Friday, March 24, 2017

The curious case of the WPA, one of its members, and the Gala Auction

The Washington Project for the Arts (WPA) has a long and storied history, and is without a doubt, one of the key components of the tapestry that makes up the DMV’s art scene.  The WPA is, and has always been, about its artist members.

In their own words:

Washington Project for the Arts (WPA) is an artist-driven contemporary art space in the heart of the nation’s capital. We produce public projects, present artist-curated performances and exhibitions, and host talks and workshops. Proceeds from this benefit sale are split evenly between the participating artists and WPA.

The annual WPA Auction Gala, of which I am proud to have been a part of multiple times in the past, is easily the organization’s key event – both as a critical fundraiser and as an art event.  Even in running this event the WPA is all about its artist members. I say this because many other organizations that run art auctions as fundraisers generally expect the artist to “donate” the artwork; the WPA gives the artist 50% of the proceeds. You can see all the selected/invited artists' works here.

In this most interesting Facebook discussion, DMV artist Barbara Januszkiewicz, noticing that many of this year’s invited Gala artists hailed from places other than the DMV, asked:

And the comments poured in!  Clearly Barbara Januszkiewicz touched a raw nerve in the visual arts community!

“Why is WPA so heavily promoting individual artists from outside of Washington? Seems like a fail”, wrote an early commenter.

Another commenter explained that…  “The WPA has always shown a range of artists -- when I worked there we showed a lot fewer Washingtonians, it was an artist-directed organization NOT primarily a services-for-local-artists organization, like many in that movement. And the focus of the auction has always been, what will sell, it's a fundraiser. Although the program focus has changed a lot in the past 20 years, the auction has often featured a high % of curators and artists from other places and whether they had representation was not a consideration. I raised an eyebrow when I saw this year's list but it's not a major shift.”

Peter Nesbett, the WPA’s Executive Director soon joined in the discussion and that essentially developed into another whole angle as he writes in this most public of forums:

Hey all, WPA here. So the old-timers in this conversation -- those who remember WPA from the 70s and 80s -- know that the org has always worked with artists both from and not from DC. Mapplethorpe wasn't from DC. Nancy Rubin wasn't either. Nor was CoLab, Meredith Monk, Robert Rauschenberg, Robert Ashley, the list goes on and on. WPA was founded as a place that welcomed great artists from where-ever, and the mixing of local and non-local was one of the things that made it valuable and interesting. (Note that over the past year, our programs have been driven almost entirely by artists from the DMV.) Mary, as to our mission: while we are grateful to have so many amazing artist members, we aren't a collaborative, like Foundry. Yes, we work hard to connect our artists with opportunities, often recommending them for commissions, teaching opportunities, etc, but our mission is not to serve the members by showing their work, which given the number of members (700) would be impossible. So we try to serve them in other ways. I would caution you all against thinking too narrowly about the role and impact a place like WPA can and should have on the community and not to judge it by whether or not it is showing your work. Embrace the bigger picture!

Also it is worth noting to the rest of you that the O has a bit of an axe to grind with me because when pressed by her on numerous occasions to visit her studio and to take a group show she had curated (that included her own work), I told her that I didn't really understand what she was up to in her work because it seemed to ape the work of others a-critically, and for that reason I didn't understand its value. So that is possibly what spurred her post. Who knows. I think it is important to be honest with each other so we don't waste each other's time.

I will close by saying that for the WPA auction this year my goals were to a) put artists in charge of the selections, b) introduce people to work they may not already know, and c) introduce artists from outside DC to artists from DC in an effort to strengthen and expand our community. I think the auction will do that.

Nesbett’s comment directed at Januszkiewicz’s potential motives are one thing, but I found it odd that the Executive Director of an artist-run organization would also take an open forum to criticize the artwork of one of its artist members… and so I joined in:

With all due respect, I am a somewhat disturbed that the director of an artists' driven organization takes an open forum to personally criticize the artwork of one of its members - who by the way, as the intense series of comments testify to, has asked a very valid and clearly "needed" question. That is, if one is to judge that by the passion of the comments and thoughts. But what bothers me is that were one to also mimic your viewpoint of "ape the work of others a-critically", then I'd challenge anyone with a simple understanding of art history to not "see" a dozen artists in any and every group show on the planet, any major art fair, and any WPA Gala, regurgitating the concepts and ideas of others who came before them, which in an era of postmodernism - where anything and everything is art - I thought was not an issue... In fact it is often refreshing, as when in this year's WPA Gala I see Chuck Close, Basquiat, Jerry Uelsmann, Goldsworthy, etc. being channeled into new work. It is clear to me that this question poses an opportunity for the WPA to host a panel/discussion on the subject, and it is also clear to me that you owe Barbara Januszkiewicz an apology for angling the discussion to a personal angle... Respectfully, Lenny Campello

And that’s where we stand now… I think.

