Chuck Close at the Corcoran

July 26, 2011

In the jumbled lexicon of late 20th century fine arts, where endless styles and genres collapse into one another like a landscape of staggered dominos, few artistic voices have emerged with any lasting force. Chuck Close is one of the few. Famous for his large-scale portraits ranging in medium from painting and drawing to printmaking and photography, Close’s work has a mystifying staying power that attracts audiences with its grandiosity and astounding depth. “Chuck Close Prints: Process and Collaboration,” a retrospective at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, is perhaps the seminal exhibition of Close’s work — an immense yet intimate ode to the timeless appeal of portraiture and the boundless expanses of Close’s technical innovations in art.

Close’s colossal, hyper-realistic portraiture is as synonymous with his name as Jackson Pollock’s is with drip painting. He is one of a handful of working artists that can draw crowds well beyond artistic communities, and has played a large hand in reviving interest and relevance in realism after a tidal wave of artistic deconstruction and abstraction. His techniques have been groundbreaking, and the steady evolution of his work demands to be experienced.

The exhibition offers far more than a comprehensive collection of Close’s work. It delves further, inviting the viewer into his artistic process, which is in large part the source behind the awe his work inspires. “I think people can look at his work and understand what they’re looking at, but also be fascinated … and not quite understand how he’s managed to make the works that he’s made,” says Amanda Maddox, organizing curator of the exhibition. Thus, the show aims to help the audience understand Close’s work through his process.

Focused largely on his extensive body of prints, the show examines Close’s revisiting of printmaking in his visual experimentation. Ultimately, these experiments have resulted not only in some of Close’s most accomplished works, but new techniques and approaches that have greatly expanded the possibilities of the medium.

A piece in this show rarely just stands alone. Displayed is the geography of artistic process, a roadmap of studies leading up to a final image. Alongside his lithograph prints hang the actual lithographs used in the printing, with descriptions of his techniques and technical hurdles. The show displays the original grids that preceded each work, parchment rolls of matrices and proofs covered in scrawling notes by the artist. Color charts and value studies map the topography of Close’s artistic journey, a technical mastery wrought by compulsion and relentless experimentation. In a way, the show becomes a discussion of artistic tribulations, limitations, triumphs and revelations.

As a student, Close was primarily interested in abstract painting, claiming to have been something of a diluted, amateur Willem de Kooning, a painter he greatly admired. However, in 1967, he decided to abandon abstraction and turned his attention toward monumental, hyper-realistic portraits of himself, family and close friends.

He then took it a step further, abandoning the paintbrush for printmaking, a medium in which he had no expertise or facility, in order to challenge himself. His intention was to force a creative breakthrough. In 1972, with the help of printer Kathan Brown, Close created his first print, revisiting the archaic 17th century printing technique of mezzotint, the first printing technique to utilize halftones. The print, titled “Keith/Mezzotint” — displayed upon entering the exhibition — is an intricate study in halftones and textures, light and dark, producing a modern, layered effect while maintaining an astounding technical realism. This melding of photorealism inside abstract textures and patterns has become a trademark of Close’s work.

Over his career, and with the assistance of master printers and various collaborators, Close has created some of the most memorable images of the last 40 years. When making a print, Close and his team complete every stage of their process by hand, from translating an image onto a matrix to carving wood blocks, etching plates, and applying multiple layers of color. The sheer scale and technical complexity of his portraits, combined with this time-consuming process, often means that a single print can take years to complete. However, Close welcomes this challenge. “When you have very strict limitations,” he says, “you have to be … very creative to figure out a way of getting them to work for you. I found that kind of problem-solving very interesting.”

Much of the genius of Close’s work comes from the two contrasting views afforded to the onlooker in each piece — the audience must look at each work twice. From afar the portraits, while differing in tonal value and color pattern, range in appearance from photorealistic to a stylized, almost digitally altered realism. The way in which Close works from photographs dissected into grid, or incremental units, as he calls them, ensures that all his work will be anatomically accurate and perfectly balanced in reality, whether it is made with pulp paper multiples or his own fingerprints.

But the closer one moves in towards a piece, the more it begins to break up, until, inches from the paper, there is nothing to be seen but a kaleidoscopic field of colors and shapes and textures – a very real abstraction. As Maddox explains, “He’s interested in how much information you can convey or compact into a space, and then translate.”

In this regard, it really is the scale that mesmerizes. Reproductions of Close’s work fail to capture their essences much in the same way that Lichtenstein’s large-scale comic strip paintings, when shrunk onto paper, merely look like an excerpt from a comic. The shrunken copies, as the ones accompanying this article, are merely a shadow of the actual works, which are often more than six feet tall.

“I think the show presents an opportunity to really see his marks, and see how detailed his work is,” says Maddox. “Chuck is interested in scale and the destabilizing effect that scale can produce or impart. I think people find that fascinating more than anything else.”

