Arts & Entertainment

Northern Virginia Art Beat

Arts Council of Fairfax @ GRACE 2008

Through Aug. 1 at Greater Reston Arts Center (12001 Market St., Suite 103, Reston). Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Artists Talk event Thursday, July 10 at 7:30 p.m. For further information, call 703-471-9242 or see

The judge for this year’s Arts Council of Fairfax show picked 45 works by 21 area artists. The works overall favor texture, mark making and painting in general. Not a bad set of criteria, though we all have our preferences on individual pieces. Personally, I found the photography to be the best over all.

First place this year was John Adams’ oil and acrylic abstract painting on birch panel titled “Specific Gravity.” This, like virtually all of Adams’ paintings, features his signature series of horizontal lines. In this case, they are small ridges running across the work, against which Adams has toweled an expansive smear of paint. The overall effect is akin to breaking waves over a series of underwater sandbars.

I’m not a big fan of this series, though this execution seems more acceptable to my eye than the works last seen at Arlington Arts Center last year. Still, I prefer the fine-lined works that he showed at Fisher Gallery in Georgetown several years ago. Those paintings, with their magically disappearing horizontal lines, had a playful intelligence that seems lacking in these later efforts. The newer works seem thuggishly heavy-handed by comparison. I’m beginning to get the sense that he may be working towards a point where he can capture the engaging magic of the older works with a less fussy technique.

Mind you, I am in no way panning Adams’ work. His large scale site specific graphite drawing on the 12th floor at this year’s Artomatic was quite nice. That work had a lyrically playful sense of motion about it that was engaging and quite pleasing.

Second place went to Catherine Day for a trio of photographs printed on multi-layered fabric series titled “Ewell’s Funeral.” These look a great deal like errant shot outtakes from some 1960s black and white live television news coverage. They have an immediacy and mystery about them that allow you to make up your own contextual story about them, and feel that you are in the moment.

Diane Ramos uses photography in a more traditional manner. Titled “Experimental Control” (parts 1 and 2), here we find two self portrait grids made up of 25 images each. One of which shows the artist in 25 different blouses, and assorted ways of wearing her hair. The other grid shows 25 images of her in a black blouse. The piece deals with body image, individuality and expectations of conformity. The series with different manners of dress is quite interesting in that we see her as possessing different qualities, and levels of attractiveness. Where as the uniform presentations show her as nothing so much as a replaceable cog in the social matrix in which she operates. There is nothing here that we don’t already intuitively know about the social world around us, but this straightforward depiction there of is enlightening nonetheless.

Val Proudlii gives us three large-scale photos that are quite amazing in their capturing of the moment at hand. In “Admirers” we see a small child and household cat both eyeing a tropical fish swimming in a fish bowl on a glass-topped table. The collection of eyes and reflections on glass has an endearing and captivating presence. Though seeming to be a single shot of some divine confluence of timing and luck, the work is in fact a compilation of images from the shoot that were then seamlessly Photoshopped together and printed as one. Owing to the flighty attention span of both the child and cat, you’d almost have to do it this way.

Proudlii has in some ways an even more amazing shot in “Rain 4 U.” Here we see a collection of passengers on a train through a side window on a rainy day. The two main protagonists, a man and a woman, sit back to back. Both carry a look of weary solitude. You want to shout “turn around and say hello.” It seems like an outtake from a sappy Hollywood movie where these two strangers marry and walk off into the sunset hand in hand to raise an assortment of happy children. Alas, it’s the real world, and we know these two will likely leave this train as lonely as they entered.
Note: an on-line slide show of all the art in the exhibition can be seen at Clicking on the small images brings up full page views of that piece.

Ayr Hill Gallery

(141 Church St., Vienna) Grand Opening, Friday, June 27, from 5 – 8 p.m. Ayr Hill Gallery will feature the work of contemporary and emerging American artists. Gallery Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., and Sunday by appointment. See for more information.

Stifel and Capra

(210 Little Falls Street, Suite 201, Falls Church) One Year Anniversary show and sale is this Saturday, June 28, from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. Normal gallery hours are Monday to Saturday 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. See

Artist Opportunities

Glass: Evolving entry deadline July 1. Open to Mid-Atlantic artists, this content-driven exhibit will investigate new ideas, concepts, narratives and directions in regional contemporary glass. Entry fee $35 for up to 5 pieces. For more information and entry form, see, or contact: Harriet Lesser, Director of Exhibitions and Programming at 301-315-8200 or