Arts & Entertainment

Northern Virginia Art Beat

Pastel-Bouquet“I Dream Awake,” a pop-up project by Morton Fine Art (625-627 E St. NW, Washington, D.C.). The exhibit runs through May 28. The gallery is open Tuesday – Thursday, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m., and Friday – Saturday, 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. For more details, 202-390-5118 or visit www.apopupproject.com.

 

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Mikel Glass’s “Pastel Bouquet.”

“I Dream Awake,” a pop-up project by Morton Fine Art (625-627 E St. NW, Washington, D.C.). The exhibit runs through May 28. The gallery is open Tuesday – Thursday, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m., and Friday – Saturday, 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. For more details, 202-390-5118 or visit www.apopupproject.com.

As we reported earlier, a new short-term gallery has moved into the old Numark gallery space downtown. The principal behind it all is none other than Amy Morton, formerly of Principal Gallery in Old Town Alexandria. She’s no new comer to those of us who haunt the local art scene on the VA side of the river. Having said that, Morton will be a fresh face to many around town.

“I Dream Awake” is her debut as gallery figurehead, and what a debut it is.

Never mind that she left her old job, secured gallery space, curated, hung and brought a long fallow venue up to speed in a little over a month or so. She also managed to put together one of the strongest group shows in D.C. that’s crossed our path in … hmm … well, maybe ever.

Folks, we got us a new A-List heavy weight art dealer in town.

It’s almost a show without weakness – rich in content and quality. It’s certainly a show without any weak artists.
Three out of town painters fill the main gallery space. Margaret Bowland teaches at the New York Academy of Art, and was one of the finalist in the latest National Portrait Gallery portrait competition (where the entry is currently on view). Her two large-scale images in this show deal with a small African-American girl in white face.

Mikel Glass, hailing from Hell’s Kitchen Manhattan, gives this show a serious dose of wry humor. “Battle of Jogkith” depicts a battle between assorted fruits and vegetables. It’s a commentary on the way people will fight over the most mindless nonsense. “Pastel Bouquet” almost makes you chuckle out loud when you realize it’s Glass’ version of a flower bouquet on a table, done with colored work gloves turned inside out. His ode to Mary Shelly and her Frankenstein story has her painted portrait with a vaguely Victorian vision of a utopian future as backdrop, mounted in a mechanized steam venting frame.

 

Insiders

Glass’s “The Insiders.”

Glass’ most wry masterpiece is a mind-twisting painting of children’s dolls set in a 50s TV tube case-like frame. Titled “The Insiders,” it’s inspired by the art world’s cliqueish nature. A circle of dolls gathers under the spot light on a colored blanket in the foreground. Behind them lined up against the wall, lurking in the shadows are other dolls – representing the artists waiting for an opportunity to gain entry into the inner circle before them. Closest to the viewer we see the back of a seated doll, palming a badly busted and decapitated doll head behind her, out of sight to all the other players in this tableau.

Fairfax artist Laurel Hausler gives us a bit of her own magic. Richly textured paintings with additional physicality provided by pasted paper or canvas have a haunting, almost Francis Bacon quality to them. Her canvas titled “Matinee” shows a woman painted in a state of vaguely active repose, eyes closed, with lusciously inferred lips she seems in a state of bliss. Wing-like brush strokes beside her gives you pause at any sexual conclusions, and leaves you wondering if she might not in fact be an angelic apparition. Hausler’s canvas “Magic Act,” though loosely painted, and thus impossible to say for sure, seems to depict a black male with brass charger underarm, dressed in a red coat and ruffled white shirt. He seems to be a footman, butler, house slave or the like. His half-blue, half-white face with black features seems to hold the clue to his magic act – one man simultaneously living in two racially divided worlds.

 

Von Sumner, now in Pennsylvania via Long Beach, California, painted his series of men in goofy, but distinctly isolating and alienating hats towards the later part of his decade long stay in the greater LA basin.

 

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Susan Burnstine’s “Yearn.”

Rosemary Felt Covey has several of her woodblock prints, and one of her “peep show” boxes here. Covey, a Torpedo Factory artist in residence also has a solo show of her Peep box works in the Art League Gallery space within the Torpedo Factory (closing date for that show is April 5).

 

Covey’s works are centered around a real life couple. A much older, dominating man and his subordinate wife – it’s mildly graphic depictions are more about consenting role play than any sort of outright debauchery. Her most wry statement of all may be the small coffin like viewing boxes and their tacit allusion to “the little death.”

LA shooter Susan Burnstine has a series of haunting dream state photos. The best of which, “Yearn,” depicts a hand reaching towards the viewer. It’s an eloquent depiction of the psychological state of desire and the attempt to grasp that which remains frustratingly just beyond reach.

“I Dream Awake” is a magnificent show, and we hope, a precursor to Morton Fine Art’s permanent placement on E St.


The Northern Virginia Art Beat is compiled by Kevin Mellema. To e-mail submissions, e-mail them to kevinmellema@gmail.com

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