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TO MAY 29
Aesthetically, the photography of Martin Kollar and Darrow Montgomery couldn’t be more different. Kollar, a 30-something photographer based in Bratislava, makes sharp, daytime color prints in Slovakia and other Eastern European nations, whereas Montgomery uses dark and grainy black and white to examine local nooks. Yet the Kathleen Ewing Gallery is smart to have paired the two: Kollar traffics in the eccentric, Montgomery in the noir, but both men share a deep appreciation for the fleeting visuals that define the locales they document. Kollar’s 22 images (Kuks, CZ is pictured) build on the “decisive moment” approach of Henri Cartier-Bresson, adding a dose of winningly absurdist humor: a man sticking his head down a sewer hole as a chicken crosses the road behind him; a weenie roast held on the sidewalk outside a warehouse-style supermarket; a man dressed only in his underwear reaching up to the lower limbs of a tree, oblivious to an overturned tractor-trailer a short distance away. Montgomery—a photographer for this newspaper since 1986 (and, on occasion, a collaborator on stories I’ve written)—demonstrates that his pieces reach far beyond the texts they were commissioned to accompany. His 47 images of the District mostly ignore the city’s familiar monuments and office buildings in favor of liquor stores, pool halls, diners, police patrols, and dry-cleaning trucks, usually limned in moody grays. Montgomery is at his best in the rain, when the slick asphalt bounces back the sharp glare of headlights and streetlights, or an overhead electrical wire suddenly melts into zigzags seen through a splattered windshield. The show is on view from noon to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays, to Saturday, May 29, at the Kathleen Ewing Gallery, 1609 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. (202) 328-0955. (Louis Jacobson)