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TO APRIL 6

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As Forrest Gump’s mama used to say, life is like a juried art competition—you never know what you’re going to get. And so it is with the 4th Annual Bethesda International Photography Competition, which features work by more than two dozen artists. Only two are D.C.-based: Bruce McKaig, who contributes one of his signature moody figure studies, and Bert Shankman, who produces a stunning image of a delicate, swirling, floral-looking seashell in grainy hues of orange and peach. The outlanders are, on the whole, an impressive lot, as well. (Gabriela Bulisova’s Maria, Mother of a Chernobyl Liquidator, Belarus, 2004 is pictured.) Cathy Cudlin offers a charming vignette of a tourist standing in a way that echoes the pose of a nearby marble statue; Herbert Hoover (not the president) offers a sepia-toned portrait of a man who suggests a cross between The Godfather’s Michael Corleone and Seinfeld’s Kramer; Sharon Lee Hart documents several lifelike casts of human heads sitting on a shelf behind chicken wire, a creepy tableau that evokes the site of a genocide; Lynda Lester-Slack captures what from a distance look like three rising fighter jets spraying contrails but are in fact three coral-textured nodes shaped like sharp nipples; Rita Maas produces a fine pair of still lifes set on chalk-inscribed slate; Alexi Pechnikov offers a mesmerizing multiple exposure overlaying cobblestones and a street scene in black-and-white; and Gregory Scott offers a surrealist portrait that pays homage to Edward Weston’s famous sexualized green pepper. But the most eloquent pieces are also the simplest: Elena Volkov’s foggy, horizonless seascape in delicate shades of gray and John Davis’ eerily lit cloudscape, boldly shot through by the bright-orange twist of a roller-coaster track. The show is on view from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, to Wednesday, April 6, at Fraser Gallery, 7700 Wisconsin Ave., Suite E, Bethesda. Free. (301) 718-9651. (Louis Jacobson)