May 31, 2011

Lost Caravan


Antiques lovers and Interior design enthusiasts seeking inspiration must come and join us for a unique two day shopping experience, featuring hand-selected, one of a kind antiques, architectural and industrial artifacts, vintage finds and unusual decorative objects.

The Great British Pine Mine of Kensington, Maryland, and Housewerks Salvage of Baltimore, Maryland, in collaboration with The Dunes, have come together to present a selection of their ever-changing inventory of European antique pine furniture and salvaged architectural items, now rescued and destined for a new life in Washington, DC.

When you shop at The Lost Caravan you buy traditional craftsmanship and quality while avoiding support for unethical labor practices and unsustainable exploitation of raw materials. If you want to reduce your carbon footprint, buy old. These pieces were made to last and, using no new material resources, represent the ultimate in green design. Do you love the weathered, time-worn look in your interior decorating? We have the genuine article.

Free local delivery, Complimentary champagne from 1-2 pm, Wallet and purse friendly drink specials, All major credit cards accepted, On Saturday: DJ Stereo Faith (3-6 pm), On Sunday: Pete Muldoon Solo Jazz Guitar, DJ Brian Lu (3-6 pm)

To those who can’t make it to the Lost Caravan, don’t despair. We can serve you from the wealth of first class merchandise in stock at our retail showrooms. The Great British Pine Mine is located at 4144 Howard Avenue in Kensington, Maryland and Housewerks Salvage can be found at 1415 Bayard Street, Baltimore, Maryland. If you have any antique pine furniture needs or are looking for fireplace mantels, stained glass, ironwork, lighting, plumbing fixtures or any other elements of architectural salvage for your current or your future renovation project, visit our individual locations to see the best selection in the Mid-Atlantic region.

April 10, 2011

Bop at the Loop

During the month of April the Smithsonian Museum of Art celebrates jazz as a musical expression. The history of jazz is deeply intertwined with the history of America. Jazz Appreciation Month especially embraces the role jazz has played in America’s social and cultural development. It is appropriate that many of the pioneers and later icons of jazz, the first great geniuses like Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Charles Mingus, Johnny Dodds, Billie Holiday, and Bessie Smith were born in the month of April.

Jazz was born on American soil, created and nourished by her African American people and bred on the uniquely American culture. But Jazz has managed to travel the globe and the music has extended to other cultures. Jazz has also informed and impacted other art forms. Many artists including poets, writers, painters, filmmakers and photographers have interpreted and used the jazz language within their own modes of expression. The moods and rhythms of jazz have long inspired these artists and aided them in their unique work. In a study of the rich history and exciting development of jazz, this artistic influence and interplay is seen throughout as the music crosses cultures and artistic media.

In its most provocative historical instances, jazz has always been about pushing boundaries and about finding innovative ways to test prescribed musical and cultural limits. The key element in jazz is improvisation. It is this aspect of music which sets jazz apart from the forms that preceded it, allowing the artist the freedom to express himself and transcend his previous performances. Throughout the month, the Smithsonian Museum of Art will present numerous jazz-related events including performances, films and displays in venues around Washington, DC.

March 31, 2011

A Magazine of Verse

April is National Poetry Month and in celebration of it's vital place in American culture I am posting one of my favorite poems.

T.S. Eliot (1888–1965). Prufrock and Other Observations. 1917.

1. The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

S’io credesse che mia risposta fosse
A persona che mai tornasse al mondo,
Questa fiamma staria senza piu scosse.
Ma perciocche giammai di questo fondo
Non torno vivo alcun, s’i’odo il vero,
Senza tema d’infamia ti rispondo.

LET us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherised upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats 5
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question … 10
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes, 15
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap, 20
And seeing that it was a soft October night,
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
Rubbing its back upon the window-panes; 25
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate; 30
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

In the room the women come and go 35
Talking of Michelangelo.

And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair— 40
[They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”]
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin—
[They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”]
Do I dare 45
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

For I have known them all already, known them all:—
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons, 50
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how should I presume?

And I have known the eyes already, known them all— 55
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways? 60
And how should I presume?

And I have known the arms already, known them all—
Arms that are braceleted and white and bare
[But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!]
It is perfume from a dress 65
That makes me so digress?
Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.
And should I then presume?
And how should I begin?
. . . . .
Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets 70
And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows?…

I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.
. . . . .
And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully! 75
Smoothed by long fingers,
Asleep … tired … or it malingers,
Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis? 80
But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
Though I have seen my head [grown slightly bald] brought in upon a platter,
I am no prophet—and here’s no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker, 85
And in short, I was afraid.

And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
Would it have been worth while, 90
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it toward some overwhelming question,
To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”— 95
If one, settling a pillow by her head,
Should say: “That is not what I meant at all.
That is not it, at all.”

And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while, 100
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor—
And this, and so much more?—
It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen: 105
Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:
“That is not it at all,
That is not what I meant, at all.”
. . . . . 110
No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use, 115
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.

I grow old … I grow old … 120
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me. 125

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown 130
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

December 9, 2010

Hyperactivity



On Saturday November 13 The Baltimore Museum of Art Curator of Contemporary Art, Kristen Hileman, moderated a discussion with New York- based artists and collaborators Wade Guyton and Kelley Walker. In conjunction with the Baltimore Museum of Art’s presentation of Andy Warhol: The Last Decade, Guyton\Walker is exhibiting a new installation of visual environments, built from a colorful combination of appropriated and manipulated digital and screen-printed images as well as sculptural elements such as paint cans, tables and dry wall. Wade Guyton (b.1972) and Kelley Walker (b.1969) are well known for their collaborative work producing expansive site-specific installations that incorporate various images of bananas, coconuts, checkerboards, apples, and citrus fruit to create a unique body of work. Together they innovatively combine aspects of fine art and graphic design resulting in an exploration of contemporary digital and print media. Both artists have earned considerable success as individual talents with busy independent careers.

The artists spoke about their collaboration and how it relates to their solo work. As a single entity Wade Guyton and Kelley Walker have gained confidence and strength which has evolved into more sophisticated and developed work. “It allows us to not take ourselves that seriously” says Kelley Walker. To paraphrase Wade Guyton‘s observations, the works may not necessarily make sense, describing the creative process as somewhat unstable resulting in an exciting dialogue. The emphasis here is the playful depiction of re conceptualized images created using scanners, photocopiers and digital printers and the employment of new materials such as drywall as a medium as well as making furniture and “objects” such as paint cans, wax sculptures and ceramic coconut chandeliers. Guyton\Walker illuminates an interesting relationship between objects and actions which leads to an unclear yet visually stunning piece of art. The work can be complicated and difficult to analyze or look for recognizable figures or objects.

In this new show Guyton\Walker presents work in a variety of forms, including large silk screened and ink jet canvases, sheets of painted drywall, a large checkered wax monolith and of course their signature paint cans. The paint cans appear in the hundreds, amassed in groups, lined up against the walls, a vast collection spread throughout the Front Room exhibition space. As in the other works of Guyton\Walker each can’s label is intensely worked, displaying multiple layers of brightly colored pop culture imagery. Vibrant vertical and horizontal stripes and paint saturated smears are abundant. A simultaneous mix of repetition, interpretation and appropriation, Guyton\Walker ventures across the disciplines, bringing together different fragments of artistic expression captured on new digital media technology. The merging of their artistic talents results in work that is drawing directly on established traditions including Warhol, Lichtenstein, Rauschenberg, and Prince. This exhibition is clever and complex and will continue through January 16, 2011.

