Correction: An earlier version of this article misspelled the last name of Linn Meyers, an artist in the “One Year Later” exhibition at Pyramid Atlantic Art Center. The article has been updated.
In Margaret Hopkins’s “Focus,” a woman wields a large camera while three other women behind her gaze at a smartphone, probably eyeing the product of a built-in camera. If that seems an odd vignette to render in colored pencil, nearly all of the entries in the Colored Pencil Society of America’s 25th-annual exhibition are photorealist.
The 118 technically proficient artists in this show at Strathmore exalt exactitude. Some even focus on photorealistic eye candy such as water droplets (Jesse Lane’s “Adrenaline”), the facets of transparent plastic bags (Carolyn Chua’s “I See Bread”), sunlight glinting on a cap’s visor (Constance Grace’s “Reflection”) or shiny red Leatherette stool tops (Donna Graham’s “Diner”).
The members of the society (or the juror of this show) are not inclined toward freehand gestures. There is a looser feel to a handful of the drawings, notably Deane Ackerman’s “Ganges Morning,” and a few include fanciful touches. A cutaway shows the mouse in a cat’s belly in Mary Fancher’s “Tyler,” and a shadow doubles as a snake in Christi Tompkins’s “The Devil Is in the Details” — a title that suits most of these meticulous drawings.
This might be an American taste, although a half-dozen of the show’s contributors are from overseas. What links colored pencil artists in the Washington area with ones in Malaysia? Perhaps it’s their reaction to the ubiquitous smartphone camera and the low-def pictures it so often yields. In the age of the blurry selfie, colored-pencil draftsmen and -women are bringing accuracy back.
25th Annual Colored Pencil Society of America International Exhibition On view through Aug. 6 at the Mansion at Strathmore, 10701 Rockville Pike, North Bethesda, 301-581-5109. strathmore.org/visual-arts/exhibitions.
Visitors to Pyramid Atlantic Art Center will walk past many presses on their way to the second-floor gallery. But prints and other works on paper aren’t the only things in “One Year Later,” a show commemorating the center’s first year in its Hyattsville digs. There are paintings, ceramics and sculptures among the pieces by 52 artists — one for each week of the year — chosen by curator Molly Ruppert.
Among the most elegant of the traditional prints are Allan Akman’s “Lollipops,” a study of three budding tulips on black backgrounds, and Susan Goldman’s “Green Blossom,” which mounts a multicolored swirl atop an ornate green-and-gold pedestal. The photographs include Cynthia Connolly’s set of postcards, in silvery black-and-white, of cryptic yet everyday marks painted on asphalt.
Some of the three-dimensional pieces involve paper or printing, or tweak standard notions of printed matter. Brece Honeycutt’s yellow square is made of formed paper, while David Mordini’s small papier-mâché bust is made of Cialis instructions. Bill Dunlap’s gold fish flutters with flakes of loosely applied metallic leaf, and Sean Hennessey’s “Library” places volumes of green glass in a shelflike wooden box.
In this context, familiar motifs reveal previously unobserved affinities. Linn Meyers draws undulating strokes, and Laurel Lukaszewski makes stoneware sculptures, but each has contributed works in which curving lines loosely define a circle. Although only one piece is 3-D, both are sinuously organic.
One Year Later On view through Aug. 5 at Pyramid Atlantic Art Center, 4318 Gallatin St., Hyattsville. 301-608-9101. pyramidatlanticartcenter.org.
Birds sport many kinds of plumage in Claudia Samper’s pictures, which combine painting, drawing and collage. Some of the renderings in her Touchstone Gallery show are precise enough for a modern-day Audubon, but she mixes realistic creatures with cartoonish sketches and diagrams of origami avians. The juxtapositions are often playful, as in a picture where a crow holds in its mouth the strings to a bunch of bird-shaped balloons.
“They wake me every morning and we have coffee together,” Samper writes of birds in her statement on the show. Yet the Argentina-bred Virginia artist isn’t interested in the creatures purely for their own sake. For her, birds represent complexities of human communication, which is why the show is titled “Connecting the Dots.” Circle and lines link the disparate styles and objects in these pictures, in which birds commune with cupcakes and build nests from playing cards. Although such surreal contrasts might elicit smiles, to Samper they also express the difficulty of processing contradictory information.
Connecting the Dots: Claudia Samper On view through July 30 at Touchstone Gallery, 901 New York Ave. NW. 202-347-2787. touchstonegallery.com.
The abundant gold and turquoise of Samar Hussaini’s mixed-media paintings suggest earth and minerals. But the New Jersey artist is primarily inspired by the thob (or thwawb), the traditional Arab tunic whose embroidery denotes its regional origins. “Resilient,” the title of Hussaini’s Gallery Al Quds show, includes two stand-alone versions of a thob, as well as pictures that incorporate its design motifs.
Hussaini’s one-dimensional work, rendered in paint, pencil and charcoal, picks up the thob’s patterns and sometimes depicts its billowing shape. Although abstract, the pictures incorporate text, architectural features and bits of found images, which are printed on the canvas. Some pieces include stitching, which evokes not only traditional needlework, but also mending in a metaphorical sense. All of these elements embody the layers that constitute an individual’s character, Hussaini has said. They might also represent strata of history, society and culture.
Resilient: Samar Hussaini On view through July 28 at the Jerusalem Fund Gallery Al Quds, 2425 Virginia Ave. NW. 202-338-1958. thejerusalemfund/gallery.
Interests and tastes change, yet many of the subjects of Old Master paintings still engage museumgoers. The same is unlikely to prove true of the pictures in “#socialaesthetics,” Sarah Jamison’s show at Latela Art Gallery. Included are likenesses of Pikachu (remember him?), Kim Kardashian’s derrière (formidable, but not ageless) and pizza. At least the appeal of the last is eternal.
The 22 small paintings on paper, the gallery notes, are each the size of an iPhone screen and were inspired by Jamison’s “revulsion for and dependence on her phone.” The local artist uses no photographic means to achieve her painstakingly realistic pictures, which juxtapose not only images, but also such graphics as the arrow-tipped circle that indicates a video is refreshing. Jamison’s resistance to the torrent of digital flotsam is probably futile. But it should earn her some tweets.
#socialaesthetics: Sarah Jamison On view through July 28 at Latela Art Gallery, 716 Monroe St. NE, Studio #27. 202-340-3280. lateladc.com.