Returning from countries where they chronicled the effects of globalization, six Metro Collective photographers chose a stark title for their Leica store show: “My Tears Will Stain.” The pictures, however, are mostly less severe. Michael Robinson Chavez captures a boy in mid-dive, and Scott Dalton finds another kid carrying a tree-size supply of pink cotton candy. The only one of the sextet who’s showing work in color, Dalton neatly frames the candy-colored fluff against blue sky.
Founded in Adams Morgan, Metro Collective now has members in nine U.S. and European cities. They practice what is known as street photography, a term that shouldn’t be taken too literally. Many of the pictures were made on rural roads or small-town thoroughfares, and Daniel Cima’s richly detailed series portrays migrants in a drought-ravaged Ethiopia, whose scenery includes billowing clouds, as well as a military tank. Michael Bonfigli’s photos, however, were made on and underwater, where divers seem to be pursuing food rather than fun.
The photos usually emphasize people, many of them men at work or children at play. (Rivaling the cotton-candy boy is Chavez’s shot of a kid who’s wrapped him- or herself in a shroud.) Hector Emanuel includes a mountainscape in his study of life at high, arid altitudes, and Robert Knoth offers a road scene in which a man almost merges with the landscape. But then nearly all these images find an affinity between environment and inhabitants. The Metro Collective members may work the street, but they capture whole worlds.
Metro Collective: My Tears Will Stain Through June 20 at Leica, 977 F St. NW. 202-787-5900. leicastoredc.com.
In 1689, Japanese poet Matsuo Basho began a nearly three-year walk later chronicled in his book “Narrow Road to the Deep.” (English translations of the title usually add the word “North.”) Almost nothing Basho might have glimpsed is visible in Fred Zafran’s “Along the Poet’s Narrow Road,” a show at Multiple Exposures Gallery that focuses on modern Japan. But one barely visible sign that reads “Tohoku” (east-north) proves that the Virginia photographer did follow Basho’s path.
There are a few evocative shots of pre-modern places and things, notably an incense burner outside a temple. New and old clash gently in a picture of a kimono-clad figure inside a bland modern building. Yet most of the drama in these coolly beautiful pictures is purely visual: multiple overlaid planes, reflections in glass or water, and the play of light and dark. Indeed, the person in that interior shot is cloaked as much in shadow as in silk.
Muted colors emulate the traditional Japanese palette, while blue light reveals the universal pall of artificial illumination. A face behind a train door window suggests various forms of distance, both physical and psychological. Zafran seeks the deepness of Japan via its overlapping surfaces.
Fred Zafran: Along the Poet’s Narrow Road Through June 17 at Multiple Exposures Gallery, Torpedo Factory, 105 N. Union St., Alexandria. 703-683-2205. multipleexposuresgallery.com.
Stuffed into hivelike wooden boxes and mounted on the wall, the small assemblages in Mojdeh Rezaeipour’s “Fractal Futures” seem to encapsulate the divide between nature and the artist. The Olly Olly show juxtaposes organic remnants — moss, roots and branches, a turtle shell, a deer skull — with black-and-white photo cutouts of the Tehran-born local artist’s arms, legs, hands and feet. Her body parts nestle with scraps of the natural world, even if the fit is not perfect.
The show also illustrates another breach, exemplified by the largest piece. On the floor, a large box is filled with dirt and the partial shapes of two countries, cut from wood: the United States on the left and Iran on the right. The outlines of ferns are burned into each side, giving continuity to the two halves. The artist ponders “hyphenated identity” and pursues “wholeness and belonging,” the gallery’s note explains. Collage is often employed to represent fragmentation, but Rezaeipour’s objective — both artistic and personal — is unity.
Mojdeh Rezaeipour: Fractal Futures Through June 23 at Olly Olly, 10417 Main St., Second Floor, Fairfax. 703-789-6144. ollyollyart.com.
Inspired by jazz, classic rock and midcentury Washington colorists, Barbara Januszkiewicz makes energetic abstractions in which sprays of bright color splash and bloom. She began this style with watercolor on paper and then began to experiment with staining acrylic pigment into unprimed canvas in the manner pioneered by Helen Frankenthaler and Morris Louis. Several examples of this approach are included in “Acoustic Fields,” at Martha Spak Gallery. But most of these pictures are the product of a newer method.
The Arlington artist employs acrylics on watercolor paper that is then mounted on sheet-metal rectangles. She covers the image in thin washes of resin and sometimes adds more brushwork between the coats. In form, the paper-on-metal paintings are similar to Januszkiewicz's other pictures: They suggest flowers, flames and the Northern Lights, and their dominant hues are sometimes set off by jewel-like grains of contrasting colors. But the combination of metal underpinning and shiny resin yields luminous lighter tones, especially the whites. The multilayered compositions appear to glow from inside.
Barbara Januszkiewicz: Acoustic Fields Through June 24 at Martha Spak Gallery, 40 District Square SW. marthaspak.com/gallery-at-the-wharf.
Some of the sculptures in Trish Palasik’s Studio Gallery show are akin to the frozen gestures of Liz Lessner's just-closed Honfleur Gallery one: white swoops that appear as ethereal as tangible. Other pieces in Palasik’s “Exploring Forms” look more substantial but aren’t that different in material. The local artist’s most streamlined objects are built with paper and clay; several of the others have bronze-like patinas yet are made of terra cotta or cast resin.
The white wisps arc and spiral to express concepts — one is titled “Freedom” — and emotions. The curves of the other works depict the female body, abstracted but recognizable. While the three seemingly metallic “Graces” display various degrees of realism, the paper-and-clay “Grace I Anew” stands somewhere between a figure study and an apparition. Even when derived from actual ones, Palasik's forms are archetypal and elusive.
Exploring Forms: Trish Palasik Through June 16 at Studio Gallery, 2108 R St. NW. 202-232-8734. studiogallerydc.com.