Sunday, June 25, 2017

Laura Beth Konopinski arrives in August!

Laura Beth Konopinski
The Washington Glass School (WGS) has announced the hire of Laura Beth Konopinski as Studio Coordinator. 

Laura Beth will coordinate the projects and classes of both the Washington Glass School and the public art projects of the Washington Glass Studio, as well as acting as the liaison for the Studio Artists and Residency Artists that are part of the WGS Arts Incubator.

She will also be working with us at various art fairs around the nation. 

From the WGS Blog:
Laura Beth received a BFA with glass emphasis from Bowling Green State University in Ohio. She has taught and worked in facilities such as the Pittsburgh Glass Center, Penland School of Crafts and the Corning Museum of Glass, which has allowed her to explore many methods of the glass making processes. 

For 3 years, Laura Beth worked as assistant to noted glass artist, Susan Taylor Glasgow.

Laura Beth Konopinski, “Within the chambers of Your Blackened Heart” Blown and recycled glass, sculpted, enamel, preserved organic materials, mixed media.
Throughout her artistic career, Laura Beth Konopinski has kept her material concentration primarily with glass, although uses other mediums including photography and metal.

Arising from her interests with environmental conservation, Laura Beth repurposes used materials and integrates carefully preserved organic compounds into sculpted layers of glass. 

She uses transparent glass as a lens for distortion with great effect to emphasize the ambiguous nature of human emotion. Laura Beth facilitates the idea of comparing reason and sentiment by combining figurative imagery with biological materials. 

“We’re thrilled to welcome Laura Beth to our team,” said WGS Co-Director Tim Tate. “She is a bright young talent who will play a critical role managing WGS’ projects and ensuring the quality as we implement our business and artistic ideas”.

Read a great profile about Laura Beth by Missouri’s Columbia Daily Tribune – click HERE.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

House Party!

Home is not just a structure. Home is family, community, stories, food, and culture. "If You Lived Here" is a hands-on public art installation that encourages us to reflect on how we live − in the house, the home, and the broader community across 150 years of shared history. Please join in this week to learn more about the historical and archaeological context of this project, help complete the home, and have fun at an open house party on Saturday!

For more information, please visit:

Historical and Archaeological Contexts
June 28 | 6-8 PM

Workshop with artist Amber Robles-Gordon
June 29 | 6-8 PM
Help Amber make art pieces that will complete the home.

Open House
July 1 | 1-4 PM
Music and ice cream!

Sunday Salon
July 2 | 2-4 PM
Learn more about the influence of the church in the community.

Location of the installation: On the grounds next to the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum, 1901 Fort Place, SE.

Imagined and produced by The Pink Line Project + Citizen Innovation Lab, in partnership with the DC Historic Preservation Office and the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum, funded by DC Office of Planning and the Kresge Foundation.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Art Scam Alert!!!

Do not fall for this jerk trying to rip off artists:
From: "Kyle Aylen"


   My name is Aylen Kyle from New York.. I actually observed my wife has been viewing your website on my laptop and i guess she likes your piece of work, I'm also impressed and amazed to have seen your various works too,You are doing a great job. I would like to receive further information about your piece of work and what inspires you.. Kindly confirm the availability for immediate sales..
Thanks and best regards..

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Free Online webinar

A Free Online webinar that will teach you methods to find Patrons and Sponsors for your art. You will learn how one artist got Apple Computers and Bose Sound to sponsor art work and art projects and also how individual donors and Patrons can be solicited. There is also an option to extend your education in other areas. All those who register for the free webinar get a free booklet right away on how one artist got invited to the Whitney Biennial. No Entry Fee.  


Monday, June 19, 2017

Art Scam Alert!

