Not Everyone Makes the Cut…These 10 Caught My Eye!
By F. Lennox Campello
Not Everyone Makes the Cut…These 10 Caught My Eye!
As I’ve discussed before, the Covidian Age has severely disrupted all facets of planetary life, and as I’ve also noted before, my main worry now is my concern about the number of lives which will be lost because of COVID-19, not just from COVID-19.
Same goes for planetary daily affairs; will art galleries, already a precarious business model, ever return in full force? Will art fairs, the money-making king of the art commodity business, ever see thousands of people return to its spaces?
I don’t know, but what I do know, is that an online presence will help, not replace, the presentation and commodification of art.
One of the earliest efforts in this process was a seminal idea by DMV area photographer Jason Horowitz. A few months ago Jason conceived the idea of creating a Facebook online community to gather artists and collectors and try – at no cost to the artists – to sell artwork. And together with Leslie Holt, they have established a significant footprint online.
That community lives online at https://www.facebook.com/groups/218175095938069/ and in a very short span has gathered almost 2,000 members and made some sales (I’ve sold several pieces).
My good bud Louis Jacobson, one of the DMV’s most visible art critics (he has been writing about art for decades at The Washington City Paper) noticed and in a piece for the City Paper noted that “… the group, founded by Arlington-based photographer Jason Horowitz and managed by Leslie Holt, co-director of Red Dirt Studio in Hyattsville, offers artists a place to network and sell their wares. “I started the group out of a sense of personal isolation,” Horowitz says. “Many artists in the area and all around the country are essentially out of work. Some artists are locked out of their group studios but still expected to pay rent. Many artists are freelancers with little or no health insurance.” Some artists are using the site directly to sell their work, while others are posting links to their websites or to other outlets such as Etsy. Horowitz’s hope for the group is to create “a community of supporters and artists that mutually reinforce each other.”
Because there are almost 2,000 members, it is almost impossible to pick 10 artists to highlight from that enormous sample… but not quite impossible! In 2006 I reviewed about 65,000 slides (remember slides?) and another few thousand digital files in order to select about 60 artists for the Washington Project for the Arts (then at the Corcoran) seven-gallery exhibition which I titled “Seven.”
Thus, I come well-trained – but it is still unfair and hard to the 1,990 or so artists who won’t get mentioned – and then again a maxim for any artist is to develop a thick skin.
Which 10 artists have caught my eye?
Long time DMV artistic iconic presence Jody Mussoff is one of them. She is a gifted artist with a vivid imagination and almost unnatural abilities to tell a story via a visual representation – her skill with colored pencils is spectacular! In “Beard” (a 2020 colored pencil drawing) she explodes the somewhat remoteness of the subject with a riot of imagery that really triggers the mind to ask questions about what the drawing is trying to deliver.
Amanda Rose Spaid has been posting a series of fascinating, mysterious, sensual portraits of women, painted and/or drawn in Birdseye maple wood, and which are unlike anything else I’ve seen anywhere. Just like Jody’s work, the subject goes beyond just portraiture and invades the mind as something more mysterious and even erotic. In “Aisling”, the image begins to move onto the regions of Celtic goddess imagery… or are we looking at Daphne’s transformation into a Laurel tree? Aisling is an Irish word for dream vision, which the artwork effectively delivers!
Now that I’ve started wandering down the moist halls of eroticism, let me highlight the paintings of Jennifer Kahn Barlow (who needs to stop signing her work with initials and not be afraid to develop a good full signature that does not detract from her formidable painting skills). The works by this artist that I see online are ordinary subjects (fruits, burgers, etc.) which her brush transforms from the common to the sensually sublime. “Sumo Citrus” is a perfect example of how sometimes – not always – technical skill triumphs over subject matter.
Another master painter is Gregory Ferrand, who shows with my good friend Adah Rose at her hard-working gallery of the same name in Kensington. Ferrand has developed an unique style, which when combined with his refined painting abilities allow him to be a superb narrative painter. His multi diptych series “Because If You Don’t, You Just Might Cry”, of which diptych “9” and “10” are great examples, showcase his ability to deliver emotion via his brush.
What Ferrand can deliver with stylized precision, Larry Caveney can also deliver with a sophisticated combination of what I can best describe as representational action painting! His subjects appear appropriated from that never ending supply of artistic ideas: the comics! His paintings of Popeye and of Wonder Woman are really excellent, and because of the frenetic painting style, packing with movement and action.
Glen Kessler can see colors and shapes in a landscape that the rest of us wish we could. He is also a compositional genius and a brush black belt of the 9th degree! A great example of these skills is “Fence at Waredaca Brewery”, a small 7×11 painting with the punch to the solar plexus of the mind of a mural!
Bryan Jernigan is my other fave landscape painter in this crowd – his work is a fantastic riot of color! Jernigan disguises his affinity for putting color on canvas in the context of landscape. But what he delivers is something that everyone who paints – at one time or another – struggles with: let the color describe and represent the image, not the other way around!
A few paragraphs ago I was writing out loud about sensual portraiture, and now Dorota Quiroz brings me back to the theme. The subject of her painting drips a carnal sensuality in almost every one of her pieces (which I think are charcoal and white conte), most of which are representations of Medusa. The marriage of the model’s natural arousing appearance with Medusa’s living hair are a natural combination for intelligent erotica.
Sandra Perez-Ramos channels her Caribbean upbringing in her accomplished works. Her artistic pedigree is evident in her gifted use of color and form to deliver highly stylized imagery, which over the years has grown into one of the hardest achievements in the art world: a completely distinct style and ritual. This is what the marriage of color and form can deliver in the hands of a consummate professional and gifted artist.
Sharon Wolpoff is a fantastic painter’s painter. And if that art school description is not trite enough for some, I’m about to become heavy handed and use her painting titled “Dave” as an example. You see, “Dave” is a painting of a commercial painter painting a building, him atop a ladder and his brush distributing warm yellow paint just above a window. Being the wizard that she is, Wolpoff craftily “hides” a wonderful abstract painting in what otherwise would be an ordinary window in this yellow wall. Or is it a window?
That’s 10! I skipped dozens and dozens of great talent in this piece, and didn’t mention Tim Tate, Scott G. Brooks (whose “The Lizard People Arrive in the New World” is perhaps one of his greatest paintings… ever!), Michelle Banks, Cory Oberndorfer, Dianne Stewart (her “Forbearance” painting is easily the public’s favorite in this talented crowd), and many others, such as the photographer in this group who has taken eggs and elevated them to a breath taking beauty that no hen ever dreamed of! His name is Jack Rosenberg.