Artomatic 2012


May 13, 2012

Installation is complete!  Today was the last day to get everything up on the wall.  I had a few things to do:  put up two stencil paintings (which i finished THIS MORNING), put up labels for all the paintings (title and price), and draw on my chalkboard door and signage.  As you know, I’m on the top floor of the building, with the best view an artist space can have (abank of windows out of which one can see the Washington Monument, Jefferson Memorial and Capitol).  The third wall (opposite the window) belongs to Tisha Washington, who hung her elegant photographs tonight.  Not only are they beautiful, but so is she, and as we got to talking we discovered that we LIVE IN THE SAME NEIGHBORHOOD — Capitol Hill.  She is a dogwalker for Saving Grace, and what’s extraordinary is that I’d never heard of her dogwalking company before this MORNING, when i read a glowing review on my local Lincoln Park listserve.  Now, how coincidental is that?

We did our last minute tinkering and then Mike and I reported for duty for one of the worst volunteer jobs at Artomatic — getting people to leave by 10pm on  the last day of installation.  And there were some fierce holdouts:  the family (including Mom — happy Mother’s Day mom! ) who showed up at 9pm to paint their room. What were they thinking?  And the person who arrived at 9:30pm to hang her paintings.  What were you thinking? Seriously! We all wait until the last minute, but this was ridiculous! The volunteers gathered at 9:45 and started sweeping the floors– starting on the top floor — to make sure that everyone was out on time.  I had gone through three floors earlier, after I finished my space, bellowing that the freight elevator would stop at 9:30 and that the doors would SHUT at 10pm – haha — and I was sure that the couple working on their pedastals at 9:15 would NEVER be ready — but they were! And so were most of the last minuteers.    We finished up just shy of 11pm.  And guess what? Hardly any restaurants are open at 11pm on a Sunday night (I’d promised Mike a buffalo burger from Ted’s Montana – oh well!).

Here is my space, and a photo of Tisha and her groovy photographs:




chalkboard door

Tish and her photographs


And here is some of what I saw today:

Dan Hildt's way cool luminescent mineral painted artworks- they use available light - not blacklight


soda can installation

creepy doll installation


Peeps!! Roman Forum (yes there will be a lot of peeps dioramas)


Michelle Frazier's finished installation

death of free speech with rush limbaugh. The curtain is made of cassette tape

Giant whats

Had Matter


cool mobiles




May 12, 2012

Tomorrow is the last day of installation.  Here are some way cool art works that I’ve seen over the past few days:

Alison Sigethy’s Fragments

Marcia Fry's sculptures are eerie and mystifying







Big marbles in a furniture like contraption, lit from behind

Nire Nah says that she creates this complicated constructs solely for herself!


Sarah Levy and Jim Maio

Extremely realistic oils


Christopher Mararac's toothy bear gets some friends!

nice encaustics


May 10, 2012

We went to Artomatic to hang what’s there, and i managed to fill most of two walls with paintings.  In one of my walls there is a huge honking metal door, which is locked.  I glued foam to the frame and was starting to figure out a cool backlit encaustic installation, but when we got to the room the foam strips were down and a note tacked on the door said Feel free to paint the door, but it has to open. Well DANG! So I guess i’ll paint the door. Tonight. with chalkboard paint, if it doesn’t slide off the metal.  I’ve got small encaustic paintings to hang, too. Oh — I have to get a guest book or something, and something to put it on. And what about the metal pipe sticking up from the middle of the floor?  I guess I could cover it with….Chloe!

Here’s what we did and a few things we saw:

Bubble paintings are UPThe bubble paintings are UP

Mike suggested putting up an empty frame with “Your Face Here” and a $ amount!!

Emily Piccirillo has some amazing work: She stretches canvas on metal rods and paints wondeful,

ethereal paintings, then paints the wall behind to make a beautiful glow

Bears have teeth



May 6, 2012

I finished my third volunteer shift tonight, as gallery manager. I learned a few things.

My first shift, last week, was working a floor (1st floor), helping artists select and reserve their spaces.  The first floor was pretty lonely, but  managed to “sell” some good walls.  My second shift, two nights ago,  was working a floor (third), helping artists install their work.  It was also pretty lonely, but we were in the first week of installation.    This, my third shift, was gallery manager.   There were 18 volunteers– some working the loading dock, one working the freight elevator, two runners, and the rest worked the floors, helping artists install, making sure that they were following the code rules  (what kind of lights are allowed, what you can /cannot paint over, etc), and ensuring that all artists were out of thebuilding (hahaha) by 9:15pm.  We have been closing early the past few days because of the massive subway repairs going on – the Metro closes at 10pm.

What I learned today: Being the gallery manager is a lot like a computer help desk.  People come to you with their problems.  This building has some problems.  There is a leak in an area on the 11th(top) floor.  A large area on the second floor has no electricity.  Overhead lights are flickering or out on other floors.  Artists who have adjoining walls may think that their neighbors are encroaching on their spaces.   A floor manager or gallery manager may have said that something is OK, when it may not be OK.  Will the volunteers vacuum the building before the show opens?  Hmmm.. I don’t know.    Sometimes an artist may forget where she or he is, and mistake the gallery manager for a sales clerk at the Gap, “I was pressing the freight elevator button for TEN WHOLE MINUTES and the elevator never came! Why don’t you do something about that?”  Me: “Well I don’t think that the elevator buttons work very well.”  “Well you need to fix that.”  When she found out that the freight elevator had already closed for the evening, I thought that she would cry.   I said, “We will help you,” and I found someone to  take her down.”

So the Large Lesson for today is:  Artists:  It isn’t going to be perfect — there will be problems — not everything is totally our control. Much is not. The volunteers are working very hard to help you. Treat them as you would treat yourself, because it could be you on the receiving end.   Be patient.  That said, I had the audacity to ask all the volunteers if they’d had a good time tonight! They all said yes!

