Arts & Society
Catholic University Arts Dean Speaks at Culture Power Breakfast
Inside Art Basel
Adrian Loving • January 18, 2012
By Adrian Loving
Miami, Fla. – recently, scores of Washington, D.C., curators, collectors, dealers, artists and art enthusiasts descended on the Sunshine State for the 10th Annual Art Basel Miami Beach Fair. This international event draws a broad audience of hundreds of thousands and presents a significant sample of creatively brilliant painting, sculpture, photography, video and installation art, with works presented by affluent-to-upstart galleries and museums. Independent artists and street muralists are invited to make the city their canvas in the Wynwood area.
Basel’s larger tented satellite fairs include: Pulse, Scope, Art Miami, Red Dot and Design Miami. Works may also be found in alternative spaces across the beaches, hotels, pop-up galleries, bars and building facades throughout the Miami-metro area. It is physically impossible to see everything in the four days, including live performances, gallery talks, art openings and the onslaught of after-parties that rage until five-o’clock in the morning.
A few of the works I found to be most notable are listed here.
Design Miami (DesignMiami.com), a satellite fair of the Art Basel umbrella featured a broad collection of design-focused functional works such as tables, cabinets, lighting, jewelry and chairs. A favorite of mine was the work of London-based artist Tom Price. His collection of meticulously fabricated chairs appears to smash the conventional boundaries of furniture design. Each were made of deconstructed materials, melted plastic, ropes, rubber, fabric and other found objects. Works by Price included Pink SE Meltdown Chair, Cable Tie Chair and Blue Rope Chair, which were among a collection of 10 on display at Washington, D.C.-based Industry Gallery’s booth at Design Miami. Visit the gallery locally at 1358 Florida Ave., N.E., Suite 200. IndustryGalleryDC.com.
A favorite among collectors looking to acquire edgy, conceptual art is Scope Art Fair (Scope-Art.com), which continues its popularity as a “must-do” during the already overwhelming week of sightseeing.
Major artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring and Andy Warhol often have a presence here. On display at the Kiwi Arts Group Booth was the exhibit entitled “Before They Were Famous: Behind the Lens of William John Kennedy,” a collection of lost rare silver gelatin prints made in 1964, but recently printed from discovered negatives in 2010.
Artist Robert Indiana is shown holding his original 1966 LOVE painting, and pop art icon Warhol is shown hard at work at his Silver Factory. Most alluring to me was the photograph “Warhol Holding Marilyn Acetate I” (The Factory, New York City, 40 x 30 inches), which gives the viewer a unique glimpse of the master hard at work. For more Warhol, visit the retrospective exhibition, “Warhol: Headlines,” on display until Jan. 2, 2012, in the National Gallery of Art’s east building. NGA.gov/Exhibitions/WarholInfo.shtm.
The Miami Beach Cinematheque (MbCinema.com) entered the art foray as an unlikely player by presenting an impromptu feature-length performance film entitled “Gray: Live At The New Museum.”
Approximately 80 minutes in length, this film documents and shows the historic performance of the legendary art-noise band Gray, started by Jean-Michel Basquiat and Michael Holman in 1979. This current partnership of Holman and band mate Nicholas Taylor finds the duo creating avante garde sounds, blips and jazz riffs amidst projected art and video of their New York 1980s art scene contemporaries, such as Glenn O’Brien, Suzanne Mallouk and Basquiat. In attendance of this private screening were Don and Mera Rubell of the Rubell Family Collection Museum and several downtown New York scenesters. More of the inspiring visual work of Jean-Michel Basquiat, courtesy of the Rubells, can be found in the exhibition “30 Americans” at the Corcoran Gallery of Art until Feb. 12, 2012. Corcoran.org/30americans. [gallery ids="100434,114328,114319,114267,114310,114301,114293,114277,114285" nav="thumbs"]
Georgetown Gallery Wrap
Ari Post • January 4, 2012
Georgetown’s gallery scene is a lot like the neighborhood itself: contemporary but historic, friendly and intelligent, beautiful and resonant. And with the holidays just around the bend, no gift is more powerful or more personal than a work of art.
Paintings and sculptures carry us through time. They stay with us through the years, encouraging us to think and to feel, offering perspective and adding color to our lives. You should buy a work of art because you love it. To find a connection with a painting is a remarkable and unique experience. But art also has the potential to work as an investment; it is one of the only commodities that historically go up in value.
