Arts & Entertainment

Northern Virginia Art Beat

Screen Printing Today, at the Athenaeum (201 Prince St., Alexandria). The exhibit runs through Sept. 6, and the gallery is open Thursday, Friday and Sunday from noon – 4 p.m., and Saturdays, 1 – 4 p.m. For more details, call 703-548-0035 or visit www.nvfaa.org.

Screen Printing Today, at the Athenaeum (201 Prince St., Alexandria). The exhibit runs through Sept. 6, and the gallery is open Thursday, Friday and Sunday from noon – 4 p.m., and Saturdays, 1 – 4 p.m. For more details, call 703-548-0035 or visit www.nvfaa.org.

The Athenaeum is a Greek Revival building in Old Town Alexandria erected in the 1850s. Originally designed as a bank, it’s since served as a Civil War hospital, a talcum powder production facility and church. Today it’s home to the Northern Va. Fine Arts Association. While only a short hop away from the Torpedo Factory and bustling King Street in Old Town Alexandria, the Athenaeum’s quieter surroundings give it the feel of a sleepy, out of the way art venue.

Screen Printing Today was curated by Dennis O’Neil, a professor at Corcoran College of Art and Design,  and part of the Hand Print Workshop International (www.hpwi.org), also in Alexandria.

O’Neil selected 21 works by 14 area artists to show here. By far the best known is William Christenberry. The two men collaborated on the production of Christenberry’s prints of weathered old Tops Snuff advertising signs, as collected by Christenberry in rural Alabama.

Christenberry’s oeuvre is closely associated with the South. The faded paint and rusted metal signs bear witness to the merciless Southern heat and dank humidity that slows down everything in its path, including speech patterns. While the two Christenberry prints on view here are only reproductions of the original signs, they are so masterfully printed that they are virtual equivalents of the originals. O’Neil made some 60 ink pulls on one print, where a typical silkscreen might have a handful, if that. O’Neil also added coffee grounds to the ink in places where the texture of rusted metal was required. Printed at a greatly reduced scale from the original signs, so all 32 would fit on one sheet of paper, we can only hope that there are larger scaled versions to come.

Georgia Deal has two prints featuring silhouetted black crows in flight. “FORBODE” has the birds and a jumbo jet occupying the same space in a sequence of images, while “YEARNING” has crows and balls of twine. Using the crow as a symbol of doom and portending death, the first is easy enough to translate, while the second is a bit of a head scratcher.

Tanja Softic of Richmond has three wonderful images here. “Three” has crows against what appears to be an abstracted city street map. “Two” combines dots, power lines and an abstract background that reads as tree foliage and branches. Possibly the best of the lot is “Five,” a combination of what looks to be a theoretical physicist’s diagram of a wormhole, strings of dots seeming to plot planetary orbital trajectories and, finally, some basic cellular organism. It’s a layered visual cosmic collage that embraces the smallest life forms and the grandest of intergalactic structural connections. It’s as if Softic is searching for God and a universal order in her observations of science. Good stuff to be sure.

Aaron Fay of Baltimore speaks for all the artists here with his black block text on day-glo orange field declaring “Prints Not Dead.” Indeed, Aaron, indeed.

Note: A gallery talk is planned for this Sunday, August 23, at 3 p.m. (free).

Artist Opportunities

MOCA DC hosts “Perspectives of Women” in September. The drop-off deadline is Wednesday, Sept. 2, with the opening reception on Friday, Sept. 4. Women artists wishing to participate should call 202-342-6230 or visit www.mocdc.org for details. (Calling is probably best in this case.)

The Soundry in Vienna will host “12 Angry Women” from Sept. 26 – Oct. 24. Contrary to first impressions, this show is only open to male artists. The 12 angry women will be judging you – as if they weren’t already. Entry fee is $30 for up to five submissions. You won’t forget this due date: 09/09/09 … Yikes! Was it something we said?!

The Soundry has selected an judging panel of 12 arts professionals. It’ll be interesting to see what they come up with. For complete details, call 703-698-0088 or visit http://blog.soundry.net/2009/07/call-for-entries-12-angry-women/. (The web site is your best bet in this case.)