Where to See Art Gallery Exhibits in the Washington Area

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With curtains, paintings and a few other elements, Heather Goodchild has staged a miniature museum in IA&A’s smallest gallery in Hillyer. The various parts of the Toronto native’s “Violet Peach” aren’t unusual, but they combine to express what the gallery’s statement calls an “unstable state of consciousness.” Goodchild’s installation is displayed alongside multimedia work by Jeremy Jirsa and photographs by Lynn Alleva Lilley.

Fabric partitions divide Goodchild’s show into three rooms. The first two each combine a painting with hooked rugs in wool and hessian; the subjects are traditional themes such as flowers, a reclining person and dogs in a forest. The third chamber contains nine small oils of people in architectural spaces, whether domestic or monumental. These images, too, are traditional, except they hang at eye level from a meter-tall faceless figure made of ceramic, fabric and wood. Squatting to inspect the paintings, viewers may feel like they are encroaching on the model’s territory.

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This is probably intentional, since the paintings are so suited to the oppression of interior spaces. The images depict sites such as a cafeteria in the basement, and many are angled upwards to reveal room ceilings. The paintings and the small gallery that contains them are both cloistered and claustrophobic. Some visitors will linger; others may leak.

The smiling face is the ironic motif of Jirsa’s ‘grey area’, which is primarily painting, but also encompasses video, photography and found object sculpture. According to the Baltimore artist’s statement, the show was inspired by “reactions to episodes of Tourette, severe OCD, anxiety and depression, ultimately leading to the overwhelming projection of a facade onto the world at through a smile, while suffering in secret”.

Jirsa combines shiny everyday objects – real or simulated with deft trompe l’oeil painting – like black plastic trash bags, pink neon tube hearts and metallic mylar balloons sporting, of course, playful smiles . It seems remarkable that all of these pop culture relics are essentially hollow, with no substance behind the imprinted smiles or other outward details.

Lilley’s “Earth Bound” footage often uses a shallow depth of field, so in a shot like “Dove and Robin Nesting” only the dove is in focus. The intention may be to fixate on a specific detail of a larger landscape, just as the human eye does. But the technique could also be the photographer’s way of disguising the narrowness of the apparent wilderness she documents.

The photos were taken over seven years at Sligo Creek Park, a piece of nature where Lilley located deer and snakes as well as birds near his home in Silver Spring, Maryland. The creatures are enclosed within the picture frame, as well as by the tightly packed brambles, in the artist’s statement “to feel like both a sanctuary and an entanglement”. The Lilley neighborhood’s wilderness may be thin, but it’s dense.

Heather Goodchild: purple peach; Jeremy Jirsa: Gray Zone; and Lynn Alleva Lilley: Earthbound Through August 28 at IA&A in Hillyer, 9 Hillyer Ct. NO.

David-Jeremiah & Focus Group 3

Possibly the least soothing yoga studio in the world, David-Jeremiah’s installation in CulturalDC’s pop-up space is modeled after a prison living room. The formerly incarcerated Dallas artist’s “Foga: Real N—- Edition” is partly satirical, but heartfelt in its dedication to what the gallery statement calls “radical nonviolence.” This theme is exemplified by pseudo-artifacts as brutal as a display of shivs – homemade prison knives – and white wooden cutouts in the shape of firearms.

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“Foga” is the abbreviation of “felon yoga”, an imaginary exercise company whose logo is a symbol of peace made of sockets. Metal benches, tables, and chairs echo the prison setting, and four videos feature Foga’s fictional entrepreneur and other characters, mostly wearing ski masks. The numerous references to violence are shocking, but the artist regards them as purely metaphorical. Designed to help black men channel their rage, “Foga” is a program of spiritual rather than physical exertion.

Incarceration is also the theme of David-Jeremiah’s four pieces in “Focus Group 3,” the Von Ammon Co.’s summer group show. Assembled from prison contraband, the double-sided collages feature images of handguns. fire, scantily clad women and – one of the artist’s touchstones – expensive Italian sports cars. The artwork fits well into the 16-contributor exhibition, which is heavy with found objects and images, often crudely juxtaposed.

Damage is another recurring factor: Helmut Lang’s battered disco ball is splattered with red pigment resembling blood; Catharine Czudej’s ceramic and metal panels look corroded; and Sylvie Fleury’s floor-mounted steel metal squares are covered in shattered makeup cases and scattered cosmetic powder. Other acerbic looks at the cosmetics industry include Kayode Ojo’s assemblage, which drapes a faux fur coat and accessories over a chair, and Max Hooper Schneider’s red plastic terrarium, filled with faux plants, tiny bottles and the word “Botox” spelled out in neon pink. As is often the case at Von Ammon, consumer products are presented as both seductive and repulsive.

David-Jeremiah: Foga: Real N—- Edition Until August 28 at the CulturalDC pop-up, 1831 14th St. NW.

Focus group 3 Until August 31 at Von Ammon Co.3330 Cady’s Alley NW.

The soft-focus multimedia images don’t make their subject immediately obvious, but Quinci Baker’s exhibition at Mehari Sequar Gallery is about an incident involving Venus Williams. The then 19-year-old tennis star was penalized when beads came loose from her hair on the court during the 1999 Australian Open. ‘Show Your Hand’ commemorates the incident with a skillfully rendered stained of the athlete and a set of 15 small paintings of the public at the tournament. Also featured are seven convex mirrors, scalloped with beads, which run diagonally up the wall as the color of their ornaments changes from red to orange to pale yellow.

This progression of hues clearly appeals to Baker, a resident of Prince George’s County who recently earned an MFA at Yale. But the crux of the exhibit is Baker’s identification with Williams, whose experience embodies “things projected onto black women,” the artist told a recent gallery visitor. Baker’s photos are blurry and mostly pastel, but they’re meant to celebrate the tennis player’s strength and perseverance.

Quinci Baker: Show Your Hand Until August 29 at Mehari Sequar Gallery1402 H St. NE.

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