October 31, 2010

The DJ As King



Worn Magazine Issue 2 is now available at 14 locations across Washington, D.C. Here is the full unedited text of "The New Spin Crowd" which features local DJ's in a 12-page photo spread. The artists selected here represent an essential part of DC's creative community and have attracted both attention and admiration from club owners, music journalists and record labels. This response is triggered largely by a renewed interest in electronic dance music and the presence of a new generation of DJ's who share ideas, performance spaces and markets for their music. These artists, inspired by their local scene and the music of our time, are now recieving enthusiastic applause. With respect to the many omitted, here is one writer's take on the most recognized and best liked DJ's in DC.


The last few years have seen a dramatic increase in the number of DJ events and monthly dance parties, with many of DC’s most talented DJ's enjoying unprecedented musical recognition. Members of this gifted group, an essential part of DC’s creative community, dominate at venues across the District and have gained a good deal of fame and even notoriety. As the main attraction, the DJ always takes center stage and gets directly to the point, building up excitement in the crowd and compelling listeners to decide for themselves if the party is right.

Boosted by the emergence of popular music and culture websites such as All Our Noise, The Couch Sessions and True Genius Requires Insanity as well as hip bars Marvin, Dodge City and Little Miss Whiskeys, DJ’s play an integral role in the growth and transformation of the city’s cultural landscape. Accessible to any audience, offering a wide spectrum of musical styles and genres, the sheer volume of DJ’s and dance parties can often be somewhat overwhelming. The recent revival of dance music has been facilitated by local standouts like DJ Dave Nada, DJ Matt Nordstrom, DJ Sam “The Man” Burns, DJ Stereofaith to mention only a few who have paved the way and continue to point the direction. The artists selected here represent only a fraction of the DJ’s who have influenced and impacted the Districts flourishing dance community.

“Every DJ has a very similar dream club in mind, but Will Eastman and Jesse Tittsworth really took it to the next level… Their model of an open door policy, great bookings and an amazing sound system draws large numbers through the door. It’s the Black Cat of dance music in DC.”
- DJ Chris Burns

U Street Music Hall has thrust DC-based DJs, producers and co-owners Jesse Tittsworth and Will Eastman into the nightlife spotlight. This March, the opening of their popular dance club and performance venue U Street Music Hall - or U Hall for short- has shaken up the DC DJ community. U Hall was built from the ground up to be a music-focused venue catering to the District’s top DJ talent. It boasts an impressive 40,000 watt sound system, described by DJ Keenan Orr as “sick,” and provides a superior dance space for several of DC’s largest dance parties. “U Street Music Hall really has it all,” says DJ Gavin Holland. An immediate success, U Hall hosts local heavyweights Nadastrom and Tittsworth, the deep house party Red Fridays, the funk and soul inspired Soul Controllers, Beautiful Swimmers disco DJ night, The Whale, to name only a few of the artists and events representing DC proper.

Co-owner Will Eastman came up with the idea to open the space about five years ago “I listened to a Chic record backwards and Nile Rodgers sent a subliminal message that I heard as, ‘Open aaaaaaa dance clubbbb,’” he jokes. A pioneer of the DC dance community, Eastman exerts tremendous influence. He is known in the District for his wildly popular Blisspop dance party which, to his delight, has more than doubled in size since its move from the Black Cat to U Hall. His inspired use of techno, indie dance, electro, hip hop and club creates the vibe for one of DC’s longest running dance parties. “There’s a renaissance underway in dance music culture and production in DC right now... Better DJ’s, better music, better clubs and - most important - good attitudes all contribute to more people coming out to dance,” Eastman says.

U Hall co-owner Jesse Tittsworth has been a champion of innovative dance music for over a decade. From local DJ to global headliner and club owner, he has recently achieved cult-like status for bringing U Hall to the burgeoning 14th and U Street corridor. “I am happy U street Music Hall can provide a home for live dance music. It’s cool to see music get a bit more dance oriented” says Tittsworth. Drawing from a combination of styles as varied as Baltimore club, rave, house and hip hop Tittsworth is driven to make music as complex and powerful as he can. Tittsworth builds his sets around “Attention to detail, energy, swagga, confidence, musical knowledge, technical ability…First and foremost, I gotta like the tunes. From there I consider its place in a set, crowd reaction and artistic merit.” Tittsworth believes that style is really important “What do you have without your own identity, sound, look, and feel?” He asks.

“Local DJs are teaming up and realize that there is power in numbers.”
-DJ Keenan Orr

DC DJ’s have found much success in forming key creative collaborations with fellow artists. At monthly dance party Nouveau Riche, Gavin Holland spins with DJ’s familiar to DC club regulars, Nacey and Steve Starks. Equally versatile as a solo DJ and producer, Holland’s reputation as a risk taker and innovator has earned him residencies at Marvin and Wonderland Ballroom. Holland applauds, “DJs that aren’t afraid to do something interesting and push new sounds.” And in the words of Tittsworth, “Starks and Nacey are killing it for sure.” Since 2006, Nouveau Riche has attracted a loyal and diverse following, recently moving venues from DC9 to the larger and louder U Hall. Derisive of labels and resistant to the limitations of any musical styles or genre, this innovative group of three is adamant about playing music people haven’t heard and don’t expect to hear.

The trio’s collaboration with DC-based clothing company DURKL marries music and fashion. “Presentation is a strong clue as to the quality of the product…If you're a great DJ, you will style yourself so as to indicate that you're passionate about what you do. That doesn't necessarily mean being flashy, although I often am - it means adopting a look that helps the audience understand what you're doing. I rely on thrift stores and DURKL,” says Holland. He continues that the team at DURKL is, “taking major design risks and making clothes that get worldwide recognition, yet they remain focused on the fact that they're based in DC.”

DJ Chris Burns believes “The DJ’s job is to both entertain and educate the crowd, but more importantly make sure the room is dancing and having a good time.” Inspired by and collaborating with the district’s best DJ’s and producers, DJ Chris Burns is well known for playing and promoting epic underground parties in alternative venues such as abandoned warehouses and church basements. His after hour events at the Trinidad and Tobago Association Clubhouse (TnT) on Georgia Avenue have hosted house music’s biggest names, including Diplo, DJ Spen, DJ Mandrill, and Deep Dish. “We did well there because at the time there were no other proper clubs or underground platforms in DC to showcase local dance music talent and other out of town talent that is otherwise internationally renowned outside our area. TnT was the perfect venue; cavernous, raw, and open to anyone who wanted to dance and hear top class DJs in a positive environment.” Chris Burns and Nouveau Riche’s Gavin Holland perform under the moniker Party Bros, hosting the popular Shorts, a joint venture with DURKL at the Adams Morgan hangout Asylum, where the only requirement of admission to the party is that you absolutely must wear shorts.

Adrian Loving is one of the only DJ’s in DC that has found a way to effortlessly bridge the art world and the dance scene. As a graphic designer and co founder of the art gallery and multimedia studio, Dissident Display, Loving has made a name for himself at both art events and hotel rooftop parties. “I like to let the music speak for itself. I layer sounds and beats and really try to create a story with the music” says Loving. Masterful at self promotion, Loving’s style is a key element in how he presents his music and personal brand. Last years Coolout, which featured Loving alongside the renowned DJ Harry Hotter and DJ Jahsonic at The Beacon Hotel was a huge success, as was this years La Especiale at The Donovan House Hotel rooftop. Loving says good DJs, “read the crowd, sense the energy, tell a story and transport you somewhere. They are unselfish, and have great taste in music. They are also willing to take chances on the dance floor.” Among his current artistic endeavors Loving is helping the Museum of African Art develop music for their forthcoming After Hours Series which begins in October. He is also working on design and branding development for a non-profit that focuses on arts and education in Brazil and Africa.

