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Friday, May 28, 2010

Ellen Cornett's Disarming Juxtapositions

H Street Icon REVIEWS

Ellen Cornett's Disarming Juxtapositions
Review by Wade Carey

Ellen Cornett's models seem as devoid of ego as William Wegman's dogs. They droop and arch obediently in whatever pose is demanded. With notable exceptions, they gaze patiently and impassively out at the viewer or off into middle distance.

The name of the show, "Juxtapositions," reinforces that sense of set poses. Ms. Cornett adds another layer by titling her works with names that derive from fairy tales, operas and legends. These titles can be as specific as, "Siegfried and the Rhinemaiden," or as vague as, "Witch's Bicycle." Then there is the "Madonna;" not so vague.

All but several of the works in this show are densely colored chalk pastels with charcoal outlining. Ms. Cornett has also included several pen and ink drawings that depict her models with the same sweetness and control but with their own late Nineteenth-early Twentieth Century flavor.

When pondering these works it is pleasant to know a little about the models themselves. Two of the most often used are named Roxi and John Aaron. Ms. Cornett is profoundly devoted to them. It becomes clear after viewing a couple of the pictures that Roxi and John Aaron are willing to be posed and assembled into any convergence of images that the artist dreams up.

Ms. Cornett applies her pastels on top of a heavyweight paper (her current favorite is BFK Reeves) first toned with "Storm Blue" colorfix pastel primer which has a bit of grit in it. In doing so, she harkens back to her love of printmaking and woodcuts. She is creating a sense of something coming through the process, negative to positive.

There is another "juxtaposition" in the way pastel is rendered to produce the many sheep in these works. Her technique is realized most fully in "Sheep on Wheels," one of the stars of the show. A "flock" of sheep stands in a field each posed on top of a red four-wheeled box. The eye moves immediately to the light and shadow of the sheep fur. It has a volatile figure-ground relationship that I noticed even in a JPEG sent to me by the artist prior to the show.

Ms. Cornett builds up all of the light from that dark and stormy blue gray. It’s a murky color, a color of stone, natural darkness. When you look closely you see the strokes of pastel and understand how each tuft was applied. From a distance the optical effect is striking. She creates a three dimensional illusion. A lone gray lamb is the exception that proves the rule having none of the three dimensionality of its elders.

The background light also is appealing. It looks like flat studio light in a natural setting. These sheep conspire to look like they are posing in a studio set with even north light instead of being out in the open. Ms. Cornett's control of light makes your eyes move in unexpected ways having no reliable horizon and no reliable light source.

Another sheep nearby is joined by a rooster perched atop a bicycle seat in "No Bicycles," and there is a rat in the lower right-hand corner who may or may not be Ratsina. Ratsina is a diva among Cornett's inanimate models. She appears in several pictures in this show including "La Mort De Ratsina," a small pastel rendering of the melodramatic final tableau of an old-world marionette show. Several mourning characters encircle the heroine. Her little wooden parts lie broken and lifeless on the floor. Two feral little teeth poke out above her costume of white pearls and a blue sash.

The artist explains that Ratsina began as a lowly crowd extra in the Pied Piper of Hamelin (starring John Aaron, of course). When all the rats she modeled for studies looked too cute, Ms. Cornett turned to images of actual rat corpses. Seeing the exposed teeth and claws and the shrunken bodies hanging, she was struck by the thought that a rat marionette would achieve the same effect. In assembling scrap wood for the body, a blue sash appeared and suddenly Ratsina was transformed into debutante. This explains why she is never without her tiny purse and pearl necklace.

In "Pinocchia and Peter Rabbit," Pinocchia (played by Roxi) is tied with ropes to mimic marionette strings. Her pose suggests being held up or even confined by the strings. You can’t tell whether Pinocchia is about to kick Peter Rabbit or whether the strings are holding her back. Perhaps Peter Rabbit has the advantage. He looks like he’s a big piece of stale chocolate but he is actually make of concrete. He’s a lawn ornament.

