Friday, April 15, 2016

Opportunity for Artists

Deadline: May 31, 2016.

Face Value: Rutgers University - A portrait is a likeness of an individual which may be portrayed through painting, sculpture, photography or drawing. The image will usually consist of the face and sometimes other aspects of the sitter’s physical presence which reflect the stature, character and/or temperament of the individual. This group exhibition will draw on contemporary portraits to explore notions of ‘value’ which are embedded in the tradition of portraiture. In this age of social media the ubiquitous ‘selfie’ has democratized the portraiture process; any and every one can create a picture of a person. So what then does it mean for an artist to create a portrait? What are the motivations behind the work? What values, messages and meanings can be communicated through the portraiture process?

Please see website for complete details:

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Fine Lines Paint Jam

On April 30th from 12-7pm at 514 Rhode Island Ave NE, a 900 ft. long wall will be turned into a canvas divided between 100 artists from around the country. The painting will take place amid a backdrop of live music, free arts tutorials, art galleries, a bunch of other local arts organizations, food trucks, arts exhibitions, and a photo competition with a prize of $500.

Admission is free.

They're essentially turning an empty lot into a free playground for the arts and they’re welcoming other arts orgs, cuultural orgs, and vendors ranging from SpacyCloud and RedBull just to name a few.

More details later.

The Argument

For TBT... I was 14 or 15 when I did this piece...

These two women lived together in my neighborhood in Brooklyn; they were Roma people and thus we were always told to stay away from them by all the neighborhood mothers - of course, we did the opposite and they were my friends, and always seemed very mysterious to me as a teen.

They had no furniture in their apartment, slept in mattresses on the floor, always seemed to have a million people passing through, etc.

I did this piece from memory after dropping by one day and found them yelling at each other in their language... the naked one used to actually walk around the place nude in the summer (ahhh! the 70s), which was one of the main reason I used to hang around there... cough, cough

The Argument  c. 1970-1971, ink on paper, 16x20 inches  By F. Lennox Campello
The Argument
c. 1970-1971, ink on paper, 16x20 inches
By F. Lennox Campello

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

USS Kitty Hawk "Big Wave"

This is why is takes a special kind of backbone to make an American sailor (and a metal lady of the sea)... And what's that helo doing there?

Does anyone know where the love of God goes. When the waves turn the minutes to hours… –Gordon Lightfoot, “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" 

This Saturday: Meet the Artists' Closing Reception!

Show Dates: March 11 - April 23, 2016 

MEET THE ARTISTS CLOSING RECEPTION: Saturday, April 16, 2:00-6:00 pm
At 1429 Iris Street NW, Washington, DC 20012

ZENITH GALLERY Hours: Wednesday-Saturday, Noon-6 PM 

Featuring: Kim Abraham, Jan Paul Acton, Doba Afolabi, Mason Archie, David Bacharach, Andrea Barnes,  Bert Beirne, Harmon Biddle, Francesca Britton,  Lenny Campello, Katie Dell-Kaufman, Renee duRocher, Elissa Farrow-Savos, Patty Porter Firestone, Richard Fitzhugh, Robert Freeman, Carol Gellner-Levin, Cassandra Gillens, Julie and Ken Girardini, Margery Goldberg, Stephen Hansen, Len Harris, Chris Hayman, Philip Hazard, Tony Henson, Frank Holmes, David Hubbard, David Jackson, Hubert Jackson, Robert Jackson, Peter Kephart, Gloria Kirk, Joan Konkel, Michael Madzo, Chris Malone, Paul Martin Wolff, Donna McCullough, Hadrian Mendoza, Davis Morton, Reuben Neugass, Carol Newmyer, Tom Noll, Keith Norval, Katharine Owens, Emily Piccirillo, Alison Sigethy, Gavin Sewell, Sica, Ellen Sinel, Bradley Stevens, Charles Taube, Jennifer Wagner, Marcie Wolf-Hubbard, Mary Voytek, Curtis Woody, Joyce Zipperer and more!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Spitoidal Mucasoids

Spitoidal Mucasoids: When you brush your teeth, and then spit out the saliva + toothpaste mixture, and do not rinse it down the drain with water. Later on, as it dries up and becomes impossibly hard to chip away, it becomes a spitoidal mucasoid.

Try to Google that... I've just invented it.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Still astounding...

Even after all these years, the work of DMV artist Alexa Meade still astounds me...

