Gallery Beat

Arts & Entertainment, Gallery Beat

Summertime in the Swamp…

By F. Lennox Campello …is often not a pleasant time for many, but for art lovers it is a perfect opportunity to go visit some local art galleries and support your area artists. If you also want to stroll around the very pleasant areas of Kensington, I want to give a plug to the Montgomery Art Association (MAA) 2022 Paint the Town (PTT) Art Show on Labor Day weekend. I will be jurying this very popular exhibition — attended by over 3,000 visitors each year — MAA is a nonprofit, volunteer-run organization that serves artists in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area. The event is co-hosted by the City of Kensington, MD, and takes place in the Kensington Armory. PTT features about 500 non-juried works in eight judged categories, plus a separate plein air competition with about 50 pieces. Judging of the main show takes place from 1 p.m. to approximately 4 p.m. on Friday, September 2. On Saturday, September 3, judging of the plein air show begins at 3 p.m. The Paint the Town Labor Day Show is one of the region’s largest and longest-running art shows composed of all local artists. The show will be open to the public Saturday-Monday, September 3-5 PM. I will be on site on Friday, September 2 for closed-door judging and Saturday, September 3 to judge the plein air competition and present awards. An easy way to spend most of a summer rainy afternoon is a visit to the Torpedo Factory, host to many art studios and some key galleries. While you’re there, go check out the current Open Exhibit, juried by artist Jessie Boyland. According to the Art League’s press release, Boyland “is a painter and has a BFA from VCU School of the Art, Painting and Printmaking. Jessie plans and curates all…

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Wanna See Some Pictures??

By F. Lennox Campello You can put money on this: a thousand years from now, there will still be photographers who still use the techniques of that profession that were invented at the beginning of photography itself.  There is something so attractive to the masters of the darkroom about photographic processes such as handmade prints from glass negatives, and other 19th century processes such as Platinum Palladium, Cyanotype, Oil, Carbon, Gum Bichromate, VanDyke Brown, Salted Prints, Tintypes, and Ambrotypes. Virginia’s Sally Mann, not only one of the planet’s top photographers, but also someone who has been a contemporary pioneer in revitalizing some of these archaic techniques, often speaks of “old-time, folksy, soulful, artisanal processes”… that “slicker technologies have displaced.” She labels these processes “holistic.” Wanna see some of these holistic processes and the gorgeous works that they yield? At Glen Echo Park’s Photoworks Gallery, “a group of likeminded photographers presents work that is more than just nostalgia. Each photographer lends her/his own voice with their unique, hand-made images, some of which are augmented by hand tinting. While the images are contemporary, the artisanal nature of the images harkens to an earlier age. The tension between these qualities makes them TIMELESS.” Represented in the exhibit are works by Rodrigo Barrera-Sagastume, Paige Billin-Frye, Mac Cosgrove-Davies, Scott Davis, Sebastian Hesse-Kastein, William Shelton and Redeat Wondemu. In addition to the opening, Photoworks will be offering related demonstration and hands-on events during the exhibition: Zoom Artist Talk (Friday, July 15, 7-8pm) – for those unable to attend the opening, this is an opportunity to hear from and interact with the artists. Learn about the artist and their vision, their chosen photographic processes and related classes offered at Photoworks. Champagne and Platinum (Friday, July 22, 7-10pm at Photoworks) – spend a delightful evening with the Alt-Photo…

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Summertime Exhibits Abound

By F. Lennox Campello The summer is essentially here and so are some great shows opening around the DMV. Over In Rockville’s Artists & Makers Studios you’ll see the work of Robert LeMar titled “Crossing the Line”, the Resident Artist exhibit “10×10” and the Artists of Gallery 209 for the month of June as well as  building-wide Open Studios. The June 4th opening will run from 11am – 3pm at Artists & Makers Studios, 11810 Parklawn Drive, Suite 210 in Rockville, MD. They tell me that “LeMar’s interest in line has always been prevalent in his work. Three years of portrait sketching on the beaches of Chicago when he was a preteen developed his affinity to line. This was further bolstered by sketching portraits on the boardwalk of Ocean City Maryland in his twenties. Even though he was later encouraged by his art professors at The Maryland School of Art and Design in Silver Spring to not rely on drawing when painting, he still persisted in drawing on the canvas before applying paint. To this day drawing remains a major element in his painting technique. In his recent abstract work, as he crosses the line between realism and abstraction, he gives line an obviously dominant and defining role.” Over at the Kreeger Museum, Hamiltonian Artists and The Kreeger Museum presents “Unexpected Occurrences”, which is described as “a contemporary response to a modern collection”, and which features the work of Hamiltonian Artists’ seven current fellows—Amber Eve Anderson, Maria Luz Bravo, Jason Bulluck, Joey Enriquez, Stephanie Garon, Madeline Stratton, and Lionel Frazier White III. The exhibition includes new works in video, mixed media, sculpture, photography, encaustic, printmaking, and painting installed throughout the museum. Described as “unconventional pairings of old and new works, the exhibition challenges the viewer to consider the nuances of…

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Sam Gilliam Museum Show: About Time!

