Only about six months have passed since Tim Doud’s last local gallery show, but his “Parthenogenesis” is hardly a footnote to that one. The local painter is known for portraits, which are absent from the exhibition presented by the Curator’s Office at Studio 1469. These pictures are very nearly abstractions, although their inspiration is tactile.
Although the selection includes some works on paper, it consists primarily of four suites of paintings. Each batch reworks the same motifs in different sizes and arrangements, using such diverse pigments as acrylic, flashe, spray paint and thick, shiny oil enamel.
The pictures are abstractions with a hint of Stuart Davis’s Picasso-influenced still lifes, and are partly modeled on fabric patterns and the logos of apparel retailers such as Burberry and Tommy Bahama. Stripes, plaids and single-color blocks evoke shirts, sofas or an entire universe.
Unlike ’60s pop artists, Doud doesn’t exalt or employ mass-production techniques. The paintings are similar yet individual, with clear evidence of the artist’s hand. That’s where the show’s title comes in: Parthenogenesis is asexual reproduction that produces offspring with slight variations. So Doud’s zebra-striped pictures feature subtle kinks and slippages, each one potentially a path to someplace or something new.
Tim Doud: Parthenogenesis Through Nov. 12 at the Curator’s Office at Studio 1469, 1469 Harvard St. NW, rear. 202-518-0804. curatorsoffice.com.
As part of an area-wide campaign to raise awareness of human trafficking, Artworks for Freedom this fall organized a series of events and exhibitions. The latter include “Reclaiming Freedom: A Call and Response,” at the Watergate Gallery, and “Golden Doors to Freedom,” at the Torpedo Factory.
The Watergate show’s subtitle refers to its pairing of artists and writers, so that text accompanies nearly every artwork. Some of the entries don’t directly address the theme, and — as is typical of such endeavors — not all of the show’s elements fit together neatly. But there are distinctive pieces amid the more literal-minded ones.
Jessica Kallista’s “Sugar” is a candy-colored color field painting that incorporates real confectionery morsels. Jeremy Kunkel’s kinetic sculpture activates grasslike wooden stalks, painted red and black. Helen Zughaib offers the baby shoes, decorated with patterns redolent of the Arab world, also featured in a print recently shown at Washington Printmakers Gallery.
Martin’s Swift’s “Corpus Cotton,” a late addition to the show, is its most evocative entry. In this well-executed neoclassical oil, a woman presents the essential crop of the slavery-era American South, while her face is hidden in darkness. She’s a cog in somebody’s machine, barely seen and utterly unacknowledged.
Local artist and gilder William Adair has made a practice of adorning old doors with gold leaf and inviting people to add graffiti to the gleaming surfaces. “Golden Doors to Freedom” includes 12 such portals, each with scrawls and stickers provided by a different group. The multilingual exhortations are not profound, but what matters is the spirit of collective action and the symbolism of the exits and entrances. Grouped in the art center’s lobby, they suggest a dozen escape routes. The more skeptical, however, might see doors that lead nowhere as merely a mirage of deliverance.
Reclaiming Freedom: A Call and Response Through Nov. 4 at Watergate Gallery, 2552 Virginia Ave. NW. 202-338-4488. watergategalleryframedesign.com.
Golden Doors to Freedom Through Nov. 19 at the Torpedo Factory, 105 N. Union St., Alexandria. 703-746-4570. torpedofactory.org/event/the-golden-doors-to-freedom. (For information on the campaign, visit artworksforfreedom.org.)
At a moment when ritual expressions of American patriotism are being hotly contested, Carla Edwards flies flags of alienation. The Brooklyn artist’s fabric assemblages, the most striking objects in I Street Gallery’s “Close at Hand,” are made of U.S. flags that have been bleached of their stronger colors, cut apart and resewn so they appear only vaguely familiar.
The pieces are formally intriguing: The blocks and stripes of drained color recall abstract painting, and the banners are hung to contrast straight lines and hard edges with the slackness of draped material. But it’s the partial negation of the stars-and-stripes that renders them so powerful.
“Close at Hand,” organized by independent curator Blair Murphy, also includes work by local artists Roxana Geffen, Hedieh Javanshir Ilchi and Amber Robles-Gordon. Geffen does childlike abstractions, heavy on pink. Ilchi’s mixed-media pictures are flowing, darkly hued and punctuated with nature imagery, gemlike gobs of paint and motifs from Persian illuminated manuscripts.Robles-Gordon is known for hanging arrays of found cloth strips and scraps. Her work here is on fabric, but it collages paper images amid treelike uprights. In the forest are commercial materials like “The Lion King” logo, shards of African history as casually rewritten by the pop-culture industry.
Close at Hand Through Nov. 10 at I Street Gallery, 200 I St. SE. blair-e-murphy.com/close-at-hand.
Interactive-art venue Artechouse debuted in June with a French import whose computerized light shows drew on literature and dance. The gallery’s second show is just as complicated visually and technologically, but simpler intellectually.
Designed expressly for the space, “Spirit of Autumn” turns the main room into a single environment of virtual trees and leaves. Five stations respond to sound or motion: Claps cue rain or lightning, while proximity to one wall summons a figment of fall in the shape of the visitor. Another way to enter the make-believe landscape is to color (on paper) a leaf that will be scanned and added to the tumbling foliage.
A group called Noirflux designed pieces for the smaller side galleries. One conjures autumn leaves that follow people; the other does something similar with a swirl of fall colors that looks a bit like an oil slick.
The concept is elementary, but painstakingly detailed. Visitors who arrive in late afternoon can watch day turn to night in the simulated sky. It’s probably most diverting to do so in the company of friends, or from the bar that overlooks the forest of pixels.
Spirit of Autumn Through Nov. 5 at Artechouse, 1238 Maryland Ave. SW. artechouse.com.