The sheer nature of the realism and the quirks of his techniques cannot be understood unless experienced. His process is engaging, and the variations are remarkable. From traditional Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock prints to silkscreen, aquatint, and spitbite etching, his repertoire of printing techniques is a history lesson in itself, and the subtle, palpable printing methods are only comprehensible when viewed from inches away — an unusual and welcome intimacy for such grandiose work.

The exhibition has been touring domestically and internationally over the last seven years. Running through Labor Day weekend at the Corcoran, “Chuck Close Prints: Process and Collaboration” is one of D.C.’s finest offerings this season. It is a piece of history as it is being told, and an open-ended invitation into the mind of a modern artistic genius. More than any show most will ever see, the exhibition illuminates the agonies and ecstasies of the artistic process as it is usually only experienced by art historians, curators and restorers.

The Corcoran has additionally made itself free to the public on Saturdays through Labor Day weekend this year. There is no reason to miss this groundbreaking collection and experience the corridors of details, the overwhelming scale, and the fragile intimacy of Chuck Close.

Contact the author at [gallery ids="99182,103270,103259,103266,103263" nav="thumbs"]

Fall 2010 Visual Arts Preview

Addison/Ripley Fine Art

Addison/Ripley will present “The 2nd Element: Stratus Series”, new works by Nancy Sansom Reynolds from September 10 to October 23. In her third exhibition at the gallery, Reynolds brings a large body of new sculpture in a broad range of new materials, creating sinuous, striated, elegant shapes, often suspended on walls. Much of the artist’s inspiration for this show comes from her three recent years in the Southwest desert. Reynolds has suggested that her forms reflect the “big sky” of the American Southwest.


Arlington County plans to open the Artisphere, an expansive cultural center, on October 10. Formerly the Newseum, the center is located on Wilson Boulevard in Rosslyn and will include three art galleries, two theaters and a 4,000-square-foot ballroom. Norma Kaplan, chief of the county’s cultural affairs division, promises something new in the use of the space and in the clientele the Artisphere hopes to attract. “We have a large younger demographic in the region,” Kaplan said. “They want to be participants, not be passive, and they want a place to go. We’ll be open 12 hours a day, seven days a week. People can come and hang out without much planning.”

A 4,000-square-foot Terrace Gallery will have room for exhibitions, seating with drinks and snacks, as well as an overlook into the ballroom. According to Kaplan, built into all Artisphere programming will be opportunities for interaction with the artists. “We are trying to attract audiences that normally don’t come into a cultural center,” she said. One idea is to have late-night dances with regional bands on the weekends. In Artisphere’s first exhibit, opening with the center on October 10, is the group show “Skateboarding Side Effects,” where artists capture the form, shape, line and gestural movements of skateboarding through photography, drawing, painting, film and sculpture.

Cross/Mackenzie Gallery

Cross/Mackenzie Gallery, Georgetown’s premier gallery for contemporary ceramic and applied arts, has an array of upcoming shows for art collectors and enthusiasts with an eye for the dimensional and functional. From September 17 to October 20, the gallery will feature Kathy Erteman’s work in the show “Architectural Ceramics – Tiles & Vessels.”

Opening October 22, Sarah Lindley’s “Poppenhuizen” will feature the artist’s full-sized ceramic cabinet houses, inspired by the extravagant and exquisite 17th century Dutch fine art furniture. The gallery will then close their fall season with a group exhibition, “Serve if Forth,” a platter and plate show featuring the area’s premiere wheel throwers and ceramic artists, opening November 19.

Foundry Gallery

In paintings inspired by the natural beauty of the earth, artist Ron Riley portrays images that evoke a sense of internal peace, tranquility, serenity and power, uniting us with the majestic forces we find within ourselves and in our natural environment. In his recent works, Riley’s tactile palette ranges from the soft and pastel to deep and intense, the varying hues engendering visions of some of nature’s more ominous forces. Riley is a member of the Foundry Gallery as well as Mid City Artists. The show, “Land, Air and Sea,” will be on view at the Foundry Gallery from September 29 through October 31. The opening reception is Friday, October 1, 6-8pm.

Four Seasons Hotel Washington, DC

The Four Seasons hotel in Georgetown has unveiled a completely new art collection selected exclusively for the hotel. The collection has more than 1,650 pieces and is heavily representative of American artists, of which 400 are premier, blue chip and commissioned pieces for the public spaces and corridors. Among the more prominent pieces, on display in conspicuous public areas, are works by Helen Frankenthaler, Andy Warhol, Robert Mangold, Ron Richmond, Andrea Rosenberg and Andrei Petrov. These were purchased from private collections and exclusive galleries throughout the United States.

