Art in its many forms can push boundaries, stir debate and conversation, and even challenge viewers to question what they consider to be art. “Turf and Terrain,” Arts in Foggy Bottom’s fifth outdoor sculpture biennial, does just that, meeting observers at the intersection of technology, nature and history. Each of the show’s 13 pieces by local, national and international artists — figural or abstract — is based on the artist’s interpretations of the Foggy Bottom neighborhood.
“Our hope is that the exhibition really gives visitors a chance to get a further sense of the history of the neighborhood,” curator Danielle O’Steen said during a recent tour. “The exhibition not only digs up some of that history that’s maybe been forgotten, but it also expands some details in terms of the wildlife, in terms of the architecture, in terms of the foliage that we miss on an everyday basis.”
The art in “Turf and Terrain” appears at select private homes between 24th and 26th streets NW and is open to the public. In working with the artists and the homeowners, O’Steen said she looked for homes that would pair well with the sculptures. (Two other public tours will be offered — see the box below — and private tours are offered by appointment.)
Here are some of the particularly eye-catching pieces:
Dane Winkler’s “Round Top Dig” was inspired by forgotten machinery. Although the piece is fixed in its position, its steel pulley appears as if it could move through the earth, O’Steen said, adding that Winkler focused on “creating an object that feels like it’s from some forgotten past.”
Francisco de Zurbaran’s 1635 painting of a bound lamb influenced digital artist Jonathan Monaghan’s piece “Agnus Dei (After Zurbaran).” The marble piece is perched in the front yard of a home with a “unique garden feel,” O’Steen said. Monaghan, who is displaying his artwork outdoors for the first time, says he was interested in the way luxury and technology can entomb people.
Becky Borlan’s “Bricks” reflects the history of masonry in Foggy Bottom. Bold and colorful, the piece depicts a brick wall, albeit one made entirely of transparent acrylic. O’Steen said Borlan wanted the piece — which sits in front of a white house with blue shutters — to allow for a dialogue between the house and the artwork, bringing out the texture of the neighborhood.
Rob Hackett’s “Step Right Up,” a tilted wooden staircase that sits in a grassy space, speaks to the notion of pedestrian travel in Foggy Bottom, said O’Steen, who pointed out that the homes near this piece feature “lush, incredible landscapes” surrounding the stairways leading to their entrances.
Many of the sculptures created by artist Lindsay Pichaske seem to blur the line between human and animal, and it’s in the eyes. O’Steen said her Foggy Bottom piece, “Kingdom,” a ceramic deer sculpture, was inspired by animals native to the Washington area and explores the human connection with the animal kingdom. The deer — curled up in a front yard — has humanlike eyes, designed to make its viewer a little uneasy about its appearance.
The subtropical moringa oleifera tree wasn’t meant to grow in the Washington area, but that didn’t stop D.C. artist Patrick McDonough from bringing a sapling from Florida and planting it in a terrarium he made. O’Steen said that through this piece, visitors can ponder the effects of climate change as they relate to the District.
Start a self-guided tour at 842 New Hampshire Ave. NW. Maps can be picked up at each site on the tour. Curator Danielle O’Steen will offer public tours on Aug. 20 at 11 a.m. and Sept. 16 at 7:30 p.m. To schedule a private tour, fill out the form at artsinfoggybottom.com/
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Dates: Through Oct. 22.