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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Conner Contemporary Presents John Kirchner: Infinity, John Stark: Mercurius Duplex and Susan Macwilliam: Video

H Street Icon | OPENINGS 

Opening reception Saturday, September 11th from 6pm to 8pm. 
John Stark - The Fall (from Mercurius Complex) 2010, oil on panel, 20 inches diameter. Courtesy Conner Contemporary Art.
Conner Contemporary Art will present three concurrent solo exhibitions featuring a sculptural installation and opening night performance by John Kirchner, a new cycle of oil paintings by John Stark and recent video by Susan MacWilliam.


Infinity is a large-scale sculpture installation by John Kirchner. To create his 4th solo exhibition with the gallery, the DC-based artist physically and metaphorically deconstructs a 26 foot boat. The Chris-Craft cabin cruiser, named “Infinity,” was built and marketed in 1955, the year of Kirchner’s birth. Reconstructing the vessel in the exhibition space, Kirchner re-interprets the boat’s social symbolism, turning the American dream, and the world-view that gave rise to it, on its head.

Kirchner converses with certain artistic traditions as he transforms the pleasure cruiser from a faded symbol of status and progress into a monumental parable about human nature. Known for making irreverent interventions with historied objects, Kirchner often draws upon the conceptualism of Surrealism and Arte Povera. In his new work, he explores the themes of power and vulnerability in Hieronymus Bosch’s parody of the Ship of Fools and Michelangelo’s depiction of The Deluge in the Sistine Chapel.

Presenting a live performance in the gallery during the opening night reception, Kirchner will confront viewers with a provocative allegory of the human condition.


Mercurius Duplex is John Stark’s first solo exhibition in the U.S. An innovator in the dark undercurrent of London’s contemporary art scene, Stark integrates styles and themes from recent and past artistic traditions to form his own system of meaning. The London-based artist makes his much anticipated American debut with a powerful new series of paintings in oil on wood panel.

The show’s title, meaning “Dual Mercury,” reflects the artist’s conception of his work as a Mercurial marriage of ‘high’ and ‘low’ art. Stark’s paintings contain a world of desolate landscapes, imaginary destinations appearing at moments in crisp, exacting detail, only to dissolve into light or mist elsewhere. Never giving away too much information, or surrendering to academic formulas, he converses easily with traditions of landscape and figure painting, while also evoking colorful sci-fi posters, or sublime filmic vistas. Stark presents us, in one painting, with a spare, moonlit terrain that echoes the cool stillness of Caspar David Friedrich. In another, he conjures the cosmic symbolism of Albrecht Altdorfer and Matthias Grunewald, painting a vivid sunrise, glowing with otherworldly colors, and lit with hints of meteorological phenomena. Stark updates these German masters with pop culture references, populating his unattainable, foreboding spaces with skulls and grim, hooded figures, which can read dually, as memento mori, or as death/metal insignia.

Stark’s symbolic imagery, including flasks and salamanders, explores the medieval history of Mercury as a duplicitous material, identified by alchemists with chaos/order and lunar/solar powers. Drawing viewers into a realm between darkness and light, Stark suspends us within a strange, uncertain time. Is this the end of a forgotten era, or the dawn of a post-industrial age? Using, at every turn, the slippery nature of Mercury as an analogy, he undermines scholarly inquiry with sardonic references to death metal album art. Stark moves deftly back and forth between the roles of a black magician - who masterfully calls forth our superstitions, fears, and fantasies with paint - and a diabolical prankster - who wittily cajoles us into laughing at our own seriousness.


Susan MacWilliam is the Belfast-based artist who represented Northern Ireland at the 2009 Venice Biennale. MacWilliam’s art probes the paranormal, the supersensory, and the tradition of psychic research. The artist approaches her subject through the history of occult photography, biography, and archival discovery.

Her research with the Thomas Glendenning Hamilton Spirit Photograph Collection, housed at the University of Manitoba Archives in Winnipeg, Canada, inspired F-L-A-M-M-A-R-I-O-N (2009). For this video, MacWilliam recreated the séance cabinet in which Hamilton had performed a séance in 1931. She uncovered records reporting that on this occasion, a spectral word materialized: “Flammarion,” the surname of a French astronomer and spiritualist. This ‘teleplasm’ is reputedly the only such materialization to take the form of a text. MacWilliam reanimates the séance cabinet with the presence of Irish poet/novelist Ciaran Carson, who recites words from photography and film lexicons. This footage is interspersed with scenes of the parapsychologist William Roll speaking about the manifestation of Camille Flammarion’s written name during the 1931 séance. MacWilliam creates her own forms of portraiture and storytelling to examine written emanation as a specter of the photographic medium.

Photography’s role in the legibility of spiritual phenomena is also a theme of Library (2008), which MacWilliam filmed at the Eileen J Garrett Library, Parapsychology Foundation, New York. The artist’s fixed camera positions provide voyeuristic views inside the library. We observe walls of bookshelves, and tables with reading lamps, undisturbed beneath the glow of overhead lights. Next, we are privy to boxes of documents stacked in storage rooms. Then we observe a long conference table, surrounded by leather high-backed chairs, as though assembled for a meeting, which no one attends. Ambient sound, barely audible, changes subtly with the acoustics of each location. The hum of air conditioning and distant traffic noises begin to sound like faint murmurings, heightening our senses and expectations. Book spines bearing the names of obscure or famous authors, and faded case history files, remind us of psychic researchers who are not present. Casting absent writers as ghosts of their habitual environment, MacWilliam reinforces the nexus between the letter and the spirit that brings inspiration to her work.

To preview the work, click here.

