Two arts are better than one in “Interdisciplinarium,” Arlington Arts Center’s showcase for aesthetic hybrids. Most of the contributors offer a twofer of art forms, but some venture into the sciences, most often environmental ones.
Miriam Simun’s “Agalinis Dreams” is dedicated to an East Coast plant that was classified as endangered but later determined not to be a separate species. She documents the pink-flowered weed with photos and video, as well as in the form of a distilled scent. Veteran documentary filmmaker Catherine Pancake turns to a more impressionistic style for “Bloodland,” a video about fracking in Pennsylvania.
Sharing a gallery are Beverly Ress and Alyssa Dennis, who both make delicate pencil drawings. Ress, as usual, renders birds on paper and then cuts them into elaborate and sometimes lacy patterns; this selection also includes a plant and a bisected bunny. Dennis’s pastel pictures combine floral and architectural imagery, imagining fanciful greenhouses outfitted with antic details.
Stephen Towns, Lorenzo Cadim and Will Connally all deal in narrative but tell disparate stories in different media. Inspired by Nat Turner’s 1831 slave rebellion, Towns crafts symbolic pictures on fabric. Cadim’s video and sculpture installation, memorializing the police shooting of a young man, draws on Cadim’s training as a dancer. Connally’s photos and paintings of a small town and its artifacts have a matter-of-fact quality, but the village is actually a fiction invented by the artist.
Among the most engaging works are those of Salvatore Pirrone and Neil Feather, both sculptors of sound as well as objects. Pirrone’s six-foot wooden “Megaphone,” installed on the center’s grounds, is visually striking; it also projects voices from one end and can be entered from the other. Feather’s noisemakers combine various sizes of spheres, from marble to bowling balls, with repurposed magnets, cymbals, record players and electronic pickups. As fun to watch as to activate, the devices constitute a semiautomatic percussion orchestra. As a bonus, the artist’s “Erroneous Astrophysics” presents a playful lesson in planetary motion.
Upstairs, in the gallery for resident artists, Jung Min Park is showing painted-and-snipped pieces that range from filmy abstractions to partly realistic city scenes. The artist calls these “Memoryscapes,” and perhaps the cutout absences represent recollections that can’t be retrieved. But the negative space in Park’s mixed-media constructions also functions like bare canvas in an abstract painting, highlighting color and gesture.
Interdisciplinarium and Jung Min Par: Memoryscapes On view through Oct. 1 at Arlington Arts Center, 3550 Wilson Blvd., Arlington. 703-248-6800. arlingtonartscenter.org.
Nara Park & Paolo Morales
Using lightweight materials printed with the patterns of much heavier ones, Nara Park builds walls and edifices that appear rock-solid but could be knocked over by a kitten. In “What Remains,” at the Hamiltonian Gallery, the D.C. sculptor hoists such structures into midair to perplex the eye further. The show includes columns that appear paused in the process of collapsing, their fragments dangling just above the floor. Made of stone-textured plastic laminate, the pieces hover when they look as if they should crash.
The artist also hung a shattered mirror whose reflective shards are not glass but Plexiglas. On the floor is a sand castle on an incongruous expanse of beach. Three wall pieces resemble squares of inscribed concrete, but are actually foam covered with plaster and paint that mimics rock.
If these 3-D pranks are in the surreal tradition of Salvador Dali’s melting watches, Park also wants observers to ponder loss. There’s a reason so many of these sculptures resemble monuments, which traditionally are made of marble to commemorate human flesh. “What Remains” is a mausoleum in which even the stuff that looks like stone is turning to dust.
The gallery also is showing Paolo Morales’s “Between You and Me,” a suite of black-and-white photos that evoke isolation and furtiveness in downscale American suburbs.
Nara Park: What Remains and Paolo Morales: Between You and Me On view through Sept. 16 at Hamiltonian Gallery, 1353 U St. NW. 202-332-1116. hamiltoniangallery.com.
The paintings in Leslie Nolan’s Athenaeum show are a mess, and intentionally so. “I love drips, splotches and merging/blending with finger or the hand or a tool,” she writes. The sensuousness of the technique is one reason the local artist titled the exhibition “Seduction.”
The painterly tumult is deftly offset by simple compositions and tidy color coordination. Nolan usually paints a single face or figure, often in gray and black, on a hot-colored field. Sometimes she flips the scheme, rendering characters such as this show’s “Red Man” in bright color.
The painter has a knack for drama, whether splitting a sketchy face across two large canvases or splashing an unexpected dab of aqua on a more detailed visage. The goal is make the subjects appear “as though something important has just happened,” she explains. What that might have been is left to the viewer’s own assessment.
Leslie Nolan: Seduction On view through Sept. 17 at the Athenaeum, 201 Prince St., Alexandria. 703-548-0035. nvfaa.org.
The artworks are not packed so tightly as in previous years, but there are still scores of pieces in the District of Columbia Arts Center’s 28th annual “1460 Wallmountables.” For a modest fee, the gallery rents wall space in 2-foot-square increments — for a potential total of 1,460 — to serious artists and others. This year, as usual, the others have strength of numbers.
Among the highlights are two unusual animals. Elizabeth Ashe’s “Barbed Raven” is a bird-shaped construction of galvanized wire on a copper-tubing frame, mounted upside-down as if in swooping pursuit. Even more ominous is Minda Merinsky’s “Beer With Teeth,” a found teddy outfitted with added dentures and covered in a thin layer of concrete.
Other intriguing 3-D fabrications include Casey Snyder’s pileup of grayish, partly melted plastic cord and Joanne Kent’s notched wooden lozenge, layered as if to simulate bark yet painted a most un-sylvan crimson. Judith Benderson evokes depth and motion with a series of paintings of mostly white patterns on black backgrounds. Where many of the show’s contributors draw on pop culture and personal concerns, Benderson invokes the forces of the universe.
1460 Wallmountables 2017 On view through Sept. 10 at the District of Columbia Arts Center, 2438 18th St. NW. 202-462-7833. dcartscenter.org.