Woody Gwyn, according to his bio, is an honest-to-goodness, boots-wearing, Texas-born, New Mexico-residing painter, but many of the Western landscapes on display at the George Washington University’s Luther W. Brady Art Gallery come closer to fastidious than rough-and-ready. From bright desert sunlight to lush mountain greenery, sometimes painted in dimensions as distinctly horizontal as 8 by 84 inches, Gwyn depicts America’s open spaces ably, but often with an odd restraint that clashes with his wide-open subject matter. Rather than succumbing to—and mythologizing—his grand vistas, Gwyn does his best work when he boxes himself in, as when he paints a lush scene from the viewpoint of the dark interior of a tunnel, even adding a layer of stubbly impasto for his portrayal of the muddy dirt track. Most suggestive is a hand-bound, extrawide sketchbook. It’s opened to a standard wide-angle Western landscape, but the two-inch thick stack of drawings it binds together tantalizes the viewer with sights unseen, lovingly preserved in an irregular, down-to-earth package.
“WOODY GWYN: AMERICAN LANDSCAPES” IS ON VIEW 10 A.M. TO 5 P.M. TUESDAY TO SATURDAY TO JUNE 25 AT GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY’S LUTHER W. BRADY ART GALLERY, 805 21ST ST. NW. FREE. (202) 994-1525.