For further information contact the gallery at info@connercontemporary.com  or call 202.588.8750

Conner Contemporary Art is located at 1358 Florida Avenue, NE Washington, DC 20002 Gallery  Winter/Fall  hours: Tuesday through Saturday 10 - 5pm.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Design Studio Art Gallery Calls for Entry Honoring Hispanic Heritage Month

Outside the Diamond  | CALLS FOR ENTRY |

Diego Rivera Tenochtitlan National Palace

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, Design Studio Art Gallery is soliciting Calls for Entry for an upcoming exhibit "Latinic" which will open Thursday September 16 from 6pm-10pm.  

"Latinic" will focus on cultural identity issues relating to self identity and interpretations of the Hispanic culture and community in the United States.  All forms of artwork are welcome.

Key Dates are as follows:
Artwork Drop-Off: Thursday, September 9,, 2010 from11am-6pm
Artwork Pick-Up Date: Sunday, October 17, 2010 from 4pm-5pm
Opening Reception: Thursday, September 16, 2010 from 6pm-10pm
Exhibit Runs: September 12- October 17, 2010

For more information and to view a prospectus click here.

The gallery is located in Hyattsville’s new Arts District at 5702 Baltimore Avenue, Hyattsville, MD, 20781. Contact the gallery at (301) 779-4907 or (202) 446-7373 and by email at info@designstudioartgallery.com  Regular hours are Wed - Fri 11am - 7pm, Sat 10am -5pm, Sun 1pm - 5pm

Friday, August 27, 2010

Editor's Note- we've been away!

East City Art Fans, we've been away the last couple of weeks resting from what has been an incredible year of shows, events and artistic movement in East City.  

We are on top of the latest and greatest events coming to you this fall.  We intend to keep you posted on all of the latest happenings including original content and exclusive interviews with the talent that make these events possible .

Our regular posting schedule will continue next week.  Look for a new webzine format coming in October.  If you have any suggestions, comments or would like to see a specific type of coverage, email us at editor@eastcityart.com

For now, we've linked a Washington Post article about H Street here that includes a great write up on Studio H.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Gateway After Hours: An Evening of Art Exhibitions, Live Music, and Temporary Exhibitions Thursday, August 12. 5:00 - 9:00pm

Outside the Diamond  | EVENTS |

Opening Reception: Thursday, August 12.  5:00 - 9:00pm

The Brentwood Arts Exchange and the Gateway Arts Center celebrated its grand opening on March 19, 2010. The Gateway Arts Center in Brentwood, Maryland is a space dedicated to presenting and promoting the visual arts. The center is home to more than a dozen artists' studios, Gateway CDC's 39th Street Gallery, and the Prince George's African American Museum & Cultural Center's Gallery 110. The Maryland-National Capital Park & Planning Commission's Brentwood Arts Exchange occupies approximately one quarter of the building, featuring a gallery of changing exhibitions by regional artists, a contemporary fine crafts store, and an arts learning workshop. The Center is a place for people of all ages to meet, engage and learn about art, purchase one-of-a-kind craft objects, and explore new talents.

Gateway After Hours is free and open to the public. It is co-sponsored by the Prince George's African American Museum and Cultural Center, The M-NCPPC's Brentwood Arts Exchange, and the Gateway Community Development Corporation.

On View:
Everywhere. with Roy Lewis, the Prince George's African American Museum's Gallery 110's history-rich exhibition of one of the area's foremost, and nationally significant photographers.

Spectrum: Memories of Natural Forms and Light, the Brentwood Arts Exchange's demanding and vibrant exhibition of Ellen Baer's post-minimalist and new-generation colorfield paintings.

Art work from the Quixote Center, in the Gateway Community Development Corporation's 39th Street Gallery.

Open Studios. The center is home to 12 artists' studios: ceramicists, painters, photographers, mixed-media artists...

The Gateway Arts Center is located at 3901 Rhode Island Ave. Brentwood, MD 20722. tel. 301-277-2863 / tty. 301-446-6802

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Wade Carey Interviews Michael Dotson, Participant in Conner Contemporary Art’s Academy 2010

H Street Icon | PROFILES

Wade Carey interviews Michael Dotson, a participant in Conner Contemporary Art’s “Academy 2010” show, in his studio at the Katzen Art Center at American University. Michael has one more year of study to complete before he receives an MFA in Studio Art. He received his BFA in painting from the Cleveland Institute of Art in 2006. Wade discusses Michael’s work in and its relationship to the convergence of art and design in a kind of realm of inhabitable art.

The transcript of this interview has been edited for clarity and concision.

W(ade): To begin, I want to congratulate you for being chosen to participate in “Academy 2010.” How did you learn about it? How does it look from your point of view, as an artist, to be a part of the “Academy 2010” show?

M(ichael): It was cool. They just emailed me about it. I think very highly of that particular gallery [Conner Contemporary Art], so I was very happy to be part of the exhibition and to get to meet all the people who work there and run the gallery. I’ve never shown in DC before so that was a nice introduction.

W: Where have you shown and where do you come from?

M: I come from Cleveland, so I have shown in various places there. I’ve shown in L.A., and I’ve shown in the Nudashank Gallery in Baltimore.

W: Are you working here as a graduate student?

M: I’m a graduate student here at American University. I am going into my second year.

W: Is it right for me to assume that the work that you are doing, and its inspiration, has an architectural component?

M: Yes, it is architectural, but I wouldn’t say that I use any specific models as a specific inspiration. I’m very interested in architecture, especially modern architecture and the idea of it being kind of a failed utopia. It is something that I would like to learn more about. I’ve been reading a little bit about it. It is definitely interesting.

W: Taking a quick look around the room, you start with a perspective. Is that correct? Is that true for all your work? Do you always start with a vanishing point?

M: Pretty much, except for a few pieces like the one on the far wall and some of the drawings that I do. Basically, for all my paintings, I make the vanishing points. I usually don't have a clear idea of what the painting is going to be so I’ll start with the points and then I might just try erecting a perspective and then say, “Oh, that could be a swimming pool or that could be a tennis court, or a UFO,” and I just kind of build it out from there.