This season our local galleries are filled with a wide and brilliant variety of artwork to suit any palette. From new local talent, to renowned glasswork and historic maps, it’s well worth a Saturday afternoon to see what’s out there.
The Old Print Gallery
Walking into the Old Print Gallery on 31st Street feels like reaching a cross-section of history. To the right of the shop are amassed thousands of original historic prints, from early 19th century Audubon bird prints and botanical studies, to Civil War battle scenes and equestrian illustrations from bygone eras.
Their collection of historic maps is a candy shop for history buffs and enthusiasts of all things Americana. You can find Virginia’s county lines from the beginning of the 18th century, explore the Chesapeake Bay circa 1747, or try your hand deciphering nautical and celestial maps.
The left side of the gallery is devoted to showcasing contemporary printmakers, often highlighting local and regional talent. Currently on display is the work of local printmaker Jake Muirhead. A stunning draftsman, Muirhead employs his mastery of line and value in the sharp angularity of printmaking, using aquatint techniques to edit and layer his works through multiple printings upon the same image. These textured, atmospheric depictions of trees, parcels, figures and unique artifacts are captivating and elusive, like sensory memories, leaving the audience contemplating a strong and immediate intimacy with the works. 1220 31st St., N.W. For more information, visit OldPrintGallery.com.
Susan Calloway Fine Arts
Susan Calloway has a discerning eye; the work on view at her Wisconsin Avenue gallery is always rich and ethereal. The collection is always a must-see on any local gallery walk. Currently on display is the exhibition “Half Light,” the work of landscape artist Brad Aldridge. His renditions of American and European terrain rival the inquisitive wonder of early American landscape paintings, as if Aldridge is discovering the land for the first time in his paintings.
“Overgrown streams, winding roads … the hovering cloud, a solitary tree … all have double meanings for me,” says Aldridge. “I’ve used these symbols to tell the viewer how I feel about the world.” His rolling hills and forests are serene escapes, which nourish the viewer on a spiritual, as well as sensory, level. He applies this same sense of wonder to urban scenes, revealing the calming effect of a crisp sunrise in even the most frenetic environments. 1643 Wisconsin Ave., N.W. CallowayArt.com.
Heiner Contemporary has mounted a laudable exhibition of three young contemporary artists, “In Line / Out of Line,” all bound loosely but powerfully by a common thread: the structure of pattern against the tenuous fallibility of the human touch.
Chip Allen, a New York-based painter, has what can only be described as an effusive hand. Throughout his works, there is a back-and-forth between violence and delicacy, as if the artist lay harm to his canvas only to go back in and tend the wounds with his paintbrush. Repeated motifs come in and out, interrupted at every turn. Like setting rules only to break them, the work rebels against itself, and the effect is resplendent.
Kate Sable’s paintings resemble the structure of honeycombs, with hexagonal and pentagonal shapes fitting neatly into each other on the canvas. They speak of life and harmony, much like the ever-expanding patterns of Islamic architectural calligraphy. Yet there is an unusual sidestep in the works — a bleed of paint that breaks the shape or a color’s slight change in hue. The intimacy and warmth of the work lets you in to see its flaws, which are entirely and wonderfully human.
The work of Camilo Sanín is compulsive and calming in the same breath. Strips of color move across the canvas, sometimes broken, sometimes continuous, sometimes loose, sometimes rigid. These clean, thin plains of pastels and neon look like internal patterns or brain waves, the static of a creative mind. The graphic nature of the work brings viewers in with its aesthetic acuity, only to be mesmerized by the wavelike constancy of the compositions. 1675 Wisconsin Ave., N.W. HeinerContemporary.com.
Painter Luba Sterlikova is on view at the Parish Gallery. Russian-born Sterlikova’s works bridge influences from both Russia and America, as colors from the motherland work their way into a Western sense of structure and composition.
There is a romance and sexual charge within the work, which reference patterns found in biology and astrology, and it even hints vaguely at symbols from ancient cultures, from Egypt to Islam. Detailed brushstrokes combine with the explosive character of the images to create a resonating and deeply felt contrast and energy — such as an immigrant must feel when acclimating to a new country. 1054 31st St., N.W. ParishGallery.com
Maurine Littleton Gallery is known throughout the country for its collection of glassworks and ceramics. Established in 1984, the gallery exhibits and represents among the world’s leading contemporary artists in glass, metal, and clay, including Dale Chihuly, Harvey K. Littleton and Albert Paley.
