen Frederick, and Ellyn Weiss

Cafritz Foundation Arts Center / Lecture Hall 101

Monday, November 02, 2015

Opportunities for Artists

Artists wishing to be considered for an exhibit in the Howard County Arts Council (HCAC) galleries are invited to submit a general exhibit application. The HCAC Exhibits Committee meets quarterly to review applications and select artists for the exhibit space. Artists, ages 18 and older, working in all media and styles including time-based and installation artists, are encouraged to apply either individually or as a group. The Committee also welcomes proposals from curators and organizations.
Detailed entry guidelines are available on the ‘Exhibits’ page of the HCAC website, for pick-up at the Howard County Center for the Arts, or by mail by calling 410-313-2787 or emailing The next deadline for submissions is Friday, January 1, 2016.
HCAC manages two galleries at the Howard County Center for the Arts with over 2100 square feet of exhibit space. The HCAC gallery program was established to enhance the public’s appreciation of the visual arts, provide a venue to exhibit the work of local, regional, and national artists in a professional space, and provide leadership in the arts by presenting a broad spectrum of arts in all media from both emerging and established artists.
HCAC presents 11-12 exhibits per year of national, regional, and local artists, including two-person, small and large group, juried, curated, and community shows.
Gallery hours are Monday through Friday 10AM - 8PM, Saturday 10AM - 4PM, and Sunday 12 - 4PM.  To learn more about HCAC programs and exhibits, call 410-313-ARTS (2787) or visit  

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Heading to Chiraq

Van loaded - Check
Audrey Wilson at the wheel - Check
Enroute Chiraq for SOFA - Check

We'll be featuring work by Dulce Pinzon, Simon Monk, Audrey Wilson, Laurel Lukaszewski, Alma Selimovic, Elissa Farrow-Savos and the Lenster.

The SOFA CHICAGO 2015 Opening Night Preview takes place on Thursday, November 5 from 5-9 pm.  The by-invitation only VIP Preview is from 5-7 pm. The Public Preview begins at 7 pm and tickets are $50/person. Tickets are available online or at the door.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Looted sculpture returned

A bust of the goddess Diana looted from the Royal Lazienki Palace in Warsaw by the Nazis has been returned to the Polish government following an amicable resolution with the current possessor who had consigned the work for sale at a Viennese auction house.

From the late 18th century, Jean-Antoine Houdon’s ‘Bust of the Goddess Diana’ was displayed in the collection of King Stanislaw August at the Royal Lazienki Palace.  In 1940, under Nazi occupation, the Houdon sculpture and 56 paintings from the National Museum in Warsaw were packed and transported to Krakow, the headquarters of the General Governor, Hans Frank.

The location of the Houdon bust remained a mystery until it was identified by the Polish Ministry of Culture whith help of the National Museum in Warsaw when it was offered for sale at Im Kinsky auction house in Vienna. The Polish Ministry of Culture contacted Art Recovery Group who, acting on a pro-bono basis, worked together to encourage the co-operation of the auction house and the consigner in ensuring the restitution of the Houdon bust.

Utilising their extensive international network, Christopher Marinello, CEO of Art Recovery Group, also recruited a former adversary, Hannes Hartung, Managing Partner at Themis Partners and the erstwhile representative of the late Cornelius Gurlitt, and his colleague Andreas Cwitkovits, to provide assistance at a local level.

With priceless diplomatic support offered by the Polish Ambassador to Austria, Artur Lorkowski, an amicable resolution between the consignor and the Polish government was reached. The Houdon bust will now be returned to the Polish government ahead of a formal restitution ceremony at the Royal Lazienki Palace next month.

There are still many works of art that as a result of Nazi plundering stays in Austria. The Polish government persists in it’s efforts to find and recovery all of them:


    “There are still a lot of Nazi-looted works of art in private hands in Austria but an unfortunate reluctance to recognise legitimate claims continues to obstruct restitution efforts. In this instance the commendable actions of the possessor have set an admirable example and we are very pleased that Diana is going home.

