Saturday, November 12, 2016

Artomatic 2016: The Review

Artomatic, the planet's greatest open visual arts show is back, this time in Montgomery County, Maryland, which is part of the Greater Washington, DC area, or as I dubbed it over a decade ago, the DMV (District-Maryland-Virginia).

And, because this is the smallest Artomatic ever (by Artomatic standards anyway) since it only has about 380 artists, it is perhaps the easiest to see, since it would only require 2-3 visits to see all the artists on the 5th and 6th floor of the Park Potomac building where it is being staged.

I'll start with work that caught my eye, my usual Artomatic "Best Awards" and finish it with my top ten picks, perhaps the hardest job that any art critic, or opiner on the arts ever has, since the trite saying "art is in the eyes of the beholder" has never been more applicable than after a visit to any Artomatic.

I'd also like to brag that (as many of you know) many of my past Artomatic Top Ten picks have gone on to become recognized, blue chip artists around the DMV; and some, such as Tim Tate, around the nation, and some, such as Frank Warren around the planet! 

On the 6th floor I liked the paintings of William Tinto (great deals by the way - all around $300-$400), Nils Lofgren, Nancy Abeles and Praveen Thaivalappil. I also liked some very unusal paintings by Yumiko Hirokawa - I note "unusual" because they're on a substrate of aluminum paint and boast superb technical skills (as do all the previously noted painters) with a hard-to-pin-point sense of macabre to them. I also liked Joyce McCarten and Laurie Breen. I also liked the works of Chris Meer, who is unknowingly channeling Anne Cherubim and should probably meet her and see her paintings on the same floor!

I also liked Doug Stern and Roger James. Their locations on the 6th floor, next to each other is artist placement genius... enough said, you'll have to go see it to ... cough, cough... see what I mean.

On the 5th floor I liked the sculptures by Daniel Aaron Stuart, and many other artists which are mentioned below.

And now, the awards!

Artist Most Likely to Attract Gallerists: Kathy Lindert... I can't find a website for her, so I'm assuming that this talented painter is unrepresented... Get a website!!

Best Naive Art: Schroeder Cherry - this artist, located close to the elevators on the 5th floor, initially fooled me into thinking that he was a self-taught artist (he's not), until on my third visit to his booth, I did a closer examination of his works, and realized that he's perfectly accomplishing one of the most difficult tasks in the visual arts, which is to use a naive visual approach to deliver intelligent and resonant works of social commentary and narrative complexity. Cherry focuses on African-American themes that reflect powerful imagery, augmented by striking presentation (chopped frames, etc.), found objects, etc.

Angel Can #42 by Schroeder Cherry
Best Animal Art: Sandra Perez-Ramos - She also gets the "Coolest Use of Pocket Protectors" award.

Best Mono-Chromatic Art: Alex L. Porter - Impressive what Porter can do with just black and white.

Best Portrait Artist: George Carr - He also gets the "Best Figure Painter" award - not an easy double award to get in two very hotly contested categories!

Best Textile Art: Diane Tuckman - a master of the craft!

Best Wall 3D Art: Erin Antognoli - Amazing 3D piece, right on the wall by the side of the elevator.

Best Furniture Art: Daniel Good - Overtly busy paintings in the shape of furniture... Dude it is 2016: Get a website!

Best Illustration Art: Annie Lunsford - She also "illustrated" her booth's drywall! This was a highly competitive category, as there is a lot of high quality illustrative work in this iteration of AOM.

Best Installation: Liliane Bloom - Her "Pink - A Cherry Blossom Fantasy" is not only mesmerizing to the eyes, but also a perhaps unintended tip of the hat to DMV installation artist Dan Steinhilber.

Best Glass Artist: Sherry Selevan - Opaque and mysterious works that stand from the usual glass menagerie of bowls and vessels. She shares the award with Trish Kent's very cool fused glass dresses (get a website!!).

Best Erotica: Jenny Wallace - She runs away with this coveted award, although I must also add that this Artomatic doesn't have the usual large numbers of erotica as part of its roster of artworks. I also noted that most artists working erotic themes have been cleverly located in corners of the spaces, with the images usually facing away from the main walkways. Wallace also wins the "Sexiest Image Award" with her photo titled Resignation. Wallace could be the best fetish-focused artist that I have ever seen. The second place for sexiest image goes to Julia Mazur's photo of a nude woman sitting on a window sill. The image is back-lit and highlights every single hair on her body, each one seductively outlined by the light.

Photo by Julia Mazur

Best Erotic Fruits: Tara O'Neil - Her sliced peaches got me all fuzzy! 

Peach by Tara O'Neil

Best Flag Art: Blue Robin and Lindsey D. Vance share this award. Blue Robin's use of the coqui on the Puerto Rican flag is genius!

Best "I Already Knew He Was Good" Award: Ric Garcia

Best Technical Skill: Branch School of Art

Best Color Pencil Artist: Amanda Spaid - Wonderful control and intelligent employment of color - really, really good at a very difficult technique..

Best Clay Artist: Kasse Andrews-Weller - Busy and intelligent! Another artist without a website...

Best "Is it Abstract or Not" Award: Anne Cherubim is one of the most interesting painters around the DMV, and her dream-like paintings are deceptive images which showcase her formidable painting skills - they leave the viewer wondering as to the subject matter, while all along Cherubim has been hypnotizing them with her mastery of the subtle psychological effects of color!

