We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
TO DEC. 26
Don’t look for shiny, new materials in the works of Alex Bay, a Virginia-based painter, sculptor, and multimedia artist. Bay’s 25-piece exhibition at MOCA D.C. is rife with scrap metal, castoff wood, old glass bottles, twisted wire, cheesecloth, molded sand, and lacquered newspaper clippings, as well as photographs and paintings made by the artist, all restlessly creative. (An untitled work is pictured.) A few of Bay’s works are monumental, including two wall-size, Louise Nevelson– style matrices that cram carefully crafted detritus into countless little nooks. Most pieces, though, have the modest scale and bric-a-brac approach of Joseph Cornell. Several conceptual works toy with positive and negative impressions of numerals in textured plaster, tweaking Jasper Johns’ number-painting series. Others feature painted squares of slightly varying hues set in orderly progressions against a black background, à la Ad Reinhardt; still others engage in typographical wordplay that replicates in three dimensions what Ed Ruscha usually draws in two. Some even add audio to the mix: flat, aquatic-themed boxes that pipe in their own nature soundtracks when the lid is lifted, street photographs that are paired with the ambient sounds of traffic and pedestrians. Bay’s wildly meandering artistic sensibility is often leavened by a sense of humor, as in U Street Siren, which punningly pairs a photograph of a lime-green-clad vixen crossing the street with an ambulance’s wail. Bay’s raw materials may not be fresh, but his unfettered vision surely is. The show is on view from 1 to 6 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays, to Sunday, Dec. 26, at MOCA D.C., 1054 31st St. NW. Free. (202) 342-6230. (Louis Jacobson)