    “Countless objects looted by the Nazis remain unaccounted for and we encourage the art market to exercise greater diligence in establishing the true provenance of works bought and sold. Passing these problems on to the next generation is not the answer, they need to be resolved now.”

Friday, October 30, 2015

Renwick Gallery Reopens Nov. 13

The Renwick Gallery, home to the Smithsonian American Art Museum's craft and decorative arts program, will re-open to the public Friday, Nov. 13, following a comprehensive two-year renovation. The museum reopens with a refreshed interior aesthetic, restored and newly visible historic features and infrastructural upgrades that preserve the unique historic character of the National Historic Landmark building while updating it for the 21st century.
The opening exhibition, "WONDER," features site-specific, gallery-sized installations by nine major contemporary artists, including Maya Lin, Leo Villareal and Janet Echelman. These larger-than-life installations feature surprising materials worked in transformative ways--looming spires constructed from hundreds of thousands of index cards, intricately patterned "wallpaper" made of brightly colored insects and a massive hemlock tree recreated in countless tiny wooden blocks are among the works that explore the future of craft and transform the Renwick itself into an immersive work of art.

Thursday, October 29, 2015


Have you ever went over a friend's house to eat
And the food just ain't no good
 I mean the macaroni's soggy the peas are mushed
 And the chicken tastes like wood
 So you try to play it off like you think you can
 By saying that you're full
 And then your friend says "momma he's just being polite
He ain't finished uh-uh that's bull"
 So your heart starts pumping and you think of a lie
 And you say that you already ate
And your friend says "man there's plenty of food"
 So you pile some more on your plate
   - Sugarhill Gang

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

For tomorrow: 30th Annual Mayor's Arts Awards

Mayor Muriel Bowser and the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities (DCCAH) have announced the special honorees and finalists of the 30th Annual Mayor's Arts Awards.  The awards represent the highest honor conferred by the District of Columbia in recognition of artistic excellence and service. 
"Washington, DC continues to be a national arts leader with a thriving creative economy," said Mayor Bowser. "It is my pleasure to honor individuals and organizations that contribute so much to our culturally rich neighborhoods and vibrant arts community."
An award ceremony will take place on Thursday, October 29, 2015, 7 p.m. at the Historic Lincoln Theatre at 1215 U Street, NW.  Citizen Cope and Motown artist Kevin Ross will also perform. This is always a GREAT party and great entertainment!
The finalists for the 30th Annual Mayor's Arts Awards include:
Excellence in an Artistic Discipline
●       Joy Ford Austin
●       Coyaba Dance Theater
●       The National Hand Dance Association
●       Pan American Symphony Orchestra
●       Split This Rock
●       Renée Stout (She better win or someone is getting their butt kicked!)
Excellence in Service to the Arts
●       BloomBars
●       DC Arts and Humanities Education Collaborative
●       Washington, DC Film Festival
●       Women in Film & Video
Innovation in the Arts
●       826DC
●       The Embassy Series
●       Southeast Boy Productions
●       Washington Performing Arts Society
Outstanding Contribution to Arts Education
●       Inner City - Inner Child
●       The Lab School of Washington
●       Washington Performing Arts Society
●       Young Playwrights' Theater
Outstanding Emerging Artist
●       Jay Coleman
●       Company E, Inc.
●       Adam Davies
●       Robert Person
Excellence in Arts Teaching
●       Lauren Bomba (Maury Elementary School)
●       Carmen Jenkins Frazier (School Without Walls)
●       Terry Thomas (Seaton Elementary School)
In addition to awardees, special recognition will be given to several individuals and organizations for their outstanding support of arts, humanities, entertainment and creative industries. These individuals include:
  • Molly Smith, Artistic Director, Arena Stage - Impact on Culture and Humanities 
  • Peggy Cooper Cafritz, Arts Advocate - Lifetime Achievement 
  • Dr. Sachiko Kuno & Dr. Ryuji Ueno, S&R Foundation - Visionary Leadership 
  • Dolores Kendrick, Poet Laureate of Washington, DC - Special Recognition 
  • Street Sense, publication - Humanitarian Highlight

