Kate Jones, of Jones Troyer Fitzpatrick Gallery, died of cancer at age 46 on May 24. In tribute to her contributions to the Washington art community, the gallery has mounted a special exhibit of works by its stable of artists, including Ed McGowin, John Gossage, Lawley Paisley-Jones, Claudia DeMonte, Mindy Weisel, William Dunlap, Willem de Looper and others. A few of these artists have created works especially for this commemoration. The show also features several of Jones's own large-format color photographs of antique silver cutlery, in whose reflections one can make out the artist's self-portrait.
As one might expect, most of the work here is by nature fairly intimate. Especially affecting are DeMonte's little painted wood "Shrines." This artist's inherent whimsy is put to touching use in these two colorful works, one of which depicts the figure of a woman in a brilliant red and yellow dress against an internal panorama of the Great Pyramids and Sphinx. Thickly decorated in gobs of bright acrylic resin, it comes off almost as a religious icon made of cake icing. It's the seeming contradiction between subject matter and rendering that makes the piece effective.
McGowin's contributions are three studies for his large pictures of suited men at cocktail parties, framed by cutout montages of airplanes, tanks and other war machinery. Gossage's triptych in memory of Jones is one of the most poignant statements in the show. In a simple but elegantly conceived disappearing act, the first of the three small framed images is a portrait photograph of Jones. The next shows a bare room, and the last is a blank piece of paper.
There are two graceful abstractions by Judy Southerland, and several of de Looper's lush and riveting compositions. Tom Mullany's "Man With Shield" greets you as you enter the gallery foyer. This wood sculpture of a rock-jawed man wearing a business suit made of hammered tin is in many respects the strongest piece in the show. Bearing a sword and shield and gazing intently over his shoulder, presumably at some corporate foe, the figure has a Donatello-like grace that, by invoking a kind of Renaissance grandeur, gives it presence beyond its stature.
Art From Philadelphia
Gallery 10 is participating in an exchange with the Muse Gallery of Philadelphia, and a group exhibit of the 12 Philadelphia artists involved is currently on view here.
There is some good work in this show -- much of it, refreshingly, inventive abstraction. Two lovely, Mark Tobey-like acrylic and mixed-media abstractions by Rochelle Sherman are particularly noteworthy, as is an oddly compelling found-object wall by Sissy Pizzollo titled "Sleep Chambre." Constructed of old, knotty dark wood and pieces of gold frame molding, it's decoupaged with cutout images of children and studded with tarnished bronze flowers. There's something about this work that evokes the nostalgic magic of family heirlooms one might discover gathering dust in an attic.
One of the nicest pieces in the exhibit, "Mentor," by Valetta, is an expressionistic drawing of two figures in a room with a red table. It's one of those rare examples of sensitive graphic articulation all too rarely seen these days: good drawing for good drawing's sake. Striking, too, is Maripat Welz's untitled gestural oil-stick rendition of a female nude. It manages to be pictorially dynamic, abstract and sexy at the same time.
Lori Samer's little ceramic, wood and fiber sculpture titled "Torri Games" is intriguing, and the Indian- or Eskimo-inspired burnt clay figures of Etta Winigrad add a surprising, but not unpleasant, counterpoint to the preponderance of modernist abstraction in the exhibit. Moffly at Govinda
The colorful and complex wall reliefs of Margarite Moffly, on view at Govinda Gallery, are a real feast for the eyes.
These are some of the most unabashedly sensuous works of art you'll see in the city this weekend. Their appeal lies in the way the artist has visualized and re-created her intimate and exotic fantasies. There is, for example, the rich tondo "Mortal," a sort of female version of Romulus and Remus: two voluptuous women nursing at a wolflike sphinx in the ruins of what might be Pompeii. In the hands of a lesser artist, such imagery might, of course, come off as merely titillating. But there's a playfulness to Moffly's style that saves it from such associations.
Then there is "In the Temple of My Familiar." In this striking work, an exotic-looking black woman reclines in the lap of a gorgeous, shaggy lion, watched over by a shaman. Again, though the artist is indulging her tendencies toward the sexually ambiguous and the occult, it's the rendering of the composition that pulls it off without encouraging voyeurism.
The big tondo "Lusitano," depicting the head and withers of a noble white steed with flared nostrils -- one of the artist's favorite subjects -- falls a bit shy of the quality and intensity of the rest. It verges uncomfortably on a kind of Hallmark Card cuteness -- something that works in her other imagery because of the sensual nature of the figures. The lovely little "Mowgli," who in Moffly's version is a beautiful young woman, is a case in point. This work successfully evokes the fairy tale atmosphere of the "Jungle Book" tales: A dark-skinned woman sits nude on a river bank in the jungle, on her lap a cat or baby panther, and seated by her side a wolf. The whole composition is luxuriant, and its small size gives it the aspect of a pagan icon or altarpiece.