The 18 artists juggle whimsy and monumentality. Diane Szczepaniak placed a large tree branch with a procession of rocks on both sides; it suggests an ancient totem, save for the reflective metal on the bough’s underside. Adam Bradley’s “Crash Site,” which from a distance seems simply a pile of debris, turns out to be a witty memorial to hubris: broken wooden wings next to the partial skeleton of some latter-day Icarus.
The most primal object is David Therriault’s large limestone wheel, incised with patterns that include a segment of strong, straight lines that cut across the circle’s northeast quadrant. More intricate but equally imposing is Bobby Donovan’s assemblage of five hefty wooden crescents, arranged in swooping midair positions on five metal rods.
Of the artists that emulate organic forms, Elsabe Dixon shows the softest touch: Her “Chrysalis” is an immense sac of red found fabric, hanging from a tree as if about to birth Mothra. Donna McCullough’s running horses are distinguished by both color and form: The brown one is a silhouette, while the blue one is a cutout of the same shape — a sort of negative shadow. (McCullough works on the business side of The Washington Post.)
McCullough’s steeds are made of metal, as are the white and yellow pieces Elizabeth Miller McCue has scattered under and around — and even hanging from — a tree. They’re hard to identify at first, but the title helps: “He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not?” is an oversize daisy, its petals dismembered in a quest for romantic reassurance. Miller McCue playfully combines industrial material and sylvan setting to reflect on the nature of humans.
Artina: Introspective Through Oct. 6 at the Sandy Spring Museum, 17901 Bentley Rd., Sandy Spring.
Not all of the work in “On Paper: Rag Clay Film” is actually on paper. But each of the three artists in the show, billed by Cross MacKenzie Gallery as “a conversation across media,” deals in some way with lines or pages.
The “rags” are by Lyn Horton, whose experience includes executing Sol LeWitt conceptual wall drawings. Her own approach is more sinuous and instinctual, taking black rag paper rather than white wall as its domain. Ripples of colored pencil in muted colors flow in parallel or intertwined courses, beckoning the eye on a complex journey.
“Film” refers to photographs by John Cole, whose close-ups of the sides of books turn parallel pages into abstract landscapes. The earlier pictures simply depict straight lines. More recently, the artist has curled the sheaves of what appear to be sample books into gentle arcs or, in one case, serpentine coils. The latter photo is the one most akin to Horton’s riverine drawings.
Technically, the most remarkable element is “clay,” as fashioned by Janice Jakielski. She makes near-replicas of elegant pottery in well-known European, Asian and Middle Eastern styles. Rather than emulate the originals exactly, however, the artist constructs her likenesses with slices of porcelain. These are essentially pages, bound like books and splayed into the shapes of vases and bowls, sometimes complete with painted ceramic flowers. Amusing and impressive at the same time, Jakielski’s creations combine the delicacy of Sevres and Meissen ceramics with the flexibility of a pop-up book.
Lyn Horton, Janice Jakielski and John Cole: On Paper: Rag Clay Film Through Oct. 10 at Cross MacKenzie Gallery, 1675 Wisconsin Ave. NW.
Pink Is a Color That Feels Like Love
There’s more than one color in “Pink Is a Color That Feels Like Love,” the brightly hued, three-artist show at the University of Maryland’s Stamp Gallery. But the vivid reds and shiny greens are subsidiary to social issues addressed by sculptor Damien Davis, collagist Delano Dunn and painter Brandon Dean.
Davis makes constructions of wood and plastic whose pieces include some shaped like microscopic markers of sickle cell disease. The toylike quality of the New York artist’s artwork refers to the things children use to pass the time while hospitalized, and the machine-cut forms contrast the messiness of the human body under biological assault.
Dunn is showing two series of collages, one inspired by Supreme Court cases won on behalf of women (especially women of color) and the other depicting a sci-fi Los Angeles in shades of glitter and neon. The New York artist includes text in his work, but the words are less telling than the artificial colors and high-gloss surfaces.
Dean is a photorealist painter whose surreal scenarios critique the heroic representations of whiteness and masculinity in traditional Euro-American art. In the grandest of the Philadelphia artist’s pictures, a naked white man stands in blood-red water below towering Civil War monuments. Like the show’s other participants, Dean makes art that’s part bad old days, part bravely colorful new world.
Pink Is a Color That Feels Like Love Through Oct. 6 at Stamp Gallery, Adele H. Stamp Student Union, University of Maryland, College Park.
A large sculpture of a human hand stands in the center of the Art League Gallery, announcing that Brian Kirk has a way with steel. But the rest of the work in the Virginia artist’s “Natural Reaction” contains only traces of metal. Kirk paints — or, more exactly, prints — with rust.
The artist fabricates thin metal pieces in emblematic shapes, suggesting keys and tools, as well as that hand, which is modeled on a Hopewell Indian artifact. The objects are wrapped in paper or linen and submerged in soapy water for several months. What eventually emerges are images transferred to the white sheets in subtle shades of brownish orange. Sometimes, Kirk adds touches of indigo dye, a material that, like steel, reacts with oxygen.
The laser-cut metal shapes appear industrial and potentially practical, yet the resulting prints are earthy and unpredictable. By leaving the outcome to nature, Kirk makes imagery that’s lovely and surprising.
Brian Kirk: Natural Reaction Through Oct. 7 at the Art League Gallery, Torpedo Factory, 105 N. Union St., Alexandria.