The ceremony will be open to the public.  For more information, visit,

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

State of Art/DC: A Conversation

Registration is now open for the November 16 panel conversation – State of Art/DC: A Conversation. 
Be part of the discussion about the future of art in this region! Join visual art professionals, artists and passionate art advocates in an envisioning of the future of DC region’s art scene.  The evening’s program is presented by ArtTable at the National Museum of Women in the Arts on Monday, November 16th – 5:30 to 8:30 pm. 

Monday, October 26, 2015

Opportunity for Artists

What is your paradise? Brooklyn's Ugly Art Room has moved to Oregon and for its first show is seeking postcard size ("4x6") artworks for an exhibition on 11/19/15 in Corvallis, Oregon titled "Paradise." ENTRY IS FREE & ALL WORKS ARE ACCEPTED See link for all participation details.


Saturday, October 24, 2015

Sunday School

Me: What did you learn in Sunday School today?

Anderson: All about David and Goliath.

Me: Tell me about it.

Anderson: Well... you see.. the Hebrews and the Philippines were at war...

Here comes ABMB

Over the 12 years that this blog has been active, I've discussed many times the experiences of doing an art fair - starting with my first one with the former Fraser Gallery about a decade ago, when "artfairing" was all fresh and new.

Soon we'll be heading to SOFA Chicago, as that formerly 3-D only art fair opens its walls to 2-D work. Right after that we'll head South to Miami for Context Art Miami for our yearly dance at ABMB.

Art Basel Miami Beach takes place December 3-6, 2015, although ABMB itself has become such a magnet for art symbiots of all kinds that the primus inter pares fair now encompasses more than 200 leading art galleries from North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia and Africa which will exhibit artworks by over 2,000 artists at the "real" ABMB.

And as I've noted a million times before here are now well over two dozen satellite art fairs all revolving around ABMB, and quite a few DC area art galleries and private dealers will be represented in several of these fairs.

It's been a long time since the now defused Fusebox Gallery became the first DC area art gallery to venture to the Miami area in 2003; as I recall to show Fusebox artists at The Art Positions section -- those air-conditioned shipping containers right on the beach that sometimes had disastrous encounters with the beach and the ocean.

The more I talk art fairs to gallerists and art dealers the more that it makes sense why a good gallery should do at least 3-4 art fairs a year. Many Mid Atlantic area gallerists note that they could not exist if it wasn't for the art fairs.

"About 75% of my yearly sales now come from the three art fairs that I do each year," related to me an Old City Philly gallerist. "Next year I am going to apply to double that number."

I hear a similar story from DC area gallerists, some of which are now even exploring art fairs in Europe and Latin America, as the sales continue to climb more and more at the fairs, and the appetite for the European Euro is discovered.

Galleries such as Connersmith, Morton Fine Art, Adah Rose and others all work very hard and do fairs all over -  the fact that they keep coming back to fairs is indicative of the success of their attendance to the fair; it costs a truckload of money to do an art fair... in other words, since most art galleries are run on a very tight budget, if you blow a couple of fairs in a row, you may be out of business, or worse, forever disinclined to do another fair (instead of re-examining the gallery's approach to the art fair, as art fairs are not "art shows" in the sense that a gallery puts a show in their spaces).

This is a bitter lesson that many DC galleries have also learned... the ones which used to do art fairs, but no longer do them.

Moral of the story: If you are a gallerist, you owe it to your gallery and to your artists to start thinking of a smart exhibition program approach to the art fair and applying to the high quality art fairs - not the bad ones.... therein lays the key.

