A person who appears to be ambling aimlessly, but is secretly in search of adventure.


Jati Lindsay at Dissident Display

Imagine peace

Artist Yoko Ono will present a series of installations and audience participation works around Washington, D.C., as part of Street Scenes: Project for DC, a public art program curated by Nora Halpern and Welmoed Laanstra.

Ms. Ono will exhibit ten trees around the city, as part of her ongoing Wish Tree project, which she began in the 1990s as a way of encouraging the public to become participants in the art process. The trees will be installed at the steps of the Jefferson Memorial at the Tidal Basin as part of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, at THEARC in Anacostia, and at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden on the National Mall

“As a child in Japan, I used to go to a temple and write out a wish on a piece of thin paper and tie it around the branch of a tree,” Ms. Ono said. “Trees in temple courtyards were always filled with people’s wish knots, which looked like white flowers blossoming from afar.”

With her Wish Trees, which are part of a city-wide project called IMAGINE PEACE, Ms. Ono is invoking the intention of the initial 1912 gift of cherry blossom trees to the United States from the nation of Japan, and she asks that we contemplate all aspects that the words inspire. Ms. Ono invites people to write a wish (either a personal or a global-minded one) and tie it onto a Wish Tree. At the end of the installation, the Washington, DC, wishes will be collected and added to the other wishes generated by the Wish Tree projects she has mounted around the world and become part of her Imagine Peace Tower, which will be inaugurated in October 2007 in Reykjavik, Iceland. Following the Street Scenes installation, the trees from the Tidal Basin and the trees at THEARC will be planted in the Anacostia community. The Wish Tree installation at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden will become a permanent artwork, gifted to the museum by the artist.

In addition, Ms. Ono will visit the site at the Japanese Lantern Lawn, just west of the Kutz Bridge at Independence Avenue & 17th Street. SW, on the other side of the Tidal Basin, where the first cherry
blossoms were planted in 1912. The artist will ask participants to "whisper a wish to the bark of the trees." Ms. Ono will also present text pieces, including disseminating IMAGINE PEACE posters, and ribbons that read, “this line is a part of a very large circle.” These artworks will be free to the public and will be distributed at three locations: the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, THEARC and Provisions Library.

An IMAGINE PEACE billboard will be installed on the Verizon Center (at the intersection of 7th Street and G Street, NW) and will be on display through April 30. A poster page will be placed in the March 29 edition of The Washington Post Express (circulation almost 200,000), in the hopes that they will wind up hanging in offices and homes around the city and surrounding areas.

“This project,” say Street Scenes co-curators Nora Halpern and Welmoed Laanstra, “is part of our effort to turn the streets of Washington, DC, into a living art gallery. Ms. Ono's work celebrates the universal longing for peace: whether it is individual peace of mind, peace for a local community, or a more global aspiration. By installing components throughout the city, the project seeks to unite the varying neighborhoods of Washington and their residents and workers in the desire for progress and understanding--in matters large and small, at home and abroad." Street Scenes: Projects for DC was created in the spring of 2006 by curators Nora Halpern and Welmoed Laanstra.

IMAGINE PEACE is the third installation of Street Scenes: Projects for DC. The overarching concept of Yoko Ono’s project parallels the working philosophy of Street Scenes: Projects for DC: art and the ideas it generates can unify a city and all of its neighborhoods by creating an experience shared by those who are art aficionados and those who are not.



Cardenio Found

"Cardenio Found"

For hundreds of years
Shakespeare's play Cardenio has been missing…
Has it been found?
Join us for a world premiere
of this play about Love, Loss, and Sheep.

Featuring Kimberly Gilbert, Maia DeSanti,
Scot McKenzie, David Bryan Jackson,
Chris Davenport, Ben Shovlin,
Terence Aselford, Mark R. Ross,
Steve McWilliams and Kathy Cashel.
With music by Kathy Cashel.

Preview April 11, 7:30pm (Pay What You Can)
April 12-14, 19-21 at 7:30pm
April 15 & 22 at 6:30pm

Woolly Mammoth Theatre
Melton Rehearsal Hall
641 D Street, NW (7th & D)
Washington, DC, 20004

Tickets are $10.

