In minimalist color paintings, tiny variations in hue or texture can generate a surprising amount of drama. So it is with the six single-color rectangles in “Electronic Transmissions,” C. Tara Gladden and David Gladden’s show at Civilian Art Projects at Studio 1469. But these blocks of allover crayon-box tints are on video, not canvas, and literally oscillate around their edges. The tonal variations are partly in the eye of the beholder, and partly in the screens themselves.
The married couple, who are based on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, work with video, sound and light, sometimes incorporated into sculptural objects. They take existing images and noises and distort them with synthesizers and glitch boxes. One construction stacks five obsolete CRT monitors that pulse with corrupted nature footage set to electronic hums, recalling both Nam June Paik’s towering multi-TV assemblages and Brian Eno’s barely there music.
The Gladdens’ interest in circles and the human body yields several pieces. One features a close-up video of a blinking eye, and a companion artwork presents the viewer’s eye, reflected in a mirror nestled in a steel box. Eyes are among the parts of her anatomy that C. Tara Gladden photocopied for an installation that arrays collages under black light. Also ablaze in the room are single-color lines and blocks, rendered in Day-Glo paint. As with the couple’s monochromatic videos, the results are quiveringly vital.
C. Tara & David Gladden: Electronic Transmissions Through July 20 at Civilian Art Projects at Studio 1469, 1469 Harvard St. NW, rear. The show will close July 20 with three 20-minute sets of ambient music by the artists and two other performers, beginning at 7:30 p.m.
Chinese calligraphy is the thread that connects the contributors to the CCACC Gallery’s “Lines of Force.” Yet not all of the artists are calligraphers, and not all of the calligraphy is Chinese. Myoung-Won Kwon’s texts are in Korean, and other scripts are known only to the artists who fashioned them. While Loi Che Chan does employ Chinese, she revives extravagantly illegible cursives as old as the eighth century.
The show grew out of an exhibition last year in Amsterdam that included D.C. artist Kit-Keung Kan. Here he and 10 others, five from the Netherlands, are showing individual works and a large collaboration that incorporates hanging banners and suspended vines.
The vines were added by Howard and Mary McCoy, who arrange dry grapevines into seemingly calligraphic gestures. Hsiu-Hsuan Huang does something similar with twigs and leaves, although her collages culminate as photographs rather than sculptures. Another sort of woodworker, Foon Sham, is known for towering sculptures but here offers delicate, circular drawings that appear to emanate from small wooden chips mounted on the paper.
Several of the artists hew closer to traditional calligraphy. Kan shatters the character for “truth” and brushes the shards across nine sheets of paper. Mark van Praagh invents his own fluid scripts in works that merge writing, painting and sculpture. Ferdinand Bertholet brushes bold black strokes on brown rice paper, then rips the sheets and mounts them so that the breaks become integral to the final form.
Space is as important as ink in Asian calligraphy, which gives it an affinity with landscape painting. Rita Lewi’s brushwork is calligraphic, but her mountain scenes inject bold color into a show that’s largely black and white. Hannie Vonsee combines black lines with watery, blue gestures that float in seas of white. Her one-dimensional work conjures as strong a sense of openness as the collaborative piece that dangles in actual space.
Lines of Force: Eleven Artists From Amsterdam and Metropolitan Washington D.C. Through July 19 at the CCACC Art Gallery, 9318 Gaither Rd., Gaithersburg.
Washington’s mid-20th-century color painters were known for the flatness of their images, made with diluted pigment that seeped into the canvas. Yet among their fellow travelers was Alexandria artist Hilda Shapiro Thorpe (1919-2000), who turned from painting to sculpture. Her work is the stated inspiration for “Notes of Color,” a Washington Sculptors Group show at the Athenaeum.
All of the pieces are wall-mounted, like paintings, and that’s not the only resemblance. John A. Schaffner offers a stripe picture in 3-D: five parallel ribbons of curved wood, each a single bright hue. Kate Fitzpatrick adds a web of embroidery thread to an abstract canvas. Jenny Wu arranges tiny strips of dry latex pigment in undulating patterns. Penny Jacoby daubs mottled orange and green on burlap whose folds suggest D.C. colorist Sam Gilliam’s style of drapery, except that Jacoby fixes the creases in place with modeling paste.
Jacoby’s creation is one of several that can be seen as abstracted floral arrangements. Lynda Smith-Bügge uses copper leaf to accentuate the interiors of black wooden petals. Steve Wanna’s blossoms are made of synthetic wax and placed inside square boxes that contrast with the organic forms. Marilyn Geldzahler nestles porcelain buds in piles of dirt and twigs.
There’s a crablike pincer in Craig Schaffer’s “Animal/Vegetable,” made of painted steel, while Marja Ponkka-Carpenter’s “Raspberry” arranges red fabric cones in a circular format. The piece is a poised exercise in color and form, but also a succulent simulation.
Notes of Color: The Washington Sculptors Group Through July 21 at the Athenaeum, 201 Prince St., Alexandria.
There are standout pieces in Olly Olly Art’s “Somewhere Between You and Me,” yet the show asks to be taken as a whole. The gallery and adjacent hallway are crammed with 120 works by four young artists who describe themselves as non-binary transgender. Among the offhand items clustered by Miki Beyer, Sami Cola, Paul Karcic and Emil Melia are snapshots, handwritten autobiographical jottings and hasty cartoons on lined paper.
Karcic’s elegant large-format photographs, which portray the quartet, are the show’s cornerstones. Melia is a skilled printmaker whose “Dual Inadequate” is a split-screen view of someone (or some ones) who stuffs both underpants and a bra. Beyer offers a photo sequence that depicts a haircut, supplemented by severed brunette curls, in a piece whose title indicates that the goal was to irk “my mom.” Exhibiting one’s own hair could hardly be more personal, but the show’s overall vibe is communal.
Somewhere Between You and Me Through July 20 at Olly Olly Art, 10417 Main St., second floor, Fairfax.