The artist divides her time between Silver Spring, Md., and New York, and it’s Manhattan that inspires her kaleidoscopic “Architextures” series. Yet her building-derived assemblages don’t evoke the Manhattan of 2020 or even 2001, the year Moumin moved to Maryland and turned to cutting and pasting because she lacked a darkroom. With their silvery monochromatic tones and neoclassical motifs, Moumin’s creations are more in the spirit of an early 20th-century cityscape. The famed structure given the Architextural treatment in “Flatiron Frieze” dates to 1902.
Among the collagist’s other frequent subjects is an architectural detail: the light fixture. Multiple close-ups of these are clustered into compositions that appear simultaneously industrial and — as in the gently 3-D “Bouquet of Lights” — organic. Filigrees of glittering bulbs can resemble jewelry, a likeness Moumin underscores by incorporating crystals, sequins, glass beads and even tiny seashells into her work. These embellishments can overload the collages, yet in some cases seem appropriate. One of the show’s most elaborate pieces, “Goodbye to All That,” piles up images — including color ones — and costume jewelry to convey a sense of bygone glamour. The collage depicts no place in particular, yet can be seen as a dispatch from a lost time.
Adrienne Moumin: Analog Through Dec. 17 at Portico Gallery, 3807 Rhode Island Ave., Brentwood.
The chimeras, or hybrid creatures, that populate Veronica Barker-Barzel’s art crossbreed the banal and the fantastic. But her playful outlook definitely favors the latter. The printmaker’s Art League show, “Fairy Tales, Feathers & Scales,” is a zoological park of whimsical wonders.
Barker-Barzel carves bold lines to depict birds with feline faces, contented cats with intact fish in their bellies and a satyr, part man and part goat. The most common beings in her bestiary are a variety of mer-creatures, ranging from the regal merlion (and cub) to the comical merchicken. These amphibians swirl their fishlike tails through seas of repeated decorative motifs that suggest both African textiles and Celtic metalwork. The African connection is also made by a few mash-ups that are half human, half gazelle.
Most of the artworks are relief prints, similar in style to woodblocks, often in a single color. There also are a few that combine multiple techniques, including etching and aquatint, to achieve a softer, more watery effect. (Thus the underwater “Dancing MerRats” appear as subtle as they are silly.) One of the largest prints is also the most colorful: “Firebird From the East” ascends through a brown world in a blast of incendiary yellows and oranges. There’s much humor in Barker-Barzel’s fairy tales, but this flaming parable is seriously mythic.
Veronica Barker-Barzel: Fairy Tales, Feathers & Scales Through Dec. 6 at the Art League Gallery, Torpedo Factory, 105 N. Union St., Alexandria. The gallery has closed, but the show is viewable online.
Paris-bred photographer Stephane Themeze makes most of his pictures near his Montgomery County home, but he doesn’t especially want viewers to know that. Not that he minds identifying the locations, as he does with a few of the photos in his Waverly Street Gallery show that portray places far outside the Beltway. It’s just that Themeze’s “Visual Paradise” emphasizes composition over content. Whether focusing on built or natural environments, the photographer frames tightly, often in close-up, on found details and geometries.
Themeze began as a street photographer in his former hometown, exposing black-and-white film. After shifting to the D.C. suburbs and digital color, he began to exclude identifying details. There are no people and very few signs in these pictures. Thus photos of Las Vegas or a Paris airport are geographically indistinguishable from those taken at Montgomery Mall. Trees and concrete pillars reveal an affinity in these studies, most of which are strongly vertical.
In one picture, a red car in motion seems to leave a crimson streak — actually a painted curb — behind it. Usually, though, Themeze avoids bright colors. Tan, gray and ivory facades are common, often under pale blue skies. Clouds and leaves sometimes provide softer, less regular shapes. But most of these photos suggest that Themeze’s paradise is constructed of triangles and quadrilaterals.
Stephane Themeze: Visual Paradise Through Dec. 5 at Waverly Street Gallery, 4600 East-West Hwy., Bethesda. Open by appointment.
Antonia Ramis Miguel
Things come apart, but don’t entirely lose their shape, in the paintings of Antonia Ramis Miguel. The Spanish-born Marylander is an heir to Constructivism, which began a little more than a century ago in Russia and then became influential in Latin America. Akin to cubism, the style dissects familiar objects into geometric forms and planes. In her Watergate Gallery show, “The Break of Rules,” Miguel partly fractures people, animals, still lifes and skyscrapers. The buildings are depicted both in free-standing wooden sculptures and paintings in which their individual facades blur into the continuous walls of urban canyons.
The show is similar to Miguel’s previous ones at this gallery, but it includes a few recent paintings that were made in uncharacteristically bright hues in response to pandemic-era grayness. These depict crouching female “Harlequin Figures,” whose multicolored costumes seem to fuse with their skin, leaving no boundary between fabric and flesh. That sense of flux also is palpable in one of the other standouts, a mixed-media rendering of a horse’s head. The overlay of collage, painting and drawing yields depth and complexity, as well as the essential effect of Miguel’s style: a sense that physical reality is dissolving and coalescing in the same instant.
Antonia Ramis Miguel: The Break of Rules Through Nov. 30 at Watergate Gallery, 2552 Virginia Ave. NW.