The 13th Annual Juried Show now hanging at The Athenaeum in Alexandria is generally an example of visually pleasant but unprovocative art.
But among the 66 works there are exceptions: the photographs. Although they are few in number in comparison to the paintings, they are impressive and refreshingly unique as well as, techniquely, both sharp and clever.
Paula Sussman's "Paula Takes a Lesson From a Seal (correct)," and "Paula Takes a Lesson From a Seal (incorrect)," for instance, are humorous and skillful self-portraits in which the photographer apparently superimposed herself on two separate prints. Hers was one of the strongest presentations.
In the first, she is pictured standing next to a live seal with what appears to be a natural setting in the background, while in the second, she is next to a seal statue, the backdrop being an urbanscape filled with telephone wires and neon signs. The color is technically perfect, the affect amusing.
The photographer who took first place in the photography division was Henry Gerstenberg, whose aesthetically pleasing winning work displayed considerable technical expertise with its almost dreamlike quality.
The Anthenaum is a lovely old building, full of light with creaking wooden floors. All original paintings, drawings, watercolors, collages, sculpture and photography are the work of local artists.
The Anthenaeum, located at 201 Prince St., Alexandria. The gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, and from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday. The show runs through March 24. For more information, call 548-0035.