Who could argue with a painting titled "Uncle Jack and Aunt Florence Love Each Other"--a sunny portrayal of a retired couple holding hands on their Florida patio?
A critic could and should argue: This painting--like all of Carol Goldberg's large-scale works at Osuna Gallery--is the product of a highly stylized formula. Borrowing from the stylistic idiosyncracies of Robert Gordy and Chicago's "Hairy Who," Goldberg breaks down her images by dividing them into small, flat, pattern-like parts surrounded by a nervous, double outline. While her overall patternings have become more elaborate--and more interesting--over the years, she has never wavered from this basic "manner"--a naughty word in critical parlance.
Yet there is something so refreshing, so unpretentious and just plain joyful in the best of these paintings that it is hard to argue against them on esthetic principles. "Music Room" and "The Library," both characteristic works, are pure pleasure for their bright, vivid colors and provocative patternings.
Goldberg's formula doesn't always work: The nude figure in the painting titled "The Celebration" is awkward, devoid of content and purely decorative (another naughty word). Overall, subjects with their own inherent patternings--brick walls, patterned patios and rugs--lead to more interesting results. Most important, Goldberg seems to be adding the depth of emotional content to works such as "Uncle Jack and Aunt Florence Love Each Other," and it is here that the greatest possibilities for future growth would seem to lie. The show continues through May 7 at 406 Seventh St. NW, and is open Tuesdays through Saturdays, 11 to 6.
'Old Friends, New Work'
The Capitol Hill art scene is about to improve. The feisty little Anton Gallery, 415 E. Capitol St. (just a block from the Folger) has just taken on an additional partner and new director, artist Tom Nakashima, who will (starting in June) add heft, knowledge and professionalism to the year-old establishment.
The current show has the sort of problems that have dogged the gallery before: a rather arbitary selection of artists, and not necessarily strong examples by the best of them. "Old Friends, New Work" was put together by Washington printmaker Scip Barnhart, and includes prints and works on paper by friends and former teachers: George O'Connell (formerly of Georgetown University and now at Oswego, N.Y.); Tom Seawell (from Oswego) and Robert Nelson (former Tamarind printmaker and the most accomplished artist in the group), who seems to have slipped deeper into caricature since his last, more selective, show at Bader Gallery.
O'Connell's smeary monoprints are simply boring, while Seawell's realist silkscreens of city scenes are occasionally interesting but inconsistent. Barnhart--who surely did not intend it--comes off best in this show, though he, too, could have stood some editing (a service good dealers provide). Strongest among his images are the lithograph of Duncan Phillips (made as a fund-raising poster for the Phillips Collection) and a graphite drawing called "Last Summer." Also of interest are works by newcomers Will Petersen, Mary Ann Moncada and Yuriko Yamaguchi in the back room. The show continues through May 4, and is open noon to 5 Tuesdays through Sundays.
Photography fans will find several offbeat treats available this week. Sandra Berler, a top-notch private dealer of fine photographs will be showing work by Diane Arbus, Bruce Davidson, Jerome Liebling, Joel Meyerowitz and Lisette Model--among others--at an open house this Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. The address is 7002 Connecticut Ave. in Chevy Chase.
The Cultural Division of the French Embassy also has issued a rare invitation for the public to come in and see 40 images by the contemporary French master photographer Lucien Clerque--most of them from his series titled "My Friend Picasso." The Cultural Division is located in room 300 at 4400 Jenifer St. NW, next to Lord & Taylor, Chevy Chase. Hours are Mondays through Fridays 9 to 1, and 2:30 to 6. The show continues through May 14.
Photographs of Cleveland Park by Washington native Brian Grogan--now a National Park Service photographer living in Yosemite--are being shown at Benchmarks, a private dealership in fine crafts located in the heart of Cleveland Park at 3135 Highland Pl. NW. Hours are Mondays through Fridays, 10 to 5, evenings and weekends by appointment, through May 28.