Stay away from this mutant trying to rip off artists!
From: Squarespace <>
Date: Sun, Jun 18, 2017 at 12:45 PM
Subject: Form Submission - contact

Name: john davidson
Email Address:
Message: Hello
Hope you are fine? Pardon my manners, i'm John Davidson from NC. You are doing a really great job in your artworks. I observed my wife has been
viewing your site on my laptop and i see she has an interest in your art piece
,well I was also amazed after seeing your various works too. I would love to receive further information about your piece of work and what actually inspires your imagination so vividly. Very much interested in purchasing a piece to surprise my wife. So kindly confirm the availability for immediate sales. Thanks and my best regards. John Davidson

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Call for proposals

Deadline September 1, 2017

The Fitton Center for Creative Arts is accepting proposals in all media for solo and group exhibitions for their 25th anniversary year, 2018-2019.  A community art center on the Great Miami River in arts-driven downtown Hamilton, Ohio, the Fitton Center provides experiences in the arts through exhibitions, classes, performances and other events.  Four galleries provide 2,600 square feet of space.  Solo artists generally are asked to exhibit 10 – 30 works, depending on scale, media and available space.  They also offer group shows of existing guilds or alliances and to individuals willing to be selected into a curated group. 

For full requirements, please contact Cathy Mayhugh, or visit , click on Exhibitions and download the Solo/Group Show Proposal Form.  101 S. Monument Ave., Hamilton OH 45011, (513) 863-8873 ext. 122. 

Chesapeake Gallery Call for Entries 2018-2020

Deadline: August 15th, 2017

The Chesapeake Gallery at Harford Community College, located in Bel Air, MD, is inviting artists, artist groups and curators working in any medium or format to apply for their 2018-2020 exhibition seasons! Artists and/or curators are responsible for the transportation or shipping of all artwork to and from the Chesapeake Gallery.

There is no application fee or commission on sold work.

Please visit the website below for more details on how to apply! (OR) Google Search: Harford Community Chesapeake Gallery; E-mail questions to Brad Blair:

Friday, June 16, 2017


Mark Jenkins has a cool review today in the Washington Post about my solo show at Artists and Makers Studios II in Rockville.

Read the whole Galleries column here.

Now at Strathmore

25th Annual Colored Pencil Society of America
International Exhibition

Sat, June 10–Sun, Aug 6, 2017
Juried by Joann Moser, former Senior Curator of Graphic Arts at the Smithsonian American Art Museum

Mandarins and Paper by Paco Martín Dominguez
Mandarins and Paper by Paco Martín Dominguez
Founded in 1990, the Colored Pencil Society of America highlights the versatility of this vibrant, distinct medium, by selecting the world’s most amazing colored pencil works for this annual, international exhibition.

Please join Strathmore for the following events presented in conjunction with the exhibition:


Thursday, June 15, 2017

Bummerstein... or why artists (and writers) need a thick skin!

Dear Florencio L. Campello:

Thank you for sending "The Mother of All Rock Fights." Your work received careful consideration here.

We've decided this manuscript isn't right for us, but we wish you luck placing it elsewhere.

Kind regards,

The Editors

P.S. Without submissions like yours, we'd lose the sense of discovery that keeps AGNI fresh. Please click here for a discounted subscription rate offered as a thank-you to our submitters:

Dear Florencio,

Lunch Ticket receives a number of excellent submissions each reading period, and while yours is one of them, it was not chosen for the upcoming issue. This is not a reflection on your work or on your worth as a writer. Our direction for the next issue of Lunch Ticket was simply different than the vision of your work.

Rejections are never easy—for you the writer, or for us, the editors. But as we both know, they are part of being a writer. We are sorry that we weren't the right market for The Mother of All Rock Fights, but we know that there is another market waiting for you, and to them, this piece is exactly perfect. We hope you know that this letter doesn't mean "no forever", and we hope you will submit to Lunch Ticket again.

Best of luck, and take good care,

The Editors of Lunch Ticket

You can go here to view the submission:

Dear Florencio,

Thanks for letting us read The Mother of All Rock Fights. Unfortunately, we've decided this one's not right for us. We wish you the best of luck in finding a home for the essay elsewhere, and in your continued writing.


Team Barrelhouse

You can go here to view the submission:

Dear Florencio Campello,

Your submission was received successfully.

writer: Florencio Campello
title(s): The Mother of all rock fights
genre: nonfiction

Thank you for your submission. You can check the status of your submission at any time by visiting and logging into your account.