However, I also really think that it is a good idea for the WPA to “listen” to what this thread of comments have revealed amongst its members, not to explain it away. I am 100% sure that Peter Nesbett’s intentions and daily drive is to make the WPA better in every possible way, and I suspect that he will be open to hosting an open discussion, somewhere in the DMV to address this question.

I’ve been a member of the WPA since I first moved to the DMV decades ago, and have participated in many shows and opportunities offered by the WPA, including several Gala auctions, the (e)merge art fairs, etc. I was also one of the “Sweet 16” selected by ubercollector Mera Rubell during her storied2009 studio visit tour.

But it was when I was asked to curate for the WPA a show that would eventually be titled “Seven” (it spread across seven different galleries of the then Warehouse complex across from the then “new” Washington Convention Center, that I really hit pay dirt, as it was there that I met the person who would eventually become my wife.

“Seven” was a show designed (by me) to try to expose as many WPA artist members as possible to collectors and gallery owners. The vast majority of the artists selected by me had never before been “picked” by the WPA for anything. I then personally walked area gallerists and collectors through the show… eventually I lost count, but at some point nearly 20 of the 66 artists in “Seven” were picked up by galleries, and at least through 2009 it was the highest grossing fundraiser for the WPA, as well as getting major reviews in all the local newspapers and television attention from both local and national (CNN) stations.

And if you would indulge me, below is the storyline of how that show developed, fastidiously reported by me in DC Art News over the period that it took place. In looking back at these posts (I think I have most of them) I was somewhat surprised by the sheer amount of coverage that the show received, especially in these austere days of visual arts coverage around the DMV.

The Story of "Seven"

As many of you have already read, I have been retained by the WPA/C to curate a show for them. I will be assisted by two young WPA/C interns: Sandra Fernandez and Adrian Schneck.

Because this show will be exhibited at the three separate buildings that comprise the Warehouse Theatre and Galleries complex, a total of seven separate spaces are available, and all will be used, and thus the exhibition title: Seven.

Using the power of the web, I intend to keep this curatorial process open and available to everyone via commentary here on what I am doing, how and why. In doing so, I hope to bring to light all the many issues, baggage, ideas, agendas, nepotism, and a complete lack of objectivity that a curator brings to such a massive job as this will be. As well as a lot of hard work and a good work ethic to deliver a show that will make all involved proud to be part of it. All artwork and artists to be displayed will be picked by me.

I will also try to handcuff some of my fellow commercial gallerists and, once the exhibition is open, take them around and have them discover (hopefully) some new talent from our area. It is my hope that the final selection of artists will be a good blend of some well-known area WPA/C artists as well as an exhibition opportunity for WPA/C talent that we don't see as often.

To start, I have decided to focus each of the seven spaces on a specific theme, genre or subject... sort of. I will also bring to this selection process (and to one space) the commercial acumen of a for-profit gallerist. As such (for example), I will select the artwork that will go in the main gallery space (co-located with the Warehouse Cafe) to be that work that I feel represents the best compilation of all the remaining spaces and also stands the best chance (in my sole opinion) of being sold.

Other spaces will have different approaches; for example, on my first run through all of the WPA/C slides, I was pleasantly surprised at the high quality of a lot of abstract paintings, and will thus hope to deliver a gallery full of those artists that (in my opinion) are the best from the membership.

Another space will be focused on a particular agenda item of mine: the nude figure. And thus I hope to deliver a gallery full of figurative nudes. At this time, I am also toying with the idea (space and logistics permitting) of having a figure drawing class, nude model and all, present at the opening. This is in the hope that they (the artists and the model) will provide an in situ perspective on the trials, tribulations and joy of creating artwork from the live model.

Details on the exhibition and entry process is available online here. All members of the WPA/C are eligible for consideration, but all final decisions and selections are mine.

I've already gone through all the WPA/C slides once (about 20,000 of them I'd guess), and will review all new entries and slides that come in between now and some future date a couple of weeks before the exhibition opens on June 30, 2005. I also intend to re-review all slides in the registry next week.

Possess-Us by Alessandra Torres

And I've already made some surprising discoveries and even some selections! In fact the first artist selected, and one whose work I did not know, is a MICA graduate and VCU MFA candidate Alessandra Torres. The image above is hers, and that's the artist as part of a sculptural installation titled Possess/(pose-us).

More later... keep checking; I truly intend for this exhibition to be provocative and fresh, but in the end it still remains one person's opinion and the trite saying that art is in the eye's of the beholder never applied more aptly than in this case: My eyes and thus my Seven.

Seven Update One
I'll be walking through the Warehouse spaces sometime today, along with some artists whose work I'd like to include in the coming "Seven" exhibition.

Visit here to enter "Seven."

Seven Update Three
I've re-visited about a third of the 24,000-plus slides in the WPA/C Artfile. There are a lot of old slides in there (including mine), and also a lot of WPA/C members don't have slides on file. Tsk, tsk...

I've also received quite a few entries electronically via email, and in some cases from members updating their files.

