Arts & Entertainment

Northern Virginia Art Beat

Art-omatic (Still going!)

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 seventh and eighth floors.

Solomon T. Wondimu shows two key images from his revealing “Skin Color Project.” Operating under the notion that skin color is anything but black and white, Wondimu has taken digital photo “samples” of over 3,000 forearms. Taking a one-inch swatch from each photo, then breaking it down into its own color range, he found an average of 15 different colors in each person’s skin. Taking eight of those, he’s made up a skin color swatch book color chart that clearly illustrates the notion that humans are more brick colored than black or white. It’s simple, yet insightful and thought provoking work.

Rodina Yelena displays a wonderful sense of geometry and illustration. Of the ones shown here, the smaller canvases seem to work best. My favorites are “Morning Star,” a DNA based canvas titled “The Ladder of Success” and a whacked-out perspective night scene of village buildings with street lights. They’re all quizzical, playful, colorful and very well composed.

D. E. Hurlbert no doubt has come face to face with the transitory state of life far too often in his two decades as a combat photographer. Now retired, he shoots people in a ghostly diaphanous state, set in a solid opaque world. It’s nice work that clearly deals with the temporary condition called life and the way we fleetingly move through the world around us.

The best of Fern Loos Beu’s work is a poolside canvas depicting a pink inner tube floating on the surface of a curving pool with its reflection on the water’s surface and shadow on pool bottom. It’s a simple canvas that transports you to a quiet, relaxing and refreshing place on a warm summer day with intense mid-day light.

Dale R. Hunt has a collection of wacky graffiti style illustrations that are variously humorous and/or disturbing. I don’t quite know what to make of them, but they’re kind of cool. Amy Marx brings her tornadic activity images, ironically one of which looked like it got caught in a downdraft when I saw it. Ah, the trials and tribulations of displaying art work. It’s nice work, though not her best stuff.

A New York City solo show that closed after the Art-omatic installation deadline no doubt took the best of the best she had. For an expansive view of her other work, see www.amymarx.com.

David Yano has an installation-style presentation that I liked. It’s obsessively covered with art diary/sketchbook pages and then hung with his paintings on top of that matrix. The imagery is based around a series of twisted futuristic sexpot women … I think. I’m not so sure about the individual imagery, but the overall effect is pretty interesting. It would take you hours to go though all the writing and drawings on this 8 x 12-foot wall.

Damien Gill has a series of photos he refers to as Found Art Photos. Let’s face it, about 98 percent of photography is found art, and a large hunk of that is dubious on the art part. Not Gill’s work. These images are almost minimalist simple, yet fascinating and complex with a range of quirky subtleties. I was flabbergasted at the 3-D effect he managed to pull off with “Bricks,” a gray painted brick wall with a white detail stripe. He’s captured the depth of field here so masterfully your brain can’t quite grasp the fact that the image is in fact a flat surface. His photos, titled “Disconnected” and “Pebbles in Street Grate” aren’t shabby either. Very nice work indeed.

The eighth floor seems to have less deep thinking going on than the seventh, but it has some nice work nonetheless. If your tastes run towards Kandinsky, you’ll definitely want to check out the work of Kofi Dofour. Glass works are sprinkled throughout the building, most come with a Washington Glass School connection. The bomb and organ themed works of David D’Orio seem the most entertaining of what I’ve seen so far.

Alissa Taylor has a series of photo realistic graphite drawings of everyday objects such as keys and toothpaste. Her self portrait with its pointillist use of letters contains the lyrics to songs she enjoys.

Caren Quinn has three paintings of engine parts that have a “What is that?” sensibility to them, while leaning towards abstraction. Another painter, Joe Granki II, gives us a self portrait of himself as young Superman, flexing biceps in his “S” shirt. Another canvas, depicts leather-clad “Sara, Night in the Parking Garage” with far less utopian intentions, replete with both blatant and subtle sexual clues.

Kristian Whipple offers up a series of photo portraits with PSA style text. These “half truths” run from the benign to the shocking, such as “I’ve been shooting up since I was seven.”

Melissa Hackman has three nice child-like color drawings. Perennial Art-omatic participant Matt Sesow is on the eighth floor. A small video screen displays all 11 million images he’s ever created (no, not really 11 million, but it’s well into the thousands). I liked the movement and monochromatic intensity of Paul Ryan Seegars photo, “Tunnel,” shot out of the sunroof of his car traveling through the winding 3rd St. tunnel. The color seems doctored in some unidentifiable Photoshop way, but it’s believable and thus not obtrusive.

Artist Opportunities

“Reincarnations” Mixed-Media Works from Found Objects. Curated by Steve and Linda Krensky, in conjunction with Zenith Gallery.

Steve Krensky probably sees more art gallery shows than anyone else in town. Simply stated he’s an inexhaustible art hound. His wife runs the Lightstreet Gallery in Baltimore.

Artworks need not be made entirely of found objects, only primarily of recycled, reused, and/or renewed materials. It is preferred that artwork be “for sale.” Large scale pieces are encouraged.

The show dates are July 14 – Sept. 20, 2008 at 1111 Sculpture Space (1111 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, D.C. — the corner of 12th and Pennsylvania).

To enter, send .jpg photo files of the work, along with details (title, size, medium, date, price allowing for 50 percent commission), along with resume/artist statement to art@zenithgallery.com and lindadk.zenithgallery@gmail.com. Note that display area is the entire lobby of a building with law offices, so nothing political or controversial with nudes especially verboten. Submission deadline is July 1.

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