Top 10 in DC – May 2012

I passed through DC on my way home from vacation this week  – it was an opportunity to connect with a couple clients, do some research on a series of prints I’d like to make (my own work) and also to touch base with a few artists. While I was there I went to 4 museums and about a dozen galleries. As always, I found a broad spectrum of things to interest me – ranging from the gallery of Whistlers and The Peacock Room at the Freer to Jay Musler’s incredible feathery glass art at Maurine Littleton’s Gallery to Mark Morgan’s quirky sculptures made of discarded detergent bottles at Arts @ 1830.

For me, the two most exciting shows this time around were the Miró exhibit over at the National Gallery and then a small exhibit of privately-owned Matisse & Picasso prints and drawings at Neptune Fine Art in Georgetown.

Now, if you haven’t seen the show over at Neptune, I am sorry to say it is coming down – Christine Neptune shares the space with her husband, Robert Brown. He will be up next, celebrating his own gallery’s 30-year success with works from his stable of artists’ – including the likes of Mel Bochner, David Nash, William Kentridge and Oleg Kudryashov.

Okay, so I am getting ahead of myself – the Matisse and Picassos…what a treat! The show consisted of about 3 dozen prints and drawings that belong to two different collectors – they are all in beautiful condition. My favorites were the obvious Nadia portrait and then two tiny little Picassos, rare little prints that were from editions of only 10 and 14, respectively.

I really wasn’t expecting to happen upon the gallery at all; I was headed next door  to see another show when I noticed the gallery. The townhouse is like so many in Georgetown, a nest of intimate rooms that stand above a rear courtyard..perfect for showing off master prints and illustrating how potential buyers might actually live with revered works. Coincidentally, a dealer I had met with not an hour earlier had recommended this gallery to me so I figured, “why not?” I am so glad I checked it out and will keep it in mind as a “must see” in the future.

The Miró exhibit  over at the National Gallery is blockbuster. The show consists of more than 150 works, covering a period of 6 decades. I personally love this type of show –   it is constructed to lead the viewer through the life of the artist,  showing the progression of works in the context of what was going on around the artist.

“The Ladder of Escape” highlights Miró’s loyalty to Catalonia throughout a lifetime of hardship: two world wars, the Spanish Civil War, and during Franco’s dictatorship. His story winds its way from farmlife of the 1920’s through periods of politically-charged explorations in surrealism ultimately to the self-referential symbols that together make the vocabulary for his fantastical, poetic later paintings.

I am enamored with the constellation of works – each one a puzzle, revealing itself slowly, taking the effort of the viewer’s attention to decipher.

My Top 10 this time around:

  1. Joan Miró at National Gallery
  2. Matisse & Picasso at Neptune Fine Art
  3. Peacock Room at the Freer
  4. Colby Caldwell at Hemphill
  5. Foon Sham at Project4
  6. Ai Weiwei’s Fragments and Hokusai: 36 Views of Mount Fuji at Sackler Gallery
  7. Renate Aller at Adamson Gallery
  8. Julia Fernandez-Pol at Morton Fine Art
  9. Jackie Battenfield at Addison Ripley
  10. K Silve at Susan Calloway Fine Art
  11. Getting to go visit Gail Vollrath and Brian Petro in their studios.

Foon Sham – Spiral Vessel

Colby Caldwell – How to Survive Your Own Death

Jay Musler – Blue State Bowl at Maurine Littleton

Joan Miro – The Ladder of Escape

Picasso – Toute la Vie (1960)

Julia Fernandez-Pol

Springtime in Washington

It almost goes without saying, but my favorite show in DC right now is Doug Aitken’s projected video on the outside of the Hirshhorn Museum & Scultpure Garden. “SONG 1” uses powerful video projectors to cast the video around the entire museum and allows visitors to see the first-ever work of 360-degree convex-screen cinema. I got to see it on a warm starry night but have a feeling I would have like it in the rain or even in snow – it really is wonderful. If you are in Washington before May 13th, make sure you spend half an hour to check it out one evening.