Another inanimate model, "The Muse" (a.k.a. Mary Lou), shows up in several works. Mary Lou is a doll given to Ms. Cornell at birth. "She's me," says the artist. There is only the slightest suggestion of what were once button eyes. The doll's dress has faded to near colorlessness. The doll echoes the state of suspended animation depicted in images of marionettes throughout the show. In these works the author sometimes toys with placing herself in picture. Mary Lou the doppelganger doll is held in an oddly casual but affectionate way by a matronly woman in "The Madonna." She is placed in a more ambiguous position in another large work in the show, "The Music Box." Whereas, in “The Madonna,” the individual grasps the doll in a kind of affectionate way suggesting a mother who is comfortable and familiar with her baby, "The Music Box," depicts the doll in a stiff and alienated position, leaning against the upper arm of the subject of the portrait (Roxi). This pose dictates that Mary Lou has arrived after the individual has already become comfortable. There is no effort on the sitter's part to have any relationship with the doll. She gazes impassively, almost stonily, directly at the viewer. The thing Roxi holds instead is a music box. It looks like a pretty figurine of a blue jay and one wonders where he fits in. What does a gallery visitor who looks at this picture make of that blue jay? Does he think it is an object picked up from a prop table because the sitter thinks it’s pretty? If symbolism is intended, does it represent the world in which the subject of the portrait lives? Who is the subject of the portrait, Roxi or Mary Lou? Questions crop up when I look at this picture. The disconnection is teased by the beautiful colors of the pastel chalk. "The Music Box" is a standout in a show full of compelling color field combinations. Roxi wears a flowery red dress. She rests on a white background. Her head is surrounded by darkness looming above and behind her.

Another portrait full of symbols, "No Puppets," features John Aaron as Pinocchio after he has lost his strings. He is trying to masquerade as a real boy but he is still a puppet. The subject has a look that conveys in posture alone pure forward motion. It’s Pinocchio who has had his strings clipped, a boy who can barely walk. The use of perspective and light draws you into his face and his chest. It is as if he is reaching out to you or he is lunging toward you saying, “I am what I am.” The graffiti in the background may represent whims, shout-outs and current diversions of the artist or may just be graffiti used to brighten the composition. Pinocchio has a look of anticipation on his face. He is looking at a horizon that excites him. It’s another remarkably affectionate portrait.

“The Impresario” provided me with the greatest sense of whimsy--in a show that is full of whimsy. Again, a group of people and animals and the doll (Mary Lou) have been assembled from photographic studies in disparate settings. Ms. Cornett has assembled these images into a pastel that has a different color scheme from other pictures in this show. This picture has a brighness all its own. There is a big duck over the shoulder of the central character—a man in a top hat looking happy--looking like he’s trying to sell you something. And there’s a ballerina. The duck is flapping its wings. This is the only other picture in the show except for "Sheep on Wheels" that attempts to convey any natural affect of sky and clouds. We’re in what is presumably a barnyard or the front garden of a structure—a house. There is a blank gray field behind the man and the ballerina that suggests a wall; it has a linear border at the bottom—something that resembles a baseboard. The impressario is holding the doll (Mary Lou, again) front and center; she has become kind of a special guest. In this case, she is showing animation and a sense of being alive not present in any of the other pastels. In the stitching around her eyes there’s more definition in what is left of her facial features. You feel her personality as a participant here. In the other pastels, she appears inanimate, unaware. She is not a sentient part of those pictures. In this picture she is posed as if to say, “I am holding myself up in this picture. I would flop over if I didn’t have a sense of being.” And she likes the man. She likes the scene. She likes how she's being portrayed for a change.

Apart from the fact that it is composed of a series of images that are pleasing to see, this pastel seems best to embody the multiple personality disorder in Ellen Cornett's images and suggestions of herself. The central figure is the impresario. He wears a top hat. He holds forth with a duck, a baby doll and a ballerina. He may or may not be an impresario of all of these things. He may be able to bring you some kind of show. The doll is the muse and yet another stand-in for the artist.

And then, the duck flapping in the background could be some other form of acrobatics or life or something outside the frame. It’s hard to know exactly what it all means. It could be nothing more than that Ms. Cornett was tired of sheep thought it would be fun to paint a duck in pastels, too.