DJ Keenan Orr brings a special mix of hip hop, old school, electro and house to his residencies at Cobalt, The Rock and Roll Hotel and Marvin. DJ Keenan was voted Best DJ in Washington City Paper’s Best of DC 2010 Reader’s Poll 2010. Heavily influenced by hip hop music and its remixing tradition, Keenan’s party ‘Ol Skool’, every Tuesday at Marvin, includes some of the best of 80’s and 90’s hip hop, R and B and ‘new jack swing’. He is a skilled DJ and promoter whose spirit of collaboration has contributed to his success. Keenan is often seen and heard around town spinning with venerable dance scene player DJ Smudge, whom he describes as, “a DJ that can play to any crowd… and has an awesome taste in music.” Spinning together for two years as Two Sisters and most recently throwing The Sunday Tea Dance at Marvin, Keenan and Smudge complement each other’s musical style. “I met Smudge in 2008. We knew about each other, but we never met. By, chance we spun together at Rock and Roll Hotel and we just clicked.” Keenan says, “Sam ‘The Man’ Burns will always be my favorite local house DJ. I’ve learned tons from hanging out with Dave Nada, Jackie O, and Tittsworth. Ed Metaphysical, Stereofaith, Doc Roc, and Trevor Martin are my favorites too.”

“As time passes and more female DJs come onto the scene, women will be respected for their musical and creative talents and not simply viewed as eye candy behind the booth.”
- DJ Fabiana

DJing is, “one of those jobs where there are a higher number of men than women,” says Ellen Lovelidge aka DJ Lil’ Elle. While this is true, female selectors including DJ Jackie O, DJ Cassidy, DJ Fabiana, and DJ Lil’ Elle are quickly gaining recognition and are considered by the press, the public and their peers to be some of the city’s finest presenters of electronic dance music. “You’re always going to have the [female DJs] who are more about sex appeal than the music but they get weeded out quickly and it’s nice to not have many like that in DC” says DJ Lil’ Elle. In fact she is currently helping to develop the styles of two up and coming female DJ’s. DJ Jackie O brings a fresh perspective and works to propel her own blend of electro and hip hop music into a new state of diversity. Her passion and insight is demonstrated in the monthly party Sweatshop with DJ Trevor Martin and KIDS, a collaboration with Lil’ Elle and Nouveau Riche’s Nacey and Steve Starks.

According to DJ Fabiana, “Women DJs have started becoming respected members of the music industry, taking on producer roles, as well as becoming promoters for their own events.” On the third Saturday of each month at the Rock and Roll Hotel, DJ Cassidy and DJ Fabiana’s monthly Garutachi stands out among the influx of dance parties in DC. “Fabiana has a unique eclectic style and a wealth of musical knowledge which spans across all genres. During our sets, we not only challenge and inspire each other but we have a lot of fun doing so,” says DJ Cassidy.
Satisfying a wide variety of tastes, Garutachi attracts an eclectic mix of attendees and is a favorite in the Atlas District.

“With Pink Sock, this is my party, I’m DJing, I’m trying to create an energy… sustain it, build it, and get everyone to go crazy and let loose.”
-DJ RAD

Pink Sock is the self proclaimed “party for gays and for the straights who are cool enough to have gay friends (or want to meet some).” Since its debut in November 2009, Ryan Duncan, aka DJ RAD, has transformed the second floor of Wonderland into a cross dressing, high heeled, glittered extravaganza “that people can’t find anywhere else” says DJ RAD. “I’m proud to say that Pink Sock seems to bring an influx of DC’s most interesting, creative, and fun guests every month.” The crowd is unquestionably drawn to Pink Socks reputation for delivering an over the top experience complete with stripper poles and XXX rated performances. “I purposely set out with a vision for what I wanted Pink Sock to be about, which was something completely different than DC is used to” says DJ RAD. RAD and a bevy of special friends including DJ Bradley Portnoy, DJ’s Shea Van Horn and DJ Matt Bailer, DJ TMY, DJ Aaron Riggins, DJ Bil Todd among many others guest DJ for Pink Sock.

Over time Pink Sock has attracted a larger and more diverse audience. “Each Pink Sock has a different monthly theme. Those themes usually lend themselves to different genres of music, which is always fun and inspiring to me” says DJ RAD. “The party’s been happening for less than a year and we’ve already been picked up by Washingtonian Magazine as DC’s Best Alternative Gay Dance Party. Pink Sock is a party not to be missed.

September 30, 2010

New Look



Worn Magazine is a bi-annual Washington DC-based publication founded in April 2010 that concerns itself with all aspects of art and fashion in the District. This new magazine is about people, ideas, institutions and organizations striving to make DC a more art- and style- conscious city. Worn Magazine believes that “creativity has the power to bring people together, showcasing commonality rather than difference”. It recognizes the importance of art and literature, music and fashion, individuality and personal style. Through various partnerships with local artists and businesses, Worn Magazine is interested in exploring bold new ways to engage, attract and inspire a range of new audiences in the District and the nation.

Worn Magazine is supported in part by a 2010 Young Artists Grant from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities and is created by a small and dedicated group of people including Editor and Creative Director Nicole Aguirre, Head of Photography Joshua Yospyn, and Graphic Designer Alina Alvarez. The Worn Magazine team also includes a talented group of interns who help with design, marketing, and communications.

Worn Magazine’s inaugural Spring/Summer issue is visually stunning. The large format publication places an emphasis on photography and features DC- based clothing brand Durkl, local artist DECOY, model Natalie Goins, and profiles the smartly dressed gentlemen working at Restaurant Marvin located in the U Street Corridor.

I am presently working on a feature article for Worn Magazine Issue 2 which focuses on local DJ’s and DC’s dance music community. The Issue 2 launch party is October 19 at U Street Music Hall featuring 10 DJ's and 2 special guests. Follow the Worn Magazine blog for ticket information and a behind the scenes look at this exciting new issue.

May 31, 2010

Snapshot Poetics


On Sunday May 23 The National Gallery of Art senior curator and head of the Department of Photographs, Sarah Greenough, gave a lecture titled ‘Seeing with the Eyes of the Angels’, presented in association with the first scholarly exhibition of American poet Allen Ginsberg’s photographs. Juxtaposing more than seventy images of artists, friends, and lovers, Beat Memories: The Photographs of Allen Ginsberg explores a five-decade photographic inquiry by one of our most celebrated writers.

Allen Ginsberg was the most important poet of the Beat movement and his seminal work is the poem “Howl”, whose title summed up in a single syllable the whole attitude and style of the new social and literary ferment. Ginsberg’s poems lacked rhyme and reverence and were shocking to the conservative sensibility of the times. One of the most brilliant and gifted writers of his generation, Allen Ginsberg was also a photographer. From 1953 until 1963 Ginsberg made numerous portraits of himself and his friends, including Beat writers William Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, Neal Cassady and Gregory Corso. To Ginsberg photography was a new way to approach the creative process. Many of his early photographs were taken in New York City, the center of the Beat movement, where the poet and his associates spent a great deal of time writing and listening to jazz. Ginsberg abandoned photography in 1963 but returned to it in the early 1980’s, encouraged by photographers Berenice Abbott and Robert Frank. He reprinted much of his early work and began making new portraits, adding often lengthy hand-written inscriptions.