Now is your last chance to see the current collection as it is before the gallery changes out its works in January for the new year. And there is much worth seeing.
Michael Janis’s two-dimensional glassworks are small worlds within themselves. Like poems, you might find a bird atop a branch, or the face of a woman looking down into nothing as a red polka-dot wall climbs up behind her. Janis uses a technique of layering glass sheets on top of one another, with different images on each sheet fused together to create the composition. This lends the work a certain freshness and compositional spontaneity that must be experienced.
Therma Statom is another standout artist in the current collection, whose plate glass still lifes and miniature glass houses are odes to the quirk and fragility of our daily lives. No stranger to large-scale projects, these are Statom’s more intimate works, giving her greater range to experiment and play with her materials, to whimsical and endearing results.
Along with the gallery’s collection of other decorative and functional glass art, it’s always worth stopping into the Maurine Littleton Gallery for a look around. 1667 Wisconsin Ave., N.W. LittletonGallery.com. [gallery ids="100430,114236" nav="thumbs"]
Gallery WrapDecember 7, 2011
Georgetowner • December 7, 2011
Needless to say, the holidays are upon us?the season of giving. And to declare that a work of art makes a nice gift is an almost banal platitude. Yes, art is pretty; it decorates our walls, enlivens our homes and adds flourish to our lives. But with a wounded economy that focuses our fiscal energies on more clearly practical priorities, art is frankly a dismissible commodity.
Art, however, has a stronger memory than almost any other possession and a presence that will outlast the times in which it was bought.
My grandmother recently passed away, and what I took to remember her by is a small painting she kept by her desk. It is not a very good painting?it?s a strange, miniature reproduction of a lesser-known Picasso from the artist?s blue period. She saw it every day and was fleetingly reminded of some small detail of her life, as I see it now and am reminded of her, typing feverishly away with a phone wedged in the crook of her neck against her ear.
Over the years, she gave me more gifts than I can recount?pencil sets and pocketknives when I was younger, clothes and books when I was older. None of those things are with me anymore, save perhaps a paperback or two. Her memory lives on through me, manifested in this silly little painting.
This is the value of a work of art. It carries with it an innate history, story and feeling that few other objects can. A work is brought into existence by the artist, but it is not brought to life until it is displayed and appreciated by its owner.
Washington has a remarkable gallery scene, many showcasing local artists, and all with quality work worthy of a city of this stature. While often dwarfed by the ostentation of the museums, they are vital to the culture and community of our neighborhoods. Even if it?s just to look and chat with the gallery directors, go enjoy them. There is much to admire. The galleries featured below represent just a fraction of what is out there.
**A Local Treasure: David Suter at Gallery A**
As an illustrator, David Suter has been on the D.C. scene for a while. A longtime op-ed illustrator for the Washington Post, among other national and regional publications, he was also a courtroom artist who sketched the Watergate trials in the 70s. His illustrations are immediately iconic, among the best examples of those lightly surreal, morally political, wonk-pop New Yorker-style ink drawings that us urbanites get such a kick out of. Suter is inherently attuned to the sentiment of his time and place, a mark of any great illustrator, from John Held?s lionized depictions of flappers and the jazz age of the 1920s, to the nostalgia of Norman Rockwell.
Suter has since moved on from his illustration work, and now works as a painter and sculptor. And while his subjects are more ambiguous and his mediums more expansive, the artist?s wit, humor, wonder and small-scale grandness remain ever present. His latest exhibition at Gallery A, ?Outside the Box,? offers a lens into what seems like the subconscious of a wholly and uniquely visual thinker.
His quirky craftsmanship and use of line carries over to sculpture remarkably, and in many cases the works look like highly technical 3D collages of driftwood and found objectry. The concision and clarity of the works again belie the outright intelligence, intellectual curiosity and effort it took to create them, like the work of architect I.M. Pei (who designed, among infinite examples, the East wing of the National Gallery), whose designs reference a larger context of its own space.
