G40: Works in pieces, but not as a whole

Say what you will about the G40, but with the right cropping, it photographs beautifully. So beautiful, in fact, that instead of seeing what I expected to based on the media coverage, G40 greets you, with...florescent lights and gray office carpeting.  Which has a presence throughout the show as strong as most of the work on display.

I wanted to like this exhibit, I really did--a curated show with over 500 artists, many of whom like to spray paint things at random, couldn't have been easy to pull off. But its location at a nondescript Crystal City office building (which requires a trek through one of the most depressing underground malls you'll ever see in order to find) just doesn't work, and the exhibit comes off as clumsy instead of fresh.

Which is doubly a shame because of the good stuff that's included--though I believe the show could've been cut to about half its volume and crammed into one floor, with more attention paid to getting the work to overwhelm the viewer, and fill up more of the blank space--which in an abandoned office, is glaringly obvious. As it is now, the energy of the show is muted by its environment. Instead of coming across as, "We do art because we just can't help ourselves!" the show says, "Yup! We're here, even in inappropriate settings! Weird, eh?" Content seems a bit sparce, too. Most of these artists are excellent draftsmen, but subject matter-wise, quirky portrait after quirky portrait becomes repetitive.

Anyway, some of the highlights below.

This in-your-face sculpture is created from wire and buttons:

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The setting, however, is not doing it justice. Oh, those lights!

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As we know, Ben Toleman is a must-see:

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More examples of pieces I considered stand-out:

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By the way, what country do you think this artist is from? The answer may surprise you!

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(It's France.)

The G40 Summit pre-review

Tomorrow or the next day I'm finally going to check out the G40 Summit in Crystal City, which I am more excited about now that a) it received both a negative review and a positive review in the Washington Post (both of which made good points, though I think Phillip Kennicott might've been a little too gratuitous with his definition of mediocre--how is it "defined in part by its insistence on being heard," exactly?), and b) I read that a few of the artists took the graffiti concept to its logical conclusion and got arrested for painting on the side of the building. The reason I never became a huge fan of most graffiti is actually similar to Kennicott's, in that I find it horribly repetitive--though to be clear, I'm referring to the illegible-tag-with-poofy-letters kind of graffiti, in which the concept doesn't go deeper than marking territory. But I am looking forward to the show, because it seems to contain lots of excellent draftsmen--including Ben Toleman, whose work I adore--and a fun batch of art that would be difficult to track down in most DC galleries. So, pictures and a proper write-up to follow.