Often associated with the Washington Color School, Gilliam has expanded on that movement’s innovations, in part by shaping or draping his canvases. His “Architectural Notions for a New Nursery,” the 1980 painting, has a patchwork look yet epic sweep. Green’s 1968 “Sultana” is more muted but also defies the canvas’s customary shape, leaving a void at the center.
The other three artists paint figuratively, if not always realistically. Joe Shannon’s 2012 “Dianna and Actaeon” exuberantly illustrates the tale of the goddess who turns a man into a stag after she catches him watching her bathe. The theme of transformation is underscored by the near-abstract ground behind them. Similarly mythological are Lisa Montag Brotman’s 1980 “The Rituals of Invitation,” with two figures atop a field of red blooms or tendrils, and Margarida Kendall Hull’s “The Survivors II,” depicting a mismatched trio (including one with a ram’s head) posed before a war scene.
The vibe is a little gentler at Common Ground. But Robert Devers’s tile painting, “Spirit of Place,” shows an erupting volcano, and Margaret Boozer’s “Black Landscape” is a dark, seemingly dry wasteland of stoneware and wood. Mindy Weisel’s 12-panel “Parallel Tracks,” made of kiln-formed glass, throws colorful patterns on the wall, while Tim Tate’s “Lexicon Primer,” a set of 30 glass hands, also creates an abundance of shadows. In their own way, these four artists share Gilliam’s quest for new forms and surprising depths.
Although his style has changed over the years, Chuck Close’s focus has not. He came to prominence as a portraitist and remains one, an ironic reflection of his limited ability to remember faces. Originally a photorealist, the New York artist has long experimented with other techniques, designed to simultaneously fracture and preserve the image. “Chuck Close: New Work,” at Adamson Gallery, showcases two recent strategies.
The Watercolor Prints are digitally scanned from Close originals, then printed in watercolor. The six examples in this show are overwhelmingly large — heads and shoulders more than six feet high — yet delicately hued. Each contains about 15,000 marks, with multiple colors underlying each other. Yet the dots cohere into recognizable likenesses, including a self-portrait and images of such fellow artists as Kara Walker and Cindy Sherman.