I'm back with another quick look at what's going on in the DC art world right now. Far from exhaustive, below are some quick-hit reviews of shows I've seen recently. Let's go:
1) Imprint: The Artists from a New Town @ Greater Reston Arts Center
GRACE has recently opened a new gallery space in the Reston Town Center and it is marvelous. It's spacious, bright and contemporary. It's a huge step up for the organization but also a huge burden. Are they going to be able to put on contemporary art shows that feel at home in the space? If this first show, jurored by Deborah McLoed, is any indication, then GRACE is on the right track. McLoed has assembled work by artists who "grew up or spent several formative years in Reston." The show attempts to to get at the nature of these artists and see if there are any correlations between locale and artmaking. In the end though, it's simply a run-of-the-mill group show. And that's ok. You've got to understand why they would want the first show to be "about" Reston.
The opening reception was packed and surprisingly the work looked pretty good even with so many people. However, when I went back for a second look with no one around, the show fell apart. Maybe the excitement of the crowd lifted the works for me at the opening. When the art had to stand on its own, it struggled. But that's not to say there weren't some highlights.
Peter Petrine's massive drawing (detail above) stole the show. The drawing of a bitter-faced boy started on the floor and ran up the wall and across the ceiling, measuring 42" x 192". When I first entered the gallery I didn't see it. However, I found myself standing directly under his face. I sensed something was strange and slowly looked up only to be startled by the massive head. The drawing was well done and the installation of it was impactful. It was certainly fun.
Other strong pieces were by Adam Grossi (above) and Michael Mendez. Uninteresting works were by Monica Stroik, Paco Rodriguez, and Will Hargett.
In the end the show is a good first step. But in the conservative Reston Town Center I'll be surprised if they can push the envelope much farther (as if it's being pushed now). Let's at least hope they try.
Show runs until August 20.
2) MFA Graduates Exhibition @ Arlington Art Center
I make it a policy not to review shows I'm in so I am safe to review the MFA show at AAC even though I'm in another show at the same location. First, let me say that I really think the AAC needs to get their act together. They have galleries scattered all over the building and no signage. I heard several horror stories from the opening night of this show where visitors had no idea where the art was becuase there is no signage. Even when I went on a quiet Sunday I apparently missed some art on the 3rd Floor. How was I supposed to know it was up there? I understand that the AAC is strapped for resources but we're talking about signage for crying out loud. I visited the space on another Saturday and approached the front door. The sign said they were open but all the doors were locked. Well, why does the sign say you're open if you aren't? It really isn't a big deal (just a sign I supposed) but after a few mishaps it's hard to take the space - and by extension the art - seriously. If you can't put up an informative sign how can you select good art to show? Hopefully this gets worked out sooner rather than later.
Sorry for the rant. There were some pleasant surprises in the MFA show. I found the Meyer Corridor Gallery to be hands down the strongest room in the building. The installation was sound and all of the work functioned well together. The highlight for me were the photographs by Chris Metzger (MICA). He has captured scenes that are found in between what appear to be metal doors or entryways. The "doors" occupy most of the frame and provide a keen surface study. But in between the "doors" you get a glimmer of what is behind. And by glimmer I mean a small sliver of a view. Frequently we see some sort of industrial parking lot. When standing close to the work, the large size of the prints made me feel like I was really there and that I was seeing something I shouldn't be looking at. I felt out of place.
Other strong works were by Megan Biddle and Timothy Michael Martin (both from VCU). Should any speculative collectors be interested in Martin's work (he's in Strictly Painting now too) then his three large paintings in this show are steals. They measure (a guess) 48" x 48" x 6" and are priced at a mere $1,200. Should his career take off eventually we'll look back and wish we had bought these pieces at these prices. Lackluster work was by Diana Al-Hadid (How often do I have to see this same installation work? Ugh...) and anything in the Chairmen's Gallery.
3) Print Portfolio: Drawn to Representation @ Corcoran
My recent interest in collecting prints has left me to wonder why our local art museums don't do more for selling limited edition prints to the public. The Corcoran has stepped up to the plate. Eric Denker, Curator of Drawings and Prints, has brought together 24 artists (many local) to create a print in the "Drawn to Representation" theme. The Corcoran has assembled a portfolio of these works in an edition of 70. I'm not sure what the price is but I imagine it ain't cheap!
This is a great show that I really enjoyed viewing. On display is a wide array of techniques and subject matter. It was quite educational, in fact. On top of that the Corcoran has produced a really nice little catalogue for the show and it can be picked up for a small donation.
As for the work, my favorites were Livio Ceschin, Andrew Krieger (above), and Charles Ritchie. The Corcoran has also include one or two other prints by each artist in the show. As you may recall, I own three pieces by Andrew Krieger and one of them (World Information Center) is on display. How cool! Go see this show before it closes!
Show runs until August 21.
4) Shomei Tomatsu @ Corcoran
Also at the Corcoran right now is a large photography exhibit of work by Shomei Tomatsu. I was not familiar with the work prior to the show save for a review by Michael O'Sullivan. I gotta admit, this show did very little for me. After the Andre Kertesz show, any other photography show that even remotely reminds me of what I saw by Kertesz fails miserably. I can't help it. And I really tried to give Tomatsu my undivided attention. I started off viewing the work slowly and thoughtfully. But after more and more photos my pace quickened and I was soon out of the gallery. There were a few highlights, such as the image above. But for the most part the show seemed to be mostly filler. I'm certain Tomatsu is an important photographer, but the work did little for me.
Show runs until August 29.