It is the artist's experience that provides the subject matter, and Mildred Baldwin has made the most of what she has lived and seen.
Baldwin, a 23-year-old Washington artist, was raised in a family of 15 children. Her father was a Preacher of the Fire in the Holiness Church of the Americas.Her home was filled with people, and, if one is to believe her drawings, an amazing variety of activity. She visually makes the noise in the house filled with 15 children seem audible.
Her drawings --"Memory Drawings," she calls them -- are exhibited through July at the Kathleen Ewing Gallery, 3020 K St. NW. The drawings depict family celebrations, the everyday routine of sewing, laundry and television, the crowd at the dinner table, the peace of the bedroom, a gathering of singers and the huslte of a high-school locker room.
Her line is fine, black pen on paper, flowing with an ease and elegance that reduce each scene to its essence. There is no unnecessary stroke, no tentativeness, no heavyhandedness in the work. It is simple, supple and a pleasure to see.
In addition to the Baldwin drawings, the Ewing Gallery is exhibiting the work of photographers Stephen Brigidi and April Rapier. Rapier explores the possibilities of infrared film, which produces a grainy, diffused pattern of light. Her subject matter is the garden -- plants, walkways and the patterns they create. "I have a hunch," she writes, "that nature takes no sides but instead sees from all points of view." She seems to be attempting the same with her camera, and the result is intriguing if not wholly original.
Brigidi's photos are sharper, more direct. His are populated with interesting faces, people who allow the camera to see them with compelling focus and intensity. His nudes -- his subject in about half of the dozen or so pieces exhibited -- show no coyness, but rather, an unblinking candor. The viewer is accepted, if not welcomed, with openness.
A group show of young Washington artists at the Jack Ramussen Galley, 313 G St. NW, provides a sampling of the variety of work being produced in the area today. The criteria for inclusion in the exhibition was Rasmussen's personal preference, but his instincts are good, and the show is worthy of attention.
Madeleine Keesing's paintings -- thick crescents of paint raised nearly a half inch off the canvas in some places -- are abstract patterns, like waves of grain, in white with hints of pastels coming out from under the white. They are subtle, sensuous works, contemplative pieces. They are a marked contrast to Howard Lerner's menancing "Black Spider," in which a much enlarged spider is sprawled out across the whole canvas. The other painters represented are Shahla Arbabi, John Blee, Ron Haynie, William Willis and Tim Beard. Sculptors include Raya Bodnardchuk (also represented by several cutout collage pieces) and Christopher Gardner. The exhibition is on view through July 26.
Photographers Eddi Owen and Jim Sherwood share the Gallery 10 space, 1519 Connecticut Ave. NW, and their work becomes an unintentional study in contrasts. Sherwood's photos are beach photos, but not of the beaches that summer crowds would find familiar. His beaches are populated only by objects, not by people: a garage and a lone birdhouse in Nags Head, N.C., 1979; the deserted turrets of an amusement park castle, Charles Co., Md., 1979; the boarded-up Funland bounded by an empty boardwalk, Rehoboth Beach, Del., 1974. The precision of the images, combined with the strangeness of the unpopulated landscapes in these normally bustling places, create an eerie and powerful impression.
While Sherwood is concerned with the preservation of a timeless, often static image, Owen's subject is motion. The cool speed of a running man's pant leg against a glossy, rained-on sidewalk, a figure's shadow falling across a walkway, a large man's back covered by a seersucker sport jacket. His abstraction in motion, that one instant when objects flash against one another and create a visual impression that cannot happen in exactly the same way again. The exhibition is on view through July 12.
Larry J. DesJariais, a Chippewa artist, is exhibiting ceramic sculptures at the Via Gambaro Studio/Gallery, 416 11th St. SE. His relatively small sculptures study the faces of the Indian, faces that variously depict a sense of humor and sense of seriousness. But they don't transcent the cliched and so the show falls flat.