Thursday, March 31, 2011

Flemish painters dominate National Gallery survey of exposing "rude parts"

"Diana and Callisto," Peter Paul Rubens

Thanks to Britain’s politically correct culture, male and female nipples got equal billing in the “rude parts” study at London’s National Gallery recently.

Lg Nobel Awards Roadshow (Roadshow), which prides itself on “rewarding preposterous research that first makes you laugh and then makes you think,” took its own study of London’s National Gallery’s paintings, counting nipples, women’s and men’s “areas," 274 in all, to the Imperial College this month.

The breakdown: Female nipples, 115; male nipples, 143; women´s ´areas´ 13, and men´s, 3.

We don´t know if Roadshow analysts include art students on a grant, bored Eaton graduates or statisticians having a manic episode.

"Helene Fourment" by Peter Rubens

Like all questionably sound intellectual research, certain assumptions must be made, such as nipples of both genders carry equal “rude parts” weight.

A critical question for the Roadshow: Was Jesus human? 

The study took the anatomically correct route, making him human, if only for limited purposes.

Since the Italians owned the majority of male nipples at the National Gallery, most of them His, Roadshow took this theological risk just to be fair to Italy.

Here´s what it excluded:

(1) “Physiology to cupids, puti, satyrs, maenads, fauns or any other creature of myth;
(2) “Physiology belonging to children;
(3) “Male or female ´areas´ hinted at only by a bulge or dip in cloth;
(4) “Physiology too small or shaded to be immediately recognizable;
(5) “Paintings no on show in the main galleries (level O and Rooms 5 and 10 are excluded from analysis).”

Let´s start with Britain.

"Maja Clothed" Francisco de Goya

Not a single British painting shows nudity.

Spain wasn´t far behind in clothing its models. (See, however, Francisco de Goya´s “Nude Maja” at the Prado.)

By comparison, about 80 percent of Flemish paintings reveal “rude parts,” Roadshow reported.

Once you factor Christ´s controversial nipples into the equation, Italian artists accounted for 51% of them.

What was the National Gallery´s visual sin bin?

"Nude Maja" by Goya

Room 29, which shows 22 female nipples, 5 male nipples, and 3 women´s “areas.”

Roadshow credits Peter Paul Rubens for tipping the scales in Room 29.

It´s doubtful Roadshow will revisit this subject, although it suggests “future researchers might also care to examine the ubiquity of buttocks and suggestive cleavage in western art.

“A comparative study of anatomical depiction among art traditions of different ethnicity would also be of interest.”

Rock on and practice peace and love.
Stefan, the ArtTraveler ™

Visit Andalusia for a walking holiday or week-long sculpture or mosaics workshop. See: and

"Spanish life stilled," photograph by Stefan van Drake (2009)

Check ArtTraveler´s latest video, an interview with Scottish illustrator and painter, Gordon Wilson, about his new "I Love Fish" exhibition, inspired by a commissioned mural he did 12 years ago for a West Glasgow gangster, who loved supporting writers and artists as well as organized crime.

You may reach me at or by calling (34) 915 067 703 or from the UK at BT landline rates, 0844 774 8349

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

U.S.A. artists Will Barnet and Erma Winfield give "90´s art" new context

"Meditation" by Will Barnet

"The Young Couple," Will Barnet

"Mujer ALAeyendo," Will Barnet (1970)

These two never met a blank canvas or fiberglass corrugated fence they could not conquer and paint.

It takes longer now, though.

Will Barnet, who turns 100 in May, paints every day at the National Arts Club in Manhattan where he has lived 35 years and has his studio.

New York arts professionals consider Barnet a vibrant icon among New York´s artists, dead and alive, an accomplished painter who taught printmaking to Mark Rothko, Eva Hesse and Cy Twombly.

He taught printmaking for 45 years at the Art Students League

Barnet remains mentally acute when it comes to recalling with vivid precision 70 years of the state´s art history.

“We never expected to sell, much less get rich.”

“When I started, we did not expect to sell, much less get rich,” he told Dan Bischoff, for The Star Ledger newspaper.

“Nobody bought any paintings for 10, 20 years during the Depression. It’s was a commitment and a passion.

“Artists wanted nothing more than to get together and talk about art, to have philosophical discussions.

"Blue Robe," print, Will Barnet (1971)
“There was an intimacy among artists that today´s artist have lost,” he told Bischoff.

Barnet never lost the passion, but he´s lost some of his past pace.

Barnet can knock out only about 10 paintings a year as he negotiates life with relative ease in his wheelchair.

Erma Winfield and her fence

Look out, Will, you´re an art historian with a computer-like recall, but you may not know that in MidCity, Los Angeles, Erma Winfield, age 94, must have caught wind of your artforce.
Erma Winfield stands before mural in progress.
Erma this month wrapped up a nearly nine-month project (working half an hour daily) painting a 40-foot, fiberglass, corrugated fence, a series of panels, into her naïve-style portrayal of the four seasons, while consuming $150 of exterior acrylic house paint.

All this on a vague challenge issued by a neighbor.

Winfield is self-taught, a regular Grandma Moses, who hails as a great-great granddaughter of an African slave, from Natchez, Mississippi, the Deep South.

Will, on the other hand, is a highly educated painter and printmaker and retired art professor.
"Mothers,"Will Barnet (1930)

Both reject age as a barrier to creativity.

Like father, like son

The New Jersey artist, who paints daily like Erma Winfield, recently opened a show of 10 of his works from last year at the Montclair Art Museum, calling it, “Centennial Celebration.”

His son, Peter, age 72, heads the painting department at Montclair and often takes Dad to the MOMA, where both continue to be thoroughly enriched.

Paraphrasing Pablo Picasso, inspiration is a cool thing when it finds us working.

Rock on and practice peace and love.
Stefan, the ArtTraveler ™

"Blurred Vision I," photograph by Stefan van Drake
Art travel to Andalusia and experience a week-long sculpture or mosaics workshop given by a maestro, Moira Schepel, or take a walking holiday in our majestic mountains protected by a national park with trailblazer Joost Schepel. See: and

"Palma Lights" by Stefan van Drake
Reach me by e-mailing or calling (34) 951 067 703 or if from the UK, at BT landline rates, 0844 774 8349. Please alert me to art news tips, happenings or background information for stories of mutual interest.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Three Kentucky Hispanic curators probe human pain behind United State´s festering immigration crisis

Photograph by Lucia A. Gomez

“The art in ´Crossings/Travesias´ creates awareness and builds community. We go beyond thought into the experiential, displaying with depth and clarity the struggle of the Latino/a-Chicano/a community, provoking dialogue about immigration and migration, focusing on how our system affects people´s lives.” 

Marta Miranda, co-curator of Lexington Art League´s (LAL) 25 March – 14 MayCrossings/Travesias” exhibition, Loudoun House, Lexington, Kentucky.

Digital large format collage by Jesus Macarena-Avila

Maria Isavel Vasquez Jimenez pleaded with her bosses for a water break.

She had worked nine straight hours in a vineyard non-stop in 99-degree California sun without shade or relief.

Her overlords refused.

Maria, age 18, died later that day, one of many casualties of America´s immigration crisis.

Detail of Skeleton installation by Diane Kahlo

For Maria Isavel to have crossed the border, she may have also been raped and robbed.

Lexington Spanish-language newspaper La Voz reports 6 of 10 females making the “crossing” from Mexico to the United States are raped and robbed by bandits.

These grave injustices (and others) deeply impact the show´s three curators.

´Feminicde´ and the "Wall of Memories: Las Desaparecidas de Juarez"

Co-curator Diane Kahlo, Lexington, Kentucky full-time artist and third-generation Hispanic American, researched this and scores of similar stories as part of a two-year Kentucky state arts grant and project.

She has painted about 100 small portraits of women murdered in Juarez, Mexico, all victims of feminicide, as Kahlo called it.

She paints the portraits from among 150 photographs of the murdered women.

Diane Kahlo´s Skeleton installation (5 ft. x 7 ft.)

Kahlo opens her "Wall of Memories: Las Desaparecidas de Juarez" exhibition in October or November at the University of Kentucky, Lexington.

One of Kahlo´s paintings appears in “Crossings/Travesias,” “Homenaje a Maria Isavel.” 
The painting makes Maria Isavel, who died in 2008, a “metaphor for the exploitation and inhumane treatment of thousands of people who pick our vegetables and fruits and slaughter our chickens, so that we can have cheap prices,” Kahlo said in a Monday phone interview.

Other participating artists:

·        Lucia A. Gomez, Houston, Texas;
·        Delilah Montoya & Orlando Lara (video collaboration), Ithaca, New York;
·        Fabio Rodriguez, St. Louis, Missouri;
·        Sonia Baez-Hernandez, Miami, Florida;
·        Mari Mujica, Louisville;
·        Mary Carothers, Louisville;
·        Daniel Carona, Lexington;
·        Agustin Zarate, Lexington;
·        Jesus Macarena-Avila, Chicago;
·        Andres Cruz, Lexington;
Detail from sculpture and installation by Mary Carothers
·        Marta Miranda, Louisville.

Joining Kahlo as co-curators, fellow artist-activists: Cuban – born Marta Miranda, president and CEO of the non-profit Center for Women and Families, Louisville, and Andres Cruz, a native of Costa Rica and since 2003, editor-publisher of La Voz, the Ohio Valley´s only Spanish-English newspaper, a bi-weekly.

Miranda creates textile art; Cruz is a photographer.

“Crossings/Travesias”  includes about 50 works: installations, photographs, oil paintings, mixed-media, masks, metal sculpture, paper Mache, spray-painted images by an urban artist, who can usually be found custom illustrating car hoods, said LAL exhibitions director Becky Alley in a Monday phone interview.

“Immigration is a most important and politically charged topic; our job is not to convince anyone to think one way or another politically but to present the human story,” she added.

Fabio Rodriguez

Curators harness their history of arts activism

The curators previously worked together as pro-gender equality and anti-violence activists, sometimes morphing into performance art with peaceful protest, like handing out bottles of water to people, symbolizing the hundreds of Mexicans who die from dehydration each year trying to make the crossing.

Large format photograph by Delilah Montoya
It´s impossible to avoid merging art with politics, especially if you are passionate about the Mexico – United States immigration issue.
As Cruz wrote in a recent La Voz editorial:

“…we must address the root causes of non-authorized immigration: inadequate legal means for working and immigrating to the United States, a deportation-driven strategy that focuses on numbers rather than genuine threats to national security, and a failure to enact a consistent and balanced federal plan for regulating immigration.”

Painted bike sculpture by Jorge Jimenez & Agustin Zarate

Cruz and his co-curators protest against a inhumane and unjust policies and practices such as investing billions in barriers and punitive deportation measures, or laws like Arizona´s controversial statute that originally pemitted police to stop anyone and ask for papers, a regular drag net.

The US Supreme Court killed that part of the law. But the rest remains.
Proponents of the Arizona approach tried unsuccessfully to push through a similar law in Kentucky, said Kahlo.

Federal appellate courts still wrestle with the Arizona law.

Meanwhile, the US is home to an estimated 25 million illegals, most of them Hispanic.

The Hispanic population of Lexington has doubled in 10 years, Kahlo, Alley and Miranda agreed.

About three years ago, the curators met in Chicago with fellow activist, Jesus Macarena-Avila.

“Jesus urged us to propose his kind of exhibit it LAL in Lexington, really inspiring us,” Kahlo said. He told curators they would succeed.

Mask by Fabio Rodrigue
Has the exhibit accomplished its mission?

An emphatic, “Yes!” said Miranda.
“We had he best crowd ever (at the Loundoun House), more than 400, and many brown and black people.  Part of the whole purpose and goal--including doing workshops with kids--is to build community and awareness,” she added.

Minature portraits by Diane Kahlo
Incredibly diverse communities showed up for the opening, and they seemed extremely impressed, Miranda said. 

“Sometimes, people told me just how painful it was to look at some of the images.”

Kahlo put it this way: “I believe in the power of art to create social change or dialogue. 

"Art has a way of drawing people in, who can be enticed to look, think and be brought into the conversation by their reaction to the art, which addresses multiple issues.”

Rock on and practice peace and love.

Stefan, the ArtTraveler ™

Come to Andalusia for a walking holiday or week-long sculpture or mosaics workshop. See: and

Moorish castle, Montánchez, Extremadura

You can reach me at stefanvandrake@gmail. com or by calling 34 915 067 703 or from the UK at BT landline rates, 0844 774 8349. 

I am always glad to hear from readers, especially to learn of arts news tips, background information, story ideas which may interest us all. 

(All photographs courtesy of artists and Lexington Arts League, except Moorish castle, by Stefan van Drake.)                           

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Miami fires up Arteaméricas´ Latin art sales in $5k - $25k bracket--Cuba, Mexico & Argentina blazing away

Arteamericas at the Miami Beach Convention Center

Arteaméricas´ vice-president, Cuban-born Emilio Calleja, was seeing allot of red Friday late morning and liked it.

“Lots of red dots scattered among the galleries, so quickly after opening, always a good sign,” Calleja told ArtTraveler in a phone interview Saturday (26 March).

He reported brisk sales in the $5,000 - $25,000 price bracket, with one notable exception.
A work by Wilfredo Lam (not one sold)

Miami´s Latin Art Core gallery owners a couple hours before our interview told him they sold a Wilfredo Lam work for $75,000.

We checked LAC´s website; of five Lam´s shown, two are noted “sold,” yet under “inventory,” there´s only one available as of early Sunday morning:  “L´ action,”  Carboncillo-aciete en papel, 24 in. x 21 in. (1946).