The principal ideas of Ginsberg’s poetry - jazz-like spontaneity and improvisation- also apply to his photography. However, it is the subject matter of his photographs that makes them so poignant and compelling. Ginsberg’s photographs offer a unique look at the writers and personalities of the Beat and counterculture generation from the 1950’s to the 1990’s. His work, both poetic and photographic, celebrates the lives of his subjects and illuminates Ginsberg’s own acceptance of and insight into his “intense observation of the world, a deep appreciation of the beauty of the vernacular, a celebration of the sacredness of the present, and a faith in intuitive expression”


In one of the earliest photographs Ginsberg focuses on a close-up shot of Jack Kerouac. Kerouac’s animated and expressive face represents a man who is marked by impulsive vehemence and passion. On The Road, probably the most important work of Beat prose, was first typed on a roll of paper in one 250 foot long paragraph. To the Beats, the best writing was considered that which was spontaneous. “First thought, best thought” as Allen Ginsberg put it.


Ginsberg’s many early photographs of William Burroughs are powerful and revealing. He often took photographs of his indefatigable mentor whom he and Kerouac referred to as ‘the great teacher of the night’. One of the most interesting uses of improvisation in Beat literature is the ‘cut-up’ method used by William S. Burroughs. After writing a paragraph, it would be ‘cut-up’ into segments or phrases of varying length and then would be randomly pasted together. Often, in Naked Lunch, Junkie, and many of his other works, the written paragraph would appear immediately followed by its ‘cut-up’ version. As a chapter progressed and its content increased the ‘cut-up’ would be revisited again and again, each time embodying new text and therefore new ‘cut-up’ elements. The effect can be almost mesmerizing. The ‘cut-up’ paragraphs give the feeling and flavor of the original while being disjointed and sometimes nonsensical.


Ginsberg’s later photographs seem to connect in startling ways, especially with his image of Jack Kerouac several years before his death in 1969. Ginsberg’s caption reads “Jack Kerouac on visit to Manhattan, last time he stopped at my apartment 704 East 5th Street, Lower East Side, he then looked like his father, corpulent red-faced W.C. Fields yawning with mortal horror, eyes closed a moment on D.M.T. visions - I'd brought some back from Millbrook where I'd recently been with Neal Cassady in Kesey's bus, Pre-election 1964 Fall”.

If the work is about aging, it is also about mortality and finds its most powerful focus in the image of his uncle Abe, as he lays on his hospital bed at the age of 87 in the Daughters of Israel Geriatric Center in West Orange, N.J. Ginsberg candidly writes “He was too weak to sip from a straw. He lifted his hand as I stood at the foot of the bed with camera. He died a week and half later. He had whispered, “I love you” when I first came in his room”. These photographs of the last moments of life coupled with commentaries written after the death of the subject constitute photography as epitaph.

Beat Memories: The Photographs of Allen Ginsberg is on view in the National Gallery’s West Building through September 17.


All photographs courtesy of the National Gallery of Art. Copyright 2010 The Allen Ginsberg LLC. All rights reserved.

April 23, 2010

Seeing Is Believing


Alexa Meade has captivated audiences with a new and exciting approach to contemporary portraiture. The Washington DC-based installation artist paints directly on the three-dimensional surfaces of found objects, live models and architectural subjects that she then incorporates into a series of installations. Her work creates a perpetual shift in how we experience and interpret spatial relationships. Meade’s ‘Living Paintings’ have recently received overwhelming interest leading to an exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery in London. Last week I had the opportunity to meet with Alexa in her studio to discuss her work, her inspiration, and how she creates such powerful images.


First of all how does it feel to have been struggling for less than 6 months as a starving artist to now having a deal to exhibit at the Saatchi Gallery in London? How are you coping with all the attention?

Yeah. It definitely caught me off guard because my goal was to have a slow and steady development to my career and gradually build my portfolio over time and get more recognition as I mature but I can see why people were so fascinated with my project.


So how did this happen?

On March 10, a blog named kottke.org posted a picture of my art without notifying me and from there it got picked up on a couple other smaller blogs and then a bigger blog picked it up and it just spread like wildfire and then mainstream media started picking it up. It’s been really interesting because I went before from being in my studio practically everyday, just making art and being kind of quiet, maybe going out to networking events, and now, all of a sudden, back-to-back phone interviews and all these requests for bizarre commercial ventures and it’s gotten a little bit away from the art over the past month and I am really looking forward to bringing it back.


Have you decided what to show at the Saatchi? I assume it’s an installation?

Yeah, it’s six months away and I have been talking with them a little bit. My ideal goal is to have a full installation with an interactive video feed and also exhibit prints. However we are still working out the details.


Now tell me, you are also exhibiting at Postmasters in New York this month?

Yes. The show opened April 2nd and is up through May 8th. It’s a show on contemporary portraiture and I am showing along with eight other artists and it is quite humbling to be among them because one of them is in the Whitney Biennial [Kate Gilmore] and she is listed as an artist to watch, another one is having his art shown at the Tate Modern [Chris Verene]. It’s a beautiful show.


I know its ancient history, but I remember the first time I was exposed to your work at Longview Gallery for the readysetDC re-launch party. How would you describe the local response to your work?

There was a lot of enthusiasm and energy around it and I really have a lot of fun when I get to exhibit my live art and have people interact with it. I think that the enthusiasm in DC has paralleled the enthusiasm I have seen in other places around the world. It is great to have my community be so excited and supportive.


Your work is particularly interesting and innovative. In my opinion a perfect take of the portrait for this day and age, painting directly on the body and face. What is the source of your inspiration?

Right. Well this project has evolved over the course of a year and a half, actually more than a year and a half now. It originally started out with me being inspired by shadows cast by the sun and I wanted to paint shadows as they fell on the landscape, to paint shadows cast by trees onto the grass. I just continually push this idea of painting the surface attributes of materials and then eventually it moved from shadows to also highlights, you know, glare, painting that on it and then painting the colors. And then, all of a sudden it got to this point where I realized I was doing interesting things with space and then I brought that to the human body.


Can you tell me what other artists work you admire most? Are they all contemporary artists or are you interested in Art history. How do you feel about the old masters?

My favorite artist is Robert Irwin. I read his book Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees which I found really inspiring and I can say its one of my favorite books of all time at this point. I like Roy Lichtenstein’s approach to painting. In terms of figurative painting I really like Alice Neel. I really appreciate Degas; I am always in awe of his portraits. Édouard Manet…there’s Van Gogh of course; those aren’t so much old masters. [Johannes] Vermeer is incredible.


Viewers seem compelled to stop and stare at your work. You as an artist have given the audience license to look closely, to decipher and discover what one is looking at. You still can’t touch can you?

I try not to have people touch the artwork. I mean it’s the same as if you have a sculpture in a museum or a painting on a wall. As you can see right now I am sitting on my artwork (Alexa is sitting on a stool that she has painted for an installation) and I’ve also painted a number of things that I have incorporated into useful tools. I have painted on fruit and then eaten it after painting it. So, I touch it. I ingest it.


The images you create are powerful and they command attention. Your work makes one question one’s own eyes. Looking at photographs of your work I often have to remind myself I am looking at an actual human figure or face rather than an acrylic representation on canvas. The images are quite startling, even unsettling. I find there is a dark, evocative nature to your work. You don’t seem to be painting and laughing. Is this a conscious decision on your part?

