The 2008 Liberta Awards

It was an ok year. In general, much of what we saw was ok. The Whitney Biennial is always an ok group show but it’s the ok group show we don’t want to miss–just in case. This year the Carnegie International became ok. All in all we’d rather be in Philadelphia where young artists and not so young artists are moving in and new galleries continue to open.

Better than ok is the Bolt Bus which we’ve learned to love. Yippee.

This is the year Liberta got a ridiculous number of awards — two!! — just for being them. The world is a good place. Now we’re going to pay it forward by giving out this raft of awards.


John Baldessari Faceless Award

John Baldessari illustration

Breaking news! Facebook just kicked us out saying Philly artblog couldn’t play in their playground anymore. They said we were two people!! Clearly they don’t know about Liberta!


Mr. Tchotchka Award

Mickalene Thomas, Brawlin Spitfire Wrestlers 2007, Resin, paint, and Swarovski crystals, h: 10 x w: 14 x d: 9.8 in
Mickalene Thomas, Brawlin Spitfire Wrestlers 2007, Resin, paint, and Swarovski crystals, h: 10 x w: 14 x d: 9.8 in

Larry Mangel with his company, Cerealart, for his continuing inspirational choices for transforming high end art into mid-priced multiples and small editions from the likes of Kehinde Wiley, Mickalene Thomas, Marcel Dzama, Olaf Breuning, Yoshua Okon, etc.

Mano a Mano Award


In the talk of the year, Jerry Saltz and Jeffrey Deitch duked it out at Wharton, sponsored by the Machos of Wharton and the Machettes of the ICA. The boy-o’s said they were really good friends, which didn’t stop them from skirmishing. Nothing like boys with big egos.

Pew Wish List

Works on paper: Joe Boruchow (repeat pick), Chris Davison (repeat), Rob Matthews (repeat), Itzuki Ogihara, Alan Prazniak, Mia Rosenthal, Hunter Stabler (repeat), K-Fai Steele, Sarah Stolfa, Bruce Wilhelm

Media arts: Sarah Christman (repeat), David Kessler (repeat), Jennifer Levonian (if she lives in Philly), Ted Passon (repeat), Shift Collective, Matthew Suib (repeat), Jennie Thwing

Supersize This! Prize

To Jack Wolgin for his endowment of the Wolgin Prize, the biggest international art prize ever. We nominate Zoe Strauss!!!!

Downs to Yale Dean of Fine Arts Rob Storr for his wet blanket debunking of Wolgin’s big gesture (see Inky link for his quote).

Ups to ICA’s Claudia Gould for surprising us with her passionate enthusiasm for Wolgin’s prize (see Inky link). Way to go Claudia! By the way, Ups also to Glenn R. Fuhrman for giving us all free admission to ICA for the next 5 years!

West Prize Prize

Need we say more.

The Hindenberg Award

To the biggest committee — 42 members stong — Mayor’s Cultural Advisory Council. Oh the humanity!!! Can it get anything done? We hope so. And we’re pinning some hopes on art czar Gary Steuer to calm the rattled art community during the economic storm.

Expeditionary Art Trendlet!!!!

Mark Dion’s Bartram’s Garden taxonomy:

IMG_6513 Mark Dion, snake
While Liberta was there, a discussion about getting a bigger jar for this snake ensued. Where, she asked curator Julie Courtney, was Courtney going to buy a snake jar. Liberta’s thinking Edmunds’ Scientific. But Courtney’s answer was Fante’s, that old, quirky kitchenwares haven in the Italian Market.

Brett Keyser’s expedition around Independence National Historical Park for the American Philosophical Society Museum:

Holding the tangled rope
Brett Keyser, untangling the rope that kept the group together during our expedition around Independence National Park..

Customized Detailing Award

Paddy Johnson’s downloadable software to substitute art for ads in online news sites.

Dead Tree Media Report

Art Matters folds.
New Hope’s Icon magazine begins distribution in Philadelphia

You’re In, You’re Out

Gallery closings: Jenny Jaskey (this is a big loss; we hope she’ll be back soon!), Kelly and Weber (likewise), and Bobo’s on 9th (we saw it coming…but we’ll miss that sense of unbridled adventure).

Gallery openings: Blink, T&P, Proximity, Square Peg, Area 919, Digital Ferret (music joint now showing art), Memphis Tap Room, Midwive’s Collective’s new space. On the bright side, in our informal survey, that’s more opening than closing. We’re probably missing a few ins and outs.

Gallery confusion: Philadelphia Glass Works renames its gallery Silica Gallery and gets the copycat award for confusing itself with nearby Silicon Gallery. What were they thinking?

Liberta’s 2008 Stalking Victims

Peter Saul at PAFA–we couldn’t get enough of his art or of the mischief maker himself. We wrote four posts on him—so far. And that doesn’t count the preview posts.

Punch Drunk Beauty with Brains Trend

IMG_8752 Matthew Monahan
Matthew Monahan at Anton Kern Gallery.

This is the year beauty and sensory pleasure reaffirm their power to make concepts loveable or at least understandable. Here are some examples of what we’re talking about:

Sophie Calle (anti-heroic personal journey)
Phil Collins (3rd world politics filtered through 1st world sensitivity)
Tara Donovan (pristine vistas with recycled materials)
Trenton Doyle Hancock (goofy creation myth delivered with passion)
Pieter Hugo (shamanist Africa that beats National Geographic)
Marine Hugonnier (global politics deconstructed in videos)
Matthew Monahan (kouri of the shopping mall)
Mickalene Thomas (seductive confrontation by Amazons of color)
Luc Tuymans (Jungian unconscious made juicy)
Kara Walker (no thumbnail needed)
Phoebe Washburn (crunchy, tactile, exuberant, eco)
Kehinde Wiley (art history embracing the black male)
Zhang Huan (politics milking the body)

Hello out there, here’s a diamond in your own backyard Award

Celestine Wilson Hughes — for her visionary stained glass

Rumpelstiltskin Award

for spinning straw to gold
–Copy Gallery
–Little Berlin
–Flux Space
–Screening Video

The Philly Dominoes Award

To Amy Adams, who moves from Vox Populi and Esther Klein Gallery to Fleisher/Ollman Gallery, replacing William Pym who moves to Jersey City; and to Andrew Suggs who takes Amy’s place at Vox; and to David Clayton who steps up at Klein to take Amy’s place as curator.

Saddest art news of the year: Anne d’Harnoncourt dies. It was an untimely death. She’s not the only loss but the shock of this will be felt for years to come.

And finally a big Artblog kiss to all our writers. You’re making us look good, guys!