Purchase by phone at 202-393-3939
or online at www.woollymammoth.net.

p.s. The talented, and award-winning playwright Gwydion Suilebhan wrote the prologue to this play. That fact alone should make you want to see it!


Contemporary Collectors Club

My buddy Lauren Gentile started a new blog called The Contemporary Collectors Club DC. This woman knows a lot about the business of art, something many collectors don't understand well, and I for one am glad she's imparting some of this knowledge.

Many of us art collectors buy art because we like looking at it, or maybe it makes us uncomfortable to look at, but we buy it anyway because it challenges the way we look at the world. This approach to art collecting works well because ultimately, we must live with our art regardless of its value. But maybe secretly in the back of our minds, we're hoping to build a collection that will grow in value and that just might possibly include something really significant. The next Damien Hirst or Ryan McGinness or something like that. Does thinking about art as a business taint the experience? Naaah, I think it adds to the adventure.

Lauren Gentile brings to Irvine Contemporary a knowledge of the economics in the international art market, expertise in valuation and art advisory services, and art collection management experience. Ms. Gentile holds a Master's in Art Business degree from Sotheby's Institute of Art in London, where she wrote her thesis on fine art as an alternative asset class and art investing. She also brings a thorough background in art history, and holds two B.A. degrees from DePaul University in Chicago. She has studied art history, Italian and German at The School of the Art Institute in Chicago, the Goethe Institute, and the University of Florence.


p.s. That painting behind Lauren is by Dalek. It's awesome. I want it.


"Anything Pink Rocks"

Please see the March 26, 2007, issue of The New Yorker for excellent punk fashion advice from Jimmy Webb, a renowned salesman at Trash and Vaudeville in the East Village. The man understands pink and punk. For those of you who taunt me for my pinkness, I say, "Anything pink rocks!" Ha!

More words of wisdom from this fashion sage:

Rule #1: "Anything pink rocks."
Rule #2: "Anything animal print rocks."
Rule #3: "Anything skintight."
Rule #4: "A necklace has to hang just above the cleavage, on the bone between the shoulders, if the dress allows it."
Rule #5: "You should never look at only one thing."


On the lam in Costa Rica

Surfing divas at Playa Guiones

Perfect conditions for beginner surfers this time in Playa Guiones. Three to four foot waves. Hot. Sunny. Not too crowded in the water. We walked on the beach early each morning and watched the sunset each evening, but I never saw the green flash.

We got lost only once while walking home on the beach . . . at night . . . without a flashlight . . . and no moon . . . and ever so slightly inebriated.

"I think I recognize that palm tree."
"Isn't that the log we sat on this morning?"
"The sand just changed texture."
* * *
Everyone in Playa Guiones seems to be on the lam, escaping from something or someone or just taking a break from reality. Little clues here and there, but I didn't want to probe too much.

"One more year and my credit rating will be cleared."
"They had to take me out of there on a stretcher."
"Turns out, it wasn't my baby."
* * *
Best memory: swimming in the black ocean at midnight under a billion stars and the Milky Way, unadulterated by artificial light or even moonlight, and enveloped by another billion bits of phosphorescent plankton. It was like swimming inside a snow globe filled with glitter. We splashed water on each other so we could see the glowing particles sparkle on our skin.
* * *

Drinking the local swill with old and new buddies at Blew Dogs.


Modernism show at the Corcoran

I checked out the new Modernism show at the Corcoran last night. Very well laid out and neat to see how Modernist design affects our daily lives even today, from chairs to teapots to clothing to architecture and so on. One of the featured chairs looked almost exactly like the ones around our dining table when I was a kid.

Modernism: Designing a New World 1914-1939
is the largest and most comprehensive exhibition on the subject ever staged in America, and the Corcoran Gallery of Art will be the only American venue. The exhibition explores the foundation and meaning of Modernism, and it contains some of the most seminal works of modern art, graphic and product design, and architecture produced in the first half of the 20th century. It traces the historic development of modern form through social, industrial, and political upheavals of the 1920s and 1930s. It investigates the role of the factory and mass production; the spiritual aspect of modern life; the period’s fascination with the healthy body and organic forms found in nature; and national identity.

