This selection ranges from two of Oliveira’s last paintings, made in 2010, to some of his “site” mixed-media monotypes, executed in the late 1990s (although sometimes embellished later). The latter, which the artist termed “illustrations,” are dream visions of ancient Portugal, sparked by trips through the country. They’re elusive, yet highly detailed: “Portuguese Sites, Douro Valley #1” is a hazy landscape centered on a shepherd’s hut, with elaborate pencil work atop the simple image.
The pair of 2010 paintings depict human forms on fields that are similar in hue but distinct in texture. The eerie “Mask Rising” is an oval with a hint of eyes, floating above a ground whose pattern suggests wood grain. Even more striking is “Standing Figure, Looking Forward,” whose figure is red and heavily painted, in front of a thin, drizzly backdrop that’s barely a shade lighter. To the very end, Oliveira deftly combined figurative and abstract, corporeal and intangible.
More than a dozen artists caucus in “Campaign Re/Form,” Greater Reston Arts Center’s contribution to election-year chatter. They work with myriad ideas and various media, but there are two dominant motifs: the American flag and political machines.
Holly Bass (the show’s guest curator) and Kashuo Bennett built “PhotoVotomatic,” a hybrid voting machine and photo booth. John Anderson’s “Job Creation Maker” is a device that produces buttons with the word “job” on them. The most pointed of the mechanisms is Blake Fall-Conroy’s “Minimum Wage Machine,” a wooden box that, if cranked continually for an hour, will dispense 725 pennies — the exact amount a Virginian would earn from a McJob’s hourly starting wage.
Fall-Conroy also crafted “Police Flag,” which renders the stars and stripes in blinking red, white and blue cop-cruiser roof lights. Paul D. Miller (a.k.a. DJ Spooky) designed posters of Old Glory crossed with a UPC code, while Kate Kretz’s flag takes the evocative form of a bloodied Band-Aid. The tilt is clearly toward the left, notably in Renee Stout’s “Thoughts of a 99-Percenter,” a three-panel piece of hand-lettered slogans and commentary. But Graham Boyle and Rose Jaffe’s “Beast of Burden” takes a bipartisan approach, grafting the donkey and the elephant into a single, headless creature. It says what a lot of people may be thinking: a pox on, at the very least, both your mascots.