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To AUG. 28
For the fourth straight summer, Conner Contemporary Art has turned over its gallery during the dog days of August to recent art-school grads, this time featuring 13 artists from eight local degree programs. Matthew Klos and J. Jordan Bruns paint what they know: for Klos, the sinks and cabinets of a gray, fluorescent-lit studio; for Bruns, eight people who are—or could at least pass for—fellow art students. Terri Thomas offers a garish but technically accomplished variation on the famous Annie Leibovitz photograph of John and Yoko, limned in eye-popping, solarized green, pink, and blue. Stephen Pauley also harks back to the ’80s with his update of graffiti art, here moving an entire wall of a bathroom stall, rather than just the scrawls, into the gallery space. Julee Holcombe’s two large digital prints are standouts. Babel Revisited (pictured), a takeoff on Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s famous depiction of the biblical tower, seamlessly combines images of soaring skyscrapers with ugly industrial wastelands (including Georgetown’s Whitehurst Freeway). Holcombe’s Allegory of Vanity seats a man and a woman at a long dining table piled with symbols of life and death; while the objects (candles, fruit, skulls) come from Symbology 101, but the work’s darkly polished, Rembrandtesque panorama is eerily effective. But the most memorable pieces are Annie Schap’s loop videos of a young woman trying to belch “I love you” after chugging a can of beer, and another of an anonymous figure spelling out the lyrics to the Nazareth song “Love Hurts” on its knuckles. More than anything it’s memorable if only because you won’t be able to get the blasted song out of your head. “Academy 2004” is on view from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, to Saturday, Aug. 28, at Conner Contemporary Art, 1730 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. (202) 588-8750. (Louis Jacobson)