Archive | May, 2011

Art Heals! Conceptual Project in Soho

31 May

Founded by Russian born conceptual artist, Alexander Melamid, the Art Healing Ministry opens its doors in Soho, NYC.  Describe your maladies, get prescribed art for healing, and purchase art infused home remedies.  This website is worth a look:

Art Healing Ministry, 98 Thompson St, New York, NY 10012

(e)merge art fair from September 22nd-25th in DC

24 May

Exciting news for the DC art world!  (e)merge art fair will have its debut this September 22nd-25th at the Capitol Skyline Hotel.

About the fair as described on the (e)merge website:

“The (e)merge art fair celebrates galleries, artists, artists’ work and the creative process. The Fair garners support from all corners of the artworld and aims to create an energetic environment of collaboration and discovery.

(e)merge will take place September 22 – 25, 2011, in Washington, DC, within blocks of the U.S. Capitol Building, at the Capitol Skyline Hotel. The Fair will feature dozens of international galleries and nonprofits in the Hotel rooms on designated exhibition floors. Throughout the Hotel’s public areas and grounds, (e)merge will provide exhibition space, free of charge, for vetted works in various media by artists who are currently not represented.”

For more information please visit:

American Art Collector Magazine’s 4 Page Coverage of ‘Stories that Breathe’

17 May

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Hadieh Shafie at Morton Fine Art, Reviewed

10 May

Arts Desk

Hadieh Shafie at Morton Fine Art, Reviewed

Posted by John Anderson , The Washington City Paper, on May. 9, 2011 at 2:30 pm

Mention the circle, and two giants of contemporary art spring to mind: Jasper Johns and Kenneth Noland. For D.C., Noland is the foremost champion of the circle, since his career, and his circles, began here in the 1950s (perhaps from driving around them so often in his cab). It’s a familiar motif, and one that defies easy reinvention. That’s why the work of Hadieh Shafie is so surprising.

Shafie’s “scroll paintings” have made up much of her work of the last decade, but some of her ink and acrylic drawings will remind audiences of Noland. Works like “Still of the Turn” and “Keep on Turning” build concentric bands of rich color around a radius that appears to be a hole punched in the center of the paper. The holes could be large enough for the knob of a record player turntable to fit through.

Hadieh Shafie, '10400'

Hadieh Shafie, '10400'

Tom Wolfe referred to Noland in The Painted Word as “the fastest painter alive.” This might also apply to Shafie’s drawings, if they weren’t done with love. Literally: Shafie has written the word love in Farsi (“eshghe”) across and down the drawings. In “Radiate Out” and “Radiate In,” “eshghe” emerges from the center, becoming darker or lighter as the words near the edge.

On her website, Shafie recalls making little cookies with her grandmother, each the size of a quarter, and dotting each precisely in the center with saffron. Her earliest experience of the power of repetition carries through in each piece, and echoes the traditions of her Islamic heritage. The paintings on the wall are made up of hundreds of tiny bulls-eyes, not unlike the drawings. However, upon closer inspection there is a physical depth to each work. The paintings are assemblages of thousands of little paper scrolls, tightly and meticulously wound, their edges dyed. Inside the scrolls, one word can be read: “eshghe.” Through every inch of every scroll, the word “eshghe” is written again and again, like a breath: essential to the work and yet as unnoticeable as one’s own respiration. The title of each work is a number: 10250 pages, 12001 pages, 22500 pages. Each references the number of pages contained within each work; the pages are wound to make the scrolls. All told, Safie uses hundreds, if not thousands of scrolls in a work.

