This week brought me down to our nation’s capital for a charity auction supporting Habitat for Humanity. Firstly, I will say that there are very few places or things that give me as much good thinking time as train rides, and I particularly like the one to DC. But after a good, productive few hours on the train there was an abundance of artwork to be hung and sold awaiting!
On Thursday, after a very early morning start and a long time taking in the many works I decided it was time for a little inspiration and took an early day break by heading over to the National Portrait Gallery. Since I have only been to Washington a few times I guess its not that big of a deal that I had never been to the museum, but on the same note, I was a little embarrassed, and was not at all surprised by how much I liked it (and how much I had forgotten how nice free museums are!) First of all, the courtyard is unbelievably spectacular and breathtaking and even though I had been told that beforehand I was not expecting it to that degree. If I had more time I could have easily stayed there all day.
There were several worthwhile exhibitions including the one on the main floor, Portraiture Now: Asian American Portraits of Encounter. One stand out piece is Korean artist Hye Yeon Nam’s four-part video work ‘Eating, Walking, Drinking, Sitting’ from 2006. In the four distinct videos the artist explores these simple everyday behavoirs that have been subtelty altered to make life more difficult with no resolve in sight. Nam’s films, relatively simple in their action, signal to the constant struggle that comes with trying to adapt to, or create normalcy in a world that is in not innately your own.
The other exhibition of note, much smaller and quieter, was In Vibrant Color: Vintage Celebrity Portraits from the Harry Warnecke Studio. Mainly I was just impressed how so many of the images, taken mostly in the thirties and forties, for the pages of the New York Daily News, still look so contemporary. And vintage prints seemed to be the theme of the week…
With a little inspiration in hand it was time to hang the rest of the work and get prepared to sell! There were some good pieces in the auction including a large print by Ned Smyth, a drawing by Joan Jonas, a photograph by Terence Koh, among others. But in the end it was auctioneer CK Swett from Phillips de Pury that got the crowd going and after the live auction got the bidding on the silent auction up and running! All in all it was a good night and a good cause to raise some funds for.
Returning to NY late Friday afternoon it was straight to meet with Rob Pruitt and finalize his project for the Public Art Fund’s Spring Benefit… I wont reveal to much but it will be very colorful, a little messy and extremely fun! The benefit is quickly approaching… April 17th, and now that we have officially moved into the new month its crunch time!
By Sunday I finally got a chance to check out the AIPAD fair. However, I have to admit I was a little disappointed. There was so much vintage work and whereas there is no question that work is consistently amazing to see in person I was shocked at how little new contemporary work was being shown. Yossi Milo’s display of Tim Hetherington’s images of soldiers was powerful as always and the fact that it framed the entranceway and was the first thing you saw definitely added to the impact. Also at Yossi Milo was a large color photograph manipulated by water by Matthew Brandt whose work also showed up at M+B gallery from Los Angeles a little bit later on. But it was at the back of the fair that one of AIPAD’s newest members, David Zwirner, gave a great display of contemporary work by showing relatively new images by Philip-Lorca diCorcia. Among these were large landscapes, interior portraits and some of my favorites (as I had mentioned before when referencing Zwirner’s Armory booth a few years back) polaroids.
It was dark and crowded at AIPAD and when I finally emerged I thought I was done for the night! Sunday’s are so much better now that Mad Men is back on… but then a last minute call brought me out for Sunday night Sake where among other good company and conversation I got a peak at Dutch photographer Charlotte Dumas’ new book – really beautiful! Quite looking forward to her show opening at the Corcoran this summer… I guess its an earlier return to DC than expected!
Some Selections from AIPAD: