Arts & Entertainment

Northern Virginia Art Beat

Jean Barrett Landscapes

On display through the end of November at Stacy's Coffee Parlor (709 West Broad St., Falls Church). Normal business hours: Monday through Thursday 7:30 a.m. – 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday 7:30 a.m. –  10 p.m., Sunday 8 a.m. – 7 p.m. 703-538-6266. Opening reception this Friday, November 16, from 6 – 9 p.m.

Barrett has an uncommon way with landscapes. Normally the landscape palette is dominated by blues and greens. Barrett works from a base under painting of red, which seems to affect all the colors laid on top of it. Bits of red poke out here and there, which give the whole thing a vibrancy and life not seen in nature. Formally they look like normal landscapes, but functionally they are anything but. Interesting work.


Lee Arts Center Show and Sale

Held Saturday and Sunday, November 17-18, from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Lee Arts Center (5722 Lee Highway, Arlington). 703-228-0560.

This annual show features the fine work of artists from Lee Arts Center's pottery and print making studios. A special Raku Party will be held Saturday from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Pick your pot, glaze it and fire it on the spot.


Art Whino

Current show through November. Located at 717 N. Saint Asaph St., Alexandria. Gallery Hours: Saturday and Sunday Noon – 6 p.m. For more information, call 703-462-4135.

Shane Pomajambo's Art Whino gallery is putting the urban back in suburban. It's long been a mystery as to why the hip, edgy commercial art gallery scene can't seem to make it past the Potomac. You know, they build bridges now.

Well, it seems someone has finally figured that out. Welcome Art Whino to the list of cool spots to find interesting art in Virginia. In some ways, the most shocking aspect of the gallery is its location in staid Old Town Alexandria. Seven blocks away from King Street, it's probably a safe buffer zone away from the Docksiders and sweater crowd. Housed in a sizable yet fairly non-descript building, you'll find it next to impossible to find without an address number to lead you there. Then again, it's a brand new enterprise, and the need for good art precedes the need for good signage.

Occupying the entire second floor in what can only be described as a loft style gallery, at 9,000 square feet it's a huge amount of room for art. Not surprisingly there is a huge amount of art here. A mind-numbing 60 artists are currently shown. Unfortunately, at the moment, it has a rather singular feel to it.

The general vibe here is of the young, hip, edgy crowd still somewhat enamored with intoxicants of one sort or another. Mind you, it isn't blatant so much as a feeling you get from the overall scene. The curatorial vision reminds one of Juxtapose magazine. Rooted in graffiti art, it's almost entirely figurative work. Paradoxically the shear volume of the art, and its fairly tight stylistic vision dulls the edge considerably. Think of stepping on a nail verses stepping on a bed of nails and you get the general idea. No doubt the mix will improve with time and experience. Art Whino has, after all, only been open for a scant two months. This is a truly impressive start to be sure.

While the profusion of big-eyed people depicted throughout the gallery seems to tacitly embrace the high life, English artist Lisa Selby's portraits titled “Best Behavior,” and “The Morning After (Pill)” vividly depict the ravages that follow the “fun.” The regurgitory visage in “Morning After” is probably one of the most memorable pieces in the gallery. Entertaining in that “going where few dare to go” sort of way, it's not the sort of thing many of us would want to live with day in and day out. But it does have a certain allure of sorts, and shows a comforting level of emerging maturity.

Richard Salcido of New York has a series of eight young female portraits seen through a screen of paint drips from above that offer a certain allure and remove from the subjects.

The main attraction here this month is the solo show by California artist Rick Reese. Currently teaching at Cal. State Long Beach, and of course surfing, Reese displays a profusion of talent here. Drawing and painting in amongst assorted collage images and text from what look to be 1950s and '60s source material. The final images Reese conjures up resemble the pictographic rebus boards from the old “Concentration” game show. Oh, but were it so easy.

 The images Reese winds up with are convoluted, seemingly inscrutable messages from the deepest recesses of your subconscious. Sometimes you catch the naughtiness, at other times you kind of just get the vibe that something's up, and other times you're just plain clueless to decipher it all. Whatever the case may be, the images are always hip and fun to look at. The end result is a sort of hybridized Dada and Pop art stylistically brought into the 21st century. Whatever you make of it will tell you as much about yourself as it does about the art. This is serious work that retains a sense of fun, and remains at least superficially accessible to all. It's cool work.

As a side note, Art Whino has plans to turn the ground floor of their building into a collective studio space for 30 to 40 artists. Additionally, they are aggressively adding as many as 20 artists a month to their current stable of shown artists. This is one hot spot well worth keeping an eye on.