Wednesday, December 23, 2009

checking out and signing off

My D.C. museums roundup for 2009 is in this week's Washington City Paper. Read all about it here. And, yes, I do devote a number of paragraphs to the bulbous membrane. Surprise!

What about the blogosphere in review? The year has been a little bittersweet for me.
Richard Lacayo, a guy who works a heck of a lot harder than I do, announced around Thanksgiving that he was hanging up his blogger's hat. J.T. still blogs, but he's essentially retreated into the bunker. Kriston, meanwhile, looked to me like he'd bagged Gp in favor of twittering, but he's roared back to life in the wake of the great Mera Rubell handwringing of 2009.

The story in a nutshell: If a tree falls in the forest, does anybody hear? Okay, say a wealthy Miami collector is there to tell the tree how sorry she feels for it. What then? (Jessica had her take in the Post here; Kriston offers a different view--on a different sampling of artists--at AiA here.)

Me, I keep occasionally letting you know what I'm up to...
cracking jokes that may or may not be funny...and, once in a blue moon, writing something that's actually useful. Hell, I can keep up this level of productivity indefinitely.

So thanks for coming back, for reading, and for commenting, if you've done any of those three things.

This will be the last post until January, so I'll leave you with a little Christmas present: Below are parts
one and two of Seasons of Belief, an episode of Tales from the Darkside about a vicious anti-Santa called The Grither, who punishes those who take his name in vain on Christmas Eve. Kind of like It's a Wonderful Life, except with E.G. Marshall instead of Jimmy Stewart...and a big bat-eared monster instead of Donna Reed.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

corcoran to build temporary "big top" addition

In a stunning move announced this morning by spokeswoman Kristin Guiter, the Corcoran Gallery of Art will be building an ambitious temporary addition to its exhibition space.

Composed of canvas, wooden poles, and sturdy rope, and designed by the Sarasota-based firm, Ringling, Barnum, & Bailey, the 15,000 square foot addition will offer the opportunity for the Corcoran, as Guiter put it: " mount three rings of vital, contemporary cultural programming."

Many no doubt remember the Corcoran's plan to build an addition designed by star architect Frank Gehry, one that its board abandoned in 2005. Questions have already been raised about the Corcoran's will to follow through with this new "big tent strategy".

"I think we've learned a lot since then," Guiter explained. "The new structure's obvious advantages are that it's cheap, temporary, and colorful--and it can accommodate a multitude of exotic animals."

Washington Post art critic Blake Gopnik expressed some reservations about the proposed big top wing. "Look, art must be experienced for hours at a stretch, in rapt contemplation, preferably while utterly, existentially alone," he explained. "This tent, unfortunately, is apt to draw chattering, happy crowds--not to mention lion tamers, trapezists, bearded ladies..."

New York Times writer Nicolai Ouroussof, meanwhile, expressed nothing but optimism about the new tent. "This could be something that Washington's cultural life has never before featured: A place where countless clowns can tumble inexplicably, one after another, out of a teeny tiny car."

The city should expect a sudden influx of roustabouts in early 2011, when construction is scheduled to begin.

[Editor's note: I made all of this up.]

Thursday, December 10, 2009

belated notice on late artist

Back on November 24, Kriston had this excellent item on the passing of Jeanne-Claude--and on the artworld's reluctance to give her credit for her collaboration with her far more famous husband, Christo. Read all about it here.

As it turns out, Kriston and I recorded an interview together with Christo and Jeanne-Claude about a year ago--back when Over the River was on view at the Phillips Collection--with the idea of eventually turning it into a podcast. It was a hugely entertaining, sprawling conversation, lasting over an hour. Unfortunately, Christo's voice as we recorded it comes across as heavily accented low frequency noise--rumbling, slurring, sounding almost like human speech, but not quite. Which begs the question: Can you present a podcast with subtitles?

Jeanne Claude, meanwhile, spoke with absolute clarity, and remained on message and on target throughout--pretty much confirming what Kriston wrote in his remembrance.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

video art wednesday

Below is Chicago artist Nicholas O'Brien's 2008 piece, The Natural--which is not-so-coincidentally currently on view in IMAGE/PROJECT, the AAC's show of contemporary photography and video. If you haven't seen the show already: Boo, hiss.

The Natural intercuts footage from The Lord of the Rings trilogy and from various nature documentaries. Oddly, both sets of footage seem to employ the same formal conventions, satisfy the same viewer expectations, and construct the same sort of unreal space.

The Natural from Nicholas O'Brien on Vimeo.

Monday, December 07, 2009

archived for your pleasure

You can replay my Friday chat about artwriting with Tuscon Weekly's Jimmy Boegle here. Forgive my embarrassing typos, as well as my bad habit of taking several minutes after each question is asked to compose multi-paragraph answers...thus defeating the whole purpose of a live chat.

Thursday, December 03, 2009


Tomorrow at 3:00 pm I will be live-chatting it up with Tucson Weekly editor Jimmy Boegle on the AAN website. He'll be asking me questions about my writing for the CP, and about that funny little plastic widget I won earlier this year. (I knew I felt like a winner for some reason.)

You can write in your own questions live: Have you always wanted to know what it takes to be a successful part-time art critic? Really? You have? Well, that's weird. Tune in here and see what I have to say, anyway.

a tale of two duelling art events

Things you should do tonight: If you're in Baltimore, you should head over to the Creative Alliance to see Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum and Torkwase Dyson perform in Here Be Dragons and A Small(ish) Opera. Starts @ 7:30; tickets required. Pamela just recently had a large installation at the AAC for Fall Solos; you can see video from the Creative Alliance of her drawing on their gallery walls in the player below. Torkwase will be partnering with AAC on a public art project that I'll be telling you more about soon.

I predict that Torkwase is going to have a big year in 2010.

If you're in DC, you need to go see what my alter ego at The Pink Line Project has cooked up for you at the Phillips Collection: Thought DJs We Are Science! will be "remixing" the writings of Duncan Phillips and projecting them on the gallery walls. You can participate in the process via text ways that aren't exactly clear to me, but which likely will not be dull. Starts @ 5:00; details here.

I suppose I should go ahead and gas up my little pink scooter now.