Best Standing Stones Photography: Peter del Toro - I know, I know... pretty slim category, but I love standing stones imagery, and as such I read once that I was one of the world's top authorities on the subject (I wrote it, then I read it.. cough, cough), and therefore I know good when I see it, and del Toro's photos are really superb!

Best "Painterly" Cars (or is it "Best Car Painter"?) Award: Michael Kent

Best Mobiles: Rita Mortellaro - This is a spectacular departure for this award, which is usually the domain of someone channeling Calder. Mortellaro rocks this category with mobiles made out of tiny metal and/or fiber hoodies with rocks and found objects!

Mobile by Rita Mortellaro
Best Frida Kahlo Art: Marily Mojica - The Washington Post once called me a "Fridaphile" and I know my Fridas, and having curated two worldwide international homages to the Mexican icon, I really know artists working the Frida angle. And Mojica is easily one of the best that I have ever seen! Her approach is a clever re-invention of how we see Kahlo depicted (many times in her salon style hung booth).

Best Found Object Art: Seemeen Hashem... try to find it!

Is This Art? Award - Actually I have no idea is this is a sculptural installation, or just part of the construction on the floor, but it is kinda cool anyway! (see below image) Update: This installation is by artist Greg Braun!

Best "Better not have fallen asleep in Art History class" Award: Roger Cutler - This is not a surprise, as Cutler is a master of his genre, and his Duchamp's Bike Repair sculpture should be included in the next edition of Janson's!

Duchamp's Bike Repair by Roger Cutler

Best Action Painting: Kim Foley - One can almost feel the energy pop out of her works!

Best Bug Art: Emily Uchytil - Surprisingly, although not for most AOM's, this was a highly contested award! The very talented Uchytil also gets second place in the "Best Birds Art" category; she has enviable painting skills!

Coolest Idea Award: Victoria Thompson - In her booth "Object", this photographer takes old vintage photos and then modifies them, exposing breasts here and there; a clever depiction of the objectification of women.

Object by Victoria Thompson
Best Horror Vacui Award: Rachel Ann Cross - Elegant wall sculptures that employ guitars, etc. fully adorned in full kenophobic splendor!

Best Flower Art: Malathi Jayawickrama - Superb use of light and very painterly - this is one of the toughest categories at AOM, as there are many flower aficionados.

Best Record Keeper Award: Greg Benge - His "Vinyl Countdown" series is very attractive and could also get the "Recyclable Art Award." Benge notes that he "found a really great deal on hundreds of scratched unplayable discs (don’t worry, I haven’t ruined any rare finds)." For older readers: "disc" = "LP" or "record."

George Carlin by Greg Benge
Best Sculpture Award: Gloria Chapa - Her Placebo Pinata did it!

Best Encaustic Art: Marcie Wolf-Hubbard - easy pick when a master of the genre is in the show.

Best Art Deal Award: Suz Podrasky - At around $80 for original work that is intelligent and well presented - buy it! The award is shared with Rambo, Inc. on the 6th floor by the Artomatic office; they have artwork as low as $10 and it is superbly talented work. Also shared with Michael Auger; his very cool artwork can be acquired for around $50!

Best Steam Punk Art: Studio Detritus - They (Marcia and Randall Fry) also get the "Best Title Award" for Planck's Doorway 2!

Best Veggie Painter: Kathleen Carroll - Do not be deceived by the focus of the work; this is a really good painter!

Must See Award: Eeshan V. Melder - Do not miss the Eliot's Lunch installation and make sure that you read the wall text!

Scariest Painting Award Josh Gorsky - The angry mandrill did it!

Mandrill by Peter Sibrin
Angry Art Award: Artist Unknown - No name to the angry art with black fist and spent bullet casings.

Best Breast Award (try saying that three times in a row): Shanna Casey's ceramic vase, perhaps an homage to Günter Grass' The Flounder?

Breast ceramic vase by Shanna Casey

Best Student Art Award: Dionnia - From Holy Trinity Catholic School 7-2A class! Her use of color, and replay of the color on the ground, on the pyramids and in the sky is playful and attractive!

Untitled by Dionnia
Best Landscape Artist: Sarah Wardell - Elegantly muted plein air landscapes, where one can feel the sunlight and smell the grass.

Top 10 Artists (in alphabetical order)

Shiri Achu - Powerful African art in a marriage of contemporary skills with strong African imagery from this Africa-born new American artist.

Ralph Baden - His ridiculous paintings are over the top!

George Carr - Spectacular painting skills! A total master of the figure and of the portrait.

Shanthi Chandrasekar - Over the years she has developed her own style of painting that is almost magic in context.

Schroeder Cherry - Read what I raved about him earlier.

Ellen Cornett - A spectacular artist! I'm so jealous of her drawing skills!

Ric Garcia - Continues to invent and define a new genre of Latino pop art.

Glen Kesler - An easy pick... and I think that I've picked him before in previous AOMs!

Kathy Lindert - Get a website!

Phyllis Mayes - Another repeat pick for me - one of the best painters around the DMV.

Artomatic 2016 is on through December 9, 2016.