Swimming Pool #4, 2010, acrylic on canvas, (Copyright Michael Dotson, photograph provided by the artist)

W: With the sketching, you work directly on canvas don't you? You don't use any kind of computer modeling?

M: No, I don't use computers at all. Just of the device of perspective.

W: Do you use any other tools? Do you create studies before hand? Do you create any kind of modeling? Do you just start with a blank canvas and start drawing lines?

M: I just start with a blank canvas. I never make sketches or anything like that. It's more a reactive process to what is going on. When I first started painting, I would work them out on Photoshop first and then paint them but that was really boring.

W: Because you are working directly on canvas and you are working spontaneously, what you do is, in a way, a form of expressionism. And yet, you are working with straight lines; it is so squared off and so precise. How would you label your work? It's not actually abstract. The work does have a quality of representing objects in the world that we recognize.

M: Yes, I would like it to be a middle ground between abstraction and recognizable forms. I would like to create something—maybe even try to make it a little unsettling, or just play with the space.

W: What would you use in your toolkit to make paintings unsettling?

M: I am just trying to make things that don't make sense spatially. I have things that you can identify but then you notice things that make you question them. They just don't make sense.

W: I see in another painting that there's a field of blues and greens. That might be a background and it might be a foreground. The painting isn't finished yet. May I assume also that the juxtaposition of colors is the method that you've used to try to throw people off or is it both? Are you trying to add tension to the perspective?

M: The colors, they could definitely be used for that. Having unexpected colors, that's another tool I could use, to play with in the space.
W: How did it start? Did you start imagining spaces before the time that you decided to major in art?

M: No I didn't. Before I majored in art, before I went to art school, I actually started out going to art school to do car design. Both my parents are toy designers. When I was growing up, when I went to school, my brother and I grew up around the industrial design department at the Cleveland Institute of Art. That was all I knew for a little while; I just wanted to draw cars. That was when everyone was still drawing that stuff by hand. It was before 3-D modeling and all that. It was all about learning a set of tools, about perspective. You could draw anything you wanted. I thought that was really interesting.

W: So, you were destined to be an artist.

M: I suppose. I mean, I definitely knew that I was going to art school by the time I was at least 13 years old.

W: Why did you choose the schools that you chose?

M: I chose to go to the Cleveland Institute of Art because they have a really strong industrial design program. But then, I abandoned that and went into painting. But it was a great school for painting, as well. As majors, painting and industrial design were the two hardest, that asked the most out of their students. I figure it was a really good choice. There were so many a really good kids that I went to school with. Then, for American University, I moved to DC because my girlfriend’s going to Georgetown.

W: Excellent reason!

M: I was here for a year and I was making paintings in my living room and I decided that if I was going to be here I might as well be doing something productive.

W: Are there teachers, or artists, here, or in Cleveland, that triggered the move, or moves, that you made to the kind of style of painting that you are doing now? Did you have anybody or any school of artists who did work that you recognized that you were building from?

M: One of my professors in undergrad, Daniel Dove, probably had a good influence. His paintings were like suburban landscapes but with a lot of transparent layers of multiple houses. It looked computer generated but it was all had painted in oil. I had a lot of teachers who were doing contemporary landscape work. But when I was in school, at that time, I wasn't doing any of that kind of work. Another big influence was probably a show at the Cleveland Museum of Art called “Metascapes.” I think it was in 2003 during my first year in the painting department. They had painters like Benjamin Edwards, Torbin Geihler and Julia Mehretu. Those were all landscapes but were very hard edged. There was a lot of computer graphics influence. That was the first time I had ever seen any work like that and it really impressed me a lot. Another artist I like a lot is David Hockney, especially his paintings from the 1960s. He is very inventive in the way he depicts things in a minimal way, like a water sprinkler with little dots coming out as the water.

W: There is a certain static quality in the work that you do. I've been sitting and looking at this painting up on the wall. I'm not sure how you name your paintings. If there are different names for paintings please let me know. The one I'm looking at now has a diamond crystalline shape in the center, and there are lines, strips I should say, that move off from it on the right side of it. They make me think it is moving. They give a sense of motion to the picture that I haven't seen in the other pictures. Is that intended, or is it just my illusion?

M: It wasn't intended. I guess, the way the space was set up in that one, you kind of do feel like you have to move through those lines to get at what's behind it. I can definitely see what you are talking about. Most of my paintings are like still moments where nothing's really happening. You're not really sure if something is going to happen or what would happen.

W: The “Academy” show made it clear to me that, at least in some of the paintings, there is a series. You have one painting that is entitled, “Swimming Pool.”

M: Yes, I have about four, I think.

W: Is that an anomaly, or is it part of the way you do things?

M: It is the way I do some things. I have four paintings that are “Swimming Pool 1, 2, 3, and 4.” I also have four, I think, that are named, “Dream House 1, 2, 3, and 4.”  I guess there are themes that carry over. I'm not sure what it really is about the swimming pools, maybe there is some David Hockney influence there, too. Also, water is just a fun thing to paint. I feel that you can paint it any way that you want and have it be read as water, as long as it is blue. It's just something you can take a lot of liberties with. You can be very abstract and yet be right at the same time.

W: How of a dream houses? Are you intending to continue? Is there any future, if they're in the work that you do?

M: Do you mean will I make more of them?

W: Yes, and do you think about it all? You told me a bit in the beginning that you don't know what the painting is going to be when you start it. You begin with perspective and you begin with a vanishing point, or several. In the case of the two or three dream house pictures that you have done, did you start out with the intention of putting some thoughts about the dream house or the quality of the dream house into the painting before you started drawings the lines?

M: I'm not really sure how those all started out. I know with some of them, it just happened. Maybe some had a vague intention beforehand.

W: The one that has been used a lot, where your work has been picked up in publications, is the dream house that has the sports car in it.

