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TO SEPT. 17
For someone who’s devoted his life to crusading against the government, Ralph Nader has developed awfully warm feelings for our capital city. In fact, he cares so much that he invited Massachusetts photographer Michael Jacobson-Hardy to document the oft-lamented “other Washington” in the “Beyond the Monuments in Washington DC” exhibition at George Mason University’s Johnson Center Gallery. Jacobson-Hardy’s black-and-white prints juxtapose D.C.’s centers of power and the squalid conditions too many people call home. Unfortunately, the photog’s conceit is all too familiar, and his images are not exceptionally distinctive. The rather superficial effect of placing images of the homeless and abandoned houses next to a shot of a fur-clad socialite in Dupont Circle hardly “arouse and galvanize,” as Nader suggests in notes accompanying the photos. Better are Jacobson-Hardy’s shots of crumbling walls and metal detectors at Woodrow Wilson High Schooldescribed aptly enough as “one of the better high schools in the District”and his intimate portraits of students at Southeast Washington’s Ballou. Jacobson-Hardy’s “Factories, Schools, Prisons,” a 1998 exhbition on display next door, is a much better example of the photographer’s skills. Taken mostly in western-Massachusetts industrial towns, these photos focus much more powerfully on the sort of problems “Beyond the Monuments” only glances over. “Beyond the Monuments in Washington D.C.” and “Factories, Schools, Prisons” are on view from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays to Saturdays, to Wednesday, Sept. 17, at George Mason University’s Johnson Center Gallery and George Mason University’s Fine Arts Gallery, respectively, 4400 University Drive, Fairfax. Free. (703) 993-8865. (Mike DeBonis)