Friday, August 31, 2007

No Scratchers Exhibit Update

On a Saturday night in January 2007, a new Metropolitan DC gallery opened its doors in the Anacostia area. In its inaugural show, promo, and soft opening, The Honfleur Gallery hosted an exhibit entitled "No Scratchers." No Scratchers was an informal exhibition highlighting works of art created by D.C. tattoo artists. The show was curated by Imani Brown (tattooer, artist, and photographer). Lenny Campello (noted DC arts celebrity) also donated some of his works.

No Scratchers was a great success, drawing in approximately 250 - 300 people. The gallery sold four pieces of work by Renee Woodward (currently represented at NPR's Jackie Lyden did a segment on the exhibit. Gallery Associate Director Amy Cavanaugh commented that the show seemed so cutting edge for DC, and that in another locale, it would have been more mainstream. It's possible that in DC, the art world is a little less adventurous and more controlled.

The majority of No Scratchers artists were tattoo artists. In general, they seemed to love the publicity and the exhibit. No merger of this sort is without its obstacles. There may be a bit of adjustment needed in reconciling value differences between the sometimes legalistic and mechanical operations of a gallery versus the free-spirited, non-conventional artistry and creativity of many ink slingers. Despite the show's success, the gallery reported minor frustrations in challenges they encountered in various logistics and paperwork.

"No Scratchers" is derived from the term "scratching," - code for tattoo artists who do bad work. No bad work was found amidst the 60 pieces including photos, paintings, mixed-media works, and sculptures featuring the tattoo culture as the theme. Ms. Brown is currently associated with Pinz-n-Needlez (, a local tattoo parlor, and credits Andrea Hope with this show photo.

Brown says to her, scratchers are those that do less than top quality work, are not focused on the art perspective, and tattoo only for the money. Brown says a tattoo artist has one chance to advise the client, create the best piece, and get it right the first time. Since the show, she states she has had a lot of positive feedback with many awaiting the next exhibition.

Honfleur is located at 1241 Good Hope Road SE, in historic Anacostia. To make an appointment to view the spaces, contact or call (202) 889-5000 x 113. One of Honfleur's more notable goals is to raise money for more arts programming for youth in the area.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Baltimore Antique Show - Opening Day

Today was opening day at the Baltimore Antique Show which runs through the weekend. The Convention Center is again hosting a gaggle of galleries and dealers; noticeably this year are several from London. This is my third year attending the show. I found the line at the door much shorter, the food service slightly improved, and the air conditioning more manageable.

Other than some stunning very large floor mirrors, a $60,000 fun antique casino-type gaming piece, and remarkably breath-taking silver, the show is sadly predictable. Oh you'll find your antiquarian books, your jewelry galore, and your historic pieces (be sure to check out the gun canes and the chandeliers) ... but if you've been attending these shows as I have, it all becomes standard fare (except perhaps for the lovely display by New York's China Gallery or the ancient wood block reliefs also from China.)

Standard fare too are the often highly marked up prices. I saw a piece earlier this year at the Big DC Flea Market with today's tag more than triple the asking price - so shop around! The range of art is a bit impressive, however I'm talking about the artistry in apparel of the wanna-be-wealthy-posers. Pink Ralph Lauren pants and black leather dress shoes sported by a very tan romance novel hero were outdone only by the tall blonde Barbie with the brown bareback cocktail dress. Excuse me, I didn't know we were having drinks on Thursday at noon. Ahem. Bring comfortable shoes; the concrete floor is brutal. And carry lots of dough; my parking, entrance fee, and lunch alone killed a $50.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Creativity Lull? Revisit the Masters

Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way encourages artists to write three journal pages each day as an exercise in discipline, free thinking, and cathartic clearing. The exercise also serves as an idea bank for future creative lulls.

If you are experiencing creative blocks, another technique is to spend time looking at art you might not normally view. Google links to several Art-A-Day or Painting-A-Day sites and many of them can be sent right to your email. Since I prefer Outdoor Art (Art Brut), I like revisiting the Masters as counter balance. Here are examples of some of the greatest works of western civilization. When's the last time you took a look?

1. The Golden Mask of King Tutankhamen

2. Parthenon Sculptures

3. Scythian Gold Pectoral

4. Nicholas of Verdun's Enameled Altar

5. Grotto's Arena Chapel

6. van Eyck's Ghent Altarpiece

7. Leonardo's Mona Lisa

8. Michelangelo's David

9. Grunewald's Isenheim Altar

10. El Greco's Burial of Count Orgaz (pictured)

11. Velazquez's Las Meninas

12. Rembrant's Return of the Prodigal Son

13. Renoir's Luncheon of the Boating Party (at The Phillips Collection)

14. Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon

You may also want to spend a lunch hour or two with the likes of: Leonardo da Vinci; Albrecht Durer; Caravaggio; Rubens; or Lysippus. The combined artists make the short list of some of the most interesting craftsmen - it won't be long until your name is on there too!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Collecting 101: Surviving Your 1st BIG Art Show

It was 2002 when I made my way to New York's Javits Convention Center to participate in my very first International Art & Frame Expo. Back then, wall displays were all in black (so was all the clothing). Times, they are a changing!

There's a science to collecting, and no shortage of twists and turns along the discovery. If you're just beginning, I like to recommend attending at least one of the Top Ten Big Art Shows as a quick and dirty learning and filtering experience. Without a doubt, as you get some art fair mileage under your shoe soles, you'll have a more discerning eye to the devil in the detail. First, let's survive the Big Show.

1. Walk and Bring a Pal. Walk through the entire show noting your first impressions. Look for items that are striking in their visual impact. Ask your pal for feedback. Notate the display location on the back of business cards (or mark it on the show map). Listen to the pitch. Watch others in the vicinity. I like to work from the back of the show forward to the door. Many shows are partitioned by venue. You may wish to select three to five genres you think you'd like to see. Many shows also highlight a particular artist or style, do make it a point to visit these high-traffic showcases to compare what's "hot" with what's "not." Feel the energy.