Clearly Shafie, an Iranian-born artist, approaches each work mindful of her past and her identity. But the diligence it takes to roll thousands of tiny scrolls, each with hand-painted edges and repetitiously inscribed with the word “love,” might seem dreadfully dull. However, how many traditions did our ancestors carry with them to this country? Mexican families might make a day of making hundreds of enchiladas. Chinese families might take a day to make hundreds of egg rolls. Italian families might take a day to make hundreds of ravioli or gnocchi. Some traditions still get passed down through generations; for Shafie, the tradition has transgressed the kitchen and found its way into the studio. The result is not something we consume with the mouth, but rather with the eye. Both her circular and rectilinear compositions are loud and active with frenzied rhythms of differing circumferences, colors, and color combinations. They are eye-candy, easily consumed, and filled with that ingredient with which all good dishes are made: love.

Whistler’s Peacock Room at DC’s Freer Gallery of Art

5 May

One of my favorite DC museum destinations…and a wonderful story for the art history books!

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The Peacock Room was once the dining room in the London home of Frederick R. Leyland, a wealthy shipowner from Liverpool, England. It was originally designed by a gifted interior architect named Thomas Jeckyll. To display Leyland’s prized collection of Chinese porcelain to best advantage, Jeckyll constructed a lattice of intricately carved shelving and hung antique gilded leather on the walls. A painting by James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903) called La Princesse du pays de la porcelaine — or The Princess from the Land of Porcelain — occupied a place of honor above the fireplace.

Jeckyll had nearly completed his commission when he consulted Whistler — who was then working on decorations for the entrance hall of Leyland’s house — about the color to paint the dining room shutters and doors. Concerned that the red roses on the leather hangings clashed with the colors in The Princess, Whistler volunteered to retouch the walls with traces of yellow. Leyland permitted Whistler to make that minor alteration and also to adorn the wainscoting and cornice with a “wave pattern” derived from the design on the leaded glass of the pantry door. Assuming the decoration of the room to be virtually complete, Leyland went back to his business in Liverpool.

In his patron’s absence, Whistler was inspired to make bolder revisions. He covered the ceiling with Dutch metal, or imitation gold leaf, over which he painted a lush pattern of peacock feathers. He then gilded Jeckyll’s walnut shelving and embellished the wooden shutters with four magnificently plumed peacocks.

Whistler wrote to Leyland that the dining room was “really alive with beauty — brilliant and gorgeous while at the same time delicate and refined to the last degree,” boasting that the changes he had made were past imagining. “I assure you,” he said, “you can have no more idea of the ensemble in its perfection gathered from what you last saw on the walls than you could have of a complete opera judging from a third finger exercise!” He urged Leyland not to return to London yet, since he did not want the room to be seen before every detail was perfect.

Yet Whistler entertained visitors and amused the press in the lavishly decorated room, never thinking to ask permission of the owner of the house. His audacious behavior, coupled with a dispute over payment for the project, provoked a bitter quarrel between the painter and his patron. Leyland would not consent to pay the two thousand guineas that Whistler wanted: “I do not think you should have involved me in such a large expenditure without previously telling me of it,” he wrote to the artist. Eventually Leyland agreed to half that amount, but he further insulted Whistler by writing his check in pounds, the currency of trade, when payment to artists and professionals was customarily made in guineas. A pound is worth twenty shillings and a guinea twenty-one, so the already offensive sum was also smaller than expected.

Perhaps in retaliation, Whistler took the liberty of coating Leyland’s valuable leather with Prussian-blue paint and depicting a pair of peacocks aggressively confronting each other on the wall opposite The Princess. He used two shades of gold for the design and highlighted telling details in silver. Scattered at the feet of the angry bird are the coins (silver shillings) that Leyland refused to pay; the silver feathers on the peacock’s throat allude to the ruffled shirts that Leyland always wore. The poor and affronted peacock has a silver crest feather that resembles the lock of white hair that curled above Whistler’s forehead. To make sure that Leyland understood his point, Whistler called the mural of the fighting peacocks “Art and Money; or, The Story of the Room.” He obtained a blue rug to complete the scheme and titled the room Harmony in Blue and Gold. After concluding his work in March 1877, the artist never saw the Peacock Room again.

The Freer Gallery of Art
1050 Independence Ave SW
P.O. Box 37012, MRC 707
Washington, D.C. 20013-7012