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In the galleries: ‘Evolving Traditions’ from a nontraditional artist

Ogura Yuki’s “Toad Lilies,” on view at the Japan Information and Culture Center. (Ogura Yuki/Japan Information & Culture Center, Embassy of Japan)

Seen outside a show titled “Evolving Traditions,” Yuki Ideguchi’s paintings would scarcely register as traditional. The Japan-bred New Yorker began as a graffitist, and his bright-colored, hard-edge style draws from cartoons and pop art. But there are only three of his pieces in the show, which consists mostly of pictures Ideguchi selected from the Japanese Embassy collection to illustrate his art’s affinity for its antecedents.

The pre-Ideguchi work doesn’t date from the most celebrated eras in Japanese art; it was all made in the Meiji period (1868-1912) or later. The influence of Western realism and impressionism is evident, even in Ito Koun’s painting of a samurai about to mount a horse. There’s a Chinese flavor to Hida Shuzan’s misty mountain scene, whose haziness contrasts with the precise gold detailing on a building’s roof. More French is the wispy “Toad Lilies,” by Ogura Yuki, the first female member of the Japan Art Institute. Hirayama Ikuo, who survived the Hiroshima bombing, harmonizes Eastern and Western styles to depict white birds aflight in front of a brown pagoda.

Ideguchi’s own paintings include bonsai-like branches, Chinese scholars and waves that recall Hokusai’s famous one. But the pictures’ sturdy outlines and gleaming hues seem better suited to the side of a bus than a sheet of handmade paper. The artist takes iconic shapes from commercial art and word balloons (with bilingual text) from comics. Reached after an amble through genteel older artworks, Ideguchi’s pictures administer a mild future shock.

Evolving Traditions: Paintings of Wonder From Japan Through May 25 at the Japan Information and Culture Center, 1150 18th St. NW. 202-238-6900.

Hori and Stockton

The traditional element in Takefumi Hori’s art is gold and occasionally silver leaf, applied with a nontraditional abandon. The artist, also a Japan-rooted New Yorker, splits Long View Gallery’s “Heavy Metal” with Eve Stockton, whose recent woodcut prints employ organic forms and silver ink.

Hori applies metal leaf thickly and unevenly, sometimes scrawling atop the surface. If the nuances are spontaneous, the layouts are tidy. The painter sometimes bisects his compositions, grounding fields of messy gold at the top with blocks of strong, single-color pigment on the bottom. Hori’s calligraphic gestures verge on the chaotic, but they’re contained in a strictly geometric cosmos.

A few of Stockton’s prints are based on triangle-based patterns, but she derives most of her motifs from nature. Hives, waves, petals and starbursts dominate this selection of the Alexandria artist’s work. The repeated images sometimes pit platinum tones against shades of blue, but are often in a narrow range of metallic shimmers. Eye-catchingly luminous and large enough to immerse the viewer’s attention, Stockton’s pictures are as mesmerizing as glints of sunlight on a rippling pond.

Heavy Metal: Eve Stockton/Takefumi Hori Through May 20 at Long View Gallery, 1234 Ninth St. NW. 202-232-4788.

Tattelman and Levine

Like Eve Stockton, Ira Tattelman and Jo Levine emphasize visual patterns. But they locate them through their camera viewfinders, and mostly in the built environment. Tattelman, whose “Space Around Us” is at Photoworks, generally focuses on simple structures and the shadows they cast. Levine is more likely to highlight details of modernist buildings, although she includes a few nature images in “A Sense of Wonder,” her Studio Gallery show.

That Tattelman was trained as an architect won’t surprise viewers of his close-ups of grates, floors and ladders. A few of his subjects, such as the ventilation ducts of “Inhale/Exhale” and the eye-like aperture of “Skylight,” suggest that buildings are nearly alive. More typical, though, are pictures that stress such elementary forms as verticals and diagonals. Tattelman periodically underlines this interest by slicing and combining photos with similar orientations. Yet his keenest discoveries, such as the caged air conditioner of “Air in a Box,” offer intricate forms without augmentation.

Levine’s show includes two striking black-and-white pictures of lines drawn in the sand by seaside winds. But the photos mostly depict man-made stuff in color, even if the subjects often don’t have a lot of it. A few photos depict too-easily identified places, yet many images are engagingly mysterious. Among the most beguiling is “Hidden Figures,” in which hot-hued squares are glimpsed through a foggy surface. Is this a view from an another universe, or just through a shower curtain?

Ira Tattelman: Space Around Us Through May 20 at Photoworks, Glen Echo Park, 7300 MacArthur Blvd., Glen Echo. 301-634-2274.

Jo Levine: A Sense of Wonder Through May 19 at Studio Gallery, 2108 R St. NW. 202-232-8734.

'Emerging Artists'

Architecture also informs the paintings of Kate Barrie, one of Target Gallery’s four “Emerging Artists.” The Richmond artist’s pictures feature the vivid colors and flat planes of hard-edge abstraction, but are clearly modeled on bits of buildings and landscapes. Barrie’s inspiration comes from observing American national parks, whose historic structures she streamlines into a style that might be called — with a nod to 20th-century edifices such as the Folger Shakespeare Library — stripped classicism.

Where Barrie distills architecture into archetypes, fellow Richmonder Hollis McCracken assembles reclaimed building materials into sculptures. In one piece, she elicits a sense of tension by flipping the foundation: A brick wall sits atop a metal lattice, the two parts separated by a thin layer of wavy wood. D.C. artist Holly Trout works with even more common found objects, winkingly glamorizing objects such as a Starbuck’s cup by adding rhinestones and faux pearls.

Horses stand near the center of Ronald Jackson’s paintings, which are realistically rendered but not naturalistic. Background foliage is highly stylized, and origami cranes and metallic balloons float in midair. The feel is as much historical as surrealist, but the Spotsylvania artist’s crisp pictures are personal as well. Before pondering the large animals that dominate the compositions, it helps to know that two of the paintings are titled “Self Portrait as a Horse.”

Emerging Artists: Katie Barrie, Ronald Jackson, Hollis McCracken, and Holly Trout Through May 20 at Target Gallery, 105 N. Union St., Alexandria. 703-746-4590.