Summer is not prime time for Washington’s art scene. Asked about August plans, the proprietor of one leading gallery replied that he is going to have the space’s floors refinished.
But some galleries are offering more than the art-world equivalent of “I’ll be washing my hair that night.” Most area exhibition spaces are booked through July, and some will be open in August as well. The pace will just be a little slower.
At downtown’s Gallery 555dc, for example, owner Jodi Walsh says she’ll be closed a few more days than usual, so she decided to give the July slot to an artist who won’t gripe about that: herself. (555 12th St. NW; 202-393-1409, www.gallery555dc.com)
It’s a renovation project, not summer doldrums, that shuttered Zenith Gallery in the Chevy Chase Pavilion. But Zenith’s Margery Goldberg is keeping busy with the salon gallery in her art-stuffed home. She’ll be showing Peter Kephart’s fire paintings, which begin when he scorches wet canvases over hot coals; he then paints atop the resulting patterns, yielding surprisingly diverse pictures. In addition, Goldberg has just installed a sculpture garden in what was a backyard swimming pool. Both shows run through Aug. 25, and are open Saturdays and by appointment. (1429 Iris St. NW, www.zenithgallery.com)
Zenith also programs the sculpture space at 1111 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, where “Sailing to Byzantium,” a show of culture and metallic constructions, continues until June 23. Nearby at the Carroll Square Gallery, installation artists Mariah Anne Johnson and John Watson have transformed the room with folded fabric and reclaimed wood. Their “Space Is the Place” will run through Aug. 24. (975 F St. NW; 202-234-5601; www.carrollsquare.com)
Carroll Square is curated by Hemphill Fine Arts, which will be showing paintings by William Willis and works on paper by Stephen Cushner from June 8 to July 28. The two artists, longtime friends, both work with subtle colors and archetypal forms. (1515 14th St. NW; 202-234-5601, www.hemphillfinearts.com)
Upstairs in the same complex, the Curator’s Office recently opened “An Architect’s Dream,” a group exhibition inspired by Joseph Cornell — and the Kate Bush song that provides the title. The show, continuing until June 30, combines a Cornell piece with works by three young artists. (1515 14th St. NW; 202-387-1008; www.curatorsoffice.com)
Across the river at Artisphere, “Retratos Compartidos/Shared Portraits” offers an interactive, and inter-American, experience. Kevin Krapf’s project, previously staged in Guadalajara, Mexico, uses a double-sided drawing table where both the artist and visitors can execute portraits. The new likenesses will be added to the display as the give-and-take continues during the June 13-Aug. 18 run. (1101 Wilson Blvd., Arlington; 703-875-1100; artisphere.com)
Arts events slow as well in the summertime, but there a few noteworthy ones on the schedule. On June 7, Hillyer Art Space will mark its sixth anniversary with an auction and cake-and-champagne “birthday bash.” Tickets are $20 in advance; $25 at the door. (9 Hillyer Court NW; 202-338-0680; www.artsandartists.org/hillyer
From June 22 to July 28, Civilian Art Projects will feature works by three artists, including Richard Chartier’s “Interior Fields,” a sound installation based on the McMillan sand-filtration plant in the District. In August, the gallery will present no displays but will host a two-night “conceptual art dinner” prepared by artist and chef Carole Wagner Greenwood. The menu’s still being planned, but it’s based on 1960s art from Paris and New York — two cities that just happen to be known for emptying in August. (Civilian Art Projects, 1019 7th St NW; 202-607-3804; www.civilian
Jenkins is a freelance writer.