Archive for October, 2004

Huge Controversy Brewing at the Corcoran

It has been ignored so far by the Washington Post, and it was picked up today by the Washington City Paper, but there’s a huge controversy going on right now involving the Corcoran Gallery of Art and the firing of a guest curator.

However, the story has been discussed extensively by several DC-based art BLOGs. Here’s the issue:

Several weeks ago, the Washington Project for the Arts/Corcoran, which is a terrific arts organization that gathers together many DC area artists and does exhibitions around town, etc. announced that it had selected Philip Barlow, a local arts collector as a curator for an exhibition called OPTIONS 2005, which is sort of a WPA/C Biennial aimed at selecting and showcasing works by emerging DC area artists.

Apparently Barlow made it clear to the WPA/C that he intended to exclude from this show all artists who had participated in the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities widely publicized Pandamania and Party Animals projects.

Barlow started visiting art studios and galleries and gathering the show together. On September 23, The Washington Post published a small interview in which Barlow made his curatorial thoughts publicly known outside of the WPA/C circles.

On October 13 DC Art News broke the story that Barlow had been fired as a result of his decision being published in the Post to exclude Pandamania and Party Animals artists from OPTIONS 2005.

My thoughts on this subject: I disagree 100% with Philip Barlow’s decision to exclude all artists who participated in these two projects from being considered for Options 2005; however, I respect and defend his right, as the curator, to make that decision. He has that right and it was wrong of the Corcoran to fire him from the job.

Barlow’s logic in excluding all Pandamania and Party Animals artists from Options 2005 is as flawed as the logic that says that all Art-O-Matic artists are bad, amateur artists. Barlow has worked very hard in the past to support and defend Art-O-Matic (which by the way, gets a large amount of financial support from the DC Arts Commission), and it is surprising that he doesn’t see the logical relationship between what he was doing to Pandamania and Party Animals artists and what most art critics in this town did to Art-O-Matic’s artists.

Having said that, I back Barlow’s right to make whatever decision he chooses to make as a curator. It is his goddamned right to exclude whoever and whatever he so chooses, just as it is my and your right to disagree with his decision – but he owns the right to make it!

Barlow made an eloquent defense of his position in this email published in DC Art News.

On October 19, the WPA/C sent out a news release explaining their position, somewhat back-tracking on who knew what when.

James W. Bailey, who is a very talented area photographer became very passionate about the whole issue and wrote to David Levy, Director of the Corcoran. Their correspondence adds more light on the subject and can be read here.

Until the Washington City Paper story today, it has been the BLOGsphere, specifically Thinking About Art, and also Grammar.police and lately Modern Art Notes who have pushed this issue to the front.

Metro For The Disabled: Not So Much

As anyone who’s ridden Metro in the last weeks can attest, it seems like half the elevators and escalators on the system are plagued by out of service notices, shuttle services that don’t work, and buses with bad lifts. It’s no surprise that Metro is one of the worst in the country in this regard, but no one seems to care. I’m betting dollars to donuts, no one at Metro will even read the damning Post article on it. 2 1/2 hours to go from Reston to Union Station? Ridiculous.

Is Placido Domingo leaving DC?

Placido Domingo may be the world’s greatest living tenor (sorry to all Pavarotti fans); and he lives in DC and is the director of the Washington National Opera.

And he has had a tremendous influence on the Washington National Opera.

But as Ionarts reports, Domingo is one of the front-runners for the same job of running the The Metropolitan Opera in New York City.

Wanna meet your “soulmate” on TV?

Wanna dress up in a tux and give roses to marginally hot women (or dress up in a gown and possibly get a rose from a marginally good-looking man)? Wanna get your 15 minutes of fame out of the way early? ABC is holding open casting calls for the next installment of The Bachelor this Saturday (Oct. 23rd) at the Grand Hyatt from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Just know that if you make it, millions of people around the country will probably make fun of you. Or be jealous of you. One or the other.

Desperate Cry For Tix!

Anyone out there have 2 tickets that they want to sell to the Muse show at the 930 Club on Nov. 8th? How about the Interpol show there on Nov. 9th? I promise if you sell them to me, I’ll write some bitchin’ reviews of them here.

I can’t believe I’m going to miss these two shows. I got to the box office 30 minutes too late for each!

Ana Mendieta at the Hirshhorn Museum

A spectacular retrospective of Cuban-American artist Ana Mendieta opened last week at the Hirshhorn Museum.

Curated by Olga Viso, Deputy Director of the Hirshhorn, this show for the first time gathers the most comprehensive exhibition of one of the most influential (and lesser known) artists of the 20th century.

In her short tragic life (Mendieta died in her 30s after falling from the 34th floor of a New York City building) she created nearly 100 artist films, plus thousands of other pieces, the most important of which, as well as supporting material, have been included in this retrospective.

Mendieta was a “Pedro Pan child,” and was taken out of Cuba when she was 12 years old as part of the 14,000 kindertransport of Cuban children of the 1960s.

Raised away from her homeland, she nonetheless develop a powerful affinity with Cuba in her last few years, and became the first and only Cuban exile to exhibit both in the US and her native prison island.

This is the best exhibition that I have seen at the Hirshhorn in years, and I am told that Hollywood is now circulating several Mendieta scripts around, so i would not be surprised to see the Mendieta story become a film a-la Frida Kahlo movie.

The exhibition is free and open to the public and will be on until january 2, 2005.

setting ourselves up for soap-opera drama: e-voting


Theater this Weekend

The Laurel Mill Playhouse is hosting its One-Act Festival these next couple of weeks. One of the acts is written by Josh Dreeben, who writes a very funny blog about all things random at his Area 52 site (sorry for the shameless plugging!)

Here is a full listing of the acts:

October 22, 23 at 8:00 pm; October 24, 31 at 2:00 pm:

White on Rice by Mark Scharf
Interior Rift by Adam Lehman
Career Change by Joshua M. Dreeben
The Critics by Rich Amada

October 29, 30 at 8:00 pm; November 5, 6 at 8:00 pm:

White on Rice by Mark Scharf
Free Fall by Mark Scharf
Martha’s Choice by Rich Espey
Never Look Back by Eric Allan
Freedom of Information by Rich Espey

General Admission – $12.50
Students & Seniors – $10.00

Ah, fall in DC

The fall foliage is about to peak at high elevations, everybody! So get in your car and head out to Skyline Drive or someplace to look.

Or, you can be like me and just admire the leaves along the George Washington Parkway every morning on the way to work.

But while you’re out, be sure to keep an eye out. It’s deer mating season, and horny deer are out doing stupid, hormone-addled things, like running out in front of cars to check out that cute doe on the other side of the highway.

Art for Life Auction

Art for Life, one of the best art auctions around Washington, DC will take place next week on Tuesday, October 26, 2004, at the Carnegie Institution of Washington (16th & P Streets, NW).

Art for Life is also for a great cause: The Walker Whitman Clinic. Viewing starts at 6:00 pm and the auction starts at 7:30 pm.

You can also see it and bid online.

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