Thank you for your submission to Bethesda Magazine’s Short Story Contest. The judges have made their selections, and your story was not among those chosen this year.
We encourage you to enter the contest again in the future.
Kathleen Neary
Bethesda Magazine

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Wanna go to an opening this weekend?

SATURDAY, JUNE 17, 4:00-6:00pm

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Art Scam Alert

Beware of this rodent trying to scam artists:
James Thomas

Good day,

Flying Solo

Flying Solo: An exhibition of photographs by Tanguy de Carbonnières
June 30 – August 6, 2017
Reception and Gallery Talk: Saturday, July 8, 2017, 5-7 PM
Gallery Hours: Sat 1-4pm and Sun 1-8pm
Abstracted shapes and brilliant colors and light patterns captivate the viewer of this exhibition of photographs by Tanguy de Carbonnières. Taken from an aerial perspective, de Carbonnières's images are studies in the wonders of nature. Soar above the plains of southern Africa and across the dynamic Victoria Falls. Mystical skies, the scorched earth of the bush, the luscious grass of the Okavango Delta, Victoria Falls' roaring waters and elusive wildlife await.

Photo by Tanguy de Carbonnières

7300 MacArthur Blvd, Glen Echo, MD 20812

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Library fines

I hate library fines... Don't get me wrong..... I understand why they exist and why we have to pay fines if we don't return books and movies back on time.

One needs official ID to get a library card...

One needs official ID to get a library card...

One needs official ID to get a library card...

Why aren't Progressives upset about this?

Edzell, Scotland

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Art fairs

As you know, I keep preaching how important it is for art galleries to do art fairs... and how scary it is to pony up the gigantic expenses of doing an art fair... but, in most case (note that the "most it pays off" is versus spending $$$$ over advertising and opening expenses...).

In 2017 we are/did doing:
  1. Affordable Art Fair New York (Spring)
  2. Scope New York
  3. SOFA Chicago
  4. Affordable Art Fair New York (Fall)
  5. Texas Contemporary Art Fair
  6. Context Art Miami
  7. Scope Miami Beach
Why? Because the numbers bear it all out! It has been over a decade of experience and empirical data and if you are a gallery and do not do art fairs --- you are nuts!

Friday, June 09, 2017

Artists' Websites: Lee Jaworek

Today I wanted to share the website of DMV area artist Lee Jaworek.
Lee Jaworek calls his art Artism® - seeing the world through the prismatic lens of Autism.  Lee is a young artist with Autism who tries to express his perception of the world through his art; the challenges -- the triumphs -- the beauty. 
Lee is a recent graduate of the Art Institute of Washington with a Bachelor of Fine Arts.  Since his graduation he has been pursuing a career in painting impressionistic and abstract works.  His paintings and prints have been exhibited in the Virginia State Capitol in Richmond, Alexandria Virginia's Athenaeum Art Gallery, and at the Paula Poundstone Performance/Fundraiser at The Birchmere nightclub, as well as other galleries in the Washington Metropolitan area.  Most recently his "Sunflower" has been seen on CBS Sunday Morning as part of their sun art collection.  Lee has received a number of commissions from private collectors while currently  continuing to expand his portfolio. 
Lee's Artism® is characterized by vibrant colors, balance, and impact. He believes "each color is just as important as every other color." Since an early age, Lee has been attracted to the basic spectrum of colors in the rainbow, and has incorporated them in many of his works.  He is intense in his execution, and definite about his selection of subject.  Lee's sensory experience of light and color have a great deal of influence on his art.  Perhaps in viewing it, one may have a glimpse into an autistic person's perception of the world -- stunning, curious, perplexing, magical, beautiful -- Artism® .
Visit Lee's website here. 

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Rousseau on Campello

Dr. Claudia Rousseau checks in at East City Art with an insightful review of my current solo show at Artists and Makers Studios II in Rockville:
The artist has always been fascinated by history, mythology, and the imagery of religion and legend.  These often overlap in his creative mind.  Having been stationed in Scotland for a number of years before returning to the United States in 1992, Campello became deeply immersed in the rich and mysterious history of the ancient Picts and Celts of Scotland and Ireland.  The spiritual connection that he developed to the place and its material and visual culture has become almost a second origin for him
Most people don't know that Dr. Rousseau was once considered one of the leading art critics in Latin America! We are lucky that subsequently, when returning to the US, she turned her formidable skills to the DC area - both in writing and in teaching!

