July is no time to take a vacation, at least not from the art world. Sure, things usually start to slow down late in the summer, but right now they’re still popping. Get out your calendar ... and refill your iced coffee.
First up: For anyone not leaving town over the three-day weekend, Hillyer Art Space is hosting an opening reception on July 1 for “Betsy Packard: Selected Work.” The longtime Washington-based sculptor relies on such everyday found materials as, say, egg cartons, and transforms them into artifacts of strangeness and wonder. The reception is from 6 to 9 p.m., and it also features the work of Russian-born artist Yaroslav Koporolin. $5 suggested donation.
Wondering what else is going on?
On July 7, the Art Museum of the Americas, in conjunction with FotoDC and the Mexican Cultural Institute, opens “Possible Worlds: Photography and Fiction in Mexican Contemporary Art.” Get there by 5:30 p.m., for the free gallery talk. Stay for the party afterwards.
July 9 promises to be a looong night. Starting at 5 p.m., Conner Contemporary Art will host a panel discussion on the upcoming (e)merge art fair, scheduled to take place Sept. 22-25 at the Capitol Skyline Hotel. Stick around. The talk will be followed by a party and reception from 6 to 8 p.m. for Conner’s annual art-school showcase, “Academy 2011.” Then, from 8 to 11 p.m., Conner’s upstairs neighbor, Industry Gallery, will host an opening for its own MFA invitational, “Untitled.”
Over the July 15-17 weekend, you’re going to want to be in Baltimore, and nowhere else. Those are the dates of the 30th annual Artscape art festival. While up in Charm City for all the art, crafts, concerts, food, etc., be sure and stop into the Baltimore Museum of Art for the “Sondheim Artscape Prize: 2011 Finalists” exhibition, a showcase of local talent that provides one lucky winner with a $25,000 prize. (This year’s prize-winner will be announced on July 9.) During Artscape weekend, you can also see the contest’s semifinalists’ work at the Maryland Institute College of Art, right near the heart of the festivities.
If you haven’t OD’ed on Artscape, head over to Old Town Alexandria’s Athenaeum on the afternoon of July 17 for the opening of “Drawing Analogies,” a group show built around drawing as an artistic means — but not necessarily an end in and of itself.
Video artist Nam June Paik, who died in 2006, would have turned 79 this month. To celebrate his birthday, the Smithsonian American Art Museum will host a talk about Paik’s pioneering work on July 20, followed by birthday cake and refreshments.
After five years on 14th Street NW, Irvine Contemporary is pulling up stakes this summer. Say good-bye — or at least “until we meet again” — as the gallery hosts a reception for its final show in the Logan Circle location on July 23.
The National Building Museum isn’t exactly known for cutting-edge contemporary art. But on July 30 it will host a day-long performance-art piece involving Lego bricks. Presented in conjunction with Dance Exchange, and called “Still We Keep,” the performance will run from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., and explore themes of architecture and the body, structure and story.
Last call: A few worthy gallery shows that opened earlier this summer are closing this month. If you still haven’t seen these, what are you waiting for?
“Wavelengths” at Honfleur Gallery. Don’t miss Alexandra Zealand’s installation of floating used coffee filters. Through July 22.
“Jenny Sidhu Mullins: American Temple” at Flashpoint Gallery. Test your “purity level” at an interactive kiosk. Through July 23 .
“Bite: Identity and Humor” at Greater Reston Arts Center. Through July 29. Check out the free panel discussion on July 11, hosted by art collector, Pink Line Project founder and gal-about-town Philippa Hughes.
“Strictly Painting 8” at McLean Project for the Arts. Proof that painting still thrives. Through July 30.
And finally, the Newseum has just announced that, beginning July 1 and running through Labor Day, all kids 18 and under will get in free. At regular admission of $12.95 a pop, that’s some cool savings.