Naul Ojeda's woodcut show, now on view at Franz Bader's, is the final exhibition to be offered by that dealer at the homely gallery on Pennsylvania Avenue where he's been selling art and books for the past 15 years.
Bader is the dean of Washington's art dealers. He sold his first picture here 40 years ago. Now 75 years old, he might be expected to quietly retire. He has no such thing in mind.
Instead he will soon start packing up his books, his Eskimo soapstone carvings, his paintings and his prints. He is moving his whole show a few blocks down the street. The Franz, Bader Gallery will reopen Oct. 2 at the northwest corner of 20th and Eye Street NW. The reason for the move he says, is that the owners of the Pennsylvania Avenue building were not able to assure him a sufficiently long lease. Bader plans ahead. He says he will not have to move from 2001 Eye St. NW for at least 10 years. He'll then be 86.
The present exhibition is just the sort of show one expects from Franz Bader.
Naul Ojeda's woodcuts are charming, unpretentious, touched with fantasy and humor. They are relatively inexpensive and there are lots of them on view.
Ojeda was born in Urguay in 1939. Peculiar things transpire in his topsy-turvy prints. Cars float; so do people. A fat and friendly fish unexpectedly appears in the inky blackness of a young woman's hair. Look closer and you see a crescent moon rising, perhaps setting, in the body of the fish.
Ojeda is not joking. There is something poignant in his art, something bittersweet. He rarely employs colors. His nostalgia-ridden prints suggest a Urguyan Marc Chagall. The Ojeda show at Bader's, 2124 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, will remain on view there through Aug. 25.
Spiridon, the young French surrealist now showing at the International Monetary Fund, 19th and G Streets NW, has been honored more than once by the government of France. He has won golden palms, grand prizes, gold and silver medals. Those who see his repetitious, undistinguished pictures may well wonder why.
He writes he has been influenced by Max Ernst, Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko, Chagall and Bosch. That list might have added Paul Jenkins' name, and Miro's. Spiridon's borrowings all show. He pours paint, drips it, scumbles it; he glues stamps to his canvases; he uses masking tape as well. Spirdon is fond of high-key, gaudy colors. As if to reassure those who cannot take wholly abstract art, he inserts into his pictures lots of small and spooky images -- Skulls, fantastic birds, clocks, eyes, angels. One enthusiastic critic, quoted in the catalog, contends that his "work affirms a new kind of surrealism: it is SPIRIDONISM." His art seems to me an unoriginal pastiche.
Salvador Dali, that incorrigible joker, organized Spiridon's first show. This one was organized under the patronage of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy. It closes Aug. 24.
George Washington University has been given four canvases by Lowell Nesbitt, that most prolific painter. In honor of the gifts, these paintings and some others, borrowed for the occasion from the Osuna Gallery, have been installed at the Dimock Gallery, Lisner Auditorium, in a little Nesbitt show.
Because it's small and varied, this show is more attractive than many other Nesbitt exhibitions. It takes stamina to study a dozen Nesbitt nudes, a dozen Nesbitt caves, a dozen Nesbitt flowers. It is quite enough, as this show makes clear, to see one or two of each. The nicest works on view are the older ones, in muted grays, of windows and interiors and the bridges of Manhattan. The large male nude, with its sucked-in stomach, seems to me grotesque. The Nesbitt show closes Sept. 14.
It is difficult to know whether William Orlando Lazar of Arlington ought to be considered a naturalist, a sculptor, a collector or a craftsman. He puts butterflies in plastic boxes. Because butterflies are beautiful and Lazar's boxes are transparent, viewers who enjoy the sight of mounted insects might want to see his show at Gallery Elysees, 1338 Wisconsin Ave. NW.
His butterflies aren't wild ones. He buys his metalmarks and swallowtails, his lacewings and his monarchs, from butterfly farms that sell such insects for display. Lazar doesn't pin them down in the Victorian manner. Instead he shows them as they might appear were they seen alive in flight. The beauty of their patterned wings, their iridescent greens and blues, competes with the more disturbing look of a flying insect dead mounted on a plastic rod in a plastic box. Lazar sells his works in large editions. His show closes Aug. 31.