2. Walk Some More. Return to booths you noted earlier. Listen, talk, linger. Does the visual impact of the piece you're admiring increase? Does the work express what its intending? Does it grow in stature? Does it continually mature? Can the gallery recommend artists with similar styles? Ask questions. Check the price. Scrunch up your nose and walk away. View the piece from a distance. View the piece close up. Take three breaths to center yourself. What are you thinking? What does the piece represent to you?

3. Rest. I can't overstress the important of taking breaks. Go outside. Get a coffee. Take off your shoes. Talk to someone about something OTHER than art. Gripe a little (it clears the negative brain drain). Laugh a little (it produces endorphins). Compare notes with said pal. Lounge, close your eyes, and regroup. If there are art lectures or special symposia, attend an afternoon session. Big Art Shows can have a way of bringing out both the worst and the best in people. If you saw pieces you liked, but disliked the manner of the display, or the manner of the marketing, remember that many FINE galleries with FINE works can be viewed back at home over the Internet in a much less hectic environment. Also, know this. Big Art Show energy in the afternoon/late evening is generally much more relaxed.

4. Go Back (I know your feet are killing you!). By this time, you'll have a short list of the items, artists, styles, or materials you really like. You may even be hungry for more detailed information. Go back to the booth and see if the piece amazes you in a different way each time you view it. That winter in rainy New York, I recall seeing an enormous Japanese silk painting featuring a pink peacock. The first time, I wanted to purchase on sight - no questions asked. The second time, I noted the lush green forest surrounding the peacock (wait, do peacocks live in forests?) I took a picture with the artist, standing there smiling with polaroid in hand. Returning to the piece a third time, I realized that silly bird was really the only thing in the whole work that had stood out! A whole wall for a two inch bird?

5. Is it unforgettable? Pieces you consider for purchase to your permanent collection should present to you the power of mystery, the power of discovery. As important, is the question of whether the work is any good? A sad fact about Big Art Shows is along with fantastic finds, there are also finds less so. Most collectors want their collection to grow. And grow means lots of different things to various people. Is it any good, is it unforgettable, will it help my collection grow? Here's where your after-show follow up, research, and information will really pay off for the NEXT show.

Listen, there's more than one type of collector and more than one way to build a living legacy. Some of us buy for pure emotion, others buy for cost, others for provenance, and others for sizzle. Some buy for content, some for quality, some for quantity. Some buy for size, some for genre, some for fame of the artist, others for potential fame, and still others because they knew the artist in third grade. Whether the work is any good is a series of decisions only you can make after balancing a myriad of facts. I'll never forget the time I saw a real-live-honest-to-goodness Howard Finster (it was at the Outsider Arts Fair years later in New York's Armory). I STILL kick myself for not purchasing it. Sometimes you just have to buy on impulse, and in those cases, you'll be happy to have said pal to either encourage or roll their eyes at you.

The key to surviving your first Big Art Show is this. Before you get to a YES, there's going to be an awful lot of NOs. Remember, there's no big rush. There's plenty more coming right behind this show. It takes several show venues (and preferably in different geographic areas) to really get a feel for how things should go. And I try to remember it's the entire experience I'm buying. The experience of the magical find, the careful consideration, and hopefully, the final acquisition.

Gold: Luminosity, Luxury, and Lift

A little over two years ago, Irene Winter, Professor of Fine Arts at Harvard University, gave a talk on the ancient Assyrian site Nimrud and the Queen's ornate crown at the National Gallery. Winter spoke in exacting detail about the aesthetics of radiance, Summarian burial practices, the politics of acquisition, and practices stemming out of antiquities legislation all in connection with her life's work in art and archaeology.

I am not certain why, but what stuck with me was the gold and its immutable nature. I remember viewing slides of gold used over ivory, gold clustered stars, gold appearing as textiles, gold earrings and armlets worn by men, gold bracelets inlaid with turquoise and lapis, gold rosettes, Christian ornamentation and halos, and yes - gold Buddahs.

When you think about it, gold has a certain aura, a living vitality, a shimmering light. It's power, heat, shine, and luster. It's the golden calf, the representation of the sun, the great dome in Jerusalem. Gold is radiance, luminosity, emanating, strong, and durable. It's a strong cultural response. It's a visual andneurobiological reaction that grabs the eye and stimulates pleasure. Gold manifests outwardly, reflecting inner nature.

A high-end experience, gold is - and that's why I love it. It's vitality, auspiciousness, allure, and beauty. It's seductive, compelling, lovely, splendorous, and glorious. This malleable mineral, while today being expensive, also denoted money and wealth in its own accord all those years ago. It can be considered somewhat controversial. A thinking man has to ask what's the morality of luxurious acquisition and excess in a world of demise and suffering?

But to the artist, gold is greed and need. Who among us is satiated with only one hit of Klimt's gold foil, leaf, and paint? No. No. No. We need gold's lift again and again. Give us hearts of gold. Let us hold ourselves to the gold standard. Award us all the gold medal for courage in creating. Let us all live on the gold coast or by the golden rule (if we so choose). Please protect us all from the nasty gold diggers and let every art lover come across their very own golden opportunity. The luxury of a luminous lift.

Art Auctions: Sample Bidder Contract

Before you attend an auction of art masterpieces (Right. That's you and your millions I mean), you'll want to familiarize yourself with common auction terms - also known as a Bidder's Contract. Be advised that many large auction houses (e.g. Christies, Sotheby's, Bonham's, and Skinner) have their own rules and regs. In future articles, I'll share some winning auction strategies to outbid, outwit, outsmart, and outlast your competition.

A Bidder's Contract is entered into between the Bidder named and signed and the Auctioneers. A Bidder agrees that the terms shall govern the auction. Terms are often posted or announced from the auction block and are just as binding. Follow these simple steps: take a seat close to the auction block (you can visually inspect the items, hear the auctioneer better, and you're normally nearer to a doorway); pace yourself (many high quality items are saved until auction end when anxious buyers are tapped out financially or physically); read and review any available catalogues or descriptions; and have a blast!

