Spring 2010 Visual Arts Preview

"Ponte Cestio at Sunset," Diane Epstein | Courtesy Susan Calloway Fine Arts

Spring is finally in the works, which is good news for art galleries. After a showstopper of a winter, Susan Calloway of Susan Calloway Fine Arts recalls aborting two openings due to the torrential snowstorms. Now, optimistic from a successful show long since due, her gallery on Wisconsin Avenue has picked back up. “I sense a change in the market for fine art,” she says. Calloway has even seen an increase in business for the gallery’s archival framing services.

“I’m looking forward to the coming months with great enthusiasm,” says Norman Parish of Parish Gallery. The Parish Gallery has long helped make Canal Square a Georgetown destination. “Spring is here and with its beauty a breath of new life is anticipated for our coming shows,” he said. Parish, known for his focus on artists of the African diaspora, eagerly awaits his first exhibition of the works of renowned artist Robert Freeman (opening May 21). Freeman, noted for his theatrically alert groupings of figures and a continuing dialog within his work, focuses on race interactions.

Rebecca Cross, of Cross Mackenzie Ceramic Arts, has likewise been reveling in the dawn of art’s upcoming season. “Spring is shedding the recession. It’s more than cherry blossoms that are blooming!” Cross Mackenzie Ceramic Arts shows painting and photography along with top-shelf ceramics. Cross is additionally looking forward to showing her ceramic work in New York later this spring.

It seems that the economic devastation of the last two years is beginning to thaw with the warmth of spring, and patrons can look forward to getting back into the familiar swing of the spring arts season.

What To Look Forward To:

Addison/Ripley Fine Art
Christopher Addison of Addison/Ripley Fine Art is presenting a broad spectrum of Washington talent for the spring and summer season. Ranging from the serial abstractions and luscious surfaces of Dan Treado to the finely crafted, closely observed landscapes of John Morrell, Addison/Ripley Fine Art is sure to offer some of this season’s exemplary contemporary art in Washington this season.

In Treado’s third show with Addison/Ripley, “Requesting Quiet” (opening May 1), he works layering form over form, drawing from graphic and imagined imagery and juxtaposing subtle color with bold hues. The following month, June 12, sees the opening of John Morrell’s landscape paintings. From his offices above Georgetown, John Morrell, head of the Georgetown University fine arts department, has a spectacular view across the Potomac. Some of the artist’s impeccable landscapes reflect that inspiration while others elicit the scenic vistas of Maine and upstate New York. Finally, exercising his curatorial vision, Frank Day has selected a range of Washington portraitists in all variety of media for his curatorial venture, “Facing Washington.”

Irvine Contemporary
Irvine Contemporary’s current offerings are two solo exhibitions by contemporary female artists. “Swallowtail,” showing through April 20, is a solo exhibition of original paintings by Susan Jameson. Working with egg tempera on panel, Susan Jamison reflects on many traditions of imagery to create dream-like portraits and figures that question gender conventions. Reflecting back on sources like fairy tales, Renaissance portraiture, botanical illustration, and Kama Sutra manuscript paintings, Jamison uses the animals, plants, and objects in her work for their symbolic meanings, giving the Snow White-like female figures a contemporary, feminist perspective.
The gallery’s other exhibition, “American Vernacular,” features Susan Raab, whose documentary and fine art photography is noted for its distinctive approach in capturing the often overlooked places, people, and events in daily American life. A Pulitzer Prize nominee, Raab recently had a series of 10 photographs acquired by the Smithsonian Museum of American History for their permanent collection.

Long View Gallery
Long View Gallery’s upcoming show, “Identify,” features the latest series of work from Mike Weber. In over 30 photo-based mixed media works, Weber explores concepts of commemoration and heritage, including his own lineage, as he symbolically reinvents the life stories of his unknown or forgotten subjects. Weber selectively edits and reframes vintage snapshots derived from both his family’s collection and estate sales into newly composed digital prints on canvas. He augments these details with layers of paint, unorthodox collage materials and high-gloss resin, intensifying the mood of the original photograph. His artistic praxis ascribes a new narrative to his source materials and re-presents them as glossy, modern images. The opening reception will take place on April 22 at 6:30 p.m., and the exhibition will run through May 20.

Kathleen Ewing Gallery
In 1971, Steve Szabo, an award winning photographer for The Washington Post, took a six month leave of absence and moved to a 19th-century farmhouse in a remote area of Somerset County on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. In contrast to his fast shooting photojournalistic style, Szabo began working with a large format view camera to record the haunting scenes of Americana he found there. The Kathleen Ewing Gallery will feature Szabo’s photographic studies of rural America in “The Eastern Shore and Other Images,” curated by Kathleen Ewing herself, on display from April 5 to May 29.

Marsha Mateyka Gallery
The Marsha Mateyka Gallery opens their new season with paintings from the estate of Gene Davis (1920-1985). “Gene Davis: Cool / Works from the Artist’s Cooler Palette,” spans the work of Davis from 1959 to 1983. Gene Davis became well known in the early 1960s for his dramatic stripe paintings. In this exhibition, a selection of paintings from the estate reveals a more limited palette. Subtle, gentle tones of blue, purple, and green collide with vibrant effects.

Susan Calloway Fine Arts
Opening April 2 at Susan Calloway Fine Arts, “Changing Planes” is an exhibit of cityscapes by Linda Press. Press, interested in the poetic quality of light and shadow, engrains her European and American cityscapes with a sense of history in the architectural details of her work. Opening on April 9, and running in conjunction with Press’ paintings, the fine art photography of Diane Epstein captures the monuments, statues and fountains of Rome and other Old World cities, with a textural, timeless quality. Her show, “Italy: A Journey Through the Layers of Time,” brings to life the panoramic vistas of the Renaissance with the architectural details of the modern world.