By F. Lennox Campello Over the decades that I have lived in the DMV (an acronym that I invented decades ago in several meandering posts in my blog DC ART NEWS, which by the way… is now the 11th highest ranked art blog on this planet – yay!), one constant fact of the region’s museum art scene (with the notable exception of the beautiful American University art museum and most recently the Phillips Collection) has been the immense apathy that art museums located in the capital region show to their area artists. DC art museums think of themselves as “national” museums, and are not, and have not ever been, part of a “regional/local” art scene. Once, while a guest at the old Kojo Nmandi radio show on NPR (WAMU), I noted that it was “easier for a DC area museum curator to take a cab to Dulles to catch a flight to Berlin to visit some emerging artists’ studios in Berlin (or London, Madrid, wherever) than to catch a cab to Adams Morgan to visit a DC area emerging artist studio.” Years of communicating this frustration to “new” museum curators and directors as the wander in and out of their positions at the Hirshhorn, the old Corcoran, various Smithsonian museums, most area University museums, etc. have yielded zero response — since 1992 or so, the only museum director who ever met with me to discuss why their museum ignored local artists was Olga Viso when she ran the Hirshhorn decades ago. And it takes an artist of the immense stature and presence of Sam Gilliam, whose career was almost extinguished by apathy just a decade or so ago… but was kept moving forward through the hard work of legendary DC area gallerist Marsha Mateyka, until Gilliam’s work was “rediscovered” by…

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Hand Crafted at The BlackRock Center

By F. Lennox Campello The BlackRock Center for the Arts in Germantown is just far enough from the capital region so as to not “officially” be part of the DMV.  It is nonetheless a key member of the cultural tapestry of the Mid-Atlantic region and one can always count with a strong exhibition program in its beautiful galleries. Through April 15 there’s a fascinating group show curated by Rula Jones, the current gallery director.  Titled “HAND CRAFTED”, the show is described as “a group exhibition that explores the role of craftsmanship in contemporary art and across a variety of media including wool, ceramic, glass, paper, fiber, porcelain, etc.” This group exhibition features over 55 multimedia works by 23 artists from the Mid-Atlantic region. If you are a constant reader, then you know that I am a strong proponent of craftsmanship in the visual arts – there’s no substitute for developing the skill to draw, paint, etch, sculpt, etc.  And there’s no shortcut – it is all practice, learning from errors, learning how to use your errors, and learning when to stop. The exhibition’s curator Rula Jones notes that, “Concept and craftsmanship, the latter defined as strong knowledge of material manipulation, have occasionally been oppositional in modern and contemporary art. However, these works show high levels of artistry and skill, while also presenting very strong purpose and theory. Artists in this exhibition use materials often associated with craft and elevate them through contemporary concerns. The works on view address a variety of both universal and contemporary issues including loss, identity, the environment, humanity and nature through a variety of media including ceramic, glass, fiber, wool, silk, beads, paper, porcelain etc. This exhibition celebrates the diversity of theory, process and materiality in contemporary art, suggesting that the boundary between craft and fine…

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“Descartes Died in the Snow” at Morton Fine Arts

By F. Lennox Campello The owner and director of one of the hardest working visual fine arts galleries in the DMV, as well as a one of the planet’s happiest smiles is Amy Morton, who cut her teeth in the gallery business many years ago in Alexandria, and for the past decade plus or so has been running Morton Fine Art at 52 O Street NW #302 in the District. And MFA, as the gallery is known, will be presenting “Descartes Died in the Snow”, a solo exhibition showcasing work by DMV artist Rosemary Feit Covey (and long-time Torpedo Factory presence in Studio 224), on view from March 3–March 31, 2022. MFA notes that this exhibition will be “marking both the debut of new work and the reactivation of older works”, and that the exhibition “uncovers new dimensions within the artist’s vast oeuvre. Taken as a whole, this collection of work illuminates the fragility of life on our embattled planet, recognizing the catastrophic ecological losses that mark our current era while turning a hopeful eye towards altogether new horizons.” Covey is not only a master printmaker, but I have never come across anyone who has married the technical challenges of printmaking with more sophisticated approaches and ideas than this South African ex-pat! In fact, I think that she may just be the best printmaker on the planet!  I’ve been following the career of this master printmaker for years now… and for years I have been mesmerized by not only her technical skill, but also by her powerful and often breathtaking imagery. Over the years I’ve also seen Covey do something that few artists do well: she keeps pushing and redefining the genre of printmaking to the point that she can no longer be categorized and labeled simply as a printmaker….

