Arlington might not be quite as photogenic as the city across the Potomac, but two of the area’s best art photographers have made striking vistas of the county’s suburban landscape. Frank Hallam Day and Anne Rowland will discuss their Arlington-commissioned projects Tuesday at 6 p.m. in the lobby of Courthouse Plaza, where some of the photos will be displayed.
Both artists’ photos have been visible for a while, if not in the most accessible places. Five of Day’s ghostly nighttime views of Rosslyn are permanently installed in Courthouse Plaza’s first-floor conference rooms, and Rowland’s 15-photo tour of Arlington’s Potomac shoreline is partway through a year-long trip on one of the rolling galleries dubbed “Art on the ART Bus.” (The Arlington Transit vehicle will stop in front of the building for a peek Tuesday at 6:39 and 7:49 p.m.)
It’s fitting that Rowland’s pictures have been in motion since July, because they began on a boat. The photographer took to the Potomac in the spring, shooting the waterfront with an iPhone and a point-and-shoot camera attached to a 20-foot bamboo pole. (This means the pictures hail from the District, because the river itself is not in Virginia.) The finished panoramas were “constructed” — that’s Rowland’s term — from multiple frames with photo-editing software.
Rowland is not a documentary photographer, and she acknowledges the influence of Romantic-period painting on her style. Her Potomac pictures don’t entirely exclude the modern: Airplanes fly overhead, and graffiti garnishes a bridge. But anyone who encounters the photos on the ART bus will find a pastoral vision quite unlike what they can see out the window.
Day makes pictures that imbue the everyday with vivid strangeness. This is true of both his Rosslyn photos and his current Addison/Ripley Fine Art show, “Please Pay Here.” His recent work promises a more casual approach. Day no longer uses “big serious gear,” he writes, and most of these prints are smaller than his usual ones. But they’re still eerie, with a film-noir vibe that comes from shooting after dark and through streaky glass, scratched plastic or various sorts of water vapor.
A world traveler, Day often focuses on humid, neon-smeared Asian scenes. This selection includes glances at Bali, Bangkok and Singapore, but also Berlin, Sudan and New York. Multiple layers and surfaces are typical of the pictures, which gaze through as well as at. Some benefit from exotic locations, but Day can find the uncanny in things as commonplace as an elevator button, glowing red as though beckoning to another dimension.
Through the Lens of Frank Hallam Day and Anne Rowland: Two Photographers' Perspectives of Arlington Through Jan. 31 at Arlington Courthouse Plaza, 2100 Clarendon Blvd., Arlington, and through summer 2018 on Art on the ART Bus. publicart.arlingtonva.us. Frank Hallam Day: Please Pay Here Through Dec. 2 at Addison/Ripley Fine Art, 1670 Wisconsin Ave. NW. 202-338-5180. addisonripleyfineart.com.
Bridget Sue Lambert
A 3-D visual pun greets visitors to Civilian Art Projects, explaining why Bridget Sue Lambert named her show “Seal the Deal.” The D.C. artist photographs tableaux that she has staged with miniature props in dollhouses and then enlarges the pictures so the scenes approach life-size. One of these photos features a tiny toy seal on wheels, an object Lambert then replicated at a larger scale with painted foam board. The four-foot-high plaything, which the artist calls a “totem,” presides over the room.
That’s not the show’s only game piece. Wrapped around a corner is a massive scene that can be customized with magnetized cutouts of consumer products. The movable items are as varied as Velveeta, a Jello mold, condoms and whiskey.
Lambert often contrasts the little-girl milieu of the dollhouse with insinuations of grown-up life. This photographic suite, however, evokes morning-after melancholy less than mortality and decay. Although many of the props appear fresh and new, their setting is rusted and stained. Thus “Seal the Deal” suggests not just childhood’s end, but the eventual decline of everything.
Bridget Sue Lambert: Seal the Deal Through Dec. 2 at Civilian Art Projects, 4718 14th St. NW. 202-607-3804. www.civilianartprojects.com.
Metaphrase & Ulterior Perspective
Color and line define space in at least six different ways in parallel shows at two Marymount University locations. At the school’s new Ballston Center, “Metaphrase” hangs Jeremy Flick’s hard-edge paintings alongside Jon Malis’s high-tech abstractions. At the main campus, “Ulterior Perspective” juxtaposes work by J.T. Kirkland, Chee-Keong Kung, Anne Smith and Monica Stroik.
Flick and Malis turn digital simulation into physical reality. Flick draws on 20th-century color-field painting, but toys with his predecessors’ styles. He staggers green and gray bands to make a static-like jangle, and slips a barely perceptible shape into the purple bar of a Gene Davis-like stripe sequence. Malis bases his spectrum-spanning compositions on the international standards for computer-represented hues, and prints them on shaped aluminum panels or 3-D plaster stone. Both artists offer intriguing shapes and patterns, but their colors are what really zings.
If the inspiration for “Ulterior Perspective” appears more architectural, that’s partly because three of the artists work with wood. Stroik leaves bare areas on the wooden panels on which she paints building details and contours, sometimes outlined on sky-blue backdrops. Exposed plywood grain is integral to Kirkland’s work, although two recent paintings on shaped panels entirely cover the surface with bright (and not always geometric) forms.
Smith’s “Hedron I” arranges patterned wood panels, some blackened with graphite. Her other pieces, which include allover black drawings punctuated by vestigial white lines, are one-dimensional. But her two prints of colorful overlapping polygons conjure a strong sense of depth. So do Kung’s drawing-paintings, in which lines and rectangles jumble amid tornadoes of abstraction. Kung’s pictures are the stormiest in either show, but even they feature straight lines and right angles.
Metaphrase Through Dec. 2 at Marymount University Ballston Center Gallery, 1000 N. Glebe Rd., Arlington. marymount.edu/ballston-center-gallery.
Ulterior PerspectiveThrough Dec. 1 at Barry Gallery, Marymount University, 4728 N. 26th St., Arlington. 703-284-1561. marymount.edu.