Angela Strassheim

Another great artist talk at the Phillips Collection last night featuring Angela Strassheim. She spoke about her beautiful but often unsettling photographs that began with a job as a forensic photographer. These images are taken from a recent show called Left Behind, photographs she made of her born-again Christian family and other remembrances from growing up in the Mid West.

One woman's question at the end of the talk struck me as a powerful example of how disconnected we have become from each other. The woman said she thought that the Rockwellian/Christian families that Strassheim depicts don't exist anymore so they are becoming less and less relevant. The photographer's response was that all the people who live in her parents' hometown are exactly like the people in these photographs. The questioning woman was super-coiffed and looked like she lunched with the ladies at the tennis club three times a week between her weekly manicures and Talbots shopping expeditions. For crying out loud, who does she think elected W to the presidency?? We believe these people are bigoted, prejudiced, and small-minded. In a twisted way, we are no less so. We live in an insulated, liberal world where we think we're so open-minded and accepting of different viewpoints and it turns out we're no better than the very people we scorn.



Erik Sandberg

Parade, 2006, oil glaze on wood panel, 36 x 24 inches

I wish I could own this painting by Erik Sandberg. As consolation, I own a drawing that the artist made in composing the work (see below). Both are gorgeous. The drawing shows off Sandberg's exquisite draftsmanship. It reminds me of one of those crazy Dutch painters, like Bosch, where lots of surreal characters populate a minimalist landscape. The subject is modern and relevant. Parade represents Sandberg's ideas of the ways in which beautiful people abuse ugly people and how this treatment can make the beautiful ugly inside, which then manifests itself on the outside. (Apologies, Erik, for the serious oversimplification!)


Spunky Monkey and Renee Z (not again!)

Three favorite artists: Chris, Iona, and Adam

Our new friend Stephen Heighton (a great NY art collector and not only because he collects works by Adam Stennett) called last week to say he was coming to DC for a weekend visit. I jumped into action and threw together a dinner party on Saturday that I hoped would dazzle a jaded New Yorker or at least show him that DC is not a complete backwater. I don't know if we succeeded, but it was a helluva fun night. Veuve comes through again!

A few people stayed until 2 AM (which turned out to be 3 AM because of the switch to daylight savings time!) and the evening ended with Iona looking up all our Chinese astrological signs on the internet. Ok, so I totally don't believe in this stuff, but please don't hate me because I'm a monkey!

I'm an Earth Monkey and turns out that a celebrity who also shares this sign is none other than . . . Renee Zellweger!! Although I screamed with amazement when Iona announced this fact, not so deep down, I expected it.

The spunky Monkey is the original party animal! Charming and energetic, Monkeys crave fun, activity and stimulation. They truly know how to have a good time and can often be seen swinging from one group of friends to another, attracting a motley crew in the process. Always upbeat, they are considered minor celebrities in their circle thanks to their sparkling wit and that rapier-sharp mind. Perhaps surprisingly, Monkeys are also good listeners and tackle complicated situations with ease. This Sign's natural curiosity lends it the desire to become knowledgeable on a broad range of topics. Monkeys have a show-off side that loves nothing more than to dazzle their pals with all they know.

The Monkey tends to be rather accident-prone due to a certain lack of very high morals. This Sign's first interest is pursuing its own pleasure; this is not a malicious interest, it's just the way the Monkey is. However, this kind of carefree self-involvement can lead to all kinds of scrapes. In love, the Monkey makes a fun, exciting lover -- but one that may have the potential to stray romantically. The good news is, the Monkey’s glib manner and witty repartee can often get this Sign out of a scrape. Perhaps not everyone will be won over by the Monkey -- but do you think the Monkey really cares? The Monkey's world, full of devil-may-care energy and revelry, isn't for everyone. Remember, though, it's not that this Sign is mean; it might just be a bit too curious for its own good. Monkeys often feel the need to try everything at least once, which can make for a merry-go-round of relationships.

The Monkey's love of self-indulgence can also lead to other types of trouble. This Sign may have limited self-control concerning food, alcohol and other pleasurable activities. It's party time all the time for the Monkey, yet when it leads to a monster hangover or a shattered heart (generally someone else's, not theirs), this Sign might actually show a touch of remorse. They won't flat-out admit the error of their ways, but at least they'll pull back and try to tone things down -- for a while.

