1. Andy Grundberg and The Art of Curation

    The Hillyer is an intimate gallery hidden down one of DuPont’s bustling streets. On Monday, November 12, Andy Grundberg was the featured curator in this month’s Curator Lecture Series. In an open room of the gallery with paintings surrounding the audience, Grundberg spoke about a wide range of topics related to art and his career. Although it was not a one-on-one conversation, it was a comfortable and casual atmosphere in which it was acceptable for the audience to ask any question that crossed the mind. 

                Andy Grundberg is a curator and professor at the Corcoran School of Art. His lecture focused on photography as a fine art. Soon it became clear why he is such a well-respected curator. Not only is he well educated about the arts, he is passionate about them. Grundberg spoke with precision and elegance describing the significance and value of photography in the fine art world. He stated, “Photography is swimming in the same pond as contemporary art.” Keeping the talk personable and relatable, he also added in many details about the history of photography becoming a fine art. He mentioned Andy Warhol’s use of photography in screens in paintings and how that was when they first entered the realm of fine art in the 1960’s. This was an arena in which someone with a degree in fine arts or art history could learn so much, but also someone who had little to no background in the arts would be able to comprehend and enjoy Grundberg’s lecture.

    During the talk he discussed not only his career path but also specific artists whose exhibits he has been the curator of. One of the most famous photographers he has worked with is Anne Leibovitz. He graciously discussed what an honor he thought working with a living artist was, and admits that it was one of his first goals as a curator. Although what he did not expect was the challenges that living artist pose when setting up an exhibit, this he comments on with a chuckle, and state this helped him improve his compromising skills.

                As he proceeds on with the lecture, a slide show of exhibits he was the curator for is playing. Occasionally he’ll stop to admire some of the work and tell a story. One of Leibovitz landscapes crosses the screen and he drifts into a story about the dark beauty of her photography and how she views things in a transcendentalist manner. At one part while discussing Leibovitz landscapes, he stops and looked up at the audience and said, “the beauty of the outside world is perceived in different ways, therefore each artist can bring something different to a photo.” His passion translates to the audience, encouraging us to look closer at a picture. After an hour that went by surprisingly quickly, Grundberg thanked the audience and the presentation comes to a close.  

    Bringing the Art in DC to You,


  2. Finding a Good Place for Performance Art: Eleanor Barba

    A recent graduate from Corcoran College of Art + Design, Eleanor Barba is a performance artist who isn’t afraid to take artistic risks. Through her performances she explores the “tragic humor of sexuality in the 21st century” especially in the context of the lack of communication in families. She uses her body to create loaded messages to members of her family and to the audience.

    In her latest piece performed at the Hillyer Art Space’s Blowout! DC Performance Art Festival on Saturday June 16, she did a bit of role playing with the audience. While speaking to us as if we were her grandmother, she talked about the tenuous relationships between grandmother, mother, and daughter – the mother’s guilt from the daughter’s sins, etc. - while potting and un-potting plants and wearing a negligée. She then created a powerful message using the soil, “I’m not sorry. I’m not happy.”

    I caught up with her after the performance to talk about her work and performance art as a medium.

    [The following interview was audio recorded and edited.]

    Jamie Hurst: Tell me a little bit about yourself and your background as an artist.

    Eleanor Barba: I am a recent Corcoran graduate and I guess like when I was younger I just always liked art, and I loved abstract art and the non-representational things and I always thought that was really cool and I really liked the badass people. My parents are really supportive they always took me to different art museums and things. My brother… hated art so there was always that funny tension between us.

    So then when it came down to college, it was more like college made me into an artist. I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do until I got into art school … And it’s proven to be so nice and interesting to be always surrounded artists when that is what your mindset is like; and has been since you were a child. We [artists] always think a little bit differently.

    All those artists that I saw that were cool and the original badasses, it was like now you can become one of them, and I’m blessed to surround myself with people like that.

    JH: Yeah, it makes you feel more normal.

    EB: Exactly.

    JH: So when did you start working in performance art, did you know that [it] was the medium you wanted to use?

    EB: Not at all. Performance art is still something new to me. I have not done a lot of it. The piece I did for my thesis, the painting on my belly, I did that a few times, and it was really just kind of like just different ways to explore.

