"STILL-LIFE" no longer means painting alone, as the denim-sculpture cup and saucer with crocheted bananas in the Fendrick Gallery window makes very clear.
Inside, this most traditional form becomes a subject for takeoffs, happy ridicule and an examination of the genre today. Customarily seen in two painted dimensions, the still life here is expanded to include sculpture, multimedia construction and photography--along with enough traditional work to recall the form's roots.
The most exuberant expression of liberated still life is Fernando Botero's 5-foot-tall white epoxy sculpture of a giant pitcher, a bottle and some round tomatoes on a draped Parsons table.
Better known for his bloated people, Botero has now begun to cast his far more interesting bloated still lifes in epoxy and bronze. Superb examples of each medium are highlights among these 50 works by 30 artists. There are book constructions by J.J. De La Verriere, a trompe l'oeil wood table with objects carved by Wendell Castle, and a Carol Harrison photograph of a geranium in a Lalique vase, all shimmering with a vast range of light.
There are traditional works, the best being a William Bailey gouache that records, in earthy ochres, kitchen pots and tinware painted with all the delicacy customarily applied to the decoration of pottery. Alice Neel, Robin Hill, Jack Beal, Kevin McDonald and Ed McGowin also explore the form.
The show continues at 3059 M St. NW through Feb. 19. Hours are 9:30 to 5:30, Mondays through Saturdays. Still Lifes for Smiles
After three years of battling landlords, Henri (Henrietta Ehrsam) has risen once again in one of the more seductive gallery settings in town--her own apartment. In three rooms on the top floor of 1500 21st St. NW, she has mixed one of her great loves--early American furniture--with another: the witty, original and offbeat art she has specialized in since she pioneered the P Street Strip 15 years ago with her gallery on the corner of P and 21st streets.
The results are likely to convince anyone that to live without art is to live in a state of sensual deprivation. Everywhere there are objects to tease the mind and lure the eye: funny still-life constructions made from painted wood by Lester Van Winkle; tiny steel chairs (all unsittable) by Gary Kulak; and painted wooden busts by the inventive Italo Scanga, who crosses folk art with Red Grooms and comes up with something irresistible.
Sprouting from an intimidating array of healthy plants are several lamps by Harry Anderson, all made from old lamp parts, bits of erector sets and calves' hooves, and blown shades by glass artist Jim Harmon.
Henri is "at home" Tuesdays through Saturdays, 11 to 6, Sundays, 2 to 6. States of Tranquility
Jack Boul shows his intimate little landscapes, figures and interiors at American University every two years and sells out every time. This time, he's one of "Seven Washington Artists" showing at the Art Barn, 2401 Tilden St. NW.
Working in his rich, painterly style, Boul lovingly observes quiet scenes of ordinary life in a way that exudes a sense of well-being and calm: a man getting a haircut, two men playing cards in a park, a studio scene. Despite transitory subject matter, there is an air of eternity in these works, all rendered in a palette that recalls the golden glow of paintings of another age.
Though Boul, a professor at AU, has had a show at the Baltimore Museum of Art, and will soon have another at the Mint Museum in Charlotte, N.C., he has never soloed in a Washington museum--which doesn't make sense. Potential buyers may be frustrated to find none of the works in this show for sale.
Another AU professor, Robert D'Arista (also showing a few fine little paintings of his own), made this selection of Boul and five other "painters he believes in," most of them former AU students working in a realist style.
Lee Newman gives us burgers and fries rendered in oil, while Katherine Axilrod makes landscapes that never quite come into focus. Deborah Harris, Susan Yanero and Kathleen Murray represent the younger generation on its way out of advanced studenthood.
The show continues through Jan. 30, and is open Wednesdays through Saturdays, 10 to 5, and Sundays, noon to 5.