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For painter Bill Hill, literature, art and life swirl in the same air – The Washington Post

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About four years back, a book club was meeting to pore over a tome by James Joyce at an out-of-the-way Italian kitchen on Capitol Hill when one of the readers spotted Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders eating a meatball hoagie. Artist Bill Hill, a member of this self-described band of “Wakers” — who meet once a week to read two or three pages of Joyce’s famously impenetrable novel “Finnegans Wake” — asked Sanders to join them.

“We were on page 565,” says Hill. “And the first words are” — here Hill slips into a gruff bass in imitation of Sanders — “ ‘night by silent sailing night, Isobel, wildwood eyes and primrose hair … .’ ” While the senator got tongue-tied, he stuck with it, according to Hill, who says that Sanders left the group with a parting word: Reading this book is harder work than battling Republicans.

Bernie isn’t the Wakers’ only VIP guest reader; Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez once sat with them, as did a federal judge nominated by former president Donald Trump. Over the last 12 years, the club has wound its way through “Finnegans Wake” once, at which point the readers simply started the 688-page novel over again.

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For Hill, an art handler and painter who’s made his home in the D.C. area since 1982, this stream-of-consciousness text is more than a high-water mark for modernism. For Hill, Joyce is more like a key to unlocking the universe — and maybe a model for his own mind.

“Modalities,” a show of Hill’s paintings at Gallery 2112 in Dupont Circle, opens a window into the artist’s multifaceted perspective. His bright abstractions point to the style, techniques and formal experiments of the Washington Color School, artists who transformed abstract painting in the 1960s and 1970s.

Hill, 65, knew them all: Gene Davis, Leon Berkowitz and more. Hill rented a studio on U Street NW from Sam Gilliam, a close friend and mentor and an artist who became internationally famous for his drape paintings. Hill says he and Gilliam would meet for breakfast and spend the morning going over the work of an artist; for their last session, in spring 2021, they studied Kenneth Noland. (Gilliam died in June.)

Works such as “Field Painting II” (2022) indicate Hill’s close connection to Washington’s painterly pantheon. An atmospheric painting of teal, tangerine and yellow ocher looks like light reflecting off clouds at sunset — a dappled abstraction that would be at home in Berkowitz’s or Gilliam’s studios. Yet a few haphazard dollops of eggshell blue suggest tension in the surface.

Hill describes the Washington Color School as his graduate education in painting. Once, Gilliam and fellow artist Simon Gouverneur even showed up at his studio door, demanding tuition (and bearing six-packs of beer.) “My whole youth was kind of like a floating opera with all of those guys,” he says.

Hill grew up in the D.C. area. His parents met on the naval base at Pearl Harbor just before the attack, and his dad studied law under the GI Bill. The family moved to McLean, where, as a child, Hill befriended Robert F. Kennedy’s children at their Virginia estate, Hickory Hill. Years later, as an art handler working for galleries and collectors in D.C., Hill would oversee the move of a massive four-foot-tall decorative urn for Kerry Kennedy, RFK’s daughter.

After rejecting the corporate law track, Hill’s father moved the family to a farm in southern Maryland, where Hill says he picked tobacco as a youth. In his father’s library, he found a copy of “Ulysses,” another doorstop by Joyce, that set his life on its trajectory. Hill studied painting at Carnegie Mellon University, where he met his wife, Elaine, while studying Chinese philosophy. But his real education didn’t take off until he returned to the District, lured back by the art and ideas coming out of Washington.

With his feathered white hair and easy cackle, the artist could be a storybook character from Dr. Seuss. He’s certainly got the Lorax’s mustache. But the ease with which Hill weaves tales of Washington art lore with heady ideas from modern art experiments makes for a more psychedelic character, if no less animated — like Lewis Carroll’s hookah-smoking caterpillar.