1. Full Payment. All items must be paid for in full before Bidder leaves the premises. Nothing may be removed until it is settled for. Payments for purchases are normally made by cash, cashier's check, personal check, or business check when the Auctioneers allow. Letters of Credit or Guarantee must be for the current auction only, along with proof of identity. All sales are subject to State Tax laws. The Bidder agrees not to stop payment on checks or disallow a sight draft and is responsible for any expenses due to bad check collections. In the event of non-payment, the Auctioneers have the right to repossess, at any time, at your location, the merchandise.

2. No Warranty. All items are sold AS IS without any guarantee of any kind. Item descriptions appearing in advertising prior to an auction are believed to be correct. Descriptions, and/or oral statements made by an owner, his agents, officers, or Auctioneers, concerning any item shall not be construed as a warranty, either expressed or implied. The Bidder certifies that the merchandise has been examined and that the Bidder accepts it AS IS.

3. Disputes. Auctioneers designate the winning Bidder after each item is sold. When a dispute arises between two or more Bidders, the Auctioneer has the right to reopen the bidding. The Auctioneers' designation of a final buyer is normally considered final.

4. Buyers' Responsibility. When a Bidder has won the high bid, they become the new owners of an item, even though they may not have paid for it yet. The item becomes the full and sole responsibility of a Buyer and the Buyer assumes all risk of loss and damage. Buyers should guard their items.

5. Injury and Damage. The Bidder acknowledges responsibility for any personal injury or property damage caused by Bidder or his agent. The Buyer holds the Auctioneer harmless from any personal injury to himself or any property damage incurred on the premises.

6. Agents Only. The Auctioneer acts as the Owners Agent Only.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Why Artists & Art Institutions Should Care About Preparedness

September marks the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's National Preparedness Month (NPM).

The goal of NPM is to increase public awareness about the importance of emergency planning. Simple steps include: obtaining an emergency supply kit; establishing a home or work emergency plan; understanding potential threats; and assisting in community preparation efforts.

The NPM's Coalition membership is comprised of a host of regional, state, and local organizations including Wal-Mart Stores, Target, The Home Depot, American Red Cross, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and Environmental Protection Agency. You can learn more, view instructional videos, obtain sample marketing materials, and get great ideas at

Make time and take time as a gift to yourself or your institution to step away from the daily drive to produce art, market art, attend fairs, submit art to competitions, etc. Do you have an emergency plan? I mean, really? Your art, your studio supplies, your client's work, your years of curating records, or your gallery's lifeblood are all simply irreplaceable. Beyond recognizing the immediate impact of a disaster, let's also celebrate the tremendous opportunity to help the community of our art world before one strikes.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Brentwood Arts Center - MD Studio Rentals

The Brentwood Arts Center, 3901 Rhode Island Ave., Brentwood, MD (one mile north of the District Line) will contain working space for 10-15 artists with studios in the 300-2,000 sf range. Refurbished warehouse with new air, heat, tall ceilings, rough cement floors, small common area, kitchenette, loading dock and outstanding natural light. Spaces are suitable for visual artists, jewelers, ceramicists, and woodworkers. All disciplines will be considered.

This is an excellent location for artists who teach. Studios will be large enough to conduct classes. Prince George's Park and Planning Department will run a gallery and classroom space on the first floor. (Tenants will be able to rent the Park and Planning classroom.) The Brentwood Art Center is a project of Gateway CDC, a nonprofit dedicated to creating a variety of live/work opportunities for local artists. This facility is designed to provide affordable, stable commercial space to artists. Spaces are available now. Ready for occupancy by October 30, 2007. Shown by appointment. Call John: 301-864-3860 ext. 3

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Master Works Challenge Reception: Saturday, August 25th

A Master Works Challenge and Artist Reception will be held Saturday, August 25, 2007, 6:00 - 9:00 p.m at the Overdue Recognition Art Gallery, 6816 RaceTrack Road, Bowie, Maryland.

The event culminates an opportunity for both new and established artists to show their works and compete for a private reception. The challenge ran from June 23 - July 28, 2007 and each artist produced works within the time constraints. Participants include: Pamela Hilliard; Karen Y. Buster; Larry "Poncho" Brown; James Redd; Deborah A. Shedrick; James Murphy; Yolanda Redd; and Larry O. Brown.

Overdue Recognition owners, Jackie and Derrick Thompson, along with Authentic Art Consulting curator Sharon Burton, will jury the show and decide which of the talented artists will receive a gallery showcasing at Overdue Recognition Art Gallery this late fall.

Ms. Thompson stated, "I'm very excited about the show. It has always been a goal of ours to give new artists a venue to show their work, and we're hoping to make this an annual event." For more information, contact Overdue Recognition Gallery at 1-866-726-8642, or (301) 805-8812 or

A Woman's Story Gallery: Artist Business Class

Could you use some artist business training? Empowered Women International will hold classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays from September 4 to October 16, 6:30-9:00 pm at EWI - A Woman's Story Gallery, 1307 King St., Alexandria, VA 22314. EWI invites talented immigrant women artists, arts educators, and women who want to open arts businesses to participate.

Complete the online application at, or email Sharmila at Cost is $175 ($150/training fee, $25/artist membership) payable by check to the gallery's address. Need based applications may be considered for scholarships. Application deadline: August 31, 2007.

The class is an introduction to artist entrepreneurship, confidence building, and business skill enhancement. It will present practical resources and information to assist artists in their chosen paths. At course completion, artists will have the starting tools for a professional portfolio and a personal marketing plan. They will also participate in a juried exhibition and graduation in October 2007. (Photo credit

Jackie Hoysted: Psychology of Smoking & Quitting Project


Jackie Hoysted ( is a Maryland artist exploring the psychology of smoking and quitting. She smoked for over 20 years and has been smoke-free since July 9, 2007. Her blog at ( posts her smoking related art and writings on how her "quit" is going.