Read the entire review here. 

Bethesda Painting Award Winners Announced

The Bethesda Arts & Entertainment District announced the top three Bethesda Painting Awards prize winners on Wednesday evening during the exhibition’s opening at Gallery B. Katherine Tzu-Lan Mann of Washington, D.C. was awarded “Best in Show” with $10,000; Carolyn Case of Cockeysville, MD was named second place and was given $2,000 and Kenneth Schiano of Chestertown, MD received third place and was awarded $1,000.

Katherine Tzu-Lan Mann received her Bachelor of Arts from Brown University, RI, and Master of Fine Arts from the Maryland Institute College of Art. She has had solo exhibits at AIR Gallery in Brooklyn, NY, Rice Gallery at McDaniel College in Westminster, MD and Hamilton Gallery in Washington, D.C. She received artist in residence grants throughout the U.S. and in Austria and India.  Mann was a finalist in the Bethesda Painting Awards in 2008, 2009, and received second place in 2010 and third place in 2012. She received Best in Show at Rawls Museum in Courtland, VA in 2011 and was a semifinalist for the 2015 Janet and Walter Sondheim Award. In 2016, Mann was an Individual Artist Grant recipient from the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities.
The eight artists selected as finalists are:

Amy Boone-McCreesh, Baltimore, MD
Carolyn Case, Cockeysville, MD
Frank Cole, Rockville, MD
Katherine Tzu-Lan Mann, Washington, D.C.
Mike McConnell, Phoenix, MD
Kenneth Schiano, Chestertown, MD
Stephen Towns, Baltimore, MD
Trevor Young, Takoma Park, MD

A public opening will be held on Friday, June 9, 2017 from 6 –8pm. Gallery B is located at 7700 Wisconsin Avenue, Suite E in downtown Bethesda. The work of the eight finalists will be on display from June 7 - July 1, 2017. Gallery hours are Wednesday through Saturday from 12 – 6pm.

Entries were juried by Don Kimes, Professor of Art and Director of Studio Art Program at American University; Trace Miller, Lecturer and Assistant to Department Chair at Towson University and Dr. Cole Welter, Graduate Program Director, Professor of Art, Painting & Drawing at James Madison University.
The Bethesda Painting Awards was established by Carol Trawick in 2005. Ms. Trawick has served as a community activist for more than 25 years in downtown Bethesda. She is past chair of the Bethesda Arts & Entertainment District, past chair of the Bethesda Urban Partnership, Inc. and founder of The Trawick Prize: Bethesda Contemporary Art Awards.
For more information, please visit

The Eye of Faith Flanagan

Mary Faith Flanagan (known as Faith), was an avid arts supporter who participated actively in the greater Washington, DC art world. She died suddenly at age 50 on Thursday, January 12, 2017 in her home in Washington, DC from unexpected cardiac events. 

Artist and curator friends are organizing this memorial exhibition to honor her vision and vital support to the art community. The exhibition will feature some of the artists that she worked with as an independent curator and arts promoter and some of the works from her personal art collection. 

After the opening reception on Saturday, June 24 from 6-8, gallery hours will be Thursday - Saturday, 12 - 6 pm through Saturday, July 8.  They will host a closing reception as well on Saturday, July 8.

Studio 1469 is a community multi-purpose studio/gallery in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of Washington, DC. Faith Flanagan helped program and run the space with Norm Veenstra. 

Studio 1469
1469 Harvard Street NW REAR
Washington, DC 20009

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Glitch: An Exploration of Digital Media

Exhibition Dates: May 27 – July 9, 2017
Reception: June 8 • 6 – 8pm

The newest exhibition in Target Gallery, the contemporary exhibition space for the Torpedo Factory Art Center, explores emerging technological and interactive media in art. Glitch: An Exploration of Digital Media features the work of 11 artists from across the country, five of whom are from the region. Adriel Luis, curator of digital and emerging media at the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, juried the show.