Guests walking into the Hotel’s recently redesigned lobby will immediately encounter the largest installation along the lobby gallery wall. A commissioned series by Roni Stretch, an English artist residing in Los Angeles, evokes the essential composition of America featuring five ethnic faces, each with a unique appearance: Julia the American Indian, Sara the all-American, Gary the English/Irish, Tiffany the French/Russian, and Fabiana the Mexican. This compilation was selected specifically for Four Seasons Hotel Washington due to its international clientele. These human faces were painted in black and white and then layered with selective colors to create the subtly realistic, yet abstract work. If you have any guests coming into town, yearning for the vibrant DC art scene, you now know where to put them up.

Fraser Gallery

Acclaimed DC-based photographer Maxwell MacKenzie has long sought to capture the wild or pastoral terrain around the country, in exploration of his family’s history. A new series of MacKenzie’s aerial photographs of Vermont, Virginia and Minnesota will open to the public on September 10, from 6-9pm at the Fraser Gallery.

MacKenzie captured all of his images from his self-piloted powered parachute, an ultra-light aircraft where the bird’s eye expanses of trees and wilderness get broken up into a vibrant, organic geometry of color and texture. The show opening will be held in conjunction with the Bethesda Art Walk, which features downtown Bethesda galleries. The studios open their doors to the public from 6-9pm on the second Friday of every month. This is a wonderful opportunity to take in all the Bethesda art scene has to offer.

Irvine Contemporary

Irvine Contemporary will be running two shows simultaneously, from September 11 through October 30. Phil Nesmith’s exhibition “Flow,” a series of wet collodion photographs on black glass plate, was documented on the Gulf coast in Louisiana and Mississippi throughout June 2010. Using his box cameras and a portable darkroom, Nesmith created striking images of the environment and local communities encountering the worst oil disaster in US history. He was able to gain access to areas largely unseen by the public – such as taking a helicopter to a relief well rig at the BP Deepwater Horizon site. Looking damaged and washed out, much like the Gulf coast, Nesmith’s images have a devastating beauty about them, finding peace among the chaos and destruction.

In conjunction with Nesmith’s show, Irvine Contemporary will be presenting a new exhibition of work by Brooklyn-based artist Bruno Perillo, in his second show with the gallery. With a new series of oil paintings, the artist will present his continuing reinterpretations of historical and contemporary realist styles. Bruno Perillo appropriates the realist styles of painters from many eras – from Caravaggio to Degas – for composing masterful images that are at once classical, post-modern, and contemporary. The show, titled “Uniform,” will present male and female characters in narrative scenes with culturally encoded clothing styles and genre cues.

Parish Gallery

Long since established in the Georgetown community, the Parish Gallery is well known for featuring primarily, but not exclusively, artists from Africa and of the African Diaspora. From October 15 through November 16, the gallery will feature the works of husband and wife, Gwendolyn and Bernard Brooks, in an exhibition entitled, “A Marriage of Colors”. The show will open with a reception from 6:00 – 8:00 pm that Friday.

A native Washingtonian, Gwendolyn has been in the art world for over thirty years as a painter, contemporary quilt-maker and doll designer. Her mixed media works can best be described as Afro-Caribbean, having traveled to Africa, Trinidad, Brazil, and Tobago to research and find influences. Bernard is a second-generation artist, his uncle being the first black instructor at the Maryland Institute College of Art. Bernard retired as Howard University’s chief medical illustrator, relinquishing his post after 26 years. This exhibition will be showing his watercolors, many of which are fleeting scenes of an American countryside that we long for even as we observe it.

The Ralls Collection

This fall, the Ralls Collection will premier “Trojan War Years,” the first of three series of paintings by local artist David Richardson, from October 6 through December 31. There will be a private reception with the artist on Wednesday, October 6, from 6 – 8 pm at the gallery.

The paintings featured in “Trojan War Years” will display Richardson’s ability to convey a strong narrative of Homer’s epic tale in conjunction with his unique flair for color and exceptional conviction for abstract forms.
In the last decade, Richardson has painted three important series of works. The first, Trojan War Years, not only precedes the others, but it also continues to manifest. The impetus for the series came while Richardson lived in Japan. Wandering around Tokyo, Richardson noticed the Kanji inscriptions that the Japanese used to mark temples, civic buildings, and businesses. Fueled by his interest in the way Kanji weaved into the architecture of Tokyo in addition to his passion for Homer’s recollection of the Trojan War, Richardson began incorporating the symbols into his own art, eventually securing the foundation for Trojan War Years series.

Studio Gallery

September 29 through October 23 will find Studio Gallery featuring two very different artists, brought together by an uncontainable energy and strong personal voice. Chris Chernow, whose figural paintings consist of numerous layers of oils applied over many months, find edges where the figure and ground can be merged in order to create a sense of submission and solitude. The layers add to the richness of the paint and a reduction in detail, achieving an elegant, haunting simplicity. The figures become shadows before our eyes.