In an effort to chronicle her journey, Hoysted began an art project designed to enlist others in the shared experience of "the last cigarette." She sent a call to the public. Smokers could participate in the project by mailing their Last Cigarettes along with their plan to quit. She hoped to immortalize the effort in a work of art.

For example, Jackie recently completed an image entitled Destruction. It is a collage of burnt watercolor paper soaked in cigarette butts and sprayed with nicotine “dye” (i.e. cigarette butts soaked in water over a few weeks). She had planned to continue i,n this vein for a while - as she found it both therapeutic and disgusting. Jackie is currently exhibiting at: 9x10 WPA/C Member Show, William Parker Gallery, DC, Aug 17 - Sep 15; and DCAC Wall Mountables, Washington DC., July - Sept. 2007.

What happened though, was that Hoysted found it very difficult to get "last cigarettes" because smokers find it too hard to part with them even when they have made the commitment to stop smoking. She's resigned herself to the probability that it would be easier to get cigarettes of people who are not trying to stop.

Hoysted's exhibits earlier this year included: Delaplaine Arts Center, Frederick, Regional juried show, June 2-July 22; Glenview Mansion, Rockville Art League juried show, May 6-28, 2007; Corcoran College of Art & Design, Washington DC., May 9-27, 2007; Artomatic 2007, 2121 Crystal Drive, Arlington, VA April - May 20; and a solo show, Gaithersburg City Hall, MD, juried. Feb/Mar - 2007.

If you can't part with your pack, send a postcard or photos with your thoughts/story on smoking; Jackie will endeavor to include them all in a handmade book. For details go to:

Monday, August 20, 2007

Henna, Bindi & Mehndi Artists

I was researching contemporary tattoo designs. Frankly, the resurgence in popularity of ink and ink reality shows ("Miami Ink" and "L.A. Ink") has me completely hooked. So much so, I recently read The Electric Michelangelo [about a Coney Island tattoo artist and his experiences in growing his own practice]. Being slightly cautious about permanent body work, Google hits for "temporary tattoos" led me to some pretty unexpected yet fantastic henna work; but don't ask me how to get there from here.

Who knew in some circles, traditional bridal henna with its intricate designs from various regions IS considered akin to the ancient tattoo world? Or did you know in some customs, a bride has the groom's initials applied within the design to add mystery and discovery joys to the wedding night? Henna designs are also used in various celebrations and in pregnancy.

Henna kits, powders, pastes, and embellishments are serious business. A national directory of henna artists and international certification programs exists. One doesn't want to be drawn in by the perils of incorrectly sourced black henna. Ever curious, I started wondering just who in the metropolitan DC region even DOES henna and why haven't I seen more of it as an art concentration? Within five minutes, ten local sites of amazing henna artists were found, even if some do refer to themselves as "body artists" or "facepainters." Catherine Cartwright Jones has one of the most informative and exclusively researched henna sites at The image here is credited to Daniel Lorden.

