Four curators share one spotlight
Arlington Arts Center exhibition has ingenuity if not a lot of cohesion
Because its home is a former school, the Arlington Arts Center is subdivided in a way that isn’t especially conducive to single-themed exhibitions. Thus the venue’s current “Curator’s Spotlight,” which splits the real estate among four programmers.
Visually, the most cohesive section is “Minding the Hand,” selected by Betsy Johnson. Although the theme is “laborintensive practices,” the outcome is a selection of handsome minimalist pieces, many made of found objects. The four artists neatly juxtapose castoff manufactured material — there’s lots of VHS tape — with natural items. The latter include wormspun silk and cicada wings, arrayed in Elsabé Dixon’s elegant wall installations.
Technology is central to “Click Here,” assembled by Kayleigh Bryant-Greenwell. It includes stop-motion video and oil paintings that emulate pixels. Most electric is Michelle Lisa Herman’s set of dangling cellphone-like devices. They pulse white lights at one another, signifying both connection and disconnection.
The imagery turns fleshier in “Let Me Look at You,” chosen by Katy Scarlett. Amid the photos and performance video, the standout is Aaron McIntosh and Nick Clifford Simko’s pile of upholstered tubes, which look like logs, except that they’re made from fabric patterned to resemble the men’s skin.
Water is the link for the Ann Tarantino-curated “Seep,” the most diverse of the four showcases. Included are actual poppies sprouting in patterned soil, watery abstract ink paintings and pop-art-style oils of swamps. The most pointed works are by Patrick McDonough and include a lifeguard station to be built in anticipation of the waterfront to result from rising sea levels.
The artist also takes amusing swipes at the craftbeer cult (with a proposal for a stormwater-irrigated hops garden) and Frank Gehry’s Eisenhower Memorial. McDonough’s bid to improve on Gehry would cut the aircraft carrier named for the former president in half and turn it into two towers, erected in Southwest Washington “to honor President Eisenhower’s dream of disarmament.” Perhaps the memorial will someday be beachfront property.
Curator’s Spotlight On view through March 26 at Arlington Arts Center, 3550 Wilson Blvd., Arlington. 703-248-6800. arlingtonartscenter.org.
Arlington Arts Center isn’t especially conducive to single-themed exhibitions.
Michelle Lisa Herman’s dangling, light-pulsing cellphone-like devices can be seen in “Click Here,” part of the “Curator’s Spotlight” exhibition at the Arlington Arts Center.