The other featured artist, Carolee Jakes, works primarily in screen-printing, etching and oil painting, and has recently been experimenting with combining these media to focus her works’ prevailing and intertwining themes of identity and music. Her most recent work focuses on the interconnectedness of musicians and their instruments. “There is a level of interaction that gives the instrument a life of its own,” says Jakes. “I see each instrument as a piece of art, and I refer to structural characteristics of the instruments in abstract drawings that are incorporated into the prints.” A reception for the artists will be held on October 16, from 6 to 8pm.

Susan Calloway Fine Arts

Opening September 24 and running through the end of October, Susan Calloway Fine Arts will host an exhibition of artist David Ivan Clark. Born and raised on the plains of Western Canada, Clark returns to them as the inspiration for his work. In his landscape series, Clark blurs the line between abstraction and representation with a haunting minimalism, allowing viewers to find sanctuary from the frenetic rigors of the mechanized world.

The results of his unique painting techniques – fine layers of oil on stainless steel with a glossy, reflective finishing coat – is seductive, serene and luminous, recalling the vast expanses of nature within an unyieldingly industrial framework. “My work braids reference to nature with reference to industry,” Clark says. “Screws may frame a vast sky. Paint may be pitted and scoured as if the depicted terrain has issued from dire industrial processes. Suggesting both Arcadian idyll and post-apocalyptic barren, these paintings dwell, as I am forced to myself, in limbo, yearning for one yet unable to deny the other.” The exhibition, titled “Presence/Absence,” will have an opening reception Friday, September 24, from 6-8pm. This is sure to be one of the highlights of the gallery scene this season, and it should not be missed.

Washington Printmakers Gallery

The Washington Printmakers Gallery will host “New Faces – New Prints II,” an exhibition introducing the five artists that have joined WPG in the past year. These diverse printmakers come from all over the country and are presenting a variety of new work and techniques. New artists include Trisha Gupta, who commemorates natural disasters, such as flooding in India, through personal relations. Trisha says her work “brings me in dialogue with events that have affected me personally, and allows me to give personal experiences the commemoration I know they deserve.”

Zenith Gallery

From September 15 through November 28, the Zenith gallery will be hosting an expansive group exhibition at the Chevy Chase Pavilion, featuring a wide array of Zenith’s art community. A “Meet the Artists” reception will be held September 15 from 6-8 pm, in Zenith’s space on the second level of the Pavilion.

Among the longstanding Zenith artists will be sculptor Carol Newmyer, who creates interactive, figurative bronze sculptures inspired by dance, yoga, balance and meditation. Along with her sculptures, she has a line of dramatic and unique sterling silver and high polished bronze wearable art sold in limited editions. New artists include the vivacious Joyce Wellman. Wellman uses vibrant colors, cryptic marks, and symbols referencing mathematics, anthropomorphic forms, and her personal experiences growing up in a household where “numbers” were played.


National Gallery of Art

“Arcimboldo, 1526–1593: Nature and Fantasy” will run from September 19, 2010 – January 9, 2011. Sixteen examples of the fantastic composite heads painted by Giuseppe Arcimboldo will be featured in this exhibition, their first appearance in the United States. Bizarre yet scientifically accurate, the unusual heads are composed of plants, animals, and objects. Additional works, including drawings by Leonardo da Vinci and Albrecht Dürer, small bronzes, illustrated books and manuscripts, and ceramics will provide a context for Arcimboldo’s inventions, revealing his debt to established traditions of physiognomic and nature studies.

Opening October 31 is “The Pre-Raphaelite Lens: British Photography and Painting, 1848–1875.” In the first survey of British art photography, focusing on the 1850s and 1860s, some 100 photographs and 20 paintings and watercolors chronicle the roles photography and Pre-Raphaelite art played in changing concepts of vision and truth in representation. The exhibition illuminates the mutual struggle of photographers and painters of the era, wrestling with the question of how to observe and represent the natural world and the human face and figure. This rich dialogue between photography and painting is examined in the exhibition’s thematic sections on landscape, portraiture, literary and historical narratives, and modern-life subjects.

Corcoran Gallery of Art

“NOW at the Corcoran,” running from September 11 until January 23, 2011, is a series of one- and two-artist exhibitions that presents new work addressing issues central to the local, national, and global communities of Washington, D.C. and that responds to the collection, history, and architecture of the Corcoran.

The first feature will be “Spencer Finch: My Business, with the Cloud,” an exhibition of new work by the Brooklyn-based artist that includes a site-specific sculpture installed in the Corcoran’s Rotunda. Finch’s sculptural installations, photographs, and drawings seek to capture the elusive space between perception and the outside world, probing the intersections of science, nature, and memory. Drawing from the history and environment of Washington, D.C., his project explores the poetic, physical, and meteorological aspects of these natural phenomena.

