The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

In the galleries: A visual rallying cry against gun violence

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As an embodiment of menace, few images are more stark than a rifle or a bullet. Unless it’s a bloody gunshot wound, rendered twice in “Artists Against GunViolence ,” a group show mounted to underscore the message of the March for Our Lives. Janis Goodman contributed a vivid close-up drawing of a bullet’s devastating effect. Patricia Autenrieth embroidered a quilt with a less explicit but equally striking puddle of red cloth. Most of the works are displayed at the Third Floor; others are at Upshur Street Books or the Reading Room at Petworth Citizen.

The items, made by about 50 local artists, can be as timely as Ruth Trevarrow’s set of 17 plates, each decorated with an empty desk or chair to commemorate those slain at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. But they also include Judy Jashinsky’s painting of the weapon used to kill John F. Kennedy, a historical relic with entirely contemporary implications.

After the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, Charles Krause/Reporting Fine Art organized an exhibition on the same theme as this one. The two shows play many of the same notes, although the Petworth array has fewer explicitly political works. It does include Ellen Hill’s small coffin covered in miniature $50 bills and Cheryl Edward’s target, drawn with bullet shells on a painted American flag. Cory Oberndorfer makes a brutal connection between the shapes of two very different objects, wrapping a Teddy bear in a bandoleer outfitted with crayons rather than bullets.

Amid eloquently plain pieces such as Carolina Mayorga’s print of three bullets, the most elaborate entry is glass artist Tim Tate’s 3-D assemblage of concentric circles of guns, flowers and male nudes. It’s a frozen merry-go-round of beauty, peril and vulnerability, in which every translucent figure represents 1,000 people killed by guns last year.

Artists Against GunViolence Through April 9 at the Third Floor, 4200 Ninth St. NW; the Reading Room at Petworth Citizen, 829 Upshur St. NW; and Upshur Street Books, 827 Upshur St. NW.

Michael A. McCoy

Local photographer Michael A. McCoy shoots mostly portraits, but not of people you’d specifically recognize. His black-and-white vignettes survey a wide swath of contemporary African American life, encapsulated in faces that often belong to children. The moments captured in his Photoworks show, “My Camera, My Voice,” are particular yet emblematic.

A disabled Iraq War veteran, McCoy calls himself a storyteller. Yet he’s not drawn to dramatic scenarios; the highest emotion shown here is the consternation of a little boy in a barber’s chair, comforted by an older child who is probably his brother.

McCoy specializes in everyday declarations of identity. There are a lot of stars and stripes in his pictures, as well as a T-shirt emblazoned with a clenched fist. Among the most striking photos is a depiction of three young women on a Metro train, one of them apparently selfie-ing. The photo she’s making, like McCoy’s of her, conveys a fleeting instant and a timeless urge for self-expression.

Michael A. McCoy: My Camera, My Voice Through April 8 at Photoworks, Glen Echo Park, 7300 MacArthur Blvd., Glen Echo. 301-634-2274.

Nate Lewis

The photographs of nude African American bodies employed by Nate Lewis aren’t exactly blank slates. The local artist leaves some bodily details — eyes, fingers, nipples — in the pictures he transforms for “Hidden Tensions,” at Morton Fine Art. But Lewis complements the intact bits of flesh with intricate markings, cut into the black-and-white pictures and or added with white ink. The symbols suggest fabric motifs and ritual body paint, but the artist calls them “unseen tensions of the past, present and future.”

The patterns are both additions and deletions, as emphasized by one of the show’s most recent pieces. In “Palpable Memories II,” a ghostly figure is carved into a D.C. street shot from 2016’s Inauguration Day. Where the single-figure pictures are highlighted by white backdrops, this scene is crowded with people from across the political spectrum. And thus, of course, not-so-hidden tensions.

Hidden Tensions: Nate Lewis Through April 11 at Morton Fine Art, 1781 Florida Ave. NW. 202-628-2787.

EJ Montgomery

When EJ Montgomery printed “Marks” in 2007, she may not have thought of it as the fraternal twin of “Highland Flowers,” made nine years earlier. Hanging side by side in “Letters to Mom,” however, the two appear closely related. Yet they, like many other pictures in this show at the District of Columbia Arts Center, also demonstrate the variety the 84-year-old artist achieves by subtly tweaking color schemes. Tidily arranged in unified compositions that can suggest textile design, similar freehand gestures can evoke quite different things.

The abstract, if often nature-derived, artworks include one painting and several digital prints. The most handsome pieces are the result of such traditional techniques as intaglio, lithography and screen printing, sometimes employed in tandem. There also are glimmers of Montgomery’s earlier work with metal in assured prints such as “Fire Opal,” in which red and green squiggles blaze at the center of a cool-gray setting. The print is one of many in which Montgomery deftly balances the deliberate and the instinctual.

Letters to Mom: Prints by EJ Montgomery Through April 8 at the District of Columbia Arts Center, 2438 18th St. NW. 202-462-7833.

Nico Fertakis

Two translucent circles, one yellow and the other light green, hang in the single display window that is Metro Micro Gallery, yielding a blended hue where they overlap. The little show, “Halo-Halo,” might be a roundabout variation on Joseph Albers’s square color studies. But the title actually means “mix-mix” in Tagalog and refers to a dessert served in the Philippines, one of the Filipino-Greek-American artist’s several homelands.

Fertakis also is showing prints of overlaid single-color circles, which she likens to Venn diagrams of ethnic mixtures. Each is emblazoned with a food-related idiom in which a common Filipino edible replaces the Euro-American one, such as “have your halo-halo and eat it, too.” These are intriguing, but not displayed to the best effect in this space. Metro Micro is optimal for art that engages the ambient light, as the larger piece does. Catching the sun, the two circles of pure glowing color suggest another meaning for “halo.”

Nico Fertakis: Halo-Halo Through April 7 at Metro Micro Gallery, 3409 Wilson Blvd. (Kansas Street side), Arlington.