Arts & Entertainment

Northern Virginia Art Beat

 Blur motion photo from the Velocity Series by Kelly Egan, part of the MFA graduates show at Arlington Art Center through July 21.

‘New Art Examined III’

Through July 21, at Arlington Art Center. 3550 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, Virginia. Gallery Hours: Tuesday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call (703) 248-6800, or see
New Art Examined III presents the work of ten recent MFA graduates from the Mid-Atlantic states. It’s a diverse lot running the gamut from found object tableaus, both large and small, all the way to sculptural video production. 

Three of the ten are working with reasonably traditional photography. Kelly Egan has three blur motion photos with the blur itself as subject matter. Panned, or shot out the car window at passing scenery we can’t tell, and frankly isn’t terribly important. It’s all about the speed of modern life and how that speeded up existence changes the texture and substance of our life experience, and our understanding of the world around us. You can gloss over the details only so much before it all becomes an unrecognizable blur. As architect Mies van der Rohe said "God is in the details." This life style is seemingly devoid of details.

Similarly, Steven Michael Hadley offers a video, and three photos. Each photo features a man interacting with text. One regurgitates it, another eliminates it, a third swats at it as it flies about him like mosquitoes trying to land on him. In each the title, or key portion there of, is the text being acted on, or with in the photo. At first blush they seem humorous in an almost sophomorically simple way. But you’ll note the text in these images is being disposed in one way or another. Words are not a valued objects as they once were. Today we’re almost buried in the incessant presence of verbiage around us. Each of us daily throws away a quantity of words that centuries before would have taken monks years to lay down to paper.

Chad States has four portraits of men and their masculinity. One "Bill…" with tweezed eye brows, standing half naked next to a Jean Paul Gautier poster is we can safely say clearly gay. Which interestingly enough suddenly throws all the others into that context. One laying naked on his bed in much the same way traditional nude baby photos were shot seems questionable. Another "Dex…" seems straight, but his statement of projecting his masculinity, and how it is perceived makes you wonder. That question rising from no material proof of any sort. Which starts to reach for the absurd. It’s one of those moments you’re palpably aware of how insanely preoccupied with what other people are doing to whom, and with which parts of their anatomy… as if any of that is any of our business. Alone this photo would be just another photo portrait of some young guy sitting on stair step. Taken in context it becomes one of the most subtlety powerful and questioning of the lot. The fourth image ‘Dennis…’ is of a blind black man in a suit standing in his living room. The quote that completes the title provides the real punch here…"I feel masculine when I am at home, I can take care of myself. I often feel emasculated when I leave my apartment though, with everyone asking me if I need help. I don’t need any help."

Milana Braslavsky has four fairly traditional photos. Though they aren’t snap shots, two have that esthetic about them. The other two are intensely staged photos of women laying down. The exact point of it all is escaping me, but the composition is quite nice. She’s fully aware of the whole picture frame, with odd bits of subject matter shown at the limit of our vision. It’s nice to see. Napoleon could have walked into Moscow with all the artists who just plop the subject down in the center of the picture and let it sit there like a dead fish. It’s one of the real dividing lines between the ‘men and the boys’ as they say. Whatever Braslavsky is up to she’s headed in the right direction.

Another quizzical piece is ‘Snakebite’ by Richard Jon Sawka II. A monumental scaled fabric work. Mostly made of felt and terry cloth towels in a rather rough hewn fashion, is almost quilting, but more accurately of the school of mosaics and collage. A snake viciously bites the face of a large human head. It’s a violent but interesting image, seemingly incongruously dealt with in fabrics. Paint and canvas being more traditionally employed to present tough imagery like this.

Upstairs you’ll find the work of resident studio artist Van Nguyen. Downstairs features the collaborative work of local David Carlson, and Pit Brussel of Achen Germany. Carlson provides sectioned and assembled photo portraits of five faces into one… one of them dead. Brussel has electrified sculptural pieces with resistor wires glowing red hot in the dim light.

‘Portraits and Places’

By Bill Abel and Ruth Kaufamn at Winter Hill club house in Falls Church, through September. Opening reception is this Sunday, June 24 from 5 to 7 p.m. Falls Church Housing Corporation’s Winter Hill Clubhouse at 330 B South Virginia Avenue, Falls Church.

15th Annual Art and Concerts in the Park

Every Thursday evening at 7 p.m., through August 21 at Cherry Hill Park in the center of Falls Church. This Thursday June 21 features the Falls Church Concert Band (Music from Broadway) with paintings by: Ines de Andrade on display and for sale. Next week, Thursday June 28 features the Sin Miedo Band (Latin, Salsa, Cha-Cha, and Bolero), with photography by Cathy Summers.