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Collector Mera Rubell makes rounds of Washington's isolated artists

Mera hugs goodbye. And like that, she is gone.

Saturday, 4:55 pm:

Quincy Street NW

Mera is standing in artist Isabel Manalo's garage studio examining cut-up glossy snapshots on a table. WPA Board Member Jan Rothschild has arrived. Art dealer Martin Irvine pops in. A revolving cast will enter and exit throughout this tour.

Mera is liking Manalo's recent collage work.

"It takes a lot of confidence to leave so much open space," Mera says, gesturing at a work on the studio wall. "This is an interesting direction. It's very exciting."

As she exits, Mera doesn't hesitate with the superlatives. "This was a treat!" She thanks, she hugs, she's gone.

"The gallery audience is very suspicious," Mera says as she moves toward the cab idling at the corner. "They think art is some kind of product. If only the audience could see the commitment behind the work. Artists really share something intimate."

Saturday, 10:58 p.m.:

North Lincoln Street, Arlington

Artist Jason Horowitz is pulling out massive flat files where he stores his outsize color photographs of bodies in extreme close-up. He rolls through images of a drag queen's painted mouth or a single spooky eyeball occupying an entire page. Mera and company ooh and ahh.

As the meeting winds down, Horowitz announces that he's got a few more pictures to show, warning the group that they're "at the edge of my practice." Does Mera want to see them?


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