I like that… I am not painting and laughing. Yeah, I think that is also part of my aesthetic and originally this project grew out of this idea of painting shadows and literally the absence of light and I am also incorporating that into my portraits of people. I like dramatic lighting and I like casting these people as, you know, super representations of themselves, like a personification of themselves but in a way that’s even more dramatic than the original.


Is it more difficult to express joy or ecstasy?

Not necessarily. There’s some though that I have painted that are ... (Phone rings). For some commissioned portraits I work with the people and really try to paint something they will be pleased with and I think about their character and they do end up being more light and sprightly. Those I don’t choose to put on-line but I can show you samples.


Reading a face, tracing it with acrylic paint and distorting it as well is quite brilliant. Your work does seem to be testing the boundaries of portraiture as we have known it. I see it as a blurring of the line between portraiture and composition. How do you feel about it?

There is this living 3-dimensional component to my work and I come from a sculpture background so I am really interested in how objects interact with each other within a space. So I will set up these installations with dramatic shadows, like casting a shadow on a wall, and it’s as if they’re, frozen in that moment of time because if they move slightly then their shadow no longer matches up and it’s a completely different picture.


Is the important thing the setting, the lighting, the pose or the painting on the subject?

Right. It’s a combination of them all. Honestly the lighting isn’t that important because I paint the shadows so strongly or the brush strokes that even in the lighting of the subway it still holds up. I’ve taken many of my subjects outdoors in multiple lighting conditions but when I am setting up an installation with the person in a setting around them all of the objects relate to each other in a certain way and there’s this dynamic that I like to maintain.


Tell me how you pick your models?

Before November it was mostly my friends, I painted my sister several times and then I started getting more requests and there were too many people who wanted to be painted so now I primarily do commission portraits. These are people who have either seen my work in galleries or they have contacted me through the internet, and we set up a time and I paint something that is true to my vision but that also they will like and feel is an accurate representation of them. I still paint friends but I use them more as guinea pigs these days, and that means that I just experiment with them and I try out new techniques. There is no expectation that it is going to be a masterpiece. Kind of a get what you paid for maybe.


How do the models cope in an installation? Are they given instructions, are they inclined to fidget? Are they asked not to respond to the scrutiny and commentary from those who are observing them?

What I think is so interesting about my art is that most painters paint on canvas that sits on a wall and it is done whereas mine, the art is the person who is embodying a portrait of themselves and so since they are painted as themselves I also want them to be themselves. I ask them to bring to the table what they want too. I give them some limited guidelines as in talk with the people but don’t laugh too much because that will kill the mood, or something. It is important that the models are comfortable and that they have fun because they are the artwork and I want them to express themselves as they would express a portrait of themselves.


How do viewers react to the installation work? I am thinking of the guards outside of Buckingham Palace who must remain completely still. If they are allowed to move doesn’t it change the composition?

The models are allowed to move. I can show you some pictures of a model in one of my installations in a gallery in Baltimore [Positron Gallery] that is not online in which she is interacting with people, talking, and gesticulating. I also let them get up from their chair, walk around and talk to people too.


What projects are you working on now?

I am pushing the current living painting by hand a number of directions, just through using it as experiments. I am trying to move into film. With the portraits I don’t think I want to get into details about what specifically I am doing but I am exploring more things that have to deal with either identity or with how we interpret imagery.


Anything else you would like to tell the readers of project culture vulture?

I grew up in DC and it’s awesome. I am looking forward to showing here more, even as I start doing more international shows. I am also talking with four local galleries about setting up solo shows but as yet none of the dates are confirmed.


Thank you, Alexa. Many congratulations on all your success.

March 13, 2010

Take Eight


The Washington Project for the Arts 2010 Art Auction Exhibition, titled Cream at the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center, features more than 100 works by local and national artists selected by a group of eight top curators including scholars, museum directors, exhibitors and collectors.

Now celebrating its 29th year, this annual WPA presentation showcases some of the region’s most talented artists, and features a broad range of media and styles of both new and emerging artists as well as more established career artists. The Washington Project for the Arts choreographed a tribute to and excursion into a varied selection of well- known artists and curators working in the DC art community.

The Annual Art Auction Gala took place last Saturday March 6, during which the exhibited works were available to the highest bidder. This special event exemplifies a tremendous desire to promote working artists and aims to educate the patron with information about each artist and curator who made the selections. The gala represents a high point of commitment to the District’s dedicated art scene.

The works presented in Cream are both evocative and intriguing, and are reflective of the vast spectrum of contemporary art.

Among the eight curators is Mera Rubell, co-founder of the Rubell Family Collection, one of the leading collections of contemporary art in the world. After accepting WPA’s invitation to be a curator for this years’ auction exhibition, Rubell embarked on a 36 hour mission to introduce herself to local artists and their studios. Her “36 Studios” tour came to fruition after she and her husband Don had decided to visit local galleries and artist’s studios in a compressed time period. This method explores the embryonic stages of the curator-artist relationship, and discusses in depth the way they work together.

The sheer quantity of participating artists can be somewhat overwhelming. Jason Horowitz, Billy Colbert, Victoria F. Gaitán, Cara Ober, Michael Dax Iacovone, Lisa Marie Thalhammer, Hatnim Lee, Adam De Boer, Chan Chao, Zoë Charlton, William Christenberry, Robert Mapplethorpe, Tim Hyde, Ding Ren, among others, all contribute original works of art.

Billy Colbert is one of DC’s best known artists. Selected by curator Ken Ashton, his mixed-media work of acrylic and silkscreen on aluminum, Lindsey McClearly (above left), is a striking example of Colbert’s dual interests in painting and printmaking. In this work the artist’s complex layering of imagery incorporates a criminal mug shot from the early 20th century to create a narrative voice that strives to tell a story in the most interesting and fascinating fashion. Colbert’s portrait is a poignant tribute to and examination of both the photographer who is taking the picture and the accused criminal who is the subject of the work.

This Washinton Project for the Arts exhibition offers a variety of perspectives and a wonderful opportunity to immerse oneself in this impressive collection, the product of working with an esteemed art organization and a talented group of curators.

January 20, 2010

Il faut cultiver notre jardin



Every month, the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities presents Art Salon, a program which serves to connect the District’s art community. Its aim is to emphasize the necessity of dialogue in an artistic community, build upon its relationships with partner organizations, and provide a forum for debate. This event is celebrated in venues throughout the city, and is modeled after the European salon culture of the 18th century Enlightenment. Against the backdrop of a general interest in the acquisition of knowledge, Art Salon is devoted to the art of conversation and the development of DC’s creative community. A convergence of local artists, designers, musicians, and educators, this event is a chance to welcome new and old friends to the Commission.

Exposure to diversity is a great benefit. This monthly event offers artists from across the capital region the opportunity to comment on their perspective, and way of life, and to address the challenges and victories they face. They educate us as to what is happening in their world.

This month’s Art Salon at the Hamiltonian Gallery on U Street offered a special opportunity to honor the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities 2010 grantees with special performances by musicians Christylez Bacon and Tom Goss, and poet Regie Cabico. Visual artist Aniekan Udofia displayed an original painting in the gallery space; his interpretation of a poem compiled by Cabico titled We Run, creating a true coming together of poetry, music and art.

DC artist and Commission grantee Christylez Bacon was recently nominated for Best Musical Album for Children at this year’s 52nd Grammy Awards for his collaboration with the acclaimed folk duo Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer. The album, an 8 song EP titled Banjo to Beatbox, is Cathy and Marcy’s latest collection of children’s songs.

