The New York-bred Wellman, who has lived and worked in the District for more than three decades, trained as a printmaker, but she’s adept at layering thick, heavily worked pigment. Even the simplest of these pieces, the pale yellow “South American Journey,” is elaborately textured. The largest, “Number Genome,” goes further, incorporating numerals as well as collaged newspaper clippings and playing cards that evoke African American history. It’s not a genome, exactly, but the painting does suggest the heritage underlying Wellman’s work.
Architect and painter Bernardo Siles is originally from Bolivia, but the hard-edged, cool-colored work he’s showing at Gallery Plan b seems more Washingtonian than Latin. That’s especially true of his most arresting pictures, which leave areas of the canvas white, suggesting the compositions of Morris Louis and Color School colleague Kenneth Noland.
Unlike those precursors, Siles works in oil, not acrylic, and doesn’t let the pigments flow. He crafts oblique patterns of near-parallel color bands, mostly in blue, green and gray. The colors sometimes appear to overlap, melding into a different hue at the intersection. These minimalist paintings, identified simply by number, don’t have a lot of energy. But they are calm and cooling, like a trickle of water through a moss garden.
Pennsylvania-bred landscape painter Caroline Adams depicts both the Mid-Atlantic states and Ecuador, where she lives. The South American country offers more dramatic views, with deeper valleys and higher mountains. But Adams isn’t particularly interested in drama, as the title of her show at Susan Calloway Fine Arts indicates. “Time of Day” uses muted colors and soft forms to conjure such ever-changing natural phenomena as clouds, storms and light.
Adams has a degree in printmaking, which may explain why she paints multiple views of similar vistas, sometimes dividing them into diptychs or triptychs. The show’s 14 small “Variations,” executed on panels with egg tempera and oil, are hung together in clumps, as if to offer simultaneous views of the same (or almost the same) scenery. It’s an idea that probably wouldn’t have occurred to a painter before the advent of photography, but Adams’s execution of it feels more classical than modern.
Jenkins is a freelance writer.
on view through Feb. 25 at Civilian Art Projects, 1019 Seventh St. NW; 202-607-3804;
Willem de Looper: Paintings 1968-72
on view through March 10 at Hemphill Fine Arts, 1515 14th St. NW; 202-234-5601,
Intuitive Journeys: Works by Joyce Wellman
on view through March 6 at Heurich Gallery, 505 Ninth St. NW; 202-223-1626;
Works by Bernardo Siles
on view through Feb. 26 at Gallery Plan b, 1530 14th St. NW; 202-234-2711;
Time of Day: Caroline Adams
on view through Feb. 18 at Susan Calloway Fine Arts, 1643 Wisconsin Ave. NW; 202-965-4601;