Arts & Entertainment

Northern Virginia Art Beat


Johanna Mueller prints; Creature Transformations, Encounters & Mutations, at Lee Arts Center (5722 Lee Highway, Arlington).


Johanna Mueller prints; Creature Transformations, Encounters & Mutations, at Lee Arts Center (5722 Lee Highway, Arlington). The exhibit runs through Sept. 28, and the gallery is open Monday – Friday, 9:30 a.m. – 10 p.m. and Saturday, 9:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. For more details, call 703-228-0559 or visit

Johanna Mueller is a current MFA candidate at George Mason University, who’s been rising quickly on the local art scene of late. Over the past year she’s been picked up by Reyes + Davis gallery downtown, where she’s currently in a group show through Oct. 16. Visit for complete details.

Her wonderful woodblock print based painting of leaping hares was an award winner in the recently closed Strictly Painting biennial show at the McLean Project for the Arts (MPA). Mueller also appeared on more than a few short lists of best artists at this year’s Artomatic show.

The 13 prints and one handmade book on view here at Lee Center focus on her black and white engravings of clearly metaphoric, and somewhat anthropomorphic, stags, wolves, foxes, lions and a few bees as well. The work often seems to deal with the cycle of life. The images beg for publication as fine book illustrations.

Woven Meaning

To Tell the Tale: Works by Allegra Marquart, Michael Janis and Tom Baker, at the MPA (1234 Ingleside Ave., McLean). The exhibit runs through Nov. 7, and the gallery is open Tuesday – Friday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Saturday 1 – 5 p.m. For more details, call 703-790-1953 or visit

Allegra Marquart and Michael Janis both work in glass out of the Washington Glass School in Mt. Rainier, Md. Tom Baker is a print maker from New Jersey.

Baker’s prints seem to juxtapose destructive and utilitarian objects in playfully similar ways. A coil spring stands beside a falling bomb with corkscrew spiraling trajectory trailing behind it. Similarly, an underwater mine sits ready to destroy anything that touches it, while a ship’s propeller motors past unscathed.

Allegra Marquart produces multi-colored relief glass panels that depict children’s fables. Maraquart’s works resemble wood block prints, not surprisingly, because she came from printing to glass making and at times, still makes wood block prints.

Marquart’s panels spare none of the gory details in what are often fairly graphic childhood tales. The combination of crude, often heavy handed childhood tales, with the cool, highly polished glass surfaces, gives the works a natural sense of tension.

Michael Janis is showing his re-interpretations of tarot cards.

In addition to the images here at MPA, both Janis and Marquart have works on view through October at the Maurine Littleton Gallery in upper Georgetown (1667 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Washington, D.C.). The Georgetown gallery is open Tuesday – Saturday, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. For more details, call 202-333-9307 or visit

Marquart’s work seems of a uniform mien at both locations. Janis however has two new large panel works and nine smaller 12-by-12-inch panels at Littleton Gallery.


Michael Janis’s “Words Left Unsaid.”

While the tarot card pieces are interesting, they come off as a bit literal at times. The new smaller pieces at Littleton, however, are anything but. Those works have a mysterious dream state sense of surrealism that engages the viewer on a deeper more engrossing level. Using figures, text and common objects we are left to our own devices to figure out the story.

One fairly straightforward image titled, “Words Left Unsaid,” shows a man with a jumble of letters floating in his throat. It’s a notion most all of us can relate to. How would things be different if we released the words behind our mouths. Would the world be better or worse for it? Would our lives be fulfilled, or would our deepest fears be realized by their release? Would we even have the chance to say them at all if we wait too long?

We can’t answer any of those questions here. All we can do is stare at the man and wonder at his fate and the fate of those around him. We sense his need to speak, but can’t make out what it is from the disjointed jumble of letters on view. Perhaps even he doesn’t yet know exactly what to say just yet. All nine of the smaller panels are filled with entertaining and somewhat voyeuristic questions.

Novie Trump is showing her sculptural ceramic works in the Atrium Gallery at the MPA. Trump is the former gallery director at Lee Arts Center, and currently works in the same industrial park-cum-artists studio center as the Washington Glass School in Mt. Rainier. Trump was also part of the much lauded 10th floor ceramics display in the 2008 Artomatic show.

The mostly white and off white works on display here at the MPA deal with navigational habits of bees and birds. Trump’s honey bee series concerns itself with the survival of a bug species that we rely on for our own survival more than most of us appreciate.

Nice as that series is, it’s Trump’s “Out of the Fire” piece that packs the hardest punch. Here we find 11 white bird wings singed by fire. Like several other pieces here, it deals with personal hardships, survival and the ability to fly onwards in the aftermath. It’s a notion that all of us have to deal with in some capacity throughout our lives.

Chaos/Order: Paintings by Marise Riddell are on view in the Ramp Gallery at MPA. Riddell’s 22 abstract canvases on view here use all-over patterning. The best of which, like Foggy View, use colored layers to build up form and texture.