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to Aug. 26

Near-misses and cheeky one-liners mar “Academy 2006,” Conner Contemporary’s sixth-annual summer exhibition of area fine-art graduates. Of the former group, Ryan Carr Johnson’s Blotter Acid (Phase 1) is a psychedelic color CT scan painted with commercial house paints on hand-sanded wood panels in a style that casually resembles Isabel Manalo’s organic abstractions. The Corcoran College of Art & Design graduate nails the asymmetric patterns that one finds in fractal images or under the microscope, but Johnson’s choice of flat, Behr-quality paints works at cross purposes to the hyperbolic colors for which he strives. Barry Allan Scott’s After the Tragedy of War, a scrotal sac hanging from a fishhook, is made by a man but isn’t nearly strong enough for a woman—specifically, Cathy de Monchaux, whose sculptures of nightmarishly violated vaginas recently haunted the Hirshhorn basement. Maryland Institute College of Art alum Cory Wagner also gives the viewer a sense of total recall with Tax, a simple, spiraling wall installation of thumb tacks that recalls Dan Steinhilber, Michele Kong, and, well, any number of D.C.’s so-called “Wal-Martist” sculptors. Other works in the show could be followed by a snare-and-high-hat combo. Andy Eklund’s Tongue Depressor Star Destroyer—a model of George Lucas’ iconic battleships made out of tongue depressors—rushes to the punch line: The execution is inexplicably shoddy. Much better are Perry Johnson’s substantial and shapely concrete casts of TV dinners, which look like Dinty Moore meets Henry Moore. Only a few pieces hit a mark much above mediocre—Ben Duke’s octopod-monster-attack painting, Vicissitudes, for example, shows strong detail work, and Brian Twilley’s clever digital videos replace the recorded image with recording static—but only one artist struggles to reach even middling: Corcoran College of Art & Design’s Emily Andrews, whose twee drawings are little more than the latest in a very crowded genre. “Academy 2006” is on view from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, to Saturday, Aug. 26, at Conner Contemporary Art, 1730 Connecticut Ave. NW, 2nd Floor. Free. (202) 588-8750. (Kriston Capps)