Th­ese are not your usual travel pic­tures

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

For nine years, Frank Van Riper has cu­rated Pho­toworks’ an­nual sur­veys of re­cent doc­u­men­tary photography. “Mir­ror to the World 2017” is the last in­stall­ment to be se­lected by Van Riper, a for­mer photography colum­nist for The Washington Post, and it’s am­bi­tious and far­reach­ing.

Three of the five sets of images doc­u­ment jour­neys. Va­lerie Make­peace prowled the Amer­i­can South­west with an eye for the bat­tered, rusted and aban­doned. Mo­tels, au­tos and road­side cafes de­cay; the desert en­dures. Chris­tine Pearl’s blackand-white images doc­u­ment a trip along ru­ral thor­ough­fares from Maine to Mis­souri. Th­ese small glimpses have an in­ti­mate feel. There’s also a se­ries about Civita di Bag­nore­gio, an Ital­ian moun­tain town built on now-crum­bling lime­stone. This is the work of seven peo­ple who went to Um­bria for a work­shop run by Van Riper and Judith Good­man, his wife and fel­low pho­tog­ra­pher. With its ver­tig­i­nous an­gles, pic­turesque build­ings and view-fram­ing arch­ways, the pre­car­i­ous ham­let is al­most too pho­to­genic a sub­ject.

The most evoca­tive es­say is Fred Zafran’s “A Stranger in My Home,” set in and around a re­mote house cloaked by fo­liage. Within and with­out ap­pear to merge in a shot of leaves that nearly blend into a rug’s pat­tern, and hu­man fig­ures seem no more tan­gi­ble than the shad­ows they cast. This is a realm of con­ceal­ment and iso­la­tion, with hints of pos­si­ble trans­for­ma­tion.

The most ur­ban and ob­vi­ously lo­cal se­ries is by Dar­row Mont­gomery, who has worked for Washington City Pa­per for three decades. (For the record, Mont­gomery and I were col­leagues for much of that time.) Th­ese square iPhone pic­tures, billed as “an ac­ci­den­tal archive” of Washington, of­ten em­ploy muted color and nar­row depth of field, mak­ing them al­most as dream­like as Zafran’s photos. But they’re grounded by fa­mil­iar vis­ual el­e­ments — we can thank Metro master ar­chi­tect Harry Weese for many of them — and mo­ments of wit. In one wry vi­gnette, a U.S. Park Po­lice of­fi­cer uses a chess table to mount his horse, prov­ing that the game of kings has prac­ti­cal ap­pli­ca­tions for the mod­ern-day knight.

Mir­ror to the World 2017 On view through May 14 at Pho­toworks, Glen Echo Park, 7300 MacArthur Blvd., Glen Echo. 301-634-2274. glene­chopho­toworks.org.

Pe­dro Cor­rea

Like Dar­row Mont­gomery, Pe­dro Cor­rea is a street pho­tog­ra­pher, but he doesn’t fo­cus on a par­tic­u­lar place. The pic­tures from his “Ur­ban Im­pres­sions” se­ries, at Artist’s Proof, de­pict mul­ti­ple cities on sev­eral con­ti­nents. A Madrid­born Brus­sels res­i­dent who trained as a painter, Cor­rea hops from Lon­don to Tokyo to Paris. Wher­ever he goes, it seems, he avoids the eyes of the peo­ple he ob­serves. He’s a poet of ur­ban iso­la­tion, or at least non-con­nec­tion.

Cor­rea of­ten shoots through mist, fogged and streaky glass, or from sev­eral sto­ries up, gazing straight down. The re­sults in­clude a vivid snows­cape in which foot­prints and tire tracks re­veal a black sur­face be­neath the white pow­der, and a red um­brella is the only note of color.

With their generic lo­ca­tions and blurred and hid­den faces, Cor­rea’s photos ap­pear to seek univer­sal qual­i­ties of city life. Yet they of­ten have dis­creet lo­cal char­ac­ter. Tokyo’s con­crete is set off by bam­boo, a co­gent sum­mary of the city’s look, and a Bri­tish Rail sign iden­ti­fies one scene as Lon­don. Cor­rea’s sub­jects may be elu­sive, but they’re not en­tirely lost.