“Ever since the invention of fire, humans have approached technology with intrigue, bewilderment and audacity – sometimes all at the same time,” said Luis. “The work submitted for this exhibit presented a treasure trove of ways that artists attempt to tame this flame. I learned that technology and media-based art is not merely a genre or medium, but rather a layer of reality that will inevitably become present in all forms of creative expression.”

The work on view in Glitch shows the complex—and sometimes messy—relationship between emerging technologies and basic human communication. Technology can be an obstacle, a distraction, or a placeholder for storytelling. For example, in Sasha de Koninck’s Zeroes and Ones, each jacquard weaving has musical compositions embedded into them. Viewers can play preprogramed compositions or create their own arrangements based on where they move and direct the camera on the accompanying tablet device.

“I chose works that insisted on telling their tales in spite of these challenges,” said Luis. “The works presented here may demonstrate new ways of looking at media, but more importantly, they are new ways of looking at ourselves.”

The participating artists are:

Jill Burks, Cambridge, NYEric Corriel, Brooklyn, NYSasha de Koninck, Santa Monica, CA
Alexis Gomez, Dumfries, VA
Ed Grant, Brooklyn, NY
Maxim Leyzerovich, Washington, D.C.
Tracy Miller-Robbins, Westerville, OHJohn Mosher, Salisbury, MDZach Nagle, Minneapolis, MN
Lyric Prince, Arlington, VA 
Kaylah Waite, Hyattsville, MD 

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

VMFA appoints new Modern and Contemporary Art Curator

From VFMA:
Valerie Cassel Oliver has been named the Sydney and Frances Lewis Family Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. A curator with a proven eye for emerging artists and the integration of new disciplines with traditional art forms, Cassel Oliver was selected after a comprehensive national search. She will join VMFA on July 7, 2017.

Cassel Oliver comes to the museum from the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, where she rose to the position of senior curator during her 16-year tenure. Her experience includes co-curating the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Biennial Exhibition in 2000; directing the Visiting Artists Program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago; and administering grants as a program specialist with the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, D.C.

“Valerie is one of the most dynamic and respected contemporary curators in her field,” said Alex Nyerges, VMFA Director. “She brings an impressive network of contacts from across the arts community, and she has an established record of organizing exhibitions that explore topical themes that resonate with viewers. Now, in her new curatorial role at VMFA, she will have the resources to apply her talents in building our museum collections. Based on her previous experience, as well as her curatorial vision, she will undoubtedly push the institution in exciting new directions.”

Cassel Oliver’s first priority at VMFA will be to review the modern and contemporary art holdings, and develop a collection plan. A primary focus for her acquisition strategy, in line with the museum’s strategic plan, will be to add more works by African American and African-diasporic artists. Indeed, VMFA’s commitment to diversity, both in its staff and collections, encouraged her to apply for this position.

“I look forward to working in partnership with Alex, Michael, and the entire curatorial team to open up the canon to include not just African American and African-diasporic voices, but many different voices,” Cassel Oliver said. “There are artists from myriad social and cultural backgrounds who are not fully represented in today’s art world, and we need to ensure their stories are part of the rich narratives we bring to life in our museum. I bring a perspective of inclusivity, and I want to create a context that engages a public that can see itself reflected in the museum. Doing so allows the discussions around art to be broader and only serves to make the entire field stronger.”

At CAMH, Cassel Oliver conceived and orchestrated numerous group exhibitions that generated greater audience engagement by extending the artist’s reach beyond traditional institutional walls. Radical Presence: Black Performance in Contemporary Art (2012) tracked black performance in the visual arts since the 1960s. This groundbreaking exhibition toured nationally until 2015. An earlier exhibition, Cinema Remixed and Reloaded: Black Women Artists and the Moving Image (2008), which she co-curated with Andrea Barnwell Brownlee, was nominated for the prestigious AICA (International Association of Art Critics) award in the digital media, video or film category and was later presented at the 11th Havana Biennial in 2012. She also organized Hand+Made: The Performative Impulse in Art and Craft (2010), a CAMH exhibition that featured works by Virginia Commonwealth University alumni and faculty including Sonya Clark.