A conversation with Hill splinters into dozens of fractal tangents. Over the course of an hour, he glances from one connection to another, recalling a printmaker included in the corporate collection of Bethesda’s Artery Capital Group who made the last series of prints by the mercurial composer John Cage, or an assistant for sculptor Anne Truitt who went on to make jewelry for the sultan of Brunei, or the Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School grads who helped form Jefferson Airplane.

Following along isn’t necessary to understand Hill’s work. Strictly speaking, following along isn’t much of an option for someone who doesn’t possess his extraordinary recall, which he attributes to his early Jesuit education. But his fluid yet highly structured way of talking through his thinking offers insights into the decisions that guide his work as a painter.

Hill’s voracious intellectual appetites have not always served him so well. When he and his wife divorced seven years ago, Hill says, she told him that he still behaves the same way he did as an undergraduate. “I look at that as one of my better qualities,” he says.

But when Hill explains that he was thinking about Pierre Bonnard when he made “Solas Nua II” (2022), a subtle, almost impressionist painting — that tracks. And when Hill describes an Aristotelian sequence involving Joyce’s alter ego, Stephen Dedalus, in which his thoughts trace his footsteps on the beach as if they were on separate celestial spheres — and how this passage reflected his feeling when he biked along the Chesapeake Bay’s western shore — well, that almost tracks.

Hill has uncovered a “chromatic operation” in Joyce’s work that he intends to explore, using the tools that Gilliam, Berkowitz and Gouverneur gave him. Hill is carrying the torch for a tradition that is not yet spent: abstraction based on chance and experiment, resulting in paintings that look like landscapes seen through the lens of verse borrowed from hundreds of different dog-eared pages.

Bill Hill: Modalities

Gallery 2112, 2112 R St. NW. 202-213-9768. gallery2112.com.

Dates: Through Nov. 19.

Admission: Free.

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'LOVE' Digital Art Collection On Sale – ATP Tour

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‘LOVE’ Digital Art Collection On Sale  ATP Tour



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Football and art come together in the first NFT exhibition of its kind – Canada NewsWire

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–  The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture’s From Strike to Stroke exhibit features 64 FIFA World Cup match results in a unique man-machine collaboration

DHAHRAN, Saudi Arabia, Dec. 6, 2022 /CNW/ — The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) celebrates the art of the beautiful game in a unique exhibition at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. From Strike to Stroke features 64 NFTs by 32 artists from the competing nations, while Artificial Intelligence (AI) fuses the pieces from the contending two countries in each of the 64 matches into a unique piece based on the match outcome. The result will be a singular collection of one-of-a-kind NFTs created through a collaboration of man and machine. Strike to Stroke runs at the Msheireb Galleria Doha, Qatar until December 23.

Ithra, a cultural bridge between Saudi Arabia and the rest of the world, channels the world’s passion for football into its infatuation with the arts as the world comes together for the World Cup. The exhibition melds the man-made with the machine-made, and combines art, sport and technology in an innovative fashion.

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It features the work of 32 emerging and established artists, each tasked with creating a piece representing their country and using their respective team’s jersey colors. After each match, the AI-powered algorithm combines the artists’ creations with match statistics to generate unique pieces that represent each game. The collection will be a unique set of pieces presented as NFTs – non-fungible tokens. These cryptographic assets are based on blockchain technology, and created in a process similar to cryptocurrencies.

From Strike to Stroke includes artists who have never created NFTs and NFT artists who had not worked within traditional fine art.

“The passion shared by football fans for the love of the beautiful game can be tangential to the passion shared by art aesthetes,” said Dr. Shurooq Amin in her curator’s brief to the exhibition. “By connecting 32 artists from both the traditional and digital arenas, Ithra not only bridges the gap between Web2 to Web3, and between football and art, but furthermore between human and machine, as the artists collaborate with AI generation technology to create unique NFTs that combine art, football and technology.”

Visit www.striketostroke.com.

Images and exhibition catalogue can be found here.

For more information on Ithra and its programs, visit www.ithra.com.