The show even includes four familiar marionette characters hanging from the gallery ceiling. Ms. Cornett continues to develop and model these large scale marionettes for future work, including the oddly affecting Ratsina who has been brought back from "la mort" after wails of protest from her fans. As with soap opera reincarnations, we may want to stay tuned for the next show from Ellen Cornett coming this fall. Perhaps in that show we will glimpse inside more of Ms. Cornett musings about well-heeled muridae suspended on strings.

"Juxtapositions" is on display at Studio H until June 11. Studio H is planning a happy hour to close the show Thursday June 10 from 6-8pm. Studio H is located at 408 H ST NE, Washington DC, 20002. For more info contact the gallery at info@studiohdc.com or 202.468.5277. Hours are by appointment.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Corner Store Presents an Exhibit of Anti War Paintings and Polical Posters May 27 - May 31

Capitol Hill Icon  | ART OPENINGS |

Opening Reception:  Thursday May 27, 2010 6-8 PM 

The Corner Store Presents American political art from the 1960’s, Posters from the Cold War to Vietnam and anti-war Paintings from a Private Collection.  The show runs through Monday May 31 and can be viewed by appointment.

The 11 posters are by  Zizmor, Clayton Pinkerton, Doug Gilbert, Marlene and Rob Oliver, Ken Rignall, and Bernice Sender, all part of the San Francisco based "GroupCommentary",  working from 1966 to 69.  Included in the exhbit is "Rocket's Red Glare" by Miriam Zizmor (1919 -1995).

The Corner Store 900 South Carolina Avenue SE, Washington DC 20003. For more information contact: Kris Swanson & Roy Mustelier at 202.544.5807 or visit the website at www.cornerstorearts.org

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Joel Church Fingerprints tonight at SOVA

H Street Icon | EVENTS | 

This Evening Only

DC author and visual artist Joel Church will be at SOVA this evening to present his new book Fingerprints a unique work of micro-fiction exploring relationships, nostalgia and the new American persona.

The evening of libations and literature will commence at 7pm and end at 10pm.  SOVA is located at 1359 H ST NE

Ellen Cornett Artist Profile by Anna Flaaten

H Street Icon | PROFILES |


Ellen Cornett’s pastels are filled with playful reinterpretation of fables and fairytales where her subject matter is people she knows- friends- in costume with unexpected props that relate stories of improbability. Pinocchio, for example, grows up to become a dance instructor. She uses realistic drawings and combinations that create mystery, placing random things together with and without a purpose: “the underlying theme can be communicated without it being overly realistic,” allowing space for viewers to create their own stories. The story is with the whole rather than the disparate pieces would suggest individually.

She enjoys mixing the real and unreal, of people and puppets. As a young girl, she received a marionette as a gift from her mother. Puppets—people on strings—have become a recurring theme throughout her works. She takes the strings off of puppets and puts them on people, inspiring her audience to interpret in many ways: “Who is pulling the strings? I am trying to describe my place in the world where the center is a relationship of my choices and my friends. ”

Her creative evolution tells a story of its own. Cornett always knew she wanted to be an artist, but she initially thought it wasn’t a serious enough profession and began college majoring in Political Science. “I was miserable.” Cornett decided to follow her truer ambitions and turned her studies to art. Having established a successful graphic design and illustration career, it wasn’t until 10 years ago that she began to promote her own art. Five years ago she made a year-long commitment: 365 days to create 365 pieces. Working very hard, she ended up with 380 pieces and was happier and had more energy. “It was this year of working furiously- coming to feel that the way out was also the way forward- to follow- to track down and see what happened. This was the direction in which it led.” Just after that year ended, she took a workshop with Wolf Khan, well-known for his colorful realistic pastel work, and saw Paula Rego’s pastel work at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. The combination of these events inspired her to explore this medium and kind of playful art.

She confesses that the big change was to learning trust herself, giving herself permission to explore and the freedom to act and create. She told herself, “if I hate it, I can always throw it away later,” finding her success rate higher. A lesson learned and a metaphor for life.

Ellen works are done in home-made chalk pastels on dark primed paper.

Her exhibit at Studio H runs through June 12, 2010.