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Opportunity for Artists

Deadline: May 2, 2016

This is an Open Call for proposals for an exhibition in the summer of 2016 at Alexandria's Target Gallery.

This call is open to all artists from North America working in all visual media. Proposals for exhibitions by both individuals and groups will be considered. The jurors this year are Phil Hutinet and Victoria Milko.

Apply here

Target Gallery 105 N. Union St. Alexandria, VA 22314

Saturday, April 09, 2016

Art in the New Plutocracy

Art is no longer the mere status symbol it was in the age of Morgan. Instead, as Cohen’s exploits show, art has become an instrument for generating wealth and political influence in the interests of an audacious plutocracy. In this sense, we are indeed being ruled by art in a way we have not been before, and its price now comes at a direct social cost.
Read the article here. 

Friday, April 08, 2016

DMVers: Go to Emulsion Opening Tomorrow!

You wanna know the definition of a hard working artist? 

DMV artist Judith Peck

She has work in three shows opening this Saturday, April 9 --- Emulsion 2016 at Gallery O on H in Washington, DC, at The Walker in Kansas, and the inaugural show at the Lemon Tree Gallery in Cape Charles, Virginia! 

Go Judith!

And now UVA wants to censor art...

And now it is UVA's turn to try to censor some artwork...
Some members of the University of Virginia community want a piece of art—a mural—censored, altered, or completely painted over because it depicts students and professors partying together.  
The behaviors of the fictional characters in the painting would likely violate Title IX, said UVA music professor Bonnie Gordon, a vocal critic of the mural, in an interview with 
Details here. 

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Downton Abbey Paintings

Like the Downton Abbey TV series? You you gotta see DMV area artist Marsha Stein's series of paintings on the subject.

See them here.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Gallery censored by landlord in Lafayette, LA

You have to take down the nude pictures you have in your gallery. Part of the agreement to rent you the space was to not display nude pictures.
So begins the email received by artist Nicole Touchet, an email "signed by a project coordinator with Property One Inc., the company that manages Gordon Square, the historic hotel-turned-office complex at the Jefferson-Vermilion intersection in the heart of Downtown. The UL Lafayette alumna had opened her eponymous gallery, Gallerie Touchet, in a small side space facing Vermilion Street 11 months before, hosting exhibitions of up-and-coming local artists including her own work."

Many times in the past I have taken the side of "he who owns the walls" when these sort of issues come out.

However, in this case, as this article points out, the "condition" (No. 5 on Touchet’s lease with Property One) doesn't say anything about nudes, unless Property One thinks that Touchet's loosely painted nudes are so hot that they'd cause a fire:

Lessee warrants and represents to Lessor that the Leased Premises exclusive of common area shall be continually used and occupied only for the purpose of general office use. Lessee shall conduct its business and control its agents, employees, invitees and visitors in such a manner as is lawful, reputable and will not cause any nuisance or otherwise interfere with, annoy or disturb any other tenant in its normal business operations or Lessor in its management of the Building. Lessee shall not commit or suffer to be committed, any waste on the Leased Premises, nor shall Lessee permit the Leased Premises to be used in any way which would, in the opinion of Lessor, be hazardous on account of fire or otherwise which would in any way increase or render void the fire insurance on the Leased Premises or Building.
A lawyer might say that the lease says that the space will be "used and occupied only for the purpose of general office use," but then again, Touchet had used the space as a gallery for 11 months and Property One didn't complain.

In any event, she plans to close the gallery (her lease is up), but I wanted the prudes at Property One know that their ignorant, outdated, and assholish actions have been been heard in the nation's capital region and will forever be part of their footprint in Al Gore's Internet for now on.

Monday, April 04, 2016

Teresa Oaxaca at The Art League

Many years ago, I was at the old Washington Post building meeting with the then WaPo Chief Art Critic. He was going through dozens and dozens of postcards and letters (this was at the dawn of the email age), and he'd glance at them, and then drop them into a waste basket... there was a 99% rejection rate at first glance. I sat there, a little hypnotized by the sad reality of the event.

Years later, after having written about DMV area artists for almost three decades, like most art critics, writers and symbiots of the visual arts, I am also now bombarded with emails, news releases, post cards, letters (yep! old fashion snail mail) and other assorted paraphernalia designed to let me know that an artist is showing somewhere.