Other key exhibitions she has curated include Splat Boom Pow! The Influence of Cartoons in Contemporary Art (2003); the acclaimed Double Consciousness: Black Conceptual Art since 1970 (2005); and Black/White Noise: Sound and Light in Contemporary Art (2007). She also has organized several major retrospectives and single-artist exhibitions: Born in the State of FLUX/us (2010), which was devoted to the work of Benjamin Patterson, a contrabass musician, long-time arts administrator and founding member of Fluxus; the survey Donald Moffett: The Extravagant Vein (2011); Trenton Doyle Hancock: Skin and Bones, 20 Years of Drawing (2014); Compilation (2015), a retrospective of work by sonic and visual artist Jennie C. Jones.; and most recently, Everything and Nothing (2016), a 10-year survey of work by painter and sculptor Angel Otero.

“Valerie has a reputation for getting to know artists through numerous studio visits and conversations that build trust and respect with them,” said Dr. Michael R. Taylor, Chief Curator and Deputy Director for Art and Education. “Artists such as Trenton Doyle Hancock, Jennie C. Jones, and Benjamin Patterson have opened up to her in a way that they might not with other curators. That’s been a hallmark of her curatorial work. In her exhibitions, the viewpoint of the artist comes first.”

“This VMFA appointment is a wonderful opportunity to begin a new chapter in my curatorial career,” Cassel Oliver said. “Recent, considered acquisitions have positioned VMFA for sustained dialogues in contemporary art. I’m excited to continue that conversation, thinking not only of the current collection and the legacy of these works from a new perspective—a perspective that takes into account my own imprint through new acquisitions and exhibitions.”

At the same time, Cassel Oliver noted that contemporary artists are continually pushing traditional definitions of art, in part with the integration of new media and approaches to art making. “I’m particularly interested in artists who are constantly evolving in the studio and who are employing multiple strategies,” she added. “Artists today move in and out of different mediums, and they never sit in one place. There is a constant need for innovation and experimentation in the studio.”

Sonya Clark, Chair of Craft and Material Studies at VCUarts, praised Cassel Oliver’s appointment. “Richmond’s history is an American story and, in fact, a global story. What we do here in the arts and how we do it is impactful locally, nationally, and globally,” she said. “I’ve known Valerie for almost 20 years, and her approach is a model for the art community. She is artist-centered, committed to inclusion, globally connected, and well-respected. Valerie’s appointment as the Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the VMFA comes at a pivotal time in our history. I’m absolutely thrilled she will be joining us in Richmond.”

More about Valerie Cassel Oliver
After earning her undergraduate degree from The University of Texas at Austin in 1987, Cassel Oliver completed her master’s degree in art history at Howard University in Washington, D.C. in 1992.  In 2009, she was a fellow at the Center for Curatorial Leadership in New York through which she received a certificate in executive management from Columbia University.

Cassel Oliver started her career at the National Endowment for the Arts, where she managed a combined $1.5 million portfolio in the Expansion Arts Program from 1988 to 1995. The next year, she joined the School of the Art Institute in Chicago, where she directed administrative and curatorial functions for the visiting artists program presenting national and international artists. She joined CAMH in 2000 as an associate curator, becoming full curator in 2006, and, in 2010, moved into the senior curator role, where she assisted in shaping and articulating the museum’s curatorial vision.

In 2011, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta presented Cassel Oliver with The David C. Driskell Prize, named for the renowned African American artist and art scholar. This distinguished award recognizes individuals who have made an original and important contribution to the field of African American art or art history.

Among her additional accolades are serving as this year’s Senior Fellow for the curatorial studies program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago; the Carol and Arthur Goldberg Foundation To-Life Visiting Curator at Hunter College in 2016, and being named to the YBCA 100 by the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco in 2015. In 2007, she also was a non-resident curatorial fellow at the Los Angeles-based Getty Foundation, where she continued her scholarship on Benjamin Patterson. Cassel Oliver has also published widely and lectured extensively throughout her career.

