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TO MAY 14
If there’s one lesson to be learned at the Adamson Gallery’s small exhibition of photography by William Christenberry, it’s that printing can be everything. The show features four images of the Cahaba River in rural Alabama. The first time these photographs were shown in Washington—four years ago, for an environmentally themed Corcoran Gallery of Art exhibition, “In Response to Place”—they seemed to be among the show’s least interesting works, hobbled by both their substance (quiet wilderness scenes seemingly without any distinctive features) and their technique (drab colors and middling detail). The Cahaba River works were a major disappointment for an artist who has imbued so much emotional weight in his portrayals of tumbledown buildings and kudzu-laced highways. No more. In the four digital pigment prints at Adamson, the works have been transformed from mediocre to stunning. Though the color in these 2005 prints is still on the bland side—unavoidable, given the forest greens, dirt beiges, and sky blues that dominated the vistas Christenberry photographed—the detail is breathtaking. In Cahaba Lilies in Bloom, Alabama 1999 (June), which pairs a rushing stream with a still meadow, viewers can detect individual blades of grass, even from some distance; in Stone Beach, Cahaba River, Alabama 1999 (August)(pictured) a photograph of an almost comically pebbly river bank, each pebble stands out. Newer technology doesn’t always mean better, but in this case it gives nature a big boost. The show is on view from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, through Saturday, May 14, at the David Adamson Gallery, 406 7th St. NW. Free. (202) 232-0707. (Louis Jacobson)