M: The one at Conner?

W: Yes, it is in the “Academy” show.

M: Yes, that is a dream house interior. Usually they are exteriors.

Dream House Interior, 2010, acrylic on canvas, 48 x 48 in. (Copyright Michael Dotson, photograph provided by the artist)
W: You get the impression that you're looking at the car through a window.

M: Right. Yes, it is supposed to be a ridiculous room with very gaudy curtains and carpet. And the expensive sports car. It is supposed to be, in my mind, an unreachable fantasy. The cars don't even have wheels on them. You couldn't even drive them.

W: Are you going to draw more cars, as far as you know? It is where you started, sort of.

M: Yeah, it's possible. I might be starting one soon, probably.

W: What part of your work do you take most seriously?

M: I think I take it all very seriously. The making of it I take very seriously. I want it to be fun and interesting to look at but I want to work as hard as possible to give the viewer the best possible painting that I can.

W: That is a function of your craft. What are the different components of that precision? What is so precise and so careful about what you do?

M: Pretty much everything.

W: Take me through the steps, the ones that I haven't heard already.

M: All my paintings take forever. Everything has to be taped off. Then you take something off and then you have to take and coat it with a sealer on the edges, and then do a couple of layers. Then you have to take off all the tape. The painting behind you took a couple days just to tape off all those little lines. It's weird. It's very slow and it can get kind of boring.

W: Do you build up surfaces with acrylic and any kind of fixatives or finishes or are you really working on a flat plain? Are all the pieces when they're done pretty much on the same plane?

M: It's pretty flexible. Sometimes a bunch of stuff will get painted over.

W: For example, over here [indicates Turtle Lair] in the strips that I mentioned looking like possible jet streams from the diamond, were they painted over the finish that was created before? It looks at least like at least at the bottom where there's a pattern of brickwork that the pattern stops. I can see that it appears that the lines were not there underneath, before you painted the streamers, as I call them, in my own dullness.

Turtle Lair, 2010, acrylic on canvas, 36 x 48 in. (Copyright Michael Dotson, photograph provided by the artist)

M: I think these were always intended to be there, on top. But for a painting like this [indicates Unidentified Floating Object], I had it set up with all these shards of ice, or whatever, but the lower corner was solid purple. After I finished the painting, I realized I didn’t like the shape it made, so then I painted more lines out to the edge.

Unidentified Floating Object, 2010, acrylic on canvas, 60 x 72 in. (Copyright Michael Dotson, photograph provided by the artist
W: I would never have known it!

M: You can always see when I’ve painted over a section.

W: That is why I don’t see it in most of your paintings. That is why I am assuming that you are pretty careful about deciding about what paint you are going to put down on the canvas before you do it.

M: I would say that when I draw something out, it is only maybe fifty percent realized. Everything else just kind of happens. I think that is something that took a long time for me to learn, to be able to just paint over things. To fight the urge just lay something down and say, “OK,” to accept it. I think you shouldn’t have to do that. You should always be willing to change anything.

W: You have different galleries that are showing your work, who represent you as a professional already. What is your reaction to my theory? This is somewhat political, so you may have no idea. It is my theory that galleries are becoming increasingly concerned with survival because of the times. It is always hard to survive in the world of fine arts, but it's really bad right now. I am observing that galleries are trying to stay alive, maybe pushing their prospects for finding patrons, finding customers, finding people to buy the work, by enabling an environment that is a little less rarified. The gallery then is more directly an extension of the interior decorator or the interior designer today. Do you have any reaction to that?

M: Hmm. I would say that is probably certainly the case for some places. I wouldn't say that I really have a problem was that. I mean, it's a gallery. It’s a commercial operation.

W: Some artists don't care. Do you want to be able to sell your work? You are still in school. You have a kind of a hedge. You're not yet out there trying to survive as a painter.

M: Well, of course I want to sell paintings. I’ve got to eat. It just allows me to be able to work.

W: Do you have any collectors yet? Do you already have people who have taken an interest in your work elsewhere?

M: There is a guy in DC who has bought a couple of my paintings. He is the only person I know who has more than one.

W: With your process, what is your output? How many paintings can you produce in a given period of time? I am sure it varies.

M: Let's see, maybe about one a month.

W: So, you are able to pretty much decide that something that you're working on is done, or that you are satisfied with it. You have enough now working in process so that now, one a month is done. Are you working faster than you used to?

M: Probably the same pace but since my last move to DC, I have been working quite a bit harder or a lot more often. Especially since I have been in school, I am beginning now to work a lot more. I'm sure I've gotten a bit faster since I’ve started. I usually like to have at least three paintings going at one time. There is a lot of down time, a lot of waiting for things to dry. So, I just move on.

W: Do you anticipate mounting a show after “Academy 2010?”

M: I have a solo show in Baltimore in October at Nudashank. I guess I’m just working towards that at the moment.

W: Has there been much press about your work in Baltimore?

M: No. I have only been in one other show outside of that gallery. There have been a couple of paintings that have hung.

W: Is there any hope for the Washington-Baltimore area as a region for art? Would you have to move elsewhere to be a successful artist?

M: I think it is a silly idea that you have to live in some place to be eligible to be considered a successful artist. It just seems like such a strict idea. I like how musicians can come out of anywhere, any city.

W: Do you think the Internet has inspired that?

M: I think it has definitely helped with music because now any band can have its music available on the Internet. I think it has helped for art, too. You can see so many artists and get to know their work. I’ve met so many people from just seeing their work online and then emailing them. That is how I got to know the people who run the gallery in Baltimore. I saw the work of one of the guys who runs it, Seth Adelsberger, online and I emailed him. I told him I liked his paintings and he emailed me back to say he liked mine and asked me if I would be in a show.

