Good News Friday: Collectors Looking to Homegrown Living Artists

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Eva, La Costa Verde, Peru, 2009 © Susana Raab

Looking on the bright side, the WSJ reports that after years of seeking exotic foreign artistes to add to their collections, collectors are now homeward bound in terms of rounding out their collections.

Now, a full year since the recession gutted the global art market, collectors are canceling their trips. Some Westerners are now loath to dip into markets like Russian or Indian contemporary art, whose prices soared during the boom but whose long-term value is less established. Many are cutting back on expensive art-buying trips. And some collectors say they’re interested in supporting local artists, particularly at a time of economic hardship—the cultural equivalent of buying an American car instead of an import.

Yes, that is news we can use.  Are you a collector looking for a fine piece of contemporary art while supporting your local community? DC (Maryland and Virginia too, you can claim me! I’m equal opportunity) collectors take note:  you too can support this very worthy artist.  Serious inquiries only at gallery [at] susanaraab.com

(and yes, Adam is holding the apple in the photo above; revisionist history? I don’t think so!)

More Fotoweek Anacostia Goings On

Looking for something to do? Here’s a round-up of Fotoweek stuff in Anacostia:

FOTOWEEK ANACOSTIA : special event November 6th : all other events November 7-14th

SPECIAL EVENT : November 6th @ 7:30pm
Silent Auction + Reception hosted by Senator Al and Franni Franken
For tickets 202-365-8392, includes light fare and drinks, only $25
Address: 2204 MLK Jr Ave SE
The fundrasier takes place next to the gallery at a converted warehouse space, 2204 Martin Luther King Jr Ave in Southeast Washington DC. Join us as the event kicks off at 7:30pm with light fare and drinks. It will be a great opportunity to purchase affordable photography during the Silent Auction with works generously donated by Owen Franken, Joshua Yospyn, Renee Woodward, Antoine Sanfuentes, Jared Ragland, Chandi Kelly and many other photographers. The proceeds from the event will help reinforce ARCH Development Cor The poration’s commitment to Anacostia, bringing fine arts and cultural programming to Anacostia through its two art spaces, The Honfleur Gallery and The Gallery at Vivid Solutions. Senator will be drawing his famous free-hand map of the US to be auctioned off during the event. Owen Franken will also be presenting a slide show during the evening, discussing his life’s work and images displayed. Tickets are only $25 and are available in advance by calling 202-365-8392 or email bferraro@archdc.org.(Preview of Owen Franken’s A Photography Retrospective at The Gallery at Vivid Solutions is free and will open at 6:30pm.)

Five different exhibitions throughout the Historic Sector of Anacostia, East of the River. All the exhibits open Saturday November 7th @ 7pm and are in walking distance of each other. We are accessible by metro (green to Anacostia) and metro bus (90 to Anacostia). Please check the web sites for gallery hours and more directions.

Honfleur Gallery
1241 Good Hope Road SE WDC 20020
Women Photojournalists of Washington : Launch
WPOW’s mission is to connect and educate the public of the work of women photographers. The photographers featured in the juried exhibit are Astrid Riecken, Allison Shelley, Abby Greenawalt, Ashely Twiggs, Algerina Perna, Amanda Lucidon, Andrea Bruce, Carol Guzy, Gabriela Bulisova, Jamie Rose, Katie Falkenberg, Laura Elizabeth Pohl, Melina Mara, Sarah L. Voisin and Yanina Manolova. Launch is generously sponsored by Camera Bits.

A Contact Sheet : Honfleur’s represented artists + local favorites
Photographers include Darren Smith, Renee Woodward, John K. Lawson, Antoine Sanfuentes, Joshua Yospyn, Jean-Francois Bauret, Jean Francois Rauzier, Jean Noel L’Harmeroult, Cyril Anguelidis, Andrea Hope, Jared Ragland, Sherry Ways and Deborah Terry.

Alternative Arts Space 2200
2200 MLK Ave SE WDC 20020
BK Adams + Steven M. Cummings : I AM ART
Steven Cummings, DC based photographer, collaborates with BK Adams, Anacostia based sculptor and painter presenting an experimental installation with interactive components.

