A col­or­ful sur­vey of Wash­ing­ton artists

A Hem­phill group show traces gen­er­a­tional in­flu­ences

The Washington Post Sunday - - BOOK WORLD - BY MARK JENK­INS

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.

Sally Davies

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.

Ur­ban Life

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. style@wash­post.com


Robin Rose, “Nei­ther Fish Nor Fowl” (2011), en­caus­tic on linen on alu­minum ex­cel panel, on view in “35 Days” at Hem­phill Fine Arts.

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