After a year-long, energy-sapping battle to keep her gallery -- and her home -- from real estate developers, Henri, the doyenne of the Dupont Circle art scene, has come back to life with two zesty little shows. Currently featured are new paintings by Traute Ishida and sculptural lamps by Harry Anderson. Both artists are well worth the climb to the second and third floors still occupied by Henri at 1500 21st St. NW.
Ishida's work is off-putting at first -- thickly painted oils with strips of lace and squarish bits of velvet embedded in them. She calls this series "The American Sunset." While the idea seems outrageous at first, prolonged looking gradually reveals vestigial horizon lines and sunsets reflected in the sea. Especially intriguing is "4 p.m.," a tiny painting on unruly triangles of velvet that have been stitched together. Any artist who can paint on velvet without making a fool of herself deserves more than a modicum of respect.
Always a treat are Henri's annual shows of Harry Anderson's zany lamps. They are made from reassembled old lamp parts, combined with exquisite, blown-glass shades (some by the reigning king of glass-blowers, Dale Chihuly). This year is no exception, though there is a new twist: Anderson has begun to make some very large lamps in the form of running stick figures, with spray-painted globes terminating their limbs.
Also on view in the kooky category -- an Henri specialty -- is the painted carved-wood television set by Lester Van Winkle seen in the Corcoran's recent "Narrative Wood" show. Other sculpture by Peter Charles, Robert Booth and collages by Mark Perlman also merit a close look. All of these artists are represented on an ongoing basis by Henri, who is open Tuesdays through Saturdays, 11 to 6 and by appointment. The Ishida and Anderson shows continue through the month. Katja Oxman's Color Etchings
We goofed. The big news at Jane Haslem, 2121 P St. NW, is Katja Oxman's show of prints, which just closed. But all is not lost: Haslem has Oxman's extraordinary color etchings on hand, and will be happy to show them upon request. Print-lovers should not miss them.
Oxman makes still-lifes, but they are most unusual. She starts with a richly patterned oriental rug on the floor, and, using it as background, lays out upon it a meticulously arranged collage of postcards, toys and reproductions of famous works of art, creating a rich and complex new pattern of images. She then observes all of this from slightly above, combining the colors of sparkling cloissone' with rich, velvety dark tones. "Caught Up in Details," a still-life centered with a Japanese ink box surrounded by images of van Gogh, Gauguin and other modernists influenced by Japanese prints, is a near tour de force of patterning which nearly obscures the oriental rug behind it. As a color etcher, Oxman has few peers in Washington.
Oxman's show, in fact, was the second installment in the current three-part effort to examine the work of three relatively new women printmakers. The first show featured the silkscreen prints of Nancy McIntyre, which can also be seen upon request. McIntyre does intimate scenes of Washington -- such as the "Tune In" bar on Capitol Hill and an Alexandria tailor shop -- and her work is distinguished by complex overlays of color and occasional glazes. "Screened Porch" is a particularly appealing work that has the added dimension of appropriate texture: The door seems to have been printed through a real piece of metal screening.
The show that is now on the walls at Haslem features the work of Barbara Davis Kerne, who has recently turned from making handsome silkscreen prints to making pointillist gouaches of homey interiors. The subject matter is attractive enough, but the color is strangely muted -- nowhere near as satisfying as the rich colors she used in her prints. Her show continues at Haslem through January, and is open 11 to 6 Tuesdays through Saturdays. The Art Barn Invitational
"Interiors" is the title of the Art Barn's current invitational show, and it is one of its better efforts -- the occasional irrelevance of the subject matter notwithstanding. There are well-known artists of high accomplishment such as John Ryan, represented by two of his intense little drawings with collage. And there are newcomers such as Scott Severson, who steals the show with his moody color pencil drawings, notably the evocative "Annie Went to New York" -- a mere tiny red hat hanging from a peg on the wall.
Emmy Savage has made a spare and nicely handled painting titled, "Windowscape With Blue Sky." Sherry Kasten, however, seems to have gone off the deep end in "Eastport Sanctuary," in which the garish colors and distorted forms suggest the artist has let go the restraint that gives her work its intensity.
The show, at 2401 Tilden St.NW continues through the month. It is open Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.