Galleries: ‘Objects of Desire,’ ‘A Question in Printmaking,’ ‘Temperament/Monolith’


Laurel Lukaszewski’s “Hanabi,” 2011-2012 black stoneware, from “Objects of Desire” at Neptune Fine Art. (Courtesy of Neptune Fine Art)
October 25, 2013

There are a few prints and drawings, Neptune Fine Art’s speciality, in its current show, “Objects of Desire.” But much of the art, even if affixed to the walls, is three-dimensional. Several of the works on paper, such as Foon Sham’s “Shelter with Ladders,” also depict structures or sculptures.

Elegant simplicity links such wall pieces as Tazuko Ichikawa’s “Two (Blue),” a tight curve of painted wood, with larger objects such as Will Clift’s “Two Round Forms, Stacked,” which stands in the gallery’s courtyard. These works share essential qualities with Laurel Lukaszewski’s “Nighttime,” a tangle of hanging stoneware arcs, and Wendy Ross’s “Millefiore,” a suspended globe made of vine-like steel strands. All seem to be drawing in space, and all use hard substances to airy effect.

A similar delicacy characterizes even the more solid objects, including Raya Bodnarchuk’s streamlined “Bronze Cat.” Others that seem heavy and light at the same time are Ross’s “Bud,” assembled from punched-steel lozenges; Ichikawa’s “Interruption,” a ruffled slab of wax atop a block of wood; and Lukaszewski’s “Hanabi,” a set of five explosive stoneware bursts. Its Japanese title means “fireworks,” or, literally, “fire flowers” — a linguistic juxtaposition that befits this show of splendidly contrasting forms and materials.

Objects of Desire

On view through Nov. 2 at Neptune Fine Art, 1662 33rd St. NW; 202-338-0353; neptunefineart.com

Anne Chesnut & Peter Milton

Both Anne Chesnut and Peter Milton employ digital technology to make their immaculate prints, but they use the process in different ways. “A Question in Printmaking: Digital vs. Digital,” at Jane Haslem Gallery, contrasts the full-color imagery of Chesnut, who has always used computers, with the black and white visions of Milton, who came to them after decades of etching and engraving.

Chesnut often invokes the tradition of the embroidered sampler. Adding a handmade touch to her images of flowers, letters and numbers, she sometimes sews panels together to make larger pieces. Not every image is derived from samplers — other interests include dogs and constellations — but all her work deftly balances the homey and the contemporary.

Whether engraving or manipulating photographic imagery, Milton devises elaborate tableaux, populated with people and animals. Sometimes the sources are literary: “In Search of Lost Time,” a 2006 engraving, pictures Proust at a writing desk, amid characters from his vast novel. But most of Milton’s prints push elaborate Old World scenes toward a genteel surrealism: “Dress Rehearsal,” a 2009 digital composition, shows an improbable circus troupe in glamorous motion. Milton’s technique has changed, but the results are no less seductive.

A Question in Printmaking: Digital vs. Digital

On view through Oct. 31 at Jane Haslem Gallery, 2025 Hillyer Pl. NW, 202-232-4644, janehaslemgallery.com

Temperament/Monolith

Garth Fry, Dan Gray and Peter Krsko share a studio in Northeast, where they work with, respectively, paper, steel or wood. In Honfleur Gallery’s “Temperament/Monolith,” the three do more than show their work together. The site-specific array includes such collaborations as “Temperament,” a bicycle frame that’s been refitted with paper and wooden wheels.

Including two big ones in the gallery’s courtyard, Krsko has the largest number of pieces on display. Some verge on being furniture, but most put woodworking skills in the service of something impressively impractical. “Untitled 3,” for example, curves varied lengths of wood off the wall, transforming the gallery’s white-box space. Fry’s “Wallflower,” a large coil of glued paper, also plays against the room, leaning against a blank white plane. Gray’s “Square Space,” which combines rusted steel bars and tubes into a box-like structure, is not keyed to the gallery. But the sculpture, like Krsko’s and Fry’s work, recasts the ordinary into the unexpected.

Temperament/Monolith: Garth Fry, Dan Gray & Peter Krsko

On view through Nov. 1 at Honfleur Gallery, 1241 Good Hope Rd. SE,
202-365-8392, honfleurgallery.com

Lauren Henkin

The stark color photographs in “Growth,” at the Gallery at Vivid Solutions, might seem to celebrate the indomitability of nature. Lauren Henkin depicts trees and vines that wrap around industrial structures or insert themselves into absurdly small spaces between metal-clad buildings.

Nature’s unruly vitality can be threatening, however, as Henkin shows with smaller, black and white images of internal growths. As the D.C.-bred New York photographer was capturing images of forceful vegetation, non­cancerous tumors were expanding inside her. When she first started photographing incongruous urban sproutings, the artist notes, she didn’t connect them to her own body. This exhibition does, yet Henkin retains her sympathy for flora that challenges the industrial landscape. Although made after she had “two major abdominal surgeries,” the most recent of her “External” pictures still marvel at foliage that shouldn’t thrive, yet does.

Lauren Henkin: Growth

On view through Nov. 1 at the Gallery at Vivid Solutions, 1241 Good Hope Rd. SE, 202-365-8392, vividsolutionsdc.com

Sidney Lawrence

“Red Alert,” one of the larger pieces in “D.C. & California,” is an aerial view of a favorite Sidney Lawrence subject, the Mall. The Capitol dominates the drawing, but in the background, the red-tinted view expands all the way to Manhattan, where the World Trade Center burns. It’s an unusually somber image for Lawrence, whose work usually depicts a benign universe of happy dogs, walkable streets and treasured memories.

Originally from San Francisco, Lawrence has lived in Washington for nearly 40 years. Both cities figure in his current show at the University of California Washington Center’s Alcove Gallery, where playful drawings and paintings sometimes burst into the third dimension. The artist keeps returning to the Golden Gate Bridge and the Mall, and his cityscapes sometimes meld into faces or each other. In one of his most appealing visions, Washington’s left bank contains not Rosslyn but the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe and Sacre Coeur.

D.C. & California: Works by Sidney Lawrence

On view through Oct. 31 at the University of California Washington Center’s Alcove Gallery, 1608 Rhode Island Ave NW; sidneylawrenceart.com

Kurt Weiser

Theoretically functional but clearly designed for admiring rather than using, Kurt Weiser’s porcelain vases, cups and teapots draw on Asian and European precedents. The exquisitely detailed paintings that embellish them mix Renaissance-style imagery, Victorian-like romanticism and Audubon-inspired renderings of birds, flowers and reptiles. That’s why the Arizona-based ceramicist’s show at Cross Mackenzie Gallery is titled “The Nature of Imagination.” But as Weiser’s pear-shaped globes demonstrate, the artist’s fancy is not limited to, or by, the real world. Weiser crafts in miniature his own universe, as precise and whimsical as the insect-shaped handles that adorn his lidded pieces.

Kurt Weiser: The Nature of Imagination

On view through Nov. 6 at Cross Mackenzie Gallery, 2026 R St. NW; 202-333-7970; crossmackenzie.com

Mark Jenkins is a freelance writer.

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