A colorful survey of Washington artists
A Hemphill group show traces generational influences
In recent years, Hemphill Fine Arts has mounted numerous exhibitions of local 20th-century artists, notably the Washington colorists who arrived in the 1960s. So it’s unsurprising to see paintings by Gene Davis, Leon Berkowitz and Thomas Downing in “35 Days,” the gallery’s summer group show. But these are grouped with pictures by contemporary artists who work in the same tradition, as well as drawings, sculpture and photos. The result is a museum-worthy survey of D.C. art.
Davis’s 1978 “Flamingo” consists, unsurprisingly, of vertical stripes. But they’re soft rather than the artist’s usual hard-edge bands. Berkowitz’s 1968 “Cathedral 22” also is striped, atypically, and places some rigid lines amid the graduated tones for which he’s known. Hanging comfortably with these works are recent ones by Steven Cushner and Linling Lu. The first repeats simple forms in drippy blue atop a mottled backdrop; the second is a cool-colored target whose rings are precisely defined but whose sky-blue center gives a sense of openness. Also included are a pulsating 1969 Downing grid painting and Robin Rose’s recent white-onwhite encaustic.
Two delicate ink drawings by William Christenberry, who died in 2016, abut Anne Rowland’s “Floating Christenberry,” a view of Potomac foliage that reminded the photographer of the late artist’s views of his native Alabama. (Another version of this image is traveling through Arlington as part of the county’s “Art on the ART Bus” program.) Rowland’s tribute is just one of many cross-generational links in this impressive array. 35 Days On view through Aug. 11 at Hemphill Fine Arts, 1515 14th St. NW. 202-234-5601, hemphillfinearts.com.
Kyle Tata & Rachel Guardiola
Few people want to be entirely unknown, but in a society that turns personal identity into market data, anonymity can be a good thing. Kyle Tata plays on that tension in “Secure Patterns,” on display at Hamiltonian Gallery alongside fellow Baltimorean Rachel Guardiola’s “Transmission From Terra Incognita.”
Tata’s photographs distort realworld images, in part by overlaying patterns from envelopes designed to cloak their contents — an analog form of encryption. The artist doesn’t use computer manipulation, only oldschool photo techniques such as double exposure. He sometimes adds another layer of repeated forms on laser-etched clear plastic sheets atop the photos, which have bold colors and deep blacks. The full visual information lurks just out of reach, like stones under rippling water.
Conceived while she was living near the Arctic Circle, Guardiola’s installation is a vision of Eden that, unsurprisingly, has a tropical vibe. Behind a wall covered with people’s descriptions of the ideal locale, the artist has arranged plants, sand, stones and other objects, bathed in colored light. Surf breaks gently on a beach in projected video, and sounds of wind, water and birds provide the ambient soundtrack. This isn’t quite “Terra Incognita,” of course; all of the elements are familiar. But then, a world that was truly unrecognizable would be too strange to be paradisiacal.
Kyle Tata: Secure Patterns and Rachel Guardiola: Transmission
From Terra Incognita On view through Aug. 5 at Hamiltonian Gallery, 1353 U St. NW, Suite 101. 202-332-1116. hamiltoniangallery.com.
The title of Sally Davies’s Art League show is straightforwardly descriptive: “Global View: Light & Shadow.” The local painter realistically depicts places, most of them touristy, in Europe, North America and Japan. Two things, aside from Davies’s skill, make the pictures distinctive: She usually employs a bird’s-eye perspective, and her shadows are imbued with light. There just aren’t many cold hues in her palette.
That might be partly because the artist often observes sunny climes such as Greece and Bermuda. Even when she heads north, though, the colors remain warm. Gazing down at a section of the Louvre beneath its trademark glass pyramid, Davies places visitors among shadows that bleed from fuchsia to orange, the shades of summer twilight. Working from photos, the painter emphasizes found patterns and everyday life. Interestingly, Davies offers some speculation about what the people she portrays might be doing or thinking. Yet the drama in her work comes from composition and color. Sally Davies: Global View: Light & Shadow On view through Aug. 6 at the Art League Gallery, Torpedo Factory, 105 N. Union St., Alexandria. 703-683-1780. theartleague.org.
East of the River
Although it doesn’t attempt to be comprehensive, Honfleur Gallery’s annual “East of the River Exhibition” usually offers a broad survey. This year brings a tighter focus, with only three contributors. Both Sheila Crider and Amber Robles-Gordon work with fabric and found objects. The art of painter Asha Elena Casey is less closely related, but she does inscribe textile-like patterns into thickly applied, mostly black-andwhite pigment.
All three contrast the deliberate and the random, the refined and the earthy. Crider’s “Penetrating Blackness” juxtaposes two quilted pieces, one multicolored and the other mostly orange; her “Balancing Act” cuts drawings into strips and weaves them like baskets. Robles-Gordon’s “By Intricate Design” arranges metal and fabric-wrapped sticks in a sunburst-like design, with a little chicken wire added for funk. Casey makes both abstract and representational pictures, linked by their textural gambits. The way she stitches together traditional handicraft and individual expression is exemplary of this show. 11th annual East of the River Exhibition On view through Aug. 5 at Honfleur Gallery, 1241 Good Hope Rd. SE. 202-365-8392. honfleurgallery.com.
The “dichotomy between intimacy and isolation” is the theme of “Urban Life,” the summer show at Susan Calloway Fine Arts. The 10 participants offer mostly realistic depictions of often recognizable locations, such as Rodgers Naylor’s archetypal Paris building and Steven S. Walker’s view of L Street NW at night, bike lane in the foreground. Although only four of the artists are local, many of the pictures are of D.C. sites — even if Maud TaberThomas did paint several of them on New York City MetroCards.
Some of the scenes are less specific and more exuberant. Title aside, British expressionist Colin Taylor’s “Delhi” conveys heat and bustle, but not a specific place. Curator Alexandra Cirelli also included a few canvases that are abstract, or nearly so, and two Leslie Nolan pictures of a solitary man, freely rendered in gray and white on bright yellow backdrops. The context-less guys might be in a city, a suburb or space, but there’s a swagger to them that’s patently urban. Urban Life On view through Aug. 5 at Susan Calloway Fine Arts, 1643 Wisconsin Ave. NW. 202-965-4601. callowayart.com. firstname.lastname@example.org
Robin Rose, “Neither Fish Nor Fowl” (2011), encaustic on linen on aluminum excel panel, on view in “35 Days” at Hemphill Fine Arts.