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.
Professors of Print;
Rilievi: Maria Sofia Caligiuri
are on view through Jan. 27 at Washington Printmakers Gallery, 8230 Georgia Ave., 2nd Fl., Silver Spring; 301-273-3660; washingtonprintmakers.com.
Winter Contemporary Show
is on view through Feb. 9 at the
Old Print Gallery, 1220 31st St. NW; 202-965-1818; www.oldprintgallery.com.
Donkeys and Elephants:
A Celebration of American Political Cartoons
is on view through Jan. 26 at Studio Gallery, 2108 R St. NW; 202-232-8734; www.studiogallerydc.com.
Jessica Hopkins: A Rainbow of Personalities
is on view through Jan. 26 at
Black Rock Center for the Arts, 12901 Town Commons Dr., Germantown; 301-528-2260; www.blackrockcenter.org.