Carolyn Witschonke: I Call Myself An Artist

Interview: February 2007
1. You graduated from Marymount College with a BA in French language and literature. Your MA is from Central Connecticut State University in French poetry, and then you went on to earn a BFA from Corcoran College of Art and Design. Recently, you've stated art that is your passion; a very good friend that never leaves. Tell us about the juxtaposition of continuing education, French literature, fine art, friendship, printmaking, and painting.
Witschonke: All these aspects of my life led me to who I am today and to what I choose to express through art. Languages and how words are used to express ideas can be a parallel art form, not just a means of communication. For me, whatever medium I choose to use becomes a vocabulary of expression and communication. Just as I use languages to explore meaning and expression, I use painting, printmaking, and encaustic to visually explore and express meaning. Art has been my friend since I can remember. It has taught me things I needed to know and consoled me at times when a constant friend was needed.
2. Can you speak to the challenges and the rewards of being a full-time freelance artist? How do you divide your time between making art and selling art?
Witschonke: Being a studio artist is what I have chosen to do full time. It takes lots of time and the monetary rewards are minimal compared to the efforts put forth, but I get to do something I really love. I work in my painting studio in Arlington, or in Printmakers Inc. at the Torpedo Factory Art Center in Alexandria. I rarely sell my work myself; I prefer to use galleries or art spaces. This allows me maximum studio time. Doing this of course means usually paying large commissions to the selling agent but then I don’t have to do both jobs. I do have a website at
3. Being fairly well-traveled and having lived in Germany with adventures throughout Europe, what are some of the subtler ways travel, journey, location, and exposure to European masters helped shape your current work?
Witschonke: My European experiences directly influenced my art, especially printmaking. In my earlier work, the European style of painting and aesthetic is, I believe, evident. Vermeer and Degas especially influenced me. Seeing the various cultures and how people and their mores ultimately manifested into the art and culture of the times influences me even today. The history, myths, and traditions all contribute to my ideas and what I choose to do in my artistic expression.
4. As an oil painter and print maker, your recent work focuses on interconnectivity, choice making, and universality of humanity. How do you best bridge the gap between the artist's vision and communicating that vision for juries, competitions, award venues, and the general public?
Witschonke: In my latest show in the Solo Artist Gallery in the Art League, this very subject was its content. With a title and brief artist statement I like to introduce the viewer to my concept. After that, I hope the viewers’ own experiences will enable them to interpret and appreciate my efforts. In creating this series, I was careful to choose materials, and in most cases, colors that have significance enough to support and express my ideas.
5. What major differences do you find between exhibiting in '00 at the Newport Museum of Art in Newport, RI; the '98 - '99 show at the Resurgum Gallery in Baltimore; and the '00 exhibition in the Bridge Gallery of Dublin, Ireland?
Witschonke: As far as exhibiting in these venues, mainly the logistics presented the most challenges - particularly shipping... very practical aspects.
6. When you call to mind the great printmakers throughout time, who most inspires you? Of living artists in the DC area today, who do you expect to see rapidly rise in the art world?
Witschonke: The printmaker that has most inspired me is Jim Dine. As for DC, there are so many fine artists who don’t get much recognition because they are not well known.
7. Your collections span the Library of Congress, The National Institute of Health, and the Philip Morris Companies (quite divergent enterprises). What responsibilities do artists have in monitoring where, when, and how work is exhibited and to what end their personal ideology allows for commercialism?
Witschonke: If my art is purchased for a collection and is bought for its own sake I don’t discriminate buyers. As far as doing commission work directly related to a cause or enterprise, it is up to the individual artist to decide.
8. Can you tell us a little about growing up in the small town of Litchfield, Connecticut, and your journey to becoming an artist (how you shifted to art, when you knew you wanted to "art," how it was sharing that vision with family, how it's been to realize the vision, what you're looking to accomplish in ‘07)?
Witschonke: I’ve been lucky. Even though I loved art and did art sporadically as a child, the fine arts were not encouraged as a profession. I studied violin for many years but when it came time to make a career decision, I chose teaching with the concentration in French. I had many youthful and idealistic ambitions. I married at 23 and moved to Germany. Inspired by the setting the need to do art resurfaced. Through the years as a military wife I was able to take many art classes, travel, and visit museums until I ultimately earned a BFA from the Corcoran College of Art and Design. Even though my parents did not support art as a career choice, they were artistic and creative people. Both of my sisters are artistic as well; one works with textiles, weaving and quilting and the other is a painter. It is wonderful to have them to share my art with. My husband has been very supportive of me, especially on two pivotal occasions, the first when I decided to abandon my teaching and concentrate on art and the second when I wanted to attend art school full time and earn a degree. For 2007 I will continue to expand the Passages series as well as print and continue a series in encaustic; From Line to Shape.
9. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec is credited with having said, "You come to nature with all her theories, and she knocks them all flat." Can you speak to your interpretation or experience with this theme?
Witschonke: Ah, nature, the wonders of it. The inconsistencies of it supply us with its mysteries and keep us intrigued and guessing.
10. Your love for nature, trees, and flowers, using a variety of mediums and techniques, is well catalogued in your works. It is true today there are a variety of opinions about the reality and the growing concern of global warming, environmental health, and the necessity to save mother Earth. Do you view your work as chronicles of these politics, and if so, how? What differences would you like to effect?
Witschonke: My work is not political. The environment is extremely important to me but does not constitute political commentary in my work. My love of nature comes from more of a spiritual and philosophical basis.
11. Carolyn, what new or inventive art related non-profits are you involved in? We are always interested in highlighting causes using art to achieve goals. Lastly, if you could be director of the National Gallery (or other DC National Museum) for one day - what immediate change(s) would you implement? If you couldn't create art, what would you do instead?
Witschonke: I am not directly involved in any innovative non-profits. Printmakers Inc is my closest involvement. Participating with this group at the Torpedo Factory enables me to make myself directly available to the public, informing them about original printmaking processes and art. Having children’s groups and tours are especially rewarding. Many schools are limiting students’ exposure to art and this is an exciting way to stimulate their interest. I really don’t know anything about running a museum so I wouldn’t be able to make a productive change. If I couldn’t create art... hmmm... I am not sure that’s possible!

Tatyana Schremko: The Target Gallery @ The Torpedo Factory

One of the great things we love about the Torpedo Factory is the Target Gallery located in the back room exhibit space. This afternoon, after admiring some black and white photographs, etchings, and other hanging media works by art students, we came upon Tatyana Schremko's "Echo in the Forest." Alien, spooky, inviting, and centering all at the same time, Schremko's lindenwood sculptures are five elongated and figurative works set facing each other amidst watchful, mounted paper reliefs. Lindenwood has incredible natural beauty, especially when buffed and properly preserved, the circular aged wood rings suddenly take on the form of movement, clothing, or cellular unity. It's easy to understand Schremko's desire to elongate and simplify the shapes of these five beings, strikingly feminine, strikingly knowing, yet all at once receptive. Schremko seems to be looking at spirits in a wooded setting; she's exploring light, sound, and shadows moving whisperingly in community. The piece entitled "Tango" especially exemplifies and personifies this mystical feel as the base is carefully spooned out to mirror arched back skeletal form. In the base, do we see legs, a flowing gown, a mermaid's fins, tree roots, or something more? Definitely the feel of movement, wisdom, the roughness of bark, and the beauty within all trees, all nature, all women, all beings. It came as a jolt though, to learn that Schremko also equates the works with the plight of women in countries plagued by war. Oh no. This is another feeling entirely. We took a few minutes, shifted into the anti-war mode, and looked again. We moved into the epicenter of the circular mass and stood. Stood still for a long time. Listened. Waited. (Hey, are these things SAYING something?) There was something oppressing, something ever present, a gaunt thin starved woman moving on the road perhaps. Traveling. For a long time. Years of resigned pain, yet compelling from every angle. So it was a bit difficult to reconcile these two themes - forest people and war - their commonality and their opposition, and perhaps it is just this Schremko is successfully exploring. Opposition. No true Art Addict ever devalues art or the time, money, strength, and fortitude it takes to MAKE art. So, we sauntered on over to the price list. Shremko will take in $36,500 if each sculpture is to decide which one....and how to reconcile the pricing with the theme of war plagued individuals....couldn't our $7,500 for one statue go to a more direct relief cause, if in fact this is at the core of Shremko's expression? But we digress. The display is haunting. I suspect the photos in Schremko's portfolio don't do near the justice she deserves for the incredible physical effort she must have expended. Ever try moving a 7'3" hunk of work (see "Shadow")? Our only other criticisms center around the base panels (uninspired), the absence of any visual effect in the center of the circle (leaves or water maybe?), and the absence of any of Schremko's bronzed pieces (we wanted to cry). Kudos to Gregory R. Staley for a gorgeous promo card photo. Prayerful is our final analysis. Schremko's show runs 10/5 - 11/6. Go see it, you'll be in a light fog for a few hours after.