Also on dis­play are pic­tures from the artist’s “Home of Art” se­ries, made in mu­se­ums. The cam­era looks at guards as they look at vis­i­tors who are look­ing at art. Th­ese photos, too, de­pict de­tach­ment, but in a less open en­vi­ron­ment. Al­though both se­ries are im­promptu, the street scenes con­vey more serendipity. Pe­dro Cor­rea On view through May 15 at Artist’s Proof, 1533 Wis­con­sin Ave. NW. 202-803-2782. aproof.net.

Jowita Wys­zomirska

At first glance, Jowita Wys­zomirska’s paint­ing-draw­ings ap­pear to be stormy ab­strac­tions in black and white, with touches of icy blue and earthy pink. So why do most of their ti­tles in­clude pre­cise times and dates, as well as spe­cific ge­o­graph­i­cal in­for­ma­tion?

The an­swer is that the im­agery in “Van­ish­ing Point,” Wys­zomirska’s show at Gallery Nep­tune & Brown, is de­rived from NASA satel­lite photos. Gen­uine squalls ac­ti­vate the flur­ries of black ink and paint, and ac­tual melt­ing glaciers in­spire the wa­tery blues. The Pol­ish-born Bal­ti­more artist is not a re­al­ist, but the phe­nom­ena she de­picts are as cer­ti­fi­able as record-high tem­per­a­tures and ris­ing sea lev­els.

The cen­ter­piece is an in­stal­la­tion, 11 feet high and 17 feet wide, that si­mul­ta­ne­ously de­picts two me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal mo­ments: one in the Yukon and the other above the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay. Five large sheets of pa­per, marked in black and hung in a stag­gered ar­range­ment, are com­ple­mented by black thread and pieces of burned felt. The 3-D el­e­ments are sus­pended in air, echo­ing the ges­tures made with paint and ink and en­velop­ing the viewer in Wys­zomirska’s vi­sion. The vor­tex beck­ons, and in the long term, it might even be ir­re­sistible. Jowita Wys­zomirska: Van­ish­ing Point On view through May 13 at Gallery Nep­tune & Brown, 1530 14th St. NW. 202-986-1200. gallerynep­tune­brown.com.

Nancy Daly & Kyle Bauer

Think of Hamil­to­nian Gallery as a sub­ur­ban ranch house that has lost ev­ery­thing but its re­cre­ation room. That space, billed as “Ex­is­ten­tial Wreck Room,” is full of games and toys. Nancy Daly re­works fa­mil­iar ones such as “Life” and “Risk,” and also of­fers a se­ries of vis­ual puns packed with retro pop­cul­ture ref­er­ences.

Th­ese are eas­ier to read than Kyle Bauer’s sculp­tures, which look like chil­dren’s toys cross-fer­til­ized with Amer­i­can post­war do­mes­tic ar­chi­tec­ture. The Bal­ti­more sculp­tor con­trasts cheap ma­te­ri­als with el­e­gant ones, and plays un­fin­ished wood against bright, glossy sur­faces. Among Bauer’s in­spi­ra­tions are fish­ing lures, but his cre­ations also sug­gest pieces from lawn games for which no one quite knows the rules.

Daly’s work is equally play­ful, if more up-to-date. The D.C. artist re­makes “Chutes and Lad­ders” for the cell­phone uni­verse, and of­fers a “Set­tlers of D.C.” gen­tri­fi­ca­tion game whose hon­ey­comb pat­tern re­calls Metro’s sta­tion vaults. Th­ese di­ver­sions are ac­tu­ally playable, as Daly will demon­strate at a game night May 11 at 7 p.m. Ex­is­ten­tial Wreck Room: Nancy Daly & Kyle Bauer On view through May 13 at Hamil­to­nian Gallery, 1353 U St. NW, Suite 101. 202-332-1116. hamil­to­ni­an­gallery.com.

FRED ZAFRAN

“Si­lence Re­mains,” from Fred Zafran’s “Stranger in My Home,” a photo es­say on view in “Mir­ror to the World 2017” at Pho­toworks.

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