The Phillips Collection

“Side by Side: Oberlin’s Masterworks at the Phillips,” opens September 11, 2010, and runs through January 16, 2011. Illustrating its unconventional approach to displaying art, The Phillips Collection will present loosely themed groupings of some of its own masterworks with 25 masterpieces from Oberlin College’s Allen Memorial Art Museum. Half of the 24 paintings and one sculpture on loan from the Allen are old masters, dating from the 16th to the 18th centuries. They include rare works by painters of the British, Dutch, Flemish, French, German, Italian, and Spanish schools. The other Allen pieces are important modern works of the 19th and 20th centuries. Oberlin extended the opportunity to display some of its treasures to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and to the Phillips while the Allen is closed for renovations. Highlights include unique pairings in works ranging from Francisco Goya to El Greco, Rubens to Turner, Cézanne to Ernst Ludwig Kirchner.

Hirshhorn Museum

“Guillermo Kuitca: Everything—Paintings and Works on Paper, 1980–2008” will run from October 21, 2010 to January 16, 2011. Since his first exhibition at the age of thirteen, Guillermo Kuitca has forged a distinctive path as an artist, creating visually compelling works that reflect his intense and often ambivalent relationship to his primary medium: painting. “Guillermo Kuitca: Everything” is the first comprehensive survey of the artist’s work in the United States in more than ten years, examining the artist’s continuing development between 1980 and 2008. The show presents the spectrum of Kuitca’s thirty-five year career, from early pieces inspired by his experience in theater, with titles often drawn from music, to recent complex abstractions that evoke the history of modern painting.

Since the early 1980s, the artist’s work has been characterized by recurring imagery, most notably spatial and mapping motifs. Central among these are images of theater sets and seating charts, architectural plans, road maps, beds, numerical sequences, and baggage-claim carousels, through which Kuitca explores universal themes of migration and disappearance, the intersection of private and public space, and the importance of memory.

National Portrait Gallery

Newspaper publisher Katharine Graham (1917–2001) led an extraordinary life in extraordinary times. Born into privilege, she was catapulted onto the international stage as publisher of The Washington Post during the Watergate scandal. “One Life: Katharine Graham,” running from October 1 through May 30, 2011, includes several photographs to narrate key moments in her life, including a portrait by Richard Avedon, drawings, original newspapers from the time of the Watergate scandal, the Pulitzer Prize for her memoir, “Personal History” and video of a “Living Self-Portrait” interview of Graham by former Portrait Gallery director Marc Pachter.

National Museum of the American Indian

“Vantage Point: The Contemporary Native Art Collection” runs from September 25 until August 7, 2011. The show highlights the National Museum of the American Indian’s young but vital collection of contemporary art, with significant works by 25 artists in media ranging from paintings, drawings, and photography to video projection and mixed-media installation. These complex and richly layered works speak to the concerns and experiences of Native people today, addressing memory, history, the significance of place for Native communities, and the continuing relevance of cultural traditions.

Smithsonian Craft2Wear Show and Sale

The Smithsonian “Craft2Wear” show and sale will be held the weekend of October 23 and 24 at the National Building Museum, featuring 36 premier exhibitors of wearable art, jewelry and clothing. All exhibitors have been previously juried into the Smithsonian Craft Show, so you can be sure that the show is filled with items of lasting artistic value as well as fashionable appeal. [gallery ids="99194,103349,103344,103339,103358,103362,103334,103366,103370,103329,103354" nav="thumbs"]

3rd Annual FotoWeek DC is Approaching

Amateur and professional photographers take note — the deadline for D.C.’s premier photography competition looms large. The groundbreaking photography festival FotoWeek DC has set the cut-off date for submissions to its 2010 International Awards Competition as September 20. Such an opportunity for photographers to get their work out and claim cash prizes among 12 different categories is too good to pass up.

Currently in its third year, the competition has seen over 2,000 submissions from 20 different countries, including Argentina, Australia, Canada, China, France, and Saudi Arabia. The categories consist of Best Single Image in Photojournalism/Social Documentary, Best Series of Photographs in Fine Art, Best Mobile Phone Image, and Multimedia among others. However, the most coveted award remains The Spirit of Washington, honoring the photo that best captures the essence of the nation’s capital.

Submissions will be reviewed by a panel of renowned judges, among whom are Jean-Francois Leroy, founder of Visa Pour L’Image, Mary Anne Golon of AARP, Nick Nichols of National Geographic, and David Scull of The New York Times. Many of these professionals will be performing portfolio reviews as well, offering appraisals as well as criticisms to amateur photographers looking for a professional opinion.

Winning images will be put on display in the Corcoran Gallery of Art for the full span of the festival, from November 6 to 13. The same gallery will feature exhibitions, lectures and workshops, and a launch party, where the winners will be featured — and there’s sure to be dancing. Needless to say, dress your best.
Be sure to submit your work, and mark your calendar. Festival founder Theo Adamstein aims to make this year’s FotoWeek the best celebration of “the transformative power of photography” yet. Come play your part in breaking artistic barriers and widening perspectives. If nothing else, you’re sure to have a visually enjoyable week.

