Where to See Art Gallery Exhibits in the Washington Area


The start of this 15-piece series is the occasion of the architect-sculptor DC’s exhibition at Addison/Ripley Fine Art, which also includes earlier creations. All artwork features hand-carved wood in sharp curves, punctuated with circular cutouts and painted in vibrant toybox and dollhouse hues.

The artist is a Francophile who titled the mirrors in English and French. Among them, a set that represents the four seasons, each with its reflective surface contained in a case that resembles the body of a guitar. The sunniest of the four is “Summer (L’Ete)” yellow, but Carroll is not prone to icy colors, so the blue-dominated “Winter (Hiver)” is almost as bright.

Carroll’s architectural interests are reflected in a few playground-like mini-pavilions, perhaps intended as models for life-size structures or perhaps built just for fun. Equally entertaining is the show’s oldest piece, 1978’s “Sea Creature,” a suspended sculpture featuring a yellow and red lucky charm. As in mirror frames such as the biomorphic “Alive!”, the artist draws inspiration from the bends and descents of nature. Yet there is nothing random or chaotic about Carroll’s sculpture, whose smile-inducing colors and contours are crafted with exquisite control.

The terse, reductive art style called “minimalism” began to emerge in the late 1950s, partly as a reaction to the strong emotion of abstract expressionism. Half a century later, Joseph Shetler comes to what he more simply calls “post-minimalism”: he was born there.

The Hyattsville, Maryland artist, whose “In Pursuit of Nothing” is at Culture House, is the product of a Mennonite upbringing. This austere brand of Christianity shaped Shetler’s elemental compositions and austere aesthetic, which in another context might be called Zen. The artist tightly deploys hatched or pinstriped lines over fields painted in basic black or white. The repeating pattern results suggest both patchwork quilts and Sol LeWitt’s grid wall designs.

Where LeWitt favored clean edges and often left the actual drawing to others, Shetler has a softer touch and an individualistic approach. The stiffness of the overall design is subverted by a myriad of small imperfections. The lines, made with graphite or silverpoint, waver slightly; surfaces are often stained or stained.

The process of making these drawings-paintings is obviously meditative. Viewers may or may not get lost in the vast geometric expanses of the images, but it seems likely that Shetler did. As in Zen, the pursuit of nothingness calms the mind.

Joseph Shetler: In Pursuit of Nothing Until March 5 at Culture House700 Delaware Ave. SW.

Natural phenomena take on new configurations in the work of Oenone Hammersley and Darren Smith, two local artists exhibiting together at the Athenaeum. Hammersley is a painter whose images often take on sculptural forms that mimic their subjects. Smith is a photographer who dissects and reassembles his images into kaleidoscopic arrangements.

Smith travels the world as editorial director of National Geographic’s international editions and returns with photos from places such as Mexico, Jordan and Russia. These countries are represented in the Athenaeum show, alongside DC’s Kenilworth Water Gardens. All of the scenes are cut into small pieces which are then tiled into orderly yet surreal mosaics, a process Smith’s statement calls “remixing reality”.

This stuff can be done with computers, sure, but Smith’s collages are done by hand. It is his way of transforming photographic studies of cathedrals and lotuses into something entirely subjective.

Many of Hammersley’s multimedia images are painted on wooden panels whose contoured edges mimic the fluidity of turbulent water. Rendered mostly in swirls of white and variegated blues, the semi-abstract seascapes shimmer with hard-edged acrylic pigments and shiny materials such as glass beads. “Reflecting Wave” swirls across the wall as if it’s about to shatter, while the less naturalistic “Reflecting Pool” inserts small mirrors into an image whose basic diamond shape is softened by oceanic tendrils. .

Hammersley depicts nature to draw attention to its fragility and is involved with several conservation groups. But his work is not entirely solemn. In a pair of “Washed Away” paintings, swirls of dripping paint surround real metal drains. It’s a fun and winning way to represent humanity’s influence on the stormiest waters.

Oenone Hammersley and Darren Smith Until March 6 at Athenaeum201 Prince Street, Alexandria.

Most of the paintings in “So Black I’m Bright”, Oluwatoyin Tella’s exhibition at the Honfleur Gallery, have long titles derived from hip-hop lyrics. “Let me see your light / You’re so black, you’re bright / You’re so bright, you black” are Yasiin Bey’s lines that the artist linked to one of his most striking images: a woman kneeling with flowers on one side of her face, her form bisected by a line drawn loosely in gold leaf. His skin is a dark, shiny blue, and the background features an elaborate white-on-white raised pattern.

These basic elements are found in most of the paintings of Tella, born in Nigeria and based in Hyattsville, Maryland. Blue-skinned figures—usually but not always female, naked, and solitary—are highlighted by hair, halos, or other details rendered most often in gold or red. Subjects are bold, confident and contemporary, while decorative touches root them in tradition.

In her statement, Tella touts hip-hop as a tribute to Blackness. The same could be said of his paintings, even though their main hues are blue and white. These colors shine like, to quote another Bey line that Tella borrowed for a title, “the bright light of a distant star.”

Oluwatoyin Tella: So black, I am brilliant Until March 5 at Honfleur Gallery, 1241 Good Hope Road. SE.


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