In his paintings, Matt Corrado layers bright colors and black-outlined images, often derived from pop culture. He does a similar thing in the music that’s the other element in “Wavelengths: A Poetic Synthesis of Sound and Art.” The show, at Adah Rose Gallery, provides a fine-art setting for Corrado, a graphic designer and a member of Miles Midnight, which describes itself as a “pop music project.”
Guitar laces though the 13-minute composition that Corrado recorded for the show, a piece that also includes electronics, grimy dance beats and snatches of conversation. (It’s available on a CD.) As a rhyming visual element, guitar cords snake though the paintings, which also feature stencil-painted numbers and Mickey Mouse-like gloved hands. The black lines are drawn with ink atop spray-painted fluorescent backdrops, heavy on yellow and orange, that suggest graffiti and skateboard design.
Most of the pictures are small, and many of them are square, evoking comic-strip panels. The biggest and most complex one was painted directly on the wall, which seems apt. It will disappear forever after the show closes, as if it had been painted on a warehouse or train trestle. But its ingredients are ready-mades, visible all around us and available to be recombined endlessly like strands of cultural DNA.
Matt Corrado: Wavelengths: On view through July 13 at Adah Rose Gallery, 3766 Howard Ave., Kensington, 301-922-0162, www.adahrosegallery.com
The United Arab Emirates may not look much like the District and its environs, but Washingtonians should recognize something of our town in “Past Forward,” a selection of art from Dubai, Abu Dhabi and the other five emirates. Dubai in particular is known for real-estate development frenzy, and this Meridian International Center exhibition features many images of construction cranes and retro-modernist office towers. One artist, Alia Saeed al-Shamsi, specializes in photographs of “forgotten buildings” from the 1980s — the same sort of prematurely obsolescent structures that are being demolished or reclad in the District. Another, Shamma al-Amri, uses a pinhole camera to give a timeworn look to shots of such aggressively new buildings as Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest.
The array includes a few abstract works, but photorealist paintings and large-format photographs dominate. The latter range from documentary work such as Ammar al-Attar’s striking pictures of a fish market, shot with long exposures to show a blur of activity, to posed symbolic images. In one of Lateefa bint Maktoum’s photos, a woman carries a suitcase and stares out toward the sea; the vista appears blank, but she’s looking toward Palm Jebel Ali, a stalled development project to be built on an human-made archipelago. The future, as so often happens, is behind schedule.
Past Forward: Contemporary Art from the Emirates: On view through July 13 at Meridian International Center, 1624 Crescent Place NW; 202-939-5568; www.meridian.org
To complement Foggy Bottom’s Outdoor Sculpture Biennial, the nearby Watergate Gallery is exhibiting smaller works by the participants in that project. Sometimes, “smaller” is the principal distinction. Leigh Maddox’s three “Beeboxes” are elongated house forms filled with sections of tubes, much like the towering one a few blocks north. Mary Frank’s steel sculptures of balancing chairs, inspired by constellations, echo her larger work outside.
Other artists have contributed non-sculptural pieces or objects that clearly belong under a roof, such as Richard Vosseller’s stone, wood and rice-paper lamp. Elizabeth Graeber, whose exterior work is a bold wall painting, is showing two delicate ink-and-watercolor paintings featuring lemon slices and asparagus spears. Veronica Szalus’s approach to sculpture is to photograph stacked, crushed soft-drink cans, but there’s plenty of actual metal here. Several of the highlights are by Paul Steinkoenig, who constructs 3-D homages to the square with copper piping, glass blocks and steel sheets. Like other sculptors who skillfully repurpose construction materials, Steinkoenig combines brute power and graceful forms.
2014 Biennial Outdoor Sculpture exhibition: On view through Aug. 2 at Watergate Gallery, 2552 Virginia Ave. NW; 202-338-4488; www.watergategalleryframedesign.com
Some of the artists from Sparkplug, the District of Columbia Arts Center’s artists collective, recently set out to step on each others’s toes. The result is “(inter)Related,” which poses the question, curator Allison Nance writes, “What does personal space mean to an artist?”
Three of the collectivists, Amy Hughes Braden, Piper Grosswendt and Stephanie Williams, answered by intruding on the other’s finished works with childlike glee. Among the results are a painting whose image is covered in whitewash and a canvas that has been dissected and attached to the wall in clumps and shreds.
Other participants invite viewers into the process of drawing. Radio Sebastian (Corwin Levi and Yumiko Blackwell) use stop-action video to show how curving lines are added to a spiraling composition. Lee Gainer layers overlapping sketches, using transparent film to construct multi-level views of a single scene. Rachel Schmidt inserts line drawings into photos of natural landscapes, and in one photo collage turns the edges of an urban scene into a flock of birds. They’re flying out of town, on a voyage from the public sphere to the private imagination.
(inter)Related: On view through July 13 at District of Columbia Arts Center, 2438 18th St. NW, 202-462-7833, www.dcartscenter.org
No, it’s not dried blood. The watery red blots that underlie some of Andrew Wapinski’s paintings are the remains of pigmented ice, melted on expanses of white linen or paper. The Philadelphia artist, who also employs ice that has been dyed other colors, works around and on top of the stains; he adds acrylic and watercolor paint and blocks of metallic leaf, while retaining large areas of white openness. “Restructured,” Wapinski’s show at Gallery Plan B, includes one large diptych that’s divided into small silvery squares. It’s striking, but the most compelling pieces are the ones based on melted residue. They evoke decay, both of physical forms and of thoughts and memories.
Restructured: New Works by Andrew Wapinksi: On view through July 13 at Gallery Plan B, 1530 14th St NW; 202-234-2711; www.galleryplanb.com
Jenkins is a freelance writer.