Cassel Oliver’s first exhibition project at VMFA will be a retrospective for the acclaimed African American artist Howardena Pindell, which she is co-curating with Naomi Beckwith at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. It will open at VMFA in January 2019. When she asked Michael Taylor for his opinion on future projects at VMFA, he gave her one directive in developing new exhibitions: “Go big.”

Monday, June 05, 2017

Performing the Border at AU

The borders that separate people and things are constantly changing, and quite often completely arbitrary, yet the importance placed on them would seem to suggest otherwise. Featuring Washington artists Clay Dunklin, Amy Lin, Susana Raab, Jenny Wu, and the artist collective Street Light Circus, the works in Performing the Border explore the concept of borders and boundaries, both the ways we perform within them, and the way those borders are often themselves a performance.

At AU and curated by Megan Parker.

Opening ReceptionJune 17, 6-9 pm

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Remembering an elegant tree

A year ago my courageous mother died... this is my eulogy from that day:
When my father died last year, I began his eulogy by noting that another oak had fallen.

This morning, around 1:25AM, Ana Olivia Cruzata Marrero de Campello, his wife of over 60 years, and my beloved mother, passed on on the day of her 97th birthday.

If my father was an oak, then my mother was an equally strong, but also very pliable, and elegant tree.  When hurricanes attack the mainlands of the world, the strong tall trees often fall, but the pliable ones, like plantain trees, always give with the wind, and survive the storms, and thrive in the drenching rains.

My mother was like a an aged plantain tree, not only immensely strong and pliable, but also giving and nurturing.

Like many Cuban women of her generation and her social-economic background, she had never worked for a living in Cuba, and yet within a few days of our arrival in New York in the 1960s, she was working long hours in a sewing factory, putting her formidable seamstress skills, honed in the social sewing and embroidery gathering of young Cuban girls, to use in the "piece work" process of the New York sewing factories.

As soon as we saved the money, one of the first things that my mother bought was an electric sewing machine - a novelty to her, as she had always used one of the those ancient Singer machines with a foot pedal.

I remember as a child in Brooklyn, that women used to bring her fabric and a page from a magazine with a woman wearing a dress. Without the benefit of a sewing pattern, my mother would whip up a copy of the dress that was more often than not probably better made than the original. As the word of her skills spread, so did her customers and soon she was making more money working at home than at the factory - but she kept both jobs.

I once noted to her that I admired the courage that it must have taken her to leave her family and immigrate to the United States. "We didn't come here as immigrants," she corrected me. "We came as political refugees, and I initially thought that we'd be back in Cuba within a few years at the most."

When the brutal Castro dictatorship refused to loosen its stranglehold on her birth place, she became an immigrant, and from there on an American citizen from her white-streaked hair down to her heel bone (that's a Cuban saying). Like my father, she loved her adopted country with a ferocity, that I sometimes feel that only people who have been bloodied by Communism can feel for a new, free homeland.

As as I've noted before, Cubans are archaic immigrants... we love this great nation because we recognize its singular and unique greatness; perhaps it is because our forebears had the same chance at greatness and blew it.

I remember as a teenager, once I started going out to parties and things at night on my own (around age 16 or so), that my mother would wait up for me, sitting by the third floor window of our Brooklyn apartment, where she could survey the whole neighborhood and see as far as the elevated LL subway station a few blocks away, to watch me descend the station stairs and trace my way home.

My mother was always fit and, as once described by my father, "flaca como un fusil" (as slim as a rifle). She was strong and fast. She was also quiet, but never silenced, and when needed, could and would command attention.

My mother was always well dressed and superbly coiffed. When we'd go to parties and events, women would always ask her where she'd gotten that dress! The answer was always the same: she'd made it!

At least once a week, to my father's dismay, and in spite of his demands that my mother stop it, she'd get her hair done at the nearby peluqueria (hair dresser).

My dad knew, and respected his limits with my mother. 

I remember one time that my father and I were returning from shopping at the supermarket, dragging one of those wheeled folding carts that could carry four full paper grocery bags. It had been snowing, so the Brooklyn streets were wet and muddy.

When we got to our apartment my father opened the door. He then stood there.