The Gallery at Vivid Solutions
2208 MLK Ave SE WDC 20020
Owen Franken : A Photography Retrospective
The French have a word that aptly sums up Owen Franken’s career: Imprévisible (unforeseeable). To many, unforeseeable might be a source of anxiety. To Franken, it’s freedom. It is not surprising then that Franken enjoys an unusual profession for an MIT grad: Photojournalism. Franken’s career has taken him to 103 countries, allowing him to taste the best (and sometimes the worst) of what the world has to offer and get paid for it. “I’ve always relished freedom and never worried about financial security,” Franken says from his home in Paris, where he juggles his roles as a food and travel photographer, a father of two, a gourmet chef, and the older brother of Senator Al Franken. His photos have appeared on the covers and pages of Time, Newsweek, Forbes, BusinessWeek, the New York Times, and National Geographic, as well as Saveur, Gourmet, Bon Appetit, Food and Wine,and Travel and Leisure. He has photographed presidents from Nixon to Clinton, covered wars and Woodstock, illustrated Chinese economic reform and the fall of the Berlin Wall.

ARCH Training Center
1231 Good Hope Road SE WDC 20020
Student Photography Exhibit : Eco-Action-Reaction
Student photography show focusing on the importance of renewable energy resources, such as solar power, and exploring the environmental juxtaposition between man and nature. This exhibition is funded in part, by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Another Washington by Paul Feinberg at the Katzen Arts Center/American University

Paul Feinberg: Another Washington

Paul Feinberg: Another Washington

I’m a little late to game here, as this exhibit closed October 25, but I’ll post this a bit tardily as I hope it will be instructive for those of us on the early curve of our exhibition history. From the verbage of the exhibit:

“Focusing on personal relationships and city life, both downtown and around town, Paul Feinberg’s photographic and prose portraits of Washington have been appearing in local magazines for over 35 years. Another Washington celebrates and preserves a vibrant, sometimes quirky, sometimes seamy, but always poignant Washington not seen in the tour books, with intimate looks at all kinds of Washingtonians and their neighborhood haunts and places of pleasure.”

I have to admit out of the three exhibits I was going to last week (Robt Bergman at the National Gallery, Yousuf Karsh at the Canadian Embassy, and this one) – this was the one that I was most looking forward to.  And this is exactly the reason why I never try to have preconceptions about anything.

I Street Social Club, 13th and I Street NW © Paul Feinberg

I Street Social Club, 13th and I Street NW © Paul Feinberg

The show started off auspiciously enough with some vintage looking b/w prints from scenes long gone in Washington.  The accompanying text offered names and locales, (sorry Robt. Bergman, you know I am a fan of this kind of info), but NO dates, and no process on the prints.  I mean if you are talking about a Washington GONE by wouldn’t it be pertinent to offer your viewers exactly WHEN we are talking about here.  I was left to assume that most of these black and whites were taken in the late 70’s and 80’s, because as I saw later the 90’s era prints asserted themselves much differently.

Loretta, Owner of Loretta's Weaving Shop, 13th and H St NW © Paul Feinberg

Loretta, Owner of Loretta's Weaving Shop, 13th and H St NW © Paul Feinberg

What I also appreciated about the text boxes were the background info and the quotes from the subjects.  Here:

In 1939, I started altering shirts for the downtown department stores. It cost 50 cents a shirt then, but now I have to charge $2.00. That first day, I got a bunch of orders and then had to drive up to Baltimore that night to buy a sewing machine because I didn’t have one. [this to me speaks to Baltimore’s dominance at that time since you couldn’t find a sewing machine in DC??? Did you check Craig’s List???]

I’ve done work for some famous people. I repaired a shawl for Mamie Eisenhower. . . . One Tuesday before Christmas, when I was piled up with work, a man came in with 15 shirts adn said his boss had to have them by Friday. There was no way I could promise that. I asked him, ‘Who does he think he is? The President of the United States?’ Well, that is just who it was. I didn’t do it though. I couldn’t see pushing my girls when they were already overworked. I gave him a date when I could have them ready and he accepted it.” [OK this again, WOULD NEVER happen today. #1 There is probably a highly compensated in house seamstress at the White House now who makes more than you and I combined and can retire with full pension in 15 years.  #2 Loretta would have taken the commission immediately so she could a) twitter it b)have a cool facebook update it and c) use that information in her next email promo/spam campaign. Aaah, here’s to innocence lost)].

National Roller Rink, Kalorama and 17th St NW © Paul Feinberg

National Roller Rink, Kalorama and 17th St NW © Paul Feinberg

Boy, I wish this scene above still existed.

Customers in Nightingale's Tatoo Parlor, 12th and I St NW © Paul Feinberg

Customers in Nightingale's Tatoo Parlor, 12th and I St NW © Paul Feinberg

What the show quickly devolved into however, was a helter-skelter melange of photos having to do with strippers, tattoo parlors and massage parlors.  The prints were mediocre, and I suspect that most of the process on the prints were inkjet created from bad scans. Also unfortunate was the harsh black borders around the color prints, an attempt to mimic the black and white, and the mats that looked like they were retro-fitted from last months show so that the print (with the dark rectangle around it) floated in a sea of white inkjet paper before reaching the mat.