Monkeys must try to learn to think of others ahead of themselves, at least some of the time. This Sign's world will be more complete once it realizes the world doesn't revolve around it.

The most compatible match for a Monkey is the Rat or the Dragon.


Civilian Art Projects

I don't know much about Civilian Art Projects but I know the work of some of the artists involved and I have confidence that they can make this gallery work. Check out their new space tomorrow night at the grand opening reception.

Civilian Art Projects
406 7th Street (near D St.)
Friday, March 9
6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Revitalizing the former home of one of Washington's top galleries, Civilian Art Projects proudly launches in its new location and gallery space a two-person exhibition of new photographic work by Jason Falchook (NY) and Jason Zimmerman (DC), and a group show in the project space called "Behind the Wall" including work by nine emerging artists from across the United States. An essay by Andy Grundberg, educator, curator and writer, will accompany this exhibition. A reception for the artists will be held Friday, March 9, 2007 from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. Public exhibition hours are Wednesday through Saturday 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. and by appointment.

Prior to this exhibition, Civilian operated as a roving gallery without a physical home base. Operating virtually and with spaces throughout Washington, DC, Civilian had the pleasure and opportunity to grow its program and audience while learning from and working side by side with leaders in the art community. Civilian is thrilled to announce the acquisition of a permanent home base at 406 7th Street NW, Third Floor, in the bustling Chinatown/Penn Quarter neighborhood of downtown Washington, DC. Civilian's new home is a few blocks from the Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden, the National Gallery of Art, and the newly renovated Reynolds Center featuring the Smithsonian Museum of American Art and National Portrait Gallery.

In concurrent exhibitions Contours & Detours and Natural Acts, Jason Falchook and Jason Zimmerman present decisive, unique bodies of work that examine the world around us. Questioning our connection to the spaces we develop and inhabit, Jason Falchook's large-scale, color-saturated photographs depict a landscape in continual transition. Capturing a world between the debris of the industrial past and the promise of a more austere, technological future, Falchook's images convey "the areas where edges meet, observing what we have access to and what we are excluded from." Mediating through shape, form and detail; isolated yet beautiful images of parking lots lush with foliage, a street corner satellite dish hanging with a network of wires and utility poles, and high rise communities caught in the glow of lighting from an on ramp draw attention to an underlying plan of living and security. In "Contours & Detours," Falchook examines how we are guided through these spaces by planned design, architecture and lighting, capturing in captivating detail how these spaces shift as we condition and adapt our surroundings to suit our changing notions of fear, anxiety, and desire.



Aphrodizia is a musical art ensemble that produces a beautiful, dreamy sound. The four musicians who make up this group possess terrific talent and superior musical training. So cool that they're in DC!

The music is performed by a four-piece ensemble presenting an overlay of ethereal vocals, keyboards, violin, flute, saxophone, conga, and djembe atop ambient electronic beats. . . . Yoko K presents the hypnotic soundscape that inscribes seemingly contradicting characteristics in harmony: electronic yet organic, serene yet fierce, futuristic yet nostalgic, innocent yet sensual.



Andy Moon Wilson

Andy Moon Wilson (husband of uber art talent Jiha Moon ) just opened a show at the Curator's Office and I love it! He's drawn doodles and designs on 1000 business cards and displayed them in the world's smallest gallery in balanced grids. He embellishes each card with patterns in varying levels of intricacy, monkey heads and toothbrushes (that's what I bought), and other whimsical, cartoonish figures. The man can draw. The cards sell for $50 a pop. That's a pretty darn good deal for original art by a seriously skilled artist.

His work reminds me a little of the robot artist Kuszyk who says that he retreats to his mountain in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley and produces hundreds of robot paintings at a time and then sells them at an unintimidating price.


1515 14th Street, NW


Bob Dob

Bob Dob, White Head, oil on panel, 8" x 10"

Tug of War is Hemphill's current show featuring artists who are skilled illustrators and designers by trade. This particular piece seems to conform with my recent art mission: buying art that references ideas about the value of whiteness. I love that this figure is dabbing white cream on a throbbing whitehead that has sprung up on his forehead, which is shortened by an afro that takes up half the painting's surface. Maybe I'm reading too much into this.

