The five Catlett prints, dating from 1949 to 1987, directly and vigorously address such issues as apartheid, black pride and racial integration in Cuba. Nearby are five posters by two pseudonymous Egyptian street artists, delivering such messages as “Muslim Rage is not Arab Spring” with crisp, simple images and mostly English text. (Only one piece features Arabic.) Shepard Fairey, perhaps best known for the 2008 Obama “Hope” poster, contributes less-sanguine 2011 silk-screens that feature presidents unloved by left-wing poster artists.
“It’s Mourning in America” is the slogan above a saluting Ronald Reagan, one of four images that present American business and Republican politics as interlocked. Guerrilla Girls, a New York collective of anonymous feminist artists, may have the solution to the alliance Fairey deplores. Their poster depicts an estrogen pill as a missile and counsels dropping it “on Washington and the super-rich.” One advantage of poster art is that it’s available to more than just the wealthy. A copy of “Estrogen Super Rich” can be had for $500, which is a lot more affordable than establishing a super PAC.
‘Elements of Design’
Leah Appel has an eye for blue. Her Hillyer Art Space show, “New Work: Elements of Design,” includes photos of Washington’s monumental core in which buildings and trees are upstaged by vast expanses of sky. But the color doesn’t have to be natural to appeal to Appel. The local photographer’s subjects include four azure trash cans on a dramatically sloping sidewalk, lined up next to a crimson door as if awaiting a cue to enter.
As the show’s title indicates, Appel is interested in architectural details. She captures street lamps, cornice lines and the occasional out-of-place pagoda, often viewed from oblique angles. The multi-frame “Boardwalk/Tybee Island” chops a section of beach into an almost-continuous panorama. Sometimes her images are near-abstract color fields, yet Appel also likes the contrast between other-worldly colors and everyday scenes. One of this selection’s most vivid photos shows simply a chair, a wall and some ping-pong paddles but in shades of blue, green and red that verge on the hallucinatory.
Jenkins is a freelance writer.
Earth and Wind:
of Peter Kephart
on view through Nov. 27 at Zenith Gallery, Chevy Chase Pavilion, 5355 Wisconsin Ave. NW; 202-783-2963; www.zenithgallery.com.
Images on Paper
on view through Nov. 24 at Susan Calloway Fine Arts, 1643 Wisconsin Ave. NW; 202-965-4601; www.callowayart.com.
Of the People
on view through Nov. 24 at Contemporary Wing pop-up space, 1250 Ninth St. NW; 202-730-5037; www.contemporarywing.com.
Elements of Design
on view through Nov. 30 at Hillyer Art Space, 9 Hillyer Ct. NW; 202-338-0680; www.artsandartrists.org/hillyer.php.