These take the basic forms of rooms and houses, but twist them into cartoonish unreality and dust them with glitter. Near-functional versions of doors, windows and staircases are painted in neon colors, heavy on fuchsia and turquoise, and embellished with glistening squiggles. Stratton juxtaposes simulated and actual 3-D, suggesting curtains with dangling pink yarn and placing elements so they cast real shadows.
If Stratton’s fancies appear childish, that’s surely intentional. “Welcome Back,” the gallery’s statement explains, refers to the artist’s memories of “personal spaces,” which probably involves playrooms as well as more staid interiors. At a time when so many places are off-limits, Stratton cracks opens the door to her youth.
The exuberance of Stratton’s style may not match the mood of life during covid-19 constraints, but her pieces do evoke the domestic interiors in which most of us have been spending a lot more time since March. Amber Eve Anderson addresses that circumstance more directly in “This Is Who I Am Now” at H-Space, which compiles every advertisement fed to her on Instagram in a recent week. Pitches for kitchens, mattresses, air purifiers and other home goods abound in the Baltimore artist’s show.
In an attempt to adapt the Internet experience to a gallery setting, Anderson printed the ads on small cards and arranged them on tables. Nearby, a wall-mounted monitor plays a video extolling Google Cloud’s security protocols; within a booklet of poems generated from Instagram captions, the artist has provided a “script” for how to respond to the video.
The walls also hold everyday artifacts pressed under clear plastic sheets within white frames. The apparent goal is to use the items to write a sort of found-object autobiography; among such things as a flower, a gold bow and a candy-cigarettes box is a map of Nebraska, the artist’s former home. The Cornhusker State is objectively more real than Anderson’s Instagram bubble, but in this cocooned moment, the distinction seems almost academic.
A spiraling cosmos of carved black lines, Carolee Jakes’s “Stupor Mundi” is intricate, impressive and just plain big. The title of the Northern Virginia artist’s five-foot-high woodblock print translates as “marvel of the world,” although “marvel at the world” would be just as apt. “A Necessary Order,” Jakes’s show at Studio Gallery, is agog at nature, especially as experienced in and near the ocean. The artist’s “Self Portrait” places a small figure on a rock by a tidal pool, dwarfed by sea and sky.
Made with the help of Big Ink, a New Hampshire company whose portable press allows printmakers to work on a monumental scale, “Stupor Mundi” is an abstraction that suggests Persian, Islamic and Celtic motifs. Most of the other pictures include more recognizable imagery, although in fantastic arrangements. The three prints in the dark-blue “Under the Sea” fuse the curls of waves, currents, shells and tentacles into roundabout organic unities.
The selection also includes paintings, collages and prints with rainbow-hued backdrops. But the strongest pieces are all coils, swells and loops, cut permanently into wood and inked unchangeably on paper so as to evoke ever-changing motion. The order they represent is both regular and deliriously random.
Carolee Jakes: A Necessary Order Through Nov. 21 at Studio Gallery, 2108 R St. NW.
The first picture in “Havana Youth,” Greg Kahn’s Cody Gallery show, presents a familiar view of urban Cuba: a pink car, a sunny day and a crowd flocked along the oceanfront esplanade known as the Malecon. More often, though, the D.C. photographer plunges into the warm night. The scenes he found there are often tinted red and wreathed in smoke, whether from fireworks or cigarettes. These pictures reveal a city whose inhabitants engage in such near-universal adolescent pursuits as DJing, break dancing and pouting for the camera.
Made in 2015 and 2016, the photos document the lives of Cubans born during what is called “The Special Period” after the Soviet Union’s dissolution. Kahn was drawn into this subculture by happening upon the party he captured in “Festiva Unica,” an outdoor bash pooled in lavender light. The photographer shot some daylight scenes, including one of a tree on Havana’s G Street whose severely shaped foliage flops over pedestrians like an oversize hat. But most of the pictures feature theatrical lighting, whether glowing from cellphone screens or strobing a green-tinted body with red stripes in a portrait that is both pensive and kinetic. Such vignettes embody both resignation and blazing impatience.
Greg Kahn: Havana Youth Through Nov. 24 at Cody Gallery, Marymount University Ballston Center, 1000 N. Glebe Rd., Arlington. Open by appointment.
The Impossible Dream
Organized by Zenith Gallery and Connecticut’s Palestine Museum US, “The Impossible Dream” ranges from sculpture to painting to hand-painted silk gowns and tunics. The 19 artists in the Eleven Eleven Sculpture Space show are of Palestinian origin, and their work bears titles such as “Exile” and “Link to Homeland.” But few of the pieces are explicitly political, and the ones that are — notably Mohammed Al Haj’s striking relief sculptures of protesting women — are open to various interpretations.
The selection is more notable for its colorful paintings of commonplace beauty, rendered with expressionist flair and keen graphic sense. If paintings such as Samia Halaby’s “City Tree,” Israa Ahmad Frihat’s “Jaffa Oranges” and Reem Khader’s “The Girl With the Orange Scarf” are making a plea, it’s one for calm and normality.
The Impossible Dream Through Nov. 21 at Eleven Eleven Sculpture Space, 1111 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.