to july 29

Part of the problem with Curator’s Office is that it really is an office—a single room with a desk, a computer, and some flat files. Here, director Andrea Pollan not only shows art but also tends the administrative irons she’s got in the fire. So for the current show by recent Maryland Institute College of Art grads Michael Cataldi and Pranay Reddy, Pollan insisted that, once the work had been installed, there still be enough space in the room for her to do her job. The show, appropriately titled “Curator’s Office (Rules),” had other limitations: The materials had to come from the gallery’s immediate surroundings, and they had to be finished in one week—during which time the artists lived in the space. The main resulting piece, Country Club (pictured), employs the cramped-dorm-room solution: Build a loft. You can climb under, over, and through this ad hoc playhouse, composed of broken desk drawers, old tennis rackets, cardboard, milk crates, silver mylar, picture frames, and a lot of packing tape. It’s surprisingly sturdy; its elegant, interlocking organic shapes just happen to be made of really crummy materials—sort of Frank Gehry gone shantytown. Also included are three photographs by Cataldi of disused public spaces, showing fences pried apart by enterprising trespassers. Urban rot and limits on movement unite the pictures with the art heap, but the photos aren’t nearly as formally interesting. Ultimately, Cataldi and Preddy need to get out of the gallery and into the open air. For this sort of work, scale and context are everything; here, both are missing. “Curator’s Office (Rules)” is on view noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, to Saturday, July 29, at the Curator’s Office, 1515 14th St. NW, Suite 201. Free. (202) 387-1008. (Jeffry Cudlin)