In cars, at cafes and on the sidewalk, people appear to be fused to their electronic devices. It’s not possible to enter their brains, but what if you could insert your head into a sort of virtual reality? D.C. found-object sculptor Dan Steinhilber put his mind to the challenge, devising the “mobile interface sites” now at G Fine Art.
“Interface” consists of what look like baggy plastic sculptures. Draped on the wall, some resemble avant garde clothing or free-form sleeping bags. The saggy yet airtight sacks come in various colors and shapes, but their full forms are not revealed until small fans (designed to cool computers) inflate them. Although that’s interesting in itself, the process is complete only when someone’s head penetrates the stretchy black material that covers a rectangular wooden portal. The experience is singular, if not exactly something Samsung could market.
The plastic billows loosely and can be adjusted by the participant’s hands, which are outside the plastic and now feel oddly detached. Inside one bag, a blue palette suggests the impossible experience of looking out from within an iceberg. Another one, a yellow tube with the simplest profile, has a pair of portals so that two heads can be secluded together.
The rest have room for just a single cranium — and its contents. The cerebral seclusion is something like being enveloped by digital information. Except that the data being processed comes from within, not without.
Dan Steinhilber: Interface On view through April 16 at G Fine Art, 4718 14th St. NW. 202-462-1601. gfineartdc.com.
Transfiguration is a natural subject for visual art, which is also in the business of altering substances and perceptions. If there are monsters involved, so much the better. For an upcoming book, “Mirror Mirrored,” Corwin Levi and Michelle Aldredge asked artists to illustrate stories from one of the great compendiums of grotesqueries — the Brothers Grimm’s fairy tales. The results are on display at Washington Project for the Arts, currently populated by characters such as Snow White and Little Red Cap (a.k.a. Little Red Riding Hood). In Paul Miller/DJ Spooky’s update of the latter’s fable, the wolf emerges from a forest whose tree trunks resemble a product bar code.
Most of the work is not especially ominous. Brittany Denigris, cleverly and minimally, alludes to the story of thieves who stole the moon with a video of a hand that hides a light, plunging the frame into darkness. Equally shadowy is Joseph Keckler’s video of a youth who sings an aria from Wagner’s “Siegfried,” an opera partly derived from a Grimm tale. Perhaps the eeriest image is Rachel Perry’s manipulated photo of a two-handed arm, inspired by a story about a man who chops off his daughter’s hands. But the starkest piece is Carrie Mae Weems’s photograph with text, “Mirror Mirror,” which predates the project. Rather than ponder an imaginary ogre, it peers at a real one: white-dominated society’s narrow idea of female beauty.
Mirror Mirrored: Art Meets the Monsters On view through April 15 at Washington Project for the Arts, 2124 Eighth St. NW. 202-234-7103. wpadc.org/exhibitions .
“Painting will always tremble, but very precisely” is one line from Anne Sherwood Pundyk’s manifesto in verse, “The Revolution Will Be Painted.” The poem’s title also designates the artist’s show at Adah Rose Gallery, which translates her words into color and line.
Pundyk pits bright, freely applied pigments — acrylic, gouache, watercolor and latex house paint — against grids and geometric forms drawn with colored pencil. The artist works on paper or canvas, the latter often unframed, and usually focuses the pictorial action at the center. That’s the focus of the thickest painting and the strongest hues; even the prim verticals and horizontals decay as they reach the edges of the compositions. Pundyk works in a studio at the rustic end of Long Island, so perhaps she’s inspired by looking out to sea, where the world vanishes behind the horizon. There’s a downtown vibrancy, however, to the hot oranges, yellows and fuchsias that splash between and beyond the lines.
Anne Sherwood Pundyk: The Revolution Will Be Painted: Deux On view through April 17 at Adah Rose Gallery, 3766 Howard Ave., Kensington, 301-922-0162. adahrosegallery.com.
“Kimono” simply means “thing to wear,” but that plain word covers some of the world’s most elaborate garb. A black gown with lotus flowers in orange and green, and a men’s under-robe with a large rendering of a bridge, are among the vintage apparel in “Timeless Transformation: Kimonos, Prints & Textiles,” at the Mansion at Strathmore. Most of the clothing, and some pieces of wooden silk-spinning equipment, are from the collection of local importer Paul MacLardy. Also included are handmade dolls, dressed in miniature silks.
Complementing these traditional items are paintings, sculpture and photography by local artists whose inspirations are not exclusively Japanese. Ron Loyd’s ceramic pieces include a Rosetta Stone-like tunic, embellished with glyphs. Laurel Lukaszewski also emulates fabric with clay, notably with a trio of porcelain bands modeled on obis, the sashes worn with kimonos. Laurence Gartel digitally mutates a kimono design into a pixelated abstraction. It’s impeccably contemporary, but no more dynamic than such wearable artworks as a century-old kimono adorned with bamboo and a peacock.
Timeless Transformation: Kimonos, Prints & Textiles On view through April 17 at the Mansion at Strathmore, 10701 Rockville Pike, North Bethesda. 301-581-5109. strathmore.org/visual-arts/exhibitions .
Expanding on the three Matisse-inspired works she showed last year at the Phillips Collection, Carol Brown Goldberg has built a full show around renderings of jungle-like gardens. The largest painting in Addison/Ripley Fine Art’s “Extravagant Edens” is “Maggie on My Mind,” also seen at the Phillips. Its vivid colors are intensified by an ebony backdrop, as its lush blooms and vines are defined by black outlines. Among the other hallucinatory florals is the equally enveloping “Red Sky,” which substitutes crimson for black.
Yet line is just as important as color, as the local artist asserts by including black-and-white ink drawings of similarly profuse landscapes. These are occasionally dusted with glitter, a modern touch, yet have an Art Nouveau feel. Goldberg’s Edens may have begun with Matisse, but their tangled loops and coils also recall Aubrey Beardsley.
Carol Brown Goldberg: Extravagant Edens On view through April 14 at Addison/Ripley Fine Art, 1670 Wisconsin Ave. NW. 202-338-5180. addisonripleyfineart.com.