November 3 – December 9

Noon – 10:00 PM

Fridays & Saturdays:
Noon – 12:00 midnight

Noon – 6:00 PM

Closed Monday Wednesday & Thanksgiving Day


12435 Park Potomac Avenue, Potomac, MD 20854

Floors 5 & 6

New Batman Brooding

You can see this piece and buy it at CONTEXT ART MIAMI art fair... booth CTX326 during ABMB week!

The Batman Brooding
16x12 inches, Framed to 20x16, c. 2016 by F. Lennox Campello
$6500 USD

The Batman Brooding (Detail)

16x12 inches, Framed to 20x16, c. 2016 by F. Lennox Campello
$6500 USD

Friday, November 11, 2016

Thank you

A grateful "Thank You!" to all my fellow vets, and to all the men and women in uniform and their families serving all over the world... we've got your back!

Petty Officer Third Class Florencio Lennox Campello, USN c. 1975
Petty Officer Third Class Florencio Lennox Campello, USN
circa 1975, USS Saratoga (CV-60)
And to all my friends on Facebook and Twitter spewing hate and discontent, and painting millions of American with a wide brush, and to the protesters on the street, refusing to accept the results of an election: There's a lot of us vets who disagree with you, but nearly every single one of us is ready to back your right to disagree and to protest peacefully.

The best protest is your vote... not thrashing someone's business, or burning someone's car, or throwing rocks at our police.

Mike Rowe put it best when he writes:
 I’m worried too. But not because of who we elected. We’ve survived 44 Presidents, and we’ll survive this one too. I’m worried because millions of people now seem to believe that Trump supporters are racist, xenophobic, and uneducated misogynists. I’m worried because despising our candidates publicly is very different than despising the people who vote for them...
Who tosses away a friendship over an election? Are my friends turning into those mind-numbingly arrogant celebrities who threaten to move to another country if their candidate doesn’t win? Are my friends now convinced that people they’ve known for years who happen to disagree with them politically are not merely mistaken – but evil, and no longer worthy of their friendship?
For what it’s worth, Carol, I don’t think Donald Trump won by tapping into America’s “racist underbelly,” and I don’t think Hillary lost because she’s a woman. I think a majority of people who voted in this election did so in spite of their many misgivings about the character of both candidates. That’s why it’s very dangerous to argue that Clinton supporters condone lying under oath and obstructing justice. Just as it’s equally dangerous to suggest a Trump supporter condones gross generalizations about foreigners and women.
I leave you with Kipling... peace out:

I WENT into a public 'ouse to get a pint o' beer,
The publican 'e up an' sez, " We serve no red-coats here."
The girls be'ind the bar they laughed an' giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an' to myself sez I:
O it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' " Tommy, go away " ;
But it's " Thank you, Mister Atkins," when the band begins to play
The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
O it's " Thank you, Mister Atkins," when the band begins to play.

I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but 'adn't none for me;
They sent me to the gallery or round the music-'alls,
But when it comes to fightin', Lord! they'll shove me in the stalls!
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' " Tommy, wait outside ";
But it's " Special train for Atkins " when the trooper's on the tide
The troopship's on the tide, my boys, the troopship's on the tide,
O it's " Special train for Atkins " when the trooper's on the tide.

Yes, makin' mock o' uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an' they're starvation cheap.
An' hustlin' drunken soldiers when they're goin' large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin' in full kit.
Then it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an` Tommy, 'ow's yer soul? "
But it's " Thin red line of 'eroes " when the drums begin to roll
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it's " Thin red line of 'eroes, " when the drums begin to roll.

We aren't no thin red 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An' if sometimes our conduck isn't all your fancy paints,
Why, single men in barricks don't grow into plaster saints;
While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an` Tommy, fall be'ind,"
But it's " Please to walk in front, sir," when there's trouble in the wind
There's trouble in the wind, my boys, there's trouble in the wind,
O it's " Please to walk in front, sir," when there's trouble in the wind.

You talk o' better food for us, an' schools, an' fires, an' all:
We'll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don't mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow's Uniform is not the soldier-man's disgrace.
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an` Chuck him out, the brute! "
But it's " Saviour of 'is country " when the guns begin to shoot;
An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
An 'Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool - you bet that Tommy sees!

Transformer's 13th Annual Silent Auction & Benefit Party

Support Transformer in their work to connect and promote emerging artists, the young visionaries who help guide us in asking questions, growing understanding, and making change in our world.

Buy a ticket to their
13th Annual Silent Auction & Benefit Party,
and buy artwork by the 175+ participating artists.

Early bird ticket price of $175 is extended through Sunday 11/13.

Advance ticket purchase is required.

Visit Transformer's Auction page 
at for further details.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Call to Artists

WHAT: The 26th Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival
WHERE: Reston Town Center, Reston VA
WHEN:May 19-20, 2017
The Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival is a competitive, juried, outdoor event that showcases the best contemporary fine art and craft from around the nation. The Festival, which typically attracts 30,000+ patrons, is held in Reston Town Center, located in the affluent suburbs of Washington, DC. Reston Town Center is an easily accessible and upscale shopping and entertainment destination.  Our clientele is described as "affluent, enthusiastic young to middle aged couples who are not too price sensitive."

We recognize that our artists invest time, effort and money to participate in the Festival and we strive to make sure that everyone's Festival experience is excellent. 2017 exhibiting artists will enjoy outstanding support from our exceptional volunteers and a diverse knowledgeable clientele. Below are some artist hospitality attributes of our event:
*Nationally ranked outdoor festival

*The Great Application Giveaway: Art-Linx will award 3 lucky artists who elect to participate in this free drawing their jury fee.  Entry is based on application (not acceptance) to the show.  Winners will be notified via email.

