All the artworks in “In and Between” have a story to tell, but some are chattier than others. The contributors to the Athenaeum show, all based at least part time in the Washington region, make mixed-media sculptures that often incorporate found objects and usually involve strong contrasts, whether visual or thematic. Some pieces are wall mounted, a few are suspended in space, and one sprawls through the main gallery, drawing the eye to other works.
That last assemblage is Ira Tattelman’s “Moving Into Frame,” whose long track twists across the room and through a wooden frame before ending at a pile of rocks. Sets of insoles flank the track, partly representing what the artist’s statement calls “a path one can follow.”
Simpler, at least in ingredients, are Kirsty Little’s “Surging,” a parted sea of curved wires tipped with wax in aquatic colors, and Sarah Stefana Smith’s “Threshold of Dissent No. 1,” a woven hanging funnel that’s tightly knitted at the top but unraveled at the bottom. According to their makers’ statements, the first piece echoes “the trials and repetitions of daily life,” while the second “proposes a portal of dissent from dominant belief systems.”
Gloria Vasquez Chapa positions 12 realistic drawings of a baby’s face behind a segment of a chain-link fence, a screen to the wider world. Jacqui Crocetta stands an ivory cloak that embodies her White privilege within a rock garden planted with text about racial issues. One of several artists who employ found wood, Pierre Davis tops dried branches with three yellow umbrellas to symbolize change and growth. Among Zofie King’s offerings is “Final Thoughts,” which places a glowing amber brain inside a partly cloaked cage to represent someone whose thinking is confined by preconceptions.
Perhaps the most in-between of these artists is Lynda Andrews-Barry, whose Catholic grandmother feared she would end up in purgatory because her parents didn’t have her baptized. Her “The DeadZone” places a mechanical bird inside a cage atop a dried stump. Ravens, her statement explains, can escort a soul through purgatory to the afterlife. This playful response to Grandma’s fears features a mechanical bird that comes to life when activated by ambient noise. Its chirps are piercing, if perhaps not loud enough to wake the dead.
The work of those eight artists constitutes “In and Between,” but the building’s basement holds pieces by two more people associated with the show: curator Steve Wanna and producer Veronica Szalus. Szalus pits metal against wood by planting rusted paint cans with metal rods around which are wrapped dried vines. Wanna’s more ethereal work is a three-sided room made of hanging white fabric and outfitted with two speakers that emit watery electronic tones. Entering this translucent chamber is a purely sensory experience of in-betweenness.
In and Between Through Feb. 5 at the Athenaeum, 201 Prince St., Alexandria.
Lorio and Loncar
The tiniest piece in “Growth” is George Lorio’s “Ghost,” a small, 3D model of a stump whose cut-down former self somehow casts a black shadow on a nearby white wall. Trees endure even in their absence in this two-artist show at the District of Columbia Arts Center, whose artwork involves many media but just one subject.
Martina Loncar contributes six pencil drawings of trees, notably one that has survived multiple graffiti carved into its trunk. More expansive are the D.C. artist’s large relief sculptures made of blackened fabric that’s cut mostly into silhouettes of elaborate root structures. The pieces are hung near the walls, and sometimes partly draped on the floor, so they cast shadows on their white backdrops. The effect suggests a woodcut print pulled from paper and suspended in space so that its un-inked portions function as windows. Loncar’s work is both heavy and light, conjuring earth and air at the same time.
Lorio’s sculptures are literally, if not philosophically, more substantial. The local artist scavenges twigs and bark and reassembles the tree scraps into objects that resemble parts of actual trees. Elsewhere, Lorio has shown assemblages that emulate towering but bisected trunks. His pieces in “Growth” are smaller and more mannered, employing natural materials to construct such unnatural objects as a melon-like slice of wood, a hollow outline of the continental United States, and a log whose severed branches budded in profuse and impossible directions. Lorio’s admiration for trees is profound, but it doesn’t prevent him putting their remains back together with as much whimsy as reverence.
George Lorio and Martina Loncar: Growth Through Feb. 5 at DC Arts Center, 2438 18th St. NW.
Repetition and variation are at the crux of Eric Bushee’s two series on display at Washington Printmakers Gallery. But those qualities don’t explain the show’s title, “Lucky Pitch and Arches,” which alludes to nonvisual concerns.
The “Arches” portion is six stark yet lovely screen prints of stenciled digits, arranged usually, but not always, in numerical order. Each print is predominantly one color, but has near its center four numbers in a different hue. The colors are muted, and even the least similar pairing, amber and olive, harmonizes rather than clashes. The sequence’s title refers to a type of paper, but Bushee gives it a second meaning by naming each print after a church. Churches, he told a recent gallery visitor, are buildings with arches.
Another set of six, “Lucky Pitch” consists of abstract woodcuts whose blocky designs are in rough-textured green and black, set off by areas of white. Only after making the pictures did Bushee notice their resemblance to soccer fields (or pitches). To emphasize the affinity, the artist enlisted childhood friend Josh Anderson — the two used to play soccer together not far from the gallery — to make short videos of plays from the World Cup. These are projected next to the prints, a juxtaposition that may please soccer fans but somewhat upstages the artworks. Still, the videos neatly illustrate how Bushee, having made a simple image, freely follows its associations in sundry directions.
Eric Bushee: Lucky Pitch and Arches Through Feb. 5 at Washington Printmakers Gallery, 1675 Wisconsin Ave. NW.