The selection process continues, and so far I've selected about thirty or so artists, most of which have or will receive an email from the WPA/C. I think that I will probably end up picking up about twenty or so more. After all the seven spaces at the Warehouse are quite ample, and I also have this salon-style vision for at least one of the spaces.

I've also invited (and they've accepted) Sam Gilliam and Manon Cleary, without a doubt two of DC's best known and most respected artists.

A few other artists that I wanted in this show have been unable to participate due to the fact that two of them have moved away and one is working furiously for a coming show and already has a waiting list for his next paintings!

There are also quite a few artists whose work I did not know... and this is part of the two way dialogue that happens between a curator and 24,000 slides.

There are dozens and dozens of very good artists who will not an invitation, but that have made a positive impression on me, and thus in a way are also gaining from this experience, as there's a good chance that their work may appear in something else associated with me in the future.

And that is why it is important to get out there and have slides in registries, and work online and so on: it needs to be seen!

Even being rejected has a possible positive footprint.

Case in point: Rebecca D'Angelo. Nearly ten years ago, Rebecca approached me with an exhibition proposal for a specific series of her photographs. The idea was interesting, but (for a then struggling commercial gallery) not very feasible, and so I told her no.

Years later, as I walked the seven various spaces that comprise the Warehouse holdings on 7th Street, one of them jumped in my mind as being perfect for Rebecca D'Angelo's project. I contacted her, she visited the spaces, and agreed!

Wait till you see it (her project that is). Opening night for "Seven" is June 30th from 6-8:30PM. Set that night aside.

Seven Update

Today, together with a few artists, one of the interns, and Kim Ward from the WPA/C and a photographer from the Washington Times, I walked the seven spaces at the Warehouse Gallery again.

We assigned some spaces already, and selected a few more artists. The
WPA/C website will soon have the final list, which now includes Chan Chao, Adam Fowler, David Jung, Marie Ringwald, Rick Wall and many others.

I've also turned
Mark Jenkins loose on the building, and I am sure that he will have an interesting tape people army present at the opening and for the duration of the show.

Now closing the loop on a drawing class that I want to have present at the opening. I have focused one of the seven galleries on the nude figure, and on opening night (June 30), I want to have a small drawing class present and drawing from a live nude model or two.

Seven (Done)
From the several thousand eligible artists (WPA/C members), I've chosen 66 67 for Seven. That number was closer to maybe 75 at one point, but several artists, for one reason or another, although invited could not participate.

Sometime next week I will take several of my fellow DC gallerists for a private view and tour of the show, hoping that they will discover some new talent (new to them) in the exhibition.

I also have several museum and a handful of independent curators (two from as far as Los Angeles and two from New York and one from the Midwest) in the process of being lined up to visit the show in the next few weeks. More on that when it happens.

And I will also take some well-known DC art collectors on a group tour sometime in the next couple of weeks; this is (after all) a fundraiser for the WPA/C.

The opening reception is Thursday, June 30th from 6 - 8:30PM.

The Seven Chosen

Artists selected for SEVEN are listed below; about a third of them are completely new to me. The rest I either knew their work, or who they were in some way or form. I think it is a powerful lesson on the importance of keeping your work "out there," no matter where "there" is, so that the work is "seen."

There are some well-known, experienced and recognized names on this list, people like Manon Cleary, Chan Chao and Sam Gilliam, as well as hot, young new artists like Lisa Bertnick, John Lehr and Kelly Towles.

Also young emerging artists like Alessandra Torres, Ben Tolman and Susan Jamison (who's in the current issue of New American Painting and also hangs in the Strictly Painting V exhibition at McLean). And also artists whose work I've rarely seen anywhere around our area, such as Gary Medovich, Rebecca D’Angelo, Sonia Jones, Lou Gagnon and Fae Gertsch.

This exhibition, having been curated by a gallerist, defines a show from the perspective of a curatorial eye aimed at perspective of intelligent, strong and visually powerful art and art ideas; this is my view from the ground-level; not the 10,000 foot level of a museum office.

As such, it is very painting-centric show at at time when painting (in spite of the constant attack from academia and the written word) seems to have regained center stage in the international art arena.

It is not a competition between the genres, and because of the agenda, prejudices and humanity of my selection process, in the end, Seven somewhat places painting at the center of attention, although I suspect that a strong showing by WPA/C photographers and what I expect to be a very memorable performance by Kathryn Cornelius, and an arresting installation by Alessandra Torres, will definately gather a big share of the public and media attention as well.

