Art Open House
Spring Open Studios, at the Jackson Art Center (3048 ½ R St. NW, Washington D.C.). These exhibits are open on Sunday, May 3 from noon – 5 p.m. The Jackson Art Center houses studio space for over 40 artists, all of whose works will be open to the public Sunday for their semi-annual open house event. For complete details and links to artists’ Web sites, visit www.jacksonartcenter.com.
Exploring Art Form
How to read and understand composition in visual imagery, hosted by the Falls Church Arts Artist Roundtable in the showroom of F.A. McGonegal Kitchens and Baths (212 N. West St., Falls Church). This event runs from 7 – 9 p.m. next Thursday, May 7, and is free and open to the public.
Mark your calendars, for next week I’ll be discussing the fairly simple, yet infinitely varied world of composition – how content, context and intention can alter the compositional requirements; how visual paths work within images and any other compositional topics I can manage to fit into the allotted two hours. This is one of those topics that can literally change the way you look at art.
American University MFA Thesis Students, and Robin Rose: Cypher, at the Katzen Center at American University (4400 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington D.C.). Both events run through May 17. The museum hours are 11 a.m. – 4 p.m., Tuesday – Sunday. Admission is free, and metered underground parking is free after 5 p.m., and all day on weekends. For more details, call 202-885-2787 or visit www1.american.edu/cas/katzen/museum.
Some of the student work on display here is more of a professional quality than anything we’d refer to as “student-grade.” Then again, by the time you get around to your MFA thesis, you should be able to swim in the deep end of the pool.
The paintings here seem to stand out most of all. Kate Gartell’s clipped figurative works and the still life compositions of Erin Raedeki are especially well composed. Anybody intent on going to the above composition talk in Falls Church would be well served to catch these works beforehand. Of course, afterwards works too. Either way, these two artists are definitely working on the right ideas. Good composition is a lot harder to find than one would assume. It’s a real treat to see it done well.
Also of note is the quite humorous take on the recycling notion appearing at seemingly every art space in town these days. Igor Pastenak took a large yellow ball, a large sticky yellow ball and rolled it around town picking up all manner of urban diminutive detritus, accompanied with video of him rolling it down the sidewalk. Think of an outdoor urban lint roller and you’ve got the basic idea. Keeping in mind that archaeologists study the trash piles of ancient civilizations as much as anything else, you can see Pastenak’s work as equal parts serious and fun.
First-year MFA works are in the hallway spaces leading into the museum. Rachel Sitkin provides another well-composed painting titled “Kayford Mountain.” Here we see a mountain-top-removal strip-mining operation in full swing. The painting also relates to the highway ramp complex paintings of Trevor Young at Flashpoint Gallery through June 6 (to be reviewed next week).
Robin Rose:Cypher, on the third floor gives us a look at the art works of the DC artist, musician, and mid-century modern furniture dealer, Robin Rose. At times the gallery space does have the feel of an Adams Morgan funky furniture shop, except this collection is far more arty and hmmm inducing.
Especially engaging is Rose’s electric guitar tethered (remember those?) to a large Marshall amp. The amp acts as an earthly anchor of sorts while the guitar floats far above head, plastered to the ceiling. The work offers up a head spinning mash-up of metaphoric references. Air guitars, helium filled balloons, harp strumming cherubs, Astronauts on tethered space walks, even Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling comes to mind. Sifted through an intuitive cultural filter you come up with the notion that he’s referring to “Guitar Gods,” and how rock stars reach a certain level of deification in our culture. It’s almost impossible to suppress yet another wry advertising rip-off image of Michelangelo’s painting, this time with God handing Adam a Fender Stratocaster. “The Creation of Adam Ant” perhaps?
Whatever you make of it, you can’t avoid the obvious and need to acknowledge that music itself is one of the few universally up lifting things mankind has at his disposal. It’s primal, universal, and life affirming in the way it allows us to rise above the weight of the world, if but only for a brief bit of time. It has a magically airy, almost effervescently fleeting presence that defies capture except by the physical limits of the room within which it has been set free. All of which come into play with this simple yet wonderfully complex work of art.