The midterm elections are over, but the debate continues in “Lines Drawn: America’s Artists Look Beyond the Politics of Red and Blue,” at Charles Krause/Reporting Fine Art. If nothing here expresses a “red” view — Kathleen Ramich’s satirical assemblage “Tea Party Tool Kit” certainly doesn’t — there’s plenty that skewers the “blue” and its standard-bearer, President Obama.
Though depicted as an overreaching King Kong in a painting by Louis Nieves, the president is mostly offstage, represented by such devices as the miasma of words — “drone,” “kill list” — in F. Lennox Campello’s “Obama as Atlas.” That piece also includes the acronym “NSA,” whose activities are critiqued in Annie Bissett’s 26 elegant little woodcuts, each of which illustrates one of the agency’s code words. Claudia Gibson-Hunter expands the commentary to include corporate snooping in “Information Signature,” a collage of passports, receipts and credit cards representing widespread data collection.
David Robert Kamm has fashioned a set of bullet-tipped crayons to quietly but eloquently address the horror of school shootings, while Dara Herman Zierlein has painted a human baby with a belly full of plastic trash, an affliction often seen in dead birds. In R.M. Croft’s sculptures, the battered working class is embodied by distressed metal, seemingly torn from an industrial door or roughly forged into a battlefield stretcher. The forgotten people represented by Croft’s work are like the homeless woman in Jeanie Neyer’s faceless “A Face in the Crowd”: hidden in plain sight, and ignored in the debate between red and blue.
Lines Drawn On view through Nov. 30 at Charles Krause/Reporting Fine Art, 1300 13th St. NW. 202-638-3612. www.charleskrausereporting.com.
Photos don’t merely document the world; they become part of it. So two of the five artists featured in “Photo/Diary,” at Carroll Square Gallery, take photos of photos, representing decaying memories or near-obsolete technologies. On trips to Bolivia, Edgar Endress collaborates with a street cameraman who makes severe portraits of day laborers with an old Polaroid-like Tessar camera. The grayish prints are unstable and gradually fade, so Endress reshoots them, permanently fixing the impermanent.
Dawn Whitmore uses black-and-white photos of her life between ages 20 and 30 as backdrops for full-color compositions that feature vividly realistic images of plants and fruit. The results are a bit like Joseph Cornell shadow boxes but contained in a single photograph.
Also included are images by Jati Lindsay, who portrays musicians in a blur of dynamism, and by two photographers who depict less-upscale D.C. neighborhoods. Susana Raab’s carefully framed pictures show people and places along such streets as Good Hope Road SE, while E. Brady Robinson positions a lone person, sometimes in a yoga pose, against graffiti and commercial signage. Both artists ask for a second look at areas that are often overlooked.
Photo/Diary On view through Nov. 21 at Carroll Square Gallery, 975 F St. NW. 202-234-5601. www.hemphillfinearts.com/exhibitions/carroll-square-gallery/current-exhibitions.
Harshly beautiful and irresistibly exotic, Iceland is always ready for its close-up — or for its wide-angle shot. Five photographers, three of them natives, explore the country in “Visible Iceland,” at Hillyer Art Space. D.C. photographer Jillian Watkins, the show’s organizer, contributes unexpectedly sunny views of both built and natural environments, while San Francisco’s Elena Sheehan highlights impossible blues in a gray-and-white world.
Katrín Elvarsdóttir, the only artist now living in Iceland, and Utah-based Svavar Jonatansson have taken to the road, with Elvarsdóttir depicting trailers in seemingly hostile locations, and Jonatansson documenting both sides of a 900-mile circular route around the island. Los Angeles-based Fridgeir Helgason shows such lonely structures as a saltbox house and a rusted playground slide in the misty expanses; the manmade objects make the landscape look all the more untamable.
Also at Hillyer, Anthony Palliparambil Jr. is showing photos (not always his) that he has manipulated on an iPad. The images in “#reIMAGINE” — all square, mostly small — are characterized by bright, unnatural colors and hard-edged, geometric patterns. Four “Sun Sets” suggest Jasper Johns and Kenneth Noland targets, but the pictures more often recall such early-20th-century art movements as futurism and constructivism. These days, of course, futuristic effects can be achieved with the touch of a button, which in itself is sort of futuristic.
Visible Iceland and Anthony Palliparambil Jr.: #reIMAGINE On view through Nov. 29 at Hillyer Art Space, 9 Hillyer Ct. NW. 202-338-0325. www.hillyerartspace.org.
All Lynn Silverman does is gaze out the window. The 14 austere black-and-white photographs in “Lookout,” at VisArts’ Gibbs Street Gallery, portray such everyday things as a toilet (in the foreground) and a tree trunk (so large and close that it blocks any other view). What makes these silver gelatin prints so striking is the vivid contrast between light and dark, and the bold patterns created by such commonplace stuff as fans, blinds and window frames. The Baltimore artist’s “Lookout #02,” for example, peers through vertical slats at an adjacent house. Divided into vertical and horizontal and black and white, the composition is stark yet complex. So, too, are the thoughts it evokes. Silverman’s images demonstrate the universal impulses to seek yet hide, to be open yet closed.
Lynn Silverman: Lookout On view through Nov. 23 at Gibbs Street Gallery, VisArts at Rockville, 155 Gibbs St., Rockville. 301-315-8200. www.visartscenter.org.
In Trix Kuijper’s “Compassion,” a woman’s arm emerges from a crack in the painted backdrop to touch the decapitated head of a massive insect. Such gently odd juxtapositions are one key to the Dutch-bred Northern Virginian’s work, which shows a close study of Dali and Magritte. But that painting’s wink at the illusion of depth is just as integral to “Trove,” Kuijper’s show at Studio Gallery. Some of the pictures are reliefs that incorporate small 3D heads, and all of them deftly use modeling to simulate rounded shapes. Whether the forms Kuijper depicts appear organic or mechanical, they’re placed on stage sets that teasingly highlight the theatricality of both realist and surrealist painting.
Trix Kuijper: Trove On view through Saturday at Studio Gallery, 2108 R St. NW. 202-232-8734. www.studiogallerydc.com.
Jenkins is a freelance writer.