Arts & Entertainment

Northern Virginia Art Beat

Lara Byer has a dozen ceramic pieces on view at the Lee Arts Center Mini Gallery, dealing with motherhood. In fact, these works are portraits of specific Arlington County mothers she interviewed for this project.


Lara Beaudry Byer: Amazing Mothers, at the Lee Arts Center, Mini Gallery (5722 Lee Highway, Arlington). The event runs through June 24. Lee Center’s hours are Monday – Friday, 9:30 a.m. – 10 p.m., and Saturday 9:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. For details, call 703-228-0559, or visit

Lara Byer has a dozen ceramic pieces on view here dealing with motherhood. In fact, these works are portraits of specific Arlington County mothers she interviewed for this project. Her depictions of women and children have a rather generic quality about them; it’s their context and spirit that Byer is keyed into and wants us to recognize and appreciate.

Virtually all of these women have some extraordinary circumstance that forms their daily existence. Several mothers have children with disabilities, or special needs. The two glazed terra cotta house-like structures in “Journey from New Orleans” depict one mother’s relocation to Arlington County in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The interview quote Byer provides us dwells not on her loss, but rather on her overwhelming joy and relief at finding furnished housing and clothes donated (we assume) by the community in her new home. More than anything, she seems shocked to find a community of children with Rett Syndrome, like one of her children. Byer’s portrait piece is appropriately filled with joy and a sense of community.

Two of the most engaging images here deal with mothers of adopted children. “Harmony” depicts a seated mother holding a child in her arms. Their wrap flows across the bowl form and connects to another woman, the birth mother. The mother’s “L” sees the situation as a stabilizing triangle of three.

Another mother of Armenian descent had a child of her own, and then adopted a child from Armenia. Byer’s ceramic tile image shows her and her child beside a tree, from which she plucks a swaddled baby. It’s as if she’s picking fruit from the tree of life. It has a heroic fable like air about it that, while specific in intent, has a universal quality. It’s arguably the best piece here.

Summertime Art

June Exhibits, at the Arlington Central Library, (1015 N. Quincy St., Arlington). The event runs through June 30. Library hours are Monday – Thursday, 9 a.m. – 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Sunday, 1 – 9 p.m. For details, call 703-228-5990 (main) or 703-228-5996, for art show info.

The June art exhibition features mother and daughter painters, Veronica and Regina Barker-Barzel; painter Bryan Jernigan; photographer Brendan Reals and ceramics by Homer Ailstock.

The D.C. Metro area is littered with art spaces. Some obvious, some not so. The Arlington County Central Library has exhibition space on the first floor stairwell lobby area, and up on the second floor between the stairwell and the periodicals area. You never know what you’ll find here. It’s definitely a low profile art space in a high profile area, especially the lower level lobby area.

Homer Ailstock is showing 14 ceramic vessels done with raku and sagger firings. More than anything he seems to be playing with proportions and base designs. Many of these feel upside down design wise; small pedestal-like bases with ponderously large bodies, or in at least one case, a diminutive vase-like neck and opening, set upon a rotund pot like body. One piece has the base cut on a diagonal, leaving the vessel canted to the side about 20 or 30 degrees.

Upstairs offers a few real surprises this month. Forty-three year old designer Bryan Jernigan has a series of paintings clearly inspired by the Washington Color School stain painters. Try and buy any of their works at these prices. A few of these are really nice. The subtleties and delicate wavering tear-like lines within the body of the rainbow-like bands in one are especially nice. It’s hard to break new ground in this genre, and as a result, it’s a one that’s easy to do bad work in. Jerringan is really holding his own here.

Landscape photographer Brendan Reals has 11 works up at the moment, and will have another showing of his work with different images here again next month. Of all the images up through the end of June, I liked two misty images best. The first, “Foggy Morning,” shows us the break of dawn across the Blue Ridge Mountains. It’s gradated blocks of color remind one of a silk screen print. The other misty image is “Kauai’s Na Pali Coast, Hawaii”, which is an odd mix of distant foggy landscape and bright sunshine. Both images have a dreamy, ethereal vibe about them.


Penland Crafts School Instructors, and John Kuhn glass works, at the Habatat Gallery, Towers Crescent Complex (8020 Towers Crescent Drive, Suite 125, Tysons Corner). The exhibit runs through July 17. Gallery hours are Tuesday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. For details, call 703-989-7110, or visit

Speaking of Blue Ridge Mountains, Habatat Gallery at Tyson’s Corner (next to the shopping mall, not in it) is hosting a rare D.C. showing of some 40 works by instructors at the renowned Penland N.C. school of crafts. The works range from jewelry to whimsical, head-scratching constructions.

John Kuhn’s glass works are defined as “constructed cold-worked optical glass and lead crystal.” Kuhn’s works are excruciatingly fine crafted constructions of assembled glass that aside from faint hairlines you’d swear were made in one piece, though impossible to comprehend how. If you like things to sparkle like a holiday ornament, Kuhn’s work is for you. His work refracts more bits of light than just about anything you’ve ever seen.