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In the galleries: Exploring how body language is a visual form of communication

“Linda Behar: I Am Woman” at Washington Printmakers Gallery. (Washington Printmakers Gallery)

They’re faceless black silhouettes, but the figures in Linda Behar’s prints are clearly women. Their gender is underscored by their backdrops: single-colored doilies whose crochet-like patterns invoke traditionally feminine crafts. Yet there’s something unusual about some of the body language in “I Am Woman,” and that’s central to Behar’s Washington Printmakers Gallery show. The Venezuela-bred artist is interested in the different ways women and men are expected to sit, stand and move.

One of Behar’s inspirations is a 1940 U.S. study of women’s bodies, but she also draws on more recent data. She uses video game software to pose the bodies in her pictures, and sometimes selects male stances for female figures. That explains the assertive bearing of the women in the “Sitting” series, in which the doilies become chairs, perhaps in an executive suite. Other series turn the settings into various props: In a playful “Waiting,” a woman leans on the backdrop, deforming the pattern with the weight of her body; in “Flying,” the most recent series, the lacy circles become wings to soar after spending the pandemic year in the coop. Another series, “Amigas,” places groups of women in front of Celtic-style infinite-knot designs, intricate if less stereotypically womanly.

Behar’s prints, each of which juxtaposes the black silhouettes with one other color, are printed traditionally. Yet the images are computer-generated, which allows high-tech options. Three portrayals of women who dance with and around rounded red shapes are equipped with QR codes that summon video of the figures in motion. The artist likes working with a computer because it gives her full command of the process, she told a recent visitor to her show. But the animated dancers’ movements suggest that Behar wants her silhouetted archetypes to pirouette away from her, and society’s, control.

Linda Behar: I Am Woman Through June 27 at Washington Printmakers Gallery, 1641 Wisconsin Ave. NW.

Re-Emerge and Levine

Seven artists peek out from covid seclusion in Studio Gallery’s “Re-Emerge,” but the places they depict are hardly bustling. Humans are solitary or absent altogether in the hushed work of two photographers, which include Bob Burgess’s shot of a white car against a white wall and Jeremy Limerick’s view of a rustic, two-lane highway, rescued from snowy black-and-white only by the dotted yellow line that divides the road. Energetic paintings by Jennifer Duncan and Kimberley Bursic distill forests and flowers, respectively, into semiabstract forms, while Al Lipton’s canvases depict vaguely architectural structures in hard lines and watery pigment.

The inhabitants appear to have abandoned the evocatively weathered houses and other structures William Bowser builds from ceramics. One is tilted sideways and sinking like a capsized ship, while “Benefits of Isolation” is a prisonlike tower that looks like a model of a relic from a vanished civilization. The artist also is showing handsome two-part drawing-paintings that combine geometric renderings, cave paintings and scary monsters.

The show’s most urban, if not urbane, artworks are Pam Frederick’s “It’s in the Cards” collages, constructed from photographs of fortuneteller shops in Washington and New Orleans. Near the end of a period in which all sorts of quackery flourished, these assemblages speak not to reemergence but to the enduring appeal of intellectual retreat.

Also at Studio are Jo Levine’s “Discoveries,” close-up photographs of botanical specimens on lustrous black backgrounds. Artfully arranged and dramatically lighted, the leaves, blossoms and seed pods glisten like gems. Levine doesn’t hide aging and decay, yet her work is a vision of perfection.

Re-Emerge and Jo Levine: Discoveries Through June 19 at Studio Gallery, 2108 R St. NW.

Ann McCormick Saybolt

Among the notable artistic debuts of 1966 were Andy Warhol’s cow wallpaper and the sitcom “That Girl.” Warhol’s use of commercial-printing technologies is a crucial influence on Ann McCormick Saybolt, whose “Life in Pink” is at Foundry Gallery. But “That Girl” also shaped the local artist’s photo-derived and sometimes text-driven show.

Saybolt offers a collage of 25 stills from the cautiously feminist TV comedy about a single woman in New York, as well as an enlargement of one of the stills that’s printed out-of-register in garish pink and sickly green. The off-register gambit, a favorite of Saybolt’s, renders the image ghostly while emphasizing its mechanical origins.

The selection includes dictums such as “there is virtue in pleasure,” lettered in neon script or inscribed into a mirror. There are also stark pictures of a wheelchair and a bottle of epilepsy medication, each given Warholian low-resolution treatments. Both the words and the pictures might seem generic, but the pictures have a hint of autobiography, which Saybolt confirms. (The medical items “are part of my everyday life,” she wrote in a email.) Thus the simple images become as unsettling as their queasy colors.

Ann McCormick Saybolt: Life in Pink Through June 27 at Foundry Gallery, 2118 Eighth St. NW.

Kaitlin Jencso

D.C. photographer Kaitlin Jencso often trains her camera on relatives, which became especially handy last year. Cocooning at her family home in St. Mary’s County, Md., Jencso made a few pictures. More than 1,000 of them are in “We Miss You,” which blankets the walls of Hamiltonian Artists with mostly 3-by-5-inch prints. These are grouped either sparsely or tightly, in sequence or at random, and punctuated by larger images. About 40 of the photos are identified in the gallery’s checklist; all were made last year between February and December.

While the pictures are not arranged chronologically, changing seasons are among the show’s motifs. Often taken outside in waterfront locations, the photos capture evanescent moments and things — surf, shadows and twilight — and everyday places and people. The artist’s mother has a recurring role, and the show’s title comes from a forlorn message on an electronic sign outside the local middle school.

Most of the compositions are simple, but in this immersive installation the pictures add up to something complex. “We Miss You” smartly simulates Jencso’s experience of gazing through a viewfinder. It’s easy to focus on an individual glimmer or ripple, and much harder to know just where to look when observing an entire world, even a cloistered one.

Kaitlin Jencso: We Miss You Through June 19 at Hamiltonian Artists, 1353 U St. NW.