*Drive-up, set-up/tear down adjacent to booth
*Reserved artist-only parking for oversize vehicles
*Convenient and profitable selling hours
*Ample volunteer support
*Booth sitters
*$5,000 in awards
*Printed program that features full-color thumbnails and websites for every artist with accompanying booth numbers
*Continental breakfasts
*Reduced hotel rates for onsite accomodations
*Free bottled water and snack delivery
*Indoor restrooms
*Police presence in additional to the 24/7 Reston Town Center Security
*Artist mentor opportunities  
Each year our Festival features approximately two hundred artists who are selected on the basis of quality, originality and craftsmanship by a panel of independent jurors and by members of our curatorial staff.  All are superb professionals with extensive experience in various disciplines of studio art and museum curation.

This Festival is annually produced by the Greater Reston Arts Center and is our primary fundraiser. As a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to enriching community life through excellence in contemporary visual art. We offer free-to-the-public exhibitions and art education programs across all ages, and impact over 20,000 children in 40 are schools. The proceeds from the Festival directly support our educational and outreach programs.

We are committed to elevating the profile of our Festival, and have increased our marketing budget to reach new audiences and promote interest from collectors. We contract with a professional PR firm to develop an aggressive marketing and promotion campaign to better market, recognize, and celebrate our Festival artists. We negotiate for well-placed advertising in prominent magazines and newspapers, arts focused catalogs, and online Going Out Guides. We have a strong outreach campaign for social media, radio, and television, which includes both paid and trade advertising. 

For the event approximately 70% of the artists are returning, 30% are new and 6% are invited, which include the ten award winners from the previous year. Exhibitor Ginny Herzog says; "I have been exhibiting at the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival for fifteen years and it is my favorite and is now my only east coast show. This show repeatedly delivers art savvy patrons and collectors from around the DC area."

Art collectors know our Festival and mark their calendars early for our marquee event. Local collectors Bob & Bonnie said "We love to purchase artwork from the amazing artists at the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival. These works add vibrancy and interest to our home, while helping support the arts and artists who create them. Over the years we have collected over 20 pieces of art at this event and made many connections with artists we now call "friends". It is one of the best venues for art in the Mid-Atlantic, and also a highly anticipated event for the community and the metropolitan Washington, DC area."

Art enthusiast, Margaret says; "every year I have a list of events I very much look forward and must repeat....The quality and diversity of the art is excellent and always interesting...This year the first picture I saw as I approached the Festival took my breath away. It was perfect for a spot I had in mind...." 

Don't miss your opportunity to be here!
Apply online through Juried Art Services

Application Deadline:  December 11, 2016
Application Fee: $50 (non-refundable)

Each application require four (4) artwork images and one (1) booth/display image fully representative of work you intend to exhibit; and an artist statement, explaining your creative process, use of materials and techniques.
Additional information is available at 
Call or Email questions to Festival Director Erica Harrison 703-471-9242 ext. 113 

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Congrats to President Elect Trump

President elect Donald Trump
Congrats to President Elect Donad Trump, whose unlikely victory was remarkable!

As we do with all President elects since we started in 2003, we wish him the best of luck, skill and ability in running the world's most powerful political office... and a well-deserved Bravo Zulu!

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Artomatic, Montgomerycountymatic, moneymatic... problematic

Prologue: After you finish reading the below, copy my question in bold, click here, and then paste the question onto an email to each of the MoCo council members and to their Kommissar, Mr. Ike Legget.

The current version of Artomatic, the DMV's greatest visual arts extravaganza, which opened last Tuesday in Potomac, Maryland, is the smallest iteration of the show since it started almost 20 years ago. Ironically, this may make this version the "easiest" one to visit and digest, as the normal gigantic size of the show is often the main issue that jams art critics' bandwidth when they visit and subsequently discussing the show.

As usual, AOM started with the venerable George Koch, Chair Emeritus of AOM and the ancestral father of this event, introducing some local Montgomery County artists, as well as the local developer (Foulger-Pratt, who owns the building and surrounding development), Suzan Jenkins, CEO of the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County, and a couple of local politicos (Council Vice President Roger Berliner, and Council member George Leventhal.

Foulger-Pratt 's CEO, Cameron Pratt, discussed the process via which the company approached AOM leadership about hosting the show, the opposite of the usual process, where AOM searches, and then begs for space. This deserves a kudo to Mr. Pratt's company. He was also quite funny in his remarks, discussing how real estate developers/politicians are not exactly well-loved these days.

Everyone laughed at the pun, and when Councilmember Leventhal's turn came up, he also brought it up, but incorrectly noted that Pratt had mentioned Donald Trump (by name) in his joke (he didn't... he just said "real estate developers/politicians"). This not only added a little bit of the Presidential race into the remarks, but it even highlighted the divisions, as the person behind me whispered to his companion: "I thought Pratt was talking about LuAnn Bennett..."

For any readers not familiar with Ms. Bennet, she's a local DMV real estate developer running for Congress in a race for her husband's former seat. Radio and TV ads constantly hammer home the message of her alleged manipulation of tax laws to enrich herself... cough, cough, so it's easy to see why Pratt's message could have been about Bennett and/or Trump.

