Arts & Entertainment, Gallery Beat

Covid Casualties Continue

By F. Lennox Campello

Covid Casualties Continue

One of the art casualties of the Covidian Age has been a good and proper art review.  After all, reviewing an art show strictly online, while saving gas and also apparently saving the planet, is just not the same.

But as of the writing of this article, the Covidian monster is still killing people, the Communist dictators who brutalize the Chinese people are still saying “nuthin’ to see here folks…”, the President is now wearing two masks at once, and art galleries are still mostly online… thus here we go… again.

Beginningless Endless: Works by Shanthi Chandrasekar (at the McLean Project for the Arts) is the title of the show by this wildly talented artist, and Chandrasekar scores points right away with perhaps the best title ever to describe her work!

She writes about her work: “Ever since I can remember, curiosity has been my driving force, leading me to ask questions about everything around me. This has led to my constant explorations and experimentation of ideas and thoughts based on scientific and philosophical inquiry. Combining scientific fact and theories with my wild imagination has been fruitful in creating artwork that questions our known reality and seeking to learn more about the unknown.”

I struggled over the years in finding words to describe her immensely unique work – but perhaps because online you get to see them all at once in an elongated, scroll-down mode, it came to me: they are timeless. And I don’t mean that in the egghead interpretation of that description. I mean that in the sense that if someone dropped those spectacular works of art into a time-traveling ship and dropped them into an art gallery of the year 50,000… no one would blink an eye.

And yes… painting will still be around 48,000 years from now, and art lovers would still be mesmerized and hypnotized by the timeless beauty of Shanthi Chandrasekar’s art.

We just went forward 48,000 years – now let’s go back a few decades.

Over at American University’s gorgeous museum, Jack Rasmussen continues to showcase his immense curatorial muscles and deep commitment to being the main DMV museum to pay attention to its back garden of artists (I’m looking at you Hirshhorn) and the DMV’s precious art history.

“The Long Sixties: Washington Paintings in the Watkins and Corcoran Legacy Collections, 1957-1982” is a survey of paintings by Washington artists that “tells the story of political engagement (or lack thereof) in the arts during the “long” 1960s.”

Curated by AU Museum Director and Curator Jack Rasmussen, the exhibit contains selected paintings that draw upon memories of what Rasmussen calls “a formative time” in his life.

AU tells me that “the narrative addresses the history of systemic racism and sexism in the arts, and its enduring impact on the art shown in museums today. It also emphasizes the need for politically engaged art through the present day.”

“My perspective includes the acknowledgement of persistent, systemic gender and racial injustice, bias, and violence that was present in the ‘50s, laid bare in the ‘60s, and continues to the present day,” Rasmussen said. “It is clear to me that the defining characteristic of most white mainstream art made between 1957 and 1982 in Washington was an adherence to aesthetic and commercial constraints that encouraged artists to remain silent when their voices are most needed. What pushback there was against this tendency was led by Black and women artists, whose work has been systematically underrepresented in the collections of Washington museums.”

The paintings are selected from the museum’s collection of works in its Corcoran Legacy Collection and Watkins Collection, both of which contain exceptional works by regional Washington, D.C. artists (none better than one of my works… cough… cough). Also on view are selected borrowed works that present some of the many artists too often omitted in museum collections.

Jeff Donaldson (1932-2004), Patriot, 1975. Courtesy Kravets Wehby Gallery.
Franklin White (b. 1943), Ashtray, 1973. Photo Credit Greg Staley
Lisa Montag Brotman (b. 1947), Playing for Keeps, 1980.
Carol Brown Goldberg (b. 1940), Blue Bricks, 1968-1978.


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