And like most people and that former WaPo art critic, time management is a delicate issue, and thus over the years I’m fairly sure that I’ve actually only seen about 1% of the shows that I have actually been interested in, or which have caught my attention.

A while back, one of those shows which snared my interest was an embassy show by a “new” – or at least new to me – artist whose work (at least online) seemed to be quite good.

 It wasn’t just that it “looked” quite good because of the subject matter (it did), or that it looked like the artist had some really good painting skills (it did), or even because it was eye catching in a different frequency from most works (it was) that I would usually be exposed to.

And thus, I decided to pay a visit to this embassy show (these days it involves arranging for baby sitters, planning the drive, and there's very little room for error, etc.), and to say that the work at the embassy show floored me is an understatement.

In fact, it forced me to put my nose close to the canvas; it forced me to step backwards and far away to see how the tight compositions worked together; and it even scratched my inner eye and forced me to look around to ensure that I hadn’t been transported to the past, or perhaps to the future of contemporary realism.

Teresa Oaxaca was the artist, and her paintings and etchings were the subject that dazzled my eyes, seduced my imagination, punched the solar plexus of my mind, and filled my curiosity with inquiries about all that revolved around the paradox-filled universe of this "new to me" artist.

"Pursuit" by Teresa Oaxaca
Oil on canvas with artist-made frame

Oaxaca... and this is clear to the most casual observer, and even clearer to someone who has seen the works of thousands and thousands of painters, is an artist with formidable painting skills.

Her energetic brushwork and fearless attitude towards an aggressive employment of color should be the first chapter in the lesson book to anyone aspiring to pick up a brush and apply anything to a canvas.

Look at the apple in "Pursuit."

It's not the brilliance of the fruit that makes it sing with erotic gusto; in fact it is too shiny - it is like a waxed fruit, prepared to sensualize the first bite by first decorating the visual senses.

It is not its stylized perfect shape, also designed to capture our human check points from the times that we shared the planet with Neanderthals and Denisovans.

It is in fact, those two delicate touches of white paint on the fruit, and it is also the manner in which the cloth caresses the fruit.

Oaxaca’s paintings and prints are at first sight a prism focusing the refracted colors back in time; or are they? To the fantasist, they could also be the work of an artist who has been traveling from a Victorian era to the present; or is it a future time traveler, bathing in the luxuries of the Baroque period, sending us her impressions from her latest voyage to the past?

Whatever the answer, the DMV gets an expanded opportunity to see her work, as her second solo exhibit at The Art League in Alexandria, “Misfits”, will be on view April 6-May 1, 2016.

According to The Art League’s news release, the show “explores the themes of clowns and dolls, human effigies, and painted faces, integrating human emotions and passions with allegorical storytelling. Oaxaca’s style has greatly grown and evolved since her first solo exhibit at The Art League in 2010. She’s interested in breaking the boundaries of traditional realism, and is succeeding through her choice of subject matter, compositional choices, and painterly style.”

Since I’ve just discovered this painter, I have no idea what her first solo show was about, but I suspect that it was but a bridge to her most recent work. Make no mistake, this is an artist who is deeply embedded in the world that she depicts through her art; she lives in that world.

“My work is about pleasing the eye. I paint light and the way it falls. Simple observation reveals beauty, which I often find in the unconventional. Because of this, I have learned to take particular delight in unusual pairings of subject matter,” she notes.

In that previously discussed apple, there are hours of work, but it is the final two applications of white which seal the deal.

"Laughing Queen" by Teresa Oaxaca
Oil on canvas with artist-made frame

 60" x 40"
Oaxaca’s compositions are described as spontaneous. “When a person comes to me, they occupy a space in my mind. Arrangements form from there until I excitedly see and conceive the idea for the piece. The design is both planned and subconscious. For this reason, I surround myself with Victorian and Baroque costumes, bones, and other things in which I find fascinating. I want subject matter to always be at hand, always around me.”

All of Oaxaca’s paintings will be shown within unique frames that the artist designed, built, and painted herself. She feels that the individually designed frames truly complete the one-of-a-kind piece.

Do not miss this show... More later.

Update: Ms. Oaxaca will be doing a demo in the Art League Gallery on the 13th and they will be live streaming on their YouTube channel:

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Tim Vermeulen opens in LA

Congrats to DMV artist Tim Vermeulen, whose solo show Alphabet, (inspired by the 1727 New England primer) opens April 9 at the George Billis Gallery in Los Angeles
Tim Vermeulen, J. Job Feels the Rod, Yet Blesses God. 2016, oil on panel, 19 x 23 inches framed
 You can see the show online here.