Tug of War showcases artists working in a style that is often referred to as "Lowbrow" or "Pop Surrealism." These terms refer to an alternative art movement that arose in Los Angeles, California in the 1970s, and has roots in underground comics, punk music and other California subculture. The exhibition is a survey of many of the most recognized artists working in this style.


Improv Musical

Good buddy Shawn Westfall is at it again. I recently discovered the guy could sing when he surprised us with a repertoire of Beatles tunes accompanied by Cousin Roger's ukelele. Combine that musical dexterity with hysterical comic skill and you've got an Improv Musical! Go see his show.

916 G Street, NW
8:00 PM
March 2 - April 6

iMusical: The Improvised Musical! joins the unpredictable playfulness of comedic improvisation with the wondrous joys of musical theater. A cast of singer-improvisers creates a compelling new show with each performance, comprised of completely improvised scenes, lyrics and music, all inspired by audience suggestion.

The Washington Post calls iMusical "amusing," "gleefully vulgar" and "spot on." Under the direction and accompaniment of Travis Ploeger, 8-year musical director of New York's renowned Chicago City Limits, iMusical explores the human condition via song and laughter... as only WIT can!

If improvisation reveals a lot about how the mind works, then the extroverts at Washington Improv Theater are an unembarrassed bunch of sickos." [ more ]-The Washington Post.

"We loved it... a great deal of fun and cleverness as well as good singing."-Audience buzz from the iCabaret preview show



Stella Lai, I Love My Foreigner Friend, Whiter, Gouache on paper, 2006, 30 x 24 inches

More dispatch from NY:

I was wandering around Impulse, a satellite art fair to The Armory Show, feeling a little bit of deja vu from Miami when a colorful painting caught my eye. It had some graffiti elements, which I have become more interested in lately. The strange semi-Asian figures drew me in, as well. They seemed Eurasian but not really. The colors and patterns reminded me of Tibetan mandala drawings. Not that I particularly like that kind of art but I like bright colors and strong patterns.

I'd been staring at it for a minute or two when the gallery owner, Nathan Larramendy, sidled over to explain that the artist Stella Lai, a Hong Kong Chinese currently living in San Francisco, references Asian women who remake their appearance so as to appear less Asian and more Western. They lighten their skin with creams and lasers, straighten and lighten their hair with chemicals, and undergo surgeries to reconstruct their eyes and noses. These procedures are especially popular in Asia, but many Asian-Americans do it, too. You didn't think I was born with this hair color, did you?

Anyway, I was on the cusp of deciding to buy one when he said, "Stella did a joint show with a rapidly rising artist and is really good friends with her. Have you heard of her? Iona Rozeal Brown? She's hot. Tssssss. She can show in any gallery she wants right now." I quickly pointed to White and said, "I'll take that one." Hello. Iona is only one of my favorite artists in the whole world. What a find!

This just in from an article by Saundra Sorenson:

Hong Kong-born Lai explores the reconciliation of spirituality with the Western-influenced pop culture in Chinese society. She specifically criticizes the trendy practice, prevalent among young women, of trying to look more Caucasian.

In Hong Kong, Lai notes a disturbing worship of all features white or Anglo. Because the country is so small, culture is figuratively and quite literally cramped. In a society with a heavy colonial background, the obsession with imitating The Other — in this case, Anglo —prompts discussion.

“Growing up in Asia, it’s just compact,” Lai says. “With these types of images constantly in media and everywhere, you don’t even have the room to remove yourself and criticize it.”

In Lai's paintings, the highly marketed freak show of thinning creams and breast augmentation plays out against a backdrop of recognizably Asian textiles. In pieces like “White” and “Eat!” the figure in the foreground, an Anglicized Asian ideal of beauty, appears before symbols inspired by Tibetan thangka paintings. This demigoddess might be considering a move from an A-cup to a C-cup, or the cruel paradox of a thin-obsessed society whose streets are filled with anxious street vendors, hawking local delicacies.

It is fitting that the ancient and sacred butt up against the ungodly practice of body manipulation and a dogged pursuit of Western aesthetics. It is no coincidence that the would-be heroine of Lai's “White” is an auburn-tressed nymphet whose skin has been bleached so completely, she's in danger of being whitewashed and airbrushed out of existence.

"Materialism is replacing spirituality in society,” Lai observes.