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Seven (Things We Like)

Who knew Willard Scott could be such a compelling artistic subject? Two of the nine pieces in Conner Contemporary Art’s “Seven (Things We Like)” feature the smiling weatherman—one a watercolor mounted in a rococo frame made out of dirt (Each Day a Shadow Onward Cast, pictured), the other a 33-inch-tall sculpture carved from soap and protected by a bell jar. The artist, Corin Hewitt, fixates on the Bald One in tribute to his own late grandmother, a fan. (Her garden supplied the dirt.) Hewitt also salutes Scott’s profession by including just enough humidity inside the glass to inspire localized weather patterns that slowly alter the sculpture’s surface. A few of the show’s items are derivative: Chul-Hyun Ahn’s fluorescent-light-and-mirrors installations don’t advance the ball much beyond the work of ’70s-era light artists such as Dan Flavin, and Joe Ovelman’s Self-Portrait as Michael—in which he poses as Michael Jackson fingering gay porn—is much too Cindy Sherman. Other works are more inspired: Dean Kessmann’s large, digitally manipulated photographs of wine-soaked communion wafers suggest such religiously freighted objects as cratered planets or cells on the verge of mitosis. Jason Clay Lewis’ Fur Skull, made from a real rabbit hide, is simultaneously spooky and oh-so-soft; Wulf Treu’s video starring a snooty (and sweaty) cross-dressing fashionista demands attention whether one wants to give it or not. For low-key cleverness, though, nothing beats Team Response, a collaboration between Justin Barrows, Jason Balicki, and Matthew Sutton: The trio carved crop circles into prefab area rugs ready for installation on a floor or wall of your choice. That’s form and function—at least more so than a melting Willard Scott under glass. The show is on view from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday, to Saturday, July 26, at Conner Contemporary Art, 1730 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. (202) 588-8750. (Louis Jacobson)