We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
In Sue Thomas’ backyard, or at least its depiction in John Winslow’s painting, a blue javelin of light is planted firmly in the ground. It even casts a shadow. Figures, some of them seemingly made of water, gallivant around the swimming pool. It’s Winslow’s blue heaven, where abstraction meets representation in paintings whose suburban sensibility strives for high-art access. Figures in most of his paintings appeal to the canonical arts: theater actors, dancers, and classical musicians perform and rehearse. Meanwhile, the presentation is unmistakably modernist; from a distance several paintings look downright Kandinsky-esque, most notably Concert, in which a maestro raises his baton and all sorts of quasi-gestural abstraction breaks loose. A painting of the captain and crew of the USS Kearsarge—not today’s amphibious assault vehicle but the Civil War-era sloop of war after which it was named—reveals an overriding sentimentality that informs Winslow’s work. Séance II gets right to the point: A jumble of images and paint culminates in a hand that reaches down, planting its palm on the seer’s table. Prominently featured in a cloud is the hand of God (so it seems) and text that spells out, yes, art. Art is magic and transportive, says Winslow. But is Winslow’s? Literal and illustrative, his theme reads as blatant and aspirational. Color balance ranges from safe to screwy—see the filthy black backdrop in Quintana Roo and other points of departure from a strict Cézanne/Kandinsky line. Composition is Winslow’s strong point, though sometimes at the risk of uniformity. The exhibition is on view from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, to Saturday, May 31, at Fraser Gallery, 7700 Wisconsin Ave., Suite E, Bethesda. Free. (301) 718-9651.