Many of the selections are too complex, visually or philosophically, for such campaigns. But some are ideally straightforward, in both image and message. Michael D’Antuono’s “Brought to You by the NRA” is a large oil painting with the directness of a great political cartoon: It shows a bit of a blood-spattered classroom, with a jumble that includes a crayon, a milk box, a child’s drawing and alphabet blocks that spell out “N.R.A.”
A disturbing irony is that much of this art works because images of guns and bullets are as commonplace as those of flowers and stars. War movies, cop shows and children’s toys have made Glock handguns immediately recognizable, even to people who’ve never seen one in real life. Even pictures of absences, such as Michele Colburn’s “Exit Wounds” or the photos from Jean Marie Guyaux’s “Shatter” series, instantly evoke the effects of guns.
Some of the artists evoke the innocence of children: Jerry Truong’s “Dec. 12, 2012” is a school desk scrawled with the words “please no more,” and Chawky Frenn’s “Protect Us” contrasts a kid with the Capitol and the Constitution. Others try to conjure the psychology of the mass murderer: Pamela Enz’s “son of a nobody” is based on an Arabic tale of a man who killed to become famous, while Eric Schweitzer’s white-on-black “Diablo Dentro” depicts evil as a disembodied force.
Nothing in this exhibition is likely to sway gun-rights advocates, and many of the artworks may not age well. But sometimes, a fast, angry (if nonviolent) response is what’s required. The show includes a partial installation of Linda Bond’s chilling “Inventory,” which comprises an index card for each of the 80,000 U.S. weapons that vanished in Iraq. The piece is designed to show how guns get around, which is another way of saying they’re not going away.
The Newtown Project:
A Call to Arms!
on view through Feb. 18 at Charles Krause/Reporting Fine Art, 1300 13th St. NW; 202-638-3612; www.charleskrausereporting.com.
The show of Walter McConnell’s ceramics at Cross MacKenzie Gallery is worth two visits — one soon and another near its close in a month. That’s because two of the works, “Itinerant Eden: Hermetic Garden” and “Itinerant Eden: After Adam,” are alive and changing. Sealed inside vitrines, objects made of wet clay are growing mold and giving off water vapor that generates a cloudy mini-atmosphere. The organic and metamorphic qualities suit the subjects, human figures that include a pregnant woman. (A time-lapse video illustrates the process of making such pieces.)