Friday, December 28, 2007

My end-of-year museums round-up runs in this week's Washington City Paper.

There was a problem with the website yesterday, but it's all sorted out now, so read the last word on 2007 here.

In that same issue, Kriston Capps ably surveys the galleries and proclaims that maybe, possibly we have something like an art scene in D.C. now.

Maybe. Possibly.

He also says some really nice things about Ian and Jan...thereby displaying his impeccable judgement and good taste.

I'm back from one gruelling holiday road trip, but preparing to embark on another--and trying to squeeze in as much studio time as possible inbetween the two. It looks like I'm in a show or something. More on that in the new year.

Thanks for visiting this blog over the past year--through highs and lows, lapses and flurries. It's been fun, and I hope to make year two of H & S more consistent, entertaining, and generally worth the time you spend stopping by.

Friday, December 21, 2007

I didn't make it to the Robert Storr lecture at the Phillips Collection on Thursday, December 6th...but I did manage to get a copy of it on DVD, and finally had a chance to take a look last night.

The main contention Storr makes is this: There's no such thing as postmodernism.

It's certainly not the first time I've heard this idea expressed. Storr argues that "modern art" isn't a period; it's an ongoing state of affairs in which there are both avante garde-ist feints away from pleasure and accepted ideas of beauty, and about-faces that more readily embrace mastery and tradition.

His main example for this--in one artist's life, even--is Picasso. Rosalind Krauss may see Picasso's Neoclassical period as "reaction formation"--basically, all about masturbation, fear, and failure of nerve--but Storr sees the whole narrative arc of Picasso's career as a series of bold choices and triumphs. (The truth, I suspect, is somehere in the vast chasm between.)

Mostly Storr wants to restore the complexity and jostling that so many narratives of modernism tend to downplay or overlook. I can certainly agree with that--just thinking of recent surveys like Matthew Witkovsky's Foto show at the NGA this year, or the big Dada show organized by Leah Dickerman and Laurent Le Bon last year, I'm reminded of how increasingly messy modernism looks to fresh eyes. Think even of the difference between the modernism of Scheeler and Hopper and of Duchamp and Picabia: Same movement, different worlds.

The problem with pointing to all of this and saying, "See? It's all just modern art!" the way that Storr does is that arguably, this kind of reformulation or revaluation of modernism is...wait for inherently contemporary/postmodern operation, and is typically described as such. If it walks like a duck, and it quacks like a duck...

Still, the lecture was tremendously entertaining and sharp, even with the big paradox at its heart.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Today Lenny humors my indecisiveness over at the recently re-christened Daily Campello Art News.

Get your daily campello-ing (yes, it's a verb!) here.
Sometimes I just make stuff up.

Example: Tim Conlon isn't from Philly; he's local. Who knew?

Not me, obviously, because in yesterday's post, I decided he was an out-of-towner. Thank you, Philippa, for the fact-check.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I've been busy trying to square a few things away before leaving for Christmas and New Year's. Apologies for the complete lack of activity here.

Below is a tentative description of one thing in particular that's been keeping me busy lately: our next show at the AAC, Collectors Select. It'll be the first project at the Center that I've helped shape from start to finish.

(Note: With the exception of one piece, none of the work in this show belongs to the collectors involved. We're not trying to show off their stuff; we're just trying to pin down their particular sensibilities/fascinations.)
For COLLECTORS SELECT, the Arlington Arts Center has collaborated with notable area collectors to create six distinctive exhibitions, each exploring a different theme or aspect of contemporary art practice. The show encompasses everything from traditional sculpture and painting, to video and installation, to graffiti. Artists included range from emerging local talent to established international figures.

