For seven years the W. D. Printmaking Workshop has been tucked away in the basement of a small Northwest Washington home -- a meeting place and haven with the available tools and the appropriate atmosphere for about a dozen artists to create what they want when they want.
Occasionally the workshop members have exhibited as a group, and a retrospective of sorts is now on view at Gallery 10 Limited, 1519 Conn. Ave. NW, through Aug. 9. The exhibition is dedicated to James L. Wells, a venerable printmaker on the Howard University faculty and a mainstay of the Washington art scene. Three of Wells' woodcuts are exhibited here, and they are as noteworthy as the entire show.
It also includes etchings by Percy Martin, one of the organizers of the workshop and the supplier of the basement in which it functions. His etchings are striking figurative works in fine filigree line, muted in tone and rhythmic in the way the forms flow across the paper. Maxine Cable's "Ghost Form I" and "Ghost Form II" have mystery of image and a mastery of technique; Michael Platt's dark, menacing "Man Is a Crawling Black Snake," has a more threatening tone. The variety of work here is a tribute to the strength of the group and the way in which the artists learn from each other and retain their individuality and style.
It's summertime at the galleries, and the storerooms are being raided for the best of the past. A number of galleries this week are filled with group shows drawn from the stable of artists usually exhibited.
The Baumgartner Galleries, 2016 R St. NW, is calling its show an anniversary celebration of its frist year (even though the anniversary was in fact in April). The exhibition consists of work by each of the artists who had one-person shows at the gallery in the past year, including Arik Brauer, Robert Stark, T. C. Cannon, Hundertwasser and Yoshi Takahashi.
Brauer, a Viennese artist, is particularly interesting. His forms and figures are completely organic, flowing in rounded, almost billowy surreal forms that control the surface with a remarkable rhythm. "Sleep" shows a figure curled up, the rounded back a flippant line against a huge, stuffed chair.
Hundertwasser is, as always, a delight and a terror. His multiple windows in torrid colors are at once provocative and inviting. On the opposite end of the emotional scale are the placid, pointillistic winter landscapes of Robert Stark.
Works on paper make up the summer show at Foundry Gallery, 2121 P St. NW, with a wide variety of quality. There are some very tenatative drawings that seem out of place in a professional gallery, but there are also some elegant and sophisticated works.
Pricilla Treacy's small and intimate dry-point and monoprint works are a pleasure, with their details of figures either alone as miniature portraits or placed in a small landscaped setting. The play of light and shadow is dramatic but not melodramatic. Dorothy Chocran's screenprints are a startling contrast to Treacy's subleties. She depicts masklike flat faces in haunting color. "Jule's Princess" is a weathered older woman's face set off against the odd placement of a big flower in her hair and a oversized necklace dangling around her throat. Also of note: mixed media work by Patrice Kehoe and the large-scale floating geometric works of paper by W. C. Richardson. The exhibition is on view through Aug. 2.
The summertime looks mighty nice through Jim Richard's eyes at Osuna Gallery, 2121 P St. NW. Richard is part of a group show drawn from artists the gallery regularly exhibits as well as some newcomers. His "More Easy Living" is a delightful painting of two outdoor chairs facing each other, inhabited by the spirit of the summer if not by flesh and blood. A new work by Californian Ed Moses is a dramatic minimalistic gesture in a horizontal band across the wall. Anne Truitt's "Morning Child," a 6-foot column, makes its statement with vertical directness. Rebecca Davenport's presence is felt with "Passage," an intriguing drawing of the corner of a rumpled bed in which the object itself is lost in abstraction. And two unabashed nude young women standing drinking coffee and cola in Richard George's "Monet's Garden," while the figure of the old, bearded Claude Monet stands between them. The exhibition is on view through the end of August.
Rudy Ayoroa's geometrics -- both paintings and sculpture -- are exhibited at the Inter American Development Bank gallery, 801 17th St. NW. He works against a bright color field that often has the appearance of being illuminated from behind, and floats a series of geometric forms across the surface. The results are at times intriguing, at times little more than exercise. The exhibition is on view through July 31.