Maybe the Washington Monument haunts their dreams. Or maybe it's just Manfred Baumgartner's taste. In any case, the show at the Baumgartner gallery brings together several area artists, all abstract, all preoccupied with points and pyramids.
The show is titled "Talent" and it has a lot of moods.
There are carved wooden points actually sticking out of Rebecca Kamen's thickly painted canvas, a lyrical formal interplay with flat triangular forms on the surface.
Then there are shark-fin-shaped points in an oil painting by William Willis, which -- though titled "Through the Trees" -- looks more like a layer of fish eating other fish. The mood: dark and ominous, the forms closely related to the Neo-Expressionist shark fins now making their way through the heavy seas of the New York art world. It will be interesting to see Willis in greater depth -- at last -- when his retrospective opens at the Washington Project for the Arts next Friday.
"Mysterious" is one way to describe the huddles of ancient-looking little ceramic huts and gabled houses by the only Washington artist here who has not shown before -- Darrell Dean, recent prize-winning graduate of George Washington University. His pit-fired ceramic "Monuments," with their geometric surface decoration, really do take on the look of monumental sculpture -- no small feat in clay.
Pure visual jazz is the aim of Virginia sculptor Steven Bickley. His brightly painted, calligraphic aluminum cutout sculptures swirl up from the ground like twisted trees, intertwined with triangles and lightning bolts.
Steven Cushner's painting "Ballbearing," made with his unusual stiffened canvas loops, is the one "soft-edge" work by a Washington artist in this show, though surely not the most interesting piece he has done. With its concentric bands of color, it comes far too close to looking like a hooked rug -- something Cushner must struggle to avoid in his medium.
The two out-of-town artists here are Sydney Drum of Chicago (represented by graphite drawings of fin-like points on mylar) and Jesus Bautista Moroles of Texas, who masterfully carves granite into sleek abstractions such as "Hanging Block." But this piece loses something by appearing to imitate the work of metal sculptors who place their materials under real tension and stress.
Group shows like this one are generally organized by dealers to test the market for potential new gallery talent, and in this case, Baumgartner has chosen well -- especially among the Washingtonians on view. If the show leaves you wanting to see more, it's made its point. It will continue through Feb. 23 at 2016 R St. NW. Watercolors by Judy Jashinsky
Anyone who collects stones from the beach or sticks from the forest floor will enjoy Judy Jashinsky's watercolors at Gallery K. In terms of technical mastery, she has come a long way since her earlier work -- overcrowded images filled with rocks or small stones, observed as if through water at the bottom of a fishbowl. The effect was achieved by painting from wet stones, captured with their most intense coloration, and sometimes approaching trompe-l'oeil.
Since then, Jashinsky has turned her attention to painting more subtle, open and airy arrangements of small wonders found in the woods -- leaves, sticks, pods and berries, feathers, insects and butterfly wings -- all carefully composed on a white ground with the loving eye of a collector who cherishes things for their shapes and colors, not their rarity. Oddly, however, the best watercolors here also recall traditional 18th-century botanical prints and watercolors, which gives them an added dimension of timeless importance.
Jashinsky's show will continue at 2032 P St. NW through Feb. 16. Kate Freedberg at Emerson
For 22 years, the nonprofit Emerson Gallery in McLean has devoted itself to showing area artists and new talent, often with little notice from nearby city dwellers who aren't quite sure how to get to McLean. The current show, closing today at 4, argues for wider recognition and support of such efforts to bring emerging talent before the public in a noncommercial setting.
The featured artist is Kate Freedberg, a young photographer with a special gift not only for composing in color, but for composing in depth, and seeing through layers of quiet visual events -- through a painted iron gate to an uninhabited garden to a splendid old tile wall beyond, for instance -- that gives her work a complexity that keeps you looking. And looking. Most of the best photographs here peek through enticing gateways that grace the islands off the Italian coast, such as Murano and Ischia. Shooting through gates can often result in cliche's. Not here. And though clearly trained as a formalist, she can mellow structure with romance. Her show, which can be seen from 11 to 4 today, is at 6728 Whittier Ave., McLean.