Heather and Tony Podesta
Between a Rock and a Hard Place
In this show, the Podestas highlight work that includes references to the natural landscape. The show includes photographic works by D.C. performance artist Kathryn Cornelius; traditional, technically exquisite landscape photography by Steve Altermann; and a site specific stone and wire sculpture by Barbara Liotta that will flow dramatically from floor to ceiling.
Philip Barlow
Barlow explores the themes that have long driven his collecting—and curatorial—habits: Geometric abstraction, architectural ornament, and numbers or codes. Featured in the show are paintings and drawings by Simon Gouvernor, Wayne Edson Bryan, and Michelle Kong.
Philippa Hughes
The Pink Line Project’s Philippa Hughes showcases Philadelphia D.C. graffiti artist Tim Conlon—who, along with his crew, will work directly on the walls of the Tiffany gallery, making a large mural that will provide a jarring counterpoint to the Center’s 1930s floor-to-ceiling Tiffany windows.
Daniel Levinas
Levinas, an avid collector of avante-garde Latin American art, brings an international art star to the Center: León Ferarri, winner of the Golden Lion in the 52nd Venice Biennale in 2007. Ferrari will exhibit his heliographs—large prints that resemble labyrinthine city plans, and reflect on the political oppression of the Argentinean military dictatorship in the 1980s.
Henry L. Thaggert
Thaggert focuses on the videos and photographs of Bradley McCallum and Jacqueline Tarry, a married bi-racial performance art duo from Brooklyn whose works explore issues of race, gender, and trust.
Julian Fore
Relates the work of local contemporary artists to his interests in modernism and decorative art—featuring painters Janis Goodman & Jeffrey Smith, sculptor John Dreyfuss, photographs by William Christenberry—plus a Sam Gilliam painting from his personal collection, as well as a piece of 16th century porcelain. (tentative)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

My good friend Sean Tubbs has produced yet another chapter in his series of podcasts featuring collaged found sounds, Notes That Were. See below.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Below are some installation shots of our new exhibitions, HOPE AND FEAR and WINTER SOLOS.

(Also: a couple of pics of the ART ENABLES show in our community gallery downstairs. Not pictured: Resident artist Edith Heins's show upstairs in Wyatt gallery.)

I'll add captions to these when I get to the office. In the meantime, you can take a look, and ponder what precisely it is that you're seeing.

The reception is tomorrow--FRIDAY, December 7th, from 6:00 to 9:00. Tasty beverages provided, of course. There will be a dance performance by Bowen McCauley dance at 6:30 and 7:30 in the Meyer gallery, and HOPE AND FEAR curator Carol Lukitsch--my predecessor in the Curator's chair at the AAC--will give her remarks at 7:00. So come by!

You knew there had to be a perfectly good reason for not going to Miami this week, right?

A snowy day at the Arlington Arts Center.

A large drawing from Rachel Waldron and three collages from Steven Williams--part of HOPE AND FEAR.

More drawings and prints from Rachel Waldron.

Installation view of the Meyer Gallery, part of HOPE AND FEAR. From left to right: Prints by Michael Platt; sculpture by M.V. Langston; painting and sculpture by Laurel Hausler.

Closeup of Laurel Hausler's work.

The Blue Door and Vortex by Michael Platt. We've got six pieces total from Michael, including one called The Weight of Waiting, which incorporates text from a poem by his wife, linking old, weathered rooms where slaves were once held in Ghana to weakened, foundering buildings in New Orleans, post-Hurricane Katrina.

More Hausler, Langston, and Platt.

Three more images by Platt.

Hausler's High Priestess sculpture against images by Shahla Arbabi.

Triptych by Shahla Arbabi.

The Tiffany gallery, featuring paintings by Sandra Parra--you may have seen her work in the last Academy show at Conner Contemporary--and Janis Goodman.

Detail from one of Janis's large, semi-performative paintings.

On to our WINTER SOLOS: Installation view of Jennifer Levonian's very funny video, Smells Like English Boxwood. After viewing this, you'll never look at Colonial Williamsburg the same way again.

Young Kim's installation downstairs, Salt and Earth. Young lays out these flat rectangular fields of regular table salt, then silkscreens images into them with powdered red earth. Gorgeous, fragile, and definitely temporary.

Many years ago, when I first moved ino the area and didn't know anything about anything, The Arlington Arts Center was just that building with the big ceramic hands out in front of it. The guy behind those now-absent hands? Joe Mannino. Think of his solo show downstairs as a sort of AAC history lesson.

Art Enables works with adults with mental or developmental disabilities. I'm not much of an outsider art enthusiast, so when I went to pick pieces for their show in the Community Gallery, I didn't have any expectations. But this is frankly great stuff, and way more fun than I could've imagined.