Artists have exactly one week to install their works, and I am surprised at how few have been working on their spaces.

Some artists have a LOT of work to do — they want their spaces to make their art look as good as possible, so they are painting the walls before hanging up their paintings.  Some are just painting the walls (beautifully):


Here are some photos of some cool installations (some still in progress):

Cool paintings made from shells by Atti Vakili:

I stumbled across these way cool retro paintings…. Perry Mason on the TV and Bob Peck Chevrolet! Hey!


Jennifer Beinhacker:

and — on the same floor as the Peeps exhibit (yes, the annual Washington Post Peeps diorama/sculpture contest) — an anti-Peeps exhibit:



May 5, 2012

We are in an 11 story building in Crystal City, Va, across the  Potomac from downtown DC. Artists are beginning to install their works in 9 of  the floor –two were closed because there is so much space. I have done two of  my five 5-hour shifts — the first was working on a floor to help artists choose  their spaces, and the second was last night, making sure that artists are  installing their work correctly. Or, rather, making sure that they don’t commit  no-nos like using more than 100w per electrical plug. Other volunteers were on  other floors, or operating the freight elevator, guarding artwork on the loading  dock while artists move their cars, counting garbage cans and vacuuming with
industrial vacs. My two shifts were rather lonely, but I’m going to be bar  manager on two Saturdays, and that will be hopping. There is a nice, easy-going  comraderie amongst the artists, and I enjoyed chatting with the ones who were
installing on my floor.

Mike lugged half of my paintings up to my space (on  the 11th floor) and we’re going to go back tonight to put them on. I think that  I’ll put most of the acrylic abstracts on one wall and the musicians series and  encaustic paintings on the other wall. I still haven’t figured out what to do  about the danged door!

Here’s what my space looked like last night:

The plan is to hang  these paintings tomorrow, and the encaustic and stencils next week.

Here are two artists working hard on the floor I monitored last  night – floor 3: Michelle Frazier is painting some big tubes which will transform into  columns on which she’ll put some of her sculptures and stone  work.




Robert Kincheloe, of Bull Run Valley Glass, ( was installing his glassworks — a set of 34 branches  representing the 100th anniversary of the Japanese gifts of cherry trees to the  nation. He also has some drop dead gorgeous fused glass  triptychs.

At the end of my shift, I went up to the 11th floor to take a  peek at what others are installing. I have to say that this floor was hopping!
Here’s some of what I saw.
I’m a big fan of Matt Sesow

Dana Ellyn shares a beautiful space with Matt:


Michael Auger  ( had a fanTAStic room  filled with black light-reactive paintings. It’s a glow in the dark   extravaganza!

Melissa Burley uses recycled materials for her sculptures, which she lights with halogen.

I love Curtis Woody’s works, which he calls “quilt paintings.” He  begins eafch painting with a geometric design of museum board blocks and then  uses many media to tell a story. He also incorporates African symbols and alphabets. bits from slave narratives, along with vintage photographic images.  Curtis says that early 19th century quilt makers sewed secret messages into  quilts which were hung from the windows of safe houses on the Underground  Railroad. His work is on the 3rd floor is should not be missed.


There are some other artists who work in encaustic here, and i  particularly liked this one using ginko leaves.
I don’t know who the artist  is, though…will have to go back to look.

 And here are some interesting wall sculptures:



May 1, 2012

Artomatic is a huge – humongous – gargantuan — art show held in Washington, D.C. — sporadically over the past 12 years.  It’s like a giant pop-up — think entire office buildings — filled with paintings, installations, sculpture, rock bands, performance art, dance concerts and poetry readings.

Anyone can sign up to exhibit/perform; if you’re an artist, you pay $100 plus three 5-hour volunteer shifts. Almost everything is for sale, but art cannot be taken in or out of the building between opening day — this  year it’s May 18 — and July 1. This year Artomatic is in an 11-story office building in Crystal City, Virginia – across the river from downtown DC.  The building is going to be demolished after the show.

I’ve never participated, but I’m part of the show this year. I selected my space yesterday and it’s a beaut on the top floor looking at the Jefferson Memorial and Washington Monument.  Today I did my first volunteer shift, helping artists pick out their spaces and nailing them down (not literally, but with tape).

All day yesterday I worried that I had chosen the wrong space. It’s on the top floor, which is usually good (many people start on the top floor and work their way down), but it’s a total rats maze… and i was a little claustrophobic and then began worrying that people would give up trying to navigate through so many rooms.  Today, while helping folks find spaces on the first floor, i spied a really nice, big, light inner wall, and thought…hm…. maybe I should try to switch spaces. But i went up to my space and… sigh… i made the right decision from the get go.

Dig my crazy space! A gorgeous view  (hope that visitors aren’t so distracted by the view that they ignore my paintings!) and — PADDED walls. Now what do you think is the best way to hang paintings on those walls? They’re about 1″ thick before reaching drywall.

Here are pix from yesterday and today and it’ll be interesting to see how the spaces are transformed.

Le View and part of wall #1



The rest of wall #1. Notice the door, which will be locked. What should I do? paint it

with chalkboard paint? cover it with paper? Make a spiky sculpture? Ideas?



The opposite wall.  I took two walls and will do extra volunteer shifts for it (ie bar manager)



Le View again- this time on a rainy day.



Just a few of the floorplans for the building. Lots of room for everyone!



  2 Responses to “Artomatic 2012”

  1. Great Artomatic preview…can’t wait to see everything! BTW…picture of retro paintings from May 6th post seems to be missing :(

  2. Thanks for the shout-out! Artomatic was a lot of fun this year! :)

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