Arts & Entertainment, Gallery Beat

Homo Artifex: Hard-working or Whiner?

By F. Lennox Campello

In my view there are always two sub-genres of your typical homo artifex: the hard-working variety and the whiner variety.

The hard-working homo artifex is always producing, always changing and more importantly always on the prowl for a place or opportunity to exhibit the artwork produced not only out of love for the arts, but also upon the discovery that the best place for one’s artwork is hanging on someone else’s walls.

The DMV is ripe full of exhibition opportunities, depending on the focus and goals of the homo artifex; if the artifex is willing to augment the front battle lines of the fine arts world, then there are plenty of really good outdoor art shows in our region – in fact some of the best in the nation!

One such great opportunity is the formerly called Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival (now called Tephra ICA Arts Festival) which takes place on the streets of the Reston Town Center in Reston, Virginia and highlights more than 200 artists who are “creating unique, handmade works in the fields of fine art and fine craft. In the competitive artist application process, each submission is reviewed by a juror panel, made up of visual arts leaders, artists, and practitioners, who select top ranked artists across ten categories to present their work at the Festival.”

Drawing upon a robust exhibitor and collector base coupled with Tephra ICA’s contemporary art foundation, the Festival has become one of the region’s most anticipated events taking place in the outdoor environment of Reston Town Center. I’ve done it for many years and highly recommend it!

Other really good outdoor shows in our region are the Bethesda Fine Arts Festival and the Bethesda Row Arts Festival, both on the streets of Bethesda, Maryland – also drawing on a savvy collector base.

Key fact for both of these festivals is the attendance, which exceeds 50,000 for all three shows!

Michele Banks- Earth Vessel 5, Watercolor, 2023, 18×24 inches 

The hard-working homo artifex is also exactly that: hard-working.  One such great example of that kind of artist is Michelle Banks.

Banks’ work has for many years explored the marriage of art and science in a visual representation that maximizes the artistry of science and the science of visual art. And to repeat myself: while many artists complaint about lack of opportunities, Banks grabs them by the horns and you can see her work several times a year around the region.

She writes: “Art and science may seem like opposites, but they can form beautiful partnerships. My work draws on biology, anatomy and neuroscience to produce paintings and collages that celebrate colors and forms that can often be seen only under a microscope.

Her current show titled Micromajesty: Intersections of Art and Science, runs through April 26th at Artists and Makers Studios in Rockville, MD. This show features lots of Banks’ new watercolors inspired by “the tiny vessels that enable life to flourish, alongside the photomicrography of Ivan Amato. To create his pieces, Amato dissolves substances, from table sugar to prescription medicines, coaxes them to re-solidify on microscope slides and then captures the best with a camera.”

Banks also participated in Fairfax’s Mosaic District’s two-day festival in early April and in partnership with the National Cherry Blossom Festival. The festival feature 90 artists selling their work as well as a farmers’ market and entertainment.  Hard-working artists at work!

And then on April 23rd and if you’re looking for fun ways to engage the whole family in Earth Day, then you’ll find Banks at the day-long street festival Earth Day Every Day. The festival features live music, great food, kids’ art activities, a native plant sale, environmental education activities, and even a sustainable art market. The event takes place from noon until 5 p.m. on Sunday, April 23, in front of the Lee Heights Shops, 4500 Old Dominion Drive, Arlington, Virginia 22207. Presented by the Langston Boulevard Alliance, this is a day for our community to come together to celebrate the beauty and promise of our local environment and the planet.

Go see some hard-working artists and buy some art from homo artifex of the hard-working variety!

Ivan Amato- Light Speed: Vitamin C and Stevia, Micro photograph, 8×10 inches

About the Author: F. Lennox Campello’s art news, information, gallery openings, commentary, criticism, happenings, opportunities, and everything associated with the global visual arts scene with a special focus on the Greater Washington, DC area has been a premier source for the art community for over 20 years. Since 2003, his blog has been the 11th highest ranked art blog on the planet with over SIX million visitors.

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