Arts & Entertainment

Northern Virginia Art Beat

Not Your Average Cookie Jar

“Pandora’s Boxes” by Marcia Koski Finnerly, in the Mini Gallery of Lee Arts Center (5722 Lee

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DETAIL OF SIMPKINS-CAMP’S “Financial Disaster.”

Hwy., Arlington). The exhibit runs through Jan. 28. The gallery is open 9:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. on Monday; 9:30 a.m. – 9 p.m., Tuesday – Thursday; Friday, 9:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Saturday, 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. For more details, call 703-228-0560 or visit www.arlingtonarts.org/venues/lee-arts-center.aspx.

And now for something completely different: Marcia Koski Finnerly is showing 23 ceramic pieces in Lee Center’s Mini Gallery.

The “different” part is that these works are handmade cremation urns. While Finnerly sees them as being cookie jars before their ultimate use.

Stylistic devices run the gamut from Art Nouveau to some of the better works here that seem to be influenced by the historic architecture of Thailand or India. Quality within the collection of 23 pieces varies a good bit. Editing down the number shown, or ensuring more time spent on fewer pieces, may have better served Finnerly.

The use of generic drawer handles for some of the lids seems to strike a particularly off-note. It’s difficult to ignore them seeing how as they sit atop the piece, and as such are the first things you see when looking down at them.

Any successful comic will tell you timing is everything. What may be the worst case of bad timing ever is found right here in the piece titled “Vignette – Tea with Dear Old Dad.” Here we find a tea caddy with tea pot and two labeled jam jars sitting next to it. One jar contains jam, the other… Let’s just say this is a joke only Keith Richards could appreciate.

While uneven, the show does have its merits. Finnerly has certainly hit upon a unique market. However, the works and their presentation could use a little refinement before their next showing.

 

In Perspective

“Sculpture Now 2010,” at the Edison Place Gallery (702 8th St NW, Washington, D.C.). The exhibit runs through Feb. 12. The gallery is open Tuesday – Friday, noon – 4 p.m., and is also open during the same hours on Saturday, Jan. 30. For more details, call 202-872-3396 or visit www.pepco.com/welcome/community/artgallery/calendar.

The Sculpture Now 2010 show is a Washington Sculpture Group show hosted by Pepco in their ground-floor gallery space on the backside of the Pepco building. If you have trouble finding it, the section of 8th St NW in question is directly in front of the North facade of the American Art Museum. It’s a quirky spot for an art gallery, but Pepco makes the space available for art shows by non-profit arts organizations. Can’t fault that.

Sculpture Now 2010 is a rather uneven group show, but there are several significant pieces here.

One of the best pieces is a dirigible model skinned in multicolored Monopoly money. The little green houses serve as passenger compartments, while the bigger red hotel pieces serve as engine housings. Titled “Financial Disaster,” you don’t have to do much head-scratching to figure out what John Simpkins-Camp is getting at with this seven-foot-long piece.

A good bit of the genius behind this work is its tacit allusion to the Hindenberg and the way a bolt of lighting destroyed that airship after a transatlantic flight.

Monopoly is also about as close to the ultimate American board game as you can get, and its pastel-hued money is akin to the sort of Third World currency we look down upon. You have to think Simpkins-Camp isn’t talking about housing or stock market bubbles, but rather the currency bubble that still remains. The Depression era/WWII generation saw “Buy American” as a matter of national security. To do otherwise was a tacit form of treason. The past generation has, on the other hand, seen exporting American jobs as good business. You get stupid answers to obvious questions like this when you have companies operating in corporate isolation instead of acting as an integral part of the community at large.

If the currency bubble pops the way the housing market bubble did, “Oh, the Humanity of it all…” will have a whole new meaning.

Another excellent piece here is the six-foot-long black crow sculpture by Karen Bondarchuk, crafted entirely from old car tire inner tubes. The materials used have a dense matte black finish that supports the sinister, foreboding feel of this dead crow.

Elizabeth Whiteley has one of the simplest, yet playfully entertaining pieces here, titled “Drift 2.” Whiteley has taken a section of black fiberglass residential window screening and draped it against one of the white gallery walls. You’d be hardpressed to find a cheaper, or easier, way of making a sculpture. Its overlapping folds have a layered black-on-black effect that intensifies its play on the white ground. Similarly, its tiny black grid work contrasts with the flowing, amorphous overall shape.

 

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