This doesn't mean that the "new" art model is just art fairs; far from it. There are such models, and several private art dealers do great in getting into art fairs and selling loads of work.

But they do not contribute to their city's cultural life. And that's OK... a city's cultural tapestry has many members and parts, including private art dealers.

However, an art gallery, a good art gallery anyway, is not just an art store, but an integral and key part of the cultural tapestry of a city. As my good friend John Pancake (former Arts Editor of the WaPo when the WaPo had Arts Editors) once told me, "a heroic venture."

And so the true and valid model for a good and reputable art gallery seems to be a mixture of a brick and mortar establishment (or in the new paradigm: a former brick and mortar gallery which has closed shop and is now just an online venture that does art fairs), a substantial and organized and updated web and digital presence, and a healthy assortment of art fairs.

Gallerists: Start applying now for 2016 - Alas many 2016 deadlines have already passed! Or stop complaining about being unable to sell artwork in your local market.

Friday, October 23, 2015

New Arrivals 2015 at the University of Maryland Stamp Gallery

Eric Hope has an excellent review of UMD's long-running and most excellent student-curated acquisition program; read it here.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

For TBT: Masters and Pretenders at the Nation's Capital (from 1990s)

For Throw Back Thursday - Below review was originally published in the early 1990s in Dimensions magazine and the El Eco newspaper chain - it still lives online here.
The summer art season is well underway in Washington - Ranging from American master James McNeil Whistler to Dutch artist Piet Mondrian, a wide variety of exhibits will be on display through most of the summer in and around the Mall, and are sure to satisfy, bore and entertain art lovers and visitors alike.
Artists who dabble in many media and subjects (with the notable exception of Picasso) are often viciously dubbed as "jack of all trades and masters of none." Piet Mondrian (1872-1944) can justifiably be called a "jack of one trade and master of that one trade." Simply put, Mondrian was little more than a graphic designer who simply re-arranged black lines and color rectangles over and over. 
In the end, he contributed hugely to modern design, and probably made the biggest impact of any 20th century artist upon daily common items. His images have become familiar in dresses, book covers, refrigerator doors, wallpapers, tiles and even bed sheets to name a few. 
Per two of the guards at the National Gallery, the show has so far been received mildly by the public (it was generally ignored by Dutch crowds in its debut showing in The Hague). 
The Hirshhorn Museum is showing the work of Irish-American artist Sean Scully; this exhibit is a good follow on to the Mondrian exhibit; try to see them both in the same day. Scully is one of the most successful painters of his generation (he maintains studios in New York, London and Barcelona) and is a direct product of the award machinations of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). 
Spanish master Salvador Dali once said that if "you can't paint well, then paint big," and this appears to be a maxim to Scully's works at the Hirshhorn, a series of 62 gargantuan paintings on display as a 20-year retrospective. Strangely reminiscent of giant quilts and jigsaw puzzles, the paintings sometimes baffle the honest viewer. The 15 by 19 foot "Angelo" (1994), which is representative of Scully's recent works, was compared to a giant Rubik's cube by an visitor while I was looking at the painting; I agreed. 
Alfred Stieglitz, one of the great masters of photography is on exhibit at the Corcoran Gallery. Perhaps the first superstar photographer of the 20th century, Stieglitz introduced unique portraits of Georgia O'Keefe and Pablo Picasso which have become art history icons. He is credited with being the catalyst which brought photography into the realm of fine art. 87 of his pieces on exhibit at the Corcoran are ample evidence of the well-deserved title of "fine art" when dealing with his works. This is a magnificent show from a remarkable man and tremendously important artist; it should not be missed! 
In a jump from the sublime to the mundane, the National Gallery's "Arshile Gorky: The Breakthrough Years," delivers four rooms full of work by the man anointed by Andre Breton, the high priest of surrealism, as the "last of the surrealists." 
Armenian born Gorky was fond of saying that the "origin of his work was in Armenia." A stroll through the exhibit quickly brings to mind the question that perhaps the origin of his works may be in the art of Spaniards Picasso and Miro, and even the work of the father of abstraction, the Russian Wassily Kandinsky. 
A tormented artist, Gorky struggled to find a place while being overly influenced by the true giants of his generation; he died at the early age of 44 in 1948. Had he been living today, I suspect he would be painting in the style of Scully or some such other modern "master" who happens to be "in." 
Finally, the work of (and portraits of) one of the better known masters, American James Abbott McNeill Whistler will be on exhibit both at the National Gallery of Art and the National Portrait Gallery. Critics once denigrated his works as "decorative" and "formalized;" they were wrong. No review is needed of the great work of this true master, a modern 19th century Velazquez - Don't miss this show!