The sculptures are in an eternal relationship with its space and dimension, the visual information carefully?and in some cases sparingly?chosen for each piece. More so than many sculptures, the angle and distance from which you view them entirely alters your perception, lending the works a mathematical, MC Escher-like curiosity. ?Seated Person with Dog,? if viewed from a certain vantage point, looks like a tastefully arranged stack of carved wood and aluminum. But as you come around the sculpture, the splayed legs of the canine and erect posture of the seated owner slowly reveal themselves.
His paintings carry a hazy, nebulous quality, exploring the space of light and the repetition of shapes within scenes that are reminiscent of the dignified and near-detachment of Diego Rivera. They are paintings of glances, memories of a collective cultural subconscious that Suter forms just concretely enough to be able to make out its image. A woman sits by the bed of a small, sickly elder; a rooftop church bell; a nude woman dancing while a man plays piano, a seated skeleton watches on, and a windmill looms in the background.
This show is a tremendous gallery experience. Fun, unique, engaging and smart, Suter?s work will stick with you, follow you around. I found myself thinking about it for days afterward.
David Suter?s work will be on view at Gallery A, 2106 R Street, NW, through Dec. 31. For more information visit [AlexGalleries.com](http://alexgalleries.com).
**Welcome Back, Cross Mackenzie Gallery**
Rebecca Cross, gallery director of Cross Mackenzie, has opened the doors of her gallery?s new location in Dupont Circle. Her current offerings, featuring the work of local painter Tati Kaupp and sculptor Charles Birnbaum, bring exuberance and taste together for a vibrant but peaceful exhibition that deserves to be seen.
In her earlier work, the intense color palette of Kaupp reflected the light from her childhood years in Mexico and the southwest. And while her recent paintings are considerably darker?they look like the skies just before the storm breaks?they still look celebratory. There is a sense of lightness and air here: circles, floating shapes, dots and squiggles, which rise to the top of her canvases with weightless effervescence.
The paintings are layered with quilt-like patterns that dance across the surface of the canvas?compositions in some cases literally jump over onto adjacent canvases, creating an unusual and wonderful diptych effect. While at first they may seem almost too free, perhaps even childlike, it is soon replaced by a wonder that is likely shared by the artist. I warmed up to the paintings quickly, feeling simultaneously calmed and electrified, like watching a summer thunderstorm through the window.
The extravagant sculptures of Charles Birnbaum are made up of undulating and intertwined shapes that resemble deep sea coral and anemones, but with curiously sensual undercurrents. Patterned elements are stacked and layered, with protruding, tapered appendages and sensuous tendrils reaching dangerously away from the safety of the massed center.
Birnbaum uses paper in his clay to give the porcelain more tensile strength and flexibility to hold up to the delicate and taxing methods employed by the artist. He presses the clay into surface textures, then folds, bends, pulls and twists the elements into expressive forms that even those studied in the techniques of ceramics are unable to understand or replicate. With no reflective clear glaze, the white porcelain sculptures take on a bone-like quality, absorbing light as opposed to reflecting it. The final result is a body of work that reflects a beautiful struggle of abandon and control, the unrestrained indulgence of the undulating forms versus the technical discipline of working and taming the material.
The works of Tati Kauppi and Charles Birnbaum will be on display at Cross Mackenzie Gallery, 2026 R Street, NW, through Jan. 5, 2012. For more information visit [CrossMackenzie.com](http://www.crossmackenzie.com)
“A Song for the Horse Nation”
Ari Post • November 21, 2011
In the pictorial lexicon of American history, there is perhaps no image more potent and quixotic than the archetype of the Native American on horseback. From Walt Disney to J.M. Barry, the lure of the American Indian’s intimacy with these deeply spiritual and powerful creatures has inspired imaginations for generations.
But horses as we know them today didn’t get to the Western hemisphere until Columbus brought a herd of 25 over on his second voyage to the new world in 1493. From this first handful of animals, the lives of Native Americans changed forever. From the way they traveled and hunted, to their celebration rituals and ceremonies, to new artistic expressions and traditions that continue to this day, horses quickly became an indispensable component of Native American life. In their newest exhibit, “A Song for the Horse Nation,” the National Museum of the American Indian takes us deep into the bond between our native citizens and the Horse Nation.
