Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Top 11 Most Influential in the Arts in DC

Today DCist published a list of most influential people in the District in response to a GQ article of 50 most powerful people in DC. Power aside, the question was shot out to the DCist bloggers today and some of us (me) got to it too late and with too few suggestions to back up the arts side. So, below are the 11 most influential arts sources, for better or for worse, past and present, that I could think of before I need to get back to real work.

Artomatic: for providing an outlet for anyone who thinks he's is an artist to have an opportunity to show of his talents (or lack there of).

Lenny Campello: Since late 2003 he has written between four and ten posts on his blog, nearly every day, about upcoming events in the DC Arts scene. His influence doesn't encourage a style or trend, it encourages involvement on any level within the greater DC arts community: from attendance of art events to kindling the interests of artists and gallerists to get on TypePad, Blogger, or Movable Type and plug away about anything and everything.

DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities: provides a financial resource to arts of such grand variety (even mime has its own numeric code) that, while it may not be capable of sustaining artists, it is capable of sustaining many projects that benefit the community.

Alice Denney: From the Jefferson Place Gallery to the Washington Gallery of Modern Art, The 1964 Venice Biennale to the Washington Project for the Arts, in her hey-day she brought introduced the District to Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns, Pop and Performance Art, and helped iron out a solution for that sticky Mapplethorpe mess a couple decades ago.

Giorgio Furioso: his building at 1515 Arts Space on 14th Street, helped fuel the lane between N and U streets, NW, into a destination.

Blake Gopnik and the Washington Post: The combined effort (of the Post to no longer be the paper of record and of Gopnik for reporting on arts events in NYC and Europe) have done what they can to keep DC arts wallowing to get out of the dark.

Lyndon B. Johnson: The creation of the National Endowment for the Arts during his administration gave artists a chance to sustain a livelihood and production. Inflated into a bureaucracy under Nixon (and Carter), the Endowment has catapulted some of the biggest and most treasured names in American art from the last half century AND gave legitimacy to Jessie Helms' need to carry pornographic pictures in his pocket (in supposed protest of who the NEA funded... I think we can guess the truth of what Uncle Jessie was really doing when reporters were not around).

Cy Katzen: His multi-million dollar contribution to American University has produced an arts center dedicated to his name which includes an additional gallery space for residents north of Glover Park to visit (apart from the Finnish Embassy).

Lawrence M. Small: his mismanagement of funds at the Smithsonian was so bad even the mannequins of the Air and Space Museum are losing hair over it.

Street Artists: While we may get tired of the likes of Storker and Borf, and their wannabe knock-offs, their events and tags give us a moment to reconsider the function of art and our civic space, no matter how repetitive.

Washington Color School: What was hardly a school has become the one art “movement” DC has latched onto so tightly so much so that this summer began with a region-wide retrospective of work that ranged from interesting to pattern and had Ken Noland up in New York questioning what all the scuttlebutt was about.

Of course... by mentioning anyone from the past, or even the contribution of Cy Katzen, it would be necessary to at least note the contributions of the likes of William Wilson Corcoran, Joseph H. Hirshhorn, and Duncan Phillips.

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