Saturday, April 02, 2016


In NYC? Come visit us at the Affordable Art Fair, booth 1.54

"Ladybird" 2016 by Lauren Levato Coyne Colored pencil on blue toned paper 11" x 9"
"Ladybird" 2016 by Lauren Levato Coyne
Colored pencil on blue toned paper
11" x 9"

Cars I've owned

Fiat X1/9 (1977-1985)
Citroen Palas (1982-1985)
Seat (1982-1985)
Saab 900S (1985-1997)
Lada (1989-1992)
Dodge Caravan (1996-1998)
Ford Windstar (1998-2005)
Chrysler Town & Country (2005 - ?)

Friday, April 01, 2016


In NYC? Come visit us at the Affordable Art Fair, booth 1.54

"Reds" Oil on Linen, 14,11 inches by Rory Coyne

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Did President George W. Bush release a new series of dog portraits?

They almost fooled me with the below news release - a very clever April's Fool prank by Artfinder... it was when their CEO started referring to Dubya as "George" that I smelled a prank!

Following the high profile exhibition of his work at the Presidential Library and Museum in Texas in 2014:
Artfinder is delighted to announce that George W. Bush will join the site as an artist from 1 April 2016. To mark the occasion, George has released a new series of technicolor dog portraits, including a Scottish Terrier, in homage to his dog Barney, who sadly passed away in 2013. The portraits will be on sale from midnight GMT 31 March.
George W. Bush comments:

I wanted to make sure the last chapters of my life were full, and painting, it turns out, has helped occupy not only space but opened my mind.  
Dogs are a subject close to my heart, and frankly they make better subjects for portraits than politicians, who are all very much alike. I am delighted to have been accepted to join Artfinder’s vibrant community of 6,000 artists around the world.
Jonas Almgren, CEO of Artfinder comments:
 “We have long been admirers of George’s work and are delighted to see him join the site. Our mission is to create a world of art for everyone – and we anticipate George’s pieces being incredibly popular.”
Artfinder is the largest global marketplace for original art, connecting over 500,000 subscribers worldwide with 180,000+ pieces of art from 6,000 artists. 

To view Bush’s Artfinder shop please visit:
Update: Artfinder actually has a pet portrait painter who has joined them - Arizona based Alicia VanNoy Call a.k.a Dawg Art - she is the one behind these canine portraits.

Here's a link to her Artfinder shop:

Spring exhibits at the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center

Spring exhibits at the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center are open April 2 through May 29, 2016.

Popular and critically acclaimed Washington artist, Kevin MacDonald, gets a posthumous career retrospective in Kevin MacDonald: The Tension of a Suspended Moment. Created out of unorthodox materials like coffee and tea, representational paintings, lithographs and silkscreens, capture unpeopled interiors, still-lifes, industrial landscapes, and cubist and surrealist representations of daily life. At the time of his death from cancer in 2006, MacDonald, 59, was at the height of his artistic powers and planning an ambitious body of work related to the shared, unwritten, and personal history of Silver Spring, Maryland, where he had spent most of his life. MacDonald’s work is in the permanent collections of The National Gallery of Art, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, The Phillips Collection, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Baltimore Museum of Art.

Coinciding with the retrospective of Kevin MacDonald, the Alper Initiative for Washington Art (AIWA) presents Twisted Teenage Plot. Besides being an excellent artist, MacDonald also played in bands, most notably Twisted Teenage Plot. Twisted Teenage Plot will showcase the work of visual artists who played in bands in Washington in the late 70s and early 80s, including Dick Bangham, Michael Baron, Jay Burch, Kim Kane, Clark Vinson Fox (aka Michael Clark), Steve Ludlum, Michael McCall, JW Mahoney, Michael Reidy, Robin Rose, Judith Watkins Tartt, and Joe White. Sound recordings, posters, videos, and memorabilia are also featured.