Walking through the exhibition, there are more words and artifacts than you can wrap your head around. But even as you process the first pieces of information, something makes itself clear very quickly: as a culture, American Indians are abundantly thoughtful people. Most of the artifacts and artworks on display in the exhibition have very utilitarian functions, from saddles to headstalls for horses, to basic clothing and housing. And yet everything is executed with a fine and personal sense of style, beauty and aesthetic that recalls some of the great artistic movements of the Common Era. You see the vibrant, earthy color palette of the impressionists, the sophisticated, stylized flatness of the Byzantines and the hieroglyphic narrative of the ancient Egyptians.
Native American culture is well known for its distinct visual language, which seems to have naturally enveloped the Horse Nation upon its introduction into their society. They became expert in fabricating horse gear for hunt and for war while transforming this equipment into a unique level of art.
Some of the most beautiful displays are of the horse masks, used in wartime and in peace to adorn the animals. Made of materials such as owl feathers, hide, buffalo horn, porcupine quills, brass tacks, ermine and even sinew, these masks are haunting and dreamlike, and you can imagine how utterly transformative these head coverings would be if, say, it was charging toward you in battle or part of a ritual dance ceremony.
But perhaps the most significant way that horses transformed Native American life was in their ability to hunt. Before horses, buffalo hunting on the Great Plains was a risky, exhausting and arduous job. Hunters had to track them on foot, and the process involved many men and took days of planning. But on horseback, a lone hunter could bring down a buffalo by himself and with relative efficiency. Furthermore, since tribes could travel farther, access to resources was expanded and people were better fed. As such, they acquired more time for art, spirituality and philosophy.
As their lifestyles now permitted more time for temporal liberties, Native Americans forged unbreakable bonds with the Horse Nation. Plains tribes embraced the horse as a brother in spirit and a link to the supernatural realm, embodying it with beauty, energy and healing powers in ceremonial objects representing these connections. Dance sticks on display in the exhibition were once carried by warriors in ceremonial dances, decorated symbolically with such flourishes as brass bells and eagle feathers.
With the arrival of horses, new ideas in design and ornament circulated through Native trade routes from Mexico to the Pacific Northwest. And while some things were acquired through trading with the Spanish, Native craftsmen largely made their own devices. From saddles, bridles and cinches, to whips and ropes, each tool, as seen in this exhibit, took on a remarkable level of craft and spirituality. Blending a variety of international influences—Spanish saddles, eastern beadwork, traditions of family and tribal identity—Native artists created a rich new visual art form.
The status of women also improved as a result of the Horse Nation. Horses helped lighten the workload, and women gained more time for creating art and enriching their society. Women’s arts, such as beadwork and ornamenting hides with porcupine quills, flourished.
The issue of Native identity continues to resonate today, as Native people across the country seek to claim the future on their own terms. Ushering in Native American heritage month this November, “A Song for the Horse Nation” shines a light on the soul of the American Indian’s national community and invites us in to experience it ourselves. It is difficult to encapsulate everything within this exhibition, but as a whole, it resonates with the strength and beauty of a stallion.
“A Song for the Horse Nation” is on view at the National Museum of the American Indian through Jan. 2, 2013. For more information visit the museum’s website: NMAI.si.edu.
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Adam Lister Gallery
John Blee • November 3, 2011
Think “alternative space” and your mind will conjure up concrete floors, unfinished walls, improvised lighting with wires dangling from the ceiling. Alternative spaces in the hip, art world sense are somewhat rare in D.C., but are even rarer outside D.C. itself, let alone outside the Beltway, as the Adam Lister Gallery (3995 Chain Bridge Road, Fairfax, VA) is. Adam Lister is a Fairfax native who recently returned from New York after studying at the School of Visual Arts. Like many artists in New York, he lived and worked in Brooklyn. While living there he was involved in organizing and participating in art exhibits within alternative spaces, as well as galleries in NYC and New Jersey. He’s even done a show in the back of a Ryder moving van!
Adam recalls, “We would drive all over the five boroughs of New York City, parking on streets and opening up our show in different neighborhoods. I also ran a studio space in the industrial section of East Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The studio was in an old factory building, and we turned a raw 1000 square foot room into a six-studio ‘art lab’ for young emerging New York artists. I’m interested in the struggle and tension visible in young frustrated artists.”
The truth of alternative spaces is found in the rawness of its art. It is often more than a little unvarnished and with that famous edge, cutting or no. This is true of the Adam Lister Gallery, where many of the artists showing are still actually in graduate school. The work is inventive and searching. Its energy is undeniable. What it lacks in finesse is made up in earnestness, something often lacking in more “finished” work by artists further along. The urge to create here seems stronger, more palpable. There is more fumbling perhaps because more is being attempted.
