Though the Foundry Gallery and Jane Haslem are keeping mum, the torn-up lobby at 2121 P St. suggests that the art galleries located there will soon be moving out, or at least moving around.
The building is being transformed into a hotel, and Haslem's back room will be sealed off momentarily to make way for an outside entrance into the building's restaurant. Henri's basement is rumored to be the next thing to go. Osuna and Hom galleries have already announced plans to move elsewhere by July 1.
Meanwhile, the galleries are going about their business, albeit nervously, with several good shows in the offing.
Foundry has a triple-header, featuring a photographer, a painter and a watercolorist. Ruth Humpton is the star, with surreal photographs that have the look of lunar landscapes, all the result of darkroom manipulations -- specifically, the overlay of double and triple exposures with sea and landscape images.
In one typical example, a tree is superimposed upon a rushing stream. while two moons float above a tree that throbs with an other wordly glow. In a more whimsical work, a giant moon appears poised just at the horizon, seemingly ready to knock down a stand of trees set up like bowling pins, Sometimes playful, sometimes spooky, these photographs are always eye and mind-warming. They are also a steal at $50 and $100 apiece.
University of Maryland art professor Henry Niese is the painter in the Foundry threesome. Niese makes highly impassioned works wherein swirls of line and pastel color join earth and sky together into charged landscape visions.
"These paintings are derived from visionary experiences I have had during the Sun Dance," says Niese, who has participated in both Sioux and Crow Indian sun dances, which require the dancers go for days without food or water. His titles -- "Sun Vision" and "Storm Coming" -- sum up his preoccupation with the all-consuming forces of nature. But it is the smaller landscapes, notably "Snow Cloud Sunset" and "Spirit Bird," that are the most satisfying.
In pale and delicate watercolor, Marion Lerneer Levine, the third of the Foundry trio, deals with domestic still lifes that are interesting not so much for the way they are painted as for the way they are arranged. Three Chinese tea canisters line up to make a panaroma called "The Great Wall," for example, while a mere rice bag turns out to be the main event in a still life with flowers.
One is led to suspect that Levine's house is full of enticing arrangements of "things," and anyone who hates to throw good-looking objects away -- even if they're empty tomato cans -- will share the underlying pleasure of this work.
Alll of the Foundry shows close March 8.
Jane Haslem is introducing yet another still-life painter, Stephen Tanis, 35, of Wilmington, Del. At first, the best of Tanis' work recalls the tabletop still-life paintings of Yale's William Bailey, who is exerting a strong and broad influence these days. In his most recent paintings in this retrospective, however, Tanis seems to have moved on to a more individual statement.
Tanis focuses on arrangements of the objects that surround him -- tubes of paint and a palette, rolled drawings, brushes in a can. But many of the paintings seemed too dark and too contrived. A recent visit to Spain seems to have let the sun shine in. The richness of the painting, too, seems to have improved.
In the most recent -- and largest -- works, the artist has wrapped his still-life subject matter in draped and patterned fabric that has become striking subject matter in itself. Though very different from Christo's wrapped buildings, "Draped Table" and "Wrapped Canvas Seen From the Rear" conjure the same air of mystery. Through March.
When Ingrid Rehert puts pencil to paper, she ends up, oddly enough, with sculpture. Several of her huge, graphite-covered sheets of paper currently hang in great swirls from walls of Studio Gallery, 802 F St. NW, where her show ends today.
Rehert is still exloring the possibilities inherent in the minimal medium, and though several works here ar too busy and cluttered with too many parts -- as is the show itself -- interesting possibilities do emerge.
"Untitled Round 2," the strongest piece, hangs as if it were made from cloth, rather than stiff paper. Ambiguity is likewise introduced through the occasional use of graphite-covered aluminum sheets instead of paper. Given the sheen of the graphite surfaces, it is not possible to tell which works are made from paper, and which from aluminum, without touching.
"Sound piece" -- curves of aluminum wired to make varous sounds with the push of seven buttons -- is a nice play on the old game of hitting a glass with a spoon. Other works ar altogether too hokey, but Rehert is well worth watching.
Artist Sirpa Yarmolinsky's "Forest" of eight giant trees fashioned from fiber dominates the Fine Arts Gallery at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington, 6125 Montrose Rd., Rockville.These spooky black presences -- which appear to be a cross between trees and dancers -- were, in fact, meant as stage sets. "Eve's Forest," a modern dance done by the center's resident company, will be performed free in the gallery each Sunday of the exhibition at 3 p.m. through March 6.
These are truly spectacular works by a highly accomplished Finnish-born sculptor who has not yet had adequate exposure in Washington. Her new collages -- her first flat wall pieces, made from torn and spray-painted tar paper -- reveal her ability to conjure up drama, even in two dimensions. Arena Stage, or the stage designers at Kennedy Center, for that matter, should make the trek.