The district's burgeoning arts community continues to grow thanks to the hard work of such talented artists and enthusiastic arts organizations.

December 7, 2009

Human Nature



Developed as a multi-disciplinary art space, The Fridge DC is a new gallery located at 516 8th Street, (Rear Alley) in Eastern Market SE. Its aim is to provide exhibition and performance space for emerging and established artists, to promote programs and activities that encourage public awareness, participation in, and appreciation of the arts, and to serve as a catalyst for social change. Additionally, The Fridge is dedicated to art education, with exhibiting artists teaching classes while their work is on display and offering full scholarships to children of low-income DC residents.

On Thursday night The Fridge DC was taken over by mixed media artist Scott LeFavor, who was handpicked by proprietor and gallery director Alex Goldstein to present the artist’s first solo exhibition in Washington, DC. Scott LeFavor is a Boston native living in Denver and was an exhibitor in the important show MANIFESTHOPE: DC alongside some of the nation’s most accomplished visual artists including several of DC’s most exciting up and coming talents. In this new show titled “Yo, You Hear Bout That Show At The Fridge?” LeFavor presents 22 new works of acrylic and enamel on panel including one large installation created on-site. The gallery space was transformed into a showcase of impeccable illustration, beautiful design and, of course, giant money bags. The artist describes this body of work as a social commentary representing disjointed notes on personal relationships. His work playfully reflects the complex interplay of culture, class, and gender in 21st century America.

At the opening reception Scott Lefavor was all smiles, exhibiting lively paintings, and lush design, all of which reinforced his dynamism as both a graphic designer and painter. LeFavor’s aggressive style of painting and printmaking utilizes acrylic paint, spray paint, screen-printing, gel transferring and enamel. His work is strongly influenced by traditional sign painting and typography as well as contemporary street art and the pop art movement of the 1960’s. Working on masonite and other found materials, LeFavor’s bold typeface letters spell out decidedly brash sentiments; LADYKILLER, LUST, PARTY GIRLS. Drawing directly from his personal experiences and current sociological trends and events, LeFavor creates work that is highly narrative and emotionally charged. The merging of his dual interests in urban culture and visual art results in a thought-provoking commentary on contemporary life and events. His work functions on many levels not limited to the sociological, political, and humorous. At his best, he is driven to making art as complex, extreme, and powerful as he can.

The opening reception was a resounding success. One couldn’t have asked for a more comprehensive cross section of DC’s art and design community. LeFavor's debut attracted an eclectic group of attendees including Philippa Hughes, Eric Brewer, and local artists Billy Colbert, Decoy, Cory Oberndorfer, and Kelly Towles.

Music at the opening event provided by El Barbudo.

Bonus: On Wednesday December 9th at 8:00 you are invited to join The Fridge and exhibiting artist Scot LeFavor for an evening of discussion about his current show, “Yo, You Hear Bout That Show At The Fridge?”, as well as his interest in street art and graphic design.

November 14, 2009

KAKAO-PRAH



The Embassy of Hungary, together with the support of The International Club of DC and The Great British Pine Mine, is pleased to present the outstanding theatre company Radnóti Színház of Budapest, performing the American and English language premiere of PRAH, a contemporary play by Hungary’s most celebrated playwright György Spiró's.

In commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the proclamation of the Republic of Hungary, the Embassy of Hungary invites you to this special evening of theatre on Tuesday November 24 at the Mead Theatre Lab at Flashpoint located at 916 G Street, NW Washington, DC.

György Spiró's latest play, PRAH, is a story about unexpected fortune and incredible opportunity. In PRAH, Spiro tells the story of a middle- aged couple, who have just won six hundred million forints (about 3 million dollars) on the lottery. These characters, born and raised under the communist regime, are used to observe and comment upon the societal changes that have occurred since the collapse of the Iron Curtain.


------------------


We are all waiting for the day when fortune favors us. Week by week we trust in five numbers, five small crosses, which should bring our fortune, and we hope our numbers will be the winners on the lottery. We are planning in advance how to spend that money, what to buy, with whom should we share it.

It all happens to the two characters of György Spiró’s latest play, Prah: they won the biggest price on the lottery. It’s easy to dream about something, but difficult to be really happy about it. The couple can not cope with the unexpected fortune: they can not buy their past years back, and they also can not purchase their future. In that certain minute they do not know what to do, but while they are thinking about it, planning the future: just to make sure they hide away the sweep-ticket in a box labeled KAKAO-PRAH. This box is from an old summer holiday at the Croatian seaside, and it contained “kakao prah” – cocoa powder.

So the box is like the past, in which they imprison their future, which will be soon only powder, only dust – like the sweep-ticket itself


Source: http://www.huembwas.org


Tickets: General admission and benefactor tickets are on sale now
(click on the performances below)

First performance at 6:30pm SOLD OUT!!!
There is no General Admission Ticket or Benefactor Ticket available for sale for this performance

Second performance at 9:00pm
General Admission: $20 (includes admission to the theater performance only)

October 25, 2009

The Pleasure of Being Robbed



The Dirty Green: The Art of Grifters and Con Men, a two-man art exhibition showcasing the work of Washington DC-based artists Billy Colbert and Kelly Towles took place Thursday night in a nondescript warehouse space located at 1226 9th Street in Northwest. Exploring the act of thievery in its many forms, the show uses images of clowns, sneak thieves and pugilistic burglars to make statements regarding the frequently sordid details of the crime of theft.

Kelly Towles, one of Washington, DC’s most promising emerging artists, presented a composition of twenty small paintings on wood, juxtaposed with five oversized pieces depicting his eponymous social and emotional deviants. Towles ability to accurately portray his principal characters’ temperaments and to visually captivate his viewer is a major success of this show.

Towles’ combination of raw energy and his recurring interest in the subject of depredation reveal the artist’s vision of how such individuals deal with the society in which they live and often take for granted.

Mixed–media artist Billy Colbert’s painting and print work is both visually stunning and instantly recognizable for its dynamic, complex layering of imagery ranging from popular advertising icons and criminal mug shots to family photographs and cartoon characters.

In his work, the process begins with a base material such as aluminum, canvas, or commercial photography paper, which is used to create an atmosphere. Next, a layered combination of paint, screen-printed images, random patterns, and text are applied to produce greater depth. Once the desired effect is created, more screen printed images are added, followed by additional layers of paint to complete the work.

His paintings are poignant tributes to and critical analyses of popular culture in the US, including the impact of that culture beyond national borders. Colbert incorporates various forms of popular culture including television, advertising, sports, fashion, magazines and comic books. He explores issues of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, cultural imperialism and censorship, as shaped by and reflected in various mass media.

In addition to his artistic talents, Colbert is important to DC fashion as proprietor of clothing label Policy Brand. For more information visit www.billycolbert.com and www.policybrand.com. Kelly Towles’ street inspired art can be viewed at www.kellytowles.com.

Bonus: On Saturday November 7th from 6:30 to 9:00 you are invited to U street corridor boutique Redeem which is celebrating its third anniversary with a pop up show by De*Nada, new works by Kelly Towles and tunes by DJ Cassidy.

