It makes sense that one show at the Washington Printmakers Gallery is a master class in the art’s possibilities. “Professors of Print” features the work of seven teachers from four local colleges whose styles range from evocatively simple to dazzlingly complex.
Elizabeth Klimek uses serigraph (a.k.a. silkscreen) and lithograph techniques to craft weathered-looking, sometimes wood-grained images of old houses and their environs. Kay McCrohan embosses and folds white paper sculpturally, yielding such standing figures as “The Three Graces.” Donald Depuydt’s large pieces, which combine intaglio and lithograph, feature multi-square photographic images beneath what looks like loosely squeegeed daubs of pigment. John Carr’s “Light as a Feather” is nine small mezzotints of feathers against black backgrounds, hung on wooden pegs like pages of a day-by-day calendar.
Georgia Deal and Dennis O’Neil both evoke the past, albeit in different ways. Deal recalls the early days of print- and map-making in such multi-panel screenprints as “Atoll,” while O’Neil’s impressionistic vistas suggest the mists of yesteryear.
Justin Strom’s dark style is also multi-layered, but those strata involve such modern materials as textured polypropylene and urethane resin. The artist’s “Untitled” features blossoms both below and, seemingly, above the surface: Bursts of color within the layers of resin float over the brilliantly hued, collaged image. There’s a hint of the goth-rock album cover to Strom’s prints, which feature wings, flowers and human faces and hands.
Also on display, in the gallery’s small Press Room, is “Rilievi,” a selection of embossed and printed works by Maria Sofia Caligiuri. Designed to evoke the Maryland artist’s southern Italian childhood, the mostly white-on-white pieces hold the contours of shells, eggs and other objects. Caligiuri’s reliefs are made primarily of plaster and paper, with occasional hints of color. They combine a simple, tactile appeal with a philosophical aspect: The three-dimensional paper outlines suggest the absence of remembered objects, but also the permanence of their forms.
There’s nothing as bold as Strom’s work in the Old Print Gallery’s “Winter Contemporary Show,” but there are many beautifully rendered pieces in a variety of formats and styles. With one print each by 24 artists, the selection doesn’t have any particular theme or motif.
There are traditional black-and-white etchings and linocuts, such as Paul Marcus’s shadowy “The Old Lady” and Tenjin Ikeda’s “A Study in the Natural World,” which hides a child amid flowers and butterflies. But there are also looser, more colorful aquatints and monotypes, whose techniques mirror the delicacy of watercolor painting. These include representational works such as Peri Schwartz’s “Bottle and Jars I” and Susan Goldman’s “Tangerine Vases,” as well as Philip Bennet’s abstract “Creatures.”
Prints can suggest much with a few lines, sometimes highlighted by blocks of color. Fine examples of this approach include Edward McCluney’s “OSSACIP,” a nude silhouetted against a bright yellow background; Peter Gourfain’s “Winter Light,” a domestic scene endowed with drama by its thick black lines and contrast of blue and orange; and Ellen Nathan Singer’s “Autumn Market,” which depicts fruit, flowers and wooden barrels with seasonal gold and bronze.
Even moodier is Herbert Simon’s “American Night/Neighbor and Orion II,” a house and sky in black and gray, the composition focused on a window that’s hand-colored red. Richard T. Davis’s “Hartling Bay,” however, shows that fanatical attention to detail can be just as effective as artful simplification. This photorealist color serigraph of the Nova Scotia coastline appears to capture every ocean ripple, blade of grass and glimmer of sunlight. It’s a simple scene, but with the depth of an entire world.
Is it too soon to revisit the 2012 presidential election campaign? Absolutely, but at least Studio Gallery has arranged its excursion to last year via editorial cartoons rather than op-ed pieces or attack-ad videos. And “Donkeys and Elephants: A Celebration of American Political Cartoons” does pack a few historical angles, notably a selection of 19th-century engravings that show the evolution of the parties’ animal symbols. These include several by the great Thomas Nast, who popularized the elephant and the donkey in the 1870s. (The Democrats’ mascot was introduced earlier, by H.R. Robinson in 1837.)
Also supplementing the 2012 ’toons is a small retrospective of drawings by Herblock, who worked at this newspaper for more than 50 years. There’s not much in 2012’s selection of Obamas and Romneys that’s as pungent as Herblock’s depictions of Nixon and Reagan.
Few of the drawings on display are collector’s items. Most are reproductions and reasonably priced. The only originals are four by Kal (Kevin Kallaugher), executed by the Maryland-based artist who draws for the Baltimore Sun and the Economist. Kallaugher is one of today’s masters, matching exceptionally detailed drawings to sharp critiques. Kallaugher will discuss his work in an artist’s talk, “From Pencil to Pixel,” on Jan. 22 at 6 p.m.
A small show of paintings by Jessica Hopkins at Germantown’s Black Rock Center for the Arts, “A Rainbow of Personalities and Thoughts” includes several canvases that feature a broad color spectrum. But the two most powerful pictures, both titled “Scratch the Surface,” are intentionally more limited. One is black on yellow; the other black on blue, each with bits of red. The images are literally scratched, as if by the fingernails of someone who’s clawing an escape route. That, it turns out, is figuratively true. Hopkins, a cancer survivor, says the two abstractions evoke the sensation of struggling for breath. The sense of desperation is palpable, and makes these unsettling paintings more compelling than their rainbow-hued neighbors.
Jenkins is a freelance writer.
are on view through Jan. 27 at Washington Printmakers Gallery, 8230 Georgia Ave., 2nd Fl., Silver Spring; 301-273-3660; washingtonprintmakers.com.
is on view through Feb. 9 at the
Old Print Gallery, 1220 31st St. NW; 202-965-1818; www.oldprintgallery.com.
is on view through Jan. 26 at Studio Gallery, 2108 R St. NW; 202-232-8734; www.studiogallerydc.com.
is on view through Jan. 26 at
Black Rock Center for the Arts, 12901 Town Commons Dr., Germantown; 301-528-2260; www.blackrockcenter.org.