Arts Desk

Artomatic: Some Early Reactions

Mason Thorpe Calhoun, Pixelation Installation

Barnstorming through Artomatic, it's easier to react than reflect. This year's artist headcount is more than 1,000, which means a two-hour dash through the 10 floors of artwork gives you about five seconds per artist—an overestimation that does not factor in the time to move between rooms, move between floors, or get lost.  That estimate also leaves no time to reflect on a single artwork.

The notion of creating a top 10 is a little preposterous, akin to flipping through a survey of art history text and picking out the top 10 artists of all time. That's not what this post is. These are merely a few works for which I urge you to keep an eye out. Artomatic runs through June 23 at 1851 S. Bell Street, Crystal City.

David D'Orio

David D’Orio took his time in displaying his work, laying down a panel floor and bypassing Artomatic’s fluorescent lighting with a drop lamp. Even his vinyl lettering has the hint of a museum exhibition. His sculptural work, a bicycle with various glass beakers attached to it, feels like the hybrid of early aeronautics and Duchamp’s Bicycle Wheel. The radio atop is tuned to WMAL, a station that drones right-wing rhetoric through mouth-pieces like Chris Plante and (the syndicated shows of) Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin. It’s reminiscent of the days leading up to World War 1, when the opinions of yellow journalist were mistaken for fact, when bicycle pedals could launch their riders into the skies, and when science was uncovering ingenious ways to kill thousands through chemistry.

Gloria Chapa

Gloria Chapa’s work centers on themes of early childhood. A large crocheted wreathe lays on the floor, covered in flour and baby powder, and you smell it as you approach the installation; encircling it is a swarm of white plastic soldiers, emerging from flour. These are things a parent might identify symbolically with the growth and development of a child: They’re borne from the womb and swaddled in lose-woven blankets. For a couple of months they chiefly smell of baby powder. And flour is something that occupies them: It’s tje mess they make in the pantry, a substance they learn to draw with, an essential ingredient of cookies. The floor installation is supported by the portraits of infants and toddlers that align in a chevron. The contrast between a predominantly white installation and six charcoal drawings is startling, which makes the presentation feel like two distinct works, related by theme, coming to a compromise in the space.

Geoff Boyle

Geoff Boyle, according to his wall bio, “is an instructional designer who uses technology to enhance learning and make the experience more authentic.” On his wall he has posed questions and instructions, and follows up with a QR Code for visitors to snap with their smartphones. I don’t have a smart phone; I have a dumb clamshell and consequently felt a little alienated by the piece. Irrespective of my inability to access the work directly, the work deals directly with ideas without bothering with the foreplay of craft and aesthetic. It's been distilled down to the technology.

Bhaval Shah Bell

Bhaval Shah Bell has an interesting display of maps that would be a good addition to a cartographic collection that includes Ork Posters or Aaron Koblin’s Flight Patterns. Their overall design evokes the potential distribution of any given data point: population, trees, heat, and so.

Jason C. Yen

Jason C. Yen’s meticulous collages and constructions are often humorous, and at times create visual puns.

Yeon Pa Park-Mitchell

Yeon Pa Park-Mitchell’s work might be ignored for its overwhelming prettiness. Take a step closer and that prettiness can be excused. Her process involves origami and quilling: the rolling, folding, and shaping of strips of paper. The craft is remarkable.

Greg Braun

Greg Braun’s drywall sculptures demonstrate how an artist can do a lot with simple materials and strict limitations.

Jenny Walton

Jenny Walton’s “Tell Me a Joke” on the first floor appears to be an interesting set up for an expanding interactive experience that collects jokes from people in an effort to explore the healing power of laughter.

Caitlin Phillips

Caitlin PhillipsRebound Designs seems like an appealing way to recycle what she qualifies as a “well-loved book.” Meaning: These books have been read so many times that pages fell out and they were getting discarded anyway—so why not make a handbag out of them? If the boutique nature of the work isn’t appealing, the “wallpaper” should strike your fancy.

And Mason Calhoun's pixelation paintings (top) are kind of interesting. More compelling is the time he took to install each paint-chip sample within his display.

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  • http://dcartnews.blogspot.com Lenny Campello

    Excellent non top 10... ah... ten - it usually takes me 2-3 visits to AOM to absorb the spectacular visual overload of this show...

  • Geoff Boyle

    Thanks for including me, John! I knew that I was excluding anyone without a smart phone, but it was a risk I needed to take. For those interested, more about my work can be found at http://geofboyle.wordpress.com/

  • Gloria Chapa

    VANDALISIM STRIKES ARTOMATIC

    On or about May 23, 2012, vandals defiled and defaced a noted art installation at ARTOMATIC 2012. [ http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/artsdesk/visual-arts/2012/05/21/artomatic-some-early-reactions/ ]

    It appeared that as many as two unknown individuals entered into the 11th floor art space of Gloria Chapa’s “IMPRINTING” installation. Vandal’s stepped upon the floor piece (formed of flour and baby power) deforming its shape, and they also left graffiti on three walls of the installation (comments written in pencil and ballpoint pen).

    This vandalism was first detected by ARTOMATIC and reported to the artist.

    Beginning on May 24th, the artist began rebuilding her installation and began working to remove the markings on the three walls of her art space. She hopes to have the repairs completed in time for this weekend’s visitors to ARTOMATIC.

    It is not known if other artists at ARTOMATIC were also affected by the disrespectful actions of these vandals. This act of disrespect for others art is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

    I encourage all artists to please report all suspicious behavior and acts of vandalism to ARTOMATIC staff and volunteers who are available on all floors of the event.

  • Gloria Chapa

    VANDAL STRICKS AGAIN

    On Friday evening, the vandal who is mesmerized with this art installation struck again. We believe its the same individual based on the footprints he left after walking on the baby power which powers the installation.

    Today repairs were made again to the installation and formal complaints were filled with ARTOMATIC.

    Should anyone see that the installation is again damaged please advise members of the ARTOMATIC staff.

    If these attacks continue we will dismantle the installation early to avoid further damage.

    Thank you.

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