While I am glad the Washington City Paper is writing about Art-O-Matic and hope you will continue to follow its progress through the exhibition, I have a few comments on your coverage (Show & Tell, 9/3). Chris Shott doesn’t fully understand Art-O-Matic; he calls the artwork “mostly unjuried.” Although some of the performing artists were selected, all of the artwork was unjuried—open to anyone willing to pay the small fee and serve the volunteer hours.
It appears that Shott got most of his information about Art-O-Matic from reading clips in your paper. I am sure journalistic research allows reporters to read information from other sources, and had he looked at the Washington Post, he would have found two reviews with positive things to say about the last Art-O-Matic: one in the Sunday Arts section and one in Weekend. And if Shott had been interested in doing a little more diligent research in the City Paper archives, he could have found examples of positive reviews of artists who have participated in Art-O-Matic, including some written by Glenn Dixon.
Manon Cleary, who was the subject of a recent City Paper cover story, not only has participated in Art-O-Matic, she has organized a show at the University of the District of Columbia for an artist she found through Art-O-Matic. The District of Columbia Arts Center (on whose board I serve) has selected several artists from Art-O-Matic for exhibitions in its gallery, as well, including Djakarta Jacobs, Nekeisha Durrett, and Lynn Putney (who currently has a solo show at the DCAC).
I visited each Art-O-Matic multiple times (and I helped in a very small way with organizing the last two). Had I focused on unappealing artwork or the nonpristine surroundings, I too could have called the show “amateurish” or “an abomination.” I chose to focus on the interesting artwork and energy that could be found all through Art-O-Matic. The ability to discover little-known artists about whom Glenn Dixon may eventually write “show-stealing” (Dan Steinhilber) or “has made a name for himself over the past few years” (Graham Caldwell) makes Art-O-Matic worth a look. You do your readers a disservice by not pointing out the good side of Art-O-Matic.