Spiraling across a gallery-white wall, Carson Fox’s “Orange Coral” is both naturalistic and denatured. Its branches, made of red-orange cast resin, resemble segments of a coral reef but function more as abstract forms than as depictions of real-world phenomena. The sculpture’s beauty is of itself, not of what it represents.
That’s typical of “Natural Allusions,” a show at Addison/Ripley Fine Art that convenes six artists from the District and New York, plus one former Washingtonian who now lives in Berlin. Some of the participants stay closer to their models than others, but none are confined by them. Linda Cummings’s watery renderings of reeds, ripples, shadows and surfaces are for real — they’re photographs, after all — but emphasize light and motion over things. The delicate paintings of Jackie Battenfield, the local artist who curated the show, portray flowering branches that are clearly recognizable. But they’re made with diluted acrylics on Mylar, which creates a moist, impermanent quality.
Merle Temkin’s trio of “Three Sisters” are striking cactuslike silhouettes, painted in desert-twilight tones of red, purple and near-black. Julia Bloom assembles sticks, sometimes painted a unnatural red, into large, irregular lattices that are part basket, part nest. Isabel Manalo’s forest scenes are impressionistic and high-contrast, as if bleached by light.
Judy Hoffman combines ceramics and oxides to craft objects that evoke minerals and mushrooms. They fit nicely with Fox’s other pieces, as brightly hued as “Orange Coral” but with quartzlike structures. Like most of these works, Fox’s mock rocks take nature as their guide but don’t follow its directions literally.
Natural Allusions On view through March 14 at Addison/Ripley Fine Art, 1670 Wisconsin Ave. NW. 202-338-5180. www.addisonripleyfineart.com.
Beirut-born local artist Helen Zughaib is known for playfully mimicking the styles of Western artists as varied as Picasso and “Fantastic Four” co-creator Jack Kirby. There’s just one example of that in “Conflict Within,” her show at the University of Maryland University College, and it fits the overall theme. In “Eye of the Beholder,” a presumably Arab woman hidden under a black khimar (headscarf) looks into a mirror that reflects her as a comic-book blonde from a Roy Lichtenstein painting. The picture is a complex meditation on cultural identity and self-image, rendered in a colorful, hard-edged mode that melds 1960s Pop art with classical Arab and Persian illustration.
This show is the result of Zughaib’s winning piece at UMUC’s 2013 biennial regional juried art exhibition. “Veiled Secrets,” the piece that took first prize, is included here. It shows the outline of a shrouded woman surrounded by a repeated phrase in Arabic calligraphy: “There are many secrets under the veil.” The cloaked woman is a motif in Zughaib’s work, presented alternately as symbol of hope and of despair. In 2011’s “Arab Spring II,” the veil blossoms into a garden of possibilities. In 2014’s “Left Behind Too,” the artist depicts forsaken women and children in her usual style, but in tan, gray and black instead of the usual exuberant hues.
Zughaib does mostly gouache paintings, but this selection includes 3-D works that employ fabric and found objects. Evoking the Arab Spring, the artist covers a gown and a scarf with flowers. Another robe, basically black, is festooned with day-glo smiley faces. Such juxtapositions are characteristic and can be either frisky or darkly ironic. But when the artist transforms the Lincoln Memorial into a boldly patterned temple or arrays 12 panels of peacocks in many-colored flight, the vibe is plainly joyful.
Helen Zughaib: Conflict Within On view through March 29 at the University of Maryland University College Arts Program Gallery, 3501 University Blvd. East, Adelphi. 301-985-7937. www.umuc.edu/art.
Fabricio Lara and José Miguel Bayro Corrochano, the “Two Painters From the Southern Highlands” at All We Art, were born in Bolivia in the 1960s. Both were influenced by such 20th-century Iberians as Picasso and Miro, and share a folkloric quality. But the men diverged in life as well as style. Bayro Corrochano (or “Bayro C.”) moved to Mexico, where he diversified into many media.
Bayro C.’s output includes prints, ceramics and small bronzes (including one of a voluptuous nude on horseback) as well as paintings. He designs jewelry, constructs elaborate frames for his work and sometimes incorporates metalwork into his pictures; in one portrait, an otherwise two-dimensional woman sports a real brooch in her painted hair. Bayro C. is an artist, but also something of an tinkerer.
Lara concentrates on paintings, which are vivid and mythic. They feature such Andean symbolic animals as horses (sometimes ridden by voluptuous nudes), bulls and condors. Bright reds and blues and sharply defined forms contrast earth tones and abstractly patterned areas. He often works on an epic scale, but the grand compositions are grounded by intricate detail. That parallels how he combines muscular gestures with dreamlike effects for paintings that appear immediate yet mysterious.
Two Painters From the Southern Highlands On view through March 25 at All We Art, 1666 33rd St. NW. 202-375-9713. www.allweartstudio.com.
DeLesslin George-Warren’s phone number is 803-323 . . . no, it just doesn’t seem right to publish that. But the artist’s digits are prominently displayed at the District of Columbia Arts Center, along with a Rolodex full of topics on which he invites text messages. The conceptualist’s contribution is the most interactive in “Dis/Satisfaction: Permission to Rewrite History, It’s Personal,” by nine members of Sparkplug Collective, a DCAC project since 2007.
The show, writes curator Kathryn McDonnell, features works that “confront personal memories.” Yet the art is not directly autobiographical. Casey Snyder’s mixed-media paintings are abstract but hint at representation. Brendan L. Smith’s collages combine technology of various ages, from gas masks that evoke World War I to circuit boards that became obsolete far more recently. There are portraits, but not of the artists: Jerry Truong’s black-on-black silhouettes depict Barack Obama and George W. Bush, while David Ibata’s skillful pencil drawings range from simple likenesses to more ominous scenarios.
Megan Maher and Jerome Skiscim produce pure abstractions, she with watercolor and he by painting on photographic paper. Fabiola Alvarez Yurcisin and Michael Booker work with fabric and related objects. The former has crafted a mannequin in the shape of a tree, while the latter prints woodcuts on quilted cloth, including pieces of family members’ old clothes. Rather than write personal history explicitly, Booker stitches it into patchwork.
Dis/Satisfaction: Permission to Rewrite History, It’s Personal On view through March 15 at District of Columbia Arts Center, 2438 18th St. NW. 202-462-7833. www.dcartscenter.org.
Jenkins is a freelance writer.