The rest of the trip also had a lot of great art – here are my top 10:

  1. Doug Aitken “SONG 1” at the Hirshhorn Museum & Scultpure Garden
  2. “Circle of Animals Zodiac Heads” by Ai Weiwei at the Hirshhorn Museum & Scultpure Garden
  3. “Snapshot: Painters and Photography, Bonnard to Vuillard” at the Phillips Collection
  4. “Home is a Foreign Place”, a suite of 6 of the woodcuts by Zarina Hashmi at Burton Marinkovich
  5. “Domestic Exchange” by Wilmer Wilson IV at Conner Contemporary
  6. “Suprasensorial” at the Hirshhorn Museum & Scultpure Garden
  7. In Vibrant Color: Vintage Celebrity Portraits from the Harry Warnecke Studio at the National Portrait Gallery
  8. The Black List: Photographs by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders at the National Portrait Gallery 
  9. Paintings by Kathy Beynette at Gallery Plan B
  10. “Pilgrimage” by Annie Leibovitz at Smithsonian American Art Museum

My Top 10 in Miami (January 2012)

Can the city’s galleries become anchors to an art scene that draws attention throughout the year? The city has truly developed into one of the great cosmopolitan cities, but the international, art-buying, jet-setters know when to be there.  I guess I am wondering if the gallery scene will rise to the level of the fairs it hosts – can it? How do galleries even produce shows for the rest of the year.

A couple of months ago my partner & I headed down to Miami and I took a couple days to check out some of the art scene. I love to feel the energy that drives a growing art scene – but this time I left feeling a little empty. Maybe it was just me… I mean there are more galleries, right? The scene must be growing, but it kind of seems like a lot of what I found was specifically designed to attract the international art-fair developers.

Kawaii Universe? An entire warehouse of rainbow-colored stickers of cupcakes and sushi?

Walls on Wynwood? A couple years ago I took so many photos of the walls painted throughout the city – I was all over it . This time, I was just over it – it seemed so calculated and event-driven, lacking heart and spontanaeity.

A lot of the work I saw seemed to be screaming “Pick Me! Pick Me!” It is kind of like a pageant – if the work can be loud enough and colorful enough, maybe it will get noticed when the fairs come to town.  I guess it’s not a bad marketing strategy and if I lived there, I would probably do the same thing. It’s just that the thoughtfully curated, well-developed shows were few and far between. Even some of my favorite spaces seemed to fall short with exhibits lacking programmatic coherence.

With all of that said, there is still a lot to look at and I know I only got to see a little bit – my top 10:

  1. Robert Fischer’s “Quarry” at Charest-Weinberg
  2. Romulo Aguerre “The Forms of Light” at Sammer Gallery
  3. Richard Höglund, “Hysterical.Sublime..” at Gallery Diet
  4. Karina PeisaJovich, “The eyes, sometimes” at Alejandra von Hartz Gallery
  5. Nick Gentry & Josafat Miranda at Robert Fontaine Gallery
  6. Roman Vitali, “It Also Snows Inside” at now contemporary art
  7. JeanPaul Mollozzi at Bakehouse Art Complex
  8. Victor Sydorenko, ” The Levitation Series” at Black Square Gallery
  9. Mira Lehr “209 Ignition” at Kelley Roy Gallery
  10. Consuelo Castañeda, “Homage to Gego” at Hardcore Art Contemporary Space

Another Way to Go: 6 artists, 12 directions

I am really interested in the ideas of artistic voice, identity and recognition.

Over the summer I had a number of artists approach me with questions about their portfolios, marketing and pricing, etc. In looking at some of these I saw so many artists that were kind of all over the map with regard to style and technique – you know, the kind where each and every artwork looked like it might have been the work of a different person.

