Douglas Davis has to art world lives. His critiques appear in Newsweek (circulation 3 milliom), and he has well-known friends (Sen. Jacob Javits, artist Robert Rauschenberg and Rep. John Brademas are among his "patrons."). Davis is a good writer who also maes minor works of art.
His latest is on view at the WPA, 1227 G St. NW. It is a collaborative work that Davis did long distance with Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid, two witty Russian artists.
"Questions: New York Moscow New York Moscow," the photographs displayed, are full of trendy references to conceptual art, detente, earth art, performance art, time and Barnett Newman. It suggests nice arty stories, but arty stories are not art. It isn't much to look at, and its profundities are thin; in short, it's a pastiche.
The documents of Davis might not seem so trivial were they not displayed beside new pictures by Tom Green, an artist who live in Cabin John.
Green's picture pack a psychic wallop. They evoke the sort of spirits conjured by the Tarot pack, the pentagrams of alchemists, or the things one dreads in dreams. Though very simply made, with black lines on white canvas, they suggest the namless powers that the artist-as-magician summons with The Sign.
Green's signs - a tree trunk or a torso or a bird's beak with a ball - do not invite analysis. Davis wants us to discuss offficial art, conceptual art, Moscow and the mails and a thousands other things. Green's pictures call for silence. They communicate beyond the reach of chat or words.
Other artists here have ventured in the past into the same terrain. One remembers here the snarling dogs and mirrors of artist Ed McGowin, of the serpents and the antlers in the work of Robert Stackhouse, of the Jungian goddesses paid homage by Mary Beth Edelson. Tom Green, like the others, has worked in many medial. He paints and he makes drawings, assemblages, environments.His previous work suggested, if only at a distrance, narratives and stories.
Here his eeries images exist wordlessly, along.
Those bones and discs and ruined trees, icons stripped of doctrine, suggest some of the blankness of much abstract art. But while field paintings ask us to look at paint and texture, to confront the object on the wall, to focus on the present, Green calls on the timeless.
The WPA also is showing the large abstrack ink drawings of Florida's David Kremgold. Their parallel panels have withing them the splashing and the splattering of the action painter's freedom. The straight lines that surround those freely painted regions also give to Kremgold's work the look of cooler hard-edge art. Kremgold's picture, though familiar, look nice on the wall.
The three exhibitions at the WPA will close April 10.