One of Trevor Young’s essential subjects is what modernist architects called “the machine in the garden” — a high-tech structure enveloped by nature. But the D.C. realist painter isn’t interested only in austerely geometric designs. Young’s show “Light Structures,” at Addison/Ripley Fine Art, includes pictures of gas stations, as well as upscale edifices.
The things Young paints, on both intimate and sweeping scales, include highway buildings, construction sites and glass houses that blaze from within. All are pictured at night, when the play between light and dark illuminates their basic forms and boosts the pictorial drama. Just about everything in the painter’s world serves as a beacon.
In a small picture, electric lines parallel a vertical slice of asphalt under a mottled red-gray sky. The wires are rendered in white, so they look like ribbons of light. The most elaborate structures are urban street grids, incandescent lattices viewed from elevated vantages and framed by mountains or sea. Young doesn’t directly depict humans, but he finds them in their glowing traces.
Trevor Young: Light Structures Through May 26 at Addison/Ripley Fine Art, 1670 Wisconsin Ave. NW. 202-338-5180. addisonripleyfineart.com.
That Define Us
One of the subjects of “The Elements That Define Us” could hardly be more recognizable: the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. waiting silently (and, it seems, skeptically) in a video edited by Larry Cook. Yet this show of portraiture at the Prince George’s African American Museum and Cultural Center isn’t packed with familiar faces. Rather, it seeks to depict the contemporary black experience.
With work by more than 20 mostly local artists, stylistic diversity is inevitable. It’s amplified by the use of collage, found images and energetic cross-references, most often to pop art and expressionist abstraction.
James Terrell’s portrayal of Jean-Michel Basquiat borrows from that artist’s own graffiti-stoked technique. More common, though, are renderings of archetypes and enigmas. Ulysses Marshall embellishes photo collage with painterly gestures and repurposes a bottle as a sort of cage. A face barely emerges from Chanel Compton’s fabric collage, painted with palm wine. Gina Marie Lewis hangs three masks on a fabric-draped bamboo frame. Jamea Richmond Edwards, who often centers compositions on the same powerful female visage, here places it amid multicolored raindrops.
Even at their most specific, the artworks reflect more than lone individuals. Alonzo Davis makes that explicit with a set of three nests, two of which hold photos, while the third contains a mirror. Gazing at “The Elements That Define Us” is a two-way process.
The Elements That Define Us Through May 25 at Prince George’s African American Museum and Cultural Center, 4519 Rhode Island Ave., North Brentwood. 301-809-0440. pgaamcc.org.
At Brooklyn College about 25 years ago, Lois Dodd taught Colleen Cox. That’s one reason for Gallery Neptune & Brown’s “Two Painters: A Visual Dialogue,” which juxtaposes the artists’ gently realistic modes. Another is to display vintage Dodd watercolors that have never been publicly exhibited.
Made mostly in the 1960s at her vacation home in Maine, Dodd’s pictures began as drawings. The pencil lines are evident, and often indispensable. The subjects are landscapes and female nudes, depicted in a summery style. The most common colors are pinks (for rocks as well as flesh) and greens, applied translucently but seldom loosely. The artist, now 91, was deliberate even in this spontaneous medium.
Cox’s paintings are darker and more precise, which in part is simply because they’re oils. Many are still lifes of simple objects, reminiscent of Giorgio Morandi’s but more detailed and with some brighter colors amid the tans and grays. Cox’s summer place is in South Dakota, where she paints big-sky scenes that flirt with abstraction. The biggest contrast in this show is not between Dodd and Cox, but between Cox’s indoor and outdoor modes.
Lois Dodd & Colleen Cox: Two Painters: A Visual Dialogue Through June 2 at Gallery Neptune & Brown, 1530 14th St. NW. 202-986-1200. neptunefineart.com.
Most of the imagery in Brentwood Arts Exchange’s “Biomorphic” is as abstract as it is organic. Tom Hill’s exuberant paintings and Liza Linder’s intricate mosaics feature curving forms that might be cells or suns, roots or comets. That Linder’s large circular assemblages could represent eggs only registers when the viewer notices that one of the rounds is being approached by a beaded spermatozoa applied separately to the wall.
The ovum appears hard-shelled, since Linder works with glass, ceramic and metallic shards, some of them mirror-like. Hill’s hot-hued pictures look softer, as they employ drips, free gestures and varying thicknesses of paint. But they also include rectangular shapes, and even their squishiest strokes turn rigid under the shiny glazes that freeze the pigment in place.
The two artists, who maintain Brentwood-area studios, use different media to yield finished works that are often tightly packed. Yet a few of Linder’s mosaics are arrayed in parts on the white walls, which gives them a sense of openness. All the ingredients are rock-solid, save for a crucial one: air.
Biomorphic: Tom Hill and Liza Linder Through May 26 at Brentwood Arts Exchange, 3901 Rhode Island Ave., Brentwood. 301-277-2863. arts.pgparks.com/1782/Brentwood-Arts-Exchange.
To conclude two-year emerging-artist fellowships endowed by Touchstone Gallery’s foundation, Carol Ann Moore and Susi Cora are having dual solo shows at the venue. Moore’s “Seeking Refuge” and Cora’s “Highwire: Precarious Balance” each draw inspiration from the natural world.
Cora makes digital photo collages and ceramic sculptures, sometimes incorporating sticks and stones. Among the local artist’s most striking pieces are a pit-fired torso whose finish suggests smoky glass and a sheath of ceramic sheets hung like leaves on a bend of wood.
Moore’s delicate, precise prints are made with various techniques and finished with hand coloring. The most realistic pictures, notably of a fox curled up in grass, are similar to fine children’s book illustrations. Less literally, the Maryland artist builds creatures from such found objects as leaves and pine needles. These she impresses into soft-ground plates, so the resulting print is both of and from nature.
Carol Ann Moore: Seeking Refuge and Susi Cora’s Highwire: Precarious Balance. Through May 27 at Touchstone Gallery, 901 New York Ave. NW. 202-347-2787. touchstonegallery.com.