In fact, two of the pictures use the ruins of Rome’s ancient Forum as backdrops, although Perry is just as likely to depict places where the foliage is plainly tropical, or party or bar scenes that could take place just about anywhere. The artist’s interest in narrative encourages multi-panel compositions, sometimes within a single canvas but often divided among several. Perry experiments with framing in order to further divide his paintings, which can seem gimmicky. But that strategy is a success in the largest piece, “Picturing Will,” a house-shaped, 11-panel picture that shows different activity in every room. As the action moves from light-filled attic to shadowy basement, the picture is also a journey from day into night.
Downstairs is “Rarely Seen Contemporary Fine Prints,” a functionally titled array of extraordinary works on paper, from 1955 to 2003. Each one is elegantly crafted, but among the most engrossing are Beth Van Hoesen’s “Double Rose,” which depicts a peach-colored rose in front of gray floral wallpaper; Billy Morrow Jackson’s jazzy “Vintage Beat,” an abstract woodcut of a drum kit; and Anne Appleby’s “Vienna Variation #8,” an aquatint of two panels of green that have been burnished till they seem to glow around the edges.
Lincoln Perry: Storyteller; Rarely Seen Contemporary Fine Prints
On view through Jan. 31 at Jane Haslem Gallery, 2025 Hillyer Pl. NW, 202-232-4644, www.janehaslemgallery.com.
Heather Day, Joseph C. Parra, Theo Willis
Three recent Maryland Institute College of Art graduates, Heather Day, Joseph C. Parra and Theo Willis, are showing in Adah Rose Gallery’s “I’m Passing Through a Phase: I’m Changing to a Word.” If that title (taken from a Stanley Kunitz poem) doesn’t exactly explain what the three Baltimoreans have in common, more words probably won’t help much. But each artist is, in a way, a subtractionist.
Day, for example, does abstract paintings inspired by her home town’s weathered facades. She doesn’t include the sort of details that would make that obvious — no chipped brick, shreds of posters or lines of graffiti. Her series of small paintings is titled “Upkeep,” a reference to frayed urban fabric; “At Your Best,” with its slash of neon yellow across white and gray, does have an urban feel. Still, her art is more color and composition than social commentary.
Working from photographs, Parra prints or draws portraits. His subjects are unnamed and altered in ways that lessen specific identity. Sometimes the artist scrapes or erases part of the image, or punches it with small holes, made with a nail or an etching tool. The effect suggests sci-fi forecasts of a future in which human distinctiveness is expunged. And yet “Individual 3,” a life-size silhouetted drawing of a female nude that shimmers with etched dots, idealizes rather than defaces the human form.