Gennady Spirin: Elizabeth Stone Gallery

In her second floor cottage studio, the generous, affable, and knowledgeable Elizabeth Stone shared the wonders and challenges of showcasing the fine art of children's book illustration. One of four preeminent galleries for children's illustration in the country, Stone enjoys a recent Alexandria nomination for Best New Business and will celebrate her one year anniversary in January. Her experience with enlarged installation art not only provides a backdrop for her collaboration with children's illustrators, but also for her savvy with the refined corporate tastes of Morgan Stanley New York Presbyterian Hospital, the Inova Fairfax Hospital for Children, and a host of non-profit volunteer fundraising events. Stone's gallery is a thoughtful mix of part showroom space and part children's alcove, able to meet the needs of every wallet. Her sweetly small but well-lit space on King Street now contains unique original art, signed limited editions, prints, posters, and children's books of more than 100 internationally known illustrators. Prior to becoming a gallery owner in Michigan, Stone began collecting while working as a children's librarian in a private school. Out of her pure love of the art, her sincere enjoyment at seeing children's minds engaged when words meet illustration, Stone recognized the need for a place to display discerning, specialized, and imaginative work. Within three years, she had acquired 22 original pieces. Although now she sees the work primarily as fine art, Stone seems somewhat bemused that often people entering her gallery do not fully realize the beauty and application of children's illustration. For example, the renowned work of illustrator Gennady Spirin (currently showing) retails absolutely incredible once-in-a-lifetime watercolors ranging from $1,000 - $60,000. Luckily, you can see the show free until October 28, but hang on tight, because you will want to buy!Stone is quietly happy to teach how Spirin's work intuitively combines traditional Russian contemporary art techniques with a Renaissance feel. Spirin's highly spirited fantasy characters appear amidst lovely, lush, multi-layered detailed environments. A master illustrator, Spirin's created more than 40 children's illustrated books - many of his contributions having received noted and acclaimed awards. Original watercolors from storybooks are found in name-dropping private, corporate, and university settings, largely because Spirin finds that literature for children provides an ideal framework where a rich expression of imagination can come to life. He breathes into this life a mix of opulent yet translucent watercolor palettes in immensely detailed works. You may have already seen his recently commissioned piece of flying books over the Washington Monument for the promotion of the 2006 Library of Congress & Laura Bush National Book Festival. Spirin, born near Moscow on December 25, 1948, now lives in New Jersey with his wife and three sons. All is right in the world when an artist born on Christmas Day feels an overwhelming duty to paint in the spirit these rich and deeply immense biblical passages, all with an unmistakable reverence for the BIG GUY. In "Joy To The World," "Nutcracker," "Easter Story," and "Christmas Story," Spirin proves he is the ONE illustrator you'd want for any religious depiction, any day, any place. Although Stone effuses enthusiasm at Spirin's recent works with Julie Andrews and Madonna, it's not the fame wave ride that captured us at all. No, we found the heart of the illustrator within a quiet corner in less prominent pieces like: "Moses The Long Road to Freedom," "The Story of Noah and the Ark," and "Joy to the World" (bookcover, watercolor, retail $12,000). Here, there's a sense of greater meaning, intricate purpose, and true artist immersion. If only I could tell you. But what we really loved (and I mean wanted-to-post-it-on-billboards-in-Times-Square loved) were the wondrous treasures in smaller works depicting the seven plaques. "Snakes," "Toady," and "Cloud of Cicadas," will leave you feeling as if you lived through these torments, you're oh so very sorry for it, and you'll never sin again. Whether you're a environmentalist, a creepy-crawly lover, or a true blue religious scholar, you'll awe at the detail, oh the detail.Overall, it's a fine juxtaposition. Fine art children's book illustration, a respectful collaboration between master illustrator and gallery owner, themes involving the holidays, stories from the bible, all embedded within a delightful, promising, childlike October day. If there's someone small who is truly special in your life, if you are thinking of a loved heirloom gift for generations to come, or if you are a connoisseur of fine specialized art, Stone's gallery is truly a radiant ruby and Spirin's work is the diamond on both sides.

Annie Leibovitz: Politics and Prose

The good folks over at Politics and Prose Bookstore in northwest DC ( had us packed in like sweltering sardines on October 16, 2006. The standing room only crowd gathered for one of the store’s most exciting author events ever. You never knew so many people could fit into such a cramped space without the fire department rushing in, but none of us cared very much. We were all there (some of us up to three hours early) to stake out our own personal square footage just to see, hear, and be in the same room as American born celebrity photographer and portrait artist Annie Leibovitz. A popular culturist and a modernist, Ms. Leibovitz (born Anna-Lou), was honored in 1991 with a major exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. Her work has received major acclaim and criticism centering around her concentration on celebrities, a practice she's continued since her early success with Rolling Stone Magazine. Ms. Leibovitz read for about a half an hour from her new, highly praised retrospective entitled, “A Photographer’s Life.” (Available through The retrospective is a collection of work from 1990 – 2005. It is inspired in part, due to the death of Annie’s long time companion, Susan Sontag, and the death of Leibovitz’s father a mere few weeks following. Both black and white and color images span personality novelties of the rich and famous to more personal and intimate relational works on the author’s family. Of particular note is a photograph of Ms. Leibovitz’s mother in her late seventies, one the photographer loves because of its authenticity and its absence of pretension. Ms. Leibovitz appeared unpretentiously to be in a mixed state of joy over her young children (she gave birth to her first daughter at the age of 51 and was 8 ½ months pregnant during September 11, 2001), while at the same time also fighting the clutches of resigned and unrelenting grieving. She bares her soul and describes her experience as being not primarily that of a photographer, but rather one as an observer of life. Most interesting were her perspectives on the effect of engaging a subject in conversation prior to taking a photo. Leibovitz says no matter what you say to a person, it changes their face, changes their emotion, and changes the expression in the eyes. This is one of the reasons she most prefers unstaged and unposed photography. She’s searching for who the person is – what’s their statement. When asked by aspiring photographers what the key to a successful life in photography is, she quips, “Stay close to home.” So it seems the retrospective may be asking – who, where and what is home – does the definition of home change as people die – is home within – and can you find your home through Leibovitz’s expression and years of work?

