The aesthetic link between Helen Frankenthaler and Beth Kaminstein is evident directly inside the front door of Cross MacKenzie Gallery, where Frankenthaler’s “Contentment Island” hangs above Kaminstein’s “Islamorada Series: Aqua Bowl three rim dots.” The print’s sumptuous aquas echo in the stoneware bowl, whose rippling form also picks up the oceanic cues.
There are only two prints in this show, which is devoted primarily to Kaminstein’s Islamorada series. But the juxtaposition of the two artists is not just a coincidental alignment of bluish inks and greenish glazes. Both attended Bennington College in Vermont, and Kaminstein considers herself a disciple of Frankenthaler, who died in 2011. (The painter is often invoked locally because of her influence on the Washington Color School.)
While Frankenthaler stayed in the New York area, Kaminstein followed her affinity for watery shades and shapes to the Florida Keys. (That’s where Islamorada is.) Neither is restricted by geography, however. Frankenthaler’s “Weeping Crabapple” is an abstraction that draws on Japan’s Edo-period prints, with a hint of cherry blossoms in a pink-on-pink area. And Kaminstein’s “Islamorada Series: Black Onyx” features metallic swipes that show as strong a feel for earth as sea.
Helen Frankenthaler Prints & Beth Kaminstein Ceramics
On view through Oct. 2 at Cross Mackenzie Gallery, 2026 R St. NW; 202-333-7970; www.crossmackenzie.com
The title of Kanika Sircar’s Waverly Street Galley show, “Text/Message,” suggests trendy, perhaps computer-oriented art. In fact, the local artist works in stoneware and porcelain, venerable materials to which she gives an ancient look. She does incise words and phrases in various languages into the pieces, some of them free-standing, others designed to hang on walls. But the mottled surface is more important than clear meaning, even when the ceramics take the shape of pages or books rather than flasks or boxes.
While there’s some English in the babble of chiseled text, the snatches of cuneiform seem more apt. Using slips and iron oxides, Sircar crafts weathered, richly metallic veneers that imply centuries of history. It’s as if the artist has invented her own little museum of antiquities, with objects that are painstakingly restored but still undeciphered. Rather than text or message, Sircar presents mystery, but also the rough beauty of earth tones and textures.
Kanika Sircar: Text/Message
On view through Oct. 5 at Waverly Street Gallery, 4600 East-West Highway, Bethesda; 301-951-9441; waverlystreetgallery.com
Jenkins is a freelance writer.