Free Parking, a new series of salon-style conversations, will host its second session in the AIWA space on the museum’s first floor at 5:30 p.m., Thursday, May 5. AU Museum Curator and Director Jack Rasmussen will lead a review of the life and art of musicians in 1970s and 80s D.C. The event, free and open to the public, features special guests Bill Warrell and Michael Olshonsky. RSVP is required:

William Dunlap: Look At It – Think About It is a survey exhibition of paintings, works on paper, constructions and sculpture by the artist from the 1970s through the present. Both found and fashioned objects reflect Dunlap’s interest in the narrative tradition in visual arts and modernist concerns with remote association and conceptualism. The exhibition coincides with the release of Dunlap’s book of short stories, Short Mean Fiction, Words and Pictures (Nautilus Press).   

Elsewhere: Southern Constellations is the third exhibition in Transformer’s four-part ‘Do You Know Where Your Art Comes From?’ series, presented in partnership with American University Museum. Southern Constellations profiles the work of Elsewhere Museum and Residency and highlights a curatorial initiative to extend experimental practices and creative networks in the South.

Elsewhere Museum and Residency is an artist-run non-profit contemporary art organization set in a former thrift store in downtown Greensboro, NC. Six artists, born or based in the Southern United States, are brought to the living museum and residency each year to create new site-specific works that explore the museum, its collection and communities. Connecting a regional network of experimental artists and arts spaces, Southern Constellations considers the conditions and context for experimentation in the south, as well as the resources that sustain and engage practitioners in the region. Victoria Reis, executive & artistic director of Transformer, is curator, in collaboration with Tim Doud, associate professor of art and coordinator of the Visiting Artist Program at American University.

MASTER OF FINE ART FIRST YEAR AND THESIS EXHIBITIONS features the work of Master of Fine Art candidates in American University’s Department of Art. The First Year MFA exhibition will run April 2 through 20, and the MFA Thesis exhibition will run from April 30 through May 29. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Our booth at the Affordable Art Fair NYC - Wishing that I was there! Good luck to Lori Ehrlich Katz, Rory Coyne and Lauren Levato Coyne - make us proud! Booth 1.94 on the first floor.

Monday, March 28, 2016


As we have been for the last decade, we'll be doing the Affordable Art Fair New York again this Spring (March 30 - April 3 at the Met Pavilion). 

Because of my recent medical issues, I won't be there, but the gallery will be well-represented by DMV artist Lori Katz and Chicago-based artists Lauren Levato Coyne and Rory Coyne.

We'll be in booth 1.54 on the first floor; if you'd like some free passes to the fair, please send me a note.

Graphite on Maple
by Rory Payne

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Call to Artists

Saturday, March 26, 2016

John Kelly on Mark Felner

The rare DMV area visual arts article in the WaPo:
Mark didn’t want to read Fitzgerald’s classic tale, even though he gathered 50 copies. Like many of us, he read it in high school. Rather, he wanted to shred the books, soak them in water, grind them into a gray slurry and turn that slurry into a large, rectangular piece of thick, deckle-edged handmade paper.

Read the piece here.

The Second Annual Athenaeum Invitational

Underwritten by TTR | Sotheby's International Realty, The Athenaeum Invitational celebrates the arts of Virginia, Maryland, the District of Columbia and West Virginia in the Athenaeum Gallery in Alexandria, VA. It is a theme-based event featuring the works of both specially-invited artists who have exhibited in the Athenaeum Gallery in the past, as well as works selected through a call for submissions open to anyone living or working in Virginia, the District of Columbia, or Maryland.  A $1500 prize for the best work will be awarded to an invited artist, and a $1000 prize will be awarded to an artist from the open call. 

The show is juried by Athenaeum Gallery Director, Twig Murray.  Prize winners will be selected by a noted art expert, who has yet to be determined.

Theme: Oh! The joy!
The theme asks artists to reflect on a moment of pure joy. It is inspired by the Lewis and Clark expedition across the unchartered North American continent to reach the Pacific Ocean. After an arduous, two-year trek, William Lewis crested a hill, saw the vast body of water and cried, “The Ocean in view. Oh! The joy!”
Entries might explore that singular burst of relief and satisfaction after enduring a difficult task, or the magic of being struck by something unexpected and delightful, or the sudden transformation that is experienced in sheer ebullience. It is the ephemeral and evanescent quality of a joyous moment we invite artists to respond to.

In fact, at the moment those words were uttered by Lewis, the expedition was actually facing an estuary of the Columbia River, not the open ocean. This presents another aspect of the theme for artists to consider, whether a moment of joy is ‘valid’ when it is later learned that the reason or impetus for the emotion was wrong or undeserved.