Photo – https://mma.prnewswire.com/media/1961775/Ithra_World_Cup_NFTs.jpg

SOURCE King Abdul Aziz Center for World Culture (Ithra)

For further information: Media contacts: Nour Aldajani, [email protected], +966-583268120, Nora Al Harthi, [email protected], Domia Abdi, [email protected], Hadeel Eisa, [email protected]

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Richard Serra's art installation hard to miss in Qatar desert, once you get there – The Globe and Mail

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Depending on the direction you approach, you see only part of the art. As you get closer, the dark plates get bigger and bigger and you get to see all four.The Canadian Press

Art stands tall in the desert some 75 kilometres northwest of Doha.

You need a rugged vehicle and no small resolve to find it, given signage is almost non-existent. The last few kilometres take time as you cross the desert on a slightly flattened but irregular path well away from the closest blacktop. Proceed with caution.

But East-West/West-East by American sculptor Richard Serra is worth the effort.

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Completed in 2014, the installation comprises four giant steel plates – the outer two stand 16.7 metres high and the inner two 14.7 metres – and span more than a kilometre. Slightly different in height, to compensate for the difference in ground level, they line up like enormous fence posts in the barren desert flanked by gypsum plateaus at some points.

If not the middle of nowhere, it’s well on the way.

Possibly the last place on earth you’d expect to see “one of the most significant artists of his generation,” as Serra is dubbed by the Gagosian Gallery which has showcased his work in both New York and France.

“Taking art to the people,” is how Qatar Museums, the country’s arts and culture arm, explains it.

Depending on the direction you approach, you see only part of the art. As you get closer, the dark plates get bigger and bigger and you get to see all four.

“After the perceptual bombardment of Doha, with its architecture dominated by idiosyncratic shapes and kitschy facades, the sensuous experience prompted by the rigorous abstraction of the (desert) sculpture is at once bracing and sensitizing,” wrote Artforum magazine.

“Serra reminds the viewer, like 19th-century German Romantic artists such as Caspar David Friedrich, of man’s frailty in the face of nature’s omnipotence,” added Numero magazine.

For non art-critics, imagine the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey on steroids and times four in the desert. Stand next to one and you feel like an ant – a very hot ant under the blazing Qatari sun.

You’ll also likely be alone, albeit under review from what seemed like security in a nearby pickup truck.

The 84-year-old Serra, who worked in steel mills during college, is known for his large-scale abstract steel sculptures.

There is another in Doha itself. A sculpture called 7 – the number seven has spiritual significance in Islamic culture – was commissioned by Qatar Museums.

Built out of seven steel plates, it faces the sea at MIA Park, adjacent to the Museum of Islamic Art.

Like a billionaire stocking his mansion with objets d’art, the government of Qatar has dug deep into its oil-filled coffers to decorate the country with world-class art.

There are big-ticket art works all over.

In 2013, Qatar Museums Authority head Sheikha al-Mayassa al-Thani, the daughter of the emir of Qatar, was listed atop ArtReview magazine’s annual Power 100 list “on account of her organization’s vast purchasing power and willingness to spend at a rate estimated to be US$1-billion a year – in order to get top works of art for its Doha museums,” ArtReview said.

Le Pouce, a giant golden thumb by French artist Cesar Baldaccini, is front and centre in Doha’s Souq Waqif market. French-American artist Louise Bourgeois’ Maman, a giant spider that can also be found outside Ottawa’s National Gallery of Canada, stands inside the Qatar National Convention Center (QNCC), which doubles as the World Cup’s main press centre.

Another edition of Maman, one of seven, was sold for US$32-million by Christie’s in 2019.

“The Miraculous Journey” by English artist Damien Hirst is hard to miss outside Sidra Medicine centre just down the street from the QNCC. The 14 monumental bronze sculptures chronicle the gestation of a fetus inside a uterus, from conception to birth – ending with a statue of a 14-metre-tall anatomically correct baby boy.

–-

Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 5, 2022

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