Feb 232011

In February of 2009 we decided to start the artdc gallery. Before we had access to our space we decided to begin with an auction at our friend’s space, the Wohlfarth Galleries.  The owner, Lavinia Wohlfarth, was very generous in helping us set up an auction to raise well-needed funds.

The event was packed with art collectors and artists who bought art. It was a very positive event.

Since our space opened we thought about doing another auction, but we held off. We wanted to grow and increase our connections with more artists and art lovers who want to support our community.

In December 2010 we held our second auction.  Again, we had a good number of people attend who were passionate about our community.

We invited Cheryl Edwards to be the auctioneer for both events.  Her energy and passion for our project can be felt as the night’s event moved on.  We’ll introduce more details about her excitement for art as this site grows.

With lust for art and zeal for excitement, the bidding started. I wanted to get in the mix and bid on two or three items for my personal collection.  Cheryl ignored my bids!  She knew this was about bringing in external bids rather than letting me raise funds for the gallery from my bank account.

Piece by piece, great work from tremendous DC-area artists including Alexandra Zealand, Christopher Brady, Lisa Rosenstein and Barry Schmetter were sold to collectors.

Toward the end, I couldn’t take it anymore, and I placed a bid for the gallery on a work by Stephen Boocks.  Stephen and his wife Lori are both artists.  I know her work from the Studio Gallery in Dupont Circle, and I’ve watched Stephen’s work grow as he’s submitted art for a number of our group shows. I knew it was time to acquire one of his pieces for the Gallery’s collection.

Going once. Going twice. Sold to the highest bidder, as the gavel smashed down onto the steel pedestal.

Stephen does an excellent job of juxtaposing his surfaces with objects.  You can tell that he cares about his paint.  There’s a very subtle rhythm to the tonality, while his choice of a coat hanger is definitely a non-traditional subject.

His core image evolved through his personal quest of healing and a resulting epiphany of structure, which occurred when he dropped a stack of hangers on the floor.  Stephen found beauty in this simple accumulation of objects, and decided to study it.

As an artist, I appreciate his obsession with an idea.  He has put in effort working his images.  He’s developed a habit honing his technique, which takes tremendous effort to work the image, and re-work it till he gets what he wants.  He’s created a solid series based on a set core subject idea.


 Posted by at 9:32 pm
Feb 082011

With the goal of expanding our gallery’s community we offered two spots for internships to the University of Maryland.  We invited our interns to select art. We thought this was an extremely unique opportunity for the both of us.  We earned the view of “art to come” through eyes of new artists, and they acquired the opportunity to plan a gallery show outside of the university.

To start, our interns met with gallery Neptune owner Elyse Harrison to discuss the process of selecting work.  The show was a team effort where our two interns, Owen Duff and Sahar Somekhian worked together to develop their first curatorial experience.  They gave the show an appropriate title of, “Square One.”

Both Sahar and Owen had very different views of art, however they worked extremely well together and picked a cohesive group of works with a wide range of styles.  Their differences allowed the show to grow.  The artists included Jay Chmilewski, Erica Federhen,  Timothy Horjus, Christie Liberatore, Kunj Patel, and Fawna Xiao.  Square One was bright and packed full of color.  See the link above for more information about the show.

Walking into the reception after the installation was an exciting experience since I had been out of town the week before the final selections and install for a tour of LA area galleries.  We took the city apart running from Culver City to Bergamot Station and Abbot Kinney to amazing museums like LACMA, the Getty, and beyond.  However, that in itself is a story for another time.  After living in a LA state of mind for over a week, it was so wonderful to see the choice works of art that our interns had selected.  “Square One,” definitely fit with my west coast state of mind.

I knew we were going to buy art from this selection of work; it was just a matter of what suited the future of our collection. It was an extremely difficult choice.  Each artist’s work spoke to me on a personal level from Timothy’s extreme attention to detail and bright colors, to Fawna’s screen prints.

The entire show was strong, but I was really attracted to Erica Federhen’s acrylic works on canvas.  At first glance, I wanted the entire collection of her works, which made the choice difficult.  It was going to be the alphabetical work with the letters  r, e, and d in red.

It looked like we had a buyer for that work, so I spent more time with her other paintings since I didn’t want to prevent a collector from purchasing a work.

Then “poco a poco,” which means little by little caught my attention.  By the time the show ended our collector who was interested in the “red” work had commitment issues.  I decided that “poco a poco” was really a statement about our/artdc’s efforts in the art scene over the years.   We do things little by little, so as much as I thought the red work was an homage to Jasper Johns, whom I love, the gallery decided to purchase poco a poco.  See it here:

See the artist with her work in our gallery:

 Posted by at 8:00 pm
Feb 062011

For our exhibition, “Coverage” in July of 2010, we worked with Sam Scharf who is an exhibition’s specialist for the Hirshhorn.  We were extremely impressed with his detailed work, specifically with a found object installation based on a suspended ostrich egg in our 12×12 show.  His view of art is unique so we knew he’d bring an amazing collection to the gallery.  He introduced us to the work of Megan Mueller and Sabeth Jackson.  Days were spent with installation.  We’re not talking about a day of painting and hanging work, there was serious planning and effort involved.   The show was a site-specific installation of museum quality.  Sabeth’s linocuts were suspended raw with magnets.  I find it extremely exciting and contemporary to let the work breathe, and live on it’s own with a very simple presentation.  Her series is entitled “Wox Stalker” which explored different inks and print styles in the German expressionist style.  The emotion is stark with great control of a multi-color process. The imagery spoke to us. Each print was produced in an edition of 5, on a thick wonderful sheet of paper.  We purchased one for the gallery, number 2 of 5.  From the collection, in the coverage show, it’s the print on the top, at the far right.

