Arts & Entertainment

Northern Virginia Art Beat

'Sensazione: Awaken the Senses'

Through April 19 at Falls Church Arts gallery in the back of Art and Frame (111 Park Ave, Falls Church). Gallery Hours: Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

As with all past shows here, this one is better than the last. The quality of art shown continues to rise, which is always a refreshing thing to see happen.

A few notable pieces in no particular order — “Looking Up,” a woodcut print by Jill Saxton-Smith. “Looking Up” has a nice, almost abstract, quality to it where green tree foliage is depicted in silhouette with a pleasant mid-tone green over a gradated blue sky.

Bill Abel brought two of his large multicolored watercolors from his Falls Church Trees series. Gary Mester's photo of a young girl dancing, titled “Twirling in Cherry Hill Park” seems full of life, as her curly locks whirl around her.

A photo of wine bottle shoulders and necks by Hugette Roe with its playful interrelationship of yellow and red, would look great in just about any kitchen or dining room. Actually, there were several pieces that would fit well in those locations, another one that comes quickly to mind is Janet Gohres' Large Mosaic Fish.

Best art value of the night would have to be Teddy Wiant's multi-media ceramic jester sculpture titled “York.” Apparently the only human alive who works cheaper than I do, Wiant priced the intricate and certainly entertaining “York” at $100. Mystifyingly, it managed to remain for sale well into the evening.

The Falls Church Arts gallery in the back of Art and Frame is seriously short of exhibition space, and as a result could only accept one piece from each artist for the continuation of the show at that venue. This arts group is in serious need of real exhibition space if it has any hopes of maturing into an artistic force on the regional arts scene. Hopefully the new space planned for Pearson Square will fit the need.

 

'The Five Senses: More Than Meets The Eye'

Through April 6 at Target Gallery in the Torpedo Factory Art Center (105 North Union St., Alexandria). Gallery hours: Wednesday through Sunday, Noon – 5 p.m. For more information, call 703-838-4565 (x4), or see www.torpedofactory.org.

As the title and subtitle suggest, this was supposed to be multi-sensory exhibit, with the prospectus calling for works using two or more of the five senses. As such, it all but demanded interactive works. As with all open call shows, you can only show what artists are willing to enter for the show. I'm guessing the prospectus scared off too many artists.

Hosting good group shows requires a large artist pool of entrants from which you can select a strong and cohesive group of works that fit together, stay on target, and make sense. Too lean of an artist base yields shows of uneven quality, or forces the display of works that when seen together make you think, “Where did this come from?”

Most galleries put up about 10 or 12 shows a year. To hit home runs every time year after year is exhausting and exceeding difficult. Nobody likes it when they don't turn out right, but it happens and the show must go on. The Target Gallery is one of the best venues in Northern Virginia and puts up strong shows almost every time. I must say this one was a great disappointment.

Oddly enough, it is not because the quality of the work shown is lacking. The show is actually quite good. The problem comes from expectations and what reality brought in the end. Very few works here are multi-sensory, as one would think of the term. Several nice paintings of food platters show a host of textures and tastes. Were we to feel them or taste them, which we can't because it's a two dimensional painting just like every other two-dimensional painting you've ever seen.

Gary Schott (Texas) was right on target with his four head whackers titled “Thought Stimulators.” These multicolored bird-house-like devices are to be placed under the chin, then turning a crank on the side, they variously scratch or whack you on the side of the head. Of questionable utility, they are quite playful and humorous. It's pretty difficult to take yourself too seriously with these devices in hand.

Sun Kyoun Kim (Illinois) provides two high-quality pieces of bizarre jewelry. The first, titled “Restriction1” holds all five fingers apart, rendering the fingers of that hand all but completely immobile. The other piece titled “Triad 02” requires three people to use. A beautifully designed silver superstructure holds three silver tubes 120 degrees apart. Three people placing a single finger in this device would just be able to touch finger tips. Utilizing the notion of barely perceptible sensory input, and the ramped up sensitivity that ensues from that, one can imagine this thing generating heightened awareness of touch inputs.

The best works here, and probably the best work I've seen for a while, is Pamela Paulsrud's work titled “Touchstones.” Interspersed among the rounded rocks on display are defaced book fragments. The books have been chopped up and shaped with a grinder or sander to resemble the rocks around them. The now-exposed ink from the printed words within form rock-like striations and coloration. You can hardly stand to not pick these up and paw though them. These book fragments have an eerie river rock resemblance. The most poignant one of all comes from a book titled “The Meaning of Culture.”

 

“Full Bloom”

Through April 27 at Stacy's Coffee Parlor (709 West Broad St., Falls Church). For more information, call 703-538-6266, or see www.stacyscoffee.com.

Kristen Terry and sister Karen Baker show a series of large-scale, painted flower cutouts. The rose titled “Pucker Up” struck me as the best with its flat color fields. They all have a near pop art feel to them, though that one seems more inspired.

 

Artist Opportunities

Art-omatic 2008
Art-omatic 2008 is launched, beat feet to www.artomatic.org. The announcement came through last week between deadline and release date for the Falls Church News-Press. Registration began at Noon Thursday. Over the following six days over 500 visual artist signed up to participate. The directors of Art-omatic are looking to fill around 800 visual artists slots. Expectations are that they will not reach that cut off point by the time you read this, but a taking a quick look at the math you clearly need to get with the program sooner rather than later if you intend to be part of Art-omatic 2008.

Many of the more established artists around town turn up their nose at Art-omatic. Seems a serious mistake to me. Art-omatic events are seen by more people, and receives more press coverage than any other art event in the greater Washington Metro area. Truth be told, many gallery directors simply do not have time to go around to other galleries to see what's going on, but a great many of them will see Art-omatic. To each his own, but if you want to have your work seen, this is a key event to achieve that goal.

 

'Perspectivo: Unexpected Views of Nature'

The May show for Falls Church Arts members will feature works that demonstrate “artistic imagination and different perspectives that create new ways to see the world around us.” Push the envelope when you think of Nature. This is not a landscape only show.

Up to three entries per artist will be considered. Mail in forms due April 18. For complete details and entry form, see www.fallschurcharts.org.