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TO JUNE 30
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As an architect and designer, William McDonough orders the disorderly. The former dean of the University of Virginia’s architecture school began taking photographs as a young man, for a time benefiting from the informal tutelage of a neighbor, the by-then-elderly Walker Evans. But McDonough set his camera aside while pursuing his architecture career, picking it up again only a few years ago. Now he is making his professional debut in an expansive show at the Red Brook Gallery, a new, industrial-loft-style art space in Georgetown. Accented by furniture and an environmentally friendly carpet of his own design, McDonough’s works are a mix of small-scale color inkjet prints and massive, 60-inch-by-80-inch color renderings on canvas. (Foliage #13 is pictured.) McDonough is fascinated by something that Robert Frank and Minor White dabbled in decades ago: the unplanned geometries of painted pavement. The artist serves up lush meditations on crosswalk stripes, drainage grates, and mottled asphalt surfaces; other, more organic patterns emerge from pavements the artist encountered in China. McDonough’s near-abstractions of dying plants are less original, but when he combines plant matter with manmade landscapes, the sparks fly: a sky-blue pipe covering overtaken by bright green weeds amid a sea of cracked gray asphalt, fallen leaves whose yellow echoes the color of a painted curb, and, most eloquently, a single burgundy-and-lemon-yellow leaf resting on a slate-gray sidewalk whose pattern mimics that of a Mondrian painting. The show is on view from 1 to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays, to Wednesday, June 30, at the Red Brook Gallery, 3336 M St. NW. Free. (202) 333-7654. (Louis Jacobson)