Arts & Entertainment, Gallery Beat

Summertime Gallery Action

By F. Lennox Campello

Summertime Gallery Action

Historically, summer has been the “slow” time of the year for the DMV art scene, as galleries and museums crank up the AC and gallery visitors head out on vacation.

Maybe not this summer, as the Covidian monster appears to be somewhat tamed, China says “not me”, area swim superstars Katie Ledecky and Phoebe Bacon head to the 2020 Olympics of 2021, and galleries begin to open up their doors.

In Bethesda, Waverly Street Gallery (which is somewhat open Thursdays and Saturdays, 1 – 4 pm.), welcomes new members Bruce Paul Gaber and Polina Miller. Gaber “makes one-of-a-kind functional pewter objects offering a strong visual and tactile experience. The aesthetic is one of clean elegance with a gentle nod to the tradition of wabi sabi, rather than to industrial perfection. He wants the user to know there was a maker.” Miller “grew up in Saint Petersburg, Russia, where she formed a deep appreciation for the importance of art in everyday life. She discovered clay while getting over the culture shock of moving to the United States to join her husband. She learned to speak clay and to speak English at the same time. She creates forms that evoke nature’s shapes and colors, and that offer utility and inspiration when brought into a home. Her pots seem pleasant, though simple at first sight, but the longer you look, the more you are intrigued by their beauty and complexity of colors and textures.”

Weight of the World – Wire, 23” x 15” x 11”

In the DC, the District’s iconic Zenith Gallery presents Weight of the World featuring new works by Kristine Mays. The show opens July 13 and runs through September 3, 2021. Zenith’s legendary gallerist Margery Goldberg has scheduled two Opening Receptions: Wednesday July 14, 4:00 – 8:00 PM and Saturday July 17, 2:00 – 6:00 PM. Zenith is at 1249 Iris Street NW, Washington DC 20012.

All Power to the People – Steel Wire, 24” x 19” x 14”
Photo credit: Courtesy of Zenith Gallery

Mays works with hard rigid wire, in a process as she puts it: “capture humanity — revealing strength, perseverance, and resilience.” This exhibition carries themes of multiple identities, love, community, survival, life, and pain and also explores the reality of how we see ourselves and others. Concurrently with this gallery show, Mays also showcases her work at a separate exhibition at the Hillwood Museum titled “Rich Soil”, where her sculpture is incorporated into the museum’s gorgeous gardens.

The space formerly known as the Greater Reston Art Center, now renamed Tephra ICA has reopened Signature, their satellite gallery space highlighting work by local and regional artists. The satellite gallery is located at the Signature apartment building in Reston, VA, and visitors are welcome Tuesday–Saturday, 11am–5pm.  Currently on View is a show titled “(un)disclosed” by Judith M. Pratt.

In (un)disclosed, Pratt “explores the history of the Piedmont region and its deep-rooted, complexities through graphically strong, multi-layered works on paper.”

 (Untitled) Piedmont no. 4, 2018

Pratt’s tightly composed line work “exposes the allure of the region through repeated depictions of organic elements, such as wood grain, water, and land elevations, resulting in a hypnotic effect. Through research conducted using topographical maps of Central Virginia, diagrams of trans-Atlantic slave trade ships, and historical records of unidentified slave burial grounds, Pratt’s works collectively provide a framework for complex visual parables and abstracted landscapes where an indisputable tension is contained.”

In Old Town Alexandria, the Art League will stage their July Open Exhibit, which this year was juried by Toni-Lee Sangastiano; the show runs through August 8, 2021. The Art League, as I’ve noted many times, is one of the brightest crown jewels of the DMV art scene.

(Untitled) Piedmont no. 7, 2018
Photo credit: Greg Staley

I love looking at juried group shows just to see how I would have selected award winners. I have juried shows for the Art League many times in the past… the last time maybe 10 years ago (hint, hint) and thus I know what a difficult but enjoyable task this is. Difficult because of the sheer number of talented artists who make up the membership of the League; enjoyable because of the sheer number of entries which these talented members submit for these monthly shows.

The June show was juried by acclaimed artist John Salminen, and the goal/theme of the show was “Landscape: The quest to capture a sense of place. A rich tradition of depicting the world around us.”

Amazing photography dominated this show, but Salminen awarded the Best in Show award to Teresa Oaxaca’s gorgeous painting “Old Man and the Sea.”

And it what may be a shock to my constant readers, I agree 1000% with the choice. Oaxaca is not only an enviably talented painter, but also possesses that rare gift of being able to interpret and then deliver visual imagery culled from practically any subject or idea; imagery that is memorable and almost always standing apart (in aa good way) from the rest of the field. This gifted artist is one of the best in our region.

Who else stood out from the exhibition?

Gloria Spellman’s stunning minimalist photograph (The Cloud and Tree) caught a moment when Mother Nature showcased its/her own artistic talents; it’s a spectacular photo!

The oil painting titled “The Ferry Back from Monterosso” by Allison O’Shea, although quizzically stretching the definitions of what is a landscape, is nonetheless a gorgeous painting! Keep an eye on this new (new to me anyway) artist.

Sheila Flanders’ watercolor of National Harbor, Andrea Cybyk’s beautiful red painting titled “The Tide Washes Away”, and Ray Goodrow’s “Saturday Morning Trucks” also stood out in this outstanding exhibition.

Finally, Jackie Saunders, who recently passed away, reminded us via her simple and powerful entry (My Iris Garden) why she will always be remembered as a master watercolorist; master of the most difficult of all media – her breath-taking skills spanned all subjects, but flowers reached a new level of beauty in her talented hands.  Her brushes weep in her studio, and her Irises weep in her garden – you will be missed Jackie.

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