Like much contemporary nature-themed art, the artwork “The Fragility of Their Nature: Ocean, Sky, Land” was conceived in the spirit of crisis. Still, the performance by four women from the District of Columbia Center for the Arts is sweet in tone. This likely reflects, at least in part, the fact that many of the paintings, drawings, and prints were made when these local artists were in isolation during the pandemic, and therefore prone to introspection.
Where to See Art Gallery Exhibits in the Washington Area
Monet’s Towering Obsession
The pieces are detailed and complex, but with varying degrees of abstraction. Most realistic are Rebecca Clark’s pencil drawings of birds and whales, some of which are complemented by calm hues of pastel, watercolor and colored pencil. The images are precise enough for scientific renderings, but their compositions are dynamic rather than academic.
Most of Marty Ittner’s contributions come from his “Sentinel Series,” cyanotypes of lighthouses overlaid with encaustic and blue marbled patterns. The artist’s “Verge” is also striking, just as watery but less literal, and printed on Plexiglas shaped to give the impression of fluidity.
Jacqui Crocetta constructs natural vignettes from small dots and strokes of acrylic paint, a painstaking technique that complements Sondra N. Arkin’s use of watercolour, ink and wax to create patterns all over the surface that suggest bubbles, ripples or microscopic watery shapes. Both artists evoke the experience of looking through water, although Crocetta sometimes depicts what appear to be coastlines or banks, and Arkin includes some beautiful images of overlapping branches in pale, translucent hues.
As curator Claudia Rousseau notes in her statement, the four artists express “their concern about the many problems plaguing the natural world.” Still, the show’s prospects are less alarming than surprising. “The Fragility of Their Nature” does not emphasize what has been lost, but what is worth preserving.
The fragility of their nature: ocean, sky, earth Until July 31 at District of Columbia Center for the Arts2438 18th St. NW.
Imagery derived from nature features in the work of Caitlin Gill and Charma Le Edmonds, but their styles have very different layouts. Gill’s mixed media paintings are beautiful but harsh, while Edmonds’s are quiet and unashamedly decorative.
Edmonds, a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and a longtime Washingtonian who died last year, made a career out of restaurant interior decorating. The beautiful paintings in his Popcorn Gallery exhibition, “Untold Stories”, are abstractions, or perhaps imaginary still lifes. They juxtapose bright, neutral colors and organic, ornamental shapes.
Sam Gilliam never fought the web. He freed him.
Some of the elements were produced by automatic drawing in a surrealist style, according to the statement of the exhibition’s curator, the director of the American University Museum, Jack Rasmussen. Whatever the sources of the forms of these paintings, they are meticulously rendered and elegantly balanced. Edmonds’ pictorial cosmos is complex and often asymmetrical, but always harmonious.
Rendered on wood panel with earth-toned water pigments, Gill’s renderings of chickens are delicate. But the Baltimore artist’s “All Natural,” upstairs at Popcorn in the Park View Gallery, is equally unsettling. Birds are often dead, deformed or severed. Gill emphasizes the vulnerability of bodies by incorporating scraps of fabric or patterns, including airy lace.
Gill’s fundamental subject is femininity, according to the gallery’s statement: “Her work tries to reconcile how to be both feminine and natural.” However, it can also be seen as illustrating the precariousness of existence and the interconnectedness of nature. The way Gill incorporates wood grain into his images suggests that even individually damaged parts of the world can fit together.
Caitlin Gill: All Natural and Charma The Edmonds: Untold Stories Gill to July 23 at Park view gallery and Charma Le Edmonds until July 31 at popcorn galleryGlen Echo Park, 7300 MacArthur Blvd., Glen Echo.
There are many visions of masculinity, and even some glimpses of femininity, in “Framing Fatherhood.” But the exemplary motif in this exhibition of sharp, well-composed images by 14 black photographers is that of a powerful man cradling a small child. The Corcoran School of the Arts and Design exhibit was curated by Imani M. Cheers and includes photos of her father, D. Michael Cheers.
Mainly in color but occasionally in black and white, the photos often use tight cropping and a shallow depth of field to exclude everyone but the father and son. In a series by Reggie Cunningham, a man and young boy cuddle against a simple watery backdrop, and Reese Bland depicts a man holding a boy who is pointing at a blurry crowd.
Other images show boys surrounded by men, whether in Jamel Shabazz’s study of a baby and five men in African-style robes or in Erskine Isaac’s dynamic shot of smiling celebrants at a wedding. a dressy but casual event. Visually, one of the most notable is D. Michael Cheers’ downward shot of a boy wearing a Spider-Man shirt and riding a webbed swing over a puddle that captures his shadow. The child relishes an adventure, but is cradled safely in the frame.
Supervise fatherhood Until July 31 at Corcoran School of Arts and Design at George Washington University, 500 17th St. NW.
The main subject of Stephen Estrada’s exhibition at the Neptune & Brown Gallery is violence, but among his most appealing paintings is a vision of peace. The ferocity depicted in “Endless Horizon” is that of the waves crashing onto the shore, often under slate gray skies. A longtime volunteer in hurricane relief efforts, Estrada knows the potential danger of rough seas. But the intensity of ocean storms clearly has some appeal for artist Silver Spring, whose exhibition includes 16 small square oils that all depict hurricane-induced waves.
The starkest contrast to the hurricane suite is “Indian River,” a soothing view of a waterway winding through a swamp, its tranquil surface reflecting the blue of the cloudy sky above. Equally calm, though more dramatic, is “March Morning,” in which dawn begins to dapple beads of light on a still dark ocean. This image is the loosest of these canvases, which are both realistic and impressionistic. Estrada skillfully compares once-liquid pigments to surging waters, giving his seascapes a sense of latent power.
Stephen Estrada: Endless Horizon Until July 30 at Neptune & Brown Gallery1530 14th St. NW.