Stark lines, repeated motifs, found objects — these might not be what gallerygoers associate with artistic extravagance, or with a show titled “Too Much of Too Much.” Yet internal and external excess is the theme of this juried show at MPA @ Chain Bridge Gallery, according to juror Laura Roulet. The idea is to express the surfeit of experience, stimulation and outrage in contemporary life, not to present art that is lavish or overly mannered in style.
Indeed, many of the 17 participants employ carefully limited forms and materials. Harry Mayer’s sculpture arranges plywood rounds on a steel rod that curves across the floor like a disembodied spine. Judith Pratt’s abstract drawing is large in scale but simple in its recurring patterns. More elaborate, yet minimal in palette, is Elizabeth Vorlicek’s tabletop collage of porcelain, stoneware and fabric — all in the classic ceramic color scheme of blue and white.
A few entries address technology’s rapidly expanding reach, although not necessarily with bleeding-edge gear. Ceci Cole McInturff’s “Addiction, Obsession, Seduction” mounts photographic nudes on the partial remains of three BlackBerrys, their circuit boards exposed to display that the devices, too, have been stripped. Julia Bloom has added video to one of her trademark stick-and-vine assemblages, so that the image projects through the scaffolding, which in turn casts shadows on the moving image.
The black-and-white video shows what appears to be a subway incident, suggestive of mayhem. Ann Stoddard, who is known for her commentaries on violence and racism, takes a different approach. Her “Concealed Carry I” embroiders the word “baby” and the shape of a gun on a small pink quilt. In this case, at least, the thing that’s too much is societal, not aesthetic.
Too Much of Too Much Through Aug. 18 at McLean Project for the Arts MPA @ Chain Bridge Gallery, 1446 Chain Bridge Rd., McLean.
We walk through a realm of colors, surrounded by them. But when observing Jon Malis’s “Transcolorations,” the observer is outside what are termed “color spaces” — coordinate systems to represent the visible spectrum via digital technology. The local teacher and photographer’s show at the BlackRock Center for the Arts illustrates different color spaces developed for photography, cinematography and newspaper printing. His computer-generated abstractions flow from hue to hue like synthetic rainbows.
Malis depicts these round or partly egg-shaped color spaces from assorted angles, indicated in subtitles such as “front view” and “isometric north east view.” He uses three formats: rectangular C-type prints, 3-D printed sculptures and prints on shaped aluminum panels. The last are the most compelling, for both their jagged forms and their glowing transitions. Malis is not a painter, but his fluid color-scapes would hang comfortably next to canvases by cinematic Washington colorists such as Leon Berkowitz.
In the microcosms photographed by Julius Kassovic, a single leaf can be a world-altering catalyst. A leaf can partly block a stream’s flow, causing rivulets to dance in elaborate routines. The pictures in Kassovic’s “Natural Abstractions,” also at BlackRock, were made over a decade along Sligo Creek near the artist’s Silver Spring home. The images are not digitally manipulated, a gallery note emphasizes, lest viewers be suspicious of the intricate layers, complex reflections and vivid contrasts of light and dark. Those elements were all there at the moment Kassovic snapped the shutter open. If the pictures that result distill natural phenomena to their essential qualities, they appear less abstract than archetypal.
Jon Malis: Transcolorations and Julius Kassovic: Natural Abstractions Through Aug. 25 at the BlackRock Center for the Arts, 12901 Town Commons Dr., Germantown.
Margery Goldberg, who has run the District’s Zenith Gallery for 40 years, prizes art that is clever and elegant. This encompasses a wealth of styles, ideas and materials, as demonstrated by Zenith’s current show at 1111 Sculpture Space. It includes Paul Martin Wolff’s “Wave,” a sleek swell of blue glass, but also unwearable women’s apparel made of found metal, such as Donna McCullough’s dress of oil and gas cans and Joyce Zipperer’s skirt of cat-food can lids. (McCullough works on the business side of The Washington Post.)
“Zenith Comes of Age: 24 Years at 413 7th St. NW” is the second 1111 show to write the gallery’s history, this time assembling works associated with its Penn Quarter era, which ended in 2009. The emphasis is on sculpture, including Julie Girardini’s “Tesla’s Dream,” whose steel and glass conjure both a radio tower and the waves that radiate from it. In addition to the scrap-metal togs, other whimsies include Suzanne Codi’s lamps in the shape of flamenco-dancing whippets.
On the wall are Anne Marchand’s abstract-expressionist paintings and Bradley Stevens’s realist ones, several of which depict museum interiors. Stevens’s pictures are classical in style and pensive in tone, but their depiction of people inspecting art while being depicted in art has a playfulness that has always been evident at Zenith.
Zenith Comes of Age: 24 Years at 413 7th St. NW Through Aug. 25 at 1111 Sculpture Space, 1111 Pennsylvania Ave NW.
Just one of the four installations in Transformer’s “E15: A Body to Follow” features a literal representation of a person. But Alanna Reeves’s “Little Jamaican Girl,” modeled after outlined figures in a paper doll book, is among several possible approaches to embodying personal identity in fabric and related material.
The artworks are the result of the venue’s “15th Annual Exercises for Emerging Artists” (highly abbreviated to “E15”). Aliana Grace Bailey made a hanging piece in bright colors to which visitors may add tags with affirmative slogans (or, as one of those labels puts it, “positive vibes”). Rachel Schechtman erected a “support system” of blue tubing, with plants growing from bags at the bottom. Inspired by her quest to become a U.S. resident, Dulcina Abreu used silver Mylar and construction materials. She has built a provisional home whose most conspicuous material recalls the reflective blankets furnished to children separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border.
E15: A Body to Follow Through Aug. 18 at Transformer, 1404 P St. NW.