Four cu­ra­tors share one spot­light

Ar­ling­ton Arts Cen­ter ex­hi­bi­tion has in­ge­nu­ity if not a lot of co­he­sion

The Washington Post Sunday - - ARTS & STYLE - BY MARK JENK­INS

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.

DAWN WHITMORE/MICHELLE LISA HER­MAN/AR­LING­TON ARTS CEN­TER

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.

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