As office-building landlords have learned, one significant aspect of contemporary technology is that it greatly reduces the need for physical proximity. So it’s appropriate that Touchstone Gallery’s tech-oriented “Sequence” was opened to participants not just from the D.C. area, but from all over. It contains art from 14 states as well as Japan and Britain by contributors who employ video, electronics and 3D printing, but also natural materials.
If the juxtaposition of organic and industrial seems central to the exhibition, that’s largely because of “Sweet Old World,” a 10-piece show-within-a-show of collaborations between local artists Chris Combs and Ceci Cole McInturff. Their assemblages pit sleek metal against craggy wood, and include dried blossoms, broken-glass shards, motion-activated LEDs and, in one case, a raven’s wing. While these elements combine to contrast creation and destruction, features concealed inside shadowy crevices evoke the hidden qualities of both nature and technology.
California artist Andrew Wharton intriguingly mingles natural and mechanical in a single thing: an eight-foot-long slat that was 3D printed with wood-infused plastic and coated with wood varnish. The partly curved shape of the semi-wooden upright might seem to emulate a found object, but it was actually generated with geographic-information-system data.
Pieces by D.C.’s Gaylia Wagner and Virginia’s Julia Paul conduct a striking if unintentional dialogue. Wagner’s “The Space Between the Clouds” is an asymmetrical arrangement of steel rectangles, etched with seemingly geographic forms, whose rich patinas are in a narrow range from dark brown to black. Paul’s “Seed Pod” is a photograph made with what her statement calls “an alternative digital technique” that yielded a blur of pink, orange and violet. Where Wagner’s sculpture is overpoweringly dark, Paul’s is radiantly light.
Michelle Robinson, another Californian, uses artificial intelligence not to imitate human thought but to synthesize photos that might conjure childhood memories. Her “AI House” series melds many pictures of ordinary suburban dwellings into a single choppy image that is subsequently cross-stitched on cloth. The result of this machine-human collaboration is more fragmentary than might be expected from the output of either one separately, and yet is oddly homey.
Sequence Through Feb. 20 at Touchstone Gallery, 901 New York Ave. NW.
“A Family,” the title of Raya Bodnarchuk’s retrospective at Gallery Neptune & Brown, refers not only to the local artist’s artwork, but also to friends, colleagues and the many students she taught for more than 40 years. These cohorts are represented in this show mostly by dogs, cats and other animals that Bodnarchuk (1947-2021) stylized sleekly in metal, wood or paper.
The amiable vibe is similar regardless of the media. “Male Leopard” is a blond-wood totem, partly painted, whose face and body are punctuated by natural splits in the lumber that emphasize the piece’s verticality. “Curled Up Dog” is a nearly round bronze whose canine identity is expressed almost entirely by a pair of protruding ears. One of many elegant collages, “Soya” is a silhouetted dog cut from a sheet of mottled gray paper, placed on a black backdrop and fenced in by two vertical chains of the multicolored triangles that recur in the paper works.
Made between 1968 and 2016, the sculptures and collages illustrate continuity more than evolution. The earliest pieces, made of cast aluminum, are chunkier and less streamlined, but the artist soon found her enduring mode. Whether conjuring creatures from paper or bronze, Bodnarchuk maintained a light touch.
Raya Bodnarchuk: A Family Through Feb. 18 at Gallery Neptune & Brown, 1530 14th St. NW.
The central piece in Adam Bradley’s show at Stone Tower Gallery, “Within the Wildness,” is characteristic of his work in material, subject and title. “Furies” is a mostly wooden sculpture of two nearly life-size female figures stretched horizontally in midair, flying or falling. Named for goddesses of vengeance in Greek and Roman mythology, the women have segmented bodies, painted faces and hair made of ribbons of steel, which is probably preferable to the snakes that, by some accounts, curled from the Furies’ heads.
Bradley is a D.C. sculptor, ceramist and teacher who knows the lore. The bronze “Gorgon, Combing Snakes From Her Hair” is one of his smaller, thematically related pieces arrayed in a circle around “Furies.” The show’s title characters also appear on four amphora that were made last year but are roughly crafted to give an illusion of ancientness. Other pieces reference Athena, the Greek goddess associated with wisdom, warfare and handicraft, or, by their placement in front of wooden arches, classical theater.
Most ominous is “Sounder,” a sprawling ceramic figure whose limbs are disconnected from its body. This physical disintegration underscores that the artist turns to archaic fables not for their own sake, but to illustrate such timeless subjects as anxiety and grief. The furies that Bradley manifests in wood and metal actually dwell in people’s hearts and minds.
Adam Bradley: Within the Wildness Through Feb. 19 at Stone Tower Gallery, Glen Echo Park, 7300 MacArthur Blvd., Glen Echo.
Consumerism is a frequent theme at Von Ammon Co. gallery, so it’s unsurprising that its current show resembles a boutique, albeit an unusually gloomy one. Kayode Ojo has arranged a variety of products — mostly black, silver or clear — in tidy if often curious juxtapositions. Illuminated only by ambient light from windows and a skylight, “Half-Life” appears both glamorous and sepulchral.
The son of Nigerian immigrants, Ojo grew up in Tennessee and is now based in New York. He buys, collects and assembles such trash-posh items as costume jewelry, rhinestone boots and faux-fur coats. He arrays them on transparent boxes and chrome stands that are integral to the overall assemblages. Many of the articles evoke violence or mortality: Gun-shaped objects are common, and one tableau features a glass model of a human heart placed inside a see-through storage locker. The artist, who’s also a photographer, positions multiple cameras among the assorted furnishings.
In one piece, a shiny black halter dress is draped on a clear plastic organizer and entwined with a pair of steel “play handcuffs.” Both can be seen as fetish objects, but then so can everything in “Half-Life.” Ojo simultaneously critiques and celebrates flashy status symbols.
Kayode Ojo: Half-Life Through Feb. 19 at Von Ammon Co., 3330 Cady’s Alley NW.
An earlier version of this story gave an incorrect title to Adam Bradley’s show at Stone Tower Gallery. The story has been updated.