The sword-sharp faces match the edgy emotions of Jody Mussoff's colored-pencil people on paper, now on exhibit at Gallery K. Spiky hair stands on end and limbs jut out from the bodies like cannons protecting the citadel. They share fear, hesitancy and ultimately disillusionment.
There is a poignancy and depth to these works. In "Woman Backed Up Against a Wall," for example, the form and the title echo a fearful moment. In a sense, all of Mussoff's figures are in this frame of mind -- up against a wall, hemmed in, short of physical and mental space.
Each depicts a figure or two against an ambiguous space defined only sketchily by a rough rectangle or the very basics of a grid. Depth is unknown. Most of what is happening is happening in each figure's mind. But there is action taking place somewhere. Eyes are cast off the paper, focused on something else. And so there is a tension of anticipation. Something is just about to happen, but the question of where, when and how it will affect the person we see is what keeps the work interesting.
Mussoff's blending of colors and her elegance of line is superb. The exhibition is on view through July 11. The gallery is located at 2032 P St. NW, and is open 11-6, Tuesdays through Saturdays. Faces of Survival
What happens when cause mixes with art? Often it goes sour, and the polemics outweigh the esthetics. But in Luke Holland's "Indians Missionaries and the Promised Land," a traveling exhibition of photographs sponsored by Survival International, USA, now at Fondo del Sol, the effect is complementary.
From whichever angle it is examined, this is a powerful exhibition, dealing with the problems of survival of four groups of Indians in Paraguay. Holland has documented those problems with the faces of the people, as well as with the changing face of the land.
"The trees have been cut down," writes Holland in the text that accompanies the photos. "The irrational is happening and the land is becoming sick. Pai Tavytera communities are coming under increasing pressure as the pace of development in North Eastern Paraguay speeds up. Now they need proof of ownership. An ancient concept is scant protection."
The faces are weathered and strained, a depiction that is often seen in this kind of work. But it is the contrast with the smooth-skinned fresh beauty of the children that makes the point of how fast and furious the aging process is under these conditions of life. Holland has a clear eye and knows when to let a story tell itself. The exhibition is on view through July 2. The gallery is located at 2112 R. St. NW and is open noon-7, Tuesdays through Saturdays. Landscape, Rhythm, Collages
The work of three very different artists is on view at the Jack Rasmussen Gallery. Hava Mehutan's "Lackawanna Valley," described as a "sculptural interpretation of a geophysical region," explores the landscape through the specific rather than the general. Smooth stones with thick red veins running through them, for example, look as though they are real -- until one examines them closely. It takes meticulous work to create a whole out of parts and thus depict the larger flow of the land.
Madeleine Keesing's thickly textured abstract paintings with such concrete titles as "Fish," "Sharks" and "Women Jogging" come alive with a rhythm of irregular shapes and colors. They are all done with the same technique -- a single color defines one shape, and then thick straight slabs of two colors overlay each other. She uses the concept of optical blending to the utmost and there is a lively, intriguing quality to the work.
Collages by Terry Burns, that tend toward the heavy-handed, are also exhibited. The show is on view through July 3. The gallery is located at 313 G St. NW, and is open noon-5, Tuesdays through Saturdays and by appointment.