The Washington Post

Where to find more Sam Gilliam

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Gilliam, who lived in D.C. for 60 years, has left his mark on the city — from prestigiou­s museums to a pedestrian Metro underpass.

In museums on the Mall

At opposite ends of the National Mall, you can see bookends of Gilliam’s artistic endeavors: an early abstract work and a major 2016 commission, regarded as a capstone of his career. At the National Gallery of Art, in a gallery showcasing such Washington Color School artists as Morris Louis and Kenneth Noland, you’ll find Gilliam’s bright 1965 abstractio­n “Shoot Six,” in which six shades of color seem to stretch out from the canvas like rays of light. At the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gilliam’s large-scale, five-panel installati­on “Yet Do I Marvel (Countee Cullen)” greets visitors with jagged lines and a jazzy energy.

At arts venues around town The Reach at the Kennedy Center: To get a glimpse of the signature drape style that vaulted Gilliam onto the internatio­nal stage in 1969, check out “Carousel Light Depth” (1969) — a suspended canvas covered in hot pinks, bubbly blues and scintillat­ing silvers that stretches along the wall of the Reach’s Studio K, where you can see the asymmetric­al, lunging piece from two viewing levels.

Phillips Collection: Gilliam’s first museum exhibition was at the Phillips, which has recently rehung “Red Petals” in its first-floor lobby. Created specifical­ly for the 1967 show, the work is a swirl of poppy reds and fiery oranges, which Gilliam made by staining the canvas and folding it in on itself — a precursor to his drapepaint­ing technique. A new show, “Lou Stovall: The Museum Workshop,” also features work by Gilliam, reflecting a decades-long collaborat­ion between the two artists. On view: “Big Red Piece,” a beveled-edge painting that Stovall built the stretcher for, and two 1972 prints by Gilliam made in Stovall’s workshop.

Kreeger Museum: Gilliam had a significan­t role at the Kreeger, as the first contempora­ry artist to have an exhibition there. Today you can find “Cape,” a 1969 stained canvas that is part of his beveled-edge, or “Slice,” series. (His Cubism-infused, acrylicon-birchwood sculpture “Graining” will go on view later this summer.)

Howard University Gallery of Art: “Tulip Series: Petal” is a good example of Gilliam’s work in the 1980s. It’s a puzzlelike sculpture that looks like what you’d get if you sampled drip paintings like jazz tunes.

In public buildings

From the outside, there’s nothing remarkable about the John A. Wilson Building, which houses the Executive Office of the Mayor and the Council of the District of Columbia. It’s a quiet government building with stained walls and dingy lighting. But stroll around the first floor and you’ll notice that the space doubles as a gallery for some of D.C.’S finest artists, including Gilliam. At the southwest corner hangs the artist’s “Steps and Folds.” An accordion-shaped mishmash of images, it evokes a picture perpetuall­y coming into focus, or a sentence uttered underwater. Gilliam’s work can also be found — between your tech-conference sessions or comic con events — at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, which boasts Gilliam’s “Many Things” (2003) and “Chevrons” (1984). And later this summer, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library plans to install Gilliam’s 1967 acrylic-stained canvas “Ship.”

Out and about

There’s something exciting about unexpected­ly bumping into art on the street, like running into a friend. That’s the effect of seeing Gilliam’s “From Model to Rainbow” at the Takoma Metro station. It’s the kind of street art that doesn’t interrupt the space — I’m looking at you, murals in gentrifyin­g neighborho­ods — but respects it, offering a counterpoi­nt to the subway system’s characteri­stic concrete with abstract, colorful tiles that create an illusion of three-dimensiona­l fabric. At the Shepherd Park/juanita E. Thornton Neighborho­od Library, there’s another hidden-but-striking Gilliam: a copper piece called “Library Stars/library Obelisk,” which climbs up the front of the demure brick structure, reaching skyward.

 ?? ?? D.C. COMMISSION ON THE ARTS AND HUMANITIES, WILSON BUILDING COLLECTION ABOVE: “Rail,” a 1977 canvas on view in the Hirshhorn exhibit.
D.C. COMMISSION ON THE ARTS AND HUMANITIES, WILSON BUILDING COLLECTION ABOVE: “Rail,” a 1977 canvas on view in the Hirshhorn exhibit.
 ?? HIRSHHORN Museum AND SCULPTURE GARDEN/SAM GILLIAM/ARTISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY, NEW YORK ?? TOP: “Carousel Light Depth” at the Reach at the Kennedy Center. SECOND ROW, FROM LEFT: “Steps and Folds” at the John A. Wilson Building; “Dance,” on view in the Phillips Collection show “Lou Stovall: The Museum Workshop.”
HIRSHHORN Museum AND SCULPTURE GARDEN/SAM GILLIAM/ARTISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY, NEW YORK TOP: “Carousel Light Depth” at the Reach at the Kennedy Center. SECOND ROW, FROM LEFT: “Steps and Folds” at the John A. Wilson Building; “Dance,” on view in the Phillips Collection show “Lou Stovall: The Museum Workshop.”
 ?? MARY PARKER/D.C. PUBLIC LIBRARY ?? LEFT: “Library Stars/library Obelisk” at the Shepherd Park/juanita E. Thornton Neighborho­od Library.
MARY PARKER/D.C. PUBLIC LIBRARY LEFT: “Library Stars/library Obelisk” at the Shepherd Park/juanita E. Thornton Neighborho­od Library.
 ?? ?? STOVALL FAMILY/SAM GILLIAM/ARTISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY, NEW YORK
STOVALL FAMILY/SAM GILLIAM/ARTISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY, NEW YORK
 ?? BILL O'LEARY/THE WASHINGTON POST ??
BILL O'LEARY/THE WASHINGTON POST

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