ANDY Warhol's friends are often celebrities chiefly because they are Andy Warhol's friends.
New York photographer Christopher Makos has the added attraction of talent, regularly displayed in Warhol's Interview magazine, for which Makos makes trendy fashion photos and paparazzi-like portraits of the rock/movie/jet set.
His second show at Govinda Gallery in Georgetown includes several pictures of celebrities including John Lennon, Liza Minnelli, Tennessee Williams and the Rolling Stones--but the focus is on travel.
"World Tour" includes images taken all over the globe, from Aspen to Zurich to Peking, the last on a trip to China with--you guessed it--Warhol.
Incredibly, the inscrutable Warhol never turns up in the inscrutable East, perhaps because Makos decided he could not top his androgynous portrait of Warhol in drag, titled "Andy Darling."
Warhol would have added interest to China images whose approach remains merely photojournalistic until Makos masses or juxtaposes them to make some larger statement.
In "Peking Cars," for example, (six images printed in pairs on the same sheet), he suggests the capitalist overtones of Chinese automobiles.
"England, London and Stonehenge" conjures a sense of timelessness by juxtaposing the traditional ramrod-straight soldiers of the Queen's Guard and the boulders of Stonehenge. "International Coke" is his most "arty" photo-collage. One senses that Makos is willing to explore techniques used by art photographers--serial images or implied narratives--but never willing to be caught trying to be profound.
The best of his images tend to be those combining celebrities and places--Aspen and actor Jack Nicholson, for instance. A future issue of Interview will feature photographs Makos took at the opening of this show, which will continue through May 14 in the handsomely renovated gallery located at 1227 34th St. NW. Hours are 11 to 5, Tuesdays through Saturdays. Paintings by Balcomb Greene
In 1939, the Museum of Modern Art organized a show entitled "Art in Our Time." It represented America as an old-fashioned realist stronghold and Paris as the sole source of abstraction.
Understandably miffed, the nascent American Abstract Artists (AAA) group took to the streets, distributing handbills with the angry query: "How Modern is the Museum of Modern Art?"
Painter Balcomb Greene, 78, was there, as chairman of AAA, editor of its magazine, and as a painter struggling to find his own distinctive modernist style. By the late '40s he had found it: the highly personal, intuitive and semi-abstract mode he has continued to pursue even in his most recent paintings on view at Phoenix II.
From a distance these are recognizable images of nude figures, crowded street scenes or sailing ships. But close up they are highly fragmented paintings, teetering always on the brink between figuration and abstraction, and thereby gathering most of their energy.
The central ambiguity between realism and abstraction is reinforced by others: "Ninth Avenue South," for example, is a steamy mood-piece filled with people walking this way and that, though it is never clear whether they're coming or going, whether it's rainy or sunny, whether we see umbrellas, sunshine or both. The same sense of the unspecific characterizes all of Greene's best works, notably the poetic "Dreams," in which a sleeping nude nearly dissolves into sheer luminosity.
All of these paintings are rendered in a palette of black and white heightened with bluish purples that add an enveloping moodiness. Though the works are of varying interest, they only fail completely when Greene gets too specific--as in some of his sailing ships--and the work loses tension and interest.
This show will continue through Saturday at 1875 I St. NW in International Square. Hours are 11 to 4 except Friday, when Phoenix II is open till 6.