Here's the list:

Virginia Arrisueño
James W. Bailey
Joseph Barbaccia
Lisa Bertnick
Margaret Boozer
Mark Cameron Boyd
Adam Bradley
Scott Brooks
Lisa Brotman
Jonathan Bucci
Diane Bugash
Graham Caldwell
Chan Chao
Manon Cleary
Kathryn Cornelius
Rebecca Cross
Richard Dana
Rebecca D’Angelo
Margaret Dowell
Mary Early
Chris Edmunds
Victor Ekpuk
Michael Fitts
Adam Fowler
Lou Gagnon
Fae Gertsch
Sam Gilliam
Matthew Girard
Pat Goslee
Kristin Helgadottir
Linda Hesh
Maremi Hooff
Michal Hunter
Scott Hutchison
Melissa Ichiuji
Susan Jamison
Michael Janis
Mark Jenkins
Sonia Jones
David Jung
J.T. Kirkland
Sonya Lawyer
Tracy Lee
John Lehr
Joey Manlapaz
Matthew Mann
Amy Marx
Jeanette May
Maxwell McKenzie
Gary Medovich
Adrianne Mills
Allison Miner
Peter Photikoe
Sara Pomerance
Marie Ringwald
Molly Springfield
Tim Tate
Erwin Timmers
Ben Tolman
Alessandra Torres
Kelly Towles
Rick Wall
Frank Warren
Sarah Wegner
Andrew Wodzianski
Denise Wolff
Samantha Wolov

Early starts for SevenTres Marias by Mark Jenkins
Mark Jenkins installation for Seven, titled "Tres Marias," has already been installed in the trees outside the Warehouse Theatre and Galleries; inside Kelly Towles is already laboring on a wall, and Alessandra Torres will soon start on transforming a room.

Seven's opening is this Thursday starting at 6PM.

Seven: Installation Day One

As with any large, multi-gallery exhibition, there were some hiccups on the first day of Seven's installation, which forced the move of a very visible spot to another area (thank God for a very flexible artist); plus the mysterious move of some artwork from one area to another; and the selected artist whom we all forgot to add to the master list; and the usual last minute broken glass...
Sarah Wegner Installing at Seven
Sarah Wegner installing her cement furniture and kissing tea set

And Mark Jenkins' tape sculptures have somehow moved from the tree in front of the buildings to the building itself!
Mark Jenkins Tape Sculptures for Seven
Mark Jenkins' Tape Sculptures on the facade of the building

Mark Jenkins Tape Sculptures for Seven
I like the guy looking down from the corner of the building

And below is Kelly Towles painting a wall in the second floor gallery...

Calm (NOT) Before the Storm

I am so tired! Early wake-ups all this week; plus late nights at Warehouse for the hanging of Seven.

A couple of small disasters today: One of Rebecca Cross' delicate ceramic pieces fell off the wall and broke; time to scramble and see if Rebecca can replace it with another work.

Then a major piece by a very good artist could not be hung due to weight and size, and now we are left scrambling trying to figure out what to do; things will resolve themselves by tomorrow.

And then there's the artist who wanted his work "hung just so," and so we reserved a very special place for this person, and so far the artist has not delivered any work or returned several messages. Where are you?

And (as anyone who has ever curated a show from slides knows), there's the "surprise."

The "surprise" is that piece of artwork that looks great in a slide, but that once you see it, it... well, uh... disappoints.

Oh well.... one surprise from 67 artists is not bad.

On the pleasant side, Alessandra Torres continues to astound me on the good side; seldom have a seen a young artist be so full of energy and zeal and talent. I predict good things for her.

And Kathryn Cornelius damned near made me a convert to video art; wait until you see her video piece (Titled "Resolve" and being projected on opening night at the top floor - all by herself - and later on a flatscreen in the second floor gallery).

And I predict that Scott Brooks and Samantha Wolov are going to raise some eyebrows (and maybe other body parts on Wolov's case).

The opening is tomorrow, Thursday June 30 at 6PM.

See ya there!

Seven Opens Tonight
What: Seven, an exhibition of 67 WPA/C artists curated by me.

When: Opens tonight with a catered reception for the artists starting at 6PM. Work on exhibition until Sept. 9, 2005.

Where: The seven spaces that make up the Warehouse Theatre and Galleries complex. Located at 1021 7th Street, NW, across from the new Washington Convention Center.

See ya there!

Breedloves... and Seven opening photos

Hisham Singing
Those of you who attended the huge opening of Seven last Thursday at the Warehouse, know that one of the highlights of the opening was the magnificent voice of Hisham Breedlove, who delighted the crowd with not only his painted body, but also with his magnificent voice.

Hisham walked around the seven galleries that make up the show, singing a variety of opera solos; and he was spectacular!

Adrienne Mills recorded the Breedlove's transformation in this series of photographs from the opening of Seven. See them here.

More photos from the opening below (all courtesy Adrienne Mills):

Breedloves with Sandra Fernandez
Breedloves talking with Seven co-curator Sandra Fernandez

Philip Barlow and Vivian Lassman
Philip Barlow and Vivian Lassman

Breedloves with Rebecca Cross

Breedloves with Rebecca Cross in front of her work

Hisham with Andrew Wodzianski

Hisham with Andrew Wodzianski and friend

Lennox Campello by Adrienne Mills
Me at Seven opening, courtesy of Adrienne Mills.

Wednesday, July 6, 2005
CNN to cover Seven

CNN logo
CNN News will videotape coverage of Seven sometime next week.

Since it is (apparently) of national interest... perhaps the local papers can consider it of local interest as well?

