A TOP-NOTCH work of art for $25? It's true. Washington's premiere artist-bookmaker, H. Terry Braunstein, has just issued her first published work of art -- a four-color offset visual experience titled "Windows."
It comes in a book format, but it's not to be "read" in the usual way. Says Braunstein: "When people look at books, they expect knowledge to come to them. With art, people must bring something of themselves to it. The artist's book must be looked at in this way."
"Windows" is a wordless succession of images, and it is the centerpiece of Braunstein's show at "Bookworks," Washington Project for the Arts' newly renovated showplace for artist's books at 400 Seventh St. NW. Surrounding it are several of the earlier handmade ring-binder notebooks for which Braunstein is now nationally known -- all painstakingly filled with collages made from magazine cut-outs. They are well-remembered for their ironic juxtapositions, especially those dealing with the life of a young wife and mother.
But it is a mature artist who emerges in the newly sophisticated context of "Windows," a limited-edition work copublished by The William Blake Press and Visual Studies Workshop Press. Though still painstakingly built over weeks and months from handmade collages, the handmade look has vanished in these photomontages, which have emerged through the miracle of photo-offset.
But nothing is lost: the tender, intuitive spirit that saw connections and ironies in disparate images now seems more powerfully expressive than ever. Less specific than before, the pages of "Windows" flow like music -- without a narrative -- but with patterns and images that recur in different contexts, rousing different memories, fears and anxieties in every viewer, according to his store of recollections.
If there is an underlying subject running through "Windows," it is that the world seems merrily headed toward its own destruction. The final page punctuates that theme: it depicts Einstein holding a puppet of himself, while several clowns ride tandem into oblivion.
Braunstein's show will continue through Oct. 18. "Bookworks" is open Tuesdays through Saturdays, 11 to 5. Ceramics at Gallery K
If there was ever a perfect gift, it was the cookie-jar likeness of the Corcoran Gallery of Art, presented to departing Corcoran Director Peter Marzio last week. The ceramic artist who made it -- Eve Watts -- opened her first Washington show at Gallery K this week, and whether you call it art, craft or just plain pottery, it's fun.
There are no cookie jars here, nor anything else functional. There are, however, some of the three-dimensional ceramic narratives that lift Watt's work out of the ordinary. "Family Portrait," based on an old family photograph, has a special tenderness, while "The Intruder" invents an intriguing bedroom scenario.
Watt's most ambitious work, "The Art Gallery," is, oddly, among the least spirited, and the dolls fall distinctly into the realm of craft. But overall her work is filled with imagination and wit. The show continues at 2032 P St. NW through Oct. 23. Hours are Tuesdays through Saturdays, 11 to 6. Paintings at Gallery 10
For her first Washington show at Gallery 10, Marilyn Horrom is showing unstretched canvases that deal with the adventures of a single image: a little brown apple that -- in the course of the show -- turns into a big brown apple.
We are left wondering how the metamorphosis occurs in these flat, minimal images. We know only that the apple starts small, gives off energy rays, and ends up looming so large that it finally fills an entire canvas. Though the paintings are still a bit raw, they do suggest that Horrom has the ability to conjure magic.
Also at Gallery 10 are some large drawings by sculptor Rebecca Kamen, who is preoccupied here with the textural possibilities of black paper. Spraying it with thinned gray paint, she has then brushed, scratched and drawn upon it in an intuitive, calligraphic way. A final grid has been penciled over most of these drawings, suggesting a last-minute attempt at structure. But they remain too subtle -- and too dour -- to make a compelling visual statement.
Kamen is showing concurrently at Catholic University. The shows at Gallery 10, 1519 Conn. Ave. NW, continue through Oct. 30. Hours are Tuesdays through Saturdays, 11 to 5.