Sunday, September 19, 2010

Beautiful Failures

On Saturday evening, I searched everywhere for a partner in crime to drag to the opening of Beautiful Failures at Art Whino. Ravena, who rarely shies away from an adventure, agreed to make the trek to National Harbor with me and gaze at art with important, knowing glances.

I like art (a lot) and sometimes wonder if I should develop more discerning taste. Walking into a gallery like Art Whino, one of my favorites, I find that I am overwhelmed by the pieces before me. Seeing so many pieces that catch my eye is a bit like seeing an attractive boy. My pulse starts to race, and I can feel my face getting a bit flushed. I struggle internally, fighting the impulse to zoom on to the next piece of eye candy when I should be fully digesting the emotion and effort of the work before me. Below are just a few of the paintings and bits of mixed media that gave me that initial rush.

Walking through the exhibit I came full circle. While I can take away visual inspiration from a number of different artists and art forms, discernment comes when deciding which ones I want to allow into my home and to become a part of my life. Which artists am I willing to support with my hard-earned paycheck? Maybe I'm taking this entire analogy too far, but selecting a piece of art can be akin to selecting a mate. I believe the right pieces don't just hang on the wall, giving your eye a pleasant place to rest when sitting on the couch. They should also give back in some way, perhaps sparking a mental debate or emotional response.

A number of factors contributed to the way I experienced Richard Salcido's works for Beautiful Failures. It was a fairly crowded opening with live sketching, a musical performance and a lot of bodies milling about, including a decent number of kids. Art is, and should be, for the people, but if you know me at all, you know that I do not function well in crowds. I am an intimate setting, small group kind of gal. By the time we had wound our way around to Salcido, I was feeling a bit raw and exposed (and a tad judgemental).

Fitting emotions given that this is precisely what I felt Salcido's pieces conveyed. After seeing a preview of his work online, I had been a bit worried they would be misogynistic. Instead, it seems to me that Salcido portrays women and girls at their most vulnerable and raw. He captures a moment in time that isn't always pretty but that can be heartbreakingly beautiful. Was there amazing technique or anything truly groundbreaking about these paintings? Not really. What Salcido excelled at was conveying emotion and creating a bond with the viewer (at least this one), and that, to me, is a much bigger art win.


  1. What did the ones you saw online look like?

  2. The same...I just felt a little negative toward them at first, particularly the ones with scratches in them.

  3. Anonymous11:49 PM

    I saw the Salcido show that night myself because a friend of mine had seen some of his work in a swanky New York gallery a few years back and told me he paints women's faces in an interesting way and I have to tag along. I almost didn't go because as a woman I didn't want to see another man painting pretty girls all sexualized and pouty. When I saw them in person, the phrase "paints women's face" does not do the work justice. He paints women, not their faces but their souls. I don't know how he does it especially as a man, but he paints what is to be a woman.


  4. Thanks for the comment, Lara. Glad to see someone else got something deeper out of it, too.