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WASHINGTON CITY PAPER‘S “Artifacts” (1/6) is a poor start for the new year. M.D. Carnegie misinterpreted his purpose interviewing Jonathan Blum about his forehead paintings for the position of criticizing the artist’s mannerisms. It appears that the interviewer was so preoccupied with the artist’s mannerisms that he forgot to review the show.
Two important elements of Blum’s exhibit went unnoticed by Carnegie. First, Blum incorporates local culture and local people into his work. As Blum travels the world, he takes the time to learn about the places where he lives. The exhibit of “Eight-and-a-Half Years of Jonathan Blum’s Forehead Portraits” at Market Five Gallery includes paintings from European folktale images, American politicians, Israeli Rabbis, everyday people, and animals. The second element is humor and politics. Blum’s portrait of Marion Barry includes the Supreme Court building as a background. The Sesame Street character Bert is teamed up with a rabbi in the same frame, and the portrait is titled Tolerance.
Blum has evolved from an artist who painted cartoonish characters to an artist who paints realistic portraits of people in urban settings. This observation is charted in the article following some tedious comments and unnecessary dialogue. While a critique of this nature is directed at hurting the artist, the interviewer’s weakness proves to be more harmful to City Paper‘s integrity than the artist’s work, especially if Blum’s “tiny buzz” becomes a bigger and louder one.
Chevy Chase, Md.