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Homage to Betty White

By F. Lennox Campello By the time that this column appears in print, it will be a month or so since we heard the sad news that the iconic American presence known as Betty White had passed away a few days shy of her hundredth birthday. In spite of the fact that White was almost a hundred, the news of her death still shocked and saddened most of us, as this great figure, through her spectacular decades and decades in the limelight of American television, starting in the 1950s and all through the 21st century, was liked by most of us. She once said, “Retirement is not in my vocabulary. They aren’t going to get rid of me that way,” and she meant it. Locally, Zenith Gallery reacted at the speed of light to the news, and the gallery’s hard working owner and founder, Margery Goldberg noted that “since the passing of Betty White, it has become abundantly clear that she is the one person in America who everyone loves, no matter what your affiliations may be.” Goldberg then reached out to her vast artists’ network (including yours truly) and asked artists about participating in an homage show to White. The exhibition, titled “Betty White Unites!” ran through the month of January and included about 20 artists from around the nation. Goldberg also noted that “Zenith Gallery and our artists wanted to start the year off right with love and positivity by celebrating the life of Betty White.” “She is loved by everyone, and I believe through the celebration of her life we can be united,” said Goldberg. “We have created a website that went live the day of the opening (ww.BettyWhiteUnites.com) for this show and as a means to memorialize her.” Goldberg pointed out that “throughout her 80-year career…

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Calling All Artists – Let’s Get You to the Fair

By F. Lennox Campello Calling All Artists – Let’s Get You to the Fair Many times via this column, I’ve discussed how the the founders and organizers of a European art fair called Art Basel (which of course, takes place in Basel, Switzerland), decided to try an American version of their successful European model and started an art fair in the Miami Beach Convention Center a couple of decades ago, and they called it Art Basel Miami Beach or ABMB for short. And I’ve also told you how that one mega art fair spawned a few satellite art fairs in Miami at the same time and how by now there are over two dozen art fairs going on around the Greater Miami area each December, and art collectors, artists, gallerists, dealers, curators and all the symbionts of the art world descent on America’s coolest hot city in December and art rules the area. I’ve also pointed out that if you are a visual artist in 2021 and are not aware of these events, and are not trying to get there (get your artwork there is what I mean), then something really big is missing from your artistic arsenal (unless you’re happy just painting or drawing or photographing or sculpting, etc. and could care less who sees and possibly acquires your work – if that’s the case, then skip the rest of this column and more power to you!). But, if like some of us, the commodification of your artwork doesn’t bother you, and the fact that when you or your gallery sell one of your pieces, you feel honored and pleased that someone laid out their hard earned cash to simply add one of your creations to their home or collection, then Miami in December should be in your radar….

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Going to the Fair….

By F. Lennox Campello Going to the Fair…. Year after year I beat the drums about how key and critical it is for galleries, art organizations, art leagues (I’m looking at you Art League), art venues, etc. to participate in art fairs.  Your typical art show in the DMV will attract, and thus expose the art to visitors in the hundreds. A decent art fair in New York or Miami during Art Basel week will attract and expose the artwork (and thus the artist) to tens of thousands. Simple math! And if the goal is the commodification of art, then this exponential leap in potential buyers has a k’chiiiing effect on sales.  If the goal is simple exposure of the art, then… case closed: thousands always beats hundreds. The planet’s leading art fair week returns this December to the Greater Miami area, also known as the heart of the Cuban Diaspora (but I digress), led by the Art Basel fair in Miami Beach and surrounded by over twenty other satellite art fairs all over the Greater Miami area. In 2020 the fairs were all cancelled as a result of the venom unleashed upon the planet by the Covidian monster, and thus 2021 returns with a bit of held-breath (no pun intended) to see if the denizens of the art world will return to the warmth of Miami and stroll through miles of art and release millions of dollars in exchange for visual pleasures. Over the decades, many DMV area art galleries have made their presence a constant in these fairs, and a quick glance to the fair rosters now details just a handful venturing out to Miami this year. I only found Baltimore’s C. Grimaldis and the District’s CONNERSMITH are back at Art Miami, the oldest continuously running art fair…

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Follow Your Art

Follow Your Art By F.Lennox Campello Autumn is here and American University’s gorgeous museum at the Katzen Arts Center once again proves my thesis that AU has the DMV’s leading museum program, as evidenced by the continuous series of spectacularly diverse and interesting shows that continue to be presented under the leadership and guiding hand of Jack Rasmussen. On the lower floor of the museum, this Fall we get the opportunity to see a brilliant show titled Reveal: The Art of Reimagining Scientific Discovery by Rebecca Kamen, and curated by the equally brilliant Sarah Tanguy, and presented by the Alper Initiative for Washington Art. AU tells us that in Reveal, “Rebecca Kamen unlocks curiosity as a creative link between the arts, humanities, and sciences, exploring the symbiotic relationship behind scientific research and artwork’s development. From her extensive collaborations with scientists and philosophers at American University and beyond to her own life experience, the selection of painting, sculpture, and installation harnesses the emotive power of abstraction to humanize scientific breakthroughs in novel and unexpected directions. In the process, the exhibition becomes a laboratory of possibilities, shedding light on the many and disparate connective threads of her own artistic progress in the last two years.” This is a fascinating, intelligent and beautiful exhibition, and a show which allows the artist to display and showcase not only ground-breaking concepts in the marriage of art and science, but also to flex enviable technical artistic skills. Kamen’s multiple exhibitions in one start with a display of a very attractive series of paintings which the artist created while she had a serious optical issue which caused her to have double vision. During the period that she created these works, she painted while thinking that this double vision effect – eventually corrected via the use of prisms…

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