New American Paintings/Blog


Emerging Again: D.C.’s (e)merge Goes Into Its Second Year by New American Paintings

Last year’s preview night at (e)merge was a big, ruckus party. Amidst the large crowds it was often difficult to navigate the hallways between exhibitors, and the wait for the elevators always seemed impossibly long. While it may have been loads of fun for those of us sipping PBRs by the pool, perusing and buying artwork that evening seemed to require a bit more resolve and determination. This year, the second for (e)merge, the crowds on preview night were noticeably thinned, particularly among the younger set who were likely turned off by the $45 admission price ($60 at the door). The new cover charge seemed like a calculated move by organizers, one of a handful of changes that made this year’s event seem more streamlined and manageable for exhibitors and visitors alike. Whether these changes translated into more sales is anybody’s guess, but sales may not be the right metric to measure the success of (e)merge. At least not yet. — Matthew Smith, Washington, D.C. contributor (All photos by Matthew except where indicated)


Chajana denHarder performing Singularity (Artist Platform). Photo by Tony Wilson

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Guns, Art, and a Project by Ryan Carr Johnson and Samuel Dylan Scharf by New American Paintings

There’s a long history of guns in contemporary art, from Chris Burden’s Shoot to Sophie Calle’s ballistic treatment of her lover’s letter in Take Care of Yourself to a myriad points in between. And the connection between guns and painting is no less direct. Nikki de Saint Phalle’s Shooting Paintings and William Burrough’s Shotgun Paintings both used big bad guns to induce painterly marks, though they regarded their guns differently. Burroughs was perhaps more interested in the kinetic response of paint than in his audience’s visceral reaction to the blast. de Saint Phalle was at least equally interested in the violence implicit in her rifle.


Ryan Carr Johnson and Samuel Dylan Scharf | Kline A.D. 2012. Paint on Plywood with bullet holes. 25″ x 37″ x 2.5″

All this, of course, was the last thing on Ryan Johnson‘s mind as he stood at the shooting range, along with fellow American University MFA Sam Scharf, trying to fix a brand new Kel-Tec that was stovepiping. Stovepiping, apparently, happens when a semi-automatic pistol fails to eject its spent bullet casings, clogging its mechanism and rendering the gun, well, something less than semi-automatic. Ryan had purchased it with this very moment in mind, so the pesky malfunction was nothing short of irritating. Sure, he already owned a couple of Glocks, but the longer range of the Kel-Tec would provide better accuracy at greater distances. And since the plan was to shoot at unconventional targets outdoors, an adequate shooting distance was a must. Or at least this is how Ryan had rationalized it — a Kel-Tec can be pricey, sure, but not in the name of safety. And yes, art. — Matthew Smith, Washington, D.C. contributor

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