Washington Post Boon For DC Blogs

On Tuesday, January 9, 2007, The Washington Post hosted a catered symposium entitled Blogging Unplugged. Nearly 100 DC area bloggers who are currently writing about sports, entertainment, politics, and other local happenings attended.The symposium included three sessions:(1) Discussion by executive writers of The Post and The on establishing collaborative exchange processes between bloggers and the paper;(2) Mini-lecture on Legal Issues in Blogging, led by Attorney Jonathan Hart from Dow Lohnes, a Washington, DC law firm. (Hart's clients include The Online News Association (; and(3) Open idea exchange on The Post’s plans for increased visibility for local bloggers.Event highlights included a demonstration of WAPO’s online prototype. With development, it will establish a DC Blog roll - a set of directories pointing print and online readers to area blogs. The lecture on defamation and libel issues illustrated various protections afforded by the Communications Decency Act of 1996. Warnings and legal advice were provided on the risks bloggers (and Web editors – and for that matter, all writers) must consider in expressing fact versus opinion. For expert counsel on these topics, please see Internet Law: A Field Guide, available at most interest to DC art-focused web writers is The Post’s desire to highlight, demonstrate, and educate the public on the variety of information available in online portals – particularly in those areas The Post traditionally affords less than adequate coverage (e.g., Southeast development, Nationals fans, and…ART!!). Future possibilities include allowing the public to vote on favorite sites or blogs, showcasing guest editors, attaching local advertising to sites, and building searchable databases by keywords and/or locations. Imagine a future where the Bethesda, U-Street, and Del Ray arts communities are inter- and intra-related online through a central news organization! Watch The Post or this site for further developments.These and other creative ideas were supported by symposium panel experts: Jonathan Krim (Communications Strategist); Caroline Little (CEO of The at; Editors and Columnists Jim Brady, Marc Fisher, Phil Bennett, Bob McCartney, and Bob Griner; and Jacqueline Dupre of the Near Southeast Revitalization Blog ( Some members of the blogger community continued the successful event at the Post Pub after hours.

Coffee Break with Muralist Kelly Campbell

1. You graduated with a degree in graphic design from Liberty University in 2003, but you've stated your true passion is painting. Tell us about the juxtaposition of graphic design, portrait painting, and murals.

Graphic design, portrait painting, and murals have a few things in common. Each relies on the knowledge of composition, color, value, and relaying a specific message to its viewer. Graphic design is heavily based on text to relay its message, whereas something more fine art in nature depends on subtleties such as an expression, or a color choice, to get a visual message across.

2. You currently make your career as a portrait painter and a muralist. Can you speak to the challenges and rewards of being a full-time freelance artist? How do you divide your time between making art and selling art?

I find inspiration in everything. Dreams, everyday life, a wise phrase a friend might have said, nature, my family. There is so much life it's hard not to get inspiration. And it's not just artists that can find this "inspiration" from things; anyone can, as long as they take the time to "smell the roses"-- take the time to stop and see something beautiful, or sad, or ugly instead of just passing it by.I love being an artist. So for me, the rewards far outweigh the challenges. Some rewards I have are that I can work at my own pace. I don't have a 9-5 job, I don't sit in rush hour traffic (Now everyone in DC wants to be an artist after hearing that), I work from home, and I have free-time....sometimes.Challenges are that as a freelance artist, the jobs aren't always continual. My work is very seasonal. Over Christmas I was swamped with portrait jobs-- everyone wanted that special gift for a loved one. Now that rush has died down, the jobs are coming in slower, however it's mostly mural jobs (which pay a lot more), but I have lots of down time.That's why I have a part-time job as a Kidzart teacher as well--so I can at least have some kind of steady income. I've also picked up a job teaching painting classes (for ages 15+) at Michael's. Another challenge I have are deadlines. Sometimes people come to me a week before they need something and I always do my best to meet their needs. Right now I have three portraits due in February, and on top of that I have to fit in mural jobs. It can be difficult to manage my time. I have been so busy that I haven't really had time to make art other than the commissioned work. So for me, making art is selling art.

3. You are fairly responsible in using non-toxic and lead free paints (especially in residential homes and in children's rooms). Tell us about your favorite products and how they tie to today's environmental concerns.

Well, lucky today being able to buy lead based paint is almost non-existent. I add those details to my ads though because many people don't know anything about paint and have genuine concerns about it. For murals and many of my paintings my medium of choice is acrylic. I like acrylic because it dries fast, cleans up with water (no turpentine) and can do a variety of techniques. My favorite brands are Liquitex Basics acrylic paint--it comes in a great squeeze tube and lasts FOREVER, some of mine I've had for over ten years and it hasn't dried out, and I also use Americana, and Craft Smart brands for murals.

4. As a portrait painter and a residential muralist, how do you best bridge the gap between the patron's vision and the artist's vision for completed works?Well, that is a difficult question because you need to give the client what they want--but I also realize that they aren't the artist. If they were they wouldn't have hired me, so it's my job to ask the right questions and get on the same page visually as them, and to be truthful and upfront with them if I think something that they want might not fit--or wouldn't work in the total composition.If they are set in their idea, then it's also my job to "make it work". Even if they have an exact photo of what they want I always show them a sketch of what I am going to do and make sure it is exactly what they would like. One of the worst things a client can say to me is, "you're the artist, do what you think" because 9 times out of 10 it is not at all what they think. And just because I AM the artist doesn't make everything I think great. This is why asking questions and getting into the client's head is vital.

