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Curator for OPTIONS 2005 has been fired

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OPTIONS 2005 Curator Fired

Last Saturday I was told that Philip Barlow, who last August was announced as the curator for the WPA/C Options 2005 Biennial, has been fired.

Here’s what happened and then my comments on the whole issue:

As reported in the Washington Post, in September Barlow made it known that he was excluding from Options 2005 all artists who participated in the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities’ Party Animals and Pandamania projects. “They made a bad choice, and there are consequences to bad choices,” Barlow said.

I am told that Barlow made it clear to the WPA/C (from the very beginning) that he intended to exclude all artists who participated in those projects; apparently it was no secret to the WPA/C.

However, when the issue made the papers and was then brought up to the attention of the Corcoran Board of Trustees, pressure was put on Barlow to quit; he stuck to his beliefs and as a result, he was fired.

My thoughts on this subject: I disagree 100% with Philip Barlow’s decision to exclude all artists who participated in these two projects from being considered for Options 2005; however, I respect and defend his right, as the curator, to make that decision. He has that right and it was wrong of the Corcoran to fire him from the job.

Barlow’s logic in excluding all Pandamania and Party Animals artists from Options 2005 is as flawed as the logic that says that all Art-O-Matic artists are bad, amateur artists. Barlow has worked very hard in the past to support and defend Art-O-Matic (which by the way, gets a large amount of financial support from the DC Arts Commission), and it is surprising that he doesn’t see the logical relationship between what he was doing to Pandamania and Party Animals artists and what most art critics in this town did to Art-O-Matic’s artists.

Having said that, I back Barlow’s right to make whatever decision he chooses to make as a curator. It is his goddamned right to exclude whoever and whatever he so chooses, just as it is my and your right to disagree with his decision – but he owns the right to make it!

And Barlow has been working very hard for the last few months visiting artists’ studios and gallery openings, etc. He is a constant figure at most visual arts events in Washington, and probably knows more about our city’s art scene (I suspect) than most of the members of the Corcoran Board of Trustees added together.

I love the WPA/C and what they do for Washington art and artists – but they blew it in this case.

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About Lenny Campello