W: That flies in the face of some older wisdom about having to be seen or having to find the right connections—that it is all about connections. Do you think that is less true than it used to be? Do you have any view about that from your own experience?

M: You still have to make connections. It just pays off to be friendly and to be friends with artists everywhere.

W: Does art school prepare you for any of that?

M: I don’t know what I would like to say about that.

W: Well, art school provide some period of time when you are, theoretically, protected by the academy. You are protected by the purity of the reasons that you’re working. You are in study. You are not out there producing for the commercial market exclusively. Does art school prepare students to be artists in the real world? Do you think there’s any difference between art schools in that respect? Or does it just depend on personal skills?

M: Skills with the Internet help! Some schools, more than others. A lot of schools now approach professional practices a lot more now. It might have been kind of blasphemous twenty years ago to even have that. A lot of schools are focusing more on that now, simple stuff like how to have a decent-looking resume.

W: Are you working just in this studio or do you have other space?

M: Just in this studio. Right now, I am just working on these two paintings and I’m about to start another one.

W: So, you have another year here?

M: Yes.

W: No wonder you are not panic-stricken.

M: I also am working on all of these drawings.

Untitled, 2010, drawing (Copyright Michael Dotson, photograph provided by the artist)

W: This is beautiful. The humor in this is that it is anti-computer art. It is work that you are doing by hand but it mimics the pointillism of digital art.

M: Right. A computer is just a tool. It is just based on a certain set of laws. It just executes those laws. It is really no different to me than things that you can make up yourself.

W: I can definitely understand what you are saying about the computer and I was struck by what you said about working with traditional computer-aided design software. You said that it bored you. Perhaps it won’t let you do everything that you want to do as fast as your mind will work.

M: Yes, and I feel that it is almost too malleable. Anything that you can do would be so easily done again or undone. It is hard to make any bold decisions, at least for me. I like to just lay something down and then deal with the consequences.

W: And yet the decisions you make enable industry, in a way, to replicate what you have done. In these drawings, they are very carefully done. The individual pen strokes are a component, or texture, of the work. It is not just about the pieces of color but it is also about each little marks of the pen.

M: I definitely try to emphasize the marks. When I have a big area of color, I will still color in each square.

W: Yes, each of the squares is approached and “stitched” using smaller marks of the pen. I see what you are saying. You would be cheating, in a way, if you colored an entire section. But you don’t. You are working inside each square consciously. This is gorgeous. It could be seen as thread, or embroidery. It could be that kind of silk thread from work that used to be done, the “invisible stitch” in China that made people blind. It could be that kind of intense color that comes from silk threads being drawn through muslin because of the way you have used the pen, which I think is really cool.

M: Thank you.

W: Was the dream house series just a spur in your artistic line? It was something that made you a little more visible to the art world. Is that going to be a part of the show in October?

M: There will be some. Well, probably not the one in the “Academy” show.

W: One of the reasons that I thought about you when I thought about this working concept that I had about the struggles that art gallery businesses are going through is that there has to be a person, whether it is the artist, or the gallery owner, or a designer, or contract designer who works with a bigger budget, or a residential designer who usually works with a smaller budget and a smaller group of clients and has fewer opportunities—less wall space, literally. There has to be somebody who says, “I think this piece would look good in this setting, in a place where people live in the real world, not in a gallery, not in a museum, but on somebody’s wall, either a commercial wall, like a law firm, or in a private home. Is there ever a time when you think about how your work would look in any of those settings, other than just here, as you paint them on the walls in your studio? Do they float in white space or does your work exist, in your mind, on a wall somewhere in somebody’s house or in somebody’s office?

M: Hmm, I don’t really think about that. But I would be interested if someone thought that there was a particular place where one of my paintings would look great. I would love to see that. If they specifically thought that the setting related to the painting, that would be kind of funny to me, or if a person bought that painting of the dream house interior and they had a matching zebra-print rug.

W: Or, if they actually tried to create a room that looked like your painting.

M: Yeah, that would be funny to me. I made this painting of a room with three paintings on three walls. It had a one-point perspective. Each painting was a painting of that room with the paintings on the wall.

Art Gallery, 2009, acrylic on canvas, 22 x 30 in. (Copyright Michael Dotson, photograph provided by the artist)
If it replicated the experience of what was going on in that painting, it would be funny.
W: How about in your own living space. There is a limited amount of wall space, obviously. What do you hang on your own walls?

M: I have a bunch of my paintings up. I would like to have the work of more of my friends.

W: Are you interested in collecting, or curating, or working in a collaborative way? I have not heard any mention of that in this interview, so far. Do you work alone for the most part?

M: Yes, mostly alone. I am not really too interested in collaborative work. I only remember one time where that worked out for me. It worked out really well, but I have had times where it was a horrible experience. I am always interested in being in shows with other artists. It is pretty solitary, my work.

W: If you had an opportunity, would you want to curate a show yourself and pick out the work that would be in that show? Let me just say that it didn’t seem like something that would be a passion for you.

M: No, there are other people who are good at that.

Wade Carey Interviews Calder Brannock, Conner Contemporary Academy 2010 winner

H Street Icon | PROFILES

Wade Carey interviewed Academy 2010 PULSE prize-winner Calder Brannock about his work and what lies ahead for this newly graduated Master of Fine Arts. The transcript of this interview has been edited for clarity and concision. 

Calder Brannock, Camper Contemporary.
Copyright Calder Brannock, Courtesy Conner Contemporary Art

W(ade):  There are about three or four different threads of ideas that I thought would be interesting to both of us to talk about you and what you are doing. One of them is why it started out sculpture and how plastic is the term. Sculpture is plastic itself, obviously. How did it transpire that the kind of work that you decided to do, or the primary “label” for the work that you do, was sculpture?