For more information, check out FotoWeek DC’s Website here!

Norman Parish Gallery 20th Anniversary

July 13, 2011

From the beginning, the relationship between Norman Parish and his wife Gwen centered around a deep appreciation for talent and beauty, values that come to life in the Norman Parish Gallery’s 20th Anniversary exhibition, “Living Embodiments: Artistic Expressions of Being” which will run until July 12.

Norman met his wife, Gwen, 23 years ago after moving to D.C. from Chicago. They spent their weekends driving through the mountains of northwestern Maryland. They would park on the side of the highway where she would sunbathe and read while he painted landscapes, and together, they mused about the idea of opening an art gallery. One day, walking home after enjoying an oyster meal at Manhattan’s, the couple noticed an ad for the sale of a gallery.

Twenty years later, they celebrate not only the anniversary of their gallery’s opening, but also the talent and development of the family of artists who, Norman says, contributed work of consistent quality.

“My reference to quality is that the subject matter may not be to one’s liking, but the art works can truly be called fine art. The diversity of the artists shown over the years has one thing in common . . . quality,” said Norman in a press release.

The Parishes entertained a full house at the gallery’s opening reception for the exhibition on June 17. While exhibitions usually feature the work of one artist, in honor of the anniversary, Norman selected the work of a range of artists with whom he worked over the years and whose work he feels is “meaningful and impactful.” The works of master painters Herbert Gentry and Robert Mayhew were given recognition as well as upcoming artists Mason Archie and Morris Howard, pencil drawings by Kenneth Pasley, photos by 11 photographers and a piece by Sam Gilliam. Some are personal friends of Norman’s including Richard Hunt, a former classmate from the Art Institute of Chicago, and Evangeline J. Montgomery, who advised him while he was opening the gallery.

Collectively, the Parish Gallery features mostly, but not exclusively, artists from Africa and the African Diaspora whose art covers a broad spectrum of styles in contemporary fine art. In the past two decades, the gallery hosted artists from over 25 different countries.

Reflecting back on the life of the gallery, the Parishes remember a few exhibitions that were particularly notable. For both Norman and Gwen, Willard Wigan’s microscopic sculptures in his exhibition “Art in the Eye of a Needle” stood out, particularly for the notoriety and intriguing concept. During the two-month exhibition, 3,500 people visited the gallery to peer into microscopes to view the miniscule sculptures set in the eyes of needles.

Norman noted the development of Yvette Watson, an artist who he introduced to the gallery business. In her first show at the Parish Gallery, she sold 14 of the 16 pieces on display – one of the only sellout shows.

An oil painting by Parish himself also hangs among the work of his friends and colleagues, a brilliantly colored landscape that’s what he calls “expressionism in the form of stylized realism.” Despite his talent, Parish considers himself more of a businessman.

“I spent my life pursuing an art career and I was in my late forties when I realized it wasn’t happening. Someone said, ‘Why don’t you open a gallery?’ So I became a businessman,” he said.

Parish opened the gallery because few galleries consistently allowed diverse art in terms of style.

“My primary concern is that these artists have a place to be seen,” he said.

Georgetown Art Map

Susan Calloway Fine Arts

1643 Wisconsin Ave | 202.965.4601 | | T –St 10-5 | A bright gallery filled with works of color, representing all genres of art Susan Calloway Fine Arts salon style gallery is a go-to gallery. Located in Book Hills Georgetown, this fine art gallery offers views collections from local and international artists, playing with content, color, light, style, and meaning. | Photo credit: Hound Dog, Walter Addison

Parish Gallery

1054 31st St NW | 202.944.2310 | T- St 12pm- 6pm | | Parish Gallery, run by a delightful husband and wife couple, expresses primarily African and African Diaspora art. Recently celebrating 20 years of exhibitions and business, the gallery thrives on local and international artists and plans to continue its cultural presence in Georgetown for years to come. | Photo credit: The Night Tulsa Died, Leslee Stradford

Galerie Lareuse

2820 Pennsylvania Ave NW | 202.333.1506 | www.galerie | T-St 12- 7pm | This gallery highlights the masters of contemporary and modern art prints such as Kandinsky, Picasso, Matisse, Renoir, Warhol, and many others. With recent acquisitions from Miro, Braque, Dali, and Calder, Lareuse constantly maintains their collections to ensure the highest quality and best modern/contemporary art for Georgetowners. | Photo Credit: Kleine Welten III, Wassily Kandisndky

Addison/Ripley Fine Art

1670 Wisconsin Ave NW | 202.338.5180 | | T- St 11am- 6pm | The changing exhibits at Addison/Ripley demonstrate the variety that art has to offer to viewers. Displaying paintings, sculpture, photography, prints and other mediums of art from both local and international, this gallery has something for everyone to expand their art ventures. | Photo Credit: Untitled, Hedieh Ilchi

