Arts & Entertainment

Northern Virginia Art Beat

 Ildiko Voros, "Liberty Bridge, Budapest", C-Print from color Polaroid image.


Closes this Sunday May 20, in Crystal City. Located at 2121 Crystal Drive, Arlington, VA. 6th and 8th floors. Hours are: Sunday/Tuesday/Wednesday from Noon–10 p.m.; Thursday from Noon–11 p.m.; Friday/Saturday from Noon–1 a.m. See for complete details.


Nancy Warner, "Christensen Place No. 2," gelatin silver print.16th Annual Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival 

Saturday and Sunday, May 19-20, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Reston Town Center call (703) 471-9242 or see  Roughly 200 artists will have booths with art for sale. Children’s Art Tent, Jazz, Bluegrass music, and more. See web site for map, parking, and complete details.


‘Sense of Place’    

Through June 10, at Target Gallery in the Torpedo Factory Art Center, 105 North Union St, Alexandria, VA. Gallery hours: Noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. (703) 838-4565 (extension 4), or see

The Northern VA chapter of the American Institute of Architects celebrates it’s 150th anniversary with this juried show at Target Gallery featuring 25 works by 23 artists. “Sense of Place” an all-media juried show, though thematically based around architecture, is not strictly speaking an “architecture” show.

My favorite is a small color photo by Ildiko Voros (of New York City, titled “Liberty Bridge, Budapest.” Voros has taken the original SX-70 color Polaroid image, scanned it into her computer, and printed out this C-print at roughly the original Polaroid size. The C-print yielding an acceptably archival print, where as the original Polaroid image would have had a questionable life span. It’s yet another example of the advantages allowed by modern digital hardware.

Melissa Tubbs, "Manhattan Indian, NYC", pen and ink on paper.As with all photo images the “what size is best?” question comes up. “Scale it up” is the universal mantra for serious art, but not always the best answer. Voros’ image of a foggy bridge in Budapest features steel superstructure rendered in luscious blues, and foggy atmosphere in mildly acidic chartreuse. It has a balanced, yet haunting quality. Inviting and alluring, but not totally safe and secure. A sense of the unknown pervades the piece, almost inviting the viewer to see it as a visual metaphor for the journey of life. No matter how rigid the path to the other side, we never really know what lays ahead of us.

This intimate reading of the image, and the notion of the viewer’s journey across the bridge, is bolstered by the intimate size that requires you to walk up to the piece to get a better look at it. Were it printed out on a monumental scale, the viewer would be allowed to rock back on their heels and observe from a distance, thus risking the loss of intimacy. Surely it could be printed larger than this, but would most likely reach a point of diminishing, and probably depreciating returns. All this being but one of the joys, or tortures, of photography.

Virtually every other medium requires the final scale be chosen as the very first step in the process, with little if any opportunity for revisal afterward. The question of ‘how big’ seems to haunt photographers even after they’ve decided how big.

The one area traditional photographers get locked into is black and white (B+W) vs. color film. With digital cameras you just take the photo and make it B+W later, if you so choose. Thus affording a wonderful degree of flexibility.

Were is so with San Francisco photographer Nancy Warner’s B+W gelatin silver print titled “Christensen Place No. 2.” Here we find a dilapidated and paint peeled home facade. The picture window reflecting the blue sky and white clouds above. Most works depicting decay such as this have a pervading sense of wallowing in it, for better or worse. Warner’s image has a light hearted positive air of hope and dreams. As if to say, no matter how bad things look, people still have their hopes and dreams of better tomorrows. Keep you chin up, and get on with the job.

The problem here is that pesky blue sky. It’s so iconic, we’re almost forced to think of the image in color, leaving us wanting to experience the whole image in color. This photo might be a good candidate for the hand-tinted color process.

Chuck Koutnik (of Hopewell, VA) offers us an infrared B+W view of church and people titled ‘Staunton Street.’ The church rendered in radiant pure white, and the approaching people and pick-up truck silhouetted in black, offers an obvious interpretation of mortal man, pious purity and the magnetic allure of redemption.

Melissa Tubbs (of Montgomery, AL) has a serious yet almost comical pen and ink drawing titled “Manhattan Indian, NYC.” Here we see the age old ‘cigar Indian’ sculpture reduced to superfluous overhead architectural ornament. The proud Indian shades his eyes, not to better see off into the distance, but seemingly to ward off the overwhelming glass reflected light from the man-made environment surrounding him. It presents the deepest multi-dimensional spin on the “sense of place” theme. Offering a contrasting sense of time, place, values, and the changes Europeans brought to America. What America once was, and what it has become… for better and worse.


‘Artists & War’ 

Exhibition at MOCA DC, 1054 31st St NW, Washington, DC from June 8 to June 30. Open call, now accepting work. Call (202) 342-6230, or see  for complete details and fee structure.


 The Art Beat is compiled by Kevin Mellema. See for photos and more. To e-mail submissions, send them to