‘Body’ talk at 39th Street Gallery


Ashley Lyon’s "Amos" is on view in "Body," an exhibition inspired by the human and animal body at the 39th Street Gallery in Brentwood. (Michael O'Sullivan)

And no, it has nothing to do with getting in shape for swimsuit season.

The show features seven quiet yet powerful works inspired by the idea of the human and animal body, not as it relates to traditional figure studies — though sculptor Ashley Lyon’s “Amos” does depict a fat, bald man — but as a locus for ruminations on mortality, aging, gender, reproduction, self-esteem and our relationship to the natural world.

In addition to the work by Lyon (who also offers a plaster cast of an elderly woman’s disembodied arm), “Body” features Lu Zhang’s elegant ink drawing of a fake beard; Jenny Cullinan’s embroidery of human organs on a withered, skeletonized leaf; and three pieces by May Wilson, who makes plaster casts from actual cow and horse fetuses.

Whew.

Maybe you never heard of this gallery before. Located on the second floor of the Gateway Arts Center, it’s tiny, and just a little over one year old, with public hours that are few and far between (Thursday and Fridays 7 to 9 p.m.; Saturdays noon to 4 p.m.) But with shows like this, I can almost guarantee you’ll be hearing about it again.

Saturday’s talk, at 3901 Rhode Island Ave., Brentwood, is free and includes refreshments. Three of the four artists (Lyon, Wilson and Zhang) will be present, along with curator Ledelle Moe. An award-winning sculptor in her own right, Moe is known for monumental concrete works that reference human and animal forms. 301-277-2863. www.39thstreetgallery.org.

Born and raised in Washington, D.C., Michael O’Sullivan has worked since 1993 at The Washington Post, where he covers art, film and other forms of popular — and unpopular — culture.

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