Other than the Leventhal jab at Trump, both politicos pretty much delivered the same message, and what was common in their remarks, was the immense praise for the arts and its economic impact on Montgomery County.

They heaped praised on AOM, on the visual arts, on artists, on number two pencils, etc.

However, after a little investigation, the only thing that Montgomery County apparently has not done, is to contribute a penny towards AOM. If my conclusions are incorrect, then my apologies, and someone please correct me, cough, cough.

I discussed this with Suzan Jenkins, CEO of the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County. I noted that when AOM was held in Prince George's County in 2012, the The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission had orchestrated a program via which multiple Artomatic artists from PG County were selected to have their work acquired for the county's art collection. And together with M-NCPPC, the Prince George’s Arts and Humanities Council supported a couple of programs for Artomatic 2015.

Would Montgomery County -- one of the richest (11th richest county of 1,343 counties in the US) and most heavily taxed counties in the nation, one whose council members recently approved a whooping 8.7% property tax increase, and Maryland's state and local tax collections per person ranked 3rd highest nationally! -- be doing something similar with county artists at AOM?

In other words, would the county be acquiring any AOM works for their public art collection?

The answer was no, and the reasoning behind it quite solid: The Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County's miserable funding has barely enough funds to cover the maintenance and preservation of the nearly 700 works of art presently in its collection - so it can't afford to buy any!

For me, it put all the political talk in the trash bin and left me with the puzzle as to why PG County artists were shown some financial love, but Montgomery County, by far richer and with a much wealthier tax-paying base, cannot or will not, or perhaps hasn't even considered it!

Council members of Montgomery County: Will you set aside $20,000 for acquisition of artwork by Montgomery County artists currently on display at AOM?

Artomatic 2016 is in the Park Potomac development, which is located where Montrose Road crosses I-270, almost right off where the Beltway and 270 connect (going North). Artomatic is at 12435 Park Potomac Avenue and is free and open to the public. With 45,000 square feet of display space on the 5th and 6th floors featuring 380 artists, even at this "small" size, it is the largest open, anything and anyone shows, display of art on the planet. Do not miss it!

My review of Artomatic will be coming later this week!

A rarity: A DMV museum show about a DMV artist!

"DC area museum curators would rather take a cab to Dulles to fly to Berlin, or London, or Madrid to visit the studio of an emerging artist, than take a cab to Alexandria, or Adams Morgan, to visit the studio of an emerging local artist..."

 - F. Lennox Campello, Kojo Nmadi show about a decade ago...
Breaking news! In a radical departure from the norm, a DMV area art museum is doing a museum show about the works of a "local" artist!
This selection of fifteen classic stripe paintings by Gene Davis from the 1960s reveals the ambitious vision and accomplishment of one of Washington, D.C.’s outstanding visual artists.
Gene Davis: Hot Beat is organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum with generous support from the Joanne and Richard Brodie Exhibitions Endowment, Gene Davis Memorial Fund, James F. Dicke Family Endowment, Tania and Tom Evans Curatorial Endowment, and YARES ART, New York, Palm Springs, Santa Fe.

Gene Davis: Hot Beat

3rd floor North, American Art Museum (8th and F Streets, N.W.)
November 18, 2016 – April 2, 2017

Monday, November 07, 2016

DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities Accepting Applications for Additional FY17 Grants

Deadline to Apply: December 2, 2016

The DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities (DCCAH) is accepting applications for the following additional funding opportunities for FY17 grants: 

FY17 Projects, Events and Festivals Fall Cycle
In accordance with the FY17 Budget Support Act, Section 2152, DCCAH is offering opportunities to support the following:
  • A grant to support the establishment of a children's museum in the Central Business District, as defined in Title 11 of the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations;
  • A grant to support an organization providing literary-enrichment programming through author visits throughout DC Public Schools and Charter Schools;
  • A grant to support an organization providing orchestral performances with supporting community engagement events;
  • A grant for capital improvements for a historic theatre on Pennsylvania Avenue NW that produces primarily Broadway-style musical theatre performances;
  • A grant to support an organization dedicated to preserving the history of African-American involvement in the American Civil War.
DCCAH will present a Projects, Events and Festivals Fall Cycle program orientation and technical assistance workshop for interested organizations on Wednesday, November 16, 2016 at 11:00am and at 6:00pm at DCCAH's offices, 200 I (Eye) Street SE, Washington, DC

For guidelines and a complete description of the FY17 Projects, Events and Festival Fall Cycle, and to submit an application, visit 

Additional funding opportunities for FY17 will be announced in the coming months.

Vote tomorrow!

Model Citizen (Head)
2012, archival pigment print
15 x 15 inches, ed: 5.
Courtesy of Connersmith

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Girl Scouts yummy stuff???

Eclat International magazine visual arts coverage

My review of LA artist Sedi Pak is on pages 40-41, and my review of Chicago's two major art fairs on pages 20-22.

Read it online here.

Saturday, November 05, 2016

Kicking it at SOFA Chicago

The iconic SOFA art fair in Chicago is without a doubt the planet's leading sculptural art fair, and in all fairness, they're trying very effectively to expand from the 3D world onto an art fair (period) model.

DMV artist Lori Katz made his debut at SOFA this year and she's kicking butt and taking names! When a wall looks like the one below at any art fair, it's always good news!

