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TO DEC. 21
The photographic subgenre of toy-based art is surprisingly crowded. For three decades, David Levinthal has used toy soldiers, cheesecake dolls, and blackface statuettes to craft weighty narratives. Larry Gianettino makes highly saturated color images of sweet yet sad toy animals. And earlier this year, local photographer Elizabeth Jarquin Manegold exhibited decontextualized images of miniature chairs at Touchstone Gallery. So can the toy-based photography of Eva Sköld Westerlinda Swedish-born Seattle resident now exhibiting at the Ingrid Hansen Galleryadd anything to the mix? The answer is yesfitfully, anyway. Westerlind uses a pinhole camera to create grainy black-and-white images of toy people set amid miniature tableaus. These range from the common (in a doorway, on stairs) to the uncommon (walking on stilts, navigating a tightrope, engaging in swordplay) to the downright absurdist (diving headfirst into a pot, leaping over a row of pigs). Most are acceptably diverting, but Westerlind hits her stride when she plays with creative shadows: a ladder turning crooked when its shadow is cast on crinkled paper, a man who seems to be walking on the narrow shadow of the pole he carries. Most striking of all are the images in which Westerlind mixes tiny toys and normal-sized objects: a man looking through a keyhole as big as he is, a figure hoisting a large (to him) feather above his head, a man wrestling a pear into submission. Occasionally, her images express emotionsuch as Mask III (pictured), whose plastic subject seems genuinely afraid of a Halloween maskbut they rarely capture the pathos of Levinthal or Gianettino’s work. The show is on view from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays and by appointment, to Sunday, Dec. 21, at the Ingrid Hansen Gallery, 1203 19th St. NW, Suite 300. Free. (202) 266-5022. (Louis Jacobson)