I advised them to pick something and stick with it for a while so they could really become a master at something and not be just okay at a lot of different things. I wanted them to tap into that part of themselves that really defines them – to find their voice.  I believe that mature successful artists are keenly aware of their voice. Not to say that artists don’t explore different things – ideas get resolved in different media, subject matter changes, etc. As a collector and a consultant, what I want to be able to see is, that as the works change, I can still tell it is the work of one artist and not some other artist entirely.

This past year, I was invited to curate a show this month at VERTIGO Art Space in Denver (Jan4-February11;  and so I used this line of thinking as the starting point for the show and – wow! I quickly realized what a hot button topic this is…almost everyone has something to say about it.  A lot of artists feel basically the same way. Others think I am looking at it from a business point-of-view and that I didn’t get art at all.  I think some were offended that I would point out consistencies in their work because there is such a drive to be original and fresh and authentic.

Some gallerists told me that they value creativity over commercialism – others pointed to the realities of business, that for a gallery to stay in business, eventually something has to sell and customers’ expectations often drive that process.  Artists told me the art they were showing in the galleries wasn’t what they really wanted to be working on- that they want to try something new but that the gallery wouldn’t go for it. Critics were calling artists “Johnny One Note” because they had been there – done that – seen it before. One artist selected for this show told me that as soon as the “recognized” series changed in favor of something else, the collectors, critics & galleries stopped even looking at the work.

I looked at my own work – as an artist, I am almost always associated with the burnout vellum pieces, but then I go off and explore other tangents like the series of 3000 photographs of sidewalks or the watercolors or the monochromatic eggshell compositions.

As I continued with the exploration for this show, I really began looking at the various tangents or diversions that many artists take.

Over the holidays my partner & I had a party and there wound up being a great mix of people, some artists, some gallerists, some of his running buddies, mutual friends, neighbors, a little family.  That night one our longtime friends came over to me and commented on my burnout vellum pieces – “You know I appreciate and I get where you are going with them, but when are you going to go back to those colorful paintings you did 10-15 years ago?” Later that same night, another friend came to me and wanted to know about some new etchings I had done, “You know I appreciate them and I like the use of color, but when are you going back to the monochromatic burnout pieces?”

I’m now more interested in the issues around the idea of having that identifiable, sellable body of work … the advantages this affords an artist and the potential challenges of restricting creative exploration. There is a balance between the exposure and commercial success that recognition provides and the harness restricting creative exploration.

The 6 artists that I included in the show present 2 pieces – one that would be from their recognizable body of work and then another that is unrelated and not immediately identified as belonging to the same artist.

Tyler Aiello, Courtesy of Space Gallery, Photo by Westword.

Eric Michael Corrigan, Courtesy of Walker Fine Art, Photo by Westword.

Lorelei Schott, Courtesy of Sandra Phillips Gallery, Photo by Westword

Jimmy Sellars, Courtesy of Sellars Preject Space
Phil Bender, Courtesy of Pirate : Contemporary Art,
Photo by Westword

Sangeeta Reddy, Courtesy of William Havu Gallery

Phil Bender, Courtesy of Pirate: Cotemporary Art

Sangeeta Reddy, Courtesy of William Havu Gallery

Lorelei Schott, Courtesy of Sandra Phillips Gallery

Andy Warhol’s Shadows at the Hirshhorn

I don’t know about you, but I guess size matters. When I see a big painting, I typically wind up spending more time trying to take it all in. I guess there is some unwritten equation size=profundity.

However, when I took in the current exhibition of Andy Warhol’s shadows, any ideas that I should pour over each nuance of color or textural drip were immediately dispelled.  The piece is comprised of 102 panels and stretches nearly 450 feet around the second floor of the circular museum.

Indeed rather than take my time, I found myself wanting to go faster and faster – I would have run if the security guards would have let me. I felt like I was caught inside an Eadweard Muybridge zoetrope – not certain if I was the viewer or the subject.

