Arts & Entertainment, Gallery Beat

The Art Bank

By F Lennox Campello

For several years now, off and on a year here and there, it has been my honor and pleasure to have been one of the jurors for the panels which select artists from the DMV for the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities’ Art Bank program.

Art Bank is essentially the process via which the city of Washington, DC selects artwork for its collection – it is a free and now totally online process for the artists to apply.  As such, the only investment that an artist from the DMV has to do is set aside some time (once the call for applications has been made) to submit the required entry forms, etc.

All online and free… and yet, each year I am surprised by the relative low number of visual artists who bother to apply to the call. It is one of my pet peeves when I hear local artists complaining about lack of opportunities in the area. I often point out Art Bank and I usually get a “Whatta bank… what?” look.

That is why it is important to get information, and stay in tune with the DMV art scene.

The most recent call for artists had a lot of good entries, and over the years the Commission has slowly but surely improved the process itself.  I still have some serious peeves with this process, such as the fact that in the entire history of Art Bank, the city has never, ever acquired a work of art depicting a nude.  And that’s OK if that’s a policy, but for simplicity’s sake: Put that info in the call for art prospectus so that artists do not waste their time sending nude artwork for a prudish process in a city which has hundreds of WPA era artwork nudity all over our federal and city buildings.

Can I say “Union Station”? Cough… cough… And since Northern Virginia is part of the DMV, there’s a lot of nippleage being exposed in the Virginia state flag, but God forbid that the contemporary prudish City fathers and mothers ever allow a nude work of art to be acquired for the City’s collection.

But I meander as usual.

Now and through December 15, you can see the FY 2024 Art Bank Program Finalists in a very cool exhibition in the Commission’s first floor galleries, Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5:30 pm at 200 I (Eye) Street Gallery SE.  There’s photography, sculpture, painting, printmaking, textiles, and more! The gallery is free and open to the public.

Installed in the gallery are the works of Barbara Januszkiewicz, Bradley Stevens, Bria Edwards, Carol Rowan, Cathy Abramson, Charles Jean-Pierre, Cheryl Edwards, Cory Oberndorfer, Daniel Rios, David Fulton, Davide Prete, Debra Jean Ambush, Elaine Wilson, Elizabeth Ashe, Eric Celarier, Erwin Timmers, Gail Shaw-Clemons, Gary Kret, Gayle Friedman, George Tkabladze, Ivan Sigal, Jacqueline Crocetta, James Terrell, Jonathan Monaghan, Joseph Hamilton, Judith Peck, Judith Southerland, Julia Bloom, Julie Byrne, Julee Dickerson-Thompson, Justyne Fischer, Kasse Andrews-Weller, Khanh Le, Len Harris, Leslie Holt, Lexis Marie Jordan, Life Pieces To Masterpieces, Lina Alattar, Lory Ivey Alexander, Madeline Stratton, Mariah Bonner, Marilyn Gates-Davis, Mentwab Easwaran, Michael Sirvet, Michele Banks, Michelle Lisa Herman, Nami Oshiro, Pixie Alexander, Rania Hassan, Rashad Ali Muhammad, Rashin Kheiriyeh, Regina Miele, Roderick Turner, Sarah Bentley, Sayeh Behnam, Sean Dudley, Selena Jackson, Shanthi Chandrasekar, Sheila Blake, Sheila Crider, Sondra Arkin, Steve Wanna, Tea Okropiridze, Tom Kim, Valerie Theberge, Walter Bo Bullock, Zofie King, and Zsudayka Nzinga.

As you can see from the list, it includes many of the DMV art superstars, but I am particularly pleased to see also many names which I do not know, which means new fresh artwork most likely being added to the City’s collection.  I am also happy to see that many of the artists whom I gave good scores in the selection process made it to the finals!

Congrats to all of them! And by the way, the commission also has fellowships and grants for writers, poets and other in the literature/writing/humanities genre.  A poem by recent award winner Maria de Los Angeles is in this issue!

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.

 First Fall

Poetry by Maria de los Angeles

I knew each of them so well,

And loved them all,

Thousands of them shifting with each waning

Of the longest day into the sleepy arms of Samhain,

Slowly twirling, each day, each one of them turning

Orange, yellow, burnt sienna and umber,

Dancing with smoke stirring upward from lonely chimneys

I can see now

Through the tangle of naked branches.

Endless walks to nowhere, a sweet unknowning

As the sun tucks its flames behind the hills of Vestal

And brushes clouds with hues of pumpkin and apple skins.

All of life

Readying for the cold marrow of winter

Where I place my trust as treasure to be rediscovered.

Rounding the meadow

I smell them before I see them,

Discover thick leaves climbing a fence

Hiding the juicy pleasures of Concord grapes.

Of course I pluck, eat, delight,

Let them burst purple glory in my mouth,

And swallow earth unto me.

I have nothing, yet have it all,

Becoming evergreen

In the liminal hours of midlife,

Here, under a sky swaying violet in the moonless night.

And I wonder, later, as I wash my hands of stains in the sink,

Well water running ever so cold,

If this girl from the tropics would have known her seasons

In the equator of sameness.

Printed with Permission by the author

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