Asingle photo is like a single glance — vivid but possibly misleading. That’s why the four photographers featured in the exhibition “Double Back: Photographic Reflexivity,” at the Art Gallery at the University of Maryland, offer multiple views from perspectives that may be fixed, in flux or falsified. In these artists’ playful works, there is no one correct vantage point.
Barbara Probst is known for suites of photos that convey different angles simultaneously. In a trio of synchronized views of a Manhattan intersection, for example, a woman in a green coat crossing the street is framed by three very different buildings; only her presence indicates that the pictures all show the same place. Probst also varies among long, medium and close-up shots, and between color and black-and-white. Her triptych of a Bavarian vista expands from a gray watermelon to a green-heavy mountain vista that encompasses melon-eating picnickers. The change in focus, natural to the human eye and brain, seems strange when achieved with a lineup of cameras.
The other artists, too, make images that call attention to how they have been made. Aspen Mays works with old prints, negatives and tools to create, delete or simulate astronomical images. With a wink to the past, she depicts burning and dodging tools once used to lighten or darken parts of prints in the darkroom. David Emitt Adams tweaks history by photographing vignettes of Southwestern deserts and then imprinting them on rusty tin cans found at the sites. He uses wet-plate collodion printing, a 19th-century technique that is even older than the cans.
William Lamson’s two-screen video piece, “A Line Describing the Sun,” also uses multiple vantage points. They show the artist as he hauls a large lens across the desert, focusing light into a beam that will fuse a streak of the sandy ground into a sort of glass. The video is digital HD; the process is as primal as man’s first attempts to use fire and glass to refashion the natural world into something more congenial and, perhaps, more beautiful.
Double Back: Photographic Reflexivity On view through Dec. 19 at the Art Gallery, 1202 Art-Sociology Building, University of Maryland, College Park. 301-405-1474. www.artgallery.umd.edu.
Using nothing more than a hard pencil and soft paper, Stephen Talasnik constructs something like towers and trestles. His drawings in “Linear Transformations, Structures of Questionable Origins,” at the Marsha Mateyka Gallery, resemble architectural and machine-part renderings. Yet they’re neither modeled on nor representative of actual things. The New York artist was shaped by his childhood in a largely industrial neighborhood of Philadelphia, but he transforms those shipyards and refineries into something poetic and ethereal.
Talasnik doesn’t build up the drawings, but he does excavate them, digging into the paper with erasers and honed graphite tips. This gives an engraved appearance to some of his pictures, which resemble etchings even though the sharpest thing that’s touched them is a pencil point. Standouts such as the six-foot-high “Propellor” have a softer look, due to both the heavily worked paper and the range of rich grays.
Since 2001, the artist has been expanding his style into sculpture, assembled from wooden sticks bonded by gobs of clear polymer. (As in his drawings, Talasnik contrasts refined totalities with rough details.) The 3-D works here suggest baskets as well as steel latticework, but the most striking one, “Leaning Tower,” is the least delicate. The small wooden wall piece is coated with pulverized stone, giving it a monumental quality. It’s as if Talasnik is signaling his readiness to stop engineering and start building.
Stephen Talasnik: Linear Transformations, Structures of Questionable Origins On view through Dec. 20 at the Marsha Mateyka Gallery, 2012 R St. NW. 202-328-0088. www.marshamateykagallery.com.
Ceramic sculpture isn’t the only thing Ron Loyd and Jodi Walsh have in common; the two Maryland artists are married. Still, the work in “His & Hers,” at the Black Rock Center for the Arts, is easily distinguished. Loyd makes modestly scaled standing pieces, including tunic-like “kimonos” and the “Allegorical Pi” series, modeled on the Greek letter. All are patterned, sometimes intricately, with incised lines and shapes. The look is contemporary yet reminiscent of ancient Japanese and Korean techniques.
Walsh’s work is less traditional. She hangs dozens of ceramic forms against painted backdrops. Cascades of black rectangular or pillow-shaped pieces dangle in front of a bronze-colored panel or a red canvas painted with two textured swoops. On two mostly silver panels, the ceramic clusters hang from metal pipes that add an industrial feel. Such assemblages reveal that Walsh’s style owes as much to painting and sculpture as to pottery.
His & Hers: Ron Loyd & Jodi Walsh On view through Dec. 19 at Black Rock Center for the Arts, 12901 Town Commons Dr., Germantown. 301-528-2260. www.blackrockcenter.org/galleries/maingallery .
The seven artists in the Arlington Arts Center’s “Fall Solos 2014” show an interest in the simple and in the high-tech, often in the same piece. There are many collage and cut-paper works, from Khanh H. Lee’s bejeweled remodels of old family photos to Ann Tarantino’s delicate, backlighted abstractions. Joyce Yu-Jean Lee clips and pastes advertising headlines to make video-projection pieces, while Matthew Shelley’s “A-Frame” collages are presented in A-frame display cases.
Thomas Burkett is showing water samples from the James River, a kayak outfitted with solar panels and a paddle whose central pole has been replaced by an LED-illuminated tube. Heloisa Escudero combines the handmade and the factory-fabricated in a series of portable “galleries” that pack audiovisual gear into wooden backpacks. Escudero also made the installation that, understandably, was chosen for the show’s promo postcard. An array of detergent bottles illuminated from inside by red lights, the piece combines trash and tech with an alluring eeriness.
Fall Solos 2014 On view through Dec. 21 at the Arlington Arts Center, 3550 Wilson Blvd., Arlington. 703-248-6800. www.arlingtonartscenter.org.
There’s a whole lot of back story to Hamiltonian Gallery’s “Fellows Converge: The Moral of the Story: Sharing Inspiration.” The show features collaborations between artists and reactions to texts of six writers, including such literary intriguers as Jorge Luis Borges and Haruki Murakami.
The latter’s “The Ice Man” inspired the most complicated response, which began when Eric Gottesman mailed a block of ice from Jordan to the gallery at 14th and U streets NW. Then Billy Friebele used the melting ice and pigment to create a drawing whose watery evolution can be watched on video. Also shown are maps of new Arctic shipping routes that will open as the polar ice cap dwindles. And so the obvious — a block of ice in the desert will melt — seeps toward the ominous — the glaciers will recede and the seas will rise.
Fellows Converge: The Moral of the Story: Sharing Inspiration On view through Dec. 20 at Hamiltonian Gallery, 1353 U St. NW, Suite 101. 202-332-1116. www.hamiltoniangallery.com.
Jenkins is a freelance writer.