May 9 through June 15. Exhibition located at 1200 First St. NE, D.C., on the corner of First & M Streets NE. Nearest Metro station: New York Avenue on the Red Line. Hours: Wed. – Thu.: 5 – 10 p.m.; Fri. – Sat.: Noon – 2 a.m.; Sun.: Noon -10 p.m.; Closed Mon. – Tues.
This week we pick a few highlights from the fourth, fifth, and sixth floors. WOW, it sure is a lot of stuff with roughly 1,000 artists shown.
One of the strong standouts on the Fourth Floor is Paul Taylor’s “Frank Gehry’s Grocery Store,” a wonderfully playful and incisive commentary on Gehry’s free-form architecture. Here we have, as a model, a mashed and twisted old metal grocery cart with frosted “glass” inside to finish off the walls. The sign below that states viewers shouldn’t touch it as it’s highly prone to fall over seems all the more cutting. The supporting blueprints are what really brings this presentation to life.
Not everybody labels their display areas so viewers can tell what’s what. The decoupaged antique wheelchair I think is by AMR31 Art Collective, but I’m a little fuzzy on that. In any event, magazine ads for missiles and weapons make up the decorative surface of this wheel chair. The juxtaposition of war’s glamorization with the price individuals pay for fighting wars seems especially poignant.
JD Yezierski has a series of photos made by projecting assorted imagery onto models and photographing the results. Some of these are quite ironic and/or humorous. They need more lighting to be seen well, but that’s sort of a universal problem this year. The electrical system installed for this event is running at capacity and then some, forcing a reduction of lighting for everybody.
The Fifth Floor has my large scale figure drawings, and two small abstracts … I leave the value thereof for others to decide. One of last week’s encaustic painters, Sondra Arkin, has spearheaded a collective barrier project on the Fifth Floor. You have to do a bit of a double take the first time you see it. If you just look at it in passing it looks like concrete, which you know is too big, and much too heavy to get up the elevator. It’s another war protest piece.
Sherill Anne Gross has a series of paper cut-out illustrations. I liked the shopping cart and toothbrush ones the best. She does a god job of pulling them off when the images get complex and difficult to do.
Drew Graham has a graffiti-inspired 3-D piece with interlaced fluid forms painted variegated blue. It’s quite nice, and takes the viewer into and out of the form as they look around it. Matt Smith has some nice photographic series images relating everyday objects.
My favorite on the Fifth Floor is a series of charcoal and graphite drawings by Matthew Carucci of buildings under construction, and the cranes around them. The images work on a literal and abstract level, while the graphite on top of the charcoal really brings them to life. Having seen these several times I must say, the more I look at them, the more I like them. It’s nice work.
Of the top three floors, Anna Nazaretz Radjou on the Sixth Floor is my pick for best art for the buck. These small acrylic paintings are quizzical, humorous and fun, all for a lousy $100 bucks. The work titled “Suspicious” features an egg looking at the viewer while one of his brethren lays off to the side in a sunny-side-up state.
Shamus Ian Fatzinger shows an excellent collection of content-rich multimedia collage paintings of urban street life. Shannon McCarty has an installation-style collection of iron-scorched white fabrics. The best of these is probably the one on the floor atop the ironing board. I like the concept and look of the marks made, but they do seem to call for the content to be pushed further.
John Pack has two glass display cases full of seashells assembled into ice cream and sandwich sculptures. For subtle realism, I liked the baked potato best of all.
One of the best photos I’ve seen so far is a portrait by Jason Colston. Here we see a beautiful raven-haired young girl with lip piercings and a shoulder tattoo. She stands, arm outstretched holding a white wire in sling-shot fashion, clenching it between her porcelain white teeth, her ink-black eyes engage the viewer while she ostensibly listens to music on her headphones. It’s a perfect portrait of youthful angst, energy, and attraction.
The National Portrait Gallery’s second Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition
Entries will be accepted from June 2 – July 31, 2008. One piece per artist, $35 entry fee. You must have first-hand interaction with the subject (no Marilyn Monroe, Veronica Lake, or James Dean here), and the work must have been completed after Jan. 1, 2007.
While the first competition seemed rather traditional with fairly strict requirements, this time the Portrait Gallery has tossed out the constraints and said, “hit us with your best shot.” No media requirements. No subject limitations, other than the above, or that it has to be a portrait by some loose definition thereof.
Just how much incentive do you need to enter this one? First place gets $25,000 and a separate commission to portray a remarkable, living American for the Portrait Gallery’s collection. Second place gets $7,500, third prize is $5,000. Up to four additional artists may receive $1,000 each. All finalists’ works will form a major exhibition, on view at the National Portrait Gallery from October 23, 2009 until August 22, 2010. For details see www.portraitcompetition.si.edu.