Shingo Bork Mu Project

1521 Wisconsin Ave NW | 202.333.4119 | | The Mu Project bridges the gap between Washington art viewers and contemporary Asian artists and their exquisite and exciting work. Ms. Bork focuses on new artists who have relocated to the states from Asian countries, and who are bring a new perspective to the D.C. art scene. | Photo Credit: Painting by Gi-On Jeon

The Ralls Collection

1516 31st St NW | 202.342.1754 | | T-St 11am – 4pm | The Ralls Collection embraces contemporary art from all types of mediums that not only participates in exhibitions but also, takes a larger role in art education. Not only do they display for the general public they also do art for hotels, resorts and other hospitality enterprises. This collection, no matter the venue is a contemporary beauty to behold. | Photo Credit: Orchard Mist, John Blee

Maurine Littleton Gallery

1667 Wisconsin Ave | 202.333.9307 | T-St 11-6 | |Highlighting contemporary glass, metal, and ceramic works, this gallery is a great way to get a variety in your art-viewing portfolio. Exhibiting 3D works from Dale Chihuly to Therman Stanton, this exhibit explores the artistic play of light, space, movement, theme, subject, and color. The gallery also has 2D works of art from local and national artists. | Photo Credit: Deep in Space, Jay Musler
[gallery ids="100236,106554,106580,106559,106576,106564,106572,106569" nav="thumbs"]

Maurine Littleton Gallery

June 15, 2011

The artists on exhibit at the Maurine Littleton Gallery bring to life an otherwise cold and transparent medium in their glass art, which flaunts dimensions and depth of color unmatched by other art media. Contemporary glass art by local artists, including the “Macchia” collection by the internationally renowned Dale Chihuly, has been displayed at the gallery since its opening in 1984, each work reflecting new interpretations and uses of a range of traditional craft media.

Michael Janis, a D.C. native and a director at the Washington Glass School, experiments with dimension in his fused-glass art. He carefully crafts images on sheets of glass by funneling fine glass powder onto the sheets, which he then uses various tools to move and shape. The sheets are fused together in a kiln to create one panel of glass, but the layering adds an unexpected depth and sense of perspective to the images. A former architect, Janis explores buildings from different perspectives in his art, which has won him recognition and acclaim in recent years. The Florida Glass Art Alliance named him Outstanding Emerging Artist in 2009, and Janis recently received a Fulbright Scholarship from the U.S. Department of State.

Fables and fairytales are represented in the work of Allegra Marquart, who uses the images in her art to explore broader themes associated with the subject matter. Her process involves a different layering approach, in which she spreads a granulated glass material called “frit” over a smooth panel of glass. Placed in a kiln, the loose material melts and fuses with the panel to create a textured surface in which she carves images in relief. The result is like that of a print or stamp and uses dimension and color to create contrast. Marquart formerly taught printmaking at the Maryland Institute College of Art, and now enjoys retirement from her home in Baltimore.

An important element of glass art lies in the interaction between light and color in the work, an aspect embraced by Therman Statom in his constructed glasswork. Statom experiments with dimension, shape, color and light in his glass sculptures to tell a story or explore a school of thought. His ladders and miniature houses are on exhibit at the Maurine Littleton Gallery, but he is internationally recognized for his full installations such as those on exhibit at the Los Angeles International Airport, the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian’s American Art Museum, Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris and the Musée de Design et d’Arts Appliqués/Contemporain in Lausanne, Switzerland. Statum studied at the Pratt Institute of Art and Design and has been recognized by critics as one of the most influential and significant American experimental glass artists.

2012 marks the 50th anniversary of Harvey Littleton’s involvement in founding the Studio Glass Movement. Maurine is in the process of compiling his father’s biography with the intention of publishing it in honor of the anniversary. The Corning Museum of Glass in New York and the Chazen Museum of Art in Wisconsin will feature exhibitions showcasing the glasswork of Harvey Littleton in the next year. [gallery ids="99986,99987,99988,99989" nav="thumbs"]

Freer | Sackler

June 2, 2011

Echoes of the Past: The Buddhist Cave Temples of Xiangtangshan
February 26–July 31, 2011 (Sackler Gallery)

Majestic sixth-century Chinese Buddhist sculpture is combined with 3-D imaging technology in this exploration of one of the most important groups of Buddhist devotional sites in early medieval China. Carved into the mountains of northern China, the Buddhist cave temples of Xiangtangshan (pronounced “shahng-tahng-shahn”) were the crowning cultural achievement of the Northern Qi dynasty (550-77 CE). Once home to a magnificent array of sculptures–monumental Buddhas, divine attendant figures, and crouching monsters framed by floral motifs–the limestone caves were severely damaged in the first half of the twentieth century, when their contents were chiseled away and offered for sale on the international art market. The exhibit re-creates the forms and power of these sacred Eastern sculptures as they were originally constructed.

