Tales from the dark side — of Canada Regina Miele

The Washington Post Sunday - - DRIVING THE BEAT ROAD - BY MARK JENK­INS

Seem­ingly the gen­tlest work in an ex­hi­bi­tion with a vi­o­lent ti­tle, Joanne Tod’s paint­ing at the Art Mu­seum of the Amer­i­cas is a syl­van scene so big that its trees are al­most life-size. Just two words, one un­print­able, dis­rupt the tran­quil­ity. The artist com­mem­o­rates the 1971 found­ing of Green­peace with an f-bombed ver­sion of this news: You’re doomed.

There’s a lot of doom in “Punc­tured Land­scape,” which marks Canada’s sesqui­cen­ten­nial with 17 de­pic­tions of the na­tion’s in­iq­ui­ties and dis­as­ters. Many con­cern the treat­ment of in­dige­nous peo­ple and oth­ers of non-Euro­pean de­scent.

The sur­vey is ar­ranged along a time­line that be­gins in 1944 with the in­tern­ment of Ja­panese Cana­di­ans. Also re­called are the 1950 de­mo­li­tion of Hal­i­fax’s Africville, home to descendants of U.S. slaves, and the 1996 clos­ing of the last res­i­den­tial school de­signed to in­doc­tri­nate First Na­tions chil­dren in EuroCana­dian culture.

If the mes­sage is more strik­ing than its ex­pres­sion in some of these works, Trevor Gould’s trib­ute to Africville is graph­i­cally strong. Also po­tent is in­dige­nous artist Barry Ace’s col­lage, which pairs a photo of his fa­ther in Cana­dian mil­i­tary uni­form with the leg­end “de­nied the vote un­til 1960.”

Or­ga­nized by the Canada Coun­cil for the Arts, the show even takes a shot at hockey: Pierre Ayot’s large silk screens of hockey sticks, some of which turn into the ac­tual ob­jects be­yond the edge of the pa­per, re­spond to re­ports of sex­ual abuse in the sport.

The largest piece, Robert Adrian’s “76 Air­planes,” fills a wall with model jets, many cov­ered with col­laged news­pa­per or comics pages. The sub­ject is a 1985 jet­liner bombing in which 329 died, which was not the re­sult of Canada’s poli­cies. But the as­sem­blage, like the rest of “Punc­tured Land­scape,” takes an ad­mirably clear-eyed look at his­tory. Punc­tured Land­scape On view through July 30 at the OAS Art Mu­seum of the Amer­i­cas, 201 18th St. NW. 202-370-0147. mu­seum.oas.org.

David Avery

As a maker of hand-etched prints, David Avery is some­thing of an an­ti­quar­ian. He also in­serts text — some­times in Latin — into his exquisitely de­tailed work. So, of course, the San Fran­cisco artist cen­tered his dis­play at Wash­ing­ton Print­mak­ers Gallery on a print ti­tled “Obelis­coly­chny.” It’s a word he al­lows is “ob­scure and rarely used,” in an es­say ac­com­pa­ny­ing the show, “Pur­su­ing In­vis­i­ble Re­flec­tions.”

The term refers to a lighthouse, which in Avery’s de­pic­tion is a spindly stack of many kinds of build­ings, in­clud­ing mon­u­ment, wind­mill and tum­ble­down shack. Here as in the other prints, the look and some of the con­tent is closer to Al­brecht Durer than any con­tem­po­rary artist.

Yet the clas­sic im­agery is wit­tily up­dated. Avery in­ter­jects Re­nais­sance-style in­ti­ma­tions of mor­tal­ity and dam­na­tion into ev­ery­day scenes: A skele­ton rides a stick horse whose head is a equine skull, or a woman jogs with a stroller and a dog, ac­com­pa­nied by Death (rid­ing a bi­cy­cle) and a de­mon. Such mash-ups would be only mildly amus­ing if the artist didn’t so suc­cess­fully em­u­late cen­turiesold mo­tifs and meth­ods. In­deed, Avery is so adept that view­ers in by­gone eras might have sur­mised that he’d sold his soul to the devil.

Pur­su­ing In­vis­i­ble Re­flec­tions:

The Etch­ings of David Avery On view through July 30 at Wash­ing­ton Print­mak­ers Gallery, 1641 Wis­con­sin Ave. NW. 202-669-1497. wash­ing­ton­print­mak­ers.com.