Selection Criteria
Works will be selected based on artistic excellence, innovation, creativity, and a demonstrated relevance to the theme as revealed in a brief artist statement.

The call is open now with a submission deadline of August 28, 2016.

The Athenaeum Gallery
201 Prince Street, Alexandria, VA, 22314
703 548 0035

Friday, March 25, 2016

The virulent case of Communist Cuba's racism

Much has been written about racism in Cuba, and it was one of the earliest subjects addressed by the Washington Post's Eugene Robinson upon his arrival to the DMV a few years ago from his various Latin American postings.

In his article Cuba Begins to Answer Its Race Question, Robinson, a clearly very extreme left-wing oriented writer, tried hard to find excuses for the dictatorship, but nonetheless admits that:
Academics say that black Cubans are failing to earn university degrees in proportion to their numbers--a situation to which Castro has alluded publicly. The upper echelons of the government remain disproportionately white, despite the emergence of several rising black stars. And while perceptions are difficult to quantify, much less prove true or false, many black Cubans are convinced that they are much less likely than whites to land good jobs--and much more likely to be hassled by police on the street, like Cano's husband, in a Cuban version of "racial profiling."
But how about some Cubans inside Cuba discussing the subject?
In primary [Cuban] education, skin color is not mentioned," ... If we are still living in a society where white people have the power, and we don't mention color in education, we are in practice educating [Cuban] children to be white.

Cuban history as we teach it is a disgrace, because it is predominantly white history, and explaining the role of black people and mulattoes in building this society and its culture is not given its due importance.

Esteban Morales
University of Havana
Centre for the Study of the Hemisphere and the United States
A lot of hopes have been pinned by many people (who know little about Cuba and the repressive nature of its government) on President Obama's recent monumental decision to re-establish diplomatic relations with the unfortunate Caribbean island prison of Cuba; but first another Cuban quote: carry on "hiding" the issue [of racism in Cuba] would lead black people to think that "they belong to another country, and that there are two Cuba’s as there were in the 19th century, a black Cuba and a white one."

Roberto Zurbano
Casa de las Américas publishing house
And thus, it is curious to me that in re-establishing diplomatic ties, our socially conscious President (and his cadre of advisors) appear to know little or nothing about the way that Afro-Cuban citizens are treated in their own country.

In reference to the President's visit, Odette Casamayor-Cisneros, an associate professor of Latin American and Caribbean literatures and cultures at the University of Connecticut and a scholar at Harvard University notes that  
“The images of the meetings, the agreements, they’re all shameful for many black Cubans — I’m including myself in this — because it’s difficult to feel represented.

Will the expected flow of American tourists help? Zurbano writes in his 2013 New York Times article that:
Most remittances from abroad — mainly the Miami area, the nerve center of the mostly white exile community — go to white Cubans. They tend to live in more upscale houses, which can easily be converted into restaurants or bed-and-breakfasts — the most common kind of private business in Cuba. Black Cubans have less property and money, and also have to contend with pervasive racism. Not long ago it was common for hotel managers, for example, to hire only white staff members, so as not to offend the supposed sensibilities of their European clientele.
That "not long ago" is still the case, as anyone who has been to Cuba recently can testify to - it is very rare to see a black face in any of Havana's "tourist only" hotels and nearby beaches. Discussing those lucrative jobs, Yusimí Rodríguez López, an Afro-Cuban independent journalist, said in a 2016 New York Times article that there were job listings on Revolico — sometimes called Cuba’s underground Craigslist — “where they say they only want whites.”

In the same NYT article we read:
“They talk a lot here about discrimination against blacks in the United States. What about here?” said Manuel Valier Figueroa, 50, an actor, who was in the park on Monday. “If there’s a dance competition, they’re going to choose the woman who is fair-skinned with light, good hair. If there’s a tourism job, the same.”

He added: “Why are there no blacks managing hotels? You don’t see any blacks working as chefs in hotels, but you see them as janitors and porters. They get the inferior jobs.”
One would hope that our President's dealings with a nation with one of the world's worst human rights records, where Amnesty International has been denied access to (except to that bit of Cuba where the Guantanamo Naval Base is located); a nation where gay people were once given lobotomies to "cure" them; and where HIV+ Cubans were detained and segregated in guarded colonies away from the general public, could at least receive a little attention on the status of blacks in their nation.