Billie Jo in front of Dolly's © Paul Feinberg

Billie Jo in front of Dolly's © Paul Feinberg

Then, just when you thought Another Washington meant another stripper/tatoo parlor/masseur you are confronted with these large color 90’s era portraits which I am assuming were culled from the photographer’s work for The Washingtonian Magazine.  And these, also inexplicably were sometimes blown up huge and mounted, matless, so that no rhyme nor reason prevailed in the installation. (I have not included examples here, but you can get a rough idea in the installation shots below).

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© Paul Feinberg

For me, this was the most successful portion of the installation, a series of storefronts, but I have to say, these could be there today, this is not another Washington. But what it did have was a unifying vision, cohesiveness, simplicity in installation.

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© Paul Feinberg

© Paul Feinberg

All in all, it was quite jarring to go from these black and white images, some sweet, but more documentary in feel to sort of 90s era celebrity portraits, which also felt dated, but not in a good way, and then the printing was not so hot . . . which i can dismiss if the moment is there . . .

I didn’t realize till afterwards that the preponderance of stripper images were because the photographer was taking photos around the area of what became Metro Center which changed over ten years from a seedy area to a more touristy/commercial area, this was not explained in any of the texts leaving the viewer no other recourse than to surmise that Paul Feinberg had a thing for a good lap dance. I approached the docent after viewing the show, because I was curious what the vision was all about, and she kindly explained the reason cited above.

I think the moral of the story is that when assembling any show or career retrospective you cannot do a “Greatest Hits” but there must be some kind of unity.  Also presentation is key.  Yes, I am more critical, but a good presentation will elevate the show for even the most naive of viewers, though they might not be able to pinpoint why.  I recall seeing a Paul Strand exhibit at the National Gallery of Art, many, many moons ago.  And it was my experience, looking at a print, “To the Sugarhouse,” I was entranced, but I had no idea why. Now, I realize it was the tonality, detail, the organic scene he photographed – I had no idea what, but it was a living presence for me in that room. I was so taken in that it eventually led me to pursuing photography . . . so there is no end to what goodness a well-done exhibit might wreak ; )

I have to say that I am quite disappointed by the Katzen’s offering here. They have a great venue (if off the beaten path, but that is not their fault) and the opportunity to host great exhibitions.   Well, God knows I’ve made every mistake I cite here before, (though in much lesser venues!), and it’s a learning experience.  Let’s take the lesson here.

Break on Through to the Other Side: Saturday Nov. 7 LAUNCH!

honfleur

There is a bit of disconnect in our fair city.  This was best exemplified to me when I was talking to a recent out-of-towner who had sojourned, and yes, that is what everyone is doing here until they’ve been here a decade or more, in DC in the past decade and was asking where I lived.  “I used to live here, I know DC,” she said.  Yeah, do you?  Because I don’t. And I bet you don’t know where Benning and Good Hope Rd meet and a hundred other places that make up the other three quadrants of Washington.

Anyhoo, here is our chance to rectify the sitch and support the fair ladies of the Women Photojournalists of Washington.  Come scoot your butt over the rivah to the delightful Honfleur Gallery in Anacostia, another East of the River project brought to you for your delight.  Here are the details:

Honfleur Gallery
1241 Good Hope Rd SE
Washington, DC 20020 US
View Map
When: Saturday, November 7, 7:00PM to 10:00PM    
Come support WPOW and the 15 women photographers in the second annual juried exhibit. The following photographers are featured in Launch :

Astrid Riecken
Allison Shelley
Abby Greenawalt
Ashely Twiggs
Algerina Perna
Amanda Lucidon
Andrea Bruce
Carol Guzy
Gabriela Bulisova
Jamie Rose
Katie Falkenberg
Laura Pohl
Melina Mara
Sarah L. Voisin
Yanina Manolova

Also on display is over 45 members photos in a slide show entitled Every Member Project!

Directions to the gallery
By metro
Green line to Anacosita. Walk 7-10 minutes to gallery.
Head southeast on Howard Rd SE toward MLK Jr Ave SE
Turn left at MLK Jr Ave SE
Turn right at Good Hope Rd SE
1241 Good Hope Rd SE

By metro bus
90 Bus to Anacostia and 2 minute walk to gallery.
Get off at MLK/U Street SE/Good Hope Road
First stop after 395.
Right onto Good Hope Road SE.
1241 Good Hope Rd SE
(from U Street to MLK stop takes 30-45 min, from Eastern Market takes 12 min)
From Downtown, D.C.
Take 395 North. Follow north and merge right onto Martin Luther King Ave. Follow Martin Luther King straight into downtown Anacostia (do not right merge onto 295) Take a left onto Good Hope Rd. Gallery will be on the first block on your right hand side.

