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to Dec. 3

It can’t be easy being Eugene Healy. As the press materials from Nevin Kelly Gallery so hopefully put it: “Healy’s work is sometimes compared to that of the late Richard Diebenkorn.” Boy, that’s an understatement. Actually, the Connecticut artist’s work echoes Diebenkorn’s celebrated “Ocean Park” series so closely that one can’t help but suspect it’s a parody. Sure, there are differences: Healy uses Diebenkorn’s distinctive Bay Area palette, but he’s applying it to paintings meant to reflect an East Coast atmosphere. If that doesn’t seem so much of a difference, try this: Diebenkorn’s paintings work their magic through the subtle adjustment of large passages of color with scumbling and semiopaque glazing; Healy uses collage, gluing scraps of mesh and fabric over one another. It’s actually a pretty clever metaphor for Diebenkorn’s paint—in East Wharf(pictured), for example, multiple overlays of mesh offer glimpses of the piece’s construction, much in the way that Diebenkorn’s underpaintings and underdrawings peek out. And whereas Diebenkorn used ruled lines, Healy often uses cut seams instead, collaging two scraps of canvas next to one another but leaving a tiny bit of space between them bare so that a single saturated color can be seen. Unfortunately, though Healy might have cribbed his colors from San Francisco, his paint film lacks development. It’s typically applied in pasty, opaque layers as chunky and flat as his scraps of fabric. Ultimately, Healy has almost enough formal imagination to escape falling into the orbit of craftsy, familiar home-decorator art—almost but not quite. The exhibition is on view from noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday and Sunday, and noon to 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, to Sunday, Dec. 3, at Nevin Kelly Gallery, 1517 U St. NW. Free. (202) 232-3464. (Jeffry Cudlin)