The three Maryland photo-
artists who contributed to “Digital Impressions,” at Betty Mae Kramer Gallery, all begin with digital images but then take different paths toward abstraction. Gordana Gerskovic shoots delicate close-ups, so tightly framed that they escape their real-world context. The small pictures focus on worn textures and aged colors, yielding an Old World aura that would be evident even if Gerskovic didn’t specify that she did the work in her native Croatia.
Margaret Paris and Jeff Sutton both manipulate their photos via computer, with very different results. Paris uses an iPhone to capture flowers and leaves against dramatic black backdrops, contrasting not only colors but also areas of crisp focus with ones that are tantalizingly hazy. Sutton’s expansive seaside scenes, many depicting Turkey, use posterization effects to liquefy shapes and intensify colors. When he titles a piece “Blue Hills of the Bosphorus,” you can count on its being really blue. Sutton emulates the sweep and gesture of painting, with dramatic results, but Paris’s and Gerskovic’s quieter pictures are no less potent.
Digital Impressions On view through May 23 at Betty Mae Kramer Gallery, One Veterans Place, Silver Spring, Md.; 301-565-3805; www.creativemoco.com/kramer-gallery
Glue, paper and black ink were the only ingredients when Jae Ko began making her distinctively coiled sculptures from rolls of adding-machine paper. The Korean-born local artist was doing a sort of 3-D calligraphy, working with the same materials used in Asian brush painting. So it was natural for her to expand her palette slightly, adding red ink to the glue that both colors and binds the paper, or brushing the black sculptures with graphite powder.
Jae Ko’s “Recent Sculpture and Drawings,” at Marsha Mateyka Gallery, adds a new color, but it’s not really new. Two of the elegant vertical wall sculptures are white, which is just an amplified version of the paper’s original color. More surprising are the works dubbed drawings, which were executed with thin vinyl cord on adhesive paper. Painstakingly fashioned, these arrangements in white, black, red and — another color! — turquoise resemble furrows, fingerprints and phonograph records.
The drawings aren’t as formidable as the sculptures, whose sleekly twisting forms suggest painted wood or metal. But their many patterns, more abundant than those in the coiled paper, carry the eye in unexpected directions. The spiraling vinyl strips suggest the rolls of paper Jae Ko has used for two decades, while demonstrating her carefully limited gambits can be extended without limit.
Jae Ko: Recent Sculpture and Drawings On view through May 17 at Marsha Mateyka Gallery, 2012 R St. NW; 202-328-0088; www.marshamateykagallery.com
A sort of reverse archaeologist, Jessica Drenk excavates everyday manufactured items, in the process returning them partway to nature. “An Allegory for Algorithms and Aesthetics,” at Adah Rose Gallery, includes pieces similar to ones she’s shown there before. Squashed together inside frames, rolls of toilet paper resemble cells under a microscope. Partially abraded, hardcover books look like rocks that have eroded over millennia. Grouped in organic-seeming arrangements and partially stripped of their yellow-painted exteriors, clumps of No. 2 pencils begin reverting to their wooden origins.
The Florida artist’s new substance is equally modest, and just as expressive. Drenk carves and sands lengths of white PVC pipe, yielding cell-like shapes, and arranges them into assemblages such as the undulating, eight-foot-wide “Wave.” Aside from the yellow that remains on the pencils, most of these pieces are white, off-white or gray. While the basic materials couldn’t be blander and more uniform, Drenk de-manufactures them into unexpected tones and contours. Like nature itself, she doesn’t distinguish between making and unmaking.
Jessica Drenk: An Allegory for Algorithms and Aesthetics On view through May 12 at Adah Rose Gallery, 3766 Howard Ave., Kensington, Md.; 301-922-0162; www.adahrosegallery.com
Currently at Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery, “Alchemical Vessels” is an annual fundraising event for the Smith Center for Healing and the Arts, which works with cancer patients, survivors and caregivers. With 125 pieces, each by a different artist, the variety borders on the overwhelming. Even identifying some broad trends is complicated, but many of the artists took their cues from water, flowers or landscapes. Others incorporated motifs from their usual work, or an art-history riff, into a bowl or bowl-like shape.
The majority of the pieces use the same basic vessel, although often tweaked and sometimes nearly unrecognizable. Jayme McLellan inserted a large rubber ball that fits snugly into the bow and spray-painted both gold. Suzi Fox smashed hers and stitched it back together, minus one small piece, while Julia Brown simulated cracks. Joan Konkel hid a bowl inside green paper and aluminum mesh.
Other participants merely emulated the basic shape. Glenn Richardson’s vessel is a rib cage, and Yaroslav Koporulin’s is a fabric sling, holding salt and red quartz. Most delicately, J.J. McCracken constructed a bowl from dozens of broken half-eggshells, each husk echoing the overall form. That may not be alchemical, but it is ingenious.
Alchemical Vessels On view through May 16 at Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery, 1632 U St. NW; 202-483-8600; www.smithcenter.org/arts-healing/joan-hisaoka-art-gallery
Jenkins is a freelance writer.