By Jessica Dawson
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Chilean artist Maria Elena Naveillan plays with words -- literally. In shallow sculptural wall works, her layering of cut-out cardboard vowels in monochromatic black or white prove a conceptual one-liner. More interesting is a wall of 13 vertical canvases hung alongside one another like red earth tablets. From afar, they look as if they're made from striated rock. Up close, those striations turn out to be the silk-screened names of newspapers from around the world. As a group, the canvases signal an enduring desire to communicate. Yet given their elongated, almost funerary, shape, they also portend the printed newspaper's demise.
Maria Elena Naveillan at the Embassy of Chile, 1732 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Monday-Friday 9 a.m.-5 p.m., 202-785-1746, to July 31;http://www.chile-usa.org.Swirls of Color; Interrupted
Two words: Sam Gilliam. The Washington art world's elder statesman exhibits new work at Mateyka. Whether or not you enjoy his hybrid painting-object constructions made from birch panels, you can't deny the sexiness of the iridescent ribbons of paint layered on top. Where past work emphasized the wood panels he paints on, the new work seems content to focus on nail-polish-slick surfaces. In the gallery's rear room, recent works on paper employ silkscreen, stitching and thin coats of concrete in a pastiche that, following current fashion, makes the 1980s new again.
Sam Gilliam at Marsha Mateyka Gallery, 2012 R St. NW, Wednesday-Saturday 11 a.m.-5 p.m., 202-328-0088, to July 21;http://www.marshamateykagallery.com.Shocked 'Straight': A Wrenching Treatment
At Conner, Mary Coble calls up the chilling prospect of sexual reorientation therapy in an occasionally lukewarm installation. A gripping 21-minute video of young men and women -- actors, most likely, though the artist won't say for sure -- recounting tales of shock treatments aimed at turning gay people straight wrenches the heart and the psyche. The rest is icing: A video diptych close-up of Coble's hands during administration of the treatment -- she received the treatment at an opening performance as well -- is too subtle. Remnants of opening night -- the chair, electrodes and zapping equipment -- set the clinical tone.
Mary Coble at Conner Contemporary Art, 1730 Connecticut Ave. NW, Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m., 202-588-8750, to June 30;http://www.connercontemporary.com.Drawing Conclusions
Bring your binoculars to Curator's Office, where a survey of drawings, many with microscopically rendered details, hangs in a salon-style arrangement approaching the ceiling. Gallery owner Andrea Pollan and guest co-curator, the collector Fred Ognibene, gathered their favorite works on paper from galleries from New York to Berlin to Dupont Circle. Many explore fantasy worlds that would give psychoanalysts pause. Witness Sigga Bjorg Siggurdordottir's beasties in tutus, and local artist Zach Storm's charming if child-like series about his unending appetite for sugar.
"Three Part Harmony: Definition, Delicacy and Detail in Drawing" at Curator's Office, 1515 14th St. NW, Wednesday-Saturday noon-6pm., 202-387-1008, to July 14;http://www.curatorsoffice.com.Adamson's 'Pulp Fiction': Attention Must Be Paid
A loosely organized group show of artists tackling stories hangs at Adamson. Prints by a solid roster of contemporary artists riff on Dracula, Voodoo or more personal narratives. From the irritating-but-memorable department emerges Hope Gangloff, a New York artist who chronicles her too-cool-for-school friends slumming it at strip clubs and Coney Island. Gangloff's colored pen on paper renderings of these hopelessly groovy friends are so itchy you can't ignore them. Other highlights include kooky cut-paper pictures featuring a mostly nude Kiki Smith dressed up like a turtle, a butterfly and a bat. Don't ask, just look.
"Pulp Fiction" at Adamson Gallery, 1515 14th St. NW, Tuesday-Friday 11:30 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday noon-5 p.m., 202-232-0707, to July 14;http://www.adamsongallery.com.Jewish Berliners, Through a Lens Darkly
The heart aches to see Roman Vishniac's photographs of Berliners on the eve of the Second World War. Black and white prints, many vintage, by the Russian-born photographer and biologist show Jewish Berlin on the brink of epic trauma. A 1933 election poster foreshadows Hitler's rise; a graffito depicting the Star of David on a gallows portends disaster. Found after the photographer's death in 1990, many of these pictures were snapped simply to finish off rolls of scientific work. Unwittingly, Vishniac captured a precarious moment.
"Roman Vishniac's Berlin" at Sixth & I Historic Synagogue, 600 I St. NW, Monday-Thursday noon-3 p.m. and by appointment, 202-408-3100, to Aug. 24;http://www.sixthandi.org/.