A walk in the woods is nothing like a stroll through a gallery; the forest isn’t divided neatly, and wild stuff abuts and overlaps. The Arlington Arts Center can’t aspire to that sort of organic jumble, but its “King of the Forest: Adventures in Bioperversity” is agreeably unruly. While some of the 14 artists dwell in just one gallery, others skitter here and there. Joan Danziger’s jewel-like oversize beetles, made largely of glass and wire mesh, are all over the place. And Krista Caballero and Frank Ekeberg’s calls of endangered and extinct birds can be heard both inside and outside the building.
Some regularly exhibited local artists easily fit the concept. Selin Balci makes eerily beautiful, painting-like pieces with mold and other microorganisms; video-animator Jonathan Monaghan contributes a loop in which a polar bear is poached by a certain soft-drink company; and Rebecca Clark depicts animals under threat — including, in this selection, from drones — in lustrously detailed pencil drawings.
Clark cites Renaissance nature studies as an inspiration, and their influence also can be seen in Lisa Crafts’s natures-morte videos. The New Yorker’s approach, however, is less solemn. Her shorts incorporate junk food, industrial pollution and animals with two heads. Among the other videos is Rachel Schmidt’s swimming penguin, projected onto a large white circle amid paper icebergs.
David D’Orio and Henrik Sundqvist’s buzzing piece highlights human dependence on bees, while other artists turn the tables on the most arrogant of bipeds. Anthony Cervino built a person-size — well, child-size — birdhouse, and printmaker Talia Greene depicts modern-day ruins colonized by tigers, crocodiles and such. She’s kidding, but in fact the area around the forsaken Chernobyl nuclear plant in Russia has become a sort of animal refuge. Whether that’s bio-salvation or bioperversity remains to be seen.
King of the Forest: Adventures in Bioperversity On view through April 3 at Arlington Arts Center, 3550 Wilson Blvd., Arlington. 703-248-6800. arlingtonartscenter.org.
For some 25 years, Maxwell MacKenzie has returned to his home state of Minnesota and photographed the same basic wooden structure, once red and now a battered gray. He has observed it as seasons shifted, skies changed and the building itself went from useful to abandoned. This found metaphor for the decline of small-town America is at the heart of “Going Deep,” McKenzie’s show at Cross MacKenzie, the gallery partly named for him. Framed symmetrically and replicated with minor variations, the former granary becomes as iconic as a Brillo box.
There are other buildings in this selection, including a quartet of similar schoolhouses and a suite of nine homes that range from modified log cabin to the McMansion of its day. Assorted shades of vegetation and varieties of clouds bracket the solitary structures. More dramatically, one picture was exposed long enough for circular star trails to appear, and another, which shows snake-like tractor tracks, was made from the air. Yet such flourishes are not typical. It’s only right that MacKenzie’s images of prairie homes be grounded and guileless.
Maxwell MacKenzie: Going Deep On view through March 31 at Cross MacKenzie Gallery, 1675 Wisconsin Ave. NW. 202-337-7970. crossmackenzie.com.
There’s only one painting in Joseph Holston’s “A Personal Art History,” which is principally etchings. But nearly all of the pieces in the Marin-Price Galleries show have been “enhanced,” the Takoma Park, Md., artist’s term for hand-colored. The prints were made between 1989 and 2012 but embellished in the past three months. This gives them a shared palette, even if the earlier works are more literally rendered than the later ones, which are sleekly stylized.
Holston portrays African Americans and Caribbeans, including fisherman, musicians, two boys on a mule and women at work or in the nude. The hues are vibrant and the shapes simple, in the manner of Jacob Lawrence’s “dynamic Cubism.” (Where Lawrence is known for his Great Migration cycle, Holston did a series on the Underground Railroad.) Bits of fabric and paper occasionally add real-world texture. But when imbued with red, orange and purple, everyday scenes such as “Summer Shower” turn ecstatic.
Joseph Holston: A Personal Art History On view through March 31 at Marin-Price Galleries, 7022 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda. 301-718-0622. marin-price.com.
The impression left by “Ralph Wickiser: A Retrospective” is not strictly accurate. The Spagnuolo Gallery show, whose paintings are mostly from the 1980s and ’90s, suggests that the painter moved from realism to near-abstraction. In fact, Wickiser went back and forth between the two throughout his career, which included a few years in Washington in the 1940s and ended with his 1998 death.
The earliest canvas is 1975’s “The Stream,” one of many Wickiser painted of a ravine in Woodstock, N.Y. It’s realistic in both execution and earth-toned palette, and big enough, seemingly, to walk right into. The second-largest picture, 1982’s “Pearls and Lace,” appears looser, but that is because it depicts shapes and reflections distorted by water. Its abstraction is, in fact, realism.
The later pictures are smaller and more colorful, with strong contrasts between hot and cool. The forms, however, are clearly derived from natural ones. To judge from this small selection, Wickiser’s later work never strayed that far from “The Stream.”
Ralph Wickiser: A Retrospective On view through April 3 at Spagnuolo Gallery, Georgetown University, 1221 36th St. NW. 202-687-9206. art.georgetown.edu/galleries/current .
The urban views in Waverly Street Gallery’s “CityScapes” range from local to exotic, and from traditional black-and-white to futuristic color. Among the standouts in this North Bethesda Camera Club showcase are a few that are smartly grouped together.
Three wide-angle shots progress from empty to full: John Willis’s study of Kayakoy, a ghost town in Turkey, hangs with Kay Norvell’s of the more tightly packed Fez, Morocco, and Lori Ducharme’s of Tokyo, stuffed with mid-rise buildings. The boldest color contrasts are in Dawn Sikkema’s portrait of a reflective modernist facade, shimmering with reds and greens, and Jean-Pierre Plé’s of a bridge’s illuminated underside, its arches gold against aqua water. Such vivid compositions transcend any particular place.
CityScapes On view through April 2 at Waverly Street Gallery, 4600 East-West Hwy., Bethesda. 301-951-9441. waverlystreetgallery.com.