C(alder): Well, that came essentially when I was picking a grad school. The sculpture department had the best toys and the most space. I think especially artists now find the best way to express whatever they are trying to say. Sometimes I paint. Sometimes I end up doing photography. My undergraduate work and my senior thesis were in photography. So sculpture, I found, was a nice catch-all. If you look at someone like Wolfgang Tillmans he displays them on tables, and in strange places on the wall, they become objects. They become sculpture. Paintings can become sculpture but sculpture rarely can be paintings. It just gave me the most room to play around. 

W: In the last two years—you graduated in 2007 from George Washington University—I noticed that while you were there you did some murals, as well. Was that pick-up work? Did that just happen or did you go into it with the idea that it was something you wanted to get under your belt?

C: Well, they definitely helped pay the bills. That was nice. But I wanted to try it. I enjoy making things. I enjoy curating as much as I do painting traditional landscapes or doing intervention work. I am all over the board, which is terrible when I am trying to explain my art practice to someone. But really, I enjoyed painting the murals, and if I didn’t do it somebody else was going to. I would have always walked by that spot and said to myself, “That could have been my mural up there…” 

W: Let’s take another commission, for example. When you did wood sculpture of Cyrus Katzen, was that the first time you had done a wood sculpture using a grinder?

C: I had done wood sculpture before but I had never done figurative work. GW has always been very supportive. I don’t know if I was one of only a few artists that they knew. The office of cancer research had contacted me to do this. They wanted me to do a pen and ink drawing. I said, “Well, I could do that but wouldn’t it be neat if it was three-dimensional?” I came up with this while I was in the office. It would be neat if it was three dimensional and maybe out of wood. Not knowing that I had never done that before they said sure, that sounds great! 

W: It came out pretty nice.

C: I thought it was great, too. I ended up laminating the wood together so the lines in the wood sort of formed a suit. But two weeks before it was done it looked terrible.
W: I saw the “before” pictures on your Website when you were still working on roughing it out, and it did kind of look like a Boy Scout project. 

C: Sure, it was one of those things I was learning as I go. I had just recently finished a commission, again for GW, right in the middle of the campus where they were doing the Post Projects—where the artists do the call boxes. I did one for them and they loved it and they asked me to do a drawing. They said they were going to convert it to fiberglass. I said wouldn’t it be neat if I did it three-dimensional—maybe in aluminum! So I started on that having never done such a three-dimensional portrait. I had done the statue of Cy Katzen, but that was in wood. This was Ingrid Bergman. There are a lot of problems trying to capture a beautiful woman. 

Calder Brannock, Camper Contemporary.
Copyright Calder Brannock, Courtesy Conner Contemporary Art

W: Absolutely. And not just any beautiful woman, Ingrid Bergman is a goddess. 

C: I started out with her as a goddess, but she became more of a demon in trying to capture her. In every picture she looks a little bit different. It was looking garish as I was trying to get it done in aluminum, and I ended up doing it in concrete. So it was one of those things where it was a longer process. Sometimes working with me turns out longer process than it needs to be, but it really turned out to be really interesting and now I know all sorts of things about pouring concrete and making concrete molds. I get as much pleasure from that, the learning process. 

W: That makes me think that a lot of what you are doing is about searching. That is another one of the threads I wanted to pursue in talking with you. Before we move on, though, is there any other relatively conventional sculpture that I haven’t discovered yet? 

C: I think that if you go on my Website you’ll see nearly everything I’ve done. I’ve done some furniture work that I have really enjoyed. I’ve been exploring that recently. I am reading a book called “The Way of All Flesh: A Celebration of Decay”, which is about disintegration. I’ve been playing with concrete and old wood and putting those together with moss. It really is cool. I am casting the concrete to make table tops around old beams  that I am finding around Baltimore where they are reworking buildings. You see both the exposed top of the beam and then I found splits in the wood and I decided to embrace those. Where there is a split, I continue that out as a tray into the concrete and grow moss in there. So, you’ve got an organic thing that will change over time and if the moss starts to latch on to the concrete—maybe it splits the table apart—so be it. But right now it’s just such a gentle thing. 

W: In learning about you and the “searching” part of your work, what struck me was that you are not the only artist that I’ve talked to recently who is as interested in the work of others and in collaboration and in curation as in developing or putting out a product in the more traditional sense. Has that always been so? How do you trace your development as an artist in a connected space?

C: Part of what I love about being an artist is that I can wake up and explore whatever I want every day. One day I can be researching the way things decay. The next day it can be John Wilkes Booth or zeppelins. They are my latest fascination and how they are built. It really allows me to explore a wide range of topics really in depth. It is always learning, which is nice.

The interview continues here.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Capitol Hill Arts Workshop Presents: Roberto Bocci "Samples 2003" August 12 through August 31, 2010

Capitol Hill Icon | OPENINGS |

Opening Reception: Thursday August  12, 2010 from 5pm to 7pm 

The Capitol Hill Arts Workshop (CHAW) presents the exhibit Samples 2003 by multimedia electronic artist Robert Bocci opening on Saturday, August 12, 2010 from 5:00-7:00 p.m.  Samples 2003 is a series of photographs and an installation that investigates the human body as a site of artistic and formal exploration.  Admission is free for the opening reception and the exhibit, which closes on August 31, 2010.

Roberto Bocci is a multimedia electronic artist born in Siena, Italy.  Over the past twenty years his work has evolved from painting through photography to computer-driven interactive multimedia installations.  His artistic concerns encompass multiple points of view and questions of personal and social identity.  He has shown his work in America, in Europe, in Japan and Australia. Roberto has been awarded fellowships and grants including a Fulbright Fellowship and Woodstock Photography Grant among others. Roberto's work includes interactive multimedia installations, DVD-ROMs and digital images. His work can be considered a hybrid form of multimedia art in which he merges his background in traditional Fine Arts and Electronic Arts. Currently Roberto lives and works in Arlington, Virginia and Washington DC.