After several trips to the gallery we were unable to get a representational shot of her work, even with a polarizing filter.  The conservation glass reflected an unbelievable amount of light.  There are a few artifacts of the gallery background visible, and the black should appear black, but it does not appear in the snap shot.  Aside from the picture quality, you can get a feeling for her work.  Face-to-face, there’s a significant contrast between the black and grey tones.  One day, we’re going to need to disassemble the frame and remove the glass so you can get a real feel for this work on-line.  This is actually an increasingly difficult task for galleries and artists.  That is, it’s difficult to really convey the feeling of a work of art through an image on a website.  We’ll post an update as we acquire cleaner images.

We decided to frame the work, to protect the print from dust and UV light.  We used a very simple frame so that we didn’t distract from the image.  Lately, for my personal collection, i’ve gone a little crazy with silk covered mats and intricate mouldings, but this wasn’t right for this work.  We selected a white mat that suited the tonality of the paper.  Not an off white, but we also staid away from a very bright white.

At this point, our collection was off to a great start, and as we’re moving forward, we’re developing a greater idea of where things are going.  The collection will represent both our activity in the gallery, and growing connection with our artist family or stable of artists.  I’ve often heard folks use this term, a stable of artists, but for us, it’s much much more personal.  It is a family, and we are developing a community through our activities as we see several families of artists merge and grow.

 Posted by at 11:04 pm
Jan 062011

One dealer said through a sigh, “if only I could buy stock in an artist’s career.”   I always thought that was a profound idea, and maybe some entrepreneurial art dealer will figure that one out.  But with out any scheme, we can.  Buy art!  While you don’t own shares of a company, you do hold percentage of the works produced in a lifetime.

After I bought Zac’s work for my person collection, it became clear that this was going to be a habit.  So we (the gallery) decided to start buying the work that we exhibit.  We plan to build a collection based on the shows that we hold.

As the collection grows, we’ll hold periodic exhibitions of our collection to bring a sense of history of the gallery into the public’s view.  We are making a statement on artists that we beleive in, and this allows us to get in at the ground floor as the artists grow.

So we embraced this and moved forward, the gallery purchased a work.  We bought a 48″ x 48″ oil on canvas painting by Peter Gordon, entitled “No Assurance As To The Accuracy Of The Information Provided Herein.”

This painting has another image under the surface.  He’s used this canvas multiple times, and you can see he’s started to reveal bits of the underlaying image as a part of the current work.  The painting’s colors work, and it has depth.  The thickness of the paint is quite attractive, and the work has a sense of history with it’s revealed under painting.  When you see it in person, it does have a commanding presence.

The work stands on it’s own, but I will always see it in context of the original show with  Christian Benefiel’s inflatable, Grayson Heck’s found metal piano, Zac Jackson’s What, and Sarah Martin 6ft paintings.  At the close of the exhibition, we couldn’t let him take it home.  Currently the painting lives in the private room of the gallery on a wall, and every show since July 2009, we’ve had comments from artists and collectors as they take a tour of our back room.  You must see his work in person.  His work is growing.  Visit his site, and check out his installation work, particularly the smart grid which he did at the Gallery.

 Posted by at 7:09 pm
Jan 032011

Over the past 10 years as an artist I’ve had an interest in art collection while interacting with galleries and collectors.   In 2009, Fine Art Ventures, LLC was created, which manages the artdc Gallery.  After planning and opening 8 shows, I really wanted to start actively collecting work with an impact on the local economy through the gallery.

Showing work in the gallery felt a lot like collecting art with out purchasing it through the planning, hanging, and displaying the work.  Sadly, though, at the end of the show we have to let the work go, which is often tough.  It’s hard not to become attached to the work!

We’ve focused on the DC area and spent some time meeting artists and making selections that we think are important.  Developing a show involves thought and a wonderful interaction with artists.  There’s a difference between collecting art and simply owning art.  There’s a thought process in a collection.  When you collect coins, you have an area of interest which could be one country or another, or a specific type of metal, gold or silver, or a date range, something that holds the collection together.  It’s the same with art.  To collect, it’s deeper than just purchasing art.  There’s a color range, a style, an emotional feel, a movement, or something else that ties it all together.  Lately I’ve been focused on the work of Washington, DC area artists.  I see bits of a movement coming together, and I want to support that.

With out completely developing a plan for what I wanted to buy up front, I decided to buy a work from Zac Jackson for my personal collection.  The work was in the artdc Gallery’s Sculpture: 301 show curated Steven Jones.

Zac Jackson’s work is a kinetic piece.

Zac Jackson is at UMD and he has some pretty amazing ideas.  I like his attention to detail in his work.  Details like the loom used to contain the a/c wires.  His choice of motors works great.  I know as an an artist, myself, the type of energy and research that it takes to find the perfect part, so I respect that.  The cams are designed to wear so the work evolves and grows as it ages.  I find a programmed chronological life span to work is an exceptional idea.  I know he’s experimented with different cam shapes to impact the work’s characteristics of motion.  The 3 faces we bought have the “aggressive” cams.

His work inspired us (the artdc Gallery) to look into other DC area artists to see if they were doing kinetic work.  Which inspired the artdc Gallery’s Don’t Feed The Art (DFTA) show that I co-curated with Grayson Heck the next year.  Find a video of the DFTA show and Zac’s work at the link above.

 Posted by at 8:51 pm
Jan 032011

We’re very excited to bring to the web.  We will chronicle and discuss collection of art which is incredibly important  to society and the art economy.  Anyone can collect art.  We think that everyone should own a work of art!  Anyone can.  If you haven’t yet, start your collection now.  Go to a gallery, an art non-profit, a university art program, do some research and you’ll find that there’s amazing  work available to any budget.

 Posted by at 8:28 pm