Artist Jock Reynolds, 37, executive director of the Washington Project for the Arts, talks war talk, and sends out fund-raising letters "from the trenches" with little plastic soldiers attached. He has taken a good deal of flak since he arrived from San Francisco to direct Washington's leading, artist-run "alternative" art space.
The battle has been over what some area artists see as their loss of control of the WPA wall space. Reynolds admits he is determined to broaden the WPA into a center for the exchange of new ideas from all over the world. "This is not just a place for young Washington artists to show their work. Ideas don't have city limits."
But he insists that Washington artists are not being shortchanged. "We're just serving them in more expanded ways, such as through the artist's book shop, and through artists' forums and lectures, and with a new national and international program of visiting artists-in- residence to stimulate new ideas. That's what Washington really needs."
After two years and the resignation of some board members following some fisticuffs and guerrilla warfare, Reynolds and his new board have also pulled the WPA out of the red, added 400 members and earned $40,000 in commissions for Washington artists.
"I didn't leave San Franciso because I didn't like it," Reynolds says. "But I felt that something was in the air in Washington, that this was a time and place when a lot of things were up for grabs and about to happen. That's why I came. That's why we all came."