Like many artists in Wash­ing­ton and other gen­tri­fy­ing cities, Regina Miele has a strong in­ter­est in real es­tate. That’s be­cause find­ing and keep­ing stu­dio space is such a strug­gle. In “Ur­ban Mo­nop­oly” at Gallery 102, Miele winks at that chal­lenge by in­cor­po­rat­ing ele­ments from the prop­er­ty­de­vel­op­ment board game: Her paint­ings are hung next to la­bels mod­eled on the board’s stree­tand rail­road-named prop­er­ties.

Miele is drawn to in­dus­trial scenes, whose metal and con­crete she of­ten con­trasts with a vast, col­or­ful fir­ma­ment. Her new pic­tures are less sky-ori­ented, although the ren­der­ing of the back of Union Mar­ket does fea­ture a vivid cloud-scape.

The style is re­al­is­tic, and the sub­jects lo­cal; in­cluded are views of the Red Line and the New York Av­enue ho­tel-to-be where Miele used to have a stu­dio. The whim­si­cal ele­ments are im­ages of Mr. Mo­nop­oly and game to­kens such as the Scot­tie dog. These may ap­pear as free-float­ing char­ac­ters, or as graf­fiti on bat­tered walls. Although one pic­ture is ti­tled “Board­walk,” it doesn’t show a high-rent district. Miele prefers places that are gritty, well used and open to artis­tic ex­per­i­ments. Regina Miele: Ur­ban Mo­nop­oly On view through July 28 at Gallery 102, Smith Hall, Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton University, 801 22nd St. NW. 202994-6085. art.columbian.gwu.edu/ gallery-102.

Glo­ria Duan

The world is a’swirl in Glo­ria Duan’s “Mo­bius Waves.” There are four items in this Hil­lyer Art Space show, which is in its small­est gallery, but it’s dom­i­nated by a sus­pended twist of fab­ric, large enough to be en­tered by vis­i­tors. The loop of cloth was painted with a pho­to­chem­i­cal and ex­posed to light while ob­jects were placed on it, yield­ing a cyan­otype. The traces of the things that were once there linger as im­per­fect like­nesses in white on blue. Although fixed on the ma­te­rial, the rem­nants ap­pear ghostly, an ef­fect am­pli­fied by the mo­tion of the hang­ing coil.

The other pieces are all wall­mounted hexagons, one in translu­cent glass and other two with white-on-blue pat­terns that mir­ror the main at­trac­tion. The color scheme suits some of Duan’s themes, which in­clude “waves, water, shadow.” The lo­cal artist also writes that cyan­otype tech­nique ex­presses the “ef­fects of heat and light.” Yet “Mo­bius Waves” is as serene as it is dy­namic. Although there’s ten­sion in the blue-and-white spi­ral, en­ter­ing it is a calm­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. Glo­ria Duan: Mo­bius Waves On view through July 30 at Hil­lyer Art Space, 9 Hil­lyer Ct. NW. 202-3380325. hilly­er­artspace.org.

Matt Hollis

He’s a con­nois­seur of gar­dens, but in his work, Matt Hollis has been lim­ited to paint­ing-size as­sem­blages of ar­ti­fi­cial petals. Now, the lo­cal artist, who’s about to move to Los An­ge­les in pur­suit of an MFA, has been given a larger plot to cul­ti­vate. He has filled the ex­hi­bi­tion space at Otis Street Arts Project, not ex­actly a gar­den spot, with fake blooms, ar­ti­fi­cial turf and grape­like clus­ters of bal­loons.

“Flo­ri­le­gia” in­cor­po­rates in­di­vid­ual works, some of which have been shown be­fore. In these, Hollis uses phony flow­ers to em­u­late the brush­strokes of 19thand 20th-cen­tury artists, most specif­i­cally Vin­cent van Gogh. But these pieces are just bits of a larger hor­ti­cul­tural scheme; they’re sec­ondary to leaflike cush­ions and hang­ing green orbs from which flow­ery tongues hang, some­what las­civ­i­ously. Hollis is headed to a desert clime, but this fe­cund dis­play sug­gests he’d be hap­pier in a jun­gle. Matt Hollis: Flo­ri­le­gia On view through Aug. 5 at Otis Street Arts Project, 3706 Otis St., Mount Rainier. 202-550-4634. style@wash­post.com


David Avery’s “Tem­pes­tu­ous Muse,” on view through July 30 at Wash­ing­ton Print­mak­ers Gallery. Avery in­ter­jects Re­nais­sance-style in­ti­ma­tions of mor­tal­ity and dam­na­tion into ev­ery­day scenes.

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