Studio H is located at 408 H Street NE second floor Washington, DC 20002 | 202.468.5277 Hours: By appointment. www.studiohdc.com

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Evolve Urban Arts Project presents: "Nature Transforms " with works by Jessica van Brakle, Wess Brown & Alex Zealand June 5 - July 24, 2010

H Street Icon | ART OPENINGS |

Opening Reception:  Saturday June 5, 2010 4-8 PM

The Evolve Urban Arts Project presents the second of two exhibitions exploring the intersection between visual arts, architecture and nature.  Nature Transforms features the work of painter Jessica van Brakle, photographer Wess Brown and a site-specific installation by mixed-media artist Alex Zealand.

With a nod to print and television media (Life After People; The World Without Us), Nature Transforms will examine the unique ways in which three Washington, DC-based artists explore the oppositional forces of the natural world and manmade architecture.   The exhibition provides, through several artistic mediums, a view of what the urban landscape might look like if nature reasserted itself and claimed predominance over the land. 

Jessica van Brakle's current body of paintings explores these opposing forces through slick use of geometric architectural patterns overlaid with a latticework of plant life and other natural materials.  According to the artist, her work features, "the balancing of familiar opposites:  feminine with masculine, strong with fragile, industrial with organic."  In this exhibition's context, the paintings, replete with construction cranes intertwined with botanicals, provide a studied, yet slightly whimsical vision of how manmade objects and the natural world might interact absent human intervention.  Van Brakle received a BFA from the Corcoran College of Art + Design in 2007.

Wess Brown gives us visual proof of these diametric forces at work in his documentary photographs of Washington, DC's old McMillan reservoir site.  For the majority of the twentieth century, the McMillan reservoir served as the District's source of clean water.  Shuttered in 1985, the concrete and brick structures have deteriorated, making way for grasses and trees to shape the landscape.   Brown has a long-standing fascination with capturing architectural forms on film and here his black and white images capture the battle between forces of nature and manmade structures.  Brown's straightforward style implies that, left unmolested, nature will continue to "take over" the old reservoir site.  Brown's education in photography includes study at the Corcoran College of Art + Design and the Smithsonian Institution.

Alexandra Zealand's work is a study in the trans-formational use of found materials into "natural" forms which seek to overrun traditional borders and infest the gallery space.  Zealand uses a variety of trash objects (burnt matches, grapefruit piths, used coffee filters) bound together to create ethereal sculptures noteworthy for their visually repetitive shapes.  For Nature Transforms, Zealand is creating a site-specific installation that will inhabit the Project's main space and confront the viewer with an impression of what the Pierce school building would look like should it be left to battle nature on its own.  Zealand received an MFA in sculpture from the Pratt Institute in 2003.

Nature Transforms will run through July 22. The Project space is located in the Pierce School Lofts at 1375 Maryland Avenue, NE, in the H Street Arts and Entertainment District.  Hours for the Project are:

Gallery Hours are Monday, Wednesday and Friday:  1-7pm, Tuesday and Thursday: 1-4pm and Saturdays:  11am -2pm For further information, visit  http://art.evolvedc.com.

Monday, May 24, 2010

City Gallery First Annual Regional Juried Exhibiton

H Street Icon | CALLS FOR ENTRY |

City Gallery Announces its First Annual Regional Juried Exhibiton

For the Prospectus click here and the Entry Form click here.  

City Gallery announces its first annual regional juried exhibiton.  Jack Rasmussen will Jury the exhibition.  Rasmussen completed his MFA in Painting, MA in Arts Management, and PhD in Anthropology at American University.  He has been presenting contemporary art on the east and west coasts for most of the last 35 years and is currently Director and Curator of the American University Museum.

Judging will take place during the week of July 19 and all artists will be notified of the results by email on July 25. The exhibition is competitive and open to artists 18 years of age or older residing within a 75 mile radius of Washington, DC. All 2-D and 3-D fine arts media accepted. This includes painting, watercolor, photography, drawing, and sculpture.