Lori Katz's empty wall (lots of sales) at SOFA Chicago 2016
Lori Katz's empty wall (lots of sales) at SOFA Chicago 2016

Friday, November 04, 2016

Review of Artomatic 2004

This is a teaser of my review of Artomatic 2016, which is coming up after I make my third visit to the the show... can you pick how many blue chip artists have emerged from that AOM over a decade ago? Can you see why I like Artomatic?
Artomatic Energymatic Daggermatic

Art critics, like most writers, usually get paid by the word, sometimes by the article, and occasionally by an infinitesimal percentage of whatever profits their writing generates. And most art critics and writers visit a gallery show or museum exhibition, get a few handouts and spend about half an hour studying the works on the wall before heading home or to the office to pound the word processor’s keys and earn their buck-a-word for the review.

You can’t do that with Art-O-Matic, the huge, almost every two years, open visual arts extravaganza that this year hosted over 600 visual artists and another 400 performance artists at the laberynthic former convent building that last housed the Children’s Museum on 3rd and H Street, NE.

The idea behind Art-O-Matic is simple: find a large, empty building somewhere in the city; work with the building owners, and then allow any artist who wants to show their work help with staging the show and with some of the financial needs. This year, AOM artists paid a $60 entry fee plus worked a few hours assisting with the show.

And this year around 600 visual artists brought their art to the public.

In order to write a proper, ethical review of AOM, a writer must spend hours walking five floors of art, jam-packed into hundreds of rooms, bathrooms, closets and stairs. And I think that this is one of the main reasons that most art critics love to hate this show. It overwhelms them with visual offerings and forces them to develop a "glance and judge" attitude towards the artwork. It’s a lot easier to carpet bomb a huge show like this than to do a surgical strike.

Add on top of that an outdated, but "alive and kicking" elitist attitude towards an open show, where anyone and everyone who calls him or herself an artist can exhibit, sans the sanitizing and all-knowing eye of the latest trendy curator, and you have a perfect formula for dismissing a show, without really looking at it.

This quaint and elitist attitude towards art is not new or even modern. It was the same attitude that caused the emergence of the salons of the 19th century, where only artists that the academic intelligentsia deemed good enough were exhibited. As every art student who almost flunked art history knows, towards the latter half of that century, the artists who had been rejected from the salons (because they didn’t fit the formula of good art) organized their own Salon Des Refuses, sort of a 19th century Parisian Art-O-Matic.

And a lot, in fact, most of the work in the Salon Des Refuses was quite bad, but amongst the dreck were also pearls like Manet's Le Dejeuner sur 'Herbe (Luncheon in the Grass), Monet's Impression: Sunrise, (and we all know what art "ism" that title gave birth to) and an odd and memorable looking portrait of a young lady in white (The White Girl, Symphony in White, No. 1) by an American upstart by the name of James McNeill Whistler.

Everyone who was anyone in the art world hated and dismissed this anti-salon exhibition; except for the only "anyone" who actually counted: art history.

But then somewhere in the next century, the salons and their formulas returned. Only their name and their display styles had changed. They were now called Biennials, Biennales, Bienales, Documentas and their settings were in museums, entire cities or pristine white cubes around the world.

Only their reasoning and misguided logic remained constant: "Only we know what is good art."

And that is why these modern salonists and their acolytes will never respect, like, or understand Art-O-Matic: they recall that the Salons des Refuses almost broke their control over art; it won’t happen again.

And like the poet Marti wrote: "I know the monster well, for I have lived in its entrails." You see, over the last two decades I have been the juror, curator, decision-maker for hundreds of shows. And as a freelance art critic I have written and evaluated hundreds of artists and shows. I have been a minute gear in the world-wide machinations to keep control of what is art and never let a new Salons des Refuses wrest control again.

OK, OK, I know that am going overboard here; but... do you get the point?

But I am also an artist, and I like the concept of Art-O-Matic.

And not just because of the miles of artwork on display, much of which is mind numbing bad art; in fact, so bad that it is sometimes almost good in its exorbitant mediocrity. The main reason that I like Art-O-Matic is the palpable amount of artistic energy that it delivers to Washington, DC every couple of years. It is as if some invisible visual art battery in this ignored art scene comes to the forefront and gets recharged with brilliant white light (made as we all know, of all colors in the spectrum), and 50,000 people who generally would not set foot in a gallery or museum come and see art and artists and absorb the positive energy that only creative minds can generously give away.

So I enter my fourth Art-O-Matic with several preconceived ideas in my very subjective agenda:

(a) It’s going to take several visits and many hours to write my fourth review of Art-O-Matic in as many shows.

(b) There’s going to be a lot of dreck in the show. But art is in the eyes of the beholder; my dreck could be your pearl.

(c) I’m going to find several pearls in the show

(d) I’m going to re-charge my visual arts battery

(e) Our gallery will pick up some new artists from this show

On visit one, during the press preview, glass sculptor Tim Tate (Disclaimer: whom we represent and whom we "discovered" at a past Art-O-Matic) whizzes a group of us through the five floors of the show. It still takes three hours or so, but I have taken notes. Five visits and more than twenty hours later, I feel comfortable to start writing about the show.

