Arts Desk

For D.C. Artists, It’ll Either Be a Straight or a Flush

Here we go again—another new plan to bring exposure to the area's art scene. But this time it'll be different. This time it isn't another gallery combing area colleges looking for top talent, or major art collectors investing capital in area projects. This time we won't find artrepreneurs hosting art parties or establishing biennial come-one-come-all exhibitions. Nope! Wanna learn about D.C. artists? According to artist Dione Goyette, all it takes is a game of 52-card pickup.

Goyette, of Davidson, N.C., is looking for D.C. artists. She creates Art in Hands card decks, and she wants to create a D.C.-artist-themed set to be sold in area stores. She's already made decks for Charlotte, N.C., and Portland, Ore., and Goyette says she's shooting to release D.C. and Chicago decks by late spring next year. The intentions are good: promote area artists via environmentally friendly means (and make a buck).

But some of the featured artists don't seem to be working with a full deck.

Charlotte and Portland, like D.C., are filled with great artists and buzzing art scenes. However, few of the works in Goyette's sets look like anything you'd want to hang on your wall; most look like bad Dana Ellyns. So, an artist like Charlotte’s Patrick Glover gets lost in the shuffle of eye-sores. Since those initial decks were created with the aid of Craiglist ads,  larger-name artists like Charlotte's Jamie Franki (check your nickels) completely missed the call—or ignored it. Why might that be?

Getting D.C. artists to submit work to a project creating a deck of 52 (plus two jokers) will likely be met with consternation about the damage to professionalism and integrity. We recently saw similar objection to The Washington Post's "Real Art D.C." "contest." This is an understandable attitude, but it's also a little disappointing. After all, how better to appreciate a Tim Tate sculpture, or a painting by Erik Thor Sandberg, than by scoring a trick in a game of euchre? OK, there are better ways, but humor me for a minute. Major museums aren't worried about the integrity of a work of art when it is reduced to fit a mouse pad, T-shirt, post card, or coffee mug, so why should artists working hand-over-fist have that concern? If the public won't fill a museum—except to see Norman Rockwell—then maybe we can fill their eyes with art every time they try for a full house.

If egos can be cast aside, now's a time for the best of D.C artists to step up. Otherwise, we might be represented by a dreck of cards.

Interested artists can submit work to, along with a short bio and link to a website of work before Nov. 26. Include “Washington, DC Project Artist” in the subject line of the e-mail.

Blog Widget by LinkWithin
  • realdc

    "We recently saw similar objection to The Washington Post's "Real Art D.C." "contest.""

    -Doesn't this link point to an article by you, John? I'm not sure you can point out something written BY YOU as a representative sample of the views on the RADC contest in order to justify participation in this. Which is to say, I think you're taking us for a ride, John.

  • Jonathan L. Fischer

    I actually added the link when I posted the piece. John can speak to this better than I can, of course, but I saw a fair amount of criticism of Real Art DC while it was running -- mostly on Facebook, but also on blogs.

  • John Anderson

    Which "this"? Participation in RADC or participation in the Art In Hand?

    I believe my editor chose to link back to my previous editorial not as a "representative sample," but to reflect on past commentary by this blog. And, while the link back is more than likely aimed at the first response to the editorial, several e-mails I received after that editorial's publication supported the "professionality" brought to question by Anonymous. (which was a weird argument).

    I am in favor of things like Art in Hand and RealArt, and whatever else comes along. It gives artists a chance to shine, it gives others a chance to complain, and it gives writers a chance to write.

  • FentonH

    There is a big difference between museums selling mousepads and an artist selling mousepads. Artists, and in particular emerging artists, do need to make decisions about where to show, how to show, how to get word out about their work, very very carefully. Whether you agree with it or not, or think it is fair or not, galleries are very selective about who and what they show and these sorts of promotional activities are not well regarded. I think most artists are better served with traditional PR- open studios, giving talks, having a good website.

    Real Art D.C. had some good parts, but it was overall very amateurish and of course the Washington Post retained quite a lot of the intellectual property rights, which is something an artist shouldn't be quick to give up.

  • John Anderson

    What if the art IS the mousepad?

  • realdc

    while I don't think everyone will shy away from doing this, I also think that emerging artists in this area, when they are looking to for opportunities to have their work considered at a higher professional level (i.e. a gallery show, certain calls for entry, getting a written review), are beginning to recognize that some of the 'opportunities' being offered are just as bad as the shtick that they could come up with on their own.

    Even you would agree that putting your artwork in a deck of cards is not going to boost your artist's profile when you're being considered for a show or commission.

    There's nothing wrong with it being a fun thing to do though, and there are tons of artists who are down for that (even established ones). But, there's probably a larger market for it amongst the artists who you never see showing at anything other than Artomatic during the course of the year, and I like those artists just as much to encourage them not to put their energy into one-off efforts like these.

  • John Anderson

    I'll see your "there's nothing wrong with it," and raise you.

    The recognition you write about is limited; today's emerging artists will be wiser, and tomorrow's emerging artist might not be as wise. But, who says this is limited to the emerging artists? (I know. You don't because you recognize the participation of established artists in your last comment.) Anyone who chooses to submit must be mindful not to take the whole enterprise too seriously because, after all, it is a deck of cards.

    And, what's to fear? Is it because the producer isn't "part of the club" of "serious arts professionals?" Who cares? We live in a world where Bill Clinton will cameo in "The Hangover 2." Considering an ex-president has, of his own volition, opened himself up to being part of a "dead Thai hooker" joke, should the DC art world – let alone global art world – take itself so seriously as to not participate in this shuffle?

    I like the possibility of buying a deck of cards that has Bill Christenberry as the 3 of hearts, an insipid watercolorist as the 8 of diamonds and Jeffry Cudlin as one of the two Jokers.

  • DioneGoyette

    Fabulous that you are spreading the word John. Many thanks. As with any artwork or arts venture there is a myriad of opinion. Thank goodness. There's nothing worse than a homegenized view.

    Your entry does beg a tiny rebuttle however. The 'call' for the Chartlotte and Portland decks went out on craigslist among other venues - listserves, arts association newsletters, local papers, etc.

    And you were correct when you said not all work was worthy of 'hanging on your wall'. I believe that's true of many atrists' work, even artists whom I admire.

    Alas, the most important point was well made. This is a project not to be taken too seriously. It's a pleasure to produce and people get pleasure from owning the decks. Participate if you dare.

    Washington DC will benefit from the knowledge AIH has gained on our first two decks and I challenge you all to outshine your predecessors.

    Let the games begin!

  • Beth Fuller

    As one of the "ungalleried" artists represented in the DC deck....I've been working in the illustration industry for over a decade now. My work isn't shown on "walls" because I chose not to. Maybe someday? But it's not my main focus. I grew up in DC and I am thrilled to represent my city.
    I feel that art is art and we don't really need anyone's judgment. We make it, we enjoy it, period. People can decide whether they like the deck. I don't mind, but personally I have really enjoyed our mix of artists-collect us or not. We will still be making art.