Key Dates:
• Entry Deadline: July 12, 2010
• Notifications Sent: July 25, 2010
• Delivery of Work: July 31, 2010 1-5 pm, August 1, 2010 10am – Noon
• Opening Reception & Awards: August 7, 2010, 6-9 pm
• Closing Date: August 28, 2010
• Pick Up Art: August 28, 2010 4-6 pm, August 29, 2010 10am - Noon

For more information, contact City Gallery at info@citygallerydc.com | 202.468.5277 or online at www.citygallerydc.com

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Gallery at Vivid Solutions Presents: Jean-Noel L’Harmeroult "Non-Photos" May 4 through May 29, 2010

Anacostia Icon | ART OPENINGS |

Jean-Noel L’Harmeroult was born in Paris in 1954 and made his debut as a photographer in 1972. Since then, he has gained acclaim for his work within the elite Paris fashion industry by shooting for famed magazines such as Elle, Glamour, Femme, and Marie-Claire. He has worked all over the world on major ad campaigns working with the best of the best in modeling and fashion.

Over his 40-year career as a commercial photographer, Jean-Noel L’Harmeroult has sorted through thousands of images. His collection of “Non-Photos” is a series of digital prints created from the accidental initial exposures on each reel of film, the first exposed to light. These exposures create a subtle, magnificent image. Combined as triptychs, arrays and monolithic solo images, the “Non-Photos” are haunting and reminiscent of landscapes, color field paintings, or possibly fire. Clear white light, vibrant yellow hues, rich burnt browns, intense navy and black colors boldly saturate the viewer’s eye. The heavy pigments contrast with a feeling of light.

The “Non-Photos” on display at the Gallery at Vivid Solutions have been selected and developed into large-scale digital prints. L’Harmeroult, who is an Epson France certified Master Printer, personally printed each print using Epson’s Digigraphie printing process. This is the same process that the Vivid Solutions DC print lab offers to local artists. L’Harmeroult’s step into the world of Contemporary Art started in 2000 and eventually led to exhibit in 2005 at the Rothschild Gallery in Paris. His “Non-Photos” were met with great acclaim. Amid his busy commercial photography schedule, he teaches university courses in Paris on the concept of “Beauty” and continues to pursue his fine art practice. Jean Noel L’Harmeroult’s 2008 exhibition at the Honfleur Gallery was his Washington, D.C. debut.

The Gallery at Vivid Solutions 2208 MLK Jr. Ave., SE Washington, DC 20020 202-758-0339.  Show contact Beth Ferraro p) 202-365-8392 or bferraro@archdc.org

Looming Deadlines

H Street Icon | DEADLINES |

There are two looming deadlines approaching.

The CuDC's Affordable Artist Housing: MAY 24
Applications for the Cultural Development Corporation's affordable artist housing at the Loree Grand will be accepted until 5 PM Monday May 24, 2010.

Conner Contemporary's Go-Go Emerging Art Projects: JUNE 1
Conner Contemporary is soliciting applications for its Go-Go Emerging Art Projects.  Applications will be accepted until June 1.  This is your chance as an artist to experiment with new work, network with other artists and gain valuable exposure in the art world.  To get more information and learn how to apply, click here.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Weekend East City Event Round Up

Capitol Hill Icon H Street Icon | ART OPENINGS |

East City Super Saturday Art Openings

If there ever was a weekend to come down to the east side of DC to see what the growing art scene is all about, this would be it.  In addition to City Gallery and Evolve Arts Project having regular hours from 1-5, do not miss these must see openings:

A live performance by Mary Coble and the photos and videos of Mary Biggs at Conner Contemporary from 6-8PM.

Upstairs from Conner, Industry Gallery premiers the work of Chris Rucker for the first time in the United States.

On the same block, G Fine Art opens "Off the Grid" with works by three artists- Betsy Kaufman, Odili Donald Odita and W.C. Richardson.

On H Street NE, Studio H opens "Juxtapositons", new works by Ellen Cornett.

Finally, just behind Belga Cafe on 8th ST SE, the Fridge presents "Perception Altar" by Jeramie Bellmay and live music by Aligning Minds and Kilowatts.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Fridge Presents "Perception Altar" by Jeramie Bellmay May 15 through May 30, 2010

Capitol Hill Icon | ART OPENINGS |  

Opening Reception: Saturday, May 15 from 8 to 10 p.m.

Featuring live music by Aligning Minds and Kilowatts

Throughout time, altars have existed as focal points for magical thinking. The altar acquires power purely from our own thoughts by directing them towards the objects contained within and the places we imagine they will take us. Jeramie is interested in how our entire experience of reality can be seen as an altar, infusing whatever we wish with creative thought at any given moment.