The Capitol Hill Arts Workshop is located at  545 7th Street, SE two blocks from Eastern Market Metro on the Blue & Orange Lines.  For more information call 202.547.6839 or visit their website at www.chaw.org Gallery hours are: 9:30AM-9:00 PM (M-Th), 9:30AM-6:00 PM (F), and 9:00AM-2:00 PM (Sat).

Monday, August 9, 2010

CHAW 10% Off Adult Classes Only for East City Art Readers

Capitol Hill Icon | CLASSES |

Attention all East City Art readers

This week only, the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop (CHAW) is offering a one-week 10% discount coupon on Fall 2010 Adult classes to East City Art readers. Click here to see the full line-up of classes--everything from Pastels to Social Dance. Then register in person or by phone at 202-547-6839 during the week of August 9-13.

CHAW is located at 545 7th Street, SE, just two blocks from the Eastern Market metro station.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Weekend East City Event Round Up

H Street Icon  Capitol Hill Icon  Outside the Diamond  | EVENTS |

It's August in DC, high summer if you will, which means that the pace of life here slows down and mellows out. Many inhabitants flee the city's humid river basin for breezy Atlantic shores or the cooler climes of the Appalachians.  Well apparently, this year, this trend no longer applies.  The frenetic pace continues here in East City.

Friday August 6
Tonight, two weekend-long events take place.  First, "Cheesecake" continues from 5:30 to 9:00pm at Gallery OonH at 1354 H ST NE. "Cheesecake" is a tribute to the female form.  
Off of 8th Street SE on the Hill, the Fridge opens a weekend long event called "Gaia" featuring interactive artwork and musical performances.  Friday's event begins at 9PM and ends at 1am.  There is a $10 cover.

Saturday August 7

Albus Cavus is holding a fundraiser open house at the Freezer that will include a raffle, an art auction and live music.  Come and see the space where the "Give me the Vote" hands are made, catch a glimpse of what future murals on 8th SE and Pensylvania Ave SE will look like and most of all, support an organization that does so much for our community and its youth.

CITY Gallery's First Annual Regional Juried Competion which was juried by Jack Rasmussen of the American University Museum opens on Saturday from 6-9PM.  Jack Rasmussen will give a gallery talk between 6 and 7:15 so get there early to share his insight into how he selected 25 pieces from among 199 entries.

Over in the Gateway Arts District, The Brentwood Arts Exchange opens "Spectrum: Memories of Natural Forms and Light" recent paintings by Ellen Baer.  The reception will be held from 5-8Pm

"Cheescake" at Gallery OonH closes Saturday night; "Gaia" continues at the Fridge.

Sunday August 8
Washington Projects for the Arts, in collaboration with the Rubell Family Collection and Conner Contemporary Art, presents the second annual synchronized swimming performance competition featuring Washington area artists.  The event is from 6-7pm @ the Capitol Skyline Hotel 10 I (eye) Street, SW and South Capitol Street.   This year's competition will feature performances by Floating Lab Collective, Waves of Glory, Fluid Movement and The Adrian Parsons Project. The judges for SynchroSwim 2010 are Dr. Dorothy Kosinski, Executive Director of The Phillips Collection, Septime Webre, Artistic Director of The Washington Ballet, and C. Brian Williams, Executive Director of Step Afrika.

Finally, "Gaia" closes at the fridge

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Albus Cavus Open House at the Freezer Saturday August 7

Capitol Hill Icon  | EVENTS |

Event takes place Saturday August 7 from 2-6PM

Have you wondered where those "Give Me a Vote" hands have been coming from?  They are made by the artists and students of Albus Cavus, a remarkable organization that has created many of the murals seen around DC and more recently, painted the outside of the Temporium.

This Saturday, the public is invited to the Freezer, a working studio space owned by the Fridge's Alex Gold where many of the hands have been made. 

For those of you who have been brave enough to mingle with the hoards of tourists in the Union Station food court this summer, Albus Cavus also decorated the plywood outside a couple of empty food stalls there.

The tour is ultimately a fundraiser to sustain the phenomenal work of an organization that brings a lot of joy and beauty to our East City communities.  During the open house, visitors will get a taste of future projects including murals that will be installed on 8th Street SE and Pennsylvania avenue SE.  In addition the following  events have been scheduled: an art auction, live musical performances and a raffle.  Refreshments will be served.

If you can not make the event but would like to help donate funds to Albus Cavus, please visit their donations page.

The Freezer is located between Archibald walk and F ST Terrace SE. These alleys are located between 6th and 7th ST SE to the East + west and the 600 block of E and G to the north + south.    Click here for a map.

Gallery OonH presents: Cheesecake, a Tribute to Female Form

H Street Icon | ART OPENINGS |

Reception: Thursday August 5th, Friday August 6th and Saturday August 7th from 5:30pm to 9pm

Dolly Vehlow and Steve Hessler have been collecting folk art and self taught art since the early Nineteen Eighties. Their collection grew one artist at a time - relationships were forged and over the years their collection expanded to include well known, obscure and even anonymous artists. "But it has never been about the need to be acquisitive - it has always been about the art and the artists.  The works exist because of the individual artist's  inspiration, a powerful expression of their personal vision" explains Dolly Vehlow.

Gallery OonH with the adjacent side yard dominated by a 17' assemblage of a rocket by Jimmy Descant is a showcase for this artwork. Dolly Vehlow and Steve Hessler have hosted numerous private and public functions in this combined space where business owners, local residents and visitors come together to infuse the H street community with an energy beyond the bars and the night life. For the short term at least, they believe that they have a unique opportunity to create a space that becomes its own destination, not as a commercial enterprise but as a community building space.

"We want to use the gallery and this open space as a way to breathe some vitality into the street through a "pop-up" experience of live music, dance, and art. We want the space to be a spontaneous intersection of culture and fun, an accidental cultural experience that eventually becomes part of the serendipitous fabric of the street and invites you to pause for a minute or an hour" states Dolly Vehlow.

