Arts & Entertainment

Northern Virginia Art Beat

DSC_0045This week we take you to the other end of the art and price spectrum: “Paper Cuts,” at the Athenaeum in Old Town Alexandria (201 Prince St., Alexandria). The exhibit runs through April 25. The gallery is open noon – 4 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Sunday; and 1 – 4 p.m. Saturday. For more details, call 703-548-0035.

 

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“Sounds of Words” by John Foster

Haute Low Brow

Last week we took you to what turned out to be the flavor of the week show, “I Dream Awake” at Morton Fine Art, a museum-quality show, and, at the upper limit, it has some rather healthy price tags to go with it.

This week we take you to the other end of the art and price spectrum: “Paper Cuts,” at the Athenaeum in Old Town Alexandria (201 Prince St., Alexandria). The exhibit runs through April 25. The gallery is open noon – 4 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Sunday; and 1 – 4 p.m. Saturday. For more details, call 703-548-0035.

“Paper Cuts” is a show of 61 silk-screened rock concert advertising posters by 15 different artists from around the country. Folks, if you have any interest in this sort of thing, just go see the show. Most, but not all, of the posters are for sale, some as cheap as $20. The highest priced poster here is $100, while the vast majority are in the $25 – 40 range. Good art never gets cheaper than this.

This is a democratic, unpretentious sort of art. If you absolutely must label it, it’s high-end Low Brow art. The works are text- and image-based, with the rich smooth texture you’d expect to find in quality silkscreens. Most, if not all, are signed editions of fairly low print runs.

The famous print house known as Hatch Show Prints is represented here, but are NFS entries. Jay Ryan, Adam Saul, Todd Slater, Marq Spusta, Strawberryluna, John Whitlock, Zach Bryan, Chris Cernoch, Criminal Design, Anthony Diehle, Dan Grzeca, Guyburwell, Marc Harkness – and my favorite of the works shown, John Foster – make up the body of this show.

The last two prints in the show are some of the most engaging displayed here due to the artists also showing the reference photos and development sketches that preceded the final product.

Popucation

While we’re taking posters…

Vintage Poster Show, at Renaissance Fine Arts in upper Bethesda (10307 Old Georgetown Rd., Bethesda). The show runs from April 23 – May 3. The gallery is open 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., Monday – Friday; 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Saturday; and noon – 4 p.m., Sunday. For more details, call 301-564-4447 or visit www.renaissancefinearts.com/events.html.

This semi-annual show of antique to late 20th century advertising posters is always a treat for the graphic arts fan. These aren’t the uber-expensive works of Toulouse-Lautrec, but plenty of pricey works of Leonetto Cappiello can usually be found here. Mind you, most of the posters in their shows aren’t six thousand dollars a pop. Plenty of large-scale $500 posters are to be found in the piles, as the sales staff flips through the linen-backed poster piles on a near continual basis.

The worst part is you don’t get long to look at them, unless you want it pulled out for closer inspection. On the other hand, you get to see an enormous amount of historical imagery passing before your eyes as you just stand there, and take it all in.

For years, some of my favorites have been the huge TV and stereo posters of Phillips, and the like. We should point out that basically every poster in the show will be advertising-based, and makes the show a hundred-plus-year international pop culture education.

Art Beat Milestone

If memory serves correctly, this column passed its four-year anniversary last month. The equivalent of a university degree program. It’s been a long trip. Fun to be sure, and at the same time, more work than anybody, save a handful of other art critics around town, could ever imagine.

In keeping with the generalized Easter spirit of rebirth and new beginnings, I’ll close with advice from Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and friend Henry Allen, who once told me, “Steal from the best.” So I’ll steal from this trio of fine fellows:

“Art criticism, I would say, is about the most ungrateful form of ‘elevated’ writing I know of. It may also be one of the most challenging … if only because so few people have done it well enough to be remembered … but I’m not sure the challenge is worth it.”  — Clement Greenberg (arguably the most influential art critic of the 20th century).

“Do not be an art critic, but paint, therein lies salvation.” — Paul Cezanne to artist/art critic Emile Bernard.

“Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.”  — Pablo Picasso


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The Northern Virginia Art Beat is compiled by Kevin Mellema. To e-mail submissions, e-mail them to kevinmellema@gmail.com

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