This show is a collection of drawings, wood burnings, and clay sculptures that have emerged over the past 2 years. The work presents a path through the imagination and an invitation to journey into our own world of possibilities.

Jeramie has devoted his life to exploring mediums and utilizing them to deepen his understanding of the natural and magical world around us. His work emerges out of a deep seated desire for movement, geometry, balance and play.

The Fridge: Rear Alley, 516 8th St. SE Hours: Wednesday, Thursday, 12 p.m. - 7 p.m., Friday - Saturday, 12 p.m. - 8 p.m. and Sunday, 1 p.m. - 5 p.m. http://www.TheFridgeDC.com

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Performance Artist Mary Coble: New Work and Performance at Conner Contemporary - May 15

H Street Icon | INTERVIEWS |

An Interview with Mary Coble by Anna Flaaten

Mary Coble: Source May 15 – July 3, 2010

Performance May 15th from 2PM to 8PM, Opening from 6PM to 8PM

Inspired by her lakeside artist residency in Skowhegan, Maine last summer where she spent time exploring new subject matter and an intuitive work process, Mary Coble’s new works at Conner Contemporay focus on themes of purification and renewal in actions focused on the element of water. To gather her material, the artist went door-to-door, collecting water samples from residences in all of DC's 8 wards. Coble crossed demographic boundaries to emphasize that water quality has differential effects across populations. Her work will include a live endurance performance this Saturday, May 15th and three new videos.

In her performance, she seeks to raise social awareness about water quality and availability in the local and global communities and to call attention to the internal effects of water quality. Her videos aim to invite her audience to open up a dialogue of how the political is personal and to consider access to clean water a fundamental human right.

The exhibition demonstrates the depth and dimension of Coble's art, which ranges from personal introspection to experience shared through public interaction.

Performance Art, closely related to the feminist movement, challenges the audience to think in new and unconventional ways shocking audiences into reassessing notions of art and its relation to culture. A transition from her previous works’ themes, she has always been interested in social justice and standing up for what is right: "Being queer in the community, there are issues that people need to stand up for that just aren't fair."

Coble's work is in the collection of The Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC.

Originally from Julian, North Carolina, Mary Coble now lives in Washington, D.C.

Additional information may be found at: http://www.connercontemporary.com Conner Contemporary Art is located at 1358 Florida Avenue, NE –Washington, DC 20002.

G Fine Art Presents "Off the Grid" May 15 through June 26, 2010

H Street Icon | ART OPENINGS |

Opening Reception:  Saturday May 15 6:30-8:30 PM

BETSY KAUFMAN’S paintings are downright alluring. They give us the satisfaction of being minimal but at the same time the visual veils, the ever so slight tilt and the application of delicious concoctions of paint, whose colors are simple but impossible to name, almost lend a heartbeat to the works.  In attempting to describe one of these paintings, one always comes up short. There is the structure/composition but then again there is the actual paint.  How do these two exist on the same plane? an In attempting to recall an cartist who’s minimal approach is surpassed by the quality of the painting you may have to think as far back as Malevich to find an artist who can do that with authority.  In an essay for Kaufman, Barry Schwabsky likens this duality to a couple who seem not at all suited for each other, he quoted Louise Bourgeois, who said about her marriage to Robert Goldwater that she was attracted to him because it was so much fun to seduce a Puritan

Betsy Kaufman has the ability to make the modernist grid her own.  The pieces have self-sufficient attitude and beauty.  The works allows the viewer to partake initially of the satisfaction and then of the joy in their making.

ODILI DONALD ODITA is a good 10 -15 years younger than the two other participants of this show.  Yet, he had an early start, at the age of 8 in Nigeria, he was preparing rabbit skin glue for his father, his first art teacher, and a prominent member of the postmodern avant garde.  His education is thus firmly grounded in modern art history.

His education at Ohio State and then Bennington sent him solidly into the postmodern debate of the 1980’s.   Yet the allure of artists such a Felix Gonzales Torres offered a special fascination for him, as an artist who can be minimal and political at one in the same time.

