“Skowhegan Branches,” made during a residency at Maine’s Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, was inspired by interlaced tree boughs. But mostly the arrangements are abstract and intuitive, derived as much from feeling as seeing. One influence is Sausele-Knodt’s study of jazz singing; her vocal teacher is named in the titles of three smaller pieces. Thematically, the pieces speak to “the fragmentation of life,” the artist recently told a gallery visitor.
The layouts are improvised from elements that Sausele-Knodt manufactures, notably cast concrete panels and saw-cut wooden swoops, usually painted but sometimes left unfinished or covered with embroidered fabric. Individual components may have specific resonance: The concrete ones, for example, evoke our built environment.
Sausele-Knodt has a background as a painter, and her sensitivity to color is evident, whether in multihued assemblages or the large “Rose Rubato,” whose segments are painted in a narrow range of pinks. (The title is another musical reference: Rubato is a flexible approach to tempo.) If many of the artist’s constructions suggest Alexander Calder’s mobiles, “Rose Rubato” also recalls Henri Matisse’s cut-paper collages. In this show highlight, color and form are just as central as animation.
Jean Sausele-Knodt: Recent Animations Through Dec. 26 at Fred Schnider Gallery of Art, 888 N. Quincy St., Arlington. Open by appointment.
Berg & Giolitti
Both Wesley Berg and Sheila Giolitti make abstract paintings that they finish by drawing, but the results are quite different. Berg’s pictures are simple, while Giolitti’s can be intricate. The contrast is demonstrated by “Therefore All Seasons Shall Be Sweet to Thee,” an Adah Rose Gallery show that takes its title from a Coleridge poem.
Working mostly with gouache, the Cleveland-based Berg sketches blocks and swoops of pure color. These are supplemented by basic pencil lines that are sometimes complicated by simulated shadows. Thus, intriguingly, the color is flat but the lines hint at a third dimension. What might seem to be the pictures’ most straightforward elements are actually their most complex.
Some of Giolitti’s pictures have white backgrounds and others have black; the black ones are more layered, but all have conceptual and literal depth. The Norfolk artist paints with watery oils, acrylics and colored ink and then appends hard-edge details that suggest vines, flowers and water droplets. The darker pieces are built with multiple strata of resin and black ink, thus embodying what Giolitti’s statement calls her “preoccupation with interconnectedness.” These densely tiered paintings are worlds within worlds.
Wesley Berg & Sheila Giolitti: Therefore All Seasons Shall Be Sweet to Thee Through Dec. 30 at Adah Rose Gallery, 3766 Howard Ave., Kensington.
Boldly rendered and brightly colored, Trap Bob’s paintings initially seem cheerful. But images of menace and frustration abound in the artist’s Mehari Sequar Gallery show, “No One’s Going to Save You.” Each cartoonlike, black-outlined picture features a lone woman who faces threats either literal (fire, a snake) or abstract (time, disintegration). Characteristically unnerving is “Losing Control,” in which the subject’s fingertips have detached and appear to be either falling off or floating away.
Although this is the first gallery show for the D.C. artist, whose given name is Tenbeete Solomon, her style may look familiar. Trap Bob is a muralist whose work can be seen throughout the region. (One prominent recent effort is on the temporary wall around the north entrance to the Dupont Circle Metro station.) Here, she has kept her murals’ style, scale and palette — heavy on orange, yellow, cyan and fuchsia — while moving from walls and placards to large canvases. Many of these paintings are a mural-size five feet high.
The women are all brown-skinned, but most of the other hues are far from naturalistic. In “My Lemonade,” a green-haired, green-lipped character bites into a lemon whose rind and squirting juice are the same yellow as her dress. Such paintings are as direct and immediate as commercial art but with a subversive, emotional twist. As Trap Bob puts it neatly in the show’s catalogue: “I see the works as a mean smiley face.”
Trap Bob: No One’s Going to Save You Through Dec. 30 at Mehari Sequar Gallery, 1402 H St. NE.
When shooting an athletic event — whether a tennis match or a punk show — a photographer needs luck, skill and a great sense of timing. Jim Saah, who began documenting D.C.’s punk scene in 1982, has all three. They enabled him to get the dynamic pictures revisited by “In My Eyes,” a Lost Origins Gallery show derived from his new book, “In My Eyes: Photographs 1982-1997.”
The pictures in this selection are all black-and-white film exposures. They include some posed promo shots — including a hilarious one of the band Nation of Ulysses surrounded by dowdily uniformed girls at National Cathedral School — and offstage moments. There also are in-concert photos of rockers not known for frenetic performances, including Lou Reed and Stereolab. But Saah’s specialty is freezing a musician’s action so that the movement as well as the moment is preserved.
Getting a blur on film is not difficult, but Saah has managed at the same time to keep most areas of the image crisp. Exemplifying this is a picture of Fugazi’s Ian MacKaye, entirely in focus save for his right arm, whose range of motion appears as a shadow of the limb’s final position. The effect is to convey the vigor and volatility of a punk concert, even for those who never attended one, or never thought of doing so.
Jim Saah: In My Eyes Through Dec. 31 at Lost Origins Gallery, 3110 Mount Pleasant St. NW.