The Washington Area Exhibition, the juried show on view through July 14 at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, continues to produce spinoff shows at private galleries, among them the "Salon des Refuses" exhibitions at the Studio Gallery and Washington Women's Arts Center, which opened Tuesday at the Lansburgh Cultural Center (420 Seventh St. NW).
These shows, also juried by artists (Val Lewton and Ann Zahn, respectively, each of whom made the Corcoran show cut), are pretty much what one would expect. That is, they present a sprinkling of outright second-rate stuff, a lot of earnest art that, while not without interest, seems basically lacking in one quality or another, some spirited work one would like to see more of, and a few pieces that easily could have qualified for the major exhibition.
Foremost in the latter category are two works by Charlie Sleichter in the Studio exhibit and a drawing by Avis Fleming at the women's center. Sleichter's charcoal drawing "Early Clash with Authority" has a sparkling surface to match its wit: It depicts a number of stylized chairs floating crazily in an all-over formal pattern. His "Rumors," a series of wood constructions of miniaturized, partially burnt-out sash windows, comprises a melancholic grid. Fleming's color pencil drawing, "Homage to Gainsborough: Studies in Hunt Country Sheep," is a beautiful rendering of soft, subtle, country light -- a skilled "exercise" of a most praiseworthy sort. Sleichter and Fleming exhibit regularly in Washington. Neither lost much (if indeed they "lost" anything) by not being included in the Corcoran show. Others in this class with excellent works in the "Refuses" exhibits are Andrew Krieger, Deborah Ellis and Suzanne Codi.
To present artists whose works have not been widely seen is a special service of exhibitions such as these. Richard L. Dana and Jeremy B. Jelenfy are finds here. Dana's painted wood constructions are hip and inventive, if not uniformly so. In "Portrait of Abstract Artist as a Box," for instance, he demonstrates a Saul Steinbergian grasp of just the right visual distortions to make known his comic take on the absurd. Jelenfy's "Isaac" is a powerfully composed charcoal drawing; his "Antlered Man" is a similarly strong and even more inventive piece of wood sculpture. Not to be ignored is Joe Fitzgerald's "Taylor's Island, Md.," a very traditional, quite fine, pencil drawing.
Both shows continue through June 29. 'Sculpture '85' by Public Art Trust
Another juried area show, including artists from Baltimore, opened this week in the lobby spaces of the Washington Square office building (Connecticut Avenue and L Street NW). This is "Sculpture '85," organized by the Public Art Trust and selected by curators from three Washington museums. This show, too, is a mixed bag, although on a generally higher level of ambition and quality.
Peter Charles is a predictable standout with his "Mysterious Arrangement," a vertical composition in steel with wood pieces that does indeed blend mysteriously poetic allusion with perfect craft and airtight construction. Jerry C. Monteith presents a series of welded metal "Rendering Implements" that are at once disturbing and handsome. Ed Love's assembly of taut vertical steel pieces, "The Wailers," adds the element of expressive color to his figurative vocabulary. Susan Kathleen Rose, Tom Dixon, Raya Bodnarchuk, Andrew Krieger, Sandra Bracken, Arminee Chahbazian and Lawrence Argent present pieces of merit, in varying measure.
The show continues through Sept. 12.