Where to See Art Gallery Exhibits in the Washington Area


Photographic processes pioneered by 1830s pioneers such as Louis Daguerre and William Fox Talbot were influential but were quickly abandoned. Yet these anachronistic technologies still work, and are employed by contemporary artists like the seven “Timeless” contributors at Photoworks. The title of the exhibition refers not only to the enduring usefulness of early photographic methods, but also to the slightly odd quality of contemporary images made with 19th century procedures.

Among the eight modes represented in the exhibition, the most widespread today is the cyanotype, invented in 1842 and long used to produce architectural plans. For Redeat Wondemu, cyanotype is an ideal medium for women’s studies in Ethiopia, which she visits regularly. Whether recording a candid gaze or focusing solely on the arms and hands, Wondemu achieves intense and evocative images.

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Photographic technologies of around 150 years ago required long exposures, so the exhibit consists mostly of still lifes. Mac Cosgrove-Davies presents a placid and extremely horizontal Hudson River scene, done in a location devoid of any hint of modernity. Sebastian Hesse-Kastein’s landscapes are more austere, but his tight vignettes also give the impression of shooting places out of time.

Scott Davis focuses on European and Mexican buildings, often in close-up, with Baroque and Moorish details; he also captured the Glen Echo Park sign on a picturesque rainy night. Rodrigo Barrera-Sagastume and Paige Billin-Frye offer urban landscapes. Some Billin-Fryes are beautifully hand-tinted with watercolors or tinted with tea.

Introduced in 1997 but rooted in 19th century methods, ziatype produces sharp images and a richness of color. William Shelton uses the technique to document the crab, depicting piles of shells and the elaborate latticework of traps. Vividly hued and exquisitely detailed, Shelton’s photos are much like other “timeless” photos: everyday, yet slightly fantastical.

Timeless: Historic Photographic Processes in the Digital Age Until August 14 at photoworksGlen Echo Park, 7300 MacArthur Blvd., Glen Echo.

A photograph can be linked to another via a theme or a subject, but also simply via a color, a shape or a shared composition. This is the lesson of the collaborative exhibitions at Multiple Exposures Gallery, experiments that have worked so well in the past that the collective of photographers decided to set up another one. The 11 artists show snakes from wall to wall and back, correlating 44 photos by different types of visual logic. Perhaps by design, half of the images are black and white and the other half are color.

The show is a single sequence, but subsidiary series materialize in the larger succession. A subset begins with Soomin Ham’s photo of Chiharu Shiota’s Sackler Gallery installation of shoes tied with red string. Next is Sandy LeBrun Evans’ close-up of a bull rider’s boot and hand, followed by Sarah Hood Salomon’s downward selfie of her own moving foot. The race ends with Van Pulley’s shot of a Cuban girl on a scooter, her foot resting playfully in the air.

Larger but still cohesive is a grouping that begins with Timothy Hyde’s photo of Richmond Freeway overpasses overlooking a park. This is followed by Alan Seilen’s photo of a vintage train whose plume of steam echoes the shape of a tree in the previous image. The antique steam engine leads to Eric Johnson’s photo of abandoned heavy machinery in Buffalo, then to Matt Leedham’s photo of an overgrown abandoned temple in Cambodia. The range of four images spans the continents, one visual rhyme at a time.

Collaborative exhibition Until August 21 at Multiple Exhibition GalleryTorpedo Factory, 105 N. Union St., Alexandria.

Made mostly of steel or bronze and usually painted, the intricate Craig Schaffer sculptures on display have a jagged industrial character. Yet the spiraling, modest-scale metal assemblages in Zenith Gallery’s programmed lobby space may suggest plants and flowers. They are robust and ephemeral at the same time.

The show is called “ColorWise” and also features Khalid Thompson’s exuberant collage paintings, brightly colored and – judging by their titles – inspired by jazz and other African music. Schaffer’s art provides less color and calmer than Thompson’s, but his leafy greens and rusty browns are crucial to his appeal. The subtly gradient tones of pieces such as “Expanding Galaxy” do as much as the curving and sometimes wobbly shapes to convey a sense of flow and volatility.

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Some of the sculptures have different kinds of surfaces. “A Rose Is”, a group of circles of varying sizes, is shiny and weathered rather than matte and painted; the “Tectonic Ying-Yang” that twists inward is coated with a red and green lacquer that makes the piece look like ceramic. Other constructions are partly covered with scraped or worn pigments, revealing a coarse and rigid steel. Though at their most organic, Schaffer’s works revel in their metallic qualities.

Craig Schaffer and Khalid Thompson: ColorWise Until August 13 at Zenith Gallery1111 Pennsylvania Avenue NW.

The paintings in the Robert Novel retrospective at Hemphill Artworks are austere and geometric, but also playful. Almost all of the untitled abstracts are in black and white, but they are in several shades of these tints and sometimes include gray plates. And while the shapes are simple, straight, and mostly quadrilateral, they’re processed in a way that hints at 3D perspective. The paintings were done between 2015 and 2020 by Novel, a longtime Washingtonian who died in 2021.

Like the Washington colorists of the 1960s, Novel left raw canvas (or linen, which is slightly darker) to contrast the painted areas. But he also used white pigment, and one of those images is just an hourglass-shaped hexagon, rendered in textured, milky paint on off-white linen. Other compositions position basic black shapes on a blank canvas but insert subtle white shapes that are only visible upon close inspection.

The most dynamic are images in which loosely arranged trapezoids, tightly grouped together, seem to fracture. Fault lines vary in width and do not always intersect the entire figure. The effect is to give the painted forms an illusion of weight and to suggest that the splitting process is underway. The shapes are just hard-edged black blocks – or in one case, blue – but Novel has been able to give them weight and animation.

Robert Roman Paintings Until August 13 at Hemphill works434K St. NW.

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