I have a feeling this is appropriate – Warhol himself said it isn’t art, but rather disco decor. The paintings are of no discernible objects – speculation running from architecture, to cardboard maquettes to erect penises. The big bold colors are applied with floor mops in crude bravura strokes. Sure, it gives reference in terms of color and context – alluding to the AbEx painters and minimalists, to Duchamp’s questioning of iconography and Man Ray’s experiments from the 1920’s.

For me, ultimately it is just fun…it’s thoroughly exhuberant and fleeting – lasting as long as it takes to run through it.

The show goes to mid-January, so check it out if you can.

Warhol Shadows at the Hirshhorn Musesum

Clyfford Still Museum Opens

Last night my partner and I went to the opening of the Clyfford Still Museum here in Denver.  WOW!  It is amazing!

The inaugural exhibit it thoughtfully curated – offering a chronological view of his work spanning his career. I think, for me what struck me the most was seeing the evolution of the work. The show clearly presents a progression beginning with landscapes and portraits, quickly leading us into his exploration of abstraction and ultimately his readily identifiable expressionist pieces.

I was anticipating the darker, heavier pieces that represented his agrarian roots during the depression but didn’t anticipate the lighter, more cheerful works. These treasures, hidden for so many years, are a bit like giants awaking from their slumber – still stretching out and beginning to tell their stories.

The rooms are perfectly proportioned and sequenced to showcase his art with carefully constructed vantage points revealing from one gallery, the next.  The honeycomb ceiling allows natural light to permeate the concrete building, providing ideal viewing conditions while louvers protect the artwork from the damaging sun.  The two-story building, designed by Brad Cloepfil of Allied Works Architecture is refined – it is an elegant solution to display the work and to house art being stored, archived & researched.


Clyfford Still’s work was marked by expressive brush work, and abstracted forms – the blending of color, texture and shape to create something entirely new. His shift away from figurative and surrealist styles in the late 30’s and early 40’s happened nearly a decade before other artists including Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman began the pursuit of what is now known as Abstract Expressionism. His estate, along with that of his wife, has been left to the city and will be maintained by the museum – it represents the bulk(94%) of Still’s life work – some 2400 paintings, works on paper and sculptures.

At the Clyfford Still Opening

At the Clyfford Still Opening

My “Top 10” Art Shows in NYC (Oct 2011)

This past week I went to NYC to see the first art shows of the season  – Wow! What a season it is…this year the museums and galleries are really hitting it out of the park with major retrospectives and beautifully produced shows.  De Kooning at MoMA heads the pack, but there were great shows everywhere.  The galleries are ambitious – they are showing an awful lot of incredibly expensive works (moderately priced works in the $100k-500k+ range) – I did see works range from as little as $500 going beyond  the $1m mark.  

Of course there is no real way to cover it all, especially in 4 days.  I only barely scratched the surface but what I did get to see was amazing.  I walked up and down the city (100-200 blocks a day) and managed to squeeze in 5 museums and about 60 galleries.  Of course I experienced the NY gallery snobbery… I understand it though as I was out of uniform. I wore my sneakers  instead of Pradas and I opted for a white jacket instead of Black…I was actually told that I looked like I was auditioning for “Miami Vice.”

I tend to have a voracious appetite for all things visual so I ate it up; there were a lot of shows that I could have lingered over for hours to look at all the nuances of the works, but I set out with a mission to take in as much as I could so I literally kept moving the entire time. 

