29

FRIDAY

Funny what a little luck in mounting can do for your artwork. In the airy, well-lit main gallery of Strand on Volta, a series of Italian-landscape photographs by Ken D. Ashton looks perfectly nice but not terribly special: a swooping curve in a road, a telephone line that echoes the slope of a hill, lots and lots of green foliage. It’s all territory plumbed by photographers from Karen Halverson to JoAnn Verburg—but look to the right as you pass through a narrow passageway heading toward the office, and you’ll see an image as the artist presumably meant it to be seen, with the greenery highlighted in extreme detail and the surface finish looking almost metallic. What makes the difference between ho-hum and mesmerizing? A darker color of wall paint and an intense, directly focused spotlight. Ashton shares the show with two fellow Corcoran-affiliated artists, Chan Chao and E. Brady Robinson, both of whom also contribute images from Italy. Chao’s three works—closely cropped photographs of bare-shouldered young women standing in front of a strong white light—continue the themes set out last year in his exhibition of full-body nudes at Numark Gallery, namely beauty and iciness. Robinson, for his part, tripped the shutter from the window of a vehicle zooming through an agricultural area, capturing blurred fences, trees, pasture land, sheep, and the occasional shadowy reflection of what’s inside the car. The images aren’t extraordinary—they echo recent work by Todd Hido—but their placement on the wall effectively suggests a haphazard, stream-of-consciousness narrative. The show is on view from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (to Aug. 20; see City List for other dates), at Strand on Volta, 1531 33rd St. NW. Free. (202) 333-4663. (Louis Jacobson)