    JH: I like the history of performance art and conceptual art, and think a lot about the art object as the refuse of the performance, and the artist as object.

    EB: That’s why I like doing my work and that’s something that I like about that I can make something physical. Creating the stage like a play and then leaving it there. Leaving it in the gallery and having a video to show how it was made, because I think that is really interesting too.  But I think performance art is really new to me and there are a lot of things I need to learn about it. I was the class speaker at graduation and the coaching advice I got was you know you’re going to make a mistake and the audience is really forgiving because they aren’t the one on stage, you know? I don’t know if it cheapens the performance or just make it a little bit better because there is a step of bravery to it? I think so, performance art more than others.

    JH: I think it is brave physically, politically, and artistically because you are doing something in front of an audience. It’s not like you are hiding in your studio and no one knows the process. It’s just really vulnerable as a medium.

    EB: Yeah, then there are other categories [to consider] like what if you are directing and not actually in the piece, is it still yours? It is a newer medium and I think it’s one that people… people who don’t… I’ll just use the word philistine. They come to these things are just flabbergasted that this it is happening. But when you go to art school you see so much crazy stuff.

    JH: You become… numb.

    EB: yeah, you become numb to it like, I’ve seen that before. So it’s this challenge of how to keep your work exciting but visually appealing to people who do just like paintings. And that’s why I like setting up the stage – or for my thesis, the pulley system – last time I was here [Hillyer] I rigged up a fern and taped it to a wall, I like having the set and setting up the stage for someone to continue to look at.

    JH: Yeah, leaving the object behind.

    EB: I think people like that too.

    JH: And do you have other performance artists that you look to for inspiration?

    EB: I’m so bad with names my teachers would be killing me right now. I think Marina Abramavic is an obvious one, although I have a love hate relationship with her. I look at a lot of more feminist art and I look to a lot of video art to grab inspiration…I really like Jeannine Antonelli, she’s not necessarily a performance artist but she does put herself in these weird positions, like with her body. She did one where she does plasters of her body. She did this one [piece] called Lick and Lather where she took busts of her head (27 of them). Lather, was made of soap. She washed them away, every single one of them. Then the other one [Lick] she cast them [the busts] in chocolate and she licked away her own faces. So I don’t really know what that means conceptually compared to my work but it’s something like using your body like that to create work is really interesting to me - kind of like with the painting on my belly, it’s sort of like Yves Kline.

    JH: That’s totally what I thought of when I saw it.

    EB: So I think a lot of comparisons that, again, don’t really fit in conceptually, but using your body as a tool is neat to me.

    JH: Thinking about DC specifically, is there a place you like to go for inspiration or a place you like to hangout, like here [Hillyer]?

    EB: These performance nights are a great. It’s an awesome opportunity… I think DC is up and coming on these performance nights and I think people like that. People like to go to performance art, it’s like going to a play. And it’s nice for things like this where there are so many performance artists and you get to see a wide array. You can see all the different ways you can do performance art. Just like paintings, performance can be used in different ways.

    Where else do I go? I go to the movies a lot. I always feel inspired after I go to the movies. I also feel inspired after I leave IKEA. I don’t know why, yeah, I’m such a messy person, I know my house will never be that clean, so I try to take that energy and put it into something else.

    JH: I’m always fascinated by performance art versus the commercial market of art - you aren’t making an object to sell. How do you deal with that?

    EB: It is interesting; people would ask me that for the senior thesis because it stayed up so long. So if [someone] wanted to buy the banners I would obviously sell it to them or if they wanted to buy a video I would make a set of [them]. But it is hard because it’s not a pretty painting they can hang over their sofa. It’s really raw, it’s an experience. Performances are never as good taped as they are live, you know? And so it is a little bit more difficult. Performance artists could make a better living if more of these events happened - there is a Soap Box the third Thursday of every month.

    JH: Well, thank you so much!

    EB: Thank you!

    Bringing the Art in DC to You, 


  3. ArtSee’s Collection of Gallery Shows: April

    ArtSee hit the pavement this month and stopped by some of our favorite galleries to checkout the city’s latest and greatest exhibits. So here are our highlights and recommendations for your reading (and viewing) pleasure! 

