Picasso recast in glass, a color field painting with pop-art zing, many ways of looking at a changing city, and dozens more — it’s a lot to take in. “Arts and Humanities Fellowship Program Visual Arts Exhibition,” however unpromisingly titled, is an impressive overview of the city’s visual artists. The I Street Gallery show includes 80 or 81 artworks by candidates who applied for a 2017 grant from the D.C. Commission on Arts and Humanities.
Some of the entries are utterly local, featuring the D.C. flag or Cool Disco Dan’s graffiti. Sally Canzoneri’s “April 1968 and 2016” offers two views of Eighth and H streets NE, nearly interlaced on accordion-fold paper so they can be seen individually or simultaneously, depending on the viewer’s angle. Susana Raab photographs a gowned Miss Congress Heights, Roderick Turner paints Ninth Street SE in a traditional mode, and mural artist and yoga teacher Lisa Marie Thalhammer presents herself in a lizard pose.
Timothy Makepeace may have gazed across the river for “Pentagon Hub,” an elegant charcoal drawing of a seemingly imaginary machine centered on a familiar polygon. Glass artist Tim Tate was definitely thinking of the Mediterranean and the Middle East when he made “21st Century Guernica,” an illuminated, circular tableaux that clusters refugee boats surrounded by figures adapted from Picasso’s protest painting. It’s extraordinary in craft and powerful in effect.
Simpler and more sensuous are Cory Oberndorfer’s abstraction of a pair of “creamsicles,” one orange and one pink; Amy Lin’s white-on-white cut-paper swirl; and Kathryn McDonnell’s moonlike orb, rendered in acrylic on Mylar to preserve a sense of fluidity.
The 81st item, by the way, is photographic documentation of Linn Meyers’s monumental wall drawing at the Hirshhorn, which must be experienced in person. More on that next week.
Arts and Humanities Fellowship Program Visual Arts Exhibition On view through Aug. 31 at I Street Gallery, 200 I St. SE. 202-724-5613. dcarts.dc.gov/page/arts-and-humanities-fellowship-program-visual-arts-exhibition.
Houses are central to all four artists in “Outside-In,” but the show at the Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery isn’t cozily domestic. In Carson Murdach’s sweeping drawings, red-roofed dwellings travel in packs, swarming across grand, monochromatic vistas. These modest structures stand in for their ambitious residents, who migrate, claim new territory and often despoil it. One of Murdach’s pieces translates his vision into a 3-D tableaux, which fits with the work of the other three contributors, all of whom construct miniature dwellings.
Lee Wheeler’s are explicitly for the birds, although the sort of tough buzzards who might join a biker gang. His little homes are embellished with spikes, rusty metal and a painted skull and crossbones; one is in the shape of a human head, adorned with antlers. Michael Nakoneczny’s battered A-frames are on the same scale as Wheeler’s, but with small doors rather than circular bird holes; they’re both evocations of rural architecture and blank canvases for free-associated images. Mars Tokyo’s miniature buildings are “teatros,” grouped in sets and each devoted to a different theme. Tokyo (a.k.a. Sally Mericle) presents these immaculately assembled vignettes as sideshows from a Felliniesque carnival. But when the titles are translated from the Italian, their subjects are revealed to include nothing less than war, eternity and the unexplainable.
Outside-In On view through Sept. 2 at Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery, 1632 U St. NW. 202-483-8600. smithcenter.org/arts-healing/joan-hisaoka-art-gallery.html.
Unable to contain the work of nearly 30 artists, Watergate Gallery’s multimedia and sculpture show spills into the complex’s public areas. Three large pieces are even on the roof of the sunken shopping arcade’s central pavilion, a location that seems unlikely but turns out to be easily accessible.
The featured artists are ones who have contributed previously or this year to Foggy Bottom’s outdoor sculpture biennial, which continues through Oct. 22. Among the more kinetic pieces are Becky Borlan’s “Subsume,” a stalactite of dangling copper coils; Garrett Strang’s “Throng,” a curved bundle of branches that rips through black paper; and Philippe Mougne’s all-white yet mixed-media “The Song of the Wind,” which tops each of its six prongs with a different form.
It might seem odd for a sculptor who works with steel on a towering scale to title a piece “Whimsy,” but Nancy Frankel’s waltz in metal playfully contrasts bars and arcs painted different shades of blue. Sam Noto also paints his sculptures, which are tangles of steel rods — one’s titled “Medusa’s Dream” — that often alternate through three hues from tip to base.
Not all of the selections are forged from metal. Ceramic artist Lindsay Pichaske’s life-size “Doe” is realistic, although its eyes seem poignantly human. Paul Steinkoenig’s “Pure of Heart” is soap on a rope — a pile of bars inside a cage, atop a clump of heavy cords. It’s rugged, but it, too, has a portion of whimsy.
Summer Multimedia & Sculpture Exhibition On view through Sept. 6 at Watergate Gallery, 2552 Virginia Ave. NW. 202-338-4488. watergategalleryframedesign.com.
Among “Light, Shadow & Time,” the three subjects of the current Old Print Gallery show, the first two are clearly easier to delineate than the third. But some of the show’s 16 expert contemporary printmakers do use light and shadow to indicate a particular moment. In Patrick Anderson’s “Desk With Pencils,” a pencil stand functions as a sort of sundial. A similar purpose is served by the crowd of people in Art Werger’s dramatic “Bourbon Street,” where elongated shadows are cast by a single streetlight. Light is reflected and refracted by large buildings in Grace Bentley-Scheck’s abstracted “Reflections on a Crosstown Vista” and James Haggerty’s delicately etched “Labyrinth.”
More often, the artists simulate soft illumination that could denote daybreak or simply atmospheric conditions. Richard T. Davis’s color serigraph, “Fogbound,” realistically depicts a heathered knoll whose top is vanishing into haze. Barbara Minton’s black-and-green “Verdure” peers closely into a woods that could be darkened by night or just the canopy of leaves. Jake Muirhead, better known for his detailed yet impressionistic still lifes, brings the same exquisite touch to a small waterfall wreathed in mist. It precisely captures a moment that’s both everyday and mythic.
Light, Shadow & Time On view through Sept. 10 at the Old Print Gallery, 1220 31st St. NW. 202-965-1818. oldprintgallery.com.