Thursday, July 7, 2005
Collector walk-through
I walked one of our best collectors through Seven today and he picked up three pieces from the exhibition.

These collector walk-throughs will continue throughout the exhibition; after all, Seven is supposed to be a fundraiser for the

Friday, July 15, 2005
CNN on Seven
CNN videotaped a segment with Kim Ward, the Acting Executive Director of the WPA/C. The interview covered the history and mission of the WPA/C, a bit about Warehouse, a few shots of the show, and a plug for the Artist's Directory. I do not have the schedule for the air times; hopefully next week. It will be on for the last five minutes at the top of the hour on CNN Headline News in certain markets. I do know that they will show the spot 8 times a day for one week before the show closes.
Thursday, July 21, 2005
WaPo on Seven
Jessica Dawson has a mini review of Seven in today's Washington Post's Galleries column. Read it here.

Sunday, July 24, 2005
CNN on SevenI am told that the CNN spots on Seven will be running this week; I'm on the road again this morning, so if anyone sees them, please let me know.
Wednesday, August 3, 2005
Watson on SevenAmy Watson of The Artery, reviews Seven at Thinking About Art.

Read the review

Sunday, July 31, 2005
Talking Done

Just back from the curator's talk at Seven. A nicely sized crowd showed up, which was a little surprising to me, since usually it has been my experience that these curator talks only attract the artists involved. Thanks to all the DC Art News readers who came by and said howdy.
Bailey has a nice photo storyline of the talk here.He also managed to fall in love in the subway on the way to Seven and on the way back! The two photos below are courtesy of Bailey:Campello outside Seven - photo by J.W. Bailey

Me outside Warehouse discussing Seven
Campello discussing Tim Tate's glass sculptures - photo by JW Bailey

Me discussing Tim Tate's work

And the below photo courtesy of Mark Cameron Boyd:
Campello and Alessandra Torres by M. Cameron Boyd

Alessandra Torres discusses her installation

After the talk
Alessandra and her family took me out to dinner to Lauriol, where I had some excellent Cuban food.

Bailey also managed to whip out a monster letter to the Washington Post editors taking Jessica Dawson on for her dismissal of Seven.

It's OK; it's her right as a critic.

And yet, a
bad review is better than no review at all. Jessica's expected dismissal of the show has nonetheless resulted in one major sale to an important DC collector.

In addition to
Jessica's and John Blee's review, there are three separate other reviews being written right now, and hopefully they will be published soon; let's see what some other observers think.
Monday, August 8, 2005
Subject Matter

The visual arts carry a monkey on their back that none of the other genres of the fine arts have to deal with: the proprietarization of subject matter.

So, no contemporary artist would dare to, let's say, paint ballerinas (sorry but Degas closed that subject), or harlequins, etc.

And some subject matter, by the nature of the subject itself, would be labeled as saccharine by the nicest of critics. Say kittens, horses, puppies, mermaids.

Do we have a screwed up sense of what makes the visual arts tick or what?
This powerful painting, titled "Allegory of a Gay Bashing" by Scott Brooks has been receiving a lot of attention in the "nude gallery" in Seven. It is an homage by Brooks to the brutal murder of Matthew Sheppard.

And this painting swings representational painting's most formidable weapon (and the one that keeps painting as king of the hill in spite of all the critics and curators trying to kill it): The ability to convey an entire and diverse range of emotions with just one glance.
"Allegory of a Gay Bashing" delivers horror, beauty, politics, history and homage all in one swoop.

And this tremendous work will probably never be sold to anyone by Brooks, because it would take immense courage to display this work of art anywhere in this nation; not just DC, but anywhere. Someone can prove me wrong and buy it from Brooks and display it in their home, or office or even a museum somewhere - but I doubt that there's a collector or museum in the USA with the cojones to hang this work.
Brooks puppyAnd to get to the beginning point of this ramble, in spite of the horror delivered by "Allegory of a Gay Bashing", many people get stuck on one area: the cute puppy and kitty at the bottom of the castrated nude.

I've been in the room when I hear people discussing it. It seems like the cute puppy and kitty sitting on the ground, and staring at the viewer, evoke a higher sense of revulsion than the castrated man himself.

I've noted people's sense of repulsion caused by juxtaposing the two disparate sets of images. I think that they are repulsed by the cute animals being forced to share a scenario with a tortured man. Why are they there? people ask each other, a note of discomfort in their voices. Even the eloquent
Amy Watson was disoriented by the presence of the animals and (in her terrific review of the show) felt that they undermined the painting.Brooks' kittyCute kitty and cute puppy... taking the attention away from disturbing image. How dare Brooks paint cuteness, especially in this context?

I don't know why
Scott did it, but I think that it is the key that makes this painting truly repulsive and immensely successful all at once. Take them out, and you have a strong, powerful painting. Put them in, and you create a million questions, enormous angst and a desire to physically remove the creatures from the canvas itself.