    Gallery Plan B
    Current Exhibit: “dis donc!” paintings by Kathy Beynette is showing at Gallery Plan B April 11 through May 13, 2012.

    Highlights From the Show: Checkout the oil painting on canvas, “Armadillo Callaloo.” This piece, created in 2012, is priced at $4,500.

    A Little About the Artist: Beynette’s work, which is described as whimsical and playful, is a work of fictional poetry, reminiscent of vibrant folk drawings. Her work has been translated into both postcards and puzzles, and she is even in the process of creating a children’s book due out this fall. Beynette is a local artist, currently working out of her studio at the Torpedo Factory in Old Town Alexandria

    For more information on the exhibit and the artist, please visit http://www.galleryplanb.com/

    Current Exhibit: “Bread and Butter: Artistic Perspectives on Food and Culture” is showing at Transformer April 7 through May 9, 2012. Guest curator, Carolina Mayorga, and artists Chanan Delivuk, Sara Pomerance, Kari Scott and Shannon Young explore our relationship with food through installation, photography, sculpture, performance and more.

    Highlights From the Show: We loved “This is Not Cake” by Kari Scott, created in 2012. All pieces in the exhibit are very reasonably priced, with works starting at $150. 

    A Little About the Artists: This joint show is a first for all of the exhibiting artists at Transformer (Delivuk, Pomerance, Scott and Young). The artists bring together a collection of mixed medias (photography, installations, video, and sculpture art) in this interactive exhibit to discuss and question food: Is it really just food? Or is food symbolic of class and  identity?

    For more information on the exhibit and the artists, please visithttp://transformerdc.org/

    Long View Gallery
    Current Exhibit: “Urban Forest” by Michelle Peterson-Albandoz is showing April 12 through May 20, 2012 at Long View Gallery.

    Highlights From the Show: We loved Peterson-Albandoz’s “Urban Series # 8” on reclaimed wood. The piece sells for $3,350. We also adored the six large totems placed in the middle of the gallery – they make the space feel especially “reclaimed,” as they reconstruct a forest for the viewer. 

    A Little About the Artist: Peterson-Albandoz’s work is driven by nature, and is especially driven by a desire to shine light on the destructive relationship humans and technology have on nature. She uses others’ “trash” and turns it into “treasure” in her recreated wood and mixed media pieces. “Urban Forest” is the third solo show for Michelle Peterson-Albandoz since Long View Gallery’s re-opening in October of 2009.

    For more information on the exhibit and the artist, please visithttp://longviewgallery.com/

    Hillyer Art Space
    Current Exhibit: “Infinite Set 3” by Tomomi Nitta is showing April 6 through April 28, 2012 at Hillyer Art Space.

    Highlights From the Show: We loved all of Nitta’s pieces, but especially “Infinite Set 29” and “Infinite Set 30.” The artists’ installation depicts various female forms (all faceless yet cast in vibrant colors), floating in a space of nothingness.

    A Little About the Artist: Nitta was born in Nara, Japan and studied at University of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Corcoran College of Art and Design and Tama Art University in Tokyo Japan, where she received her BFA.

    For more information on the exhibit and the artist, please visithttp://www.artsandartists.org/hillyer.html

    Touchstone Gallery 
    Current Exhibit: “String Theory” by Elena Tchernomazova is showing April 4 through April 29, 2012 at Touchstone Gallery.

    Highlights From the Show: We loved “Sun Song.” This piece encompasses Tchernomazova’s inspiration from ancient Greek mythological traditions, as well as music.  

    A Little About the Artist: Tchernomazova is a Russian-born physicist. In particle physics, String Theory is a contender for a universal theory of everything. Tchernomazova works in white stoneware with varied under-glazes to create hand-built ceramics Her works often combines the human face or figure with architectural elements, musical instruments, and mythological or real animals.

    For more information on the exhibit and the artist, please visit http://www.touchstonegallery.com/

    Hamiltonian Gallery
    Current Exhibit: “Tropical Obsessions” by Jessica van Brakle and Joshua Wade Smith. Showing April 21 through May 18, 2012.

    Highlights From the Show:  We are especially fond of “Through the Bamboo,” created by Jessica van Brakle in 2012.  