Fact: Twice as many African slaves were brought to Cuba than to the United States... twice!

And what really bugs me, in my own pedantic hell, is how a bunch of historically and socially clueless American negotiators orchestrate deals with the leaders and the government of one of the world's most racist dictatorships (a government which talks a talk of equality while walking a walk of institutionalized racism against its own black population) without even mentioning the issue of racism.

Cuba has a long and agonizing history of racial issues, starting with its long bloody history of slavery, which didn't end on the island until 1886, and continuing through its freedom from Spain, birth of the Republic, and the triumph of the Castro Revolution in 1959. It continues to this day.

Cuba even had its own race war.
Antonio Maceo

General Antonio Maceo, known as "the Bronze Titan." He was the true warrior leader of the Cuban Wars of Liberation. His father was white of French ancestry; his mother was black, of Dominican ancestry. After the first Cuban Liberation War ended in a truce with Spain, some say that Maceo was so disillusioned with the realities of life in Cuba as a black man, that he left Cuba and lived in Panama, until he was called back to lead the Cuban rebels in a new rebellion in 1895. He returned to Cuba and was killed in battle against the Spanish Army in 1896.

In 1912, black Cubans in Oriente province had enough of the new Cuban government's racist practices and the degrading treatment of Cuban black veterans, who had been the bulk of the Cuban rebels in the wars of independence against Spain. The Cuban government moved on a path of genocide and eventually the United States had to send in troops to end the war between the white Cuban government and the black rebels in Oriente.

As I recall from the CIA Factbook of 1959, on that year the island was about 70% white, about 20% black and mixed, and the rest Chinese, Jewish and other. The Cuban Diaspora which started a few months after the Castro takeover and continues to this day, with the exception of the Mariel boat lift of the 1980s, saw a mass exodus of mostly white Cubans, and as a result the island's racial balance shifted dramatically that although 65% of Cubans self-identified as white in the last census, many experts estimate that today the island is about 60% black or biracial.

But Cuba's black population has not seen a proportionate share of the power and a quick review of the governing Politburo/Parliament reveals few black faces in the crowd. In fact, "the Cuban cultural journal Temas published studies by the governmental Anthropology Centre in 2006 that showed that on average, the black population has worse housing, receives less money in remittances from abroad and has less access to jobs in emerging economic sectors like tourism, in which blacks represent barely five percent of managers and professionals, than the white population."
"I think silence is worse. The longer nothing is said, the more the racism fermenting underground is rotting the entire nation..."

Gerardo Alfonso
While the Cuban constitution of the 1940s (since then abolished by the Communist government) outlawed segregation and racism, and the current Cuban Constitution guarantees black Cubans the right to stay in any hotel and be served at any public establishment, as it has been documented by many foreign journalists, black Cubans will tell you in private that those rights exist only on paper.

The harsh Cuban reality today, they claim, is that "black Cubans won't be served" and that Cubans, regardless of race are in general barred from places frequented by tourists.
Unfortunately, these things [disparities in the treatment of blacks and whites] are very common in Cuba.

Ricardo Alarcón Quesada
President of the National Assembly of People's Power
Cuban Parliament
Do these Cuban voices from within Cuba itself sound like the subjects of a government whose murdering tyrants' atrocities should be dealt in silence?, especially in view of our nation's own racial history? Would we be silent in dealing today with the criminal government leaders of the apartheid South Africa of the 20th century?
We have practically apartheid in this country sometimes... racism is deeply rooted in Cuba's history and will not disappear overnight.

Rogelio Polanco Fuentes
Cuban Communist Party-owned Juventud Rebelde newspaper.
Human rights and racism should be at the top of the agenda (if there's one) in our diplomatic discussions with the Havana tyrants.

What will this "change" bring to the "permanent and shameful police harassment of young Cubans of African descent in our streets..." - Leonardo Calvo Cardenas, Cuban National Vice-Coordinador of the Citizens' Committee for Racial Integration (Comité Ciudadanos por la Integración Racial (CIR))?


The Bogliasco Foundation's Study Center provides residential fellowships to gifted artists and scholars working on projects of any subject area in the following disciplines: Archaeology, Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Classics, Dance, Film/Video, History, Literature, Music, Philosophy, Theater, and the Visual Arts.

Details here.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Fact Checking the President's Cuba Speech

Whoever wrote the speech for the President needs a lesson in baseball history. 

