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TO FEB. 28 & APRIL 2
Good fortune must be smiling on Rajesh Nair. How else to explain the Falls Church, Va., photographer’s simultaneous shows at the Kathleen Ewing Gallery and the American Institute of Architects—featuring an almost identical group of photographs? Nair, a native of India with a degree in zoology and formal training in music, used medium-format cameras to document the Itria Valley, a land that time forgot located in the southern Italian region of Apulia. Aside from a few portraits, Nair’s sepia-toned images largely depict the regional architecture—whitewashed walls, whimsically decorated façades, narrow cobblestoned alleyways, wrought-iron railings, painted shop signs, weathered stone steps, old shutters, and the striking trulli (pictured): yurt-shaped buildings that dot the Itrian rural landscape. Most fulfilling are Nardo, in which townspeople stare at each other across an empty piazza that becomes a pleasingly blank space, and Un Vicolo de Notte/Alley by Night, Martina Franca, whose blocky arrangements of lights and darks suggest a color-field painting. It’s all very lovely, yet the material is so winning and Nair’s portrayals so straightforward that viewers may start craving a little edginess. Also on display at Ewing are the wood furniture and sculpture of Bill Suworoff, works that use organically shaped branches to create pieces that variously suggest Adirondack chairs, Scandinavian blond furniture, and art-nouveau stylings. The show is on view from noon to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays, to Saturday, Feb. 28, at the Kathleen Ewing Gallery, 1609 Connecticut Ave. NW, free, (202) 328-0955, and from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, to Friday, April 2, at the American Institute of Architects’ Headquarters Gallery, 1735 New York Ave. NW, free, (202) 638-3221. (Louis Jacobson)