Remap­ping bound­aries of draw­ing

The Washington Post Sunday - - ARTS & STYLE - BY MARK JENK­INS style@wash­post.com

The lines are just as likely to be sketched in space as on pa­per in “Drawn Out, Drawn Over,” a group show at the Brent­wood Arts Ex­change. Many of the works se­lected by cu­ra­tor Nikki Brug­noli are three-di­men­sional, and one is an ex­er­cise in civic en­gi­neer­ing.

“Stitch” is a video in which a wheeled de­vice in­scribes a dashed white line along and around a Penn­syl­va­nia viaduct slated for de­mo­li­tion. The pro­ject was con­ceived by Lisa Austin, an art pro­fes­sor who’s run­ning for mayor of Erie. The goal is not sim­ply to de­fine an ur­ban de­tail, but also to pre­serve an artery that links two sides of a land­scape bi­sected by heav­ily used rail­road tracks. A city is a col­lec­tion of lines, but also of the peo­ple who need to cross them.

In He­len Fred­er­ick’s in­stal­la­tion, prints of bod­ies tum­ble down a wall, one nearly hit­ting the floor; mul­ti­ples of the same im­age sim­u­late fall­ing, while around them, di­a­mond-shaped kites ap­pear to as­cend. Re­becca Ka­men com­bines draw­ing and sculp­ture, and pa­per and plas­tic, in her drip-pat­tern pic­tures, partly cutout and dan­gling. Matthew Pin­ney’s tac­tile wall sculp­ture is made mostly of torn can­vas, but it glim­mers with alu­minum high­lights.

There are more ways to en­ter an­other di­men­sion, as Michael Pes­tel and Kate Ten Eyck demon­strate with a char­coal draw­ing of in­ter­lock­ing strands, ac­com­pa­nied by In­done­sian-style mu­sic punc­tu­ated with avian chirps. Vis­ually, this black-and­white piece is akin to some of the show’s most ef­fec­tive en­tries: Walter Kravitz’s large ink-and­wax-pas­tel ab­strac­tions and Ja­nis Good­man’s elab­o­rately shaded pen­cil ren­der­ings. The lat­ter in­ter­ject small zoo­log­i­cal il­lus­tra­tions — a hand­ful of bees, a few geese — into ab­stract mael­stroms. Good­man makes na­ture draw­ings about the na­ture of draw­ing.

Drawn Out, Drawn Over On view through March 11 at Brent­wood Arts Ex­change, 3901 Rhode Is­land Ave., Brent­wood. 301-277-2863. mncp­p­capps.org/pg­parks/art_events/ ex­hi­bi­tions.aspx?q=brent­wood.

Mike Shaf­fer & Julie Wolfe

Like por­traits, mon­u­ments are no longer lim­ited to the rich and pow­er­ful. They don’t even have to memo­ri­al­ize any par­tic­u­lar thing. The sculp­tures in Mike Shaf­fer’s Amer­i­can Univer­sity Mu­seum show, “Tow­ers and Mon­u­ments,” in­clude a zig­gu­rat ded­i­cated “to the train they call The City of New Or­leans,” made pri­mar­ily of black­ened, cross-stacked rail­road ties. But most of the Cum­ber­land, Md., na­tive’s art ap­pears to flow from what calls his “child­hood fas­ci­na­tion . . . with build­ing blocks.”

The bulk of the se­lec­tion is in the out­door sculp­ture gar­den, but not all Shaf­fer’s ma­te­ri­als are durable enough for that. “Great White Way” is a stack of foam cups, art­fully fit­ted to­gether — top to top and bot­tom to bot­tom — in sets of four. Sev­eral grids of alu­minum tubes sug­gest Sol Le­witt’s min­i­mal­ism, ex­cept for shiny coat­ings of auto-body lac­quer and an oc­ca­sional play­ful break in geo­met­ric ar­range­ments.

Most of Shaf­fer’s pieces are sleek, tidy and in a sin­gle color or a nar­row range of con­trast­ing hues. This re­flects his credo — “my work is about ideas rather than things.” Yet he some­times lets the ma­te­rial rudely speak, as in a spire of sal­vaged lum­ber from which bent nails pro­trude. The con­cept is im­mac­u­late, but the ob­ject is bat­tered by real-world use.

