The Washington Post

Art in focus: ‘Fall Solos’ put the work back in artwork

View Photo Gallery: Artists put the audience to work at the Arlington Arts Center.

If you’re planning on heading out to the Arlington Arts Center to check out the crop of art that has been harvested for the the gallery's annual “Fall Solos” exhibition, you might want to rest up beforehand. A few of the seven featured artists have created work — and I don’t use the term lightly — that entails considerable sweat equity on your part.

One installation invites you to stack — and fill — sandbag-like sacks to create an ever-changing sculpture. Another offers a worktable at which you can fold, cut and assemble your own handmade books. A third installation doesn’t even make sense, until you pull out your smartphone and use it its camera to take pictures of it.

As a business model, soliciting unpaid volunteers to produce your product is brilliant. But is it effective as art?

Read my review, and check out a selection of images from the show in the gallery at the top of this post.

Born and raised in Washington, D.C., Michael O’Sullivan has worked since 1993 at The Washington Post, where he covers art, film and other forms of popular — and unpopular — culture.

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