Odita is interested in the double-ness of being, of multiple perspectives in vision and experience. As a person growing up in both Africa and the US, Odita’s work is expressed in bifurcated and sectioned spaces/realities.  The artist feels like he is ‘representing a particular aspect of the third world experience in the Western world. ‘  And he insists that ‘realness’ exists in abstract art.  His use of form, color and space overrides the reality of space and the viewer’s perception.  Although the work is devoid of imagery, it is representational.  It is the meeting point of the inner and outer worlds of the painting

Of the two paintings on view one is on canvas, a traditional support, that  poses an immediate response to and communicates with the architecture.  The second piece is painted on black Plexiglas.  In this work, the space and form of color interact, heightening the conundrum of illusionism.  Plexiglas refers to industrialization and the color of this particular piece in its blackness refers to the color of skin, just as if it were red, white and blue it would refer to a social construct.

Odili Donald Odita is helping to change the world’s awareness of what a painting can be and how it can continue to exist.


The description of W.C. Richardson’s paintings always begins with the subject of Geometry, and then as the painting unfolds, as the artist says, ‘the math become impure.’  The systems laid down as the first step have been tilted and repeated in odd numbers. They slip and continue beyond the surface of the piece.  These works, that can be so damned labor intensive and involved, are also haphazard or accidental in resolution.  There is no predetermined conclusion.  Richardson has a system, and has faith in it and in the process of painting: it is a way of life.

A spiral is the initial step, it is flat and it has volume and perspective.  These spirals are freely drawn and their interaction with the additional geometric structures is unpredictable:  a living dynamic field.  A juggling of priorities unfold as the painting proceeds creating a shifting sense of space, unstable, and a ‘breathing resolution rather than one that is clear and final.’  The most important change in the recent work has been an emphasis on the points or shapes created by the intersections of the various structural elements.  The many layers of paint are visible as texture and embossed-like patterns. The shapes created by the intersections can seem random in shape and in distribution. Given enough attention order appears - abstract geometry is there to guide the consciousness.

Off the grid, Richardson’s identity as an autonomous, self sufficient artist is proof that 30 years into the life as an abstract painter he had the fluidity and stamina to step into the contemporary, post industrial world fully armed.

Gallery Hours are Wednesday – Saturday noon – 6 pm at 1350 Florida Ave, NE Washington, DC  20002. 202.462.1601 www.gfineartdc.com

Monday, May 10, 2010

Industry Gallery presents "I Told You One Time" by Chris Rucker May 15, through July 3, 2010

H Street Icon | ART OPENINGS |

Opening Reception: Saturday, May 15th: 6-8PM

Industry Gallery will host the first solo U.S. exhibition for New York‐based designer Chris Rucker. The exhibition will run through July 3, 2010, and features 10 limited edition works and one installation all created during the past nine years.

Rucker’s design ethos is rooted in the use and reuse of simple and humble material. His principal medium, oriented strand board (OSB), an engineered wood product made from fast‐growing trees, is usually used for flooring, walls, ceilings and other construction purposes. OSB is a composite sheet material like plywood, but with less structural integrity. His design aesthetic weds the asceticism of Donald Judd with the rule‐based principles of Sol Lewitt, to yield what Rucker calls “a rectilinearvocabulary.” (Rucker also cites Louise Bourgeois, Richard Serra and Mathew Barney as influences). In 2007, he began making cushions and quilts from packing blankets.

His construction process utilizes plywood box construction, which involves dados, miter joints and working with a table saw. He operates within the confines of a relatively simple equation: apply basic plywood box construction principles to strand board to create minimal, functional furniture with structural integrity. “It was in working through the limitations inherent in the material that the process morphed into something other than typical box construction,” said Rucker, adding, “I eventually evolved the process into something specific to OSB.” Referring to Lewitt, Rucker notes: “I like repeating something within an equation, tweaking the variables and pushing a piece to the point where it abstracts from its original form and becomes something new.” Rucker does not design with a computer, but sketches constantly, from twenty minutes to hours daily – as he notes: “the sketch book at work is open all the time, and it’s something to which I refer constantly.”

“Chris’ design sensibilities and vocabulary really stand out in the contemporary design world as distinct, fresh and seductive,” said Industry Gallery owner Craig Appelbaum. “His work is beautiful and impeccably crafted, with an intriguing hint of psychological tension.”

