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TO JULY 31
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As a city, Washington may not have the grandeur of Paris, the soaring verticality of New York, or the curvaceous geography of San Francisco, but it does OK in the paintings of John Morrell. Morrell, who has taught painting and fine arts at Georgetown University for more than a quarter-century, makes canvases of up to 40 inches by 72 inches that document the byways of his home city. He sometimes uses this monumental scale to depict monuments, but more often he chooses quieter quarters, such as Georgetown row houses, a bridge over the Tidal Basin, or a rooftop overlooking the Potomac, which is depicted three times in the 13-work exhibit. (Potomac View, Georgetown is pictured.) Even in Morrell’s most massive painting, Late Light, Washington, an empty grassy foreground takes up more real estate than the modest-looking marble monuments that stand far in the distance. Morrell is a careful technician who makes nary a mistake, but the hometown pride he wears on his sleeve doesn’t allow much space for emotional or intellectual tension. Most of his skies are fair-weathered, and when they’re not, his surfaces are likely to glisten with barely touched snow. His studies of peaceful nooks and crannies in Georgetown’s residential neighborhoods include little that is askew: Even a collection of what at first appears to be refuse alongside a house turns out to be bags of fresh potting soil for the nearby plants. This happy little nirvana is shattered only once, in the digital print View From Loyola, in which Morrell depicts his favorite rooftop view in a reddish, Martian glow. The show is on view from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, to Saturday, July 31, at Addison-Ripley Fine Art, 1670 Wisconsin Ave. NW. Free. (202) 338-5180. (Louis Jacobson)