Thursday, October 20, 2005


As always DC Art News beat me to it, but I just have to highlight one paragraph in James Bailey's response to Options 05...

Ms. Lumpkin – coming as no surprise to me – has dramatically failed in her mission to bring us the cutting-edge of D.C. art with Options 05 – instead, she has given us retrograde phantom paper cuts with the blunt edge of her condescending view of D.C. art and artists, and has compounded that error by virtually ignoring the radical voices and visions of marginalized and minority artists in this city who are not fortunate enough to be able pay the outrageous tuition to attend art school. Ms. Lumpkin, like most New York City art insiders, seems obsessed with finding the next great white hope artist somewhere out there in MFA land.

I haven't seen the show yet, so I'm withholding my own judgement, but so far I haven't read any reviews that were positive toward the show as a whole.

I myself am not very familiar with the margins of the DC art world. James, could you point us towards some artists to make up a virtual Anti-Options show??

See also this related site.


At 2:57 PM, Blogger James W. Bailey said...

Dear Amy,

First, let me say that I really enjoy reading your posts - I only wish you would post more often!

Seriously, your insights are fresh, dynamic, challenging and interesting.

Since I moved to Reston from New Orleans, I've had the great pleasure of meeting many artists from the D.C. area who I think are by any definition "cutting-edge", and who work in the shadows - that is, they do not enjoy press, acclaim, nor have they necessarily even been featured in exhibits, with the exception of Art-O-Matic (several of these artists appeared on my Top 10 Artists from Art-O-Matic list that was published last year on Lenny's site. That list is posted at

I saw Options 05 last week. Whatever my personal impressions may be, and trying to be as fair as I can, which, given my personal history with it is difficult at best, I honestly believe that O'Sullivan nailed it with his review.

Since Monday, I have begun to contact some of the more challenging cutting-edge artists who live in D.C. that I believe have been virtually ignored by the more conservative gallery/museum structure that seems to operate here (with a few rare exceptions), as well as by the press.

It is my long-term goal to try and create on my blog an online gallery of such artists and their work. I don't want to call it Anti-Options 05, nor do I want to call myself a "curator" of this project. What I'm simply hoping to do is help bring some attention to a vibrantly creative group of artists (some of whom are very poor and have very limited resources, such as even the ability to shoot a digital image of their work to send to me for posting).

There's a tremendous wealth of radical - that is, energetic, original, and provocative - art to be discovered in Washington, D.C.'s neighborhoods that's being created by marginalized and minority artists. I honestly believe that these artists are virtually ignored by the galleries in this area, as well as by the press.

Most of the art response in D.C. area (especially in the art blog arena) seems to be a classic case of the viewer (art critics, art bloggers, whatever) responding to what they see in a gallery or museum. In New Orleans, it is (or I should sadly now say, it once was) different to a great degree. Some of the most creative souls in New Orleans operate studio/galleries in their homes. Many of these artists live (again, sadly once lived, as they’ve now been scattered across the country because of Katrina) in the much lately written about Lower Ninth Ward of the city - one of the poorest areas of the city.

Art fanatics in New Orleans, as well as our local art critics, are much bolder about exploring for art outside of the traditional gallery structure of the city. Many of the now famous artists from New Orleans were “discovered” by art critics such as D. Eric Bookhardt of Gambit Magazine who actually wrote about them prior gallery representation. Mr. Bookhardt is a critic who feels the calling to be grounded in what’s happening with art and artists throughout the city. The result is that cutting-edge arts venues, like the famous Pussycat Caverns, thrive in areas like the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans.

These same experiences can be found in Washington, D.C. I just think that most art fanatics in this area, for whatever reason, are reluctant to step off the path that leads to their usual round of gallery walks.

I'm hoping that an online exhibition of such artists from D.C. might spur some interest in some type of alternative venue that might be willing to host such a show.

There are some exceptionally talented artists who live in D.C. whose work really rocks. I simply encourage artists and art critics to really get in touch with the full range of art that offered in D.C. I also think that you have to be willing to step away from the concrete sidewalk that leads to a white cube space in order to see the real cutting-edge of art in D.C.



At 1:57 PM, Blogger Amy said...

James, Thanks for the kind words and encouragement. I've been a bit distracted lately, hopefully I can be a better blogger in the future!

You are completely on target about bloggers (myself most definately included) sticking to museum and gallery shows. For me, I guess I have to blame equal parts laziness and ignorance - the laziness is self explanatory and has no real justification but the ignorance means I stick to what I know, which is the usual.

I'm going to check out your list, and I look forward to your project.

Any advice as to how someone who probably needs to unlearn some of her artistic education goes about seeking out those fringe artists on her own? Beyond ArtoMatic, I'm not too sure where to start looking.

Thanks for reading,


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