About the Designer
Chris Rucker grew up in a colonial‐era home in Mansfield Center, Connecticut. His father was an educational psychologist at the University of Connecticut in neighboring Storrs, and his mother was a kindergarten teacher. “Exposure to my father’s wood working shop and my mother’s quilt making skills, along with a family penchant for making instead of buying, provided a strong foundational interest in art and design,” said Rucker. In 1995 he received a BFA in sculpture at the University Connecticut (working with metal, rubber and sculptural ceramics), and in 1996 moved to New York. Though he had worked with OSB, it wasn’t until the winter of 2000, while a general contractor, that he started applying the material to finish surfaces (floors, walls, ceilings) and experimented with it constantly. In 2001 he made his first series of tables and chairs.

“It’s ironic that growing up surrounded by real material – wide beam floors, wood paneling and a stone heath – I always gravitate towards faux materials and materials made to imitate others. I was always intrigued by what was real and what was fake.”

Industry Gallery (www.industrygallerydc.com), is open Wednesday – Saturday, 11AM – 5PM, and by appointment.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Nancy Donnelly responds to Blake Gopnik

H Street Icon | COMMENTARY |

There is a thoughtful letter from Nancy Donnelly, Capitol Hill  and City Gallery  glass artist in today's Washington Post Free for All section. Nancy responds to Blake Gopnik's criticism of the National Museum of Women in the Arts' decision to install Niki de Saint Phalle sculpture in the median strip outside the museum. She makes an eloquent argument for art that expresses joy and lightness of being.

For the full text of the letter, go to the Washington Post.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Weekend East City Event Round Up

Capitol Hill Icon H Street Icon | EVENTS |

Weekend East City Event Round Up

Studio H is hosting an open house happy hour and drinks are on the house tonight, Thursday May 6 from 6PM to 8PM at 408 H ST NE.  This will be your last chance to see Rod Glover's "Ungrounded".

The Capitol Hill Art League is hosting a public reception and gallery talk at its first annual DC Metro Open Juried Exhibit entitled "Escape" at 545 7th Street, SE.  The reception runs Saturday May 8 from 5PM to 7PM.

Conner Contemporary is hosting an opening this Saturday only of Erik Thor Sandberg's "Thing of Ruin" at 1358 Florida Ave NE.  The reception runs Saturday May 8 from 4PM to 7PM

If you haven't gotten a chance to get to Industry Gallery's most recent exhibit "Hands On", this weekend will be your last chance.  The gallery is also located at 1358 Florida Ave NE and Open Wednesday-Saturday 11am to 5pm.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

First Annual Juried Show by the Capitol Hill Art League "Escape!" May 8 - May 28, 2010

Capitol Hill Icon | ART OPENINGS |  

Opening Saturday May 8 from 5pm to 7pm 

Join the Capitol Hill Art League (CHAL) for a public reception and gallery talk at its first annual Metro DC open, juried exhibit entitled "Escape!" The all-media, no-theme show of original art work features work by artists (18 and older) residing in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. The exhibit will run through May 28, 2010.

Juror Sheep Jones grew up in Maine and studied art at the University of Maine at Portland/Gorham.  Working in oil and wax, she has exhibited her paintings in several solo and group shows and galleries along the East Coast and in Eastern Europe.  She lives in the Washington, D.C. area and Belfast, Maine.

For more information about CHAL visit www.caphillartleague.org the concert, and other CHAW events, visit www.chaw.org or call:  202-547-6839.  

Saturday May 8th only: Erik Thor Sandberg's "Thing of Ruin" at Conner Contemporary

H Street Icon | ART OPENINGS |

Opening Saturday May 8 from 4pm to 7pm

Well, since the Eyjafjallajokul volcano kept Conner Contemporary from exhibiting in Brussels, Conner Contemporary is bringing Brussels to DC.

This Saturday only, Conner Contemporary will be hosting a special gallery reception and one-evening exhibition of Erik Thor Sandberg's "Thing of Ruin" and related paintings.

Conner Contemporary Art is located at 1358 Florida Avenue, NE –Washington, DC 20002.  Gallery hours: Tuesday through Saturday 10-5pm.   202 - 588 - 8750 or info@connercontemporary.com