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Blinky Palermo: Retrospective 1964-1977
February 24, 2011- May 15, 2011

Palermo (1943-1977), renowned throughout Europe as an influential postwar painter, has been largely looked over by America. This exhibition is the first comprehensive survey of his work in the United States, reflecting the artist’s progression, follows a loose chronology based on his four main bodies of work.


Directions: Grazia Toderi
Opens April 21, 2011

Best known for her large-scale installations, Toderi calls her video projections “frescoes of light.” The artist works from documentary imagery collected from urban night surveillance and military, satellite, and space program footage. Over these she superimposes her own photography and cinematography, altering the effect with digital manipulations and unifying the vista with sepia-tone filters. The result feels both familiar and mysterious, as the eye struggles to determine the horizon line and read the origins of fields of glimmering lights. Shown on an endless loop, these mesmerizing nightscapes represent the artist’s ambition to “visualize the infinite.”

Gallerist on the Go

Siobhan Gavagan is a rising D.C. gallerist and formerly worked for Margery Goldberg. She is now with Susan Calloway at her elegant Georgetown space on Wisconsin Avenue. Siobhan’s energy, smarts, and charm make her a standout in the gallery scene.

What got you into the art business?

My family has always been involved in the arts. My father went to NYU for film and photography
and has a great love for the arts, so we would always go to museums, foreign films, and the theatre growing up. I’m very fortunate to be working in the field that I studied in college as most people get art degrees and end up not doing anything related to art.

Do you hang out with an “art crowd?”

Not really, I have a couple of friends that are painters and musicians, but D.C. is such a political
city, most of my friends work on the Hill or for NGOs. The art scene in D.C. is coming around and getting the younger crowd more involved, but it has a way to go.

What’s your favorite D.C. museum?

The National Portrait Gallery. I’m a big history buff so looking at all of the old portraits of great leaders is really exciting for me.

You’ve lived in a group house, what’s the inside scoop?

It was wild! I lived with nine roommates in Le Droit Park. It was like The Real World, but better.
I found the house on Craigslist and went in not knowing anyone. I’ve made some amazing friends from that experience. We had friends that lived in other group houses so our group would always grow with new people moving in and out. There was a Fourth of July party that we threw that will go down in history!

How was it working for the legendary Margery Goldberg?

Margery is great. I started off interning at Zenith and eventually took on the role as gallery manager. The openings were always fun at Zenith and Margery knows how to throw a party and get other people excited about art.

What’s your commission on selling a picture?

The most I’ve made from a commission was around $600. It’s a great incentive to really go after a sale.

Who ever gets your first name spelled right?

I think my Mom and Dad are the only ones who get it right. I still have family who misspell my name on birthday and Christmas cards! I was always the kid in class who would sink down in their chair when the teacher was calling roll, Sio-Bahn Gava-Gon — they never could pronounce
it right.

What about your own art, is it suffering or gaining by working in a gallery?

Sometimes I can get inspired from all of the beautiful work that surrounds me in the gallery, but other times it does get a bit draining.

What’s your day-to-day routine at Susan’s gallery?

My morning usually involves entering new sales into QuickBooks and updating the inventory. The gallery does custom framing so that takes up a great deal of time. Another big part of my day includes updating our website.

What’s your tip for a first time buyer?

Do some research on the artist. Also learn about their technique and read their resume. It’s an investment, so make sure you really love the piece. There is art out there for everyone and you don’t have to splurge on something expensive.

The Kreeger Museum

In Unison: 20 Washington, DC Artists
January 15 – February 26, 2011

The Kreeger initiated this exhibition with DC artist Sam Gilliam, collecting 20 established artists from the local community, all working in different styles and mediums. All artists were invited to come together to create a series of five monoprints each, one of which was selected for the exhibition by Gilliam, Judy A. Greenberg, Director of The Kreeger, Marsha Mateyka of the Marsha Mateyka Gallery and Claudia Rousseau, Ph.D., art critic and art historian. “The ideas of creating a group portfolio and exhibiting together express the ideas of unity and identity that are underlying motives of the project, and which are vital to sustaining a thriving artistic community,” says Rousseau.


Tom Wesselmann Draws
April 8 – July 30, 2011

American pop artist and collagist Tom Wesselmann (1931-2004) worked feverishly up until the end of his life, creating iconic pop imagery which, almost in contrast to the ironic and dismissive nature of the movement, spoke powerfully toward the history and influences of fine art. The exhibition at the Kreeger, which covers drawings from Wesselmann’s entire career, spanning 1959-2004, is the most comprehensive exhibition of drawings by the artist that has ever been assembled. Many of the 108 works have never been seen outside the artist’s studio in New York. [gallery ids="99608,105051" nav="thumbs"]