Re­al­ism is the bedrock, but in this restro-spec­tion, it’s all fair game

The Washington Post Sunday - - MUSEUMS - BY MARK JENK­INS

The old­est paint­ing in “Re­al­ism Trans­formed: John Winslow’s Wild New World” is a por­trait of three chil­dren. It was ex­e­cuted in a neo-clas­si­cal style in 1973, the year of the D.C. artist’s first lo­cal solo show. The pic­ture is in­cluded in this Amer­i­can Univer­sity Art Mu­seum ret­ro­spec­tive not to demon­strate what the vet­eran pain­ter does, but what he can do. Of course, the more re­cent can­vases also dis­play Winslow’s for mid-able-abil­i­ties. But the di­rect­ness of the early work has been sup­planted by a mul­ti­fac­eted ap­proach.

Ac­knowl­edg­ing the the­atri­cal­ity of tra­di­tional stu­dio paint­ing, Winslow stages his paint­ings as scenes on sets, of­ten seen from dra­mat­i­cally el­e­vated van­tage points. Since the pic­tures are per­for­mances of a sort, they­may in­clude ac­tors, dancers and tech­ni­cians. Fig­ures from art history also can ap­pear, and self-por­traits are com­mon. To con­vey the act of paint­ing, and the think­ing of the pain­ter, Winslow in­cor­po­rates spec­tral fig­ures, geo­met­ric shapes and re­gions of sheer ab­strac­tion. As sub­ject and form merge, ev­ery­thing is fair game. Yet re­al­ism is still the bedrock.

The least fig­u­ra­tive pic­tures, such as 1990’s “The Arm­chair,” re­call Cu­bism and Fu­tur­ism’s at­tempts to see ev­ery as­pect si­mul­ta­ne­ously and to con­vey mo­tion by ex­plod­ing ob­jects in mul­ti­ple di­rec­tions. But 2015’s “Self” re­al­is­ti­cally de­picts the artist on his stu­dio floor, a painted small-town back­drop tilted be­hind him. This con­trived yet en­tirely rep­re­sen­ta­tional scene sug­gests an artis­tic jour­ney that has car­ried Winslow back to a place that’s both the same as and dif­fer­ent from 40 years ago.

Aqua­ma­rine

The ti­tle of Aaron Gallery’s cur­rent show, “Aqua­ma­rine,” refers to its pre­dom­i­nant color as well as its prin­ci­pal theme. Work­ing in oil or wa­ter­color, He­bert Sanchez rep­re­sents rushes and gushes in var­i­ous modes. In pic­tures such as “Tor­rente,” the Colom­bian artist ren­ders waves, foam and spray re­al­is­ti­cally, yet many of his paint­ings evoke energy and mo­tion with­out rep­re­sen­ta­tional el­e­ments. While marine hues are para­mount, Sanchez some­times punc­tu­ates them with warm col­ors. The wa­ter­color that gives this show its name, for ex­am­ple, has a splash of red at its cen­ter. It sug­gests, im­prob­a­bly yet vividly, a fire blaz­ing amid the sea.

“Aqua­ma­rine” also in­cludes work by Nia Tavlar­ides Stratos, who paints in both hardedge and fluid modes. (For the lat­ter, she blows pig­ment through straws.) A na­tive Wash­ing­to­nian, Stratos takes in­spi­ra­tion from her Greek her­itage; this se­lec­tion in­cludes “Tha­lassa,” a mixed-media ab­strac­tion named for the Greek word for “sea.” She also works in a style whose sim­pli­fied forms re­call an­cient Mediter­ranean pot­tery and fres­coes. Where Sanchez cap­tures a time­less blue in­stant, Stratos of­ten looks back to what one of her myth-inspired pic­tures calls a “Golden Age.”

Sat­u­rate

Across the river, the Athenaeum also is awash in marine im­agery. “Sat­u­rate” fea­tures five re­gional artists, two of whom had lo­cal shows in April. Eve Stock­ton’s large wood­cuts, seen at Long View, ar­range Asian-like na­ture mo­tifs in reg­u­lar pat­terns and wa­ter-world col­ors. Stephen Estrada’s oils, shown at Black­Rock Art Cen­ter, de­pict the meet­ing of surf and sub­merged shore, of­ten in storm-cloud or mid­night hues.

Like Estrada, Abby Ka­sonik fa­vors muted or dark views of sea and sky, but where his style is pre­cise, hers is freer. Ka­sonik’s “Un­ti­tled Sat­u­rate” se­ries in­te­grates drips and other painterly ges­tures into lay­ers of washes and glazes. The ninth in the set, one of the show’s stand­outs, fixes a dis­tant moon in a liq­uid sky; it’s both im­pres­sion­is­tic and dra­matic.