And maybe without even realizing it, Scott has also reclaimed an artist's right to paint or draw anything that he or she so desires, and take the unjustified saccharinity of a subject and turn saccharine into anthrax with a few deft strokes of a painter's brush and a disorienting sense of juxtapositioning of subject matter.

Update: Sam Wolov has some thoughts on this subject.

Bailey on Wolov and Brooks 
Bailey interviews two of Seven's more controversial artists:Samantha Wolov here

and Scott G. Brooks here.

Capps on Seven
Kriston Capps polices Seven.

Read his
review here.

Seven in Art Film
Seven will be filmed this week as part of a documentary on contemporary art being produced by Deno Seder Productions.

Their art films and videos have won top honors at the Paris Art Film Biennial at the Georges Pompidou Center, the Berlin Film Festival, the Taipei International Film Festival, the Chicago and Houston International Film Festivals, the New York Underground Film Festival and others. One of their films, "Andy Warhol," was screened at the Corcoran during their Warhol exhibition.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Seven on Film
Yesterday an international crew filmed the Seven exhibition at the Warehouse.

They seemed to prefer (and focused upon) Alessandra Torres' installation and photographs, Kathryn Cornelius' video, Tim Tate's glass sculptures, Margaret Boozer's floor "crack" installation and Joe Barbaccia's sculptures.

In the next few days they will be also filming Mark Jenkins' street sculptures around DC, which they also liked a lot.

It was interesting to me to get a sort of outsider "validation" about the quality of the show and the artists, from an experienced crew and director who have done a lot of traveling, filming, interviewing and art hopping around the world, and still have loads of praise for the artwork being created by our area artists.

Cool uh?

Friday, August 12, 2005
Torres Interview
Bailey has a terrific interview with Seven artist Alessandra Torres.

Read it here.  
Seven side effects
One of the goals that I had hoped to accomplish for Seven (besides making it a success as a fundraiser and expose WPA/C members' work), was to also drag some of my fellow gallerists through the exhibition in the hope that they could find some artists of interest to them.

Thus far, I am told of at least five artists from Seven who have been signed up or offered contracts or exhibitions by area galleries.

Cool uh?

Friday, August 19, 2005

Hsu on Wolov
The Washington City Paper's Huan Hsu has a cool article on Seven artist Samantha Wolov in the current issue of the CP.

Read it here.

Portraits for Good

Alix Greenberg, founder of Portraits for Good, an online platform that empowers artists to make art while simultaneously doing good  notes that:

I've always thought of myself as an artist, more than an entrepreneur. But a few years ago I realized that, while artists have long stood for important causes, they've lacked a way to directly impact the causes that mattered to them most. That's why I created Portraits for Good.
What makes Portraits for Good unique is that proceeds from every purchase are donated to a non-profit of the purchaser’s choice. Since launching the site, they have helped to support amazing organizations like Doctors Without Borders, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, and the ASPCA.

Each artist on the
site has selected original art or limited edition prints that showcase their unique artistic style. Not sure where to start? They will work one-on-one with you to find the perfect gift for the person in mind. Select a piece of art or commission a custom work, choose a non-profit to receive a portion of proceeds, and they will deliver your art framed and ready to display!

I'm probably gonna try it myself soon - will let you know how it does!

Check it out here.


Flying cartoon by Campello
Heading to Vegas for some time with my Left coast offspring...

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Entries for the 2017 Trawick Prize are due two weeks from tomorrow on Friday, April 7

Don’t miss your chance to apply for this award! One artist will be named Best in Show Winner and will receive $10,000. A second place prize of $2,000 and a third place prize of $1,000 will also be awarded. Young Artists (must be born after April 7, 1987) are also eligible for the $1,000 Young Artist Prize.
Applicants must be 18 years of age or older and permanent, full-time residents of Maryland, Virginia or Washington, D.C.
For more information, eligibility requirements and to apply, please visit:

Fundraiser for Alma Selimovic’s Project in Berlin

Otis Street Art Project Studio is hosting a fundraising event for DMV artist Alma Selimovic.

Alma is going to Europe for a two-month residency at the INSTITUTE FÜR ALLES MÖGLICHE in Berlin, Germany. The focus of the residency will be to create digital drawings of people from Eastern Europe who are queer, trans and/or gender neutral. Alma’s drawings will be exhibited in Germany and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The final installation, "In Transition" will be exhibited in the USA and potentially a few other locations.

About the Fundraiser:
This event will feature a presentation by Alma, a screening of a documentary about her activist work in Bosnia and Herzegovina (Queer Sarajevo Festival: Documentary), and an exhibit and silent auction of her sculptural work and smaller works by her sister company RozArt.

All proceeds from the sales will go toward “In Transition” project. Alma would like to compensate travel and time of all of her models. Other expenses are included, such as the creation of a working team that will assist Alma with logistics, audio translations and photography. This project will geographically span Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia, in order to reach more people.

Alma has initiated a GoFundME campaign
Please visit the page and donate and share it with others.