The Prez said in his speech: "We share a national past time, la pelota, and later today our players will compete on the same Havana field that Jackie Robinson played on before he made his major league debut." 

That's actually incorrect. 

While Robinson did his 1946 spring training in Cuba while he was with the Montreal Royals, it was not at the same stadium where the Prez and the dictator Raul sat together (back then named El Gran Estadio de La Habana and now called Estadio Latinoamericano).  I believe that Robinson's spring training was at another stadium, perhaps the one known back then as El Cerro?

Later on, after the Dodgers bought his contract from Montreal, Branch Rickey toured the Dodgers and Robinson through some Latin American countries and had Robinson play. However, when they arrived in Havana, as it was the case back then, most Cuban hotels were segregated, and the Dodgers stayed in one hotel and Robinson stayed in a separate one, a blacks only hotel in Havana. 

He got food poisoning at his hotel and wasn't able to play in Cuba - as a Dodger - before his MLB debut in 1947. 

It is ironic that today many Cuban hotels (all of which are owned by the Cuban military - including part ownership in all the foreign corporation hotels from Spain, Canada, France, etc. as the Cuban military own all of Cuba's tourist income) are still segregated - not by race, but now by "Tourists Only" hotels where Cubans are not allowed to stay... in their own country. 

Another brutal "benefit" of the Castro Brothers' Workers Paradise.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

NEXT Thesis Exhibition

NEXT Thesis Exhibition
April 20, 6:30pm – 9pm
This annual exhibition showcases work by the graduating students of the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design at the George Washington University. NEXT includes the thesis work of undergraduate and graduate students.

 The NEXT Thesis Exhibition runs April 6 - May 15 
Wednesdays: 10am - 9pm
Thursdays - Sundays: 10am - 5pm
See more of NEXT on this website

Corcoran School of the Arts and Design
The George Washington University
500 Seventeenth Street, NW
         Washington, DC 20006     

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Say what?

"in America, there are no cats..."
- Papa Mousekewitz, c. 1986

"in Iran, there are no homosexuals..."
- Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, September 24, 2007

"in Cuba, there are no political prisoners..."
- Raul Castro, March 21, 2016

Affordable Art Fair New York

As we have been for the last decade, we'll be doing the Affordable Art Fair New York again this Spring (March 30 - April 3 at the Met Pavilion). Because of my recent medical issues, I won't be there, but the gallery will be well-represented by DMV artist Lori Katz and Chicago-based artists Lauren Levato Coyne and Rory Coyne.

We'll be in booth 1.54 on the first floor; if you'd like some free passes to the fair, please send me a note.

Selvedge  Lauren Levato Coyne  22x18 inches, Pencil on Watercolor Paper, c. 2015
Lauren Levato Coyne
22x18 inches, Pencil on Watercolor Paper, c. 2015

Turning Seven  Rory Coyne  36x36 inches, Oil on canvas, c. 2013
Turning Seven
Rory Coyne
36x36 inches, Oil on canvas, c. 2013
Wall of Small Squares  Lori Katz  Ceramics, c. 2015
Wall of Small Squares
Lori Katz
Ceramics, c. 2015

Monday, March 21, 2016

Cuban by ancestry...

Latest work - this is heading to a museum show...  the show focuses on immigrant artists to the DMV. In this piece, the embedded video component plays a video loop (6.5 minutes) covering my life so far, with a special focus on why my family had to leave the brutal world of the Castro Brothers' Workers Paradise in the 1960s. The small boy to the left is me (as a four year old) running around my grandfather's farm just outside of Guantanamo.

As I usually do, I've used the "cracks" on the background wall to (employing the Navy's Falcon Codes) double encrypt a background message... more on the show later...

"Cuban by Ancestry, But American by the Grace of God." Charcoal and Conte and Embedded Video. F. Lennox Campello. 18x24 inches, circa 2016.
"Cuban by Ancestry, But American by the Grace of God."
Charcoal and Conte and Embedded Video. 18x24 inches, circa 2016.

"Cuban by Ancestry, But American by the Grace of God."
Charcoal and Conte and Embedded Video. 18x24 inches, circa 2016.

"Cuban by Ancestry, But American by the Grace of God."
Charcoal and Conte and Embedded Video. 18x24 inches, circa 2016.

"Cuban by Ancestry, But American by the Grace of God."
Charcoal and Conte and Embedded Video. 18x24 inches, circa 2016.