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TO OCT. 22
Last year, Julee Holcombe was a standout in a group show at Conner Contemporary Art, contributing digitally assembled photographic works that gave Old Master paintings a modern twist. Now, in a solo show at Conner, she’s built on her prior work, mostly fruitfully. (Feast of the Newlyweds is pictured.) With their heavy matte finish and high degree of detail, Holcombe’s portrayals are visually stunning, especially when she places her people and objects—each photographed individually and then Photoshopped—in front of a black background. (Without the black background, the illusion of coherence sometimes breaks down, undercut by clashing perspectives and slightly misaligned shadows.) One work, based on a 17th-century painting by Jacob van Oost the Elder, shows two boys seated alongside objects steeped in symbolic significance (an atlas open to a map of the South Asian tsunami region, for instance) and two breathtakingly delicate soap bubbles floating above the boys’ heads. In the cheeky Proprietor, a man in a blue suit and red tie toys with a jigsaw puzzle of the world, his head framed by a halo. In the inspired and brainy Self as Narcissus, Holcombe depicts a woman kneeling on what seems to be murky water, a computer mouse in her right hand; her mirror image is reflected in the water below as indistinct pixellations. Also on view: bloody contact impressions from Note to Self, a performance-art piece in which local artist Mary Coble (“The Needle and the Damage Done,” Artifacts, 9/9) endured an 11-plus-hour session during which the names of more than 100 hate-crime victims were inklessly tattooed on her body. The show is on view from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, to Saturday, Oct. 22, at Conner Contemporary Art, 1730 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. (202) 588-8750. (Louis Jacobson)