Gallery Beat


By F. Lennox Campello

If you are an artist in the DMV and do not know what Artomatic is, then shame on you – and you’re in for a pleasant surprise! I’m not going to spend a lot of precious newsprint describing this amazing opportunity for visual and performance artists – visit for all the details.

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But I will touch on some key things to wet your appetite:

  • Artomatic (sometimes called AOM) is the world’s greatest open art show.
  • Artomatic has been around for a couple of decades – each year it gets bigger and bigger!
  • Artomatic is open to anyone, and they mean anyone, who wants to participate.
  • Artomatics of the past have most likely been the world’s largest group art shows – I mean over 1,000 visual arts participating, dozens of theatre groups, dozens of performances, hundreds of parties.
  • Artomatic is open 24 hours a day for whatever period it is staged for; there will be an Artomatic in 2015.
  • Artomatic 2015 will be at 8100 Corporate Drive, Hyattsville, MD 20785.
  • Dead tree media art critics hate Artomatic because it is open and democratic and avoids the curatorial hand – anyone can exhibit work.
  • Artomatic is the best way on the planet for new art collectors to get exposed to thousands of pieces of affordable art.
  • Artomatic is the best way on the planet for experienced art collectors to get exposed to new, undiscovered talent.
  • Because of its sheer size, you cannot “see” Artomatic in just one visit – it takes multiple visits to “see it all” properly.
  • The reason above is the main hidden reason why art critics hate AOM – it overloads their visual circuits when they attempt to see it all at once.
  • There’s a lot of sex going on at Artomatic during the late night/ early morning hours.
  • Many of the DMV’s best-known artists exhibit their work at Artomatic. Some of them were “discovered” at past AOMs.
  • Artomatic draws around 50,000 visitors – that’s why most artists (regardless of how well-known they are) exhibit at AOM.
  • Some counties have begun to use AOM as the place to “buy” art for their public collection.
  • Artomatic exposes genres and sub-genres of art that no one knew ever existed!

Got that?

As an art critic, I once started a review of a past AOM by complaining how much my feet hurt after my 5th or 6th visit to the show, in what at the time was my very futile attempt to gather as much visual information as possible in order to write a fair review of the artwork and artists.Gallery Beat-ArtOMatic-

No one can do that!

Over the years that I have visited past Artomatics (and I have seen them all) I have discovered that it is impossible to see and absorb everything and to be fair about anyone; the sheer size and evolving nature of AOM makes sure of the impossibility of this task. In fact, a few years ago, I think that I may have missed a whole floor.

As I wrote earlier, we in the DC area know that most local art critics tend to savage Artomatic; they demand a curatorial hand; they want order; they want “bad” art out and only “high art” in; and year after year, they all miss the point! And this year once again the Washington Post and most mainstream media will all but ignore the region’s largest art exhibition.

Here’s the key: AOM is not just about the artwork, it is about the artistic energy that it radiates, it is about art community, it is about a free for all, it is about controversy, and it is about anyone who wants to call him/herself an artist.

AOM’s usual abundance of space yields a really decent opportunity to display your work well, and one interesting maturity factor in AOM is how professionally many “amateur” artists display their work. On the other hand, because of all the available space, AOM also yields a significant number of really bad “installations” with all sorts of furniture and stuff.

Historically each AOM has delivered critical artistic discoveries for art lovers, art collectors and dealers. People like Tim Tate, Frank Warren, Kathryn Cornelius, the Dumbacher Brothers, etc., all showed at AOM; some still do. Tim Tate sold his sculptures at AOM a couple of decades ago for $300; today they get as much as $60,000 at art fairs. Frank Warren started his spectacular “PostSecret” worldwide art installation at AOM; today his project is one of the most visited websites on the web and he’s had multiple art books on the best-seller list.

Bottom line: Do it!

If you want a quick video walkthrough AOM, check out the video at

The music has been married to this video on purpose from the perspective of AOM’s past treatment by local art critics. I suspect that many of them will not visit this year’s AOM simply because they’ve already made their minds without seeing the art – as a DC critic was once ”caught” doing – closed minds that say that the show sucks because it’s all open and a an artistic free for all.

By the way, the art that pops up in the video when Lennon first sings “they’re going to crucify me” is bordering on being one of the art world’s oddest coincidences, since I didn’t synch the music to video to pre-arrange for that art to pop up at that time… it is worth viewing the video just for that! Be prepared to be chilled!

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