The­o­ret­i­cal and ac­tual also con­tend in Julie Wolfe’s sprawl­ing “Quest for a Third Par­adise,” up­stairs at the same venue. In­cluded are one of the lo­cal artist’s “Green Rooms,” an ar­ray of bot­tles filled with wa­ter sam­ples dosed with ex­tracts and chem­i­cals. The in­fu­sions yield in­tense hues that Wolfe echoes in paint­ings, draw­ings and a col­lage that cre­ates a color wheel from cov­ers of books and pam­phlets.

The third par­adise the D.C. artist seeks is one in which na­ture, tech­nol­ogy and hu­man­ity all flour­ish. She evokes this in pic­tures that sug­gest both or­ganic and elec­tronic sys­tems, or by jux­ta­pos­ing black-and-white pho­tos with ar­eas of pure color. In video close-ups of wa­ter, Wolfe cel­e­brates the or­ganic world’s con­tin­ual flux. Yet her hard-edge pieces dis­play a par­al­lel en­thu­si­asm for the ar­che­typal.

Mike Shaf­fer: Tow­ers and Mon­u­ments and Julie Wolfe: Quest

for a Third Par­adise On view through March 12 at the Amer­i­can Univer­sity Mu­seum at the Katzen Arts Cen­ter, 4400 Mas­sachusetts Ave. NW. 202885-1300. amer­i­can.edu/mu­seum.

Duly Noted Pain­ters

Kur­tis Cep­petelli and Matthew Malone, who col­lab­o­rate as Duly Noted Pain­ters, are of­fer­ing an arthis­tory les­son to pa­trons of the Water­gate Gallery. The lo­cal duo’s “Mod­ern Affini­ties” presents loose in­ter­pre­ta­tions of works by Car­avag­gio, El Greco and other pre-mod­ern masters. Small re­pro­duc­tions of the orig­i­nals are on dis­play for com­par­i­son, as are draw­ings that pre­ceded the paint­ing.

The artists, whose spon­ta­neous brush­work dove­tails and over­laps in each pic­ture, re­tain the orig­i­nals’ com­po­si­tions while de­part­ing from their style. They pre­fer flat blocks of color and car­toon-style out­lines to grad­u­ated mod­el­ing and shad­ing, and they splash and drip pig­ment with the aban­don of ab­stract ex­pres­sion­ists.

Lurid bib­li­cal tales such as “Su­sanna and the El­ders” are up­staged by the dra­matic ac­tion of brush on can­vas. Mi­nor de­tails, no­tably a green cor­sage in Joshua Reynolds’s “Por­trait of Mrs. Col­lyear,” be­come cen­tral in the re­makes. Cep­petelli and Malone are un­be­holden to priests or pa­trons, so they’re free to ex­plore the forms, rather than the themes, of th­ese fa­mil­iar vi­gnettes. Duly Noted Pain­ters: Mod­ern Affini­ties On view through March 11 at Water­gate Gallery, 2552 Vir­ginia Ave. NW. 202-338-4488. wa­ter­gate­galleryframedesign.com.

Po­tomac Jour­ney

Charted on the map at Gallery O on H, the 43 lo­ca­tions of “Jonathan Weiner’s Po­tomac Jour­ney” trek east from the river’s head­wa­ters al­most all the way to its merger with the Ch­e­sa­peake. But that’s not how the 15 se­lected pho­to­graphs are ar­ranged on the wall. In­stead, the vis­i­ble con­trasts are among the sea­sons, and be­tween re­al­is­tic im­ages and nearly ab­stract ones.

Many pic­tures were made just north of the District yet con­tain no ev­i­dence of hu­man pres­ence. The lo­cal artist’s web­site (jweinerarts.com) re­veals that he has pho­tographed peo­ple on the wa­ter. But in this group, the em­pha­sis is on seren­ity and mys­tery. The river di­vides it­self into re­flected red, white and blue stripes in “Wa­ter Color 4,” and it turns to milky gauze in “Ri­ley 2.” Rather than ge­o­graphic specifics, this sub­set of Weiner’s pro­ject sings the univer­sal lyric of wa­ter in mo­tion. Jonathan Weiner’s Po­tomac Jour­ney: A Pho­to­graphic Ex­plo­ration of Our Na­tion’s River On view through March 10 at Gallery O on H, 1354 H St. NE. 202-649-0210. gallery­oonh.com.

KATE TENCYCK/BRENT­WOOD ARTS EX­CHANGE

Kate Tencyck and Michael Pestal col­lab­o­rated on “Bird­draw­ing Ma­chine,” on view at the Brent­wood Arts Ex­change.

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