Arts & Entertainment

Northern Virginia Art Beat

5 x 5 (x5), at the Target Gallery in the Torpedo Factory Art Center (105 N. Union St., Alexandria). The exhibit runs through this Sunday, Jan. 11. Gallery hours are noon – 5

, Wednesday – Sunday. For more information, call 703-838-4565, ext. 4, or visit

The Target Gallery runs more open call art competitions per year than just about any other gallery in town. By now they have it down to a finely honed science. The 5×5 (x5) show called for work under 5 inches in height, width and depth. With varying measurements, several galleries around town have done this sort of thing. Typically, they wind up selling wall space, literally covering every square inch of the gallery that they can. With no quality constraints, those shows wind up being one-room mini-Art-o-matics. Everybody with a few bucks in hand gets their work up on the wall, and nobody’s work looks good. Everybody wins, and everybody loses.

The Target gallery has done them one better and then some. Taking in over 600 entries, the juror for this show selected 226 pieces for actual exhibition, by 140 different artists. Forty-one of those artists are from the D.C. Metro area, with 31 of those from Northern Virginia. The remaining pool of nearly a hundred artists come from all over the U.S., along with three international artists.

Doing things this way allows the gallery to take in roughly the same amount of money as it would if they had rented wall space without regard to quality, and gives the worthy art works breathing room so they can be fully appreciated. Everybody doesn’t win, but everybody who gets in the show does. By only hanging 200-plus works, the gallery also wins by having a third of the workload – and a much better show to boot.

The result here at 5 x 5 (x5) is a smart, highly eclectic and thoroughly entertaining show. Prices range from $45 – 4,500, with the vast majority falling well within the affordable portion of that range.

art-beat-2.jpgReviewing shows of this sort is frankly a nightmare as continuity and flow give way to free-wheeling eclecticism. There are excellent works here to satisfy almost any taste, no matter what your preferred style may be. Having said that, there are of course some stand out memorable pieces.

Angela Katona-Batchelor has two movable internal organ illustration cut-out assemblages that will leave you scratching your head (read the artist statement for meaningful clues). Michael Reedy has three well-done figure drawings on plastic, with blue veins showing – one of those details almost everybody skips. Elke Seefeldt has three diminutive, black slip ceramic sculptures that look like a cross between Arp’s work and a Hammer Head Shark. They seem almost tool-like, yet remain in abstract forms.

Michael Lynne takes the shark notion literally, depicting an underwater McDonald’s with a shark cruising by in the painting titled “Global Warming.” Best painting award went to Sarah Takahsdhi for her three portrait heads with engaging eyes. Jo Bradney also had a simple but comforting oil painting of bottle caps.

Mindy Herrin crafted a large spider consuming a figure in carved Corian and silver. Finally, we have Marilyn Murphey’s graphite drawing titled “Aerial Sandies,” depicting a man (we assume) with a hat facing away from us, watching a group of pecan sandie cookies take off and fly away in formation like a whirling alien space craft. No doubt returning to their home planet of Venus.

You’ll have to run, not walk, if you want to catch this one before it closes on Sunday.

Note: The next Open Call entry deadline is Jan. 13, for art made of recycled materials, appropriately named “Reclaimed.” See the web site, or call the gallery for complete details.

Washington Project for the Arts 2009 Art Auction Gala, in the Katzen Arts Center at American University (4400 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, D.C.). The event takes place on Saturday, March 7, 2009. Tickets are now on sale for this annual art auction that features some of the finest artists in the area. This being the 28th year for this event, we can safely say tickets will be sold out well in advance. While admission is fairly stiff at $300 a seat, a little over half of that is tax deductible. For further information, see the, call 202-234-7103 ext. 5 or e-mail

Open Studio Long Pose Figure Drawing, at McLean Project for the Arts in the McLean Community Center (1234 Ingleside Ave., McLean). This studio runs from 4 – 7 p.m. on Saturdays in January. Four 3-hour sessions (Jan. 10 – 31), each session made up of three 1-hour poses, for $25. Drop-in sessions are $9 each. For sign up purposes, the activity number is 6298.280.

Additionally, the regular Tuesday Night (7 – 9:30 p.m.), and Thursday Afternoon (1 – 4 p.m.) sessions will also be held during January. Three Tuesday sessions for $18, or $8 each (Jan. 6, 13 and 27; closed Inauguration day). Four art-beat3.jpgThursday Afternoon sessions for $25, or $9 each ( Jan. 8, 15, 22 and 29). Note: Tuesday and Thursday groups will continue to meet in February and beyond, after this short January session. For more information, call 703-790-1953 or visit

Similarly, Arlington Arts Center holds their Figure Drawing group from 7 – 10 p.m. on Wednesday, beginning Jan. 7 and running through April 1. Fees are $15 per session, or a six session pass for $60. For complete details, see

Note that both of these venues offer a variety of art classes in addition to these open studio sessions. See web sites for complete lists of offerings.