    A Little About the Artists: Hamiltonian Fellows, Jessica van Brakle and Joshua Wade Smith, exhibit paintings, sculptures and installations in this exhibit that questions the human affects on nature, including landscapes, tropical foliage, water and islands. In addition to the exhibition, the artists will be hosting a talk on Thursday, May 17, 2012, at 7:00 p.m.

    For more information on the exhibit and the artists, please visit http://hamiltoniangallery.com/

    Photo Credit: Hamiltonian

    Studio Gallery

    Current Exhibit: “This Where You Are” by Elizabeth Harris is showing at Studio Gallery now through May 19, 2012. Joyce McCarten and Bud Hensgen are also exhibiting in the downstairs portion of the gallery.

    Highlights From the Show: We’re crazy about Harris’ ink and pastel on paper piece, “Lightness of Being,” as well as  “Desert Night,” an oil on canvas painting priced at $1,100.

    A Little About the Artist: This is McNeil Harris’ first solo show at Studio Gallery and it features some of her intensely emotional ink and pastel drawings. Harris’ work is minimalist, leaving the focus directly on the figures. She possesses a raw line style that exudes effortlessness with each stroke.

    McCarten is similar to Harris in her use of sketches and charcoal on paper. McCarten comments on women in contemporary life, and does so by giving them a mysterious presence. Years of outdoor landscape painting and figure drawing influences McCarten’s abstract work.

    In contrast, Hensgen uses bands of color to depict beauty in the simplest form. He layers acrylics, charcoals and oil pastels to create depth and build tension in color and form.  

    Bringing the Art in DC to You

    Rachel Nania

  4. Better Late Than Never: February Show Review

    On February 3 I ventured out for the usual First Friday openings.  The line-up for the night was set, starting with the preview of DC’s newest – Contemporary Wing.

    I was particularly looking forward to attending the preview for the Contemporary Wing show NEXT.  Although it was missing work from our fair city and featured artists mostly from Chicago and NYC, it is a wonderful parallel with the recently closed 30 Americans show at the Corcoran and it is always exciting when a new gallery opens its doors! Perfectly placed in the Shaw neighborhood, the physical space within this new gallery is fantastic, although still a little rough around the edges with no restroom yet…

    Although the strategically placed pile of combs, entitled Seven Layer Tangle by Sonya Clark, that stands as the signature piece of the show is pushed to the back room, you are immediately greeted with the sparkling works of Jayson Keeling.  My personal favorite, ROY G BIV a canvas covered in black glitter, was initially hard to decipher but after probing deeper you can see the colors of the rainbow clearly.  Keeling’s technique of slowing me down to actually see the connection between the title and the work itself certainly worked – BEAUTIFULLY!

    Since admittedly, I am always drawn to photography, Wyatt Gallery’s work in NEXT has to be mentioned. His work, from his series Tent Life: Haiti, is very powerful and curated perfectly to really dominate the space.  My personal favorite Blue Tent Interior, Airport Camp really brought me in with its bold blue colors and almost washes away the meaning and story behind the series.  Contemporary Wing is also selling Wyatt Gallery’s book of Tent Life: Haiti for just $40. Wyatt Gallery - Blue Tent Interior, Airport Camp

    After wrapping up at the exciting preview of NEXT, I headed across town to Dupont for the real First Friday openings at the Hillyer and Studio Gallery.  To say that they were crowded with people would be an understatement, which makes for a great win in the art world!  The highlight for me at the Hillyer Art Space was again photography by David Myers.     His work will be up through February in the front gallery space at Hillyer.  Myers work creates a documentary of his experiences and surroundings, many depicting animals.  A must see!

    Ending my tour de Dupont on Friday I stopped in to the Studio Gallery and this time it was not photography that caught my attention but rather the sculptures of Trish Palasik’s Moments: Taking Shape.  Her Degas-esque work Ballerina is truly stunning and puts a modern look on a timeless beauty. 

    Overall, all three galleries are a must see this month and I look forward to seeing more from these artists.

    Bringing the Art in DC to You,


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"Bringing the Art in DC to You." Art lovers dedicated to giving you the who, what, where and when in your local arts scene.