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.

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