Monday, February 3, 2014

R Street in the District of Columbia NW

Over the weekend, while I was leading a painting class at the Washington Studio School on S Street, I met one of the DC art dealers/auctioneers who live on R Street across from Teaism. For the afternoon on Saturday, he was opening his doors to the public, and in the morning he had invited me to come by to see his collection.

I'm glad I went. I arrived after all others had left, and I spent a good hour looking at hundreds and hundreds of pieces on three different floors of his old brownstone. Some of the work was by artists with famous names I recognized (including of course Sam Gilliam); some of it was by local DC artists with names I recognized; and some were works I really liked by artists whose names I didn't recognize.

The collection was international to say the least. It was mostly painting media, with some sculpture and a little photography. Of particular note to me was his collection of traditional African objects -- heads, masks, figures and a few other kinds of pieces. I have an artist friend who lives in Arlington who has a pretty wide African collection; yet I haven't seen so many pieces like these since my days in New York City. He said he has to have his pieces appraised because he doesn't know enough about them. Not a bad problem to have; his house looked like a museum.

I expect to see more of him in the next few months. Perhaps he will help me to expand my own collection a bit more. Below is a piece I acquired in 2001.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Van Brakle at MPA

Last summer I encountered a selection of then-recent work by Jessica Van Brakle, in the hallway gallery (can't remember the real name) at the McLean Project For the Arts in McLean, Virginia. Van Brakle is a DC-based artist, and former Hamiltonian fellow; and I really got something from this work.

What I like about it is how successful they are at being tactile. I think, most of the time, work is allowed leverage when its theme or concept ends up gripping people. That's certainly apparent here, and probably the case with Van Brakle. Yet for the first time, I saw both the physical sensation and the narrative theme clearly employed together.

As an educator, I would find it ideal if the whole spectrum of viewers -- to Van Brakle's exhibit for instance -- could instantly detect, and sense, what the shapes, patterns and tactile texture in her acrylic paintings on canvas are doing (as you can't help but notice all that white she left).

Work comes from, and gets reintegrated, through experience of the body; it's not just image and its subsequent currency in meaning. Is anyone still reading Susan Sontag? To pass up that whole sphere of imagination and experience would be a sad, gloomy thing.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Long time marriage between the photographic and the abstract

The "cut-up" mixed-media technique has deeper roots in history than some might guess. The cinema posters below were used for 1920's Hollywood, in this case the American film "Salome". The vocabulary was no doubt borrowed from the graphics of earlier European art movements. The combination of flat, abstract shapes and photographic, figurative elements is something that interests me in my own imagery.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Silence Please Poets at Work

As the arctic climate rages throughout the eastern half of the country, I keep myself indoors at home working on my portfolio. Since November, I have been going through a process of sorting previous work or work that needs revision; relocating and resetting my work space to a room inside my condo; and arranging the process of working on new material. Here's looking towards a new year of gallery exhibits and more private art events, and maybe another show, somewhere in NYC, of work by my artist group Painting in New York!

Friday, January 24, 2014


This is one of the outcomes of surfing the internet, and reading blogs: plethora of artwork images. Here are a few of the ones which were incidentally sitting on my Macbook desktop.

 Dov Talpaz (New York colleague)
  Fran O'Neil (New York colleague)