We were unable to confirm which Lam actually sold by posting deadline.

Sales volume and quality of art high

Overall, said Calleja, sales volume at mid-fair soared above last year´s sales.  “Gallerists are smiling.”

Just when the fair winds down and closes at 5 p.m. EST Monday, is when there´s a surge in sales, said Calleja. “That´s when people come back to negotiate.”

Understandably, Cuba, the home team, led sales followed by Mexico, this year´s focus country, and Argentina.

Cubans carved out their own island of exhibits at the Miami Beach Convention Center.

“Cuban art sells very well, the contemporary works, even an installation sold for $15,000,” Calleja said.

A Valéria Yamamoto sculpture

The Valéria Yamamoto and José Fernandez installations and sculptures continue to impact fair goers, he added.

The two series of Mexican totems, as tall as 25 feet that frame the fair entrance this year, provide the “WOW” effect.

And Calleja, an executive of a Miami PR firm, loves the “WOW” effect, especially when it´s bristling with Latino colors and corazon--heart and spirit.

Mexican totems

A new multi-focal art fair

Also, Artéamericas for the first time targeted one country as its centerpiece—Mexico—but also peeled back another layer of Latin American art, which the fair calls, “West Encounters East.”

Argentinean artists of Japanese lineage lead the way in this visual exploration, since there´s no one who can really adequately define “Latin American Art,” other than by its etiology.

Calleja and other fair organizers prefer an inclusive, not exclusive approach.

Of the 54 exhibiting galleries, 21 emerge from Miami; 14 from Mexico; 11 from Argentina.

Colombia fielded two galleries with one each from Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Bolivia and El Salvador.

Three galleries from Cordoba, Spain produce a robust Andalusia presence.

It´s the best fair of the nine, Calleja said. “The volume of purchases shows the economy has picked up.”

What´s different this year from last?

While hosting only 54 galleries in three locations, mainly at the Miami Beach Convention Center, Arteamericas boasts the “highest quality” of any other Latin American art fair.

Fair organizers would, of course.

What about the new Latin American art hotspot, Houston, with its inaugural fair in September? I ask. And New York and…..

“We´re Miami,” said Calleja emphatically. “What more is there to say?”

Never argue with a Cuban about such things, including Castro.

Arteamericas ´ executive director, Mariá Nápoles, in a phone interview Saturday, confirmed that sales and quality of works are much higher than last year.

She served as last year’s director (her first).  Her handprints on the fair are soon apparent.


“Centroamerica: Civism and Violence”

While Calleja cares more for the gallerists´pocket books, as he should (“It´s a commercial fair.”), Nápoles sees another picture.

She infuses a Latino socio-political arts pathos and ethos, especially in the special Central American exhibit—“Centroamerica: Civism and Violence”—on gang violence and the plight of innocent civilians caught in the cross-fire.

“These gangs are absolutely violent, destroy society and have no respect for the civil life,” she said.

Nápoles pointed to the special show and its stark installation of rocks and flowers on the large floor mat made of rice, corn and beans, Central American´s basic diet, an expansive cemetery, she explained.
Symbols of Central American gang violence

Fourteen artists collaborated in producing the exhibit, primarily photographs, graphic ones, although there is one large-format painting symbolizing poor people´s plight in crossing borders, in being victimized and exploited by multi-nationals and plantation owners.

Nápoles also fleshed out the symposia this year with a cadre of heavy weights, engaging public and arts professionals: “Much more intellectual and more in depth, even broader than last year.”

Emerging artists are the winners

Worth allot more than just mentioning: Video Art 2011.

Artéamericas issued an open call for videos and then juried them, selecting 22 from 1 to 5 minutes long, part of a traveling show hitting more than 25 museums.

But what Napoles appears most enthusiastic about is the focus Artéamericas gives this year and last to emerging Latino artists—its NewArt section.

Another first: four juried art students, each from a different Florida university or arts institute, show their work as part of the extended fair in Fort Lauderdale.
“The emerging artists are the ones who get the most out of our fair,” Nápoles said.

“We´re trying to bring new galleries and projects, a strong message of who we are and what is interesting to our social and economic life, always impacted by the United States.”

Rock on and practice peace and love.

Stefan, the ArtTraveler™

Take a walking holiday or experience a week-long sculpture or mosaics workshop in our mountains of Andalusia. See: and

 Jaime Adan on mountain walk in Andalusia, photograph by S. van Drake

You may reach me at or by calling (34) 951 067 703 or from the UK at BT landline rates, 0844 774 8349. 

Please alert me to any arts news tips, happenings or story idea you think most of us would appreciate. Professionalism and discretion assured.