The Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery is part of a center for people affected by cancer, but its exhibitions aren’t limited to themes of disease and recovery. The 21 artists in the venue’s “Elixir” also address psychology, spirituality and — inevitably, at the moment — politics.
One means of acknowledging the physical is to use found objects. George Lorio’s “Pawn” is a large wooden silhouette of a person studded with chess pawns. Marla McLean incorporates partly burned candles into a mixed-media mosaic, “Too Many F------ Vigils.” Oletha DeVane’s free-standing “Sanctuary” is half ornate Victorian furniture, half fairy-tale house. Anne Bouie’s “Root Worker’s Bag 2” invokes the pre-modern healers who jumbled medicine and magic.
There’s also something shamanistic to Lenett Partlow-Myrick’s “Crystal Cluster #3: Healing Racism,” an improvised monument to African American victims of police and mob violence. Ann Stoddard ponders the same issue with modern technology, making viewers see their own faces on interactive video screens attached to multiple arms in hands-up positions.
Less keyed to current events are a fabric piece by Sarah Hull, who embroiders minimalist black-and-white patterns in a process she likens to meditation, and Wendy Sittner’s lovely print of insects whose exoskeletons represent protection and resilience. Realistic details fuse with abstraction in a painting by Pat Goslee, who was inspired by watching an office building’s demolition. Her “Rise, Phoenix” invokes the much-debated process of gentrification, while serving as a metaphor for rebirth that involves more than real estate. (Goslee is married to Washington Post writer Michael O’Sullivan.)
Elixir: Artists Respond to Making and Healing Through Oct. 20 at Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery, 1632 U St. NW.
As befits their subject, Susan Hostetler’s flocks of modeled-clay migratory birds flit from one local venue to another. Now they’ve landed at Brentwood Arts Exchange, where “In a Fertile World” features Hostetler’s avian swarms alongside nature-themed works by two other local artists.
Nancy Sausser, exhibitions director at the McLean Project for the Arts, is showing wall-mounted ceramics that are mostly glazed in blue and white, with occasional glimpses of earthy red-brown clay. The material is crisp and hard, but the forms suggest wombs, seed pods and other fleshy nooks and vessels. Sharon Fishel’s collage-paintings juxtapose soft washes and gestures with specific botanical details. There are even some floral shapes afloat in “Aqueous,” the water-hued standout.
Hostetler’s contributions include several swoops of birds, one with shadows drawn on the wall beneath them. Shadows also figure in the artist’s graphite drawings, augmented with gouache and sometimes executed on Mylar to enhance their ephemerality. While Hostetler’s ceramic birds merely streamline realism, her drawings flutter sensuously toward the abstract.
Sharon Fishel, Susan Hostetler, Nancy Sausser: In a Fertile World Through Oct. 20 at Brentwood Arts Exchange, 3901 Rhode Island Ave., Brentwood.
All 70 pieces in “6x6 Ceramic Tile Exhibition” fit within a six-by-six-inch space, but most of the artists think outside the square. Some of the exquisitely crafted, if untraditional, ceramic tiles at the IDB Staff Association Art Gallery aren’t rectangular, and others are nearly as deep as they are wide and high.
The selection features entries from 24 Interamerican Development Bank member countries, including Argentina (Catalina Galdon’s two-tone square split by a flowering vine) and Venezuela (Isabel Cisneros’s toylike, unsquared construction). Common motifs include miniature animals that protrude from the surface, such as Lucrecia Palza’s monkeys (Bolivia), Fernando Hinostroza’s pumas (Chile) and Elena Somonte’s fish (Mexico).
Among the most emphatically three-dimensional pieces are a mass of budlike green protrusions by Julie Tesser (United States) and a diorama inside a perforated brick by Joshua Lue Chee Kong (Trinidad and Tobago). Guyana’s Nicholas Young defies expectations just as surely with the incised lines of what initially appears to be a pre-Columbian design. The title, “Industrialization,” prompts a second look, revealing that the red-on-black forms are as mechanical as organic. The ceramic could come from an ancient tomb, yet it portrays a modern factory.
6x6 Ceramic Tile Exhibition Through Oct. 18 at IDB Staff Association Art Gallery, 1300 New York Ave. NW (13th Street entrance).
“An Alternative to Logic,” the title of Paula Crawford’s show at Long View Gallery, refers to an unlikely form of inspiration: her severe concussion. Still, the oil paintings the local artist produced in response to the condition are not at all disordered. Powerfully large and direct, the pictures often depict sky, ocean or sun in simple, monochromatic compositions. Most are evidently derived from the natural world, and one is so literal that its title includes a date: “Partial Eclipse (August 21, 2017).”
The open water could represent a sense of being adrift, and the primal subjects might signify an awareness of forces beyond human control. Yet there’s not a hint of chaos in Crawford’s canvases, which are orderly and often symmetrical. The effect is enveloping and serene. One alternative to logic, it seems, is acceptance.
Paula Crawford: An Alternative to Logic Through Oct. 21 at Long View Gallery, 1234 Ninth St. NW.
All of the paintings in Jacqui Crocetta’s “Tillage + Flow” are abstract, but they employ various media and appear to have different relationships to the material world. The Artists & Makers show moves from “8th Avenue Reflections,” an impressionistic acrylic that suggests diffused light against a black sky, to several square pictures, rendered with oil and cold wax on wood and with a more tactile feel. Most of the latter works are predominantly gray, and their hues and jagged forms evoke fractured rock.
The show’s impressive title picture is akin to the cracked-gray squares, but more colorful, three times as wide and painted with acrylic. Where “8th Avenue” looks as flat as it actually is, “Tillage + Flow” neatly simulates depth, texture and rounded shapes. The greens and reds that join the grays also have a mineral quality. Rather than a realm of hazy flickers, this is a field of gems — glittering, precise and palpable.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to artist Julie Tesser as Julie Lesser.
Jacqui Crocetta: Tillage + Flow Through Oct. 24 at Artists & Makers 1, 11810 Parklawn Dr., Rockville.