"Go in!" I demanded.

"We'll have to wait," he said gloomily, "Your mother mopped the floor and it's still wet." This giant, tough, street-brawling Galician then looked at me sheepishly, "I'd rather walk through a mine field than step on your mother's wet floor."

I learned a lesson there.

She used to delight in telling stories how, as a child, she would often win the horse races that kids staged around the small country towns where she was raised in Oriente province, where her father was a Mayoral.

"I almost always won," she'd say, and then would add: "Even though I was a skinny girl."

Once, in her seventies, back in the days where you could actually accompany people to the departing gates at airports, we were escorting my oldest daughter Vanessa, who had come to visit, and we were running late. As we got to the airport, we ran to the gate, and to everyone's surprise, Abuela got there first. I still remember how delighted my daughter was that her grandmother could still run like a gazelle.

When I joined the Navy at age 17, my first duty station was USS SARATOGA, which at the time was stationed in Mayport in Florida, and thus my parents decided to migrate south to Florida and moved to Miami... just to be close to me.

They spent the next 40 years in the same apartment while I was stationed all over the world.

The mostly Cuban-American families that lived over the years in that apartment loved my mother, and would always tell me stories about my mother, ever the nurturer, bringing them food when she knew that they were going over tough times, or riding the buses with them, just to show them the routes.

This week, when I arrived in Miami, already somewhat knowing that this was approaching the end, I saw her with tubes coming out of her mouth and her eyes closed. When I spoke to her she opened her eyes, and in spite of the visuals that my eyes were seeing she somehow still managed to look strong. 

I showed her photos and movies of her grand children, and talked to her for a long time.

I thanked her for having the courage to leave her motherland and afford me the opportunity to grow as an American.

When she was being extubated, a young woman came into the room with a guitar and played and sang the haunting free prose of Guajira Guantanamera (The peasant girl from Guantanamo); a most fitting song, since my mother was from Guantanamo, and she came from strong Cuban peasant stock.

"Guajira pero fina (A peasant, but a very refined woman)", noted a neighbor and loving caretaker. 

The song, which can start with just about any prose, started with the Jose Marti poem:
 Yo quiero, cuando me muera, sin patria, pero sin amo, tener en mi tumba un ramo de flores y una bandera
I want to, when I die, without my motherland, but without a master, to have on my tomb a bunch of flowers and a flag.
She died without a master, a strong and pliable woman who not only gave me the gift of life, but also the gift of freedom.

And as my mother died in her sleep in the early hours of the morning, in the capital city of the bitter Cuban Diaspora, all that I could gather to say to her was mostly the same that I said to my father when he passed last year: "Thank you for your courage... from me, and from my children... and soon from their children. You opened a whole new world for them."

I love you Mami... Un Abrazo Fuerte! Thank you for your gifts to me and my children, and happy birthday in Heaven!

Call For Original Art for VCU CMH Hospital

Deadline: July 1, 2017

The call is open to all artists 18 and older living in Virginia and North Carolina. The art selection panel will consider diversity as one factor in the selection process.

  1. Drawings, paintings, collage, prints, digital art and wall mounted sculpture
  2. All work should be “hospital friendly,”
  3. Nature, natural elements and health are the underlying themes of the building.
  4. Cultural diversity in subject and content.
  5. Contemporary art that stands on its own, and with a theme that unifies.
  6. Proposals for commissions will be accepted
All the details here!

The Business of the Arts - You're Invited!

From the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities:

Topic: Marketing Techniques for Streamlining and Optimizing Your Social Media Outreach
Join us for an interactive workshop with Sarah Massey of Massey Media. Get tips on building your online brand, creating an ongoing online engagement plan, and selecting the right software to streamline your outreach. 
Monday, June 12, 2017
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm 
Location: 441 4th Street NW, Ste. 1117, Washington, DC 20001
Metro: Judiciary Square (Red Line)
RSVP via Eventbrite
 Facilitator: Sarah Massey, Principal & Owner of Massey Media 
 For more information or to request a reasonable accommodation, contact Kali Wasenko at or (202) 724-1445 by Monday, June 5, 2017.