A lot of the artists in the show are well known to me, and so I begin to discover "new" ones – at least new to me. Judy Jashinsky, who is one of the firebrand organizers who keeps this (and past) Art-O-Matics running, grabs me and asks me if I’ve seen Mark Jenkins’s pubic hair tapestries.

tape men by JenkinsAnd Jenkins is one of the first memorable discoveries in this show. Tucked away in a corner space, Jenkins has created two noteworthy entries into the show. First in everyone’s lips are his photographic explorations of close-ups of pubic hair (loupe included in the installation) that through the magic of digital manipulation become interesting designs of elegant abstracted qualities. A second Jenkins emerges from his crowded little room: the tape sculptures.

Jenkins uses common transparent packing tape (yards and yards of it) to create superbly crafted and visually attractive figurative sculptures, as well as the odd, unusual organic shaped one. Through documentary photography, we see what happens when Jenkins places these plastic figures in a public venue. A passing man stares incredulously at a plastic man inside a dumpster; or a beach jogger is surprised by an alien looking tape creature that the sea has washed ashore.

photo by Iver OlsonIver Olson is another talented discovery for me. He gets the award for the best porn in the show, although his display is also peppered with some otherwise just plain sensual photo-collages. It is almost as if there were two Olsons in the show: a really torrid, sensual photographer, and a brilliantly inventive pornographer.

In one of his photos, Olson has a woman with her hand buried inside the vagina of a second woman, who is sitting on a couch, seemingly bored, while her friend is searching inside her vagina, with (as an artist friend of mine put it) a "did a leave my keys in there?" sort of look. Somehow Olson has transformed the hardcore act of lesbian fisting into an almost funny scene of lustless abandon. Other good porn in the show is offered by Eduardo Rodriguez, Alexis Bine and Rudy K.

Another discovery is Ira Tattelman’s installation titled "They taught me to wash away my desires." I don’t know if it is because the building was once a convent, but there is certainly a strange, palpable energy in some parts of the building; people like Stephen King feed on this sort of energy and produce brilliant books; it is clear that Ira Tattelman also absorbed and channeled this energy into his installation. part of Ira's installation

"They taught me to wash away my desires" is inside a smallish bathroom furnished with a shower, a tub and some archaic 19th-century type bathroom stations (such as an enema station). Tattelman has installed a small pump in one of the stations that keeps re-circulating brownish, brackish water and add a watery sound to the room. To the right, inside and around the dirty tub is what at first sight appears to be a dismembered human body (they're actually some sort of artificial legs).

Put together the Stephen Kingesque feel of the room, the moist sound effects, the outdated chrome and dirty tile bath stations, and the human parts, and you have an installation that would give Hannibal Lechter a nightmare. It’s brilliant and somebody better put police ankle trackers on Tattelman now. sculpture by Senegal

A couple more artists who deserve to be mentioned in the Hannibal Lechter art list are the very good and macabre sculptures by Stephon Senegal: this is a young artist to keep an eye on; in my opinion possibly the best sculpture in the entire show. Some other pieces by very good artists in this new trend of Lechterism are "Joroko" and also the installation "Sun Ray" by retro-recycling master Ray Jacobs.

M. Rion Hoffman really impressed me with her photography negative boxes installed along one of the main hallways. Hoffman’s boxes are delicate and have that ability to bring the viewer in for an intimate, close-up exploration of whatever story this talented artist wants to deliver. However, her large photo-collages, displayed next to her boxes, appear brutish and heavy handed by comparison, although part of me kept being re-directed from them to her brilliant boxes.

photo by Matt DunnMatt Dunn is a mother load of photographic talent with a built-in magnet to attract, discover, capture on silver gelatin film, and then show us, the really interesting, throat-clearing substrata of human society that makes Diane Arbus’ photographs look like Sears portraits. This is a master portraitist in his element.

In the glass room, Washington Glass School directors Tim Tate and Erwin Timmers have created the most professional looking set of rooms in the entire building and provided the means to discover a couple of new talents in that beautiful genre. Another fact that surfaces very quickly is that the Washington Glass School is certainly stamping its own imprimatur, its own "school brand" in a sense, upon many of our area’s young glass artists. I particularly liked the figurative "man" vessels of Michael Janis, where Janis takes Tate’s seminal idea of narrative biographical wall panels and marries it with Tate’s apothecaries (nine of which were acquired by the Renwick Alliance) to deliver a fresh, new set of ideas in glass.

boat by Syl MathisIn these rooms I also liked Syl Mathis, who reminds us that the true beauty of glass lies mainly in its simplicity. Mathis delivers a series of pieces exploring the "boat" theme in glass. I preferred the simpler, more elegant forms by Mathis over some of the more elaborate pieces, perhaps made a bit distracting by their complex support stands and crafty materials.

Allison B. Miner is a very talented painter, and at the last Art-O-Matic, where I first discovered her small, in-your-face paintings, I singled her out as one of the best painters in that show. Miner is still one of the best painters in this show, and her talent with the brush and composition is clearly evident to the most casual observer. I do however, think that it is time for Miner to move on and push her enviable painting skills beyond the tight, close-up routine that she has come dangerously close to boxing herself in. This is a very good painter at the beginning of her career and I am sure that we are but seeing but a tiny bit of what Miner can and will deliver.crayon portrait by Barbaccia

Joseph Barbaccia is another artist whom I have been observing for the last few years and this year his crayon self-portrait – literally made out of hundreds and hundreds of crayons in a postmodern pointillist style – easily qualifies as one of the best pieces of art in the whole AOM.

