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Meet the Jasons. Jason One, aka Jason Reynolds, is a poet who doesn’t mince words. “Art? Art.” is a series of small frames containing terse phrases that are easy to imagine the twentysomething artist saying to his collaborator, Jason Two, aka Jason Griffin, who handles the visuals. A mix of introspection and amusing dude-speak dots the wall. “Gas? Sh*t.” “Horny? Uh-Huh.” “Hungry? Chips.” The Jasons began collaborating at the University of Maryland, where Griffin was inspired by Reynolds’ dialoguelike prose and vice versa for Griffin’s pop-meets-expressionism paintings. Together, their work can be childlike and naive, as in “Life Is Good,” which features kindergarten handprints on a line of sheet music with the lyrics “La La La Life is Good.” Yet they can cultivate a cool persona in their self-portraits. One shows Griffin clad in a hoodie and sunglasses, wielding a can of spray paint, under the question “Art?” An image of Reynolds, with wild hair and a wide grin, is below “Art,” affirming the question. That piece shows off some of the artists’ swagger, but insecurity creeps into an untitled work, a framed piece of blue masking tape that reads, “I like to think my poems/are like picnic potato chips/lightly salted slices/of heaven/but there’s always/a few burnt ones/in the bag/this is one of those.” The images in the show risk being overshadowed by Reynolds’ words, which Griffith paints in a typeface that ranges from a shaky-hand serif to a slapdash graffiti-like scrawl on the gallery wall. Art? Uh-huh.
THE EXHIBITION IS ON VIEW FROM 10 A.M. TO 5 P.M. MONDAY, 10 A.M. TO 7 P.M. TUESDAY–FRIDAY, AND 11 A.M. TO 4 P.M. SATURDAY, to FRIDAY, AUG. 29, AT HILLYER ART SPACE, 9 HILLYER COURT NW. FREE. (202) 338-0680.