The latest project, Cheesecake, which opens tonight, is a reflection of that idea and is a show built from the Vehlow's collection. This tribute to the female form was inspired by Pink Line's designer showcase, Temporium. The show features a broad cross section of artists, styles and medium interpreting what it means to be a woman. It was designed to make one smile, make one curious about the art and the artists and above all to engage one's imagination. The following Work is represented at the show: Bonnie Blue, Dr Bob, Mr Imagination, Inez Nathaniel Walker, James VanderZee, and Sterling Strauser.

Cheesecake It’s all about the ladies...A tribute to the female form is open from 5:30-9pm August 5 (tonight), 6 (Friday) & 7 (Saturday) a well as the weekend of August 12, 13 & 14.  Gallery OonH is located at 1354 H ST NE.


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

This August: Gaia at The Fridge

Capitol Hill Icon  | ART OPENINGS |

Opening Reception: Fri, August 6 from 9pm to 1am

What is Gaia at The Fridge?

A series of seven Gaia events at the Fridge over the next three weekends beginning this weekend August 6, 7 and 8; the weekend of August 13, 14; and the the weekend of August 20, and 22. Each event will manifest the Gaian ethos and vision: just as earth is a habitat for life, these events are a habitat for artistic expression and creativity. In an effort to provide patrons with a continuous flow of novel multi-sensory experiences, each of the eight Gaia event will focus on a different theme and featured guest lineup.

Gaia uses the arts to reach across an ever wider spectrum of cultures, spiritual traditions, and ethnicities. Gaia events achieve a delicate balance between upscale and underground, pop and artsy, between the comfort of a lounge and the entertainment value of a performance hall. The Fridge will bring djs, vjs, lighting designers, live musicians, fire jugglers, make-up artists, contemporary dancers, magicians, and performing artists of all backgrounds together for a night.

Scheduled Events for the opening weekend:
Opening Night: Fri, August 6- Soul. Hip Hop. House.
Sat., August 7- Rock Electro
Sun, August 8- Chill Out

There is a $10 cover charge to attend this event

The Fridge: Rear Alley, 516 8th St. SE Hours: Wednesday, Thursday, 12 p.m. - 7 p.m., Friday - Saturday, 12 p.m. - 8 p.m. and Sunday, 1 p.m. - 5 p.m. http://www.TheFridgeDC.com

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

CITY Gallery and Studio H Present: Tim Conlon and Sherill Anne Gross at a second Art House Open House August 5, 2010

H Street Icon | ART OPENINGS |

Opening Reception: Thursday August 5 from 5:30pm-8:00pm

Opening Reception: Thursday August 5 from 5:30pm-8:00pm

CITY Gallery and Studio H in conjunction with Realtor Genie Hutinet of John C. Formant Real Estate present a second "Art House Open House" event at 614 Elliott Place NE. If you missed renowned local graffiti artist Tim Conlon's "Derailed" last month at Studio H or you missed Sherill Anne Gross's amazing exhibit "Pretty Little Things" at the Brentwood Arts Exchange, this is your  last chance to catch a glimpse of these exhibits.  The public is invited to a happy hour Thursday August 5 from 5:30pm to 8:00pm to browse the work and to view the property.

About the property
614 Elliott Place NE is one bedroom one bath apartment located off Maryland ave between 13th and 14th street NE.  This quiet fairytale lane is only a few blocks from the excitement of H street NE.  The apartment itself is generously proportioned with high ceilings, a large one bedroom, extensive storage, a renovated kitchen and an open living area lit up by french doors that open to your own private patio and garden.  As a bonus, the property comes with its own parking space and a working fireplace.

About Art House Open House
As native Washingtonians, we can assure you that the most talked about topic in Washington has never been politics- it has always been real estate!  Art House Open House gives real estate hounds and art lovers the opportunity to preview DC's hottest real estate while viewing the work of local artists.  See what art work looks like when it is taken out of the gallery and installed in the home.

Monday, August 2, 2010

CITY Gallery Presents its First Annual Regional Juried Exhibition Opening August 6 through August 28, 2010

H Street Icon | ART OPENINGS |

 CITY Gallery announces the opening of its First Annual Regional Juried Exhibition.

Opening reception: Saturday August 7th from 6‐9 pm.

Jack Rasmussen, Director of the American University Museum, juried the show. He will be in attendance from 6pm until 7:15 for a gallery talk.

DC Metro area artists working in oil, acrylics, watercolors, photography, ceramics, glass, sculpture and mixed media were invited to submit up to 3 pieces for consideration. CITY Gallery received a total of 199 entries by 69 local artists from which the judge made his selection for the exhibition.

The winners of the competition are as follows:
• First Place                 Diana Derby                 "Witness No 7"
• Second Place             Sabine Carlson             "Pale Dog Running"
Honorable Mentions:
Michael Fleischhacker      "Stepanie I"
Cavan Fleming                    "Outside the Gasworks Wall"
Jennifer Cox                        "H Street"

In addition, the following artists were juried into the show:
Marilyn Christiano, Juan E. Hernandez, Ellen Hill, Pattee Hipschen, Martha Huizenga, Tom Kenyon, Emily Lane, Lynn Mehta, Erica Orgen, Pam Rogers, Judy Searles, Stu Searles, Fierce Sonia, Michael Spears, Ronnie Spiewak, Alice Lee Timmins and Andrew Zimmerman.

The First Annual Juried Exhibition will hang from August 6 through August 28, 2010. 

Additional information may be found at: www.citygallerydc.com For further information or images, please contact the gallery at 202.468.5277 or info@citygallery.com   City Gallery is located at 804 H ST NE second floor, Washington, DC 20002. Gallery hours are Fridays and Saturday 1-5pm.