PAINTER Frank Wright and photographer Jerry L. Lake are sharing the spotlight at George Washington University's Dimock Gallery this month. Wright is a well-known realist specializing in glowing scenes of home and studio, all redolent of domestic tranquillity and the happy, contemplative life. Jerry Lake--not nearly as well-known as he ought to be--uses multiple images to transform seascapes, landscapes, old buildings and automotive ruins into baffling, often surrealistic photographs.
Apart from the communality of their jobs and obvious technical mastery--both are art professors at GWU--Wright and Lake share an anomaly: Though both appear to deal exclusively with visual facts, they both produce images that never really happened.
Among the several large paintings by Wright--some seen in his Corcoran retrospective two years ago--is his newest work, and the best one in the show, titled "Thanksgiving Day." Seated at a dining room table shimmering with crystal and polished silver is the artist's daughter Suzanne, watching as the Thanksgiving bird is carved in the kitchen. A television set blares, yet all is deliciously still.
The scene is absolutely convincing, yet Wright says it never happened exactly that way. He took many photographs that day, and they played a major role in the final composition. But the optical reality he sought was achieved by combining a succession of fleeting images, some mental, some photographic.
Jerry Lake's images are also composites, but of a different sort. On view are black-and-white as well as color photographs representing three recent series: two made in Brittany and one in nearby Loudon County. Though Lake is a subtle and masterful colorist who slowly seduces the viewer into his works, two black-and-white seascapes shot from the Brittany coast provide the most riveting images here. In one a bank of clouds hovers too close to the horizon in a configuration of sky, sea and surf that seems somehow impossible; in another, sea and rocks refuse to recede, flattening curiously into a two-dimensional pattern. Something seems odd, but what? The photographs' ambiguity gives them their tension--and their power.
The haunting effect is the result of what Lake calls "overlays of time"--multiple exposures shot with various filters over a 1 1/2-hour period and combined in the negatives. He uses little straight photography, even in seemingly simple color views such as one of a house in Brittany observed from a grassy hillock. This is, in fact, a composite of several images all worked out to conform to an image that exists only in the artist's head.
The show continues in the Lisner Auditorium, 21st and H streets NW, through March. 'Retrospective 1972-1982' --
"Retrospective 1972-1982," now showing in the ground-floor suite of the National Corporation for Housing Partnerships at 1133 15th St. NW, was organized by the Women's Caucus for Art (Washington contingent) to mark its 10th anniversary. A modest show of small works, it addresses a major point: The women's movement has come a long way since 1972, and so have the area artists who allied themselves with it.
Twenty-two of them are represented here, most by three examples each, dating from 1972 to the present. The mini-retrospective format--a very good idea--was suggested by the art-historian members who made the selection, Mary Garrard and Norma Broude, professors of art history at American University.
Ten years ago, Marilyn B. Banner was making pale, pretty watercolors of tulips, a far cry from her current, aggressively disturbing photographs of butchered chickens with their skin torn off--images that would cause even chicken king Frank Perdue to shudder. The same tendency to increased boldness and complexity characterizes the show as a whole, which can be seen between 10 and 2 through next Tuesday, excluding Saturday and Sunday. A reception and book-signing party for Garrard and Broude's book, "Feminism and Art History: Questioning the Litany," will be held tomorrow from 4 to 8 pm.