One standout in the current show is Stephanie Rivers, the granddaughter of Larry Rivers, whose work fuses images from nature with graduated stripes. But the work in the show that is most magnetic, literally, is by Adam Lister, who uses magnets in surprising ways to create installation pieces as well as sculpture. His use of color is his own, and a pleasure for the eye. There are a number of pieces that incorporate mosaic, a technique Adam acquired while restoring New York subway stations.
With his gallery, Lister aims “to provide an environment and exhibition space for emerging artists at different levels in their careers. I currently have a rotating exhibition schedule and we’re in the process of setting up artist ‘labs’ for artists to have space to experiment, create, and have their work seen by the public. I would also like to create a space that offers rare and unique, quality artwork, in an area that craves a contemporary art space.” The gallery is currently doing an open call for a 2010 summer group exhibition. Submissions should be made online at www.adamlistergallery.com.
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Hirshhorn’s Homage to Josef Albers
At the Hirshhorn Museum, “Innovation and Inspiration” is a perfect title for the exhibition focusing on the work and teaching of Josef Albers. Albers is known for his work on color theory, and I for one have never felt color fits into any theory, as it is so subjective in effect. Nevertheless, Albers had and continues to have an enormous effect on the way color is perceived in everyday use. If you look at his color exercises you see the colors we see around us in everyday life, whether in the home, or office, or other public spaces. Albers is far more influential than Martha Stewart!
Albers’ dynamic early graphic work had nothing to do with squares within squares, and in the pieces on view he experimented with type usage. He also used work that implied dimension through linear perspective, something Albers would not wholly abandon. In addition a few landscape lithographs that are unremarkable represent his earliest work. There is also a self-portrait by Albers that is pure Kokoshka. It is surprising to see even a glimpse of expressionism in the exhibition!
Assemblages by Albers incorporating glass and metal/wire/paint/nails/mesh/imitation pearls from the ’20s look contemporary. “Window Picture” has beautiful, rich, expressive color. “Grid Mounted Squares” is glass/iron/wire and again uses deep color, quite unlike later Albers. Modestly sized, these works are like modern stained glass windows.
What follows of Albers work is mostly his endless “Homage to the Square.” I have been looking, and sometimes not been looking, at Albers for almost 50 years, and there is sometimes a surprise. Yet I often feel about the squares the way I feel about hearing someone playing scales on the piano. It’s useful, but rarely exciting.
There is no doubting Albers’ importance in his role as teacher. Albers was a Bauhaus member from 1920-1933. Fleeing Hitler and coming to the U.S. to the incredibly important art campus at Black Mountain College (North Carolina), Albers was a founding director. Some of the greatest figures in mid-century art in America found their way to Black Mountain, either teaching or in its student programs. By art, I mean those working in all disciplines: John Cage, Stefan Wolpe, Willem de Kooning, Merce Cunningham, Buckminster Fuller, Robert Duncan, Charles Olson and many more. One of the most important schools of poetry is the U.S. is known as Black Mountain poetry. In 1950 Albers became chair of the Department of Design at Yale University.
Albers’ students, including Rauschenberg, Noland, Nevelson, Bolotowsky and Judd fill the last two galleries with paintings, constructions, and sculptures. I have never seen Kenneth Noland and Robert Rauschenberg hanging next to each other so amicably! Not to be missed are some wonderful works by Anni Albers, wife of Josef. (Through April 11.)
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In the Realm of the Buddha at the Sackler
At the Sackler Gallery, a wonderful exhibition of Tibetan art, “Lama, Patron, Artist: The Great Situ Panchen,” as well as a spectacular recreation of a Tibetan altar, have just opened. Situ Panchen was an 18th-century Tibetan version of the Abbé Suger, engendering the Encampment style that incorporated aspects of Chinese landscape and color. There are incredible paintings (thangkas) and bronzes in the show that have an amazing spiritual intensity. Though Tibetan Buddhist art is very much related to Chinese and Indian Buddhist art, it is somehow able to magnify its implosiveness.
