Artomatic Thinks Small in Bethesda

E-mails from a scorned girlfriend are the focus of photographer Doug Sanford's contribution to the
E-mails from a scorned girlfriend are the focus of photographer Doug Sanford's contribution to the "Minimatic" exhibition. (By Doug Sanford)
Thursday, January 11, 2007

Artomatic, Washington's would-be egalitarian arts showcase, had all but slunk off the face of the Earth since its last show in 2004. And maybe it was time to regroup, what with critics decrying the event's "any artist with 60 bucks is welcome" philosophy for drawing what at best was a mixed bag.

Well, Artomatic's back -- sort of. Beginning this weekend, Bethesda galleries and arts venues pick up the Artomatic torch , but what was once a democracy is now, dare we say, a curated affair. Rather than slap everything up on their pristine walls, they combed over images submitted to by painters, photographers and sculptors and picked what fit their goals and their galleries. (The results can only be called safe.) Among the Artomatic Associated Events to catch tomorrow during Bethesda's Art Walk:

Fraser Gallery: After years of scouring Artomatic for new talent, Catriona Fraser's decision to spearhead the Bethesda arts community's involvement with it seemed like a no-brainer. At her Wisconsin Avenue gallery, Tiik Pollet (who has photographed people born as women but living as men), Mary Beth Ramsey (mixed media) and others share the spotlight for "Minimatic." Among the highlights: jaw-dropping, confessional photos by Doug Sanford, a commercial and editorial photographer who shot real e-mails he received from his writer girlfriend after he cheated on her. Free. 6-9 p.m. 7700 Wisconsin Ave., Suite E, Bethesda. 301-718-9651.

Gallery Neptune: Painter Ed Bisese (who had a solo show at Neptune last spring), Baltimore assemblage artist Mars Toyko and D.C. collage artist Cherie Lester show works that lean toward quirky. The reception's tomorrow, 6-9 p.m. On Saturday, the gallery brings in the 4Traits collective (also return artists), who will create tag-team portraits on-site from 12:30 to 5 p.m. Free. 4808 Auburn Ave., Bethesda. 301-718-0809.

Creative Partners Gallery: James W. Bailey's photography series "Condo Noir" explores race and class in Reston's development boom; Elizabeth Morisette presents abstract pottery constructed out of textbook paper and beeswax; Craig Kraft shows abstract neon sculptures and more. Free. 6-9 p.m. 4600 East West Hwy., Bethesda. 301-951-9441.

-- Lavanya Ramanathan

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