Arts & Entertainment

Northern Virginia Art Beat

‘Natural Inclinations’

Through February 24 at the McLean Project for the Arts, on the second floor of the McLean Community Center, 1234 Ingleside Ave., McLean, VA. Gallery Hours are Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturdays 1 to 5 p.m. For more information call (703) 790-1953, or see www.mpaart.org .

The announcement card for ‘Natural Inclinations’ features dirt on the floor. Often just the sort of art operating as High Concept – Low Craft work that’s virtually opaque as to the artist’s intention. The ‘room full of grass’ syndrome, if you will. There are of course wonderful works in this genre, such as almost anything by British environmental artist Andy Goldsworthy. But you don’t seriously expect to see work of that caliber very often. Then again, life does harbor surprises.

While Margaret Boozer’s work certainly has the flavor of Goldsworthy’s, it’s hardly imitative. Boozer uses native clays from around her Mt. Rainier studio in playful, yet profound ways. The dirt drawing titled ‘Angle of Incidence II’ is an oblong placement of three materials. Two opposing wedge shaped forms of clay shards, with a diagonal pouring of wet clay between them. The shards run from hunks that seem like broken pottery, gradated down to a fine crumbling. The pouring done at the opening of the show, will over time dry out and more closely resemble that of it’s neighbors. When the show is over it will be swept up and no doubt be used in yet another piece in another location. It’s just such a transitory state, culminating in dissipation that marks much of Goldsworthy’s work.

However there seems something metaphorical in ‘Angle of Incidence II’. It’s basically homogenous material except for the placement there of, and the temporary infusion of water in the center pouring, which makes it look more like cake batter than dirt. It could easily been seen as a metaphor for people, money and our perceptions there of. In the end we’re all made of the same stuff, but money has a way of making things seem otherwise, for a while anyway. However you look at it, it’s a fun and exciting piece of work.

Additionally Boozer has wall pieces comprised of clay discs, that remind one of core samples as much as anything else. Both these and the dirt drawing have drop outs at the edges that are more reminiscent of renderings missing lines in highlight areas. It’s a nice touch that keeps the eye entertained.

"Natural Inclinations’ clearly has a Mother Earth vein running through it, a cyclically, even permanence through impermanence if you will. However the work of Marc Robarge takes things a tad further. Here we see the aggressive maternal instinct to protect her young fantastically applied not to animals, as we would expect, but rather to botany. His work has bark laden forms protecting what we can only imagine are seed pods, with assorted barbs and horns in the vicinity to ward off intruders. The works have a menacing air about them. It’s nice work with a psychological ‘push-pull’ that intrigues us, yet makes us want to keep our distance all at the same time.

Elizabeth Burger works have a much more serene, even contemplative air to them. Three floor to ceiling vase forms crafted out of handmade abaca and flax paper, house piacava (palm fibers) which flow over the top, and tail like out the bottom. Clearly fragile works that will last only as long as the natural materials do.

Laura Thorne while still operating in that mother earth mode has taken a far more traditional approach to her sculptures having much of them cast in blue patinaed bronze. ‘Ritual’ featuring four driftwood totems and a central bowl with lotus pod is some sort of ritual alter for water worship. We can only imagine the people and practices carried out there. The driftwood is disturbingly real, except for the blue tint which really makes you scratch your head.
Additionally the atrium gallery features ‘Veer’ a series of abstractions by Janet DeCover. The ramp gallery has a series of paintings called ‘Multitudes’ by Maroe Susti, that deal with herds of humanity. Over population and group think seem to be her main themes here.

Handmade greeting cards and the like are shown in “House of Cards 2”’ from February 2 to 18, at the Del Ray Artisans, 2704 Mount Vernon Avenue, Alexandria, VA Gallery Hours are Fridays from 7 to 9 p.m., Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sundays from Noon to 4 p.m. Call (703) 838-4827, or see www.thedelrayartisans.org  

 Artist Opportunities ————–

Arlington Independent Media “2007 Rosebud Film and Video Festival” Deadline for submissions is February 11, by mail or at the ‘Drop off Party’. Entry fee is $10 for members, $25 for non-members. 5 winners will receive $1,000, with best of show receiving an additional $500 in tape and production services. Call (703) 524-2388, or see www.arlingtonmedia.org  for complete details.