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Coming up: Open Studio Weekend - A Festival of the Arts

November 7th-8th, 2015 Washington ArtWorks, Montgomery County’s largest visual arts facility, opens its expansive 30,000 square foot visual arts center in Montgomery County to the public for its bi-annual Open Studio Weekend: A Festival of the Arts filled with art, shopping, film screenings, food trucks, live music, and more! 

Over 70 artists occupy studios at Washington ArtWorks where creativity abounds for artists working in sculpture, painting, glass, fibers, jewelry, photography, and more. Each artist not only creates works of art, but also runs their own business from their studios where visitors shop, watch demonstrations, and network with some of Montgomery County’s finest artists. 

During Open Studio Weekend: A Festival of the Arts, food trucks, Holy Crepes, Balkanik Taste, and Curley Q’s BBQ will fill Washington ArtWorks’ free, large parking lot with smells of sweets and savory treats while local bands play live music. 

Films by video artists from Rockville to the Philippines will be screened throughout both days while recycle and reuse sculpture competitions allow adults and children to get creative with found objects and art. 

“This festival is going to be the largest that Washington ArtWorks has seen to date. With 70 artists working across a variety of mediums, delicious food trucks, great, live music, films from across the globe, and art-themed games, Open Studio Weekend: A Festival of the Arts at Washington ArtWorks is going to be an event no one will want to miss” says President and CEO, Missy Loewe.

Open Studio Weekend: A Festival of the Arts will be held from 12:00pm – 5:00pm both Saturday and Sunday, November 7th and 8th. Conveniently located at 12276 Wilkins Ave., Rockville, MD 20852, the arts center offers free parking and easy access from Twinbrook Metro Station.

Washington ArtWorks at 12276 Wilkins Avenue in the Twinbrook area of Rockville, Md, offers workshops, exhibits, and outreach programs to serve the visual arts community and the public in the National Capital Region. Additionally, the organization created “ArtWorks Aid”, to provide charitable services to members and causes of their community.  Please contact Natanya Khashan at 301-654-1998 or for more information. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Opportunities for artists

The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation Arts Center 2016–2017 EXHIBITION SERIES | Time: Entropy and Change
The concept of entropy is often defined as nature’s tendency to move from order to disorder. Other ideas associated with entropy are: a lack of predictability, change in condition or appearance and gradual decline over time into disintegration or dissolution. In nature, this phenomenon is seen in the slow degradation of elements such as stone or wood, or in a myriad of other possibilities. Time is the key to both entropy and change, whether in nature or in human lives.We invite artists to propose an individual or group exhibit that expresses or relates to these intertwined concepts.  
The Department of Visual and Performing Arts is calling for exhibition proposals for the Open Gallery in The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation Arts Center that address the theme, “Time: Entropy and  Change”. Four exhibitions will be scheduled for the 2016–2017 academic year. 
Application Process
Eligibility: Applicants must be at least 21 years of age. Current Montgomery College students are not eligible to submit proposals.
Eligible works: The Open Gallery is primarily linear wall space that can accommodate two-dimensional works up to 54” tall. Freestanding, pedestal, and wall hung three-dimensional works up to 75lbs. will also be considered. Video and digital works that can be displayed on monitors will be considered. Video projections are not eligible. A floor plan of the gallery is available on our web site, 
Deadlines: All proposals must be received by April 8, 2016 to be considered. Applicants will be notified by June 1. 
Submission: Mail or deliver all proposal materials in one envelope to:
Claudia Rousseau, Exhibitions
Committee Montgomery College, TP/
SS Campus7600 Takoma Avenue,
CF-128 Takoma Park, MD 20912 
Application materials can be obtained here.