Situ Panchen was an artist himself, and for that reason he was probably very interested in shaping the art that was produced for monasteries that were part of the Karma Kagyü sect he belonged to. Because Situ Panchen was a Rimpoche (reincarnated Lama), his life is chronicled, unlike most Tibetan artists. We know that Situ Panchen began to paint even before he had been schooled in painting. At the age of 15 he undertook instruction in iconometric proportions. One of the Karmapa Lamas, the leader of the Tibetan Buddhist sect that Situ Panchen belonged to, was also a noted painter.
The Encampment style of painting had emerged in central Tibet in the late 16th century. It was called by that name because the Karmapas lived in portable encampments, or moveable monasteries. There had subsequently been political problems that had resulted in the suspension of the style. Situ Panchen re-empowered the style.
Looking at Tibetan painting as a whole, the Encampment style stands out as being freer and having an extra element of fantasy. It also uses a sweeter and softer green and has some amazing landscapes, thanks to its Chinese infusion. In the midst of skies there are conjoined figures. It is symbolic, but at some level it is also sexual. Perhaps it is truly visionary sexuality.
In the show there are also some staggering sculptures of Lamas, some of the greatest portrait sculpture ever.
The Tibetan Shrine, with the contents of the Alice S. Kandell collection, makes an enormous impact. Though viewing individual works of art is preferable in the museum manner of the Situ Panchen show, the power of the actually quite-small chapel is possibly greater. I took students of mine, not well versed in art and not at all in Tibetan art, to see the show and chapel. They had a hard time looking long at anything. They stood and gazed into the fantastic array of Bodhisattvas and Demons and Lamas for many minutes, getting it. One student remarked it was just like his (Ethiopian) church. The chapel was truly enlightening. (Through July 18.)
Spring 2010 Visual Arts Preview
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’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.
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.
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.
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.
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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Diane Epstein: All the Flavor of Rome
It’s the Eternal City, and Diane Epstein has lived there for 15 years, where she is renowned not only for her photography but for her culinary accomplishments. And food is one of the subjects of her photography. Epstein has evolved a technique that she calls fresco photography. She has it printed on stone, but it’s the fusion of images she shoots and reshoots, layering into them images of Roman walls, that creates the resonance. Thus they have a blurred look that gives them their unique vintage.
Epstein does not shy from the familiar: it’s the Pantheon Dome (looking suspiciously like National Gallery rotunda,) the Forum, St. Peter’s, the Castel St. Angelo and the Coliseum. But there is also piselli (peas,) aglio (garlic,) and best of all carciofi (artichokes) looking like roses, almost. Some very beautiful limoni are one of her subjects as well.
Originally from New York and California, Epstein is self-taught in photography. She admires many photographers, but it is the impressionist painters who inspire her most. She mentions especially Cézanne and Renoir.
Recently she has had several commissions that have caused her to print her photographs in very large sizes so that her work has the feel of murals. She prints the fruits and vegetables in fairly small sizes, perfect for the kitchen.
In her culinary habit, she wanders around Rome with tourists and collects local produce and then prepares a feast. Epstein also shares her feast of Rome in her photographs. (At Susan Calloway Fine Arts, 1643 Wisconsin Ave., opening April 9.)
Angela Iovino at the Parish Gallery
Ari Post •
Watercolors are an often overlooked medium, their subtleties and patiently layered depths seemingly run off by the raw energy of so much popular expressionism and abstraction. Angela Iovino’s series of landscapes at the Parish Gallery, open through May 18th, is a kernel of cool mint, cleansing the palette between the explosive, bright flavors being offered around the city.
Even with such tangible titles as “Eastport Maine Morning” and “Hot Spring I,” to call these studies ‘landscapes’ is more of a projection than a precise definition. Iovino’s paintings are the geography of dreams that pull the viewer in only to stand beyond a world that cannot completely be entered.
Iovino lets the water do a lot of the work in her paintings, allowing the colors to dissipate, diffuse and coagulate in their wet state. I am inclined to believe that puddles of water may well have been spread carefully around the paper. The atmospheric effect created by this technique is thick and simultaneously transparent, recalling the feeling of intense humidity.
Like looking into a marsh, or staring fixedly at something and then closing your eyes – what is seen in Iovino’s work is more of a feeling of brevity, a weightlessness that cannot last. But in the meantime, it is a beautiful sight.
Through May 18 at the Parish Gallery (1054 31st St.)