So I’ve just finished installing my exhibit, A Sense of Place, at this year’s Artomatic . This most democratic of “art fairs” will host I think around 700 artistes this year and will feature a month long of performances, fire dancers, and happenings. It’s located literally right next to Nationals Stadium and the views alone are inspiring, as proven by this very nice video promo by participating artist Sean O’Grady.
I haven’t had the chance to loiter throughout the 6 floors, but it’s the usual mixed bag: great stuff mixed with questionable, but always entertaining and thought provoking. Here’s the address:
55 M St. SE: Above Navy Yard Metro Station. My wall is on the 6th floor, in space 12-C-2. If you swing by my space, please sign my guestbook.
A bit of an eye-opener reading the LOT (Polish) Air Magazine, Kaleidoscope, on the flight from Zurich to Poland. Totally off-topic but here are some highlights from an article about visiting the US, just in case you were wondering how “WE” are perceived:
1. On Being American: “One of the most important [ways Americans differ from other people, besides our perfect teeth, i kid you not this was mentioned] is appreciation of the national symbols – with the Star Spangled Banner being number one . . . No wonder that the main hero of children’s fairytales is . . . George Washington. [??!!]
2. On the Great American Melting Pot: The country is a full range of most world nations and cultures, coexisting here for decades. Sometimes among the white people, but still often living in their own separate districts and ghettos. [Ok I can’t argue with this, just not your usual in-flight reporting]
3. On Accomodation: The standards of motels differ considerably. The common thing about them is The Bible in a drawer.
4. On the World Without Us: Today it is difficult to imagine the world without the USA. What to pour into a whiskey? If not for Marilyn Monroe and JFK what would the most famous romance of the 60’s look like and one of the greatest mysteries of the 20th century. [greatest?!] . . . Fortunately, 307 million Americans exist and are quite fine. [quite]
5. On Road Trips: “The best means of transport is an air-conditioned yank-tank [emphasis mine] . . . Beware of the road police, who can be hardly visible. It is impossible to bribe them.
And there you have it my friends, viva democracy.
It was very exciting to find out I was one of 12 finalists for the Grand Prize at Lodz, Poland’s Fotofestiwal for my Rank Strangers portfolio. The organization kindly subsidized my travel making it much easier to get to the former manufacturing town, located 1 1/2 hours by train from Warsaw. The town itself had a faded glory about it, exhibits were housed in the crumbling mansions of former factory overseers, the factories themselves, and in one monumental power plant embellished with beautiful art nouveau detailing and handcrafted tiles, which were competing with small saplings growing from the floor for space and light.
Outside the Lodz Art Center
The festival got off to a big bang with the opening at the Lodz Art Center which housed the Grand Prix show and “Tickle-Attack,” an exhibition spearheaded by a Finnish fotofestival, Backlight, and which was touring in various facets throughout Europe. It was a mob scene, there appears to be a healthy interest in the arts throughout Poland.
A personal highlight was seeing Jan Von Holleben‘s work, Dreams of Flying, which was part of the Tickle Attack portion. His whimsical recreations involving his neighborhood urchins evoke a world of possibility.
How cool is a fotofestival that has its own branded pinball machine?
Not only did I NOT receive the Grand Prize, that honor went to Dutch photographer Christien Jaspar‘s poignant series, Do, – but MORE IMPORTANTLY I failed to place in the Kielbasa eating contest where fellow North American Chicagraphers Matt Siber and Jonathan Gitelson, both showing in Tickle Attack, handily aced me in both execution and style (see below). My plan is to train harder and come back stronger (using Destiny Child’s I’m a Survivor as my theme song) for a rematch in Milwaukee in July.
It was my biggest show to date, 20 pieces, and it was very cool to see them up on the wall and the throng surrounding them. It was also good training for me in preparing for my two upcoming solo shows over the next few months.
Like many American’s I didn’t know much about Poland before leaving. I knew the term “Warsaw Rising” but I associated it more with pithy travel articles about Eastern Europe. I’m sure the festival receives a lot of government support, (I hope), with the intention of the cross-cultural awareness it brings, I think for me, it was a huge success in that regard. I found the Polish people to be warm and open, really kind and helpful (you wouldn’t realize sometimes that they were using the Roman alphabet, I swear- the juxtapositions of vowels and consonants BLEW my mind), and I had the opportunity to shoot a brief travel assignment in Warsaw, which led me to the Warsaw Rising Museum, which is as far from a pithy travelogue as you can get. It really was a very well-done museum depicting the great effort by the Warsawonians (?) to keep their homeland when they were getting hammered by “friend” and foe alike. The amount of injustice this country has faced by it’s neighbors is increible, and their stories, depicted so brilliantly in this museum, bouyed my own spirits when I think how preoccupied I am with pecuniary matters (ie the abysmal state of editorial and it’s future) – when these people were literally sacrificing body and soul for their patria. Not since a very embarassing plane ride to Madrid spent watching Hotel Rwanda have I spent so much time bawling in front of strangers.
Our Super Helpful Train Conductor Writing Out our Train Ticket Receipts
Anyway the moral of the story kids is, if you have the opportunity don’t miss a visit to Poland.
I’m back from Poland and catching up – but just wanted to spread the word about The New York Time‘s new photo blog, Lens, you can find it here, which promises to be full of good content.
The NYMPHOTOMANIACS have conjured up what seems to me to be two lively all-female group shows over at Sasha Wolf. The opening for show 1 is Wednesday May 6 from 6-8 @ 10 Leonard Street in Tribeca. Two things I did not know before I participated in this gig: a) Sasha Wolf is a She and b) so is Garie Waltzer. The world is a wonderful and mysterious place.
Seriously, a lot of times when one is on the group show circuit, one misses the cohesiveness of a more clever unifying vision or theme, but gaze upon some of the selections avail on Ms. Wolf’s website and then tell me that I am wrong is stating that this is not the case with this group of dames. Interesting work from the likes of Michal Chelbin who I met briefly at Review Santa Fe in 2006. Her prints of Ukrainian circus performers were gorgeous and ethereal, and I think she was rightfully one of the superstars that year. The work is breathtaking. PhotoNOLA buddy Katrina D’Autremont presents work on her Argentine relatives which is, and I quote Mr. Conscientious here, “quite nice.” Jennifer Boomer’s work in Alaska I covet. And Jen Davis is also a superstar I think and makes very distinct emotionally raw work. J. Bea also has work as does Nina Buesing Corvallo (there’s an umlat or something in their somewhere), Emily Shur, Jane Tam, the afore-mentioned inscrutable Garie Waltzer, Tema Stauffer (Tema and I showed work together last year in Milwaukee, so we will entertain you with our Laverne and Shirley impersonations). There’s a bunch of others too, and not everyone is showing at the same time, so you can get the full deets here. Tomorrow I’ll be on a plane to Poland where I’m a finalist in the grand prize at the Fotofestiwal in Lodz. Fellow norte americana Kay Westhues will also be representing. Wish us luck, I’m a bit worried about the kielbasa eating contest component of the competition.
Via Lenny who alerts us to a call for action criticizing the PA FY 2010 budget which calls for 0 arts funding. No grants to PA artists next year. I would argue that tough times is exactly when we need the creativity and inspiration that arts education and grants promote. But since I am at times a journalist, I cannot participate in these referendums. If you have no such issues and would care to have your thoughts heard on this topic you can click here for all the info you desire.