WRITTEN large across a cloudy red sky is "The act of letting a person into your home." Written large across a cloudy blue sky is "The study of friction and wear on mating surfaces."
Combining art with words is being explored at the Corcoran Gallery show "In Other Words." It's the weakest link in a recent chain of "Spectrum" shows on current issues in art. In other words, we don't get it.
The work of six artists is on view in the gallery; the work of another is displayed at a subway stop.
Some of the word/image play is understandable, such as a photograph of Howdy Doody that states, "When I hear the word culture I take out my checkbook."
But, with their talk of prophets and Armageddon, Howard Finster's naive paintings are a bizarre choice, much like the hand- lettered placards often seen in Lafayette Park. He signs his paintings, "works of art by Howard Finster from God."
Jenny Holzer's work appears intermittently (between ads) on the electronic sign board at the Dupont Circle subway entrance at Connecticut and Q: These are sayings that sound true enough, when they make sense -- "Expiring for love is beautiful but stupid," "Chaos is hell," and so forth. But her "Truisms" were much more effective in an uninterrupted flow on a sign of their own at the Hirshhorn two years ago.
Another one of Holzer's sayings is "Confusing yourself keeps you honest." If true, whoever sees this show will be the better for it.
SPECTRUM: IN OTHER WORDS -- At the Corcoran Gallery of Art, and Connecticut and Q, through June 29.