“Don’t look at this picture. It’s not for you.” So commands “Don’t Look,” one of the mouthy sound-and-vision pieces in “Talking Pictures,” Ron Meick’s witty show at Washington Printmakers Gallery. Visually, the Delaware artist’s pictures are diverse in style, theme and media. Augmenting the complexity are “soundcards,” activated by push buttons, that play words and music keyed to each image. These, Meick notes, are “imprinted” on the cards much as ink is impressed on paper.
Several of the works are three-dimensional as well as aural. “Black & White” partly hides a monochromatic drawing under a gold-heavy lithograph, and “Crossing the Line” incorporates a Fresnel lens that refracts a prism of light on the monotype. The most complicated piece, “Sail of Stone,” is a nautical reverie in which a sail-like triangle juts from a mostly blue woodcut, while a life jacket hangs from the frame.
Close inspection reveals that the projecting piece is actually the wooden matrix from which the image was printed. One of the things these pieces playfully chatter about are the processes that made them.
Ron Meick: Talking Pictures On view through July 1 at Washington Printmakers Gallery, 1641 Wisconsin Ave. NW. 202-669-1497. washingtonprintmakers.com.
Although he lived most of his life in London, Howard Hodgkin was inspired by visits to other countries, notably India (where he maintained a studio for a time) and the United States (where he lived as young evacuee from World War II). Among the works in Marsha Mateyka Gallery’s “The Early Prints” are ones that depict, with semiabstract verve, a Tulsa living room, David Hockney’s L.A. pool and views from Indian train windows.
Hodgkin, who died in March at 84, first exhibited his art in 1952. The prints in this array date from 1976-1986. So what makes them “early”? It wasn’t until 1977 that Hodgkin developed his trademark style, in which etchings and lithographs were hand-colored by printers following the artist’s sometimes experimental instructions. The results include this show’s version of “David’s Pool,” whose blue is all fountain-pen ink.
In both paintings and prints, Hodgkin accentuated the frame. His rectangular compositions often depict rectangular spaces, or gaze through rectangular portals. Yet they’re not rigidly geometric. Details of the physical world are distilled into fluid gestures: Trees are fields of green dots, and a window shutter is a series of magenta streaks inside a blue box.
The models for Hodgkin’s images aren’t always apparent, and vivid hues aren’t essential. Two of the most striking prints are black-and-white and essentially abstract: “Mourning,” made after a red-and-green version of the same picture, and the exquisitely layered “Souvenir.” The latter overlaps layers printed in shades of black and gray; the former highlights a swoop of gray gouache. That arc was hand-painted, but Hodgkin’s assured style was painterly even when its strokes were applied by a press.
Howard Hodgkin: The Early Prints On view through July 1 at Marsha Mateyka Gallery, 2012 R St. NW. 202-328-0088. marshamateykagallery.com.
Hyemin Lee portrays dreams and Gyeongja Lee depicts memories, both of which qualify as “Invisible Things,” the title of the duo’s show at the Korean Cultural Center. Yet neither woman makes intangible art. Indeed, their work is packed with color and content.
Hyemin Lee stitches scraps of discarded cloth into miniature pillows. A single one might be nearly unnoticeable, but the artist clusters hundreds of the tiny items into large wall-mounted pieces. One assemblage even spirals off the wall and snakes into the room. Lee also toys with an essential quality of pillows — their softness — by filling them with hard objects or casting them in bronze as glossy as the shiniest fabric she uses.
If Gyeongja Lee’s subject is memory, her recollections have a dreamlike quality when rendered in oils or prints. These cityscapes and still lifes appear almost naive, yet are precisely painted. The summery palette evokes the Mediterranean, as do the buildings in some seaside scenes. The details are hard-edged and pattern-oriented, yet the hues are rich and often warm. For pictures rooted in private reminiscence, these are appealingly immediate and universal.
Invisible Things: Hyemin Lee & Gyeongja Lee On view through June 30 at the Korean Cultural Center, 2370 Massachusetts Ave. NW. 202-939-5688. koreaculturedc.org.
Ceramics are prone to breakage, so most potters avoid making pieces with protruding bits. But Hadrian Mendoza has apparently been in a prickly mood. The series that provides the title of his Zenith Salon show, “Dangerous Flower,” features toothy tendrils that bristle from spherical forms. These are inspired by the “mathematical design of the stamen,” a gallery note explains. But there also are a “Cactus,” a few large “Blooms” that resemble dinosaur mandibles and several busts of spiky-haired punk rockers.
Heads are as common as blossoms in this selection, in fact. The Philippines-bred local artist is showing a horizontal lineup of ceramic craniums that includes a cat-pig and an E.T. with large, goggle-like eyes. There also are a circular series in which glazes drip into moptops and a smaller set with elastic cords that dangle from skulls like dreadlocks. The forms are inventive, and so are the surfaces, which range from matte to glossy and uniform to mottled. The earthy colors emphasize that Mendoza’s work in made of clay, even when he transmutes it into something as a filmy as a flower or a cloud.
Dangerous Flower: Hadrian Mendoza On view through July 8 at Zenith Gallery, 1429 Iris St. NW. 202-783-2963. zenithgallery.com.
Man is a featherless biped, says one famously inadequate philosophical definition. This affinity between human and bird inspired Sage Chandler’s “The Fowl Mood Show,” an Art League Gallery show whose outlook combines the down-home and the surreal. These pictures play on the chicken’s role in cuisine, sorcery and language.
The creatures rendered by the local painter include musicians, a dominatrix and a restaurant worker who clutches a cleaver and a plucked chicken. Perhaps its feathers are among those scattered on the room’s floor. Also included are two mirrors, so viewers can assess how they fit into the menagerie, alongside dogs and ducks as well as chickens.
Chandler is a realist who often works on a large scale, whether painting naturalistic scenes or fanciful ones. If the whimsy sometimes upstages her abilities, Chandler is hardly the first artist to be as much entertainer as observer.
Sage Chandler: The Fowl Mood Show On view through July 2 at the Art League Gallery, Torpedo Factory, 105 N. Union St., Alexandria. 703-683-1780. theartleague.org.