April 1, 2017
6:00 PM -9:00 PM
Otis Street Arts Project
3706 Otis Street
Mount Rainier, MD
Facebook Event Page
Photo Transfer Class
with Alma Selimovic

Saturday April 8th, 2017
Sign Up for the Class 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Please just sign it somewhere...

Dear artists: Just sign the damn thing... somewhere...

One of the most curious things that I have puzzled about in the many decades of making art, presenting art, selling art, and dealing with both artists and art collectors (as well as art dealers), is how often artists anguish over a signature.

"Why don't you sign your artwork?", I ask.

The eyes wander away... the hands twist... mental agony is clearly evident, and more often than not, a semi-puzzled answer is "I just don't."

There are gazillions of ways to screw up a work of art with a signature - the most common one is where a work of art is marred by a giant signature in glow-in-the-dark silver color marker or some hideous color like that.

Even a tiny and elegant signature can distract from a work of art if placed in the wrong area of the work. Imagine an elegant abstract, such as a Mondrian, with a signature in the middle of one of the color geometric shapes.

And, the real truth is that if you care at all about art as a commodity, then I will tell you that most collectors, especially the savvy ones, will always ask about the signature, if one is not apparent at first inspection. You can give them all the certificates of authenticity on the planet, but they want that siggie somewhere.
"A Picasso with a signature may be worth twice as much as one without a signature," said Mark Rosen, former head of the print department at Sotheby's, which sells approximately thousands of prints per year with prices ranging from a few hundred dollars to over $100,000. "Chagall did a series of prints called 'Daphne and Chloe' and those that are signed are worth 10 times as much as those that are unsigned. Otherwise, they are the same prints."

By now you're itching to yell at me: "Lenster! What is this? Damn if you and damn if you don't?"

Nope - it's just damn if you don't; just do it in the proper place(s).

Some easy to remember DO NOT Rules when signing artwork
  • Never sign with a gigantic signature; a normal signature (or even smaller than normal) will do fine.
  • Never sign anywhere on the surface where it interferes with the composition.
  • Never sign with that glows, shimmers, is metallic, or will fade.
  • No need to put the little "c" inside the circle "copyright" sign by your signature. You already own the copyright no matter what!
  • If you sign on the back (verso in Sothebyse), make sure that it doesn't bleed through!
  • Don't sign using inks that will fade in time, or worse, separate, such as "Sharpies" do after a few years, when they acquire a yellow border around the faded black ink.
You want to know where to sign, right?

Cough, cough...

By the way... I'm meandering all about signatures on two dimensional work; you sculptors are all on your own, as long as you don't pull a Michelangelo on the Pieta stunt.

Where to sign two-dimensional work:

1. On the back (make sure that it doesn't go through and can be seen from the front); in fact, the more info that you can put on the back to help art historians of the future, the better. 

2. On the lower margin of the piece (usually the right margin, but that's up to you). 

3. Photographs can either be signed (and numbered in a small edition, cough, cough) on the verso (there's a million "special" photo-signing pens for all you photo geeks; they "write" on photo paper and dry in nanoseconds and don't smear, etc.) Or you can sign them if you leave a white border all around the printed photo. Even signing the mat in the lower margin in pencil was in vogue in the last century and is OK.

If you don't believe me about the power of a signature, then just go online and research the difference in price between a signed Picasso (most of them) and the two dozen or so fully validated, authenticated and documented unsigned Picassos (the ones that he gave to one of his ex-wifes that he hated).

That will learn y'all a lesson about signatures and art, Jethro... and don't get me started on dating artwork as well.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Coming in from the North Sea

A while back I posted about some of the artwork that I did while I was living near Brechin, in the Angus region of Scotland from 1989-1992. You can see some of those works here.

It has been of extreme interest to me to see several of these pieces come up for auctions and estate sales here and there, as sometimes the buyers contact me for information about the work.

In this case, this work was acquired at an estate sale in Hannibal, Missouri of all places. I recall selling it via an art show in Aberdeen, Scotland in 1990!

Coming in from the North Sea, Heading to Montrose, Scotland - 1990 watercolor by F. Lennox Campello
"Coming in from the North Sea, Heading to Montrose, Scotland"
16x20 inches, Watercolor on Paper, circa 1990
By F. Lennox Campello

Monday, March 20, 2017

Art Scam Alert!

Triple threat from these three idiots! Ignore and delete! DO NOT open the attachment!
Date:  Mon, March 20, 2017 3:16 am
Dear Sir/Ma'am,

We went through your works from a partner, we like to do business with

Please refer to the attached document & kindly reply with urgent

Sent from my iPhone
Henry Bloom/ Purchase Manager
9 Battery Road, #28-01
Straits Trading Building
Perth, Australia

Date:  Mon, March 20, 2017 3:40 am
 Dear Sir/Ma'am,

We went through your works from a partner and we love them, we like to do
business with you

Please refer to the attached document & kindly reply with urgent quotation.