Monday, October 19, 2015

DC Alley Museum

The DMV is now becoming known for fresh (non-historic) public art and vibrant mural painting done by our living artists. A coalition of painters from the region have come together and created the DC ALLEY MUSEUM in BLAGDEN ALLEY – opening 24/7 on Friday OCTOBER 30TH in downtown WASHINGTON DC.

Just a few blocks from the now trendy Blagden Alley, there once was a Museum of Temporary Arts, a d.c. space, a Washington Project for the Arts, and in the Shaw neighborhood alley, there were spaces known as The Fight Club, The Warehouse, and Signal 66, not to mention dozens of artists and production businesses like City Lights and Eco Media, all in venues created by artists for the presentation of their work.

The DC ALLEY MUSEUM builds on this tradition in a fresh way while celebrating the temporary nature of outdoor artworks and life. Beginning in 2015 a series of works were commissioned by artists with a history in the Shaw neighborhood and the alley -- BILL WARRELL, LISA MARIE THALHAMMER, ROZEAL BROWN, ANIEKAN UDOFIA, CITA SADELI CHELOVE.

They have created a stunning display of new works painted directly on the garage doors of several buildings. In the coming year more artists will be commissioned from across the city to fill more blank garage doors and walls. The museum will expand to include video documentation of the multi-year project, connecting new generations of artists with some of our city’s “old masters.”

Murals get the artwork of painters out into the public sphere in a uniquely bold and playful way, a great way to educate the public about local artists living and working in their community. Imagine a Museum that features DC artists open 24/7 without restrictions (no hours, no guards, cameras encouraged); welcoming the entire city to stroll or drive through, stop in the LA COLOMBE coffee shop and pick up your postcard/map of the DC ALLEY MUSEUM and join in the art, music and celebration.

This wonderfully serious artwork is made possible with a grant from the D.C. COMMISSION ON THE ARTS AND HUMANITIES • PUBLIC ART BUILDING COMMUNITY PROGRAM and the BLAGDEN ALLEY NEIGHBORS that supply the canvas for some of DCs finest artists.

OR Contact: Lisa Thalhammer or Bill

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The tale of "A Regatta on the Grand Canal"

A lengthy dispute over a Venetian regatta scene by Vincenzo Chilone, confiscated from a Jewish family in Nice in 1943, has been resolved by Art Recovery Group.

Following the German invasion of France in 1940, the collaborating government established at Vichy adopted many of the Nazis’ anti-Semitic policies, including the systematic confiscation of Jewish property. Among the first art collections in southern France subjected to seizure and forced sale was the extensive collection belonging to John Jaffé, a prominent textile merchant, and his wife Anna.

The Jaffé Collection was considered one of the finest privately-owned art collections in France and comprised works by Goya, Fragonard, Rembrandt, John Constable and JMW Turner. Following the death of Anna Jaffé in 1942, the collection, bequeathed to her niece and three nephews, was promptly seized by pro-Nazi French authorities. Encouraged by Karl Haberstock, a prominent Nazi art dealer, the entire Jaffé Collection, totalling over 200 works of art and property, was deposited at the Hotel du Savoy, Nice, in June 1943 and scattered through a forced sale.

Among them was ‘A Regatta on the Grand Canal’ by Vincenzo Chilone (1758-1839), a small Venetian festival scene valued today at £60,000 ($90,000/€80,000). At the time, the painting was attributed to Bernardo Bellotto, a pupil and close follower of Canaletto’s.

