All of the works in the RoFa Art Gallery’s current exhibition include text, but “Reading Room: Current Words” is not lacking in visual appeal. Some of that comes from making or redesigning books. Acaymo Cuesta meticulously carved the word “Herstory” into the turned pages of a multi-volume encyclopedia of art history, and Avelino Sala incised feminist slogans (mostly in Spanish) into hardback covers adorned with shades of purple. Even a simple alphabet from the graffiti artist known as Worm is sensuously painterly, as it’s rendered in bulbous, smudged, warm-colored letters.
Where to See Art Gallery Exhibits in the Washington Area
Van Gogh through a pinhole
As is typical of group exhibitions curated by Gabriela Rosso at this gallery and other venues, the art is generally political and largely from the Spanish-speaking world. “Reading Room” features artists familiar from previous exhibitions and incorporates a few works Rosso has previously exhibited, as well as new pieces from previously seen series, such as doormats by Sala and Eugenio Merino emblazoned with embarrassing misogynistic remarks from famous historical figures. .
In one case, the art relies on words that are illegible. Merino symbolically shredded the constitutions of three Latin American countries with appalling human rights records and bundled the unreadable pieces inside glass frames.
As you might expect, several of the contributors deal with migration. Erika Harrsch has created a United States of North America passport whose seal features the artist’s familiar talisman, a butterfly crossing the hemispheres; the inner text of the document is the NAFTA trade agreement. Davis Birks has crafted a migrant-ready suitcase whose clear acrylic sides reveal a promise inside: “Trust me, I have nothing to hide.”
Words abound but do not dominate in two of the show’s highlights, Marina Vargas’ elaborate drawings in silver ink on a black background. Inspired by tarot cards, the nearly four-foot-tall images encompass symbols of death, disease, and transcendence. In the center of one is a human heart with a scorpion nestled inside, a reference to the belief that poisonous arachnids sometimes kill themselves. It’s a myth, but these illustrations are not meant to be scientific. They evoke dread and despair, but also magic and hope.
Reading Room: Current Words Until October 22 at RoFa Art Gallery316 Main Street, Gaithersburg.
The center will not fit in Kathryn Camicia’s abstract paintings. The images that introduce his Studio Gallery exhibition, “Letting Go,” consist of rough squares of mottled, seemingly wet paint splattered amid contrasting monochrome backgrounds. These powerful “portals” combine three types of pigments – flash, oil and latex – to produce densely layered, multi-layered blocks that suggest both liquid and light. While the backgrounds couldn’t be flatter, the soft-edged center shapes simulate endless depths.
Diane Arbus was accused of exploiting “monsters”. We misunderstood his art.
In another series, the local artist uses variegated colors to frame channels of white that run irregularly through the middle of the diptychs. Although the color schemes are not naturalistic, these images evoke streams and are reminiscent of Camicia’s earlier abstractions which were more clearly derived from nature. The same goes for the show’s title painting, which is dominated by a watery blue wave breaking over a tan expanse that can be seen as a beach. Other images somewhat resemble Jackson Pollock’s canvases but focus on central figures that appear floral.
It is fitting that much of Camicia’s work evokes seas and streams, since her technique emphasizes the fluidity of her media. The artist combines oil and water-based pigments, which may overlap but never fully blend. Pouring and dripping, Camicia creates images that are brimming with possibilities.
Kathryn Camicia: letting go Until October 22 at Workshop Gallery2108 R St. NW.
Composed primarily of overlapping circles, the abstract paintings in Mira Hecht’s Addison/Ripley Fine Art exhibition appear simultaneously centered and uncentered. The soft orbs in “Mirror of the Floating World” are rendered mostly in complementary colors and arranged to draw the eye both towards and away from the cores of the images. Hues are vivid but can be extremely pale; blacks and grays sometimes appear, alone or layered over brighter colors. The effect is kaleidoscopic and gently dynamic.
This Renaissance portrait is even weirder than it looks
The term “floating world” is best known from Japanese art, where it originally referred to the fleeting pleasures of city life. This is clearly not what Hecht has in mind. This show features a few serigraphs that include depictions of birds, but most of the pieces are unrepresentative. If they exemplify anything other than pure color, it may be the qualities of prismatic light.
More recent canvases extrapolate smaller drawing-paintings in which some of the roundels are underlined in graphite, and other pencil strokes jut among the circular shapes. Even when highlighted with gray lines, Hecht’s floating spheres are incandescent.
Mira Hecht: Mirror of the Floating World Until October 22 at Addison/Ripley Fine Art1670 Wisconsin Ave NW.
Charles Philippe Jean Pierre
The two series exhibited in “Future Memories III: Stargates and Celestial Beings” by Charles Philippe Jean-Pierre are different in layout but identical in technique. For both, the artist makes unique prints which he then cuts into pieces to build collages. The Stargates, inspired in part by stained glass, are densely populated and evocative of architecture. Celestial beings stand singly or in pairs, their multi-patterned cutout silhouettes silhouetted against bright, monochrome backgrounds.
Jean-Pierre, who grew up in Chicago and teaches at American University, draws on his Haitian roots to portray the spiritual aspects of physical existence; among his designs are veves – voodoo symbols designed to summon astral spirits.
The artist’s beings appear broadly like ordinary people but are filled with color and light. The same goes for the Stargates, which are quilt-like patchworks of boxes, arches, and circles. According to the gallery’s statement, Jean-Pierre sees the collage, in a way, as “a summary of experiences”. His assemblages seek to express both a universal future and the specific past of the artist.
Charles Philippe Jean-Pierre: Future Memories III: Stargates and Celestial Beings Until October 16 at Silva Gallery x Latela Conservatory, 1630 Columbia Road. NO.