Usually when I travel I like to compile a “Top 10” as a record for myself and to share, but with a so much going on, I couldn’t really bare to whittle it down past 7 museum shows and 15 gallery exhibitions:


  • De Kooning @ MoMA
  • Cy Twombly Sculptures @ MoMA
  • Lyonel Feininger @ Whitney
  • David Smith @Whitney
  • Master Painters of India (1100-1900) @ the Metropolitan
  • Frans Hals @ the Metropolitan
  • Hans Peter Feldman @ Guggenheim


  • Do Ho Suh @ Lehmann Maupin
  • Leandro Erlich @ Sean Kelly
  • Agnes Martin @ Pace
  • Frank Stella @ Paul Kasmin
  • Milton Resnick @ Cheim & Read
  • Nicholas Krushenick @ Gary Snyder
  • Ronnie Landfield @ Stephen Haller
  • Ad Reinhardt @ Pace
  • Nick Cave @ Jack Shainman
  • Jenny Saville @ Gagosian
  • Ethan Murrow @ Winston Wӓchter Fine Art
  • Nathan Slate Joseph @ Sundaram Tagore
  • Monroe Hodder @ Andre Zarre
  • Andy Denzler @ Claire Oliver
  • Paul Winstanley @ Mitchell-Innes & Nash

With any luck I will get to go back in November and continue the expedition  – places I was really eager to see but missed this time around included the Neue Galerie (they are installing an exhibition of works from Ronald S. Lauder’s Collection), The Noguchi Museum, the Brooklyn Museum and the New Museum down in the Bowery. I didn’t make it over to Williamsburg or DUMBO this visit so they will be a must and I only got through about half of the Chelsea neighborhood. 


Do Ho Suh @ Lehmann Maupin Gallery


Frank Stella at Paul Kasmin Gallery


Nicholas Krushenick at Gary Snyder Gallery


In Washington, DC looking at art

I went to the beach over the holiday but now I am busy looking at art in Washington, DC before heading home.

So far, one of the highlights of the trip has been my visit with Royce Burton over at his gallery near the Phillips Collection.  He has an extensive inventory of prints and showed me some gorgeous Diebenkorns, Rauschenbergs, and a precious little piece from Kenneth Noland’s Circle Series made out of handmade paper. However, my absolute favorite was a mixograph by Louise Bourgeois, Crochet IV.  It is perfect!

ArtLook art consulting

ArtLook will primarily focus on helping individual clients (residential) with 3 basic offerings:
1) Art Collector’s Boot Camp – The Boot Camp will consist of a home visit and style diagnostic, an art community overview including a museum visit, 1-2 gallery visits, and ideally an artist studio visit. Each visit will be tailored to developing a collector’s awareness of their own personal style, interests, and goals and ultimately to establish a foundation of knowledge to begin collecting with confidence. The Boot Camp is designed to take place in four 2-3hr. sessions, but can be modified for clients in other cities.
2) Acquisition Assistance – I see a lot of art…more than most. In the past 10 years, I have seen roughly 1000 museum exhibitions and 2500 gallery exhibitions all over the world; that coupled with books, magazines, websites, television, restaurants, offices, and homes…well, it adds up to a LOT of artwork.  I am happy to assist collectors with finding the perfect piece or pieces to add to their collections. Whether it is to find that specific piece to go into your space or to develop a plan for you to build upon over time, I can help you define your goals and then do the legwork – researching options for you. I will introduce you to artists, dealers, galleries so that you can feel confident in your choices. 
3) Assistance with Art as Investment – Most artwork is not purchased as an investment; it is simply purchased by admirers who are willing to pay for it. Almost all artwork, even if it is expensive, is priced very subjectively, and most often will not appreciate in value. That said, if you are interested in buying artwork as an investment, I can assist you in finding works that have investment potential. There are always artists that are up and coming and that are on the verge of greater recognition – their works may have special appeal to collectors with the guts for speculation. Additionally, there are works that are already being bought and sold in secondary markets (dealers & auction houses) and those with strong track records are likely to continue to be bought and sold over time and are often good investments. Working with galleries, dealers and auction houses, I can assist you with finding pieces that you like and that have the potential to appreciate. 
Additionally I offer assistance with curation, cataloguing, shipping, framing & installation for artwork. I will be doing exhibition development, some gallery curation and sales and corporate art consulting so if you think of anything to do with art, please keep me in mind because I would love to try to help.