Blake Gopnik went too far in his latest critique, "Artomatic 2004: Hanging Is Too Good for It" [Style, Nov. 11]. Who would deny the opportunity to artists to show their creations -- good or bad -- at an event that is open to everyone with a yen to exhibit, a $60 fee and the willingness to be involved in a community effort?
When we visit the National Gallery of Art we know what to expect, and we are likely to tell our friends and family about the magnificence of the exhibition and how much we have learned. Artomatic is a free-for-all. I speak of how much fun it is to wander through an old building -- the underbelly of which is usually closed to the public -- to discover what artists can do to energize a place, to make us want to say how much fun we had looking at something really amateurish in one corner, and something with legitimate talent, good ideas and hard work in another.
The most significant benefit of a show such as Artomatic is the discovery of the breadth and depth of artists in need of resources and the sharing of space, ideas and materials. Where else but in a show such as Artomatic will there be enough space for artists to make an installation or an environment from their thoughts, no matter how sublime or ridiculous? Who would dare to say to artists who are doing it for themselves: "Stop, your art is good for nothing, and it's bad for art that matters." Luckily, we artists are "bad" enough to keep on doing what we do.
-- Lou Stovall
Blake Gopnik's review of this year's Artomatic show was mean-spirited. Worse, the article was a perfect example of the kind of attitude that keeps the Washington art scene from thriving. Are we so afraid of unbridled creativity that we can't accept a little messiness, a little self-indulgence or even (gasp) a little bit of amateur art? Many fine artists have emerged from unlikely circumstances, without the benefit of art school, patronage or immediate critical acclaim. In fact, it's worth remembering that critics have a long and undistinguished history of panning artists who were later hailed as masters. If there are any Monets living in Washington, God help them.
-- Donna Oetzel
As one of Artomatic's mediocre artists, I have to say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I joined Artomatic because the work is not juried or censored. The great thing is that anyone can join and have their work displayed without having someone's prejudiced, narrow-minded precepts attempt to determine the worthiness of another's creativity.
Many of the established schools of art started out as a revolt against the status quo. Artomatic offers a range of art styles and mediums; I encourage the public to come out and see what is offered. Some of the work you'll like and some you won't, but you won't go away bored. It's been a long time since I've seen such vehemence in a review.
-- Daniel T. Brooking