Parish Gallery
In addition to the previously mentioned Robert Freeman, the Parish Gallery will be showing the work of Angela Iovino from April 16 to May 18. Iovino, a watercolorist who for the last four years has been exploring mixed media and acrylic, has produced work that could be described as expressionist landscapes, full of vibrant colors, rich textures, and lively brushwork. The work has been largely inspired by her travels to East Asia and Western Europe. With work on display beginning June 18, Parish Gallery will also feature the work of Tayo Adenaike, an eminent Nigerian watercolorist.

Fraser Gallery
Since 1996, the Fraser Gallery has developed a well earned reputation for introducing artists from the United Kingdom to the Washington, D.C. region. Their upcoming exhibition, “In My Blood,” includes work by six artists working in a variety of media, connected by one common theme: their homeland, Wales.

Among the contributing artists, Carwyn Evans’s installation “Everything Seemed So Simple and Beautiful,” is a noteworthy collection of miniature dioramas of sites under threat. The representations include a rural school and a farmhouse in ruin. Evans’s work reflects his personal experiences while exploring broader social and political shifts in rural Wales. Much of his practice has focused on his migration from an upbringing in rural Ceredigion to the Welsh capital Cardiff.

The title of Helen Grove-White’s video “Rising Slowly” refers to the rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and to the rising sea levels that are eroding the Welsh coastline. The work makes many allusions to the landscape of Wales, with its layers of misty mountains, lakes, coastal plains, and frequently changing atmospheric conditions.

The Ralls Collection
Through the end of May, the Ralls Collection will be featuring work of Nicole Charbonnet. Textural and built up over long periods of time, textures, images, words, washes of paint, and veils of translucent fabric and paper create a visual threshold in Charbonnet’s work, meant to allow the viewer not only to see the painting, but to see through it. These surfaces reveal a memory of preexisting stages or structures. Her most recent work, featured in this exhibition, shows Charbonnet exploring images from popular culture in her signature style, inviting dialogue about redefined gender roles and social sentimentality in today’s society.

Cross Mackenzie Ceramic Art
The Cross Mackenzie Gallery, always with an eclectic and impressive variety of work, is hosting a series of shows throughout the spring and summer months. John Brown’s “Vine Series,” featuring abstract photographs of Wisteria Vines, hangs through the end of April. The month of May sees California-based painter Andrea Luria with a series of “Big Birds” — lush, textured portraits of water birds and chickens. Finally, opening June 18, Elizabeth Kendall, a ceramic artist, has put together an installation of button-like hanging clay sculptures. The gallery will fill itself with these pieces to make the space feel like an inverted pincushion.

Lister Gallery
A bit further south in Fairfax, VA, the Lister Gallery is hosting a group exhibition, “Process of Perception,” starting April 9. The artists in the show deal with process-based approaches and concepts. The May 14 show, “Invisible Energy,” finds a different group of artists addressing ideas about tension, power and stimulation. “It’s been a true balancing act trying to run a gallery space and make art at the same time,” says Adam Lister. “I feel like I see a different side of the artists.”

Museums At a Glance

Smithsonian American Art Museum
With the recent loss of Jeanne-Claude, one of the premiere environmental artists in history, it is fitting that the Smithsonian is exhibiting “Christo and Jeanne-Claude: Remembering the Running Fence.” Documenting one of the couple’s most daunting projects, the exhibition exposes the history and work behind “Running Fence,” an 18-foot high, 24.5-mile long stretch of white nylon fabric, that ran at one end down to the Pacific Ocean.

According to the Smithsonian’s website, “The exhibition includes components from the actual project, nearly 50 original preparatory drawings and collages, a 58-foot long scale model, and more than 240 photographs by Wolfgang Volz documenting the process and the many personalities involved with the project. Also included in the exhibition is a film by the legendary American filmmakers Albert and David Maysles, with Charlotte Zwerin. The film chronicles the unpredictable and ever-changing path that led to the completion of ‘Running Fence.’” The exhibit runs through Sept. 26.

National Gallery of Art
Allen Ginsberg, the counterrevolutionary wordsmith and ringleader of the Beat Generation, penned the lines that defined the unrest of his time. “Beat Memories: The Photographs of Allen Ginsberg” is an exploration of the poet’s photography. Including portraits of Jack Kerouac and other contemporaries, Ginsberg’s poetry reflects a similar sentiment to his poetry: keen and sensitive observation of the surrounding world, intuitive expression, and a steady consciousness of a present time and place. The retrospective opens May 2 and runs through the beginning of September.

The Hirshhorn
Yves Klein, an influential artist of unfortunate brevity, had a career that spanned less than a decade. The Hirshhorn presents “Yves Klein: With the Void, Full Powers,” the first retrospective of the artist’s work in nearly 30 years, opening May 20 and showing through September. The Hirshhorn explains, “Yves Klein took the European art scene by storm in a prolific career that lasted only from 1954 to 1962, when he suffered a heart attack at the age of 34 … Klein was an innovator who embraced painting, sculpture, performance, photography, music, theater, film, architecture, and theoretical writing. Self-identified as ‘the painter of space,’ he sought to achieve immaterial spirituality through pure color. The artist’s diverse body of work represents a pivotal transition from modern art’s concern with the material object to contemporary notions of the conceptual nature of art.”

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