One of Washington’s major gallery districts, the Georgetown galleries on Book Hill cluster along a few blocks of Wisconsin Avenue, enveloping the neighborhood with a vibrant spirit and cultural warmth.
The annual Spring Art Walk has become a seasonal fixture in Georgetown, right in step with the buzzing, foliate bloom of our gardens. As the galleries open their doors for a Friday night of open houses — filled with paintings and sculptures, music, wine and conversation — the event becomes a local inauguration of the cultural reawakening that warm weather brings.
There is a wonderful variety of works to explore this spring, from the luminous glasswork of David Patchen at Artists’ Proof Gallery and the primal naturalism of Katie Pumphrey’s paintings at Susan Calloway Fine Art to the intaglio prints at Washington Printmakers Gallery and the bold oil paintings of Rafael Torres Correa at Cross Mackenzie Gallery. (Full disclosure: This writer also has some work on view during the Art Walk, but we will get to that later.)
The 2016 Spring Art Walk is Friday, May 13, from 6 to 8 p.m. For details, visit georgetowngalleries.com.
Addison/Ripley Fine Art
1670 Wisconsin Ave. NW
Dan Treado: You Are Getting Sleepy
The playful merging of science and art, the genuine delight in tools and methods and the shared interest in performance art and experimental music are at the center of Dan Treado’s recent work. Often employing tools of his own design, such as squeegees and scrapers, the artist is able to fuse solvent and oil paint to create luminous, richly surfaced paintings on Baltic birch panels. Treado’s paintings are process works that often borrow from sources such as film and photography, physics and biology textbooks and electron microscope images. His multi-paneled canvases and Mylar works explore the relationship between science and art and the manner in which we view film and paintings.
The final works form clusters of brightly colored, ringed discs. In the artist’s words: “When clustered together, overlapping or occupying distinct envelopes of space, a collection of them becomes a dynamic force, willing themselves into motion.”
Susan Calloway Fine Arts
1643 Wisconsin Ave. NW
Katie Pumphrey: Heavyweight
In August of last year, Baltimore-based painter Katie Pumphrey swam the English Channel in 14 hours and 19 minutes. It was an emotional endurance test and a far cry from the art studio, it would seem. But for Pumphrey, athletic competition and painting are part and parcel of a single journey.
Pumphrey’s paintings investigate the primal urges of competition and movement in both humanity and wild animals, connecting us to the roots of our very instinct. Through her imagery, as well as through the raw energy and physicality of her brushwork, her paintings are meditations on the nature of what drives us to be physical beings, exploring themes of confrontation, reflex, territory and interaction.
The implications of her work are riveting. They offer insight into our cultural obsession with sports and athletic events, and our war-like and ceremonial glorification of star athletes. They also uncover a harmony in the hulking motion of wildlife and large animals, in rushing herds of buffalo and massive schools of fish, shedding light on our own traditions of highly social and herd-like competition, from marathon racing to football. This is not a show to miss.
Cross MacKenzie Gallery
1675 Wisconsin Ave. NW
Paintings by Rafael Torres Correa
In partnership with the Cultural Service of the Embassy of France, Cross MacKenzie Gallery will host an exhibition of paintings by the Cuban-born French national Rafael Torres Correa. Originally from Havana, this international artist has widely exhibited his work in Mexico, Spain and France and with Cross MacKenzie in 2014.
Correa creates lyrical universes in his large abstract canvases. His paintings evoke memories — symbolic and emotional—and conjure imagined experiences of water and floating islands with their shifting imagery and fluid execution, using washes, drips, dabs and splashes of paint. These landscapes are transitory territories and shifting metaphors, a state that parallels the artist’s own migrations and cultural identity.
Maurine Littleton Gallery
1667 Wisconsin Ave. NW
John Littleton & Kate Vogel
On view at Maurine Littleton Gallery will be a group show of groundbreaking glasswork featuring the collaborative works of John Littleton and Kate Vogel. Littleton and Vogel met at the University of Wisconsin in the 1970s. Since 1979 they have lived in the mountains of North Carolina, where they began their collaboration on blown and cast glass in the studio of John’s father, Harvey Littleton.
Their recent work includes a marvelous, gem-like series of desert flowers and succulents made of cast and hot-worked glass, which in the deft hands of these masters defies the perceived limitations of the medium.
Washington Printmakers Gallery
1641 Wisconsin Ave. NW
Transitions: Prints by Gabriel Jules and Books from the Eastern Shore
Washington Printmakers Gallery is a cooperative print gallery and the area’s primary source for contemporary, artist-pulled fine art prints. On view through May 28, “Transitions” showcases the intaglio prints of Gabriel Jules alongside gorgeous artist books of the Salisbury Book Guild and the Academy Art Museum in Easton, Maryland.
Jules is an artist entirely fascinated with the practice of creating original, hand-pulled prints, engaging with the intimacy and rhythm of the etching process. Her work, largely representational, explores our individual and cultural ties with the surrounding world and celebrates this connectivity as an essential facet of being human.
Meanwhile, the showcase of artists’ books is a uniquely wonderful experience, presenting viewers with many surprises as they finger through the pages; they are among the few works of art you are encouraged to touch (with gloves, of course).
Book Hill Pop-Up Gallery
1666 33rd St. NW
High Art | Low Art: Works by David Richardson and Ari Post
David Richardson and Ari Post met in a Dupont Circle art gallery in 2009, where they formed an unlikely friendship. Richardson is a man who has long led two rather contradictory careers, as both a Marine Lt. Col. through multiple tours of combat duty, and as a contemporary painter. Post, who studied painting and illustration, built his career in the Washington arts community, where he now works for the Smithsonian’s Freer and Sackler Galleries (and, perhaps unsurprisingly, writes about art for The Georgetowner).
This group exhibition, “High Art | Low Art: Paintings, Prints, Pulp and Propaganda,” showcases recent paintings by both artists, along with other artistic ventures not usually exhibited in galleries. Post has created multiple series of political caricatures, cartoons and ink-work more typical of the Sunday funny pages than a gallery wall — a love letter to newspaper comics and political cartoons, his first true loves. Meanwhile, Richardson, who normally deals with the subject of war through his art using allusion and abstraction, has come out with a series of far more brazen, blunt and politically charged works, influenced by and akin to war propaganda, but infused with a fascinating, mysterious ambiguity and unmistakable painterly bravura.
Artist’s Proof Gallery
1533 Wisconsin Ave. NW
Color in the Curve: Glass Sculptures by David Patchen
David Patchen is an American glass artist and designer who uses the Italian techniques of cane and murrine in an American style. Known primarily for a combination of complexity and scale in densely patterned glasses, his organic forms reveal something unexpected and precious, rewarding those who make a close study.
Patchen is captivated by the breadth of possibilities offered by glass and the opportunity for rich creative expression in three dimensions. He describes the optical properties of glass as intriguing, as the glass offers a refractive palette with the ability to bend, layer and twist color and light, modulating both density and translucency unlike any other medium. He relishes the dual challenge of designing and executing complex glass pieces, achieving elements of great detail or soft abstraction.