August 8, 2009

School of Thought



On Tuesday at Politics and Prose author Matthew Crawford read from and discussed his new book Shop Class As Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into The Value of Work, in which he extols the virtues of the hands-on self reliance which has all but disappeared from the modern workplace. Matthew Crawford is a philosopher and mechanic. He has a Ph.D. in political philosophy from the University of Chicago and has served as a postdoctoral fellow on its Committee on Social Thought. Currently a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia, he owns and operates Shockoe Moto, an independent motorcycle repair shop in Richmond, Virginia.

Our questionable advancement from the industrial to the information age does not subtract from our dependence, at home and at work, on those who can truly make and fix things. In Shop Class As Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into The Value of Work, Crawford presents an astonishingly complex view of the nature of work, skillfully examining its relationship to our intellectual and moral development. He emphasizes the value of doing work which shows tangible results and for which we both can and must take responsibility. This affects our own sense of self as well as the larger community we inhabit. His book, he writes, “advances a nestled set of arguments on behalf of work that is meaningful because it is genuinely useful. It also explores what we might call the ethics of maintenance and repair.”

Crawford’s Shop Class As Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into The Value of Work explores more specifically how the traditional trades can involve intense thought. He reveals the satisfaction of working with one’s hands and introduces the reader to his extensive knowledge of, as well as his passion for and insight into, the difficult but fascinating task of fixing vintage motorcycles, his chosen milieu. He makes the case that our society has placed a disproportionate value on white-collar work compared with that bestowed upon the trades.

The event’s overwhelming turnout is an indication of the public’s interest in Crawford’s thought-provoking debut. A work both relevant and valuable, it provides solid insight into motorcycle maintenance and discusses important topics and issues involved in the study of philosophy.

June 27, 2009

Paperwork



The resounding success of last summer’s Screams and Screens at Civilian Art Projects demonstrated that a second exhibition of music-based posters was needed. Presenting a riot of different artistic styles, Paper Jam-The Art and Grime of the East Coast Rock Poster, features a cross-section of artists, designers and printmakers who work in this genre. The exhibition focuses on the works of these twenty-seven artists from the East Coast: Ana Benaroya, Jordan Bernier, Rick Bowman, Chris Cernoch, Kate Crosgrove, Anthony Dihle (Dirty Pictures), Jefferey Everett (El Jefe Design), JP Flexner, John Foster (Bad People Good Things), Jeff Fry, Tim Gibbon (Dynamite Printworks), James Heimer, Edward Kelley, Daniel Kent, Chris Kline, Nick Kulp (Undercover Zero), Large Mammal, Robb Leef, Drew Liverman, Magick Outlaw, Nick Pimentel (Planaria Design), Gregory Pizzoli, Post Typography, Brian Potash (Devilish Ink), Public Domain, and Warm.

Organized by artist Anthony Dihlo the exhibition presents a collection of works that represent the whole spectrum of poster art. Of this work, Dihlo says, “both well-established and newly emerging artists are featured. Their methods of production range from high-end offset lithography to silkscreen to Xerox, and their styles are equally varied, from the rock poster standbys of skulls-n-babes to experimentation where text and form are pushed to convey music using symbols and abstraction. Bands represented extend from internationally known acts to garage bands making their debut show. Most of the work is home-brewed, by the artist, and merges the illustration of sound and lyrics with the requisite need for a poster to simultaneously advertise a show and commemorate it.”

Over the last few years, there has been a resurgence of interest in the rock poster, triggered largely by a renewed enthusiasm for small venue live music and analog sound. Many poster artists, inspired by their local scene and the music of our time, are now enjoying unprecedented success. The recent revival of poster art is facilitated by the availability of imaging software, advances in screen-printing such as the increased adaptability of silk screen to at-home methods, and the presence of a new generation of poster artists who share ideas, resources, viewing spaces, and markets for their prints.

Paper Jam-The Art and Grime of the East Coast Rock Poster is a stimulating and accessible exhibition. On Thursday June 25th Civilian Art Projects hosted a Q and A session with several artists from the exhibition including Chris Cernoch, Anthony Dihlo, Jefferey Everett, JP Flexner, John Foster, Gregory Pizzoli, Brian Potash, and Dan and Jason of Warm. The discussion provided insight into important issues involved in the poster making process and explored each individual’s unique body of work.

May 21, 2009

Passageways



The latest works by renowned contemporary artist and architect Maya Lin are now showing at Washington’s Corcoran Gallery of Art. Lin came to prominence in 1981 with her winning design for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and has since achieved international acclaim for her site specific art and architecture projects. Her body of work, which includes monuments, buildings, earthworks, sculpture, and installations, addresses notions of landscape and geological phenomena. In recent years, Lin has focused on reinterpretations of landscapes, analyzing the natural world using modern technology including satellite images, digital mapping, and topography, and presenting that data in exquisite three-dimensional forms. Maya Lin: Systematic Landscapes is an exhibition of major new work centered on a trio of large-scale sculptural installations that present different ways to encounter and comprehend the landscape in a time of ecological change.

The first major installation, 2x4 Landscape, is built from more than 50,000 fir and hemlock boards, cut at various lengths and set on end to form an imaginary landscape. The work rises to a height of ten feet and fills an entire room in the museum gallery. Resembling an earthen mound or an ominous ocean swell, this work is a model landscape on a grand scale.

The Blue Lake Pass sculptures are modeled on an actual mountain range located near the artist’s home in Southwest Colorado. This installation consists of a series of 20 cubes composed of vertical sheets of particle board that have been carved and stacked allowing visitors to contemplate a landscape from the inside. Of this work, Lin says, “by creating a sculpture that details the topography, applying a three by three foot grid to that terrain, and then pulling the terrain apart so that one can walk through the landscape, I wanted to shift one’s perspective about the land, allowing a viewpoint that is more geologic in character.”

The third major installation, Water Line, is a suspended wire-frame topographic sculpture, which maps an underwater landmass located in the South Atlantic Ocean. The piece appears abstract but is instantly recognizable as a model of the ocean floor. Presented as a floating line drawing that visitors can walk under, around, and view from different angles, Water Line provides an unexpected view of the natural world.

Lin works in other media as well, including using plaster, recycled silver and steel wire to create smaller three-dimensional sculptures which are also represented in the exhibition. Additionally, Lin has created a new work designed specifically for the Corcoran. Pin River-Potomac is an outline of the river made entirely of straight pins and the shadows cast by them. These small-scale interpretations equally inspire and enthrall the observer.

Maya Lin: Systematic Landscapes will be on view through July 12.

April 25, 2009

Crescent City Blues



Throughout the month of April the Library of Congress has been showing a series of jazz-related films and videos presented by Larry Appelbaum at the Mary Pickford Theatre. Appelbaum, senior studio engineer in the Library's Recorded Sound Section, lectures frequently on jazz and is the longtime radio host of WPFW's Sunday evening program "Sound of Surprise”. On Wednesday, April 22, the series featured noted music documentarian Robert Mugge’s 2006 documentary New Orleans Musicians in Exile. In the film Mugge explores the profound impact of Hurricane Katrina on the New Orleans music community. Musicians featured in the production include Dr. John, Cyril Neville, Irma Thomas, Kermit Ruffins, Rebirth Brass Band and many others. Mugge also includes interviews with New Orleans club proprietors, music journalists and record label owners.

In this revealing film the viewer is introduced to the unique spirit and vibrant culture of New Orleans and the havoc and despair left in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Director Robert Mugge’s central message is encapsulated in his title New Orleans Musicians in Exile. He documents many of New Orleans’ talented musicians who are living in exile, forced to disperse to other parts of the country following the devastation wreaked on the city by the worst natural disaster in US history. These musicians who made a living performing and recording in New Orleans have kept on playing elsewhere- many of their performances devoted to the beleaguered city. Mugge also focuses on how New Orleans has compensated for the loss of so many of her musicians and which acts plan to return in the imminent future.

