2024-05-20 12:07 PM

Northern Virginia Art Beat

Art-omatic (The Final Week)

Closes June 15. Exhibition located at 1200 First St. NE, D.C., on the corner of First & M Streets NE. Nearest Metro station: New York Avenue on the Red Line. Hours: Wed. – Thu.: 5 – 10 p.m.; Fri. – Sat.: Noon – 2 a.m.; Sun.: Noon -10 p.m.; Closed Mon. – Tues. This week we pick a few highlights from the ninth and 10th floors.


The ninth floor is one of the weaker floors, but there is still interesting stuff to see. Several artists deal with body issues, one asking you to post your own note in her space.

Jeff Wilson from the National Gallery of Art shows a series of tornado paintings. Having seen another of his paintings, I’d say he does best when juxtaposing the normal and fragile world around us just before it’s about to be blown all over the countryside. A past image had cows grazing before an approaching twister. This time, Wilson’s best features one of those mile-wide super twisters approaching a dazzling field of red poppies.

Mark Coburn has an entertaining set of wire frame wall sculpture portraits. Valentina Thomas has some nice abstract marker compositions featuring circles and line segments, dealing with the tension and attraction between forms. Her best seems to be “ … circulies III.”

Dana Shafie displays some of the most technically intriguing work. And ex-military pilot, Shafie got his hands on a 1958-era Navy Air Force machine gun camera. Mechanically opaque in his attempts at civilian use, he finally managed to get the shutter to trigger and fabricate a way to use conventional film in it. His series of soft focus nudes, while entertaining, seem to leave a lot of untapped potential in this specialty use camera. One must also note his wonderfully thematic display painted battleship gray.

Simply stated, the 10th floor is dominated by the collective ceramics group titled “Coincide.” In a show noted for its chaotic ad hoc displays, and a stated policy of not allowing groups to show together … how did 17 artists get to show in one block, occupying nearly a quarter of the floor space on the 10th floor? Hmmm … Somebody got some s’planin’ to do.

Whatever happened here needs to happen a whole lot more at future Artomatic shows. This area is like a quiet peaceful island in a roiling sea of chaos.

Elizabeth Kendall places ceramic discs at the ends of wire rod supports, causing them to bend downward, forming a 12-foot long ceramic waterfall effect. Laurel Lukaszewski has her massing of extruded forms. One is an upright collection of porcelain hollow square stock, forming an undulating landscape resembling a rolling hillock. Her other two pieces, made from curly black stoneware, resemble a scalped eyebrow and a thick matt of curly hair.

Andrea Roberson’s work seems the most questioning of the lot. Here we find breast and phallus forms that at times seem to be one and the same. The news tells us of phthalates in plastics, estrogen in chicken, male fish that transmogrify to female, not to mention predictions of the demise of males. The more androgynous forms here seem to be dealing with these issues of sexual differentiation and orientation.

Aaron Quinn Brophy’s work is evocative, but far more direct. Here we find cinder blocks with ceramic eggs placed between them as spacers. There’s a zig-zagging stack of bricks, again with eggs as spacers. There is an interesting tension between the rectilinear and curved forms. An ugly brutish bulling gray mass attempts to crush the purity and innocence of the white eggs. They seem to be visual metaphors for the notion that united we stand, divided we fall.

The 10th floor also hosts the Washington Post Peep Show … it was too easy … actually that would be Peeps, as in the colored marshmallow Easter candy of chicks and rabbits. It’s hard to pick winners here, all these dioramas are fairly humorous. The graphic violence in the “Reservoir Dogs” garage scene played out with Peeps is certainly unexpected. For sheer brilliance, we might have to give the nod to Peep Art. Here we find what amounts to a display of Leo Castelli’s gallery, complete with several of Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup cans. That would be every kid’s favorite … Peep Soup.

Alexandra Zealand presents nice large-scale fragments of children’s book pages, which is part of a project with Arlington Public Library. “Jake” a shopping bag toting duck seems best suited for all ages.

Tom Cardarella’s mural painting takes up his entire space. Imagine a glass wall with a picture hanging on it. You are looking through the glass wall into the living room. In front of you hangs the back of his real life painting, titled “But how will it look in My Living Room?” You’ll just have to walk away wondering, because Cardarella has no intention of showing it to us. There is something perversely refreshing about this aloof piece set amongst the work of 750 artists screaming for our attention.

Rita Elsner has three photo realistic charcoal drawings that look like etchings. She sets dandelion seeds floating on a gentle breeze against a backdrop of zeppelins floating by. They contrast transitory technology with the unrelenting permanence of nature.

Saturday, June 14, is the Closing Party at Artomatic and features the not to be missed body painting contest from 8:30 to 11 p.m. It’s supposedly on the Cabaret stage, but ask the staff volunteers at the front door to be sure.






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