April 12 – May 24, 2013
Curated by Mark Dagley
Henry Brown, Lori Ellison, Avis Fleming, Robert Franklin Gates, Cynthia Bickley-Green, Colin Greenly, Dan Yellow Kuhne, Alix Lambert, Chris Martin, Ed McGowin, Howard Mehring, Paul Reed, Charlotte Robinson, Robin Rose, Eric Rudd, Roy Slade, Carroll Sockwell, Melissa Staiger, Robert Swain, Joan Waltemath, Thornton Willis, Ed Zerne
Ventana 244 is pleased to present BANNED IN D.C., organized by Mark Dagley. This exhibition includes the work of twenty-two artists whose connections with the Washington D.C./Baltimore art scene are multifaceted.
While the majority of artists included are alive and practicing, in several instances the work presented is historic. Forgotten artists are revisited as if anew, their legacies intact and awaiting us. Many in this small but concise exhibition grew up in the D.C/Baltimore area, walked the same streets and viewed the same works at The Phillips Collection, The National Gallery, The Hirshhorn and Corcoran Museums. Many have taught their profession there, a few still do. It is not surprising that most of these artists began their careers exhibiting in the galleries that once existed along P Street and in the surrounding Dupont Circle neighborhood.
Perhaps the residual effects of the Washington Color School can be surmised in this exhibition, albeit in a diminutive scale. However, the D.C. art scene has always had a broader spectrum, one that exists beyond the Color School. Something about the region seems to produce artists with a deeply individualistic character. Maybe it’s the southern light, the almost Mediterranean glow that sometimes descends over the city and is absorbed by the Potomac River, the marble monuments and the low lying buildings. It penetrates but also isolates the artists who have lived and worked there. Clement Greenberg, writing about Morris Louis and Kenneth Noland, was correct in stating that “…and in so far as they accept the consequences of their isolation they make all the more of a moral decision.”
As the contemporary art world continues its suicidal descent into commercialism, brand identity and conformity, the artists in this exhibition suggest a different strategy. Their method is, in many cases, a type of radicalism particular to the area and its historic contingencies. This unique situation, coupled with an always hyper-personal approach, allows for ever evolving and resonate images.
A supplementary component of this exhibition is a selection of documentation on the Washington/Baltimore art scene from 1949-2012.