5. What major differences do you find between residential murals and completed commercial murals?There are a couple differences between residential and commercial murals...none of which involve painting them. The method of painting them is pretty much the same.With commercial murals, I get more exposure as an artist because more people see them. It's also a lot more impersonal. But when I am invited into someone's home, to paint something they are going to live with for a very long time, it makes the painting so much more personal to me and to them. It drives me to create something they don't just like, they LOVE. Something that after I'm done, they want to have a get together at their house so they can show it off to all their friends and family.This reminds me that people view murals as somewhat of a luxury (even though mine are VERY affordable). Something I enjoy about doing residential murals is getting to know some of the family. One of my favorite memories is when I did the Scooby mural in a two-year old's room, and after I was done he came running in yelling, "Scooby! Scooby!" and tried to hug the wall.Two examples of my commercial murals can be found at Sacramento Veterinary Hospital in Alexandra, VA and Explore and Moore Children's Museum in Occoquan, VA.

6. When you think of great muralists, who most inspires you? Of living artists in the DC area, who do you expect to see rapidly rise in the art world.

Well one of the greatest muralists was of course Michelangelo with the Sistine Chapel. He did the whole thing on his back, and the quality of work was amazingly beautiful. It will bring you to tears, and I know for a fact - I got to see it this past summer. How can any muralist compete with that?Of living artists in the area do I expect to see rapidly rise - well me of course. There are many artists out there that I am sure will “make it¨, but with art today that’s so hard to say because many times art is about the latest trend and the newest idea. And a lot of artists make paintings that are so open for interpretation for whatever the viewer wants to think about it. So who am I to say who the next big name in art is?Some of my favorite galleries are in Old Town Alexandria. There are so many it’s hard to choose one, and each offer a variety of beautiful works of art from various artists - each piece offering something unique to its viewer.

7. Do you routinely do trade shows, craft shows, fairs? Do you exhibit in boutiques or eateries? Can you speak to the marketing techniques that either work or do not work in your experience?

I don’t do any craft shows or trades shows right now, but they are definitely a possibility in the future. One thing I really enjoy and would love to market especially in places like Saratoga, NY is horse portraits and art. I would love to be able to spend my free time painting and drawing them and doing a specific show just for that. But right now I keep busy and pretty much only have time for my commissions and my art journal.Something I’ve found to be very important when getting jobs is to be personal with the client. Whenever I get an email asking about estimates or whatever, I don’t just send out an already typed up letter with just their name dropped in, I do my best to write each person (and it takes hours every day to write everyone back) and I’ve found that people who end up being my clients like that. When I take the time to email them or call and answer their questions ultimately it made them want to work with me, and not someone else. A technique for advertising that I’ve also tried that did not work was fliers. The most effective method I’ve found has been online advertising and word of mouth.

8. Can you tell us a little about your journey to becoming an artist (where you grew up, when you knew you wanted to "art", how it was to share that vision with family, how it's been to realize that vision, what you're looking to accomplish in 07)?

I was born and raised in Alexandria and have been drawing since I could hold a pencil in my hand. I was lucky enough to have parents who realized that my artistic ability was well-advanced over other children and encouraged me to do art in any way they could. They bought me art supplies, enrolled me in various after-school art classes, and encouraged me to attend college for art. I consider myself so lucky to have parents that let me be what I was born to be. When I was little I always said I wanted to be an artist when I grew up and that passion and desire is still in me and I will continue working in this profession for as long as I can. I am currently in the Manassas area. I pretty much work some of MD, DC, and Northern VA.

9. Annie Liebovitz (American Culture Photographer) recently explained she believes interaction with her subjects (even entering a simple dialogue) changes both the light and mood before she's even begun shooting. For your portrait work, can you share an experience you had about the transference between painter and model?

I can draw/paint from a live model, but for my work I prefer working from photos. It is true, knowing the subject puts a whole new light to the portrait. I am doing a portrait now of a child who is in one of my art classes. He is so full of energy (it can be hard to calm him down sometimes) and I want to portray that in the portrait.I think it’s more difficult to portray someone you know because adding their personality to the portrait gives a whole new aspect to the painting and it takes so much more planning. However, when you’re finished even someone who doesn’t know the person will be able to look at it and say, "Wow, he looks like a very spirited child."

10. Although the nation is enjoying tremendous growth in new commercial development, it is also true that many neighborhoods suffer from disrepair and neglect. When you think about murals as an art form as they exist to revitalize older or ugly buildings, where do you think mural artists need to "go."

I always enjoy seeing collaged street murals done on the side of a brick building, providing a sense of life and a taste of what that city has to offer. With something like that, I think the artist has to decide what he wants to portray to a multitude of people in a fast amount of time. Murals like that are somewhat of a billboard for the artist. I’ve never done a mural like that so this question is difficult to answer.

11. Animal portraiture is another growing trend, with anticipated market increases in all things having to do with animals (clothes, toys, art, schools, etc.) What do you make of this current boom?

I didn’t even know this was a growing trend. I am excited to see how it affects my work because animals are my favorite subject. I do think that there are definitely a lot more animal portrait artists out there than people portraitists so I know there would be more competition.

12. Kelly, do you participate in or know of any interesting or new art related non-profits? We are always interested in highlighting causes utilizing art to achieve goals.

Well what comes to mind is recently I have been asked to “donate” a mural for a child’s room for a silent auction benefiting an inclusive preschool (that accepts all children, even those with disabilities) in Alexandria. The auction is for a 6 foot mural and one accent of their choice (normal retail value being around $600-700). The auction takes place in March.13. Lastly, if you could be director of the National Gallery (or other DC National Museum) for one day - what immediate change(s) would you implement?I wish I could give an interesting and ingenious answer to this question, but I can’t think of anything that I would want changed. I’ve visited the gallery many times and I always enjoy it the way it is.