Georgetown Gallery Wrap
Georgetown’s gallery scene is a lot like the neighborhood itself: contemporary but historic, friendly and intelligent, beautiful and resonant. And with the holidays just around the bend, no gift is more powerful or more personal than a work of art.
Paintings and sculptures carry us through time. They stay with us through the years, encouraging us to think and to feel, offering perspective and adding color to our lives. You should buy a work of art because you love it. To find a connection with a painting is a remarkable and unique experience. But art also has the potential to work as an investment; it is one of the only commodities that historically go up in value.
This season our local galleries are filled with a wide and brilliant variety of artwork to suit any palette. From new local talent, to renowned glasswork and historic maps, it’s well worth a Saturday afternoon to see what’s out there.
The Old Print Gallery
Walking into the Old Print Gallery on 31st Street feels like reaching a cross-section of history. To the right of the shop are amassed thousands of original historic prints, from early 19th century Audubon bird prints and botanical studies, to Civil War battle scenes and equestrian illustrations from bygone eras.
Their collection of historic maps is a candy shop for history buffs and enthusiasts of all things Americana. You can find Virginia’s county lines from the beginning of the 18th century, explore the Chesapeake Bay circa 1747, or try your hand deciphering nautical and celestial maps.
The left side of the gallery is devoted to showcasing contemporary printmakers, often highlighting local and regional talent. Currently on display is the work of local printmaker Jake Muirhead. A stunning draftsman, Muirhead employs his mastery of line and value in the sharp angularity of printmaking, using aquatint techniques to edit and layer his works through multiple printings upon the same image. These textured, atmospheric depictions of trees, parcels, figures and unique artifacts are captivating and elusive, like sensory memories, leaving the audience contemplating a strong and immediate intimacy with the works. 1220 31st St., N.W. For more information, visit OldPrintGallery.com.
Susan Calloway Fine Arts
Susan Calloway has a discerning eye; the work on view at her Wisconsin Avenue gallery is always rich and ethereal. The collection is always a must-see on any local gallery walk. Currently on display is the exhibition “Half Light,” the work of landscape artist Brad Aldridge. His renditions of American and European terrain rival the inquisitive wonder of early American landscape paintings, as if Aldridge is discovering the land for the first time in his paintings.
“Overgrown streams, winding roads … the hovering cloud, a solitary tree … all have double meanings for me,” says Aldridge. “I’ve used these symbols to tell the viewer how I feel about the world.” His rolling hills and forests are serene escapes, which nourish the viewer on a spiritual, as well as sensory, level. He applies this same sense of wonder to urban scenes, revealing the calming effect of a crisp sunrise in even the most frenetic environments. 1643 Wisconsin Ave., N.W. CallowayArt.com.
Heiner Contemporary has mounted a laudable exhibition of three young contemporary artists, “In Line / Out of Line,” all bound loosely but powerfully by a common thread: the structure of pattern against the tenuous fallibility of the human touch.
Chip Allen, a New York-based painter, has what can only be described as an effusive hand. Throughout his works, there is a back-and-forth between violence and delicacy, as if the artist lay harm to his canvas only to go back in and tend the wounds with his paintbrush. Repeated motifs come in and out, interrupted at every turn. Like setting rules only to break them, the work rebels against itself, and the effect is resplendent.
Kate Sable’s paintings resemble the structure of honeycombs, with hexagonal and pentagonal shapes fitting neatly into each other on the canvas. They speak of life and harmony, much like the ever-expanding patterns of Islamic architectural calligraphy. Yet there is an unusual sidestep in the works — a bleed of paint that breaks the shape or a color’s slight change in hue. The intimacy and warmth of the work lets you in to see its flaws, which are entirely and wonderfully human.
The work of Camilo Sanín is compulsive and calming in the same breath. Strips of color move across the canvas, sometimes broken, sometimes continuous, sometimes loose, sometimes rigid. These clean, thin plains of pastels and neon look like internal patterns or brain waves, the static of a creative mind. The graphic nature of the work brings viewers in with its aesthetic acuity, only to be mesmerized by the wavelike constancy of the compositions. 1675 Wisconsin Ave., N.W. HeinerContemporary.com.
Painter Luba Sterlikova is on view at the Parish Gallery. Russian-born Sterlikova’s works bridge influences from both Russia and America, as colors from the motherland work their way into a Western sense of structure and composition.
There is a romance and sexual charge within the work, which reference patterns found in biology and astrology, and it even hints vaguely at symbols from ancient cultures, from Egypt to Islam. Detailed brushstrokes combine with the explosive character of the images to create a resonating and deeply felt contrast and energy — such as an immigrant must feel when acclimating to a new country. 1054 31st St., N.W. ParishGallery.com
Maurine Littleton Gallery is known throughout the country for its collection of glassworks and ceramics. Established in 1984, the gallery exhibits and represents among the world’s leading contemporary artists in glass, metal, and clay, including Dale Chihuly, Harvey K. Littleton and Albert Paley.
Now is your last chance to see the current collection as it is before the gallery changes out its works in January for the new year. And there is much worth seeing.
Michael Janis’s two-dimensional glassworks are small worlds within themselves. Like poems, you might find a bird atop a branch, or the face of a woman looking down into nothing as a red polka-dot wall climbs up behind her. Janis uses a technique of layering glass sheets on top of one another, with different images on each sheet fused together to create the composition. This lends the work a certain freshness and compositional spontaneity that must be experienced.
Therma Statom is another standout artist in the current collection, whose plate glass still lifes and miniature glass houses are odes to the quirk and fragility of our daily lives. No stranger to large-scale projects, these are Statom’s more intimate works, giving her greater range to experiment and play with her materials, to whimsical and endearing results.
Along with the gallery’s collection of other decorative and functional glass art, it’s always worth stopping into the Maurine Littleton Gallery for a look around. 1667 Wisconsin Ave., N.W. LittletonGallery.com.