National Portrait Gallery’s Boochever portrait prize goes to photographer

Laura © Dave Woody 2009

Laura © Dave Woody 2009

In the first year that the triennial Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition 2009 opened itself up to other works besides painting, Ft. Collins, Colorado photographer Dave Woody won with an 8×10 format portrait of a fellow student, “Laura”. The honors come with a $25,000 prize and a commission from the museum, and was culled from over 3,300 submissions. The exhibition will open to the public  Friday, Oct. 23 and will remain on view through August 22, 2010. The public may also vote on a People’s Choice Award through Jan. 18.

“Untitled” a movie mocks Art World

Adam Goldberg stars in a new movie, Untitled, which takes a satirical look at the contemporary art world.  “There’s a lot of art I like, but I get annoyed that I can’t have it” because of the cost says Mr. Goldberg, in a Candace Jackson piece in today’s Wall Street Journal (Teasing the Art World, W5).  Ummm, I guess Mr. Goldberg never heard of 20×200, charity auctions or just contacting unrepresented artists directly. Dude, if I can buy original artwork you certainly don’t need to decorate your LA home with obscure Polish movie posters, if’n you want to collect work from living folks.

Photographer Robert Bergman at the National Gallery of Art

bergman

First off, congratulations to NGA curator Sarah Greenough for winning a Lucie for the NGA’s exhibition of Robert Frank: The Americans, well-deserved honors for the woman behind many of my favorite exhibitions in Washington, and who consistently prefaces photography in Washington’s art scene. Well done! And speaking of Robert Frank, on Oct. 10, an exhibition of photographer Robert Bergman’s portraits (who says his viewing of The Americans changed his life), collected over nine years from 1986 to 1995, opened and will run till Jan. 10, 2010.  The show has gotten some good press already, most notably in the Wall Street Journal by Judith Dobrzynski, in part because of the apparent long-awaited spontaneous combustion that is happening for Bergman right now with simultaneous shows at the NGA, PS1 in New York, and next month’s opening at photographic savant Yosi Milo‘s gallery.

I believe the gallery owns about 98 Bergman prints, right now, of which not all are shown, which I think is a good thing, because stylistically they are all the same, and the two rooms filled with them are more than enough to give one a good taste of Bergman’s work, without the overkill that can accompany a monumental show built upon one typology.  And while the Bergman show is not a typology, per se, his evocative portraits do intentionally strip most of the environment from the subject, leaving a person who, more often than not, conveys some angst-ridden inner drama, sunken-cheeked hollow-eyed gaze, and taken cumulatively left this viewer with the feeling despite the photographer’s intention to the contrary I had learned less about the people being portrayed than the mind-set of the photographer who created them.

bergman02

The inkjet prints, which are about 16×24″ are beautifully printed, with few exceptions, evoking lush colors and composed artfully, befitting the experience of a photographer who studied and painted for years.  He modus operandi was not to pose the subjects but take them en situ, working the situation, and making a few frames until he had what he wanted.  His decision to identify the works just by the year Bergman contends is to strip all the excess information so that the viewer is forced to contend with the human condition.

I think this is a bunch of hooey, myself.  Admittedly, I am someone who when in the kitchen of an accomplished chef, to use the words of Robert Olen Butler, I am someone who will want ” . . . to understand everything. His kitchen was full of such smells that you knew you had to understand everything or be incomplete forever.”

So I like the environmental details, I like their names, where they are from.  I am one of those horrid people who likes to locate people on their particular nexus so that I might understand in my own small way where they are coming from, I had not realized that I was robbing them of their humanity by doing so.  I say this, because my own particular nexus was uprooted so often that I find it reassuring to have something to hold on to.  This is my bias.  And I also prefer mise en scenes. So there you have it.

bergman03

bergman04

© Robert Bergman

© Robert Bergman

© Robert Bergman

This image is the one that disturbed me most in the entire show, it is a fuzzy print, and really so out of place and brought down the exhibition, so that I was puzzled by its inclusion. The hands are charged with tension to be sure, indicative of a psychological state, but technically not up to the rest of the show.

© Robert Bergman

© Robert Bergman

The gripping stares, the lush colors, accomplished compositions and excellent printing make this a show well worth your time.  I am glad to see the National Gallery of Art bringing a heretofore unknown photographer to light (though his simultaneous exhibitions do deflate from the sense of discovery).  Also opening at the Gallery this Sunday is In the Darkroom: Photographic Processes – which I peaked into while visiting Bergman (right next door) and am super-excited to go see and review. I’m sure these will both make your experience at the National Gallery a worthwhile one.