Pho­tos that link past and present

The Washington Post Sunday - - BOOK WORLD - BY MARK JENK­INS Jenk­ins is a free­lance writer.

A so­ci­o­log­i­cal as well as a pho­to­graphic un­der­tak­ing, Janire Na­jera’s ex­pe­di­tion from Santa Fe, N.M., to Los An­ge­les en­com­passed the familiar and the strange. Of course, the Bil­bao, Spain-born-Na­jera’s idea of strange may not be the av­er­age Amer­i­can’s. “Mov­ing For­ward, Look­ing Back: Jour­neys Across the Old Span­ish Trail” in­cludes images of big skies, red buttes and rusted-out trucks that are well made but far from rev­e­la­tory. More in­ter­est­ing are the in­di­vid­ual sto­ries the pho­to­jour­nal­ist col­lected for the ex­hi­bi­tion, at the For­mer Res­i­dence of the Am­bas­sadors of Spain, and the book that ac­com­pa­nies it.

Now living in Wales, Na­jera con­sid­ers her­self more Euro­pean than Span­ish and pro­fesses no in­ter­est in her ge­neal­ogy. But in the Amer­i­can South­west, she met peo­ple who trea­sure their links to Spain, min­gled as they are with other Euro­pean and in­dige­nous Amer­i­can her­itages. She made evoca­tive por­traits of those hy­phen­ated Amer­i­cans and recorded in­ter­views with some (ac­ces­si­ble via head­phones or down­load).

It’s a mul­ti­themed chron­i­cle, so Na­jera used di­verse means to tell it. The show in­cludes her di­ary en­tries, a photo col­lage of a his­toric mission and land­scape pho­tos. En­dur­ing his­tory and land­scape are cen­tral to the project, but Na­jera also tries to con­vey the tran­sience of be­ing on the road. And what’s more Amer­i­can than that?

Janire Na­jera: Mov­ing For­ward, Look­ing Back: Jour­neys Across

the Old Span­ish Trail On view through June 28 at the For­mer Res­i­dence of the Am­bas­sadors of Spain, 2801 16th St. NW. 202-728-2334. www.spaincul­ture.us.

Flora Kanter and Pam Fred­er­ick

The ti­tle of “Out of the Box,” Flora Kanter and Pam Fred­er­ick’s show at the Katzen Arts Cen­ter is not a boast but a pun: Un­der­ly­ing the pieces are card­board boxes. Fred­er­ick turns squashed car­tons into color-field can­vases; each is painted with a block of a sin­gle pas­tel shade. Kanter play­fully al­ludes to the con­tain­ers’ orig­i­nal pur­pose in “Etagere”; its ar­ray of stacked boxes be­comes a dis­play case for pa­per vases that ape ce­ramic col­lectibles.

Gen­er­ally, Kanter’s work is ti­dier and monochro­matic and Fred­er­ick’s is more col­or­ful and an­ar­chic. But the two artists, both based in Wash­ing­ton, are as likely to in­ter­sect as di­verge. Kanter’s style turns rougher in the blackand-white “Ocean Paint­ing,” which some­what re­sem­bles a seas­cape; Fred­er­ick comes close to Kanter’s more sculp­tural ap­proach with “De­mo­li­tion,” which re­sem­bles a metal gate. Shaped and painted, card­board can im­i­tate many other sur­faces. But it’s not meant to en­dure, which gives “Out of the Box” its con­cep­tual edge. Kanter and Fred­er­ick’s ges­tures will out­last their medium.

Out of the Box: Flora Kanter and

Pam Fred­er­ick On view through June 24 at the Katzen Arts Cen­ter, 4400 Mas­sachusetts Ave. NW.

www.amer­i­can.edu/cas/katzen.

202-885-2787.

Rush Baker

It’s easy to see the mixed-me­dia paint­ings in Rush Baker’s “Un­der Pres­sure” as ed­i­fices of a sort. One in­gre­di­ent is ce­ramic tile ad­he­sive, some­times ar­rayed in grids that sug­gest par­tially erected walls. But do the lay­ered pic­tures at Hon­fleur Gallery rep­re­sent build­ing or de­con­struc­tion? Baker writes that his in­spi­ra­tions in­clude ur­ban de­cay and “the spec­ta­cle ofwar.” Per­haps such tur­moil is vi­su­al­ized in “Un­ti­tled (Pres­sure Study),” whose cloud-like shapes in pink and gray evoke fire and battle. Work­ing with acrylic, spray paint, resin and var­i­ous build­ing ma­te­ri­als, Baker contrasts pur­pose and chaos, ac­com­plish­ment and sur­ren­der. Yet most of the Mary­land artist’s work seems not so much fierce as sim­ply haunted.

Un­der Pres­sure: Re­cent Work by

Rush Baker On view through June 26 at Hon­fleur Gallery, 1241 Good Hope Rd. SE. 202-365-8392.

www.hon­fleur­gallery.com.

Amy Lin

Although pre­cisely hand­drawn dots on pa­per still fea­ture in Amy Lin’s work, they’re partly hid­den in the mixed-me­dia pieces of “Dream­worlds” at Ad­di­son/ Ri­p­ley. The break­through here is ac­tu­ally a cut-through: Most of the D.C. artist’s re­cent work pro­ceeds on two or more lev­els, with dots and other forms vis­i­ble only through cir­cles or spi­rals in­cised in the top level of pa­per. This adds an el­e­ment — shadow — to Lin’s stan­dard reper­toire of small shapes, larger pat­terns and ex­panses of white space. The ti­tles of many of th­ese pieces in­voke con­stel­la­tions and other ce­les­tial sys­tems, but the pic­tures also sug­gest aquatic or mi­cro­scopic life. “Whis­per­ing” is a spine-like in­ven­tion in red and or­ange, and the pieces that em­pha­size pa­per-carv­ing re­sem­ble em­broi­dery. There also are more ro­bust ar­range­ments, such as “Aurora,” with its black-shad­owed worm­holes and half-hid­den red and green plan­ets.

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Dream­worlds: Amy Lin On view through June 27 at Ad­di­son/Ri­p­ley Fine Art, 1670Wis­con­sin Ave. NW. 202-338-5180.

www.ad­dis­on­rip­leyfin­eart.com.

COUR­TESY OF THE SPAN­ISH EM­BASSY

Janire Na­jera pho­tographed the Old Span­ish Trail, a his­tor­i­cal trade route from Santa Fe, N.M., to Los An­ge­les.

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