The other work is even further out of school. Stuart also does stripes, but they’re loosely rendered in oil, wax and strips of velvet. Betty Cleeland fills canvases with circles or ovals in complementary colors — mostly red, white, blue and pink — with results that seem as much hot pop art as cool early-’60s abstraction. Bruns’s and Martina Nehrling’s works are colorful but too glossy and baroque for this particular clan. That’s not to say it’s unappealing; all of these artists are skilled and inventive. But the one who comes closest to Louis’s zenlike serenity, if not his technique, is Stuart.
These days, when Hollywood needs a foreign desert, it’s likely to choose Morocco. But in the 1960s and ’70s, camera crews often headed to the other side of the Mediterranean: Almeria, in southeast Spain. Washington photographer Mark Parascandola may be the only American who still travels to the region with professional photo gear. Rather than shoot movies, however, he makes photographs of the places where “Cleopatra” and “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” were filmed.
Parascandola, who has family connections to the region, is exhibiting 11 of his evocative large-format pictures at the Embassy of Spain. “Once Upon a Time in Almeria” gives equal billing to the scenery and the now-tattered sets, sometimes destroying illusions. “Oasis,” for example, shows a place that looks like Spain, not the bit of the Arabian peninsula it impersonated in “Lawrence of Arabia.” Occasionally, modernity intrudes: In “Aqaba,” another “Lawrence” location, what appears to be a new resort hotel is under construction. Most of the vistas are unpopulated, however, and that absence gives the impeccably detailed photos an eerie sense of a bygone civilization: a lost race of American cowboys that vanished into the rocky terrain. All that remains are abandoned, dilapidated buildings under vast, often ominous skies. And the movies that were filmed there.
Jenkins is a freelance writer.
Signals: Art From a New Washington School
on view through Nov. 25 at D.C. Arts Center, 2438 18th St. NW and 2431 18th St. NW; 202-462-7833;
on view through Dec. 31 at Long View Gallery, 1234 Ninth St. NW; 202-232-4788;
Once Upon a Time in Almeria
on view through Nov. 15 at the Embassy of Spain, 2375 Pennsylvania Ave. NW; 202-728-2334;