Art is my go-to antidote for whatever ails me. It never fails to take me out of the “overwhelm” into a calmer and more meditative state of mind. Call it aesthetic “self-care.”
The Book Hill Fall Art Walk, which took place this year on Saturday, Sept. 7, offered a variety of visual options to soothe my — and perhaps your — restless spirit. Under the Georgetown Galleries banner, the cluster of art galleries along upper Wisconsin Avenue —
Addison/Ripley Fine Art, Klagsbrun Studios, Calloway Fine Art & Consulting, Washington Printmakers Gallery, Artist’s Proof and Via Umbria Galleria — hold a joint opening every fall and spring.
The focus of this fall’s shows is abstract art, with the six galleries showing works in a variety of media. Herewith, a quick tour d’horizon.
Contemporary sculptor Nancy Sansom Reynolds is the featured artist at Addison/ Ripley Fine Art, 1670 Wisconsin Ave. NW. Her new series, appropriately called “Unwinding,” was inspired by origami. Here, her medium is plywood, hand-worked and shaped into seemingly impossible curves that are both delicate and powerful, dynamic and still, “like an ocean wave caught in a camera frame.” Painted in the pastel colors of her beloved Arizona desert, the sinuous forms unfold and unwind like the landscape to impart a sense of calm and “clarity of mind.”
Klagsbrun Studios, 1662 33rd St. NW, is showcasing the work of two artists, Micheline Klagsbrun and Joseph Hall. Klagsbrun evokes “flux and transformation” in mixed-media paintings, works on paper and sculpture, building “layers of color, texture and dream.” In contrast to Reynolds’s desert colorway, Klagsbrun’s palette is all about the saturated blues of the sea and sky, integrating elements of nature (flowers, bark, snakeskin) to create entirely new life so we — viewer and artist — can “emerge into a new self.” Like an archeologist, Hall “unearths obscured memory” in “palimpsestic” paintings whose surfaces are scraped and layered to reveal the “hidden calligraphy, ancient texts and graffiti” of the Middle East, particularly Beirut (where he lived for 15 years) and Cairo.
Calloway Fine Art & Consulting (formerly Susan Calloway Fine Arts), 1643 Wisconsin Ave. NW, provides spiritual rejuvenation of another sort. “I like people to be happy when they see my work. Times are difficult, and art can take you to a happy place,” explains Natasha Karpinskaia, and this it does very well. Her painting series, called “Carousel,” celebrates the end of summer with layers of subdued color and abstract shapes.
At Washington Printmakers Gallery, 1641 Wisconsin Ave. NW, the woodblock prints of Amy Guadagnoli combine the graphic impact of Roy Lichtenstein with the subtlety of a Japanese koan. These are images that demand your attention; their intricate carvings require you to inhabit “the gap between seeing and naming … between the familiar and unfamiliar,” where unexpected juxtapositions make you rethink just exactly what you saw and what it means to you.
Craig Schaffer’s “Welded Fractals” series occupies center stage at Artist’s Proof, 1533 Wisconsin Ave. NW. These powerful and mesmerizing sculptures, at once architectural and organic, are “meditations on the reality of repetition in nature and life” and take as their inspiration the patterns found in fractal geometry — from plants to mountains to ragged coastlines. Within the gallery, the pieces seem almost constrained, ready to burst out of the space, but outside in the garden, they find their true home.
Via Umbria, 1525 Wisconsin Ave. NW, an Italian café and market, also boasts an event space, which is given over to a seductive display by Jon Guido Bertelli and Stefano Lami. Titled “Infinite Possibilità: Ricostruendo Firenze” (Infinite Possibilities: Reconstructing Florence), the exhibition invites us to share the artists’ vision of a reimagined Florence, with pairings of well-known landscapes, artwork and monuments depicted in photography and oils.