Arts & Entertainment

Northern Virginia Art Beat

 Helicopter sculpture made from found objects at Del Ray Artisans through July 9.

"Wish You Were Here!"

Through July 8, at the Del Ray Artisans, 2704 Mount Vernon Avenue, Alexandria, VA Gallery Hours are Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sundays from Noon to 4 p.m. Call (703) 838-4827, or see www.thedelrayartisans.org.
”Wish You Were Here” is themed around artist’s records of their travels. Not surprisingly we find a profusion of scrap book pieces shown. Lots of maps in various guises. All somewhat expected given the current scrap booking fad, and the need for maps to get where you want to go when you’ve never been there before.
My favorite scrapbook was an ex-library book… decommissioned thank you… that was roughly white washed inside and out, and then used for a scrapbook. More than a few pages with widow cut outs to accommodate the pasted in plastic transparencies. The transparent images seemed a tad too close to the background image leaving one to wonder why all the effort, but such quibbling aside there are some great ideas in there for future works. Many hardback first editions are printed on acid free paper, so it’s likely archival as well.
Another favorite of mine were two junk assemblage sculptures. One a bicycle, the other a helicopter gun ship complete with real spent machine gun belt. These sorts of sculptures always seem entertaining as they play to our inner MacGyver. With their obsessive junkering, if you will, and the viewers awe of what all that stuff started out as. Some can be quite beautiful. These have a raw edge with wobbly wheels, and similar treatments. Here we see mostly gas and electric stove burner parts, bottle caps, tubing and lots of wire.
The helicopter gun ship seems a tad odd for a travel themed show, but these art shows get a little loose around the thematic edges. The goal being to show good work, as opposed to keeping a laser lock focus on the theme of the day. Having said that, the helicopter gun ship would do better in the Artists and War show down at MOCA DC in Georgetown.
 
”Artists and War”

Through June 30, at MOCA DC., located across from Sea Catch Restaurant, in Canal Square, Georgetown at 1054 31st St. NW, Washington, DC. See www.mocadc.org or call (202) 342-6230.
The MOCA DC show has turned out to be quite interesting with three Falls Church Artists participating. More than the usual amount of sculpture is presented. Several quite humorous in an absurdly over-the-top warrior way. One near the front window by Chris Edmunds features a life sized paper mache nude male torso with gun bearing arms out stretched in something of a victory pose. Appropriately colored in a concrete like gray. He’s an “Army of one” as the current recruiting slogan says, and is clearly quite happy about it. You hear about the sexual rush of warriors flush with victory immediately after battle. It’s certainly a valid issue to broach, but one we aren’t all that comfortable dealing with. It’s far more comfortable for us to think of war as a ‘necessary evil’. If anything the nudity seems to detract from the seriousness of the piece as viewers are forced to deal with a lot more warrior than they’ve accustomed to. It’s good work, well executed, and as subdued as you probably can do something of this sort. The result is up to us to deal with. There are many facets to war, and this is certainly one of them, one we rarely deal with at all.
Edmunds also has a helmeted bust flocked in camouflage greens. Here we find a warrior who has lost all self identity and simply become pat of the equipment. One might call him the ideal warrior if one were a commanding officer. It’s as disturbing as the first piece, but one we are far more comfortable with, to the point of dismissive-ness. Which leaves me wondering if the viewer’s comfort level isn’t just as disturbing as the automaton like warrior.
Another artist deals with the cheapness of life and childish nature of war by presenting a US Army camouflage painted pogo stick titled ‘Mine Detector’.
More topically specific are eight paintings by Kathy Kahn. Generally portraits of middle eastern boogie men, with small supporting canvasses placed on top. They seem fairly literal and straightforward, but are well done.
Patricia Powell ripped off two a cappella tunes at the opening last Friday night that set everybody back on their heels. Heartfelt became tearful afterwards. You don’t hear singing like that very often, much less sans sound mixers and electronic tweaking.
All in all, “Artists and War” is a good show that acquits itself quite nicely.

Artist Opportunities —————-

Open Studio Figure Drawing

Tuesday nights 7 to 9:30 p.m. at McLean Project for the Arts, in the McLean Community Center. Individual sessions are $7 each, or $60 for the 12 session series running from June 26 through September 11. The best and cheapest figure drawing group in Northern VA. For further information call (703) 790-0123, or see www.mcleancenter.org.
Open Call for juried figure drawing show at the Target Gallery in the Torpedo Factory, Alexandria. Up to three digital formatted entries for $30, due by Monday July 9. Call the gallery at (703) 838-4565 extension 4, or see www.torpedofactory.org (click on Target Gallery tab). Note- This Thursday night is the monthly “Second Thursday” art night in old Town Alexandria, with galleries and the Torpedo Factory open late. This months theme is “Dancing in the Streets” with food and fun.

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