Arts & Entertainment

Northern Virginia Art Beat

Psychological Solos

Fall Solos 2009, at the Arlington Arts Center (3550 Wilson Blvd., Arlington). The exhibition runs through Nov. 7. The gallery is open Tuesday – Saturday, from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. For more details, call 703-248-6800 or visit their web site at www.arlingtonartscenter.org.artbeat

Psychological Solos

Fall Solos 2009, at the Arlington Arts Center (3550 Wilson Blvd., Arlington). The exhibition runs through Nov. 7. The gallery is open Tuesday – Saturday, from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. For more details, call 703-248-6800 or visit their web site at www.arlingtonartscenter.org.

artbeat

(Photo: Kevin Mellema, News-Press)

Arlington Arts Center features the work of six artists: Christian Benefiel, Jenn Figg, Cynthia Hron, David Page, Roxana Perez-Mendez, and Pamela Phatsimo-Sunstrum. The artists-in-residence exhibition space on the upper floor features Marc Roman’s loosely rendered images of space travel and 1950s UFO hysteria.

South African artist Page has some of the most well executed work in the house. The fit and finish is first rate. It’s also some of the most psychologically disturbing work here. Page presents a collection of seemingly nonsensical objects mostly crafted out of wood and colorful stitched leather.

The real horror happens in the center of the room with a device titled, “Weeble,” after the child’s toy with rocking bases that wobbles, but not fall down. However, this Weeble is no child’s play. A meticulously crafted orange restraint system, with head sock and wire cage helmet, it’s intended to hold a person immobile in total isolation. The attention to detail gives all of Page’s implements an especially sociopathic air, connoting meticulous planing, and deep seated desire.

Across the room, and on the other side of the comfort spectrum, you’ll find the work of Hron. Here we find large-scale charcoal drawings so enticing you have to restrain yourself from reaching out to touch them. Short arching lines operate in unison with the whole to create a soft fur or waving grass-like sense of flow. Two wire frame sculptures occupy the floor space, each with black plastic wire tie downs as hair follicles. It’s an interesting use of materials, but less captivating that the drawings.

Phatsimo-Sunstrum gives us a mythical collection of large-scale drawings featuring young women coming of age. The women, based on depictions of the artist, wear extravagantly feathered costumes which all but consume their physical presence. It’s clearly a mating display by nubile females, yet there are no potential mates.

While several drawings are actively sexual for the most part, it’s a theoretical notion. The figures seem to be a part of the landscape, while moving toward a separation from it, as if the fully realized adult self underwent a sort of self-birthing process to reach the next stage of life. These women are aware of the ways of the world, but not fully versed in them. More often than not, it’s the positioning of the feet that convey the figure’s inexperience, which, in effect, gives us a literal manifestation of their psychological “unsure footing” in the world.

This contrasts with the confident mark making in Phatsimo-Sunstrum’s drawing. In some ways, this gives the women a sense of increasing strength and maturity. As if they are at the height of their power, but aren’t experienced enough to know it, or exactly what to do with it.

Roxana Perez-Mendez uses two way mirrors, projected figures in action and models to create hologram like scenes of illegal immigration, and the physical hardships endured along the way.

On the lower level, Christian Benefiel has four sculptures made of iron rebar, air bags, and in one case, wood strips. The works deal with the throw-away society in which we live.

Today, a manufactured object may remain useful for a few years, if that. After it’s broken or unwanted, it’s tossed away, to become garbage for an eternity. It seems especially appropriate that two of his sculptures end in pacifier-like forms at the base, echoing the notion that the objects we purchase are often mere temporary palliatives.

The Northern Virginia Art Beat is compiled by Kevin Mellema. See www.fcnp.com for photos and more. To e-mail submissions, send them to [email protected]