In private hands ever since, ‘A Regatta on the Grand Canal’ last appeared on the open market in 1985 at Sotheby’s, London, and was purchased in good faith by an Italian collector unaware of the work’s history. On notification of the historic claim attached to the Chilone, the collector contacted Art Recovery Group to oversee the restitution process and to organise a just and fair resolution with the Jaffé heirs.

Art Recovery Group reached out to Alain Monteagle, great-nephew of Anna Jaffé and representative of the 11 living claimants to the family’s spoliated collection, and an amicable resolution was agreed shortly thereafter.

Commenting on his family’s restitution efforts, Alain Monteagle, said:

"I’m often asked why we continue to look for looted works of art so long after the end of the war. Firstly, giving up would mean that Hitler and his accomplices have won in one of their aims. The Nazis tried to destroy an entire civilisation, a cultural treasure of mankind, but looking for these looted works helps us to understand our past and the lives of our families some of which have been lost forever.

"But more importantly, if we do nothing then what deterrent does that give for the art looters in many places in the world today? Why would they stop? Or even museums or dealers - why would they care that there are still blood stains on the paintings they buy?"

Christopher A. Marinello, CEO of Art Recovery Group, added:

“We are very pleased that the Jaffé heirs can have closure on a dispute spanning seven decades and we hope that this resolution will encourage the art trade to be more receptive in its recognition of Nazi-era claims. Resolutions like these are only made possible when information about historic losses is shared, so we encourage all claimants to register looted objects at no cost on the ArtClaim Database.”

Pursuant to the terms of a confidential settlement agreement, ‘A Regatta on the Grand Canal’ will be auctioned at Christie's in an upcoming sale.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Sam Gilliam Finally Takes Off

From Bloomberg:
In the late 1960s, the American artist Sam Gilliam started to make “drape paintings,” wherein he would cover canvases with paint and hang them from the wall without stretchers. The paintings became sculpture, and the paint itself—acrylic pigment mixed with resin—a type of construction material.
 Much like the output of his contemporaries (Gilliam came a few years after Morris Louis, Helen Frankenthaler, and Kenneth Noland), his work falls in the Color Field genre of painting, an abstract, postwar movement that turned canvases into flat picture planes. But unlike those same contemporaries, Gilliam has been almost entirely neglected by the art market until fairly recently. This April, his work achieved its highest auction result ever, when a 1969 painting with a high estimate of $60,000 sold for $197,000 at Swann Auctions in New York. In contrast, Frankenthaler’s auction record is $2.8 million; Noland’s auction record is $2.1 million; and Louis’s is just under $3 million, or approximately 1,400 percent more than Gilliam's best.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Last Call for AOM!

From the AOM folks:
Artomatic 2015 is ON and there are just a few spots left for YOU to show YOUR art or performance skillz!  Never exhibited before? We want you to join us!!  Seasoned artist?  Don't hesitate any longer!  Did you know you can SELL your ART at Artomatic?  Sign up and join the party!

Anyone can participate in Artomatic - there are no criteria to register, and space is allocated on a first come, first served basis. TIME IS TIGHT AND WE WANT YOU!

Artomatic routinely attracts more than 70,000 visitors to see work by more than 700 artists, and more than 300 performances. The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) Department of Parks and Recreation is hosting Artomatic in a 90,000 sq ft building in Prince George's County. 

October 30th - December 12th 
8100 Corporate Drive, Hyattsville MD 
right by the New Carrollton Metro Station
REGISTER NOW through the link below so you can start planning your exhibit.  For only $125, your artwork/installation will be on display for 6 weeks, 7 weekends by thousands of visitors.   Sale terms are between you and the buyer.  It doesn't get better than this!  

For more information or to volunteer and help us put on this huge show please visit Should you have additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at  

We look forward to having you with us at Artomatic 2015! 
LAST CHANCE - Register today!!