The film examines the effects of Hurricane Katrina on individual musicians, and follows the personal stories and experiences in a city they loved and lived in. In addition to performing they share their experiences of loss and displacement. Mugge’s insightful examination reveals the unhealed wounds of their experience while also celebrating their resilience and passion.

March 20, 2009

Wonderland


An international company with a longstanding reputation for innovation, U.K. based Vidal Sassoon opened its only Washington DC area salon in Tysons Galleria in 1997. One of the world’s best recognized names in hairdressing, Sassoon’s prestigious salons offer women and men uniquely crafted cut and color techniques which create and develop the effortlessly sophisticated looks their clients love. Vidal Sassoon’s consistent focus on creative color and style is unmatched. Its team of colorists and stylists combine talent, technique, and passion for the craft to provide exceptional client services at Vidal Sassoon.

Vidal Sassoon has a unique way of separating the stylist and colorist worlds. This dissociation allows more focus, resulting in great consultations for both color and cut. At Sassoon Tysons Galleria a diverse and distinguished team of hairdressers share an astute awareness of fashion, trends and style, and are happy to pass on this knowledge to their willing clientele. Their charming, warm and personable air gives careful consideration to what will suit the individual. Their extraordinarily talented stylists will help determine the services that are best for the client during an individual consultation. Whatever look one chooses, Vidal Sassoon will help to achieve it.

Upon completion of Vidal Sassoon training all hairdressers are required to present an individual soiree that will focus on how to use creativity to build on the ever-changing nature of their craft. On Tuesday March 17 colorist Alvina Macrall invited her audience, a bevy of friends, family and fellow professionals into a storybook fantasy, inspired by ‘Alice in Wonderland’, in her spring soiree for Vidal Sassoon Tysons Galleria. She presented a potent mix of creative color and unique styles drawing inspiration from one of her favorite stories. Her presentation focused on popular concepts found in Lewis Carroll’s book such as the essence of imagination and fantasy, and explores as a theme perception vs. reality. Every cut and color resembled the celebrated characters from the classic story, their styled hair strewn with vivid colors and their faces made-up with evocative eye-shadows and shimmering bronze blush-on. Technically precise and creatively sound Alvina Macrall’s soiree was a tremendous success.

February 23, 2009

Cinema verité



From February 18 to February 22, The National Archives hosted the fifth annual free screenings of Academy Award nominees in four categories- Documentary Feature, Documentary Short Subject, Live Action Short Film, and Animated Short Film- at the William G. McGowan Theater. The screenings are presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in partnership with The Charles Guggenheim Center for the Documentary Film and the Foundation for the National Archives. On Sunday February 22 I attended the screening of The Garden, nominated for Best Documentary Feature at this year’s 81st Academy Awards.

Scott Hamilton Kennedy’s The Garden (2008) examines the legal battle that resulted from the city of Los Angeles’ sale of a 14 acre expanse of land in a South Central neighborhood that had been developed by local residents into one of the country’s largest community gardens. The film, which debuted in June at the American Film Institute /Discovery Channel Documentary Festival, SILVERDOCS, vividly explores the South Central Farmers’ frustration with the events leading up to the destruction of their inner city garden. In doing so it presents the story of a community in complete despair.

The Garden won a Sterling award for best U.S. feature, the jury praising it for “its tenacity in storytelling in the face of injustice, and the filmmaker’s singular vision in bringing a gripping, dramatic, and important story to the public eye. The Garden has raw emotion, visceral energy, and nail-biting twists and turns. It unravels a complex and layered tale of the destruction of America’s largest urban farm that must not be forgotten.”

Documentary film can promote a broader awareness of issues of pressing importance, including current world events, political and social reform, climate change and human rights. Kennedy is impressive as he reveals the predominately Hispanic farmers and their opponents as individuals passionate about their particular cause. He shows no bias for a political or social agenda but rather tells a story he feels is important without the pretentious claim of social service or mystical claims to a unique access to truth.

The South Central Farmers, committed to strengthening community and culture, recognize the power of protest. The garden was a source of pride and sustenance for their community for more than a decade. The opponents of the garden, particularly Councilwomen Jan Perry of the LA City Ninth District and Juanita Tate, a community activist and head of the Concerned Citizens of South Central, stimulate action and vociferously express their own opinions, as the fate of the garden remains uncertain.

The film opens with live news footage of April 29, 1992, documenting the devastating LA riots which followed the Rodney King trial. We are introduced to a struggle between the African American leadership of the past and the emerging Latino constituents who are experiencing a dramatic social transition. Kennedy focuses on race relations and reports on a possible brown vs. black dynamic as both major challengers are African American. Is Kennedy accurate in suggesting that the two powerful African American leaders are corrupt? Does he think about the implications of raising such a controversial issue? If so, should he care about such implications if his intention is to demonstrate the truth or reality of the situation.

As a hypothetical member of a film jury I was most impressed by the director’s exploration of the truth. Kennedy clearly illustrates the importance of the garden to the farmers and their disillusionment when the terms of the land grant are amended and then abruptly taken away. I was slightly irritated by Kennedy’s failure to clarify the specifics of the original land grant that gave the garden to the citizens of Los Angeles. Clearly the dominant interest is that of the developers which runs contrary to that of the citizens. This juxtaposition of the interests of the community with those of their adversaries results in there being no clear winners or losers.

February 11, 2009

Picasso to Pop



A collection of paintings by Andy Warhol, the prolific painter, graphic artist and film-maker and one of the most iconic American artists of the 20th century, opened last night at the University of Mary Washington’s Ridderhof Martin Gallery. The University of Mary Washington Galleries are composed of the Ridderhof Martin Gallery and the duPont Gallery. Together, they present art exhibitions and educational events of interest to the University community and the general public. Warhol’s Portrait of Richard Weisman, shown above, is part of the exhibition “Andy Warhol’s Athletes: Portraits from the Richard Weisman Collection”, and is on display through February 25.

I was delighted to attend this once-in-a-lifetime event featuring art collector, author and owner of Andy Warhol’s 1977-78 Athlete Series, Richard Weisman, who held a book signing reception for Picasso to Pop: The Richard Weisman Collection. Richard Weisman’s book reveals the inspiration behind the series and discusses his experiences as a major collector of contemporary art. Weisman grew up in a family of art collectors. He is the son of Marcia Weisman, a founder of the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, and nephew of Norton Simon, founder of the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena.

In 1977 Andy Warhol received a commission from Richard Weisman, a close friend of the artist, to create his Athletes Series, which is composed of ten individual portraits of popular sports figures. Completed in 1979, these ten portraits of the decade’s athletic superstars, among them Chris Evert, Pele, Willie Shoemaker, Jack Nicklaus, and Muhammad Ali, reveal the ongoing importance of friendships between patrons and artists in contemporary art.

As the preeminent American artist in the 20th century Andy Warhol’s vividly colorful and innovative paintings challenged the world to see art differently. A leader of the American art movement known as Pop, Andy Warhol used his canvasses of dollar bills, soup cans, and celebrities to subvert distinctions between high and popular culture. His spectacular career encompassed the underground scene as well as the equally deviant worlds of politics, show business, and high society.

Needless to say, it was an exciting evening and an experience I will not soon forget. Thank you my darling.