Page 2 of 4   <       >

Collector Mera Rubell makes rounds of Washington's isolated artists

And: "There are so many desperate situations here. It's scary."

Mera's troll through Washington's art warrens was akin to Santa visiting the Island of Misfit Toys. Below, a snapshot of her odyssey.

Saturday 4:05 pm:

Randolph Street NW

Mera's taxi pulls up to a modest brown rowhouse. She's fresh from a nap and 20 minutes off her Excel-mapped schedule. She emerges alongside WPA's Gold and Corcoran photojournalism student Jenny Yang, on board to document the occasion.

"I know you think we're crazy, right?" Mera asks her 3:45 appointment as he greets her at the door. A ceramicist who moved to Washington in October, Rafael Cañizares-Yunez wears a green V-neck sweater and his hair in a gray-flecked Mohawk.

The small group tumbles into Cañizares-Yunez's tiny living room, where vessels occupy every available surface. Mera eyes a trio of tall vases through her blue-tinted glasses. She cuts a sharp figure with her cropped hair crowned by a black bowler hat; from its band juts a feather dyed in bands of black and white polka dots, red and rust. Her coat looks like a regular puffy jacket, only deconstructed.

"I'm dying to know everything." Mera says.

Cañizares-Yunez leads everyone upstairs to see pastels laid out on a table. Mera looks hard, asking questions constantly.

Gold gestures a five-minute warning.

As Mera heads downstairs to see the last items on this tour, she keeps looking around. Major artists come to her mind.

Giacometti? Yes, he's everywhere in this work. Morandi? Too theoretical, probably, to match the sensitivity in Cañizares-Yunez's pieces.

<       2           >

© 2009 The Washington Post Company