While Han­nele Lahti is a pho­tog­ra­pher, her pic­tures fit well with Ka­sonik’s. Three of Lahti’s pic­tures gaze into shal­lows, where watery dis­tor­tion and re­flec­tion make solids ap­pear a lit­tle soft. Most epic is “Ni­a­gara #2,” which dis­tills the famed falls to mists, clouds and a few patches of star­tlingly green wa­ter.

Mu­si­cian Tom Teasley con­trib­uted an au­dio-video piece that matches an am­bi­ent-mu­sic snip­pet to min­i­mal­ist rip­ple pat­terns. But his ma­jor “Sat­u­rate” piece will be a per­for­mance July 18 of fluid sounds made with such

de­vices as a wa­ter gong, a teapot and a milk frother.

Sat­u­rate On view through July 19 at the Athenaeum, 201 Prince St., Alexandria. 703-548-0035. www.nvfaa.org.

Art in the Mak­ing

Orig­i­nally pre­sented in New York, “Art in the Mak­ing” com­mem­o­rated an­niver­saries of three of that city’s ven­er­a­ble art schools, in­clud­ing the Pratt In­sti­tute. The ver­sion of the show at Ge­orge Washington Univer­sity’s Luther W. Brady Art Gallery adds pieces by artists who taught at the Cor­co­ran, now part of the univer­sity. Most of the show’s high­lights are among those works.

Twenty or so small pen­cil draw­ings from Pratt pro­fes­sor Kit White’s book “101 Things to Learn in Art School” drolly sub­tract scale, tex­ture and color from works by Mor­ris Louis and many oth­ers. But paint­ings by Louis’s fel­low D.C. col­orists, in­clud­ing Paul Reed, Sam Gil­liam and Gene Davis, re­veal the im­por­tance of what White omits. That’s not just color. Thomas Down­ing’s “Va-VaVa” stacks over­lap­ping red cir­cles and fash­ions a strong di­ag­o­nal el­e­ment sim­ply with a row where the dots are spaced far­ther apart. The re­sult is a rhyth­mic jolt lack­ing in much of the New York works.

Art in the Mak­ing: A New Adap­ta­tion On view through July 17 at Ge­orge Washington Univer­sity Luther W. Brady Gallery, 805 21st St. NW, Sec­ond Floor. 202-994-1525. www.gwu.edu/ ~brad­yart/brady/ex­hi­bi­tions. html.

Borders & Bound­aries

The 15 artists se­lected for Tar­get Gallery’s ju­ried ex­hi­bi­tion “Borders and Bound­aries” re­sponded to a call for art inspired by an “out­sider’s per­spec­tive.” That per­spec­tive can be cul­tural but is more of­ten lit­eral. In­cluded are sev­eral pho­to­graphs that peer through some­thing, whether blinds (in Frank Ver­reyken’s el­e­gant glimpses of hid­den land­scapes) or fab­ric (in Marie To­manova’s mys­te­ri­ously en­wrapped nudes). The chain­link fence is a re­cur­ring im­age, and Karen J. Spier­ing’s and An­gela East­man’s ab­stract paint­ings in­cor­po­rate such build­ing ma­te­ri­als as con­crete and tar pa­per.

Two of the most in­trigu­ing artists have rather dif­fer­ent no­tions of borders. Bin Feng’s photos are vi­gnettes of an ev­ery­day up­scale Amer­i­can cou­ple, with a man who’s ap­par­ently Chi­nese. In one, the man is read­ing a Chi­nese news­pa­per in a kitchen that’s straight out of an ad for a mini-man­sion in McLean — or per­haps sub­ur­ban Shang­hai. Ryan Lewis pairs play­ful stop- ac­tion videos of a can­taloupe and a base­ball in a con­tin­ual process of dis­sec­tion and re­assem­bly. Rather than gaze wist­fully in­ward, the videos per­pet­u­ally re­con­sti­tute what’s in­side and out.

Borders & Bound­aries On view through July 19 at Tar­get Gallery, 105 N. Union St., Alexandria. 703-838-4565, Ext. 4. www.tor­ped­o­fac­tory.org/part­ners/tar­get­gallery.

COUR­TESY OF NIA TAVLAR­IDES STRATOS AND AARON GALLERY

Nia Tavlar­ides Stratos’s “Oleaje (Waves)”oil paint­ing is part of the “Aqua­ma­rine” show at Aaron Gallery. As the ti­tle sug­gests, the pieces all in­cor­po­rate the color and theme.

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