Covey is known for her detailed wood block prints, a few of which are on display around the edges of this show. Her “Red Handed” pictures are looser, messier and more impulsive; precisely etched lines yield to expressionist strokes and spatters, sometimes atop collaged layers. Although gray, blue and brown tint some of the images, the emphasis on black and red suggests the artist’s background in simple, graphically direct printmaking. Long horizontal murals claim the room’s three walls, and on two of them the compositions are interrupted by other paintings, most of them miniatures. If Covey doesn’t document all nine circles of Dante’s Hell, she does offer multiple levels.
As a theme, guilt is wide-ranging, but these thronging pictures don’t suggest individual responsibility and solitary regret. The fault is clearly collective, widely known and unconcealable. Perhaps that’s why Covey was inspired to present these paintings as an installation. Everyone has done wrong at some point, so all those singular faults add up to mass culpability. To enter “Red Handed” is to be implicated.
Rosemary Feit Covey: Red Handed
On view through July 5 at Morton Fine Art, 1781 Florida Ave. NW; 202-628-2787; www.mortonfineart.com
Flora Kanter and New Members Show
Flora Kanter paints flowers, of course. Her current Studio Gallery show, “The Nature of Nature,” features bright red, orange and purple blossoms, and some lush green lily pads. Yet the key color in the local artist’s acrylic, charcoal and pencil pictures is black.
Sometimes, Kanter uses ebony backdrops to make those vivid colors pop, or give the compositions a sense of depth. But she also paints flowers, leaves and vines primarily in black and gray, with occasional red and yellow accents. Form is as important as color, if not more so. Kanter’s work is representational, but she’s as concerned as any abstract expressionist with line, motion and the quality of pigment. Strokes curve and colors run, so that the act of painting becomes part of the story.
While Kanter is certainly not a pop artist, she does arrange variations on a theme like Warholian soup cans. These sets, with names such as “The Rhythm of Nature,” can be grouped in multiples of four in rectangular formats, or bounced across a wall like musical notes in a score. Either way, the cadence is essential to Kanter’s style of flower arranging.