With everyday civic life at a near standstill, Target Gallery invited contributors to its current exhibition to think about motion. But there’s a second word in the show’s title, “Movements, Moments,” that offered the option of contemplating interruption and stasis. As curator Eames Armstrong’s statement notes, the theme encouraged video submissions. Almost half of the 19 entries are just that, but some of the most intriguing pieces stop time, or appear to.
Several videos document or imagine ceremonies. Ghostly, superimposed figures dance in circles in Lauren Woods’s piece, and dabble in what Alexander D’Agostino terms “witchcraft” in his. Two videographers inject cultural identity into split-screen montages: LaRissa Rogers contrasts a self-care ritual with views of Richmond sites associated with the enslavement of Black people, and Bingyi Liu explores Chinese facets of Canton — the neighborhood in Baltimore, not the trans-Pacific city now known as Guangzhou.
In Josephine Lee’s underwater video, a diver punctuates the action, but her splash is secondary to the steady undulations of currents and refracted light. Motion that is fundamentally unchanging also can be seen in Laura Mongiovi’s kinetic fabric sculpture, in which a fan compels a length of marigold-dyed silk into a perpetual jitterbug, and in Chris Combs’s metal box, drilled with 500 holes that provide only the tiniest glimpses of the moving images inside.
In the wake of the Texas blackout, it’s sobering to note how many of these artworks, even the ones that don’t move, required electricity. Jillian Abir MacMaster’s self-portrait is a still image, but made with a scanner to yield a blur that suggests speed. Among the few unplugged items are Janet Wittenberg’s multilayered glass creation, meant to evoke continuous geological transition; Laurie Berenhaus’s mostly wooden sculpture of a female acrobat who embodies a woman’s life cycle; and Amy Sinbondit’s jauntily warped ceramic grid, forever halted in mid-collapse.
Sinbondit’s piece is both sad and funny, but the most amusing work is by Matthew Borgen, who turns to a pre-video form: the comic book. His drawings of a man who’s up to his neck in water are essentially identical, but because they’re divided across five panels, they strongly imply chronological succession. Even when the eye apprehends no change, the mind expects movement.
Movements, Moments Through March 7 at Target Gallery, Torpedo Factory, 105 N. Union St., Alexandria.
Posters and Flowers
With multiple galleries padlocked and many shows postponed, local artists and curators are looking for a break. Nancy Daly and Alexandra Delafkaran have made their own luck by opening a pop-up space near Howard University called But, Also. First up is “Poster Show,” a showcase for affordable, limited-edition artworks by 34 artists, nearly all from D.C. and environs.
A few posters mimic the format of commercial ones that promote events or products, but most don’t emphasize text. The most garrulous entry is Judy Lichtman’s retro-futurist treatment of Georg Baselitz’s 1961-1962 “Pandemonium Manifestos,” its words piled up with Dadaist swagger. Much terser is Clara Cornelius’s handsome setting of “Measure Twice, Cut Once,” worthy advice for craftspeople of all sorts. The maxim hangs aptly alongside the show’s most unusual contribution, Ashley Shey’s cloth-and-canvas abstraction, not exactly a print but hand-sewn in an edition of 10.
Simple forms and bold, overlapping colors fuel dynamic prints by Kyle J. Bauer, Domus26 and Paul Shortt, but the most visceral hues are the fuchsias deployed by Amy Hughes Braden and Kim Llerena. In Braden’s print, magenta highlights the gaping mouth of a head viewed from an extreme upward perspective; in Llerena’s, it joins yellow and cyan to embellish a black-and-white photographic mountain scene. By using the three “process” colors that simulate the entire spectrum in newspaper ads and photos, Llerena turns her landscape into a topography of printing itself.
Two blocks up the street is another new venue, also designed for the pandemic moment. Plain Sight D.C. is a storefront window, viewable 24/7, with room for just a few artworks. The first show, however, isn’t really contained to the display space. Its focus is Halim A. Flowers’s three-minute recitation of his poem “The Revolution Will Be Digitized,” an update of Gil Scott-Heron’s 1971 “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.” While the window offers some of the text, a bit of it painted colorfully on a canvas, the full poem must be accessed via QR code or the pop-up gallery’s website. “You will be able to stay at home, brother,” are Flowers’s first words. But committed listeners can leave home and stand outside Plain Sight D.C. to receive the digitized message.
Poster Show Through March 13 at But, Also, 3015 Georgia Ave. NW.
Halim A. Flowers: The Revolution Will Be Digitized Through March 7 at Plain Sight D.C., 3218 Georgia Ave. NW.
Casey and White
Rendered mostly in painted grays and appliquéd silvers, Asha Elana Casey’s collage-paintings meld African Americans with African deities. Most of her subjects are unnamed, but one is Lionel Frazier White III, the artist with whom she shares the Honfleur Gallery show “Down in My Soul: Ancestors, Rituals and Contemporary Practice.” Her portrait tops a realistic depiction of Frazier’s face with hair represented by rhinestones and mirrored tiles.
This combination is typical of Casey’s style, in which the commonplace flows into a glistening divine. The painter was inspired by her study of Ifa, a Yoruba religion that mingled with Catholicism to form such New World variants as Santeria. In Casey’s pictures, earthy figures fuse with each other and with nature, while accents of glitter, silver leaf and mica flakes provide an otherworldly sheen. It illuminates a path toward tradition, and also possibly transcendence.
Working with wood, bark and found objects, Frazier devises ritual objects, one of which is presented as a shrine behind a phalanx of half-melted candles. Frazier (whose art is also in Hamiltonian Gallery’s “New. Now.” group show at Culturehouse) extols African heritage in his “Bloodlines” series, and memorializes African American labor with pieces that feature a battered suitcase (symbolizing the Great Migration) and a cluster of metal spikes hammered into a log. Frazier uses wood because it conveys a sense of history, and the physicality of his sculpture evokes that history’s struggles.
Asha Elana Casey and Lionel Frazier White III: Down In My Soul: Ancestors, Rituals and Contemporary Practice Through March 6 at Honfleur Gallery, 1241 Good Hope Rd. SE.