Sent from my iPhone
Henry Bloom/ Purchase Manager
9 Battery Road, #28-01
Straits Trading Building
Perth, Australia

From:  "Henry Bloom"
Date:  Mon, March 20, 2017 4:57 am
 Dear Sir/Ma'am,

We went through your works from a partner and we love them, we like to do business
with you

Please refer to the attached document & kindly reply with urgent quotation.

Sent from my iPhone
Henry Bloom/ Purchase Manager
9 Battery Road, #28-01
Straits Trading Building
Perth, Australia


The World Is Your Stage opens this week

"The World Is Your Stage" Photo Exhibit by Sir Harvey Fitz 

1231 Good Hope Road, SE Washington, DC 20020
Show Dates: March 25 - April 4, 2017. Free and open to the general public. 
Meet the Artist Opening Reception: Saturday, March 25, 4:00-6:00 pm. 
Anacostia Arts Center HoursWed. - Thurs. 10AM - 7PM; Fri. - Sat. 10AM - 8PM; Sun. 10AM - 3PM
Sir Harvey Fitz’s photo exhibit, titled “The World is Your Stage” is a documentarian depiction of the seven stages of mankind from grand stages to street corners. This exhibit celebrates the passion that drives an artist or performer, regardless of the stage of life that they’re in – from being a dreamer of the craft, to a veteran, or someone who longs to return to their art.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Wanna go to an opening in G'town tonight?

Closed Monday Productions and Architect Robert Bell 



You are cordially invited to
Meet the Artists Sunday, March 19, 2017
5 PM - 7 PM

Historic Georgetown Theater
1351 Wisconsin Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20007

Closed Monday Productions LLC presents the Art of Legacy exhibition at the newly renovated Old Georgetown Theater, a former silent movie house from the 1900s.  The exhibition features Washington DC area artists, John Blee, Barbara Januszkiewicz, Anne Marchand, Martha Spak and photographers Marissa White and Matt Leedham. Recently added to the exhibition, sculptorRaymond Kaskey and his famous sculpture Portlandia.
The Pop up exhibition will be on view from March 9-26, 2017. A   reception “meet the artist” will be held on Sunday, March 19, 2017, from 5-7 pm at the newly renovated space located at 1351 Wisconsin Avenue NW in Washington DC, Georgetown.  All artists will be available to meet and discuss their artwork.

“The Art of Legacy exhibition has successfully enhanced this exquisite newly renovated space featuring natural light and views of the unique outside garden.  Curating the current show has reminded me of the importance of art in the community and why it matters.” says Marsha Ralls, “It’s a perfect meeting of historic DC with artists whose work reflects the very nature of the city.” Ralls, the curator and CEO of Closed Monday Productions, worked closely with architect Robert Bell to create a showcase for some of her favorite artists.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Come say hi to me at Zenith Gallery today

REJUVENATE WITH ART: CELEBRATING 39 YEARS, Accent on the positive... Let's celebrate!
  March 17 - April 29, 2017
Zenith Gallery
1429 Iris St. NW, Washington DC 20012
MEET THE ARTISTS RECEPTIONS: Saturday, March 18, 2 - 6 PM    

Vegas by Joyce Zipperer
Aluminum, Acrylic, and Glass Beads
7” x 4” x 8”
Price request

Closing Reception: Saturday, April 29, 2 - 5 PM

Come to hear me talk tomorrow

Last weekend I had the honor and pleasure to jury The Friends of The Yellow Barn Studio and Gallery's 18th Annual High School Student Art Exhibition. This art competition is an annual event for all high school sophomores, juniors and seniors from Montgomery County, Maryland, Northern Virginia, and Washington DC.

To say that I was astounded by the quality of this show would be a gigantic understatement!

Below are some examples of the work... prepare to be astounded! Award ceremony and judge’s comments take place tomorrow, Sunday, March 19th from 4:00 – 5:00pm. Exhibition is open Saturday, 12 to 5PM and Sunday, 12 to 5PM.

Let me tell you, after several decades of jurying, curating, reviewing, and looking at hundreds of art competitions, exhibitions, and fairs, it is rare for me to walk into a room full of art awaiting to be juried, and still be completely (and pleasantly) surprised by the extraordinary amount of talent, creativity and skill present in that room! 

And yet this was exactly the case with this competition: It must be clear to the most casual observer, that once you view the works that I selected for this show, that there’s an extraordinary abundance of artistic capital in these young minds.

The award winners and selected artists must be congratulated for this achievement. The level of this competition was very high and it was an exceedingly difficult process to jury.  Additionally, there were several outstanding works of art that could easily have been included for awards.

To the selected artists: I encourage each one of you to continue to press on with your artistic gifts – you are at the beginning of a lifetime of creation and I charge each and every one of you to continue to leave an artistic footprint as you mature in life.

Angelique Nagovskaya - “Tension”

Julia Chien – “The Call”

Kern Lee - "Deep Market”

Kristina Waymore – “The Bucket and The Basement"

Rayne Layton - "Art is NOT a Crime”

Sophie Nguyen - ”Renaissance”


Así decía un rumbero
Allá por el malecón.
Oye, deja la palucha
Y ponte a bailar el son