Barbaccia is hard to pin down as a painter, sculptor, uh... crayonist? He explores and pushes art in all dimensions.

painting by DowellStaying within two dimensions, and doing a magnificent job of it are three enviably talented painters: Margaret Dowell, Michal Hunter and Jeffry Cudlin. All of these artists have that spectacular technical mastery of the brush that it is so easily dismissed by people who have never tried to mix cerulean blue with Payne’s gray and ended up with mud. Dowell’s paintings show not only extraordinary technical skills, but also a hungry sense of desire and intelligent understanding of her subjects – who are often transgender and cross dressing personages around our area.

Michal Hunter is also a technical virtuoso of the brush, with only one painting in the entire show; tucked away so far and so difficult to find, that had I not run into Hunter while she was on hallway monitor duty, I would have missed it completely. I am glad that I didn’t, as it is a very powerful work by a woman who is slowly re-affirming her once solid place in the Washington, DC art scene.

Jeffry Cudlin surprised me by delivering some very strong compositional works that are really excuses for Cudlin to use a representational subject to offer works such as "Author, Author," that are really more about the intelligent employment of color and shapes and composition. I write that he surprised me because I am not usually a big fan of these sorts of "interior" works. However, because the paintings are all about shape, color and composition, I found myself admiring them for those points, rather than for their subject matter.Scott Brooks' baby drawing

Creating a new place for himself is an illustrator named Scott Brooks, who in this new Art-O-Matic incarnation is like a strange, macabre John Currin, but can paint and draw a lot better than Currin ever learned to. A lot of people were talking about Brooks' disturbing images; this is usually a sign of success for any visual artist. Both the police and art collectors need to keep an eye on this talented artist.

But quite possibly the most talked about (well, at least the most listened to) pieces in the show are the two robotic installations by Thomas Edwards.

talking fish by Scott BrooksLocated on the main hallway of the fourth floor, Edwards first greets the passerby with an installation of several of those mechanical talking fish that move their heads and sing songs. He has changed the original recordings and instead of a Christmas carol, the fish now beg you to stop eating their eggs or complain that they’re dying, etc. It is funny and inventive. Edwards’ second piece is a motion sensing robotic head that follows you along a wall track and peppers you with irritating questions like "where did you get your hair done?"

Edwards’ installations are intelligent creative and they fit well right into the Hollywoodism tradition of past Art-O-Matics.

There is a lot of channeling of well-known artists in this AOM. Two artists stand out: Mark Stark channels Dan Flavin and Erin Hunter continues to somewhat channel Erik Sandberg.

Kevlar dress by Bridget VathI also enjoyed Bridget Vath’s very inventive use of Kevlar to design and construct dresses and other clothing apparel; I suspect that Vath could start a very successful line of Kevlar clothing with good markets in Baghdad, Beirut, Bogotá, Atlanta and most of the Balkans.

The funniest piece in the show, other than Thomas Edwards’ annoying talking fish is also one of the most famous paintings in the world.

I am referring to Kayti Didriksen’s now infamous portrait of Bush and Chaney titled "Man of Leisure: King George," where Didriksen has regurgitated Manet’s famous painting Olympia and has Vice President Chaney serving an oil well to a nude Dubya.

the famous Bush painting by KaytiThis image, a few weeks ago, at the height of the Funky Furniture controversy with the City Museum, was the most downloaded Internet image in the world.

It is a terribly funny, badly painted and highly successful work. Didriksen not only captures Bush’s likeness perfectly but also delivers an interesting expression (that’s perfect for the subject) in the much abused President (abused by a lot of AOM artists that is) and also offers a hilarious VP Chaney with a neck that seems inflamed by gout.

As with past AOM’s, a lot of artists explore the nude human figure in both paintings and photographs. This is a subject not usually seen in Washington area galleries, and I can't recall the last time that I saw an exhibition of nudes in any of our area’s museums. I noted Peggy McNutt, Shannon Chester (especially well done is "No. 10, Chair 2"), Adrienne Mills, Chris Keely, Dana Ellyn Kaufman and Candace Keegan.

Keegan kisses rubber duckyOf these, Kaufman and Keegan both use their own bodies to deliver interesting ideas and suggestions. In Kaufman’s case, extremely acidic, caustic and pointed commentaries with provocative titles married to insane figurative paintings. In Keegan’s case, she pushes a lot of moist buttons in our psyche by playing with stereotypical Hustlerian depictions of women: See Keegan suggestively sucking on her necklace; see Keegan in pigtails offer her breasts to the viewer. However, in the end what we do see are two strong women who use their art intelligently and use the taboo nude to converse elegantly with the viewer.

There is a lot of forgettable abstraction at AOM. Two artists who stand out from the masses (and happen to be sisters) are Andrea Cybik and Jan Sherfy. Their work explores colors and action and also stands out by their very professional presentation.

In summary, I’ve been to every single Art-O-Matic ever staged, and I am in the minority opinion that they’ve improved each time, and each time they give us a most precious gift: the energy that only several hundred creative minds working together can deliver. I hope Art-O-Matic grows to become a national level open show and then grow some more and become a worldwide showcase for the world’s largest open international art exhibition and a new dagger to the heart of the 21st century salons.