IF IT HAS become increasingly difficult to make money from art, how about art made from money? That is one of the highlights of "The Summer Show" just opened at Gallery K. It's full of fun and talent.
Having fallen heir to two sacks of shredded dollar bills (she says that was the condition in which she acquired them), newcomer Lorene Slater Steinberg has turned money into art by weaving the finely sliced green bills into amusing collages. Combined with gold thread and silver leaf, they take on the precious look of contemporary reliquaries. As an example, "Relic: Martha's Spring Coat" (Martha Washington, that is) incorporates a bit of pink wrapping paper into a swatch of woven money, adding a witty touch of spring color.
There is a reference here to the bits of cloth--and hair--Victorians used to keep in lockets to remember departed loved ones. Steinberg, who also collects old jewelry of this sort, was in the 1979 Corcoran Area Show juried by Jane Livingston.
Emerging artist Linda Swick also makes a strong showing with two wonderful drawings that demonstrate the same kind of weird, off-the-wall humor displayed in her punning furniture-sculpture shown at WPA (a coffee table made from coffee beans is the most memorable example). Here Swick has invented two unlikely characters with crayon: "Bullet, The Bad Cat," who has chewed the paws off another cat; and "Woman Eater," a woman with a gigantic, lion-like mane of red hair, whose predatory nature dawns upon one slowly. Her giant ruby lips and long red fingernails escape notice until one realizes that she has been caged--probably with good reason.
There are other good artists among the 22 on view, including the young neo-expressionist painter Ruth Bolduan, whose bold landscapes feature threatening, anthropomorphic clouds, and French artist Rene Lagorre, now in his seventies, who continues to work with the animated abstract forms rooted in de Stijl, a movement of which he was once a part.
The star of this show, however, is newcomer Georgia Deal, who makes poetic drawings on handmade paper into which various collage elements have been embedded--the color and texture recalling the look of old parchment maps. The subjects: tales of personal encounters--most of which seem to have ended on a melancholy note--recounted with evocative word and picture clues. "Souvenir Map of the Missed Vacations" and "How and What Happened" are particularly poignant examples. Deal, formerly a printmaker, won a well-deserved prize with similar work at the recent Brandeis Art Exhibition and Sale but has not yet been shown in any depth. The time would seem to have come for a longer look at this inventive new talent.
The show will continue at 2032 P St. NW through mid-August, and is open Tuesdays through Saturdays, 11 to 6. Poetic Calligraphy
Though he has shown widely, Wang Ming has never quite had his due in Washington. His show at the Marvin Center at George Washington University, where he teaches calligraphy, should help clarify the unique nature of his art.
Born in Peking, Wang was trained in classic painting and calligraphy, which the Chinese consider to be branches of the same art, with calligraphy ascendant. Says Wang, "I seek to give the viewer, who has no knowledge of the literal meaning of the characters, an emotional pleasure akin to that of nature's beauty." Americans have had some training in reading such calligraphic symbols in the work of abstract expressionists such as Robert Motherwell, whose graphic works go on view Saturday at the Phillips Collection, and bear useful comparison here.
Titled "Inspiration of the Brush," Wang's exhibition makes his point in 25 scrolls, albums and works on paper, some of which are inevitably more rewarding than others. Among the most striking works are "Magnificent Harmony," a bold red stripe that harmonizes most magnificently with several rising and falling rounded forms; and "Independent Reality," in which dramatic curves dance across an opened scroll, taking on a life of their own--in any language. The show, filled with the